Wednesday, August 7, 2019

More Comments from Readers - Part IV

More comments and questions from our readers:
Comment #1: “Do the words ‘up’ and ‘down’ always mean in elevation when used in the Book of Mormon?” Chrissy S.
The present-day city of Jerusalem is situated on a hill, on the top of a mountain, albeit only 2,500 feet elevation—not really a mountain by western U.S. standards, but elevated considerably from the plains below the city that fall off to the Dead Sea, which is 1400 below sea level

Response: A very good question, one which can easily be interpreted incorrectly depending on where one is reading and the subject matter. As an example, to leave Jericho, which elevation is about 846 feet, one would “go up” to Jerusalem, which is about 1644 feet higher in elevation, thus the Lord, in his parable says: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves…” (Luke 10:30, emphasis added). On this basis, a person going from Evanston, Wyoming (6749 feet), would be down to Coalville, Utah (5577 feet) and down to Salt Lake City (4226 feet). But a person would be going up from Salt Lake City to Santaquin (elevation 4984 feet). Thus, going down from Jerusalem from Jericho, but going up from Jerusalem to Hebron (3051).
    Consequently, it would be improper to say that a certain man went up from Jerusalem to Jericho. Yet, it would be proper to say a certain man went up to Jerusalem from Efrat, even though Efrat is high in elevation (3000), since Jerusalem is holy, or a holy city, so one always ascend to it. The Holy Land itself is also always up, therefore, you always ascend up to Jerusalem and descend when leaving it. In fact, an immigrant to Israel is called an “ascend-er.”
    On the other hand, when reading in the Book of Mormon, we find that Lamanites always went “down” from the Land of Nephi to the Land of Zarahemla and Nephites always “went up” to the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla.
    Is this important? It is if you want to know of the accuracy of the Book of Mormon. For there is no way Joseph Smith would have known of this Hebrew or Jewish trait regarding their “everything is ‘up’ to Jerusalem” attitude when he translated: “Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands” (1 Nephi 3:29, see also 1 Nephi 4:1,2,3,4; 5:6; 7:3,15) and also: “Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness” (1 Nephi 3:4, see also 3:15,16,22;4:33,34,35;5:1,5;7:2,5,22).
    It is small things like this that make the scriptural record real and accurate and Hebraic in its writing, and adds the reality to what is being read.

Comment #2: “I finished your blog a couple months ago and then read ‘Lehi never saw Mesoamerica’ and just finished ‘Who really settled Mesoamerica’ and loved both of them.  I'm going to buy the scientific inaccuracies one next.  Thank you for your excellent work.  The Book of Mormon is alive for me now as I picture the locations in my mind as I read the Book of Mormon. I have a question for you.  I love the possibility of the Baobab tree being what the barges were built from. I struggle with how Ether chapter 2 vs 17 can fit with the image of the barges on page 146 of ‘Who Really Settled Mesoamerica.’ I've read and re-read everything you have written about the barges in both your book as well as your blog. Specifically, vs 17 says there is a bottom, a top, and sides as well as ends. I struggle a little with your explanation that the top and bottom are describing the top and bottom while the tree was still vertical.  because to me, vs 17 sounds like it is describing the barges after they were built, at least hollowed out. Plus verse 17 also describes ‘ends’ that ‘were peaked.’  Aren't the ‘ends’ the same as the top and the bottom?  Yet vs 17 describes a top and a bottom and ends. Also, verse 17 describes sides.  I struggle to see how the word "sides" fits with the picture of the barges on page 146.  To me, your drawing looks more like a cylinder but with peaked ends.  When I google "cylinder" one definition says cylinders don't have sides. Another says there is only an inside and an outside” David K.
Response: When we take something that is vertical and make it horizontal, there is always going to be a difficulty in using correct terms, or making them understandable to someone reading the words that does not have the same view of the object—in this case the tree. There are two things to keep in mind: In 1828, the word “peaked” meant “end in a point; the end of anything that terminates in a point.” The Baobab tree, like a modern-day submarine, is rounded to a point on both ends, with the branches on top looking like roots as they grow, not like a carrot or other item that ends its main body in the root itself.
    If you were looking at a real Baobab felled, you would see this quite clearly. The same is true on the “in ground” end, bottom, or true root area. Secondly, some items maintain their normal terminology even when their structure has changed. When you unpack your artificial Christmas Tree each year, you know without even a second look, which is the “top” and which is the “bottom,” because of its nature. If you were to cut down a tall flagpole, you could still tell which is the top and bottom, and refer to it that way even in a horizontal position.
    The Baobab is a unique tree and is referred to in a different fashion from a regular tree, when standing, dead in the ground, toppled, or still growing in a toppled position. It’s shape, design, and use is unique among trees.
We describe a submarine in certain ways, including top, bottom, and sides, and peaked ends (deck, bottom, stern and bow in Navy terms)

As for the verses, keep in mind that Ether (or whoever wrote that part [Brother of Jared?} as well as Moroni in his abridgement) is trying to describe a tree, which everyone knows and understands its parts, now that it is being used as a submersible barge, no doubt something that none of the above had ever seen or even thought about before and now are trying to describe it.
    We use submarine to describe it (something the Jaredites and Moroni would not have known about), with its having two ends, a top, bottom, and sides, even though it is basically round. The front end (bow) of a submarine can be described as an end, but never a top, unless for some reason and in some manner, it was situated on its tail fins—even then naval jargon would now allow it, but a novice could easily use the term. As an example, viewing an “emergency [main ballast] blow” and steep surface climb, which can nearly be vertical 90º, it is the “top” that rises out of the water first, but of course any mariner would call it the bow. Those who have experienced an emergency blow will, if saying much, might claim it felt like 90º, but the information is classified and not a discussable issue—however, any crew, if still in control of the boat would keep the angle of climb at a strictly regulated 45º (30º more likely). The point is, in such a climb following an “emergency deep [dive]” as U.S.S. Greenville managed when it struck the Japanese fishery training ship Ehime Maru was claimed to have been “quite steep” coming up from a four-hundred-foot depth.
Left: Japanese training fishery ship Ehime Maru. U.S.S. Greenville submerged directly beneath the vessel, cutting it in two; Right: U.S.S. Pickerel (SS-524) in an emergency blow at flank speed hit 72º angle as it broke the surface in 1952

As for cylinders, they are tubes with no purpose beyond being filled. A submarine, or in this case, a barge, has several other functions, not the least of which is having people inside. In order to communicate at sea, in the dark, or an emergency, certain nomenclature is used, including deck (outside top; deck inside bottom floor the sole), overhead (inside), front (forward), end (bow), rearward (aft), end (stern), etc. Since submersibles began in the military and the military has names for everything, round barges or submersibles have descriptions of sides, top, bottom, ends, etc. 
Comment #3: “I can see why grain needed to have been taken by Lehi, but wheat seems to common for the story line” Gus F.
Response: Actually, taking wheat in black sacks was quite common in Israel at the time of Lehi. They put the grain in homemade goat’s hair sacks called “farde” which is the Hebrew saq (Genesis 42:25), and holds about 150 pounds of grain, and placed two on a camel. And no Hebrew would have set out on any such trip without sufficient grain to secure crops in a new land, and wheat was the most staple crop in Israel at the time.

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