Tuesday, February 11, 2020

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

Continuing from the previous post regarding Hagoth and how Mormon’s description of the man, his work, and results have been misunderstood by Mesoamerican, Heartland and other theorist, and misrepresented him in their writing.
    In the scriptural record, we find that over the space of two years Mormon reported at least six notable migrations—three by sea (Alma 63:5-6; 7; 8), and probably a fourth (Alma 63:4), since they were numbered, and that would usually mean by ship, where numbering is important. Additionally, a fifth ship went northward, carrying provisions for the northward migration and also the son of Helaman, Corianton (Alma 63:10; 31:7).
    All of these ships went northward, “to a land which was northward” (Alma 63:5,6,7b). In addition, a sixth ship left and sailed away, but its destination was unknown (Alma 63:8). As for going overland, one such journey took place at this time, and was mentioned separately (Alma 63:9). In addition, we might want to consider Hagoth’s additional ships, for Mormon tells us that Hagoth built even more ships (Alma 63:7a), which implies that further seafaring migrations likely took place.
There is also mention of a journey northward by land rather than by sea (Alma 63:9), a relevant point because another northward land migration (Helaman 3:3) also took place. As Mormon writes: “In the forty and sixth year, yea, there was much contention and many dissensions; in the which there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land” (Helaman 3:3, emphasis added).
    However, the description of the ship’s destinations do not suggest they went anywhere to “inherit land,” thus additionally suggesting they went “to a land which was northward,” or not connected to the Land Northward.
    Some of these descriptions, of course, tell us that this group who went overland, went into the Land Northward of the Land of Promise, leading us to understand that the Nephites in the Land Southward were expanding their territory into the Land Northward, a point clarified later when Mormon wrote: “they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east (Helaman 3:8).
    However, despite all the clear and concise statements to the contrary, Mesoamerican and North American theorists hold doggedly to the opinion that all of these journeys, the ones by ship and the ones overland. In addition, these theorists hold to other opinions not supported by the Book of Mormon. As an example, Phyllis Carol Olive, in her book The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, places it along the Niagara Peninsula, which is between the southwestern shore of Lake Ontario and the northeastern shore of Lake Erie.
Top: Olive’s placement of the Book of Mormon lands; Bottom: Olive’s outline of Lake Tonawanda, the Narrow Neck, Hagoth’s shipyard, and the ship’s route along the Niagara River to Lake Ontario (dotted lines are Olive’s suggested route). Of course, this route would not involve the West Sea as Mormon describes (Alma 63:5)

Technically an isthmus rather than a peninsula, it stretches from the Niagara River in the east to Hamilton, Ontario, in the west. Today the 27-mile long Welland Canal, built between 1824 and 1829, and extended in 1833, is a ship canal in Ontario, Canada, connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. It forms a key section of the current St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes Waterway and has 8 locks in the canal.
    It is claimed that anciently a Lake Tonawanda extended from the river eastward, parallel to the southern coast of Lake Ontario, leaving a narrow strip of land between the two lakes which Olive claims is the Land Northward (as well as the land to the east of Lake Ontario).
    In speaking of those who “took their course northward,” Mormon went on to say “to a land which was northward” (Alma 63:4,6), Olive writes (p186) that: “Those who desired to go were undoubtedly more than willing to descend the hills of the escarpment to the lower elevation where they could launch off into the river below and from there out into the Lake Ontario Basin.”
    It should be noted that though Olive talks about descending hills, there is no mention in the scriptural record of there being hills anywhere around where Hagoth built his ships, which was “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), none of which mentions or even suggests hills, let alone an escarpment (a word that was known in Joseph Smith’s time).
    It should also be noted that Lake Ontario is Olive’s Sea North. Also at this point, in the lake or sea, which would only be about 12 miles from where Olive has the people boarding the ship, though Mormon says they took their course northward, she writes: “Once within the lake, they could sail along the coastline until they found a favorable spot to put down roots in the more eastern extension of the land northward.”
    However, following Olive’s course (dotted white arrows in map above), Hagoth’s ships would have landed along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, hardly worth the cost and effort to prepare for such a short sea journey along the lake rather than go overland, traveling over basically flat land, which today is referred to as the Lake Ontario Drainage Basin. If they traveled north all the way across Lake Ontario, a distance of about 25 miles on a northward course, it would not save them much from an overland course around the lake of about 79. After all, shipping would have been costly, walking would not.
    Also we might add that though Olive writes (p185) regarding the drainage of the Great Lakes to the north: “These waters carried the outflow of Lake Erie and other of the upper Great Lakes to the Hudson River and from there out to the Atlantic Ocean,” the Great Lakes actually drain south to the St. Lawrence River.
    These five lakes lie in separate basins, they form a single, naturally interconnected body of fresh water, within the Great Lakes Basin, and form a chain connecting the east-central interior of North America to the Atlantic Ocean. From the interior to the outlet at the St Lawrence River, water flows from Superior to Huron and Michigan, southward to Erie, and finally northward to Lake Ontario. The lakes drain a large watershed via many rivers, and are studded with approximately 35,000 islands. There are also several thousand smaller lakes, often called "inland lakes," within the basin, which is about the size of the UK and France combined (Tom Bennett, “Lake Huron: the “Forgotten” Lake?” State of the Great Lakes: 1997 Annual Report, Diane Publishing, Collingdale PA, 1999; Gene E. Likens, Lake Ecosystem Ecology: A Global Perspective, Academic Press, Cambridge MA, 2010, p326; Wayne Grady, The Great lakes, Greystone Books, Vancouver, 1991, pp13,21-26,42-43).
    In any event, her descriptions do not match Mormon’s writing. 
Hagoth and fellow workers at the forge of his shipyard where he built several exceedingly large ships

It also might be noted that Olive writes about Hagoth (p186): “It was Hagoth who seems to have initiated the practice of shipping from one land to the other.” But we simply do not know that, nor can we even draw that conclusion since only seven years later, the Nephites were involved in shipping (transporting) and the building of ships (construction). The fact that this was mentioned among the major issues to which the Nephites were involved (Helaman 3:10,14).
    It would be highly unlikely when Mormon writes: “But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account…” a list of nine additional items to which the Nephites were involved is inserted, then Mormon ends with “…cannot be contained in this work.” Yet, following the mention of wars, preaching and prophecies, shipping and building of ships is listed before building temples, synagogues and sanctuaries. This would hardly be the case if building of ships and shipping was only entered into after 550 years in the Land of Promise.
    Olive also claims (p186) that: “Hagoth was described as a very curious man. Evidently his curiosity about more distant lands finally got the better of him, for he built a ship, launched it forth into the west sea and headed north.” While we have already debunked the issue of Hagoth sailing anywhere since e scriptural record does not say or even suggest that he did—actually stating that while the first ship sailed north, he remained in his shipyard building more ships while the first ship, it merely shows the ongoing mistake many theorists make by using their opinion rather than Mormon’s writings and descriptions.
    Later in her writing, Olive (p189) states: “ Hagoth launching his ship into the west sea by the narrow neck, and then sailing as far as he could northward, and also “Since Hagoth was described as a very curious man, we would have to assume that his journeys took him much further.”
    Once again, it should be noted that Mormon tells us that “in the thirty and eighth year, this man built other ships” (Alma 63:7a), while the first ship was still sailing north and did not return until after Hagoth was building other ships (Alma 63:7b).
(See the next post, “What Does the Record Tell Us About Hagoth? – Part IV,” regarding this continuing article about Hagoth and the role he played in the Nephite immigration)

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