Monday, December 3, 2018

Were There Two Passes into the Land Northward? Part I

While there are many theorists who want to have several ways to get from the Land Southward into the Land Northward in order to validate their models and their “narrow neck” and “narrow pass,” Mormon seems to have seen it quite differently. In fact, these many theorists consider the “narrow neck of land” and/or “the narrow pass” or “narrow passage” as insignificant landmarks that mean little or nothing beyond it being one of many ways into the Land Northward from the south, yet the scriptural record appears to conclusively suggest otherwise.
    First of all, it might be of interest to note that the words “narrow neck of land” and “neck of land” are not mentioned in Mormon’s personal writing (Mormon). In fact, the only mention of a Pass in Mormon’s personal writing is in relationship to a “narrow pass” or “narrow passage” in Mormon 2:29 and 3:5). In addition, the term “narrow,” “narrow neck” or “pass” referring to a physical location, does not appear at all in the Jaredite record other than when Moroni inserts “narrow neck of land” in Ether 10:20. To Ether, and those before him, it evidently was not mentioned, and possibly not known.
    From this, two things might be deducted:
1. There was no narrow neck of land in Mormon’s time in the Land of Promise, having been altered, changed, or obliterated during the destruction outlined in 3 Nephi during the time of the crucifixion;
2. The Jaredites did not know a narrow neck existed, or that they had not been south far enough to notice it was a neck of land. After all, without understanding from the Lord, inspiration, insight, etc., how would one have known unless they were a sea-going people who sailed around the “isle” and saw that there was indeed a narrow neck on both the east and west shoreline.
The land was different in Mormon’s time than that before 3 Nephi. The destruction of the land, altered the entire face of the land (Mormon 8:12)
Consequently, in Mormon’s time, we know there was a narrow pass or passage, since that is mentioned quite clearly in Mormon 2 and 3, connected to the division of lands agreed upon by the treaty enacted between Mormon for the Nephites and with the Lamanites around 350 AD (Mormon 2:28).
    As for the narrow pass being the same in Mormon and Moroni’s time as it would appear today as some claim, that may well be true, though it is always possible in two thousand years (from the destruction at the time of the crucifixion; or 1600 years from the close of the BOM record) that landslides, earthquakes, etc., could have altered a particular landscape, pass, or mountainside. After all, the earthquake destruction in both central and South America are legendary, sometimes wiping out entire villages and even some small valleys many times since the Spanish arrived and kept records of what was going on. In our day, numerous earthquakes, or terremotos, have wreaked such havoc in South America, including the 8.8 in Ecuador in 1906; the 9.5 quake in Chile in 1960; the 7.9 Peru quake in 1970; the Bolivian 8.2 quake in 1994, the 7.5 quake in Peru in 2001, the 8.0 in 2007; the 8.3 in Chile in 2015; and the 7.8 quake in Ecuador in 2016.
    Such earthquake activity is due, of course, to the circum-Pacific belt which encircles the Pacific Ocean, affecting the West coasts of North America and South America, Japan, and the Philippines and includes the “ring of fire” along the Northern edges of the Pacific.
    In South America, the portion of the circum-Pacific belt includes the Nazca and South American plates. This amounts to about three inches of motion occurs between these plates each year, resulting from three different, but interrelated occurrences: 1) About 1.4 inches of the Nazca plate slides smoothly under South America, creating deep pressure that gives rise to volcanoes; 2) another 1.3 inches is locked up at the plate boundary, squeezing South America, and is released every hundred years or so in great earthquakes; and  3) about a third of an inch crumples South America permanently, building the Andes.
    Of course, during the three-hour earthquake in 3 Nephi and the resulting destruction, these events occurred far more rapidly.
    Thus, it should be no surprise if the landscape was altered regarding the “narrow neck of land” or even the “narrow pass” in the scriptural record since Mormon’s time.
    In addition, it would seem that the wordage in Mormon about the movement of Lamanites and Nephites after the truce, placing the Lamanites to the south and the Nephites to the North of the “narrow passage” is significant. “And in the three hundred and fiftieth year we made a treaty with the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton, in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided. And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward” (Mormon 2:28-29).
In the scriptural record, the narrow neck has a specific distance in width, while afterward, the narrow pass does not

The use of “narrow passage” here, instead of narrow neck, seems significant. Whatever the land was like from Mormon’s viewpoint, this narrow pass or passage was the pivotal point of the treaty. That is, it separated the Lamanites from the Nephites. Thus, it seems obvious that this narrow passage was not only the single egress from south to north, but the only way in which the Lamanites could get into the Land Northward.
    From this it might be concluded that the Nephites obtained the narrow passage and the land north of that. On the other hand, the Lamanites obtained all the land south of the narrow passage. We should keep in mind the information that is stated following that statement by Mormon of the treaty separation:
1. The Nephites gathered in the Land Desolation, i.e., the land just to the north of the narrow passage;
2. There was a border city by the narrow pass;
3. There was sufficient space between this city and the narrow passage for the Nephite army to deploy;
4. This area between the narrow passage and the border city was lower in elevation than the land beyond the narrow passage (Mormon 3:7,14,16; 4:1).
5. In the second Lamanite incursion the following year when they “came down again” (Mormon 3:8), at which time the Nephites “did slay a great number of them, and their dead were cast into the sea.”
6. This area just beyond the narrow pass including the border city was directly next to the sea or ocean (into which the dead were cast Mormon 3:8), since it is not likely victorious warriors are going to carry hundreds or maybe thousands of dead bodies very far to dispose of them.
The border city of Desolation and the city of Teancum (dark yellow); also showing some of the cities the Spanish developed and that exist today (light yellow)

It would also appear that the border city the Nephites occupied and defended, was the earlier Jaredite city, introduced as “they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land” (Ether 10:20). This city, called “Desolation,” since when they were defeated and fled from the border city, Mormon says they “did flee and join the inhabitants of the city Teancum, which lay in the borders by the seashore,” which he then adds, “and it was also near the city Desolation” (Mormon 4:3).
    From all of this, with the northern outlet of the narrow passage near the sea, and also near the city Desolation, it seems likely the narrow pass or passage was not inland from the coast, away from where this city was located and where the bodies were “cast into the sea.”
(See the next post, “Were There Two Passes into the Land Northward? Part II,” to see the location of the later mountain road as well as the narrow pass Mormon describes)

No comments:

Post a Comment