Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Narrow Strip of Wilderness

One of the big differences between the Mesoamerican and Heartland theorists revolves largely around the meaning of the phrase “head of the Sidon,” which is mentioned in connection with both Manti and Nephihah. If “head of the river Sidon” means the source of the river, then the river would have to flow “north” from Manti north past Zarahemla. This interpretation also means the river could not flow “south” through the land of Nephi.
    The question in this issue is the word “head” a in “head of the River Sidon,” which Jonathan Neville claims is the not source of a river, but a confluence. To better understand this, we need to know how the word “head” in relation to a river was used and intended in 1829 when Joseph translated the plates and how it was used in several different areas on the plates.
    First of all,the term “head of the river Sidon is used five times (Alma 22:27,29; 43:22; 50:11; 56:25). Secondly, less compare this use of “head” to another use of the same word in Alma marching at the head of his armies (Alma 2:16; 49:10); Helaman marching at the head of his two thousand stripling soldiers (Alma 53:22; 56:9), and Amalickiah did himself come down, at the head of the Lamanites (Alma 51:12).
The terms that describe a river from its head to its mouth

In both uses of the word “head” refers to the beginning, the source, the start. Compare this with the 1828 definition from then American Dictionary of the English Language: meaning of “head.” The principal source of a stream; as the head of the Nile. The part most remote from the mouth or opening into the sea; as the head of a bay, gulf or creek.
    To originate; to spring; to have its source, as a river.” In addition, this dictionary defines further: “By the head in seamen's language, denotes the state of a ship laden too deeply at the fore-end. To oppose; to veer round and blow in opposition to the course of a ship; as, the wind heads us.”
    And finally, “A broad river that heads in the great Blue Ridge of mountains.”
    Thus, the term “source,” quoted by Neville as meaning ssomehning else, we again turn to the 1828 dictionary known to Joseph Smith: “Properly, source is the spring or fountain from which a stream of water proceeds, or any collection of water within the earth or upon its surface, in which a stream originates. This is called also the head of the stream. We call the water of a spring, where it issues from the earth, the source of the stream or rivulet proceeding form it. We say also that springs have their sources in subterranean ponds, lakes or collections of water. We say also that a large river has is source in a lake. For example, the St. Lawrence has its source in the great lakes of America.”
    Given the meaning of source or head of a river meaning the beginning, we turn to the word “mouth,” which means in this 1828 dictionary: “The part or channel of a river by which its waters are discharged into the ocean or into a lake. The Mississippi and the Nile discharge their waters by several mouths
    The source of a river or stream is the original point from which the river flows. It may be a lake, a marsh, a spring or a glacier. This is where the stream starts. The source is the farthest point of the river stream from its estuary or its confluence with another river or stream
The head of a river is the same as the headwaters or the source, meaning where the river begins (the furthest distance away from the mouth)

Thus, the source of a river or stream is the original point from which the river flows. It may be a lake, a marsh, a spring, or a glacier—this is wehere the stream starts or begin. The farthest stream is called the head-stream or head water. There is sometimes disagreement on which source is the head water, hence on which is the true source. Headwaters are usually in mountains.
    The source is where a river begins, and the river mouth is where it joins the sea.
    In addition, we know that to the south of the Land of Zarahemla was the Land of Nephi, separated by a narrow strip of wilderness that ran between them from the Sea East to the Sea West (Alma 22:27). The fact that the narrow strip of wilderness was either mountainous or filled with sharp breaking cliffs to prevent movement through that area, it would have had to have been at a higher elevation from the Land of Zarahemla for the Sidon to flow down, past the borders of the Land of Zarahemla. As Mormon states: “And it came to pass that the Amlicites came upon the hill Amnihu, which was east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla, and there they began to make war with the Nephites” (Alma 2:15).
    Obviously, the directional relationship was from Zarahemla south to Minon, then south to Manti, then south to the head of Sidon, and then south to the land of Nephi. Since the “head of river Sidon” is described in the Book of Mormon as the beginning of the Sidon up in the narrow strip of wilderness—rather than the confluence of major rivers as suggested by Rod Meldrum and Jonathan Neville in their Heartland theory—the following scenario from the Book of Mormon further forecloses any possibility that the Mississippi River could have been the river Sidon.
    In 74 BC, Moroni was appointed chief captain of the Nephite armies. He was stationed on the east seacoast preparing for war with the Nephite dissenters and the Lamanites—including the Zoramites at Antionum, who had become Lamanites—in the east-sea area. Because the mostly naked Lamanites feared the armaments, breastplates, and armor of the Nephites (Alma 43:38), the Lamanites feared to go against them in the land of Antionum, and their leader Zerahemnah decided to go into the narrow strip of wilderness and “up” (Alma 43:34) to the area of the head of river Sidon and then to proceed down northward to the land of Manti (Alma 43:42) to attack the weaker Nephites in that area.
The confluence of the Ohio with the Mississippi rivers—note the flatness of the lands in every direction, yet Mormon does snot describe the land in that manner

It is an understanding of the elevation relationship that is necessary to understand in deciphering events in the Book of Mormon. It should be kept in mind that the incidents in Alma 43 simply could not take place along the flat lands of the Mississippi River where Heartland theorists Neville and Meldrum claim it did. This area that they claim was the “head of Sidon”—the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
    Once again, Meldrnm claims the Sidon River in the Book of Mormon flowed past Zarahemla southward and “down” toward Manti which was at the head or confluence, with the “headwaters” likely meaning to the confluence of present day Missouri [Ohio] and Mississippi rivers.
    To come to this flawed conclusion, Meldrum must misconstrue or misstate what the Book of Mormon actually says and means as stated above. Neither Meldrum nor Neville cite any scriptures supporting their erroneous conclusions that the Sidon flowed south or that it flowed down from Zarahemla toward Manti.
    In a vain attempt to support Meldrum’s unsupportable conclusion that Mormon meant that the “head of Sidon” referred to the confluence of the Missouri or Ohio rivers with the Mississippi Rivers, Neville makes the following incredibly erroneous and false statements about Mormon’s statement which he claims refers to problems crossing the head of Sidon, such as “Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla neither durst they cross the head of Sidon over to the city of Nephihah” (Alma 56:25)
1. We can’t tell whether the Lamanites avoided crossing the head of Sidon because of an inherent difficulty…
There was no inherent difficulty suggested
2. Because of strategic fears…
There was no inherent strategic fears listed or even suggested 
3. Many other references to crossing don’t mention the head of Sidon…
On the contrary, there are four other comments about the head of the river Sidon, and none suggest a problem with terrain or the river itself hindering a crossing…Alma 22:27; 22:29; 43:22; 50:1
4. A reasonable inference is that the “head of Sidon” was either fortified…
There is no suggestion of any fortification at the head of the river Sidon
5. As part of the border…
There is no indication that anywhere along the border of the River Sidon was there any type of fortification
6. Or was an especially impassable section of the river border.
There is no indication that any such impassable section or area existed.
(Jonathan Neville, The Lost City of Zarahemla, From Iowa to Guatemala—and Back Again, Legends Library Publishing, Rochester, NY,  2015, pp315–316).
    We do know, on the other hand, that the reason the Lamanites did not go down to attack the Nephites was that “they durst not pass by us with their whole army, neither durst they with a part, lest they should not be sufficiently strong and they should fall” (Alma 56:23-24).
The Narrow Strip of Land with two passes taht lead northward

Once again, there seem to be two routes between Nephi and Zarahemla that went northerly from Nephi up to the hill north of Shilom, then through the narrow strip of wilderness to the head of Sidon, then down northward to the valley of Manti, then northward down to Minon and then northward down to Zarahemla. The other route went from Zarahemla east across the river Sidon, then southerly up to Gideon, then southerly up to Manti, and then southerly up to the head of river Sidon, then through the narrow strip of wilderness to the hill north of Shilom, and then southerly down to Nephi.
    In either case, the land between Zarahemla and Nepih was hilly and mountainous, with the head or source of the River Sidon between them, thus one went upward (north) to the crest of the hills, across the narrow strip of land, and downward (north) to the head of the Sidon, past that to the down northward to the valley of Manti, then northward down to Minon and then northward down to Zarahemla. Since the river ran through the Land of Zarahemla, or along its border (Alma 2:15), this means the River Sidon was south of Zarahemla, and the river flowed northward through or past the Land of Zarhemla.

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