Thursday, April 19, 2018

Origination of North•ward – Part IV

Continued from the previous post, regarding ancient Hebrew directional words, and how the word Northward came about as well as understanding how to use Hebrew thought in defining words.
    Brant A. Gardner continues with his writing in support of John L. Sorenson skewing the Land of Promise directions: “There was just that little problem of north not being north. This paper reexamines the Book of Mormon directional terms and interprets them against the cultural system that was prevalent in the area defined by Sorenson’s geographical correlation. The result is a way to understand Book of Mormon directions without requiring any skewing of magnetic north.”
    It is true that Sorenson and other Mesoamericanists have gone to great lengths to try and convince the average reader that east-west is the same as the Book of Mormon north-south with a myriad of examples, but the fact of the matter is that Mesoamerica does not run north-south, or even northwest to southeast. It runs due east and west, particularly in the areas of greatest involvement, that is from their Land of Zarahemla to their Land of Bountiful and beyond into their Land of Desolation and to their Land of Many Waters in the far distance from the narrow neck (Cumorah).
Mormon’s north-south Land of Promise. Orange circle: Lehi’s landing and the travel of Nephi to the area called the city of Nephi in the area they called Land of Nephi (encompasses 1 Nephi 19 thru 2 Nephi 5). Green Circle: Land of Zarahemla and Land of Bountiful (2 Nephi 8 thru Alma; the bulk of the Book of Mormon) takes place in a more limited area

The point is, when Mesoamericanists attempt to prove their east-west oriented land by talking about such things as “Mormon North,” or a change in directions between modern times and the ancient Hebrews; or that Hebrews knew east because of the location of the sea to their back, and suggest that “Northwest” really meant something other than our modern understanding of the word, they are treading on unsupportable grounds.
    In Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, “northward” meant only “toward the north,” the meaning Joseph Smith used to describe what direction Mormon knew. Whatever the glyph was that represented Mormon’s viewpoint, the Spirit inspired Joseph Smith to use the modern English term “northward,” meaning unquestionably “toward the north.” It did not mean “east” or “west,” it meant “toward the north,” not “toward the west” or “toward the east” as Mesoamericanists try to tell us.
    Regarding having the sea at your back when landing in a new area (the Land of Promise), in his book Sorenson states (p39): “the first step to go inland, away from the sea, would be “eastward’ (“to the fore,” literally).”
    First of all, the literal translation of “qedem,” קֶ֫דֶם is “aforetime,” meaning “In time past; in a former time; formerly.” It is also used as “east” or “front,” but the literal translation of qedem is not “to the fore.”
    Secondly, when talking about a “literal” meaning, which regarding translation means “representing the exact words of the original text,” Sorenson errs in his comment. The one thing that all linguists know is that there are often many meanings to some words and in translating, or using words to make a point, one needs to take into consideration the various meanings of words and not just settle on one definition because it makes their point or agrees with their narrative as Sorenson does.
    Thus, in order to interpret a Hebrew word correctly, we must look at its usage, instead of imposing modern scientific interpretations on it, consequently, a word’s meaning depends on the specificity of the terms to which it refers. In this way, we are not placing our own interpretation on it, but letting the divinely inspired and authoritative scriptural record speak for itself.
    As an example, “eastward,” or “in the east” can mean several things in Hebrew since the word does not literally mean “to the fore,” but is derived from מִן (mîn) and קֶדֶם (qedem). מִן means ‘from, out of, on account of, off, on the side of, since, above, than, so that not, more than’ according to the lexicon. And קֶדֶם can be translated to ‘east,’ but also to “antiquity, front, that which is before,’ or ‘aforetime,’ (a time prior to our physical existence).” Qedem can also means “the past.” In some lexicon descriptions, qedem literally means “before.” But more accurately, qedem literally means “the direction of the rising sun.”
    Another way to see this is in the following simplified statements:
1. Lehi, upon landing, faced qedem (east)
2. Lehi, upon landing, stepped qedem (to the front or forward)
3. Lehi in Jerusalem faced qedem (land to the east, ie., Mesopotamia, Arabia, Babylon)
4. Lehi, in the Land of Promise thought qedem (about the past, about events that had taken place)
Thus, it cannot be said, as Sorenson goes on to talk about Lehi’s party in the landing site location Sorenson describes where the seashore runs northwest to southeast, that those in Lehi’s party would take their first step inland in a northeasterly direction and say that was the direction “east.” They would not do that, because that would not be the direction of the rising sun, which they would verify the next morning and realize that east was not directly aligned with the seashore in the Land of Promise as it had been in the land of Palestine.
    It also might be of importance in this to keep in mind that the eastern mind is not obsessed with time as the western mind is. Anyone who has lived and worked in the near or Middle East knows that they are “event oriented” rather than “time oriented” as are westerners. Their lives are not ruled by the clock, and the tenses in Hebrew and Arabic and as well in the Greek are not primarily concerned with time but rather flow or type of action.
    "eastward" is literally "unto the land of kedem;" kadeem means “that which is before or in front of a person, physically meaning the land before one, or more specific to the Jews, the land to the east of Palestine, i.e., Arabia, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, etc. In that, Misrach is used to mean the far east, with a less definite signification.
    Hopefully, when we read the scriptural record and make note of the geography, that we not make definitive statements of a word meaning, as Sorenson so often does, when a word has several equal and sometimes varying meanings, because singling out just one is both misleading and self-serving.
    Consequently, Sorenson’s point in his writing on this “to the fore,” which he sums up as “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.”
    Such would not be the case in the one Sorenson describes of Lehi’s “little party.” People of antiquity were not stupid. They knew and understood directions—most of the ruins we find of antiqitous peoples shows they knew how to and did align their important buildings toward certain directional points for both religious and agricultural needs.
    They knew what “north” was and fully understood the meaning of “toward the north” as being “in the direction of north,” therefore when Mormon writes of the Land Northward, he was referring to a land that lay to the north of where his main viewpoint was located, such as the Land of Zarahemla, meaning “toward the north” from the Land of Zarahemla.
    Thus, when Sorenson wrote (p39): “When you said yamah, intending ‘westward,’ the term would mean literally ‘seaward’ although the water would actually be ‘behind your back’ to our southwest.”
Yellow Arrow: Santa Barbara coastline in California running east and west for about fifty miles, while the coast in the entire state is generally north and south 

As I have mentioned before, growing up as a kid and teenager in South Los Angeles (California), where the ocean was to the west wherever you were in the Basin, you headed west to get to the beach, etc. When I went away to college in Santa Barbara about 90 miles to the north, where the seacoast runs east and west for about fifty miles from Point Concepcion past Goleta and Santa Barbara to Carpinteria, from the school in Goleta to my apartment in Santa Barbara, to go to the beach you actually went south—an unusual concept for a Californian where basically the ocean was to the west throughout the entire state (except for small pockets here and there).
    The point is, while my natural tendency to think of the ocean being to the west, I knew I had to drive south to get to school and to the beach. It was not rocket science. It was a simple understanding of directions. Wherever I was in that unfamiliar area, the directions to go places was understood even though it was completely misaligned from all the years of my upbringing in Southern California.
    Sorenson’s rationale, needed by him to sell his Mesoamerican model, is completely without merit. After all, northward is “toward the north,” as the very word implies—not in some other direction.
    Another factor in translating is a matter of understanding. Sorenson lays the claim that the Nephites would have been confused about the Land of Promise not having the sea aat their back running in the exact same direction is in Palestine. However, before ever coming to live in Palestine, though the words for directions had been known long before this, Israel spent 400 years in Egypt (Genesis 15;13) before Moses led them out. It would not have taken long for that first generation in Egypt to pass into history and a new generation grow up, followed by some 15 generations before leaving and two before resettling in Palestine. It seems unbelievable that Sorenson or anyone else would think that 15 generations in Egypt where the sea was to the north (on the left hand when facing east), or the two generations in the wilderness, that by the time Israel claimed their homeland (where the sea was to their back when facing east), thousands of years and innumerous generations after the origination of the words qadem, yam, yamin, semol were developed and used, that these newly settled Israelites could only think of directions by having the sea to their backs.
    Lastly, in translating, is the factor of accuracy. Sorenson claims that:
1. Yam meant “west” or “left hand.”
    However, yam translates to “sea,” and out of 421 Old Testament uses, 335 are translated as meaning “sea,” with only the other 86 relating to the direction of west.
2. Qedem meant “east” or “to the fore.”
    However, qedem translates to “aforetime,” meaning “In time past; in a former time; formerly.” The direction of “east” is a secondary meaning, while mizrach” actually translates to “east,” and does so in 61 instances of use in the Old Testament, and the other 13 in the direction of the sun’s rising, as in “toward the sunrise,” which would also be “east.”
3. Yamin meant “south” or “right hand.”
    However, the word “negev” translates to “south,” and in all 109 times used in the Old Testament, all related to the direction of south.
4. Semol meant “north” or “left hand.”
    However, “Tsaphon” (tsaphan) translated to “north” in all 152 uses in the Old Testament.
    Thus, we need to be careful how we accept someone’s view of translated Hebrew words and their meaning.

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