Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Were There Two Passes into the Land Northward? Part III

Continued from the previous post, regarding the location of the later mountain road as well as the narrow pass Mormon describes. As indicated in the title of these articles, were there two passes, or two narrow necks, leading from the Land Southward into the Land Northward in the Land of Promise? Or, was there a narrow neck in one place and a narrow Pass in another location? These are the type of claims made by many theorists in order to justify their own personal models. However, Mormon seems quite specific in his descriptions that leaves little to speculate upon.
    In the Land of Promise Mormon tells us there was a “narrow neck” of land that “led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5). He also tells us that this narrow neck was a “small neck” (Alma 22:32), and in addition, he tells us that this neck of land separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward by explaining that the Land Southward was “nearly surrounded by water” except for this “neck of land between the land northward and their land southward” (Alma 22:32). Thus we see there was only one piece of land between the land to the north and the land to the south, and he called it a “small neck” and also a “narrow neck.”
Left: The Narrow Neck and the Narrow Passage, along with the division of the land by treaty, the Sea that Divides the Land, and the Jaredite City by the sea; Right: including the full extent to the Narrow Pass or Passage and modern named areas for reference

Mormon also makes it clear that within or through this small or narrow neck of land was a Pass or Passage. As he states: “the narrow passage which led into the land southward” (Mormon 2:29); and also “by the narrow pass which led into the land southward” (Mormon 3:5, emphasis added in both quotes). In addition, Moroni, in his abridgement of the works of the last Jaredite prophet, Ether, states: “And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land” (Ether 10:20, emphasis added).
    As we have stated before, this narrow neck or narrow passage within this narrow neck, was the dividing line of the treaty between the Nephites and the Lamanites agreed upon in 350 AD. As Mormon states the agreement: “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).
    Finally, when the Lamanites later wanted to invade the Land Northward, then held by the Nephites by treaty, they came through this narrow pass directly into the heavily defended passage—a battle in which they were defeated not just once (Mormon 3:7), but were defeated a second time in this same passage in a devastating manner (Mormon 3:8). In addition, the Lamanites had taken ten years before this first attack, giving them plenty of time to search for another way into the Land Northward had there been one (Mormon 3:4-5).
    Obviously, there was not another way into the Land Northward except through this narrow pass within the narrow neck of land, forcing the Lamanites to attack a heavily fortified Nephite position where, because of its narrowness and terrain, they had been able to “place their armies that they might stop the armies of the Lamanites…therefore they did fortify against them with all their force” (Mormon 3:6).
    Just as obviously, had there been another way into the Land Northward, surely the Lamanites with their massive armies, could have sent some of their warriors via another entrance or pass or way into the land and came upon the Nephites holding this narrow passage from the rear, bottling them up and destroying them, thus effecting a final battle 35 years earlier than the one at Cumorah in 385 AD.
    Now, inland, there is a road some want to indicate is the narrow passage Mormon describes. This road is what the Inca called Qhapac Ñan [Kapak Ñan], that stretched from Cuzco through Cajamarca to Tumebamba and onward to Quito.
(White Line) The Main Road from Cusco northward to Quito and into southern Colombia, which the Inca later called the Qhapac Nan, or Royal Road; (Green Line) A later road through Girón, Lentag, Santa Isabel, then west along the Jubones River to Cascay La Peana, El Cambo and Machala ending at Port Bolivar

There is a pass or passage along this road (the current E35 highway) that falls between Saraguro and Susudel around 8,000 feet elevation. This Pass is far from either the West Sea or the East Sea, and it is unlikely the Nephites carried that “great number” of bodies very far, nor did they deposit them into a river, for Mormon’s statement is quite clear “and their dead were cast into the sea” (Mormon 3:8).
    To the south of this road in Ecuador, the city of Loja, a land of many gold mines and even, ideal year-round Spring climate, is nestled in the Cuxibamba (Smiley) Valley at about 6,889 feet, and surrounded by the Zamora and Malacatos rivers. This mountain valley is covered in lush, emerald green verdure within a hilly, mountains region of páramos and cloud forest. To the north is Saraguro at 8,267 feet, followed by Ona and Susudel, with Jima and Cumbe in the northern end of the narrow Cuxibamba Valley.
Girón is off the main road and lies on the west side of a mountain range and would not have been involved in the original roadway through the mountains
    West of the road and a little north, beyond a range of mountains in the Yunguilla Valley, is the town of Girón at 7,087 feet. It sits on a later road which ran down the valley almost all the way to Machala, and is separated from Susudel and Oña along the main road by a range of mountains that surround the valley. Beyond Susudel on this ancient road is the city of Cuenca at 8,399 feet, 77 miles north of Loja along the Tomebamba River, with three other nearby rivers. 80 miles north of Cuenca is the settlement of Ingapirca at 10,498 feet. Guayaquil to the south where the Guayas River widens south of the city and flows through a deltaic network of small islands and channels.
    The problem with this is that it introduces two Passes or two passages from south to north, while the scriptural record mentions only one.
If there were two ways into the Land Northward, then what would stop the Lamanites from using one of them while the Nephites guarded the other; and what would cause Teancum to know which egress Morianton would have chosen in order to cut him off just in time?

In addition, if the narrow passage Mormon mentions was through those mountains, as some have indicated, what would keep the Lamanites from coming up the coastal route of the narrow neck, along the Bay of Guayaquil through Machala to Guayaquil?
    After all, this lowland, near sea-level narrow stretch between the Gulf and the sheer mountains, is wide open from Machala to Guayaquil. Nor would the idea work that some have suggested that “If one had spies to tell which road was being used at the time,” since we know of no spies or other military presence in the north country or around the narrow neck of land.  
    As an example, at the time of Morianton, we are unaware of anyone in the Land Northward or around the narrow neck to speak of, and Moroni certainly did not have an outpost there since when he sent Teancum to head off Morianton, it was a matter of getting to Morianton and his rebels before they reached the Land Northward (Alma 50:32).
    Evidently, Moroni was worried about the people of Bountiful becoming involved, which should suggest there was no real patriotic settlement that far north that Moroni could count on, let alone a military presence, or even spies. As Mormon states: “And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:32). Obviously, Teancum’s effort was without help or aid from anyone in the north. Also evidently, Teancum knew exactly where to go and make his stand to head off Morianton since the scriptural account is quite simple and direct, suggesting that there was only one way through the narrow neck and into the Land Northward.
(See the next post, “Were There Two Passes into the Land Northward? Part III,” to see the location of the later mountain road as well as the narrow pass Mormon describes)


  1. What about the possibility that the Coast Road was under water until after the time of Mormon and the final battles? But your arguments are certainly correct: there could have only been one passage between the land southward and the land northward in any of the accounts that mention the narrow neck.

  2. Your question is a good one. The only answer at the moment is the entire west coast of south America from Peru through Colombia, tends to be cliffs (in fact, Lima/Calleo is along a high cliff on a buff overlooking the sea). Even if these rose out of the water with the tilt (though tilting in the opposite direction), there still would have been the several miles of seashore inland to the Andes mountains that would have been above water. So it does not seem likely that such would have been the case, i.e., the coastal plain under water, which would have included the area east of the Gulf of Guayaquil.