Saturday, February 8, 2020

What Does the Record Tell Us About Hagoth? – Part I

The areas of the Land of Promise around the Narrow Neck of land, showing Hagoth’s shipyard location

Regarding the man Hagoth, Mormon wrote that he:Built a ship on the borders of the land Bountiful by the land Desolation and launched it forth into the west sea by the narrow neck which led into the land northward. (Alma 63:5).
From that we learn six things:
1. The shipyard was on the border between the land of Bountiful and the land of Desolation;
2. The shipyard was in an area by the narrow neck of land;
3. The land northward lay beyond the narrow neck;
4. The shipyard was on or near the west seashore;
5. The ship was launched into the west sea;
6. The distance from the shipyard to the sea was minimal.
    After the launching, Nephite emigrants boarded the ship and readied themselves to colonize some area to the north. Mormon adds, “There were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took their course northward” (Alma 63:6).
    From this we learn seven additional points:
1. The ship was not built for military or expeditionary purposes;
2. The ship was built with human cargo in mind;
3. The ship was big enough to hold a large number of people;
4. The ship was built to transport emigrants;
5. Some type of family arrangements were provided so women and children could be transported;
6. The ship contained space for equipment, supplies, and agricultural products and perhaps animals;
7. The ship set a course northward directly after it was launched.
    Despite this very clear statement by Mormon that “they took their course northward,” the direction of north travel does not relate to the Mesoamerica model
1,040 Miles westward in Mesoamerica before a northward route can be achieved—does not match Mormon’s very clear description

During the time the first ship was gone, Hagoth remained behind and continued his shipbuilding efforts. During the following year, Hagoth had built other ships by the time the first emigrant ship returned. Mormon said of Hagoth: “This man built other ships. And the first ship did also return, and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward” (Alma 63:7).
    Still additional facts come to light in this second year of recorded shipbuilding:
1. There was an extensive shipbuilding industry in this area;
2. Hagoth did not accompany the first immigrant voyage north;
3. The shipyard was along the seashore that had both launching and docking facilities;
4. The first ship reached its destination safely;
5. The voyage of the first ship lasted some time, perhaps up to a year round trip before the ship returned;
6. Emigration was a booming business;
7. Somewhere to the north lay the first emigrant colony;
8. The second emigrant group headed in the same general direction.
    After describing the events that took place, Mormon then adds a parenthetical note: And it came to pass that they were never heard of more. And we suppose that they were drowned in the depths of the sea. And one other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go we know not” (Alma 63:8). 
These final facts can then be added to our list:
1. No one knew where the emigrants had gone;
2. No one knew if the emigrants had arrived safely at their destination;
3. Some felt the ship had gone down at sea, killing all aboard;
4. Another ship set sail with a different destination in mind;
5. No one knew where this last ship was headed;   
6. Likely, this last ship did not head in the same direction as the others; consequently, it must have sailed either west or south.
    All of these 21 points that Mormon makes about Hagoth and his work and the results are rarely covered in total. If covered at all, a few are chosen that the theorist feels vindicates their viewpoint, yet taken as a whole, all of these points work against the theorists of Mesoamerica, Heartland, and most other areas as completely false and inconsistent with the scriptural record.
    So let’s take a look at the meaning of Mormon’s comments:
The island of South America. At one time the lowlands of Brazil (Amazon Drainage Basin) was underwater

Answering the Questions
    Taking the above questions, we can then suggest the following answers:
1. What was the man Hagoth like? Judging from all of this, there are also a few probabilities we can draw from the scriptures about Hagoth himself:
• He was likely a Nephite;
• He was probably a wealthy man for he constructed a shipyard large enough to build several ships within a few years;
• He was a very curious man (Alma 63:5), which does not necessarily mean he was an explorer himself. Consider: a) He did not set sail with his first ship which carried large numbers of emigrants on a course northward, for he was building other ships when the first ship returned; b. There is no mention that Hagoth ever went anywhere in any of his ships; c. The word curious is actually defined as: Strongly desirous to see what is novel, or to discover what is unknown; solicitous to see or to know; inquisitive.” But it also means: Addicted to research or inquiry; accurate, careful, solicitous to be correct; attentive (as to detail); difficult to please; exact, made with care; artful, nicely diligent; wrought with care and art, elegant; neat, finished (as curious work); particular; exactness of workmanship.”
In Exodus 28:30, curious is used as “curious work,” implying something was made that was different, or unusual. We see this same meaning in 1 Nephi 16:10 regarding the Liahona. In Psalms 139 we see curious used to mean exact, neat, elegant. In Acts 19, curious is used to describe arts, implying they were unknown or different. The writers Bacon, Addison and Ray used curious as in: “the curiosity of workmanship,” “a thing worthy of curiosity,” and “an object of curiosity, novel and extraordinary.” The word curious (curioso) in Italian means virtuoso (skilled).
“To his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass” (1 Nephi 16:10)

Perhaps the best reference, however, is the one found in Helaman: “There was all manner of gold in both these lands, and of silver, and of precious ore of every kind; and there were also curious workmen, who did work all kinds of ore and did refine it” (Helaman 6:11).
    It seems safe to conclude that Hagoth, a curious man, was a skilled artisan who was exact and difficult to please, who took extreme pride in his craft, quite particular and accurate. He was also probably inquisitive in experimentation, trying new designs, methods and techniques. No doubt, Nephi, son of Lehi, would have been quite proud of Hagoth’s efforts for that erstwhile prophet, explorer and builder was, himself, a curious man who delighted in industry and achievement so much so that he wanted others to be as accomplished (2 Nephi 5:15,17).
    As a parenthetical note, it might be interesting to know, despite Mesoamerican Theorists like John L. Sorenson writing to the contrary, “being shipwrecked in one of his ships somewhere on the Mexican coast and not being able to get back home” (John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1985, p 269), Hagoth never sailed anywhere in his ships according to the scriptural record. That is, Mormon not only does not indicate Hagoth went anywhere in any of his ships, but that he stayed behind to make more ships while the first one sailed to its northward port and returned (Alma 63:7). A minor point, but one which shows that often the scholars do not read the scriptures sufficiently enough to know exactly what they tell us.
(See the next post, “What Does the Record Tell Us About Hagoth? – Part II,” for more about Hagoth and how Mormon’s description of the man, his work, and results have been misunderstood by Mesoamerican, Heartland and other theorist)

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