Monday, August 13, 2018

Things That Are Known – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding one blog author’s views of those things that are “the facts that we can easily deduce” about the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. Facts, of course, are “indisputably the case,” that is, “without questions and factual,” i.e., “a thing that is actually the case rather than interpretations of or reactions to it.”
    The desert into which Lehi first retreated and in which he made his first long camp has been known since Old Testament times as the wilderness par excellence. Today, this region is called a desert, but Thomas Edward Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia who was commissioned by the British government to take a survey of the entire Negev Desert) and Sir Leonard Woolley, the British archaeologist, both preferred to call it the Wilderness of Zin (En-mishpat  or Wilderness of Kadesh, meaning “holy place,” which was where the Israelites stayed following their Exodus from Egypt and wanderings through the desert), bordering on the north of the wilderness of Paran, and on the west of the Arabah, that wadi route between Jerusalem and the Gulf of Aqaba.
The Wilderness of Zin, part of the Negev in southern Israel, and sight of most of the work done by T.E. Lawrence 

Now it should be noted that to qualify for a “wilderness,” the area need not be uninhabited—only permanent dwellings must be absent, and no cultivation or other permanent settlement exist, thus we find that: “the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore. And also there were many Lamanites on the east by the seashore, whither the Nephites had driven them” (Alma 22:29).
    Now, having shown the blog author’s errors with two of his list of so-called easily deduced factors of the Land of Promise, let us take a look at another on his list, #7, regarding “some of the facts that can easily be deduced:,
• There are seas on both the east and the west of the land.
    While this statement is correct, it is woefully incomplete, and allows for some theorists to call the Land of Promise a peninsula (Mesoamerica, Baja California, Florida), tending to give an erroneous impression of the makeup of the Land of Promise. This land was not an isthmus (a word never used in the scriptural record), but an island, (2 Nephi 10:20) that was in the midst of the sea over which Lehi traveled being surrounded by water except for a narrow neck between the Land Southward and the Land Northward (1 Nephi 22:32).
    The problem, such misuse of words tends to be accepted by most people as a “fact” because of the way a theorists use their words, and not recognized as “Belief,” “opinion,” or plain old “fiction.
    Now, for the record, there were season the east and west, and such is a true, factual statement; however, as given, it is both misleading and inaccurate since it lends to the belief or assumption that no other seas existed around the Land of Promise. However, as a matter of fact, we are told there are four seas (Helaman 3:8), which tells us there is a north and south sea as well as an east and west sea.
Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5)

When Helaman describes the expansion of territorial occupation in the Land of Promise about 46 B.C., following a heavy immigration into the Land Northward, a movement began around ten years earlier in 55 B.C. during the time of Hagoth’s heavy shipbuilding (Alma 63:5) and, evidently culminating in Helaman’s time, three peaceful years after a lengthy and devastating war, as he states: “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 3:8), thus showing the expansion direction of the early Nephites, who landed in the south and along the west and moved northward and eastward.
    Thus, Helaman is drawing attention to the fact that in the Land of Promise, the people were spreading “from the Land Southward to the Land northward,” and that spreading was from sea to sea, i.e., from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.”
    So Helaman states it clearly that the Nephites had spread “from the Land Southward to the Land Northward,” and “from the sea south to the sea north.” That is, starting in the Land Southward, which is where they were located for the first 550 years in the land, into the Land Northward, which was a new area of settlement evidently just recently opened up as Alma draws our attention to this same migration (Alma 63:5-9).
    How far northward did they go? Clear to the Sea North, evidently as far as they could go in that direction. So they were being measured from one sea to another, from the sea in the south to the sea in the north. And to make sure we understand they were filling out the entire Land of Promise, which was an island, he adds that they were also filling out the land from the sea in the west, to the sea in the east.
    As redundant as we have made this, it should be noted that very few theorists give any credence to this statement in Helaman since it does not match their Land of Promise models.
    However, we already know from Mormon’s insertion that the Land Southward was surrounded by water except for a “small neck of land” (Alma 22:32), and Mormon adds this statement in Helaman to show that the entire Land Southward was filled with Lehi’s descendants, i.e., the Lamanites in the south of the Land Southward (south of the narrow strip of wilderness) and the Nephites in the northern part of the Land Southward, the major lands of Zarahemla land Bountiful and the other, smaller lands within them.
Consequently, in those ten years, the Nephites embarked on a huge migration policy of transplanting thousands of Nephites from the Land Southward into the Land Northward, so much that they filled up the entire land, from border to border, or from sea to sea. As a result, the terminology the blog author used, “the Land of Promise having a west and east sea,” is not only inconclusive, it tends to create the wrong understanding of the Land of Promise.
    His statement should have been: “There are seas all around the land of promise,” or “There are four seas, one in the north, one in the south, and one in the east, and one in the west.”
• Continuing with his list, the fourth one to be discussed, or #6 on his list, states: “The narrow neck of land is toward the north.”
    Again, while basically correct, this is misleading. The narrow or small neck of land is located to the north of the Land Southward, but we cannot determine from what is written where it is in the middle of the overall Land of Promise, i.e., that the lands southward and northward are equal distance apart, or whether the Land Northward is smaller than the Land Southward, making the narrow neck more to the north than the middle—a feeling the author’s statement leads one to think.
    The first mention of this neck of land is found in Alma 22:32, where Mormon, in his insertion, states for our clarification: “And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32, emphasis added), and is the only place in the entire scriptural record that calls this neck “small.” All other instances refer to it as a “narrow” neck of land.
It is critical to know that this “narrow neck of land” is the only land connection between the Land Southward and the Land Northward, as Mormon makes it clear that this Land Southward was entirely surrounded by water except for this “small neck” (Alma 22:32).
    In addition, we also need to know that this “small” or “narrow neck” can be crossed in a day and a half journey of a Nephite (Alma 22:32), and since Mormon singled out a Nephite instead of a more broad sense (man, person, individual), we can assume that he meant a Nephite as opposed to a Lamanite, who, as a man of the forest and desert, may well have been able to cover ground more swiftly, such as did the American southwest Indians (like the Apache) move far more swiftly on foot than did a white settler, etc.
    Another thing to keep in mind about this “small,” or “narrow neck” is that it was the only connection between the Land Southward and the Land Northward and as such would have had a “narrow pass” or narrow passage” within it, leading between these two major land masses of the Land of Promise. This is borne out by four references in the scriptural record (Alma 50:34; 52:9; Mormon 2:29; 3:5).
    Thus, we can see that we have no idea how far to the north was the narrow neck of land, only that it separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward, and it being “toward the north,” which is an arguable way to state it since the leaves the neck anywhere to the north of Zarahemla. A better way to state this would have been: “The narrow neck of land was located between the Land Southward and the Land Northward.”
(See the next post, “Things That Are Known – Part IV,” for more on the distances involved in Alma’s escape and how theorists use this erroneous information as their basis for determining overall distances for the Land of Promise)

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