Monday, April 16, 2018

Origination of North•ward – Part I

There seems to be some confusion among some Book of Mormon Land of Promise theorists about the meaning of the words “north” and “northward” and as a result some erroneous idea have crept into the design and understanding of the Land Northward and the meaning of that as a directional land.
    First of all, let’s take a look at some word meanings.
    The word “north” as we know it in English comes to us from the Old High German norð, and descended from the Proto-Indo-European unit *ner-, meaning "left; below," as north is to the left when facing the rising sun. It is the same as the origination of the Old English norþ, a cognate with various Germanic counterparts such as Dutch noord, West Frisian noard, Danish and Norwegian nord, which are all from a Proto-Germanic nurþrą, and cognate with Greek ner-νέρτερος (nérteros, infernal, lower), with “*ner” meaning “left, below” as north is to the left when one faces the rising sun.
    At the same time, the term Northward, is derived from German nordwärts (nord + -wärts) or nordwärtig from the Greek βόρειος (o pio vóreios) meaning “northerly” or “toward the north,” and is noordwaarts in Dutch, modnord in Danish, noarden in West Frisian, pohjoiseen in Finnish, and nord in Norwegian.
The suffix –ward is used to denote “in a particular direction” or “toward a particular place” and is used with some nouns and adjectives. So in the case of north (a singular direction) when adding the suffix –ward (northward) it means simply “toward the north.” The term –ward comes to us from Old English -weard, -weardes; akin to Old Saxon and Old Frisian -ward. Old High German -wert, German -wärts, Icelandic -verðr, Gothic -vaírþs, Latin vertere, all of these mean “toward.”
    Consequently, the simple meaning of “Northward” is: “toward the north.”
    So the “Land Northward” is a land situated or directed towards the north. To point in that direction, one faces or moves towards the north. That is, northwardly is moving northward, bearing, facing, or situated toward the north.
    Synonyms of “North” are northward, northwards, northern, northerly, northbound, northmost, and even toward the north pole. Consequently, northward is having a northerly direction northwards, northwardly; toward the north.
    In the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, the dictionary known to the Saints in 1829 and part of the reference books used in Joseph Smith’s School of the Prophets, the definition of northward is:
    Northward: adjective Being towards the north, or nearer to the north than to the east and west points.
    Northward: adverb Towards the north, or towards a point nearer to the north than the east and west points.
    John L. Sorenson makes a mockery of this understanding in his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, when he tried to justify his east-west Mesoamerican model by claiming that the ancient Hebrews understood directions only in relationship to the seas around them.  He wrote (pp38-39) yam (“sea”) meant “west,” qedem (“fore”) stood for “east.” Then yamin (“right hand”) meant “south,” while semol (“left hand”) denoted “north.”
    First of all, “yam” and “yamin” was the god of the sea in the Canaanite pantheon, with “yam” taking the role of the adversary of Baal in the Ugaritic Baal Cycle. (ים ym), the
Canaanite word for "Sea," is one name of the Ugaritic god of Rivers and Sea.
    In Hebrew, “yam” יָם means “sea” and is translated as “sea,” and is translated 278 times in the Old Testament: “seas” (27 times); “seashore” (10 times); “red” (24 times); “south” (once); “west” (59 times); west side (4 times); “western” (once); and “westward” (12 ties). That is, it is used 421 times in the Old Testament, and translated as “sea” 339 times; and both as south and west directions 77 times. In fact, from Genesis to Exodus, it is translated 21 times as sea, and only 4 times as west.
Yam, translated “Sea,” is placed in all four directions from Palestine and does not denote a direction 

It should also be noted that “yam” is translated as “sea” generally (45 times), as well as “Mediterranean Sea,” which is to the west (20 times), “Red Sea,” which is to the south (13 times), “Dead Sea,” which is to the east (18 times), and “Sea of Galilee,” which is to the north (4 times). It is also translated as seaward (28 times), River (7 times), and the Temple Basin (6 times).
    It can hardly be said, as Sorenson does, that “yam” is singularly referenced in direction to the Mediterranean Sea when it is referenced to other seas or sea in general 108 times and only 20 times to the Mediterranean Sea.
    Secondly, “semol” (semovl) שְׂמֹאול means “left” not “left hand.” In a practical sense, it can mean “left hand” but almost only when addressing a direction, such as “on the left hand” (Genesis14:15) or “you take the left hand, then I will go to the right” (Genesis 13:9); however it is defined as “to the left” (Genesis 24:49; 48:13; Numbers 20:17; 22:26; Deuteronomy 2:27; 5:32; 17:11; 28:14; Joshua 1:7; 23:6; 2Samuel 6:12); “on their left” (Exodus 14:22,29); “or the left” (Deuteronomy 17:20). In fact, in the 54 uses in the Old Testament of “semovl/semol,” 44 relate to the word “left” as a direction, only ten as “left hand” and six of those are merely direction, only four truly use the meaning of “left hand.”
    Thirdly, Yamin יָמִין basically means “hand” and is translated as “right hand” 75 times out of the 139 times it is appears in the Old Testament; “left-handed” (2 times); “right” (49 ties); “right side” (8 times); “south” (4 times) and “southward” (once).
    Fourthly, Qedem קֶ֫דֶם means “aforetime” and means “the front” “the fore part” “before” and “forward/foreward.” It is also used as a time frame: “eternal” “old/past” ”ancient/anciently” “in ancient days” “everlasting” and “eternal.“ It is also used as a direction, meaning “east” ”toward the east/eastward” “east end” “east part” “east side” and “sideward.”
Sorenson’s location for Lehi’s landing along the El Salvadorian south coast 

To sum up his points, Sorenson then states: “Suppose, for a  moment, that you were with Lehi’s party as it arrived on the Pacific coast of Central America. By western civilization’s general present-day terminology, the shore would be oriented approximately northwest-southeast. When you said yamah, intending “westward” the term would mean literally “seaward,” although the water would actually be behind your back” to our southwest. Further, the first step you took inland, away from the sea would be eastward(“to the fore,” literally) in Hebrew; we today would say the motion had been northeastward. In the absence of a conscious group decision to shift the sense of their Hebrew direction terms by 45 degrees or more, the little group of colonists would have fallen into a new directional  language patter as their Semitic-language model encountered the new setting.”
    Now, the reality of this would be quite different. First of all, standing along a coast of a huge ocean (Pacific Ocean) with land stretching as far as the eye can see to both the left and the right, you might well think that behind you was “west” and foreward or in front of you would be “east.” However, at dawn, the next morning you are going to find that the sun rises in the “east” and where the sea lies would quickly dawn on you that the sea was out of position to your earlier thought. After all, even using Sorenson’s own convoluted thinking, directions were assumed to be based on the foreward, or “east” position. And to a Hebrew, “east” was the dominant direction by virtue of its relationship with religion (God dwells in the east).
    Thus, once the sun rose, there would be no question where east was located and everything else would then be oriented to that direction. And in the area Sorenson claims Lehi landed, it is about 14º north Latitude (Guatemala City is 14.6349º North). Since the sun moves from 23.5º south latitude at the summer solstice to 23.5º north latitude at the winter solstice, then 14º north would certainly place the area of Sorenson’s Nephites in the near center of the northern movement of the sun from the equator to its northern terminus each year. That would provide the Nephites with a very clear understanding of where the four cardinal directions (north, east, south, west) were located.
(See the next post, “Origination of North•ward – Part II,” for more information regarding how the directional words were used in ancient Hebrew, and how the word Northward came about)

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