Wednesday, July 17, 2019

How Factual is Lehi’s Landing in Chile?

We recently received this inquiry: Now, what did Joseph Smith say about landing in Chile? We have no reliable evidence that he said anything. In the notes of the 1879 edition of the Book of Mormon, Orson Pratt states that Lehi's landing was in Chile. In an 1882 publication, Franklin D. Richards attributed this identification of Lehi's landing place to Joseph Smith and to revelation. Chasing this back to its source, the only reference for the statement "by Joseph Smith" is a written comment by Frederick G. Williams. Other items on this particular paper appear to be notes taken at a meeting of the School of the Prophets. In an interesting analysis of the assumptions and speculations that can result from a few words on a scrap of paper, John Welch and John Sorenson demonstrate that the evidence, when all taken together, does not support this statement as anything more than a declaration written by Frederick G. Williams. He may have been recording the speculation of one of his brethren or even his own personal speculation.” What do you think?” Lance Y.
Red Lines showing typical shipping routes in the mid-1800s; Blue Circle showing a relatively unknown area to those in North America, since it was not along any shipping line. The chances that information about this area would have been known in Palmyra or along the westward frontier would be minimal

Response: It is extremely interesting that somebody, anybody, in the 1830s wrote down the location of 30º South Latitude in Chile as a landing site for Nephi’s ship. The fact that this particular site could only have been reached by a singular course at the time on a ship “driven forth before the wind” is amazing in that it would require sailing the Sea of Arabia, Indian Ocean, and Southern Ocean on the West Wind Drift and Prevailing Westerlies, a current and wind unknown in New England, America, in 1840 or to anyone else other than the Yankee Clippers which began in 1843, but did not reach any known recognition in America until the stimulating influence of the discovery of gold in California and Australia in 1848 and 1851, and ended with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.
    While we tend to think of easy travel around the world, in the time of Joseph Smith, there were only a few steamships that crossed the Atlantic, though there were many paddle-wheelers designed for the calm and quiet waters of the inland rivers with extremely shallow drafts. It was, after all, a long step between steam traffic on inland waters to the navigation of the deep sea.
    It should be noted that the first steam ship was invented in 1787, but the first crossing of the Atlantic by a steamboat, the Savannah, was in 1819, though it was not a true steamship and only part of the voyage was by steam. In 1833 the Quebec-built Royal William, actually made the first true steamboat crossing of the Atlantic—but it was four years later, in 1837, that the next steamship crossing of the Atlantic took place. By 1850, such crossings had become common, though there were still considerable difficulties, especially in the length of time to make the voyage.
    Steam ships (in combination with sail) had been crossing the Atlantic since the 1830s. Also, even if they were under sail, chances are it would be a quicker trip; in the mid-1700s a fast crossing could take at best about six weeks (42 days) but was typically more like 70 days and sometimes a lot more. The fastest sailing ships in the 1850s had done the crossing in as little as 25 days, but there were still bad crossings that took 100 days+ (with the average down to 53 days). By comparison a steamship in 1850 would do the trip in around 9–12 days, but cost significantly more money to purchase a berth.
(Red Line) Clipper Trade route between between Europe, Far East, Australia and New Zealand running through the Southern Ocean—and remains the fastest sailing route around the world ; (Yellow Line) New York to San Francisco route

The point is, that America’s involvement in the clipper trade became prominent between 1845 and 1855 with the building of the 757-ton Rainbow, and the Flying Cloud which sailed from New York to San Francisco in 89 days 8 hours (a record that stood until 1989).
    In the famed Clipper route, at the end of this course using the Southern Ocean and up the coast of South America in the Humboldt Current, the strong winds die down, the doldrums of wind movement upward leaving ships and the sea without much movement, right where the Bay of Coquimbo is located—and that is right where La Serena is located, which contains all the matches Nephi describes in verses 24 and 25 of 1 Nephi Chapter 18, describing what was found at the landing site.
    Think about it—with more than a hundred thousand miles of coastline in a world that is about 3/4ths water, someone picked out of the blue, the exact spot, some 5,500 miles from where they were located and never having been, before such maps existed, no nautical maps existing of the area, the internet, GPS, mass communication or even good encyclopedias of South America, etc., yet chose the only place in the entire world outside of the Mediterranean Sea, where a spot matching all of Nephi’s description could be found.
    It would appear that modern gamblers would place those odds at about 100 trillion to one. Think about it. 
    Nephi described what they found and encountered upon their reaching the Land of Promise: “after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land. And we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance. And we did find upon the land of promise as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:23-25).
In those 155 words found in 2½ verses tell us all we need to know about the land where Lehi landed:
Directly upon landing, Lehi and his people “pitched their tents” and “began to till the earth” 

1. They pitched their tents and settled where they landed;
2. The land where they landed was immediately tillable and receptive to the seeds they brought from Jerusalem;
3. The land where they landed was very similar to the land of Jerusalem for their seeds to grow exceedingly and provide abundant crops;
4. A large forest—large enough for both wild beasts and domestic animals to co-exist;
5. Abundant Gold on the surface of the land;
6. Abundant Silver on the surface of the land;
7. Abundant Copper on the surface of the land.
    Stated differently, if any suggested Land of Promise does not have these seven points at the place where Lehi landed, then they have to be discarded, since Nephi makes it quite clear what they found upon landing in the Land of Promise—not after Lehi died and Nephi was told to flee from his brothers and take those who would go with him (2 Nephi 5:6)—but where they landed! On the other hand, any place where these seven points exist or existed in the past during the time of the Nephites, should be considered.
    Thus, when added together, there are only five places on the entire planet that might be able to provide all seven of these conditions, none of which would have been known or familiar to people living in New England in the early 1800s where Joseph Smith translated the plates. Those six places are: 1) around the Mediterranean Sea; 2) along the southern cape of South Africa; 3) Along the two southern points of land in Australia (West and South); 4) Southern California; and 5) La Serena in Chile.
The five places on Earth where a Mediterranean Climate exists, necessary to replant seeds from Jerusalem and for them to grow exceedingly and produce abundant crops 

 The reason for this is simple. For Lehi’s seeds to have grown “exceedingly” and provided an “abundant” crop, they would have to have been planted in one of these five areas, or stated differently, in an area with a Mediterranean Climate. That, of and in itself, eliminates all of North America except for California but including Baja California, and all of Mesoamerica, all of Florida, and the Maya Peninsula—leaving only Andean South America.

1 comment:

  1. Very good. The usual response is that the claims of another model are also somehow possible. And thus, that settles it, the other model is correct.

    Not very good logic.