Thursday, August 15, 2019

Land of Promise Features that Cannot be Ignored—Where are they in Mesoamerica or the Heartland/Great Lakes? Part VI

Continuing with comparing the scriptural record descriptions and consider where these points are in either of the more northern theories claimed by theorists.
• Circumcision: The Law of Moses
     While the term “circumcision” does not appear generally the Book of Mormon, two things should be noted:
1. The Law of Moses was practiced by the Nephites (1 Nephi 4:15-17; 2 Nephi 5:10; Mosiah 2:3; 12:29; Alma 25:15; 30:3). In fact, the Nephites knew and understood that salvation came by living the Law of Moses (Mosiah 12:31-32; 13:27);
2. Circumcision was part of the Law of Moses (Genesis 17:10);
3. Up until the time of Christ’s advent in the Americas to the Nephites, circumcision was practiced because a) the Nephites lived the law of Moses, and b) The Lord made it clear that circumcision was to be stopped because the law was “done away in him” (Moroni 8:8).
    Thus, any area claimed to be the Land of Promise should have evidence through the investigation of mummies of the time to have been circumcised.
    However, in Andean Peru of South America, numerous mummies have shown that circumcision was widely practiced anciently among numerous cultures (Emil G.Hirsch, et al., “Circumcision: the  Cutting Away of the Foreskin,” Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906).
    Obviously, a part of the Law of Moses was circumcision. Even Christ verified this when he said, ““This is…the covenant you are to keep.” Every male was to be circumcised, and this physical rite was to be “the sign of the covenant” with God, and it was “an everlasting covenant.” The practice of circumcision became the defining characteristic of the Abraham-Isaac-Jacob clan.” This practice was re-emphasized in the time of Joshua (Joshua 5:2-8). 
    Since there is no question that the Nephites lived the Law of Moses and that a part of the.  Law was to practice circumcision, we need to see if the Nephites in the Land of Promise show evidence of this fact.
    As an example, in Central and South America, Christopher Columbus reported circumcision being practiced by Native Americans in the 15th century (M.C. Alanis and R.S. Lucidi "Neonatal circumcision: a review of the world's oldest and most controversial operation," Obstetrics Gynecology Survey, vol.59, no.5, May 2004, pp379–95). It was also practiced by the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayans. It probably started among South American tribes and its use later evolved into a ritual (D. Doyle, "Ritual male circumcision: a brief history," The Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, vol.35, no.3, October 2005, pp279-285).
    However, all of this post-dated the time of the Nephites and may have been a carry over among some Lamanites that moved northward, or Nephites in Hagoth’s ships.
    On the other hand, there is no record of ancient cultures in North America practicing circumcision at all.
The early cultures of Peru mummified many of their dead and buried them with valuable materials such as precious metal jewelry, fine pottery and sumptuous textiles. Important mummies could also be periodically removed from their tombs to participate in ceremonies where they were also offered food as if they were still living persons. Those mummies (mallki) which escaped looters have, in most cases, been excellently preserved, thanks to the dry climate of the Andes region, and they provide a unique insight into the culture, religious practices, and everyday life of early Peruvians 

In South America we find such evidence in the mummies found in tombs all over the Andean land of Peru. In the Andes, mummification was a way of preserving power, not memorializing it. As the Spanish discovered, the western spine of South America might be the Earth’s largest natural laboratory for making mummies. The sands of its bone-dry coast, stretching from Peru down to northern Chile, first made them naturally, preserved and exposed by the passage of time in desert sands, on cold, dry peaks and across high plains. By the time Inca expansion began in the 1200s, highland Andean peoples were placing their ancestors in caves or similarly accessible burial towers—chullpas, whose location marked resources and divided territory.
      This early European encounter with the Andean afterlife left an extraordinary mark on what would later become anthropology and archaeology. Although the Spaniards attempted to halt the veneration of the more locally preserved dead with extirpating fire, they also captured detailed knowledge about the lives and beliefs of Andean peoples. The tenure of the mummies in Lima convinced the Spanish that they were not just preserved but embalmed—a complex process, worthy of respect for its use of valuable materia medica.
    Today, the countries in Andean Peru circumcise their male populace 26 times more often than in Mesoamerica.
Nephite Temple 
Nephi states that shortly after he and those who would go with him reached their destination and settled in an area they called the Land of Nephi and built the city of Nephi, he tells us he built a temple like unto Solomons. As Nephi stated: “And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine” (2 Nephi 5:16)    
    Though Nephi knew of Christ, and his eventual birth, life and crucifixion, the Nephites lived the Law of Moses, and the temple was a big part of that law. As Nephi said, “Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him (2 Nephi 11:4).
The Elephantine Papyri consist of 175 documents from the Egyptian border fortresses of Elephantine and Aswan, which yielded hundreds of papyri in Hieratic and Demotic Egyptian, Aramaic, Koine Greek, Latin and Coptic, spanning a thousand year period 

According to an Elephantine papyri in Egypt, the descendants of the Jews that went down into Egypt after the fall of the Judaen kingdom (taking with them the prophet Jeremiah), petitioned Jerusalem later if they could build a replica of Solomon’s temple and were given permission to do so. Obviously, it was not as large and lavish as the original, but it contained the interior rooms and structure to carry out the ordinances of the Law of Moses.
    This, of course, is exactly what Nephi did—he built a temple after the manner of Solomon's, only not as great because he lacked the materials, but was fully capable of performing the Law of Moses, which the Nephites honored. As he said, “And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things according to the law of Moses” (2 Nephi 5:10).
    It might also be of interest to know that Solomon’s Temple, or the First Temple, has no direct archaeological evidence for its existence, and no mention of it exists in the surviving contemporary extra-biblical literature. The Bible states that the temple was constructed in the 10th century B.C.; however, no archeological proof for or against the existence of Solomon's Temple has been found. The exact location of the First Temple is unknown: it is believed to have been situated upon the hill which forms the site of the 1st century Second Temple and present-day Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock is now situated.
    In The Bible Unearthed, the description of the temple is remarkably similar to that of surviving remains of Phoenician temples of the time, and it is certainly plausible, from the point of view of archaeology, that the temple was constructed to the design of the Phoenicians. In fact, an excavation of David’s palace now underway shows that it was built using Phoenician architecture.
    Nephi tells us: “I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land” (2 Nephi 5:16). So what “precious things” were not found in the land? Certainly the new land possessed virgin forests, rock quarries for stone, gold and silver for decoration, and the ability to build and craft similar features. Solomon’s Temple had, as did the later temples, the artifacts of the Hebrews, the “precious things” such as the Ark of the Covenant, the tablets of Moses, and the gold cherubim.
    Many claim that when Nephi said, “iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” that when he turned around in the next statement and said, “it was not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land,” that he was contradicting himself.
However, “precious ores,” and “precious things,” are two entirely different meanings. Ore, of course, means “metal,” and “precious ore” means “gold and silver (or any rare metal, such as platinum, palladium, etc.) But the word “things” means “any substance, that which is created.” So what were the precious things of Solomon’s temple that “were not to be found upon the land”?

Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem 

Solomon’s temple was built of huge blocks of the choicest stone, overlaid with olive wood and vast amounts of cedar (from Lebanon—the city of Tyre). Stone, of course, was available to Nephi, as was wood, but not olive wood or cedar, which did not exist in either Mesoamerica or the Andean area.
    Some temple experts have described the key features of Jerusalem worship from the days of Lehi’s youth, before oppressive Josian reform, and then observes that Nephite religion contained all of these, “with the understandable exception of the specific temple artifacts kept in the holy of holies, such as the ark of the covenant…and the cherubim.”
    We need to keep in mind that the Jerusalem temple was structured in layers of sacredness, or degrees of glory around the Ark, with the chamber that contained the Ark being the holiest place of all, the Holy of Holies. The Ark, bearing as it did the stone tablets God touched with His finger on Sinai during the Exodus, provided Israel an embodiment of His presence. The Ark also served as an altar, upon which the Aaronite high priest was required to sprinkle sacrificial blood during the all-important Day of Atonement. Some of these features, or “precious things” simply did not exist in Lehi’s Land of Promise.
    The point of all this is that while such temple remains exist throughout Andean Peru, specifically in the area of Cuzco, on a hill overlooking the city (Mosiah 11:12), there is no temple or pyramid in Mesoamerica that represents a temple like unto Solomons. Especially one with a tower net to it like the only in Cuzco.
    As for North America, no such temple has ever been found. Not only that, but there is nowhere in the entire Heartland of Great Lakes where a “very high tower” could be built to overlook a vast area as is written in Mosiah. 
(See the next post, “Land of Promise Features that Cannot be Ignored—Where are they in Mesoamerica or the Heartland/Great Lakes? Part VII,” for more scriptural record descriptions of the land of Promise that do not match  Mesoamerica or the Heartland/Great Lakes)


  1. There is plenty of evidence that the Temple that existed at the time of Jesus was not located where today is the Dome of the Rock.

    This free book explains it best:

    The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot by Dr. Ernest L. Martin

    "This book is a result of my research that shows that the Temples of God in Jerusalem were indeed located over the Gihon Spring and not over the Dome of the Rock. What has been amazing to me is the vast amount of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian records that remain available from the first to the sixteenth centuries that clearly vindicate the conclusions that I have reached in this book of research. Any information that you readers may have or discover that either support or detract from the conclusions that I have made in this book, would be greatly appreciated by me."

    1. I decided to read myself the account by Josephus of the 70 AD siege of Jerusalem. He calls it the "tower of Antonia" every time in the translation I read. It had a tower at each corner, one being much higher. It was a very self sufficient place. But nothing about the description sounds like it is talking about a 35 acre area. In fact in the siege, Titus has it all torn down. By my research the 10th Legion did not occupy Jerusalem until AFTER the 70 AD siege. There had been no legion in Jerusalem for some time before the siege, because the Jews had gained full control there. I have yet to find any evidence that the Romans had a full legion in the city of Jerusalem earlier. So I realize the claims I had accepted have problems with them. Lesson: double check to original records everything, old and new historical claims alike.

    2. I have actually been convinced that Cornuke and Martin can be incorrect, even though they seemed correct. I am now carefully studying the Norma Robertson model that is on the south end of the present Temple mound.

      Locating Solomon's Temple by Norma Robertson

      Norma Robertson website

  2. According to recent archaeological discoveries the site is still the present temple mount. Here is the link that explains the evidence. I believe the Dome of the Rock is the correct place.

    1. That was interesting. However, stones can be moved around and used in different situations over time. The article does not address many issues and acts like one or two issues settles the matter. It does not address the need for Temple being right by the Gihon spring. Jesus said not one stone would not be atop another. Why would the Romans destroy the temple and not destroy all the walls around the temple? So this article does not convince me.

  3. I found this article regarding the possible location of Solomon's temple to be enlightening.