Monday, April 2, 2018

The Importance of Specific Descriptions – Narrow Strip of Wilderness – Part I

It is interesting that those theorists who even bother to mention “the narrow strip of wilderness” (Alma22:27), no matter how slightly, do so only in a back-handed way, and then move on to other things they deem more important. But as a physical area within the Land of Promise, this narrow strip of wilderness plays a very important role and one that should not be overlooked by anyone seeking to understand the layout of the Land of Promise, as well as what other scriptural references mean that relate to it. 
    As an example, rarely does a theorist seem to understand the statement: “Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10). In fact, most theorists claim Mulek landed in the Land Northward, some even claiming they became intermingled with the Jaredites.
    It was John L. Sorenson who seems to have first come up with this idea, claiming a city along the east coast of his Land Northward (La Venta, Mexico) “might have been totally abandoned at the moment of arrival of Mulek’s party, offering them an unusual opportunity to settle at a proven spot.” Sorenson also claimed that the city of Mulek on the east coast of the Land Southward, was established by Mulek: “The name Mulek links it to old chief Zarahemla’s ancestor, the refugee prince of Judah. The party with which he arrived from across the sea landed on the coast of the land southward after reaching the land northward. These facts make it likely that the city of Mulek was the earliest center of this party of voyagers from the Mediterranean” (An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book, SLC, 1985, pp249-250).
    Don R. Hender claims that “The lands of the Book of Mormon consisted of the land Northward which was referred to generally as the Land of Mulek, the Land of Desolation, or the Land of the Jaredites.” He also states that “The Book of Mormon records that Mulek's party landed north of the narrow neck and that is why all the land north was called the land of Mulek.”
    Since most theorists use Helaman 6:10 as their reference for the Land of Mulek, or Mulek landing in the Land Northward, let’s take a look at the statement with one additional scriptural reference, remembering that “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established“ (2 Corinthians 13:1):
1. Now the land south was called Lehi and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10).
    So where did the Lord bring Mulek to land? The Prophet Amaleki, an eye witness to Mosiah’s meeting with the people of Zarahemla (Mulekites), tells us:
2. “And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla…the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon. And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:14-16).
Lehi and Mulek landing sites according to the scriptural record

Obviously, we do not need some scholar or academician to tell us where Mulek might have landed—the Lord made it quite clear. Where Mosiah discovered the people of Zarahemla is where they landed, and they had been there ever since that first landing.
    Helaman also makes that clear, by using these same two appellations in the previous scriptural reference when speaking of both the Lamanites and Nephites: “they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north” (Helaman 6:9), and goes on to say this same thing in the following two verses, “both these lands,” and “both in the north and in the south” (Helaman 6:11-12). lTo make sure we understand this, let’s repeat this one sentence: ‘both in the land south (Lamanites) and in the land north (Nephites).’
     And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south [Lamanites] and in the land north [Nephites]. (Helaman 6:9)
    We also need to keep in mind that while today we give names to everything, even our pets cars and guns, the ancients did not rely so heavily on names, as they did on directions. Maps, in those days, were few and far between. Lehi traveled over two thousand miles from Jerusalem to Bountiful/Irreantum without a map—he had the Liahona, but that was a compass, not a map. Consequently, the ancients gave a direction name to major areas, such as the Land Northward and the Land Southward, the East Sea and West Sea, the South Wilderness, and in so doing, placed those items in the correct direction from where they regularly were.
    Consequently, we need to have an understanding where the Nephites were when we start discussing directional names. As an example, in Jerusalem, or southern Israel, the Mediterranean was referred to as the West Sea, and the Dead Sea was called the East Sea. Thus, the Land North was in the general direction of north from where the Nephites generally were, i.e., the Land of Zarahemla. And the Land South, was to the south of where they were, the Land of Zarahemla.
The Narrow Strip of Wilderness separated the Nephites toward the north from the Lamanites toward the south and was the dividing line  between the Land North and the Land South

To clarify this, Mormon described the dividing line between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi, by introducing to us a “narrow strip of wilderness” that ran between these two major occupied lands from the East Sea to the West Sea (Alma 22:27).
    In fact, Mormon states that the Lamanite king “sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west…” That is, the Lamanite king sent a proclamation, or notice, to all his people in the land he controlled, i.e., the Land of Nephi.
    And that Land of Nephi “was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west…and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided” That is, the narrow strip of wilderness ran between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi, separating these two lands, the one (Zarahemla on the north) controlled by the Nephites, and the other (Nephi on the south) controlled by the Lamanites.
    We also see another example of the Land North and Land South separation when Moroni, at a time when the Land Northward was not yet opened to immigration according to the scriptural record, when Moroni was trying to keep defectors and Lamanites from entering that Land Northward, he lays claim to all of the Land Southward as a Land of Liberty. Just after Alma’s death, Amalickiah was desirous to be king (Alma 46:4), and many judges and Nephites, who were flattered by him, supported his desire. Hearing of this great wickedness and so many Nephites willing to discard their freedom and have a king lead them, Moroni became angry with Amalickiah.
    “And he rent his coat and took a piece thereof and wrote upon it—in memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children -- and he fastened it upon the end of a pole. And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land” (Alma 43:12-13).
    Moroni prayed that the cause of the Christians—the true believers of God who belonged to the church of God—and the freedom of the land might be favored. “When he had poured out his soul to God, he named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south—a chosen land, and the land of liberty” (Alma 46:17, emphasis added).
    All the land both the land in the north and the land in the south, of the Land Southward!
    This Land North and Land South, all being in the Land Southward, what of the Land Northward and the Land Southward?
(See the next post, “The Importance of the Narrow Strip of Wilderness – Part II,” to see how the Land Northward and the Land Southward were divided from one another and how that differs from the Land North and the Land South)

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