Thursday, February 13, 2020

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

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.
Hagoth built exceedingly large ships, a type of ship that is not typically used for short distance trips but for long voyages

One of the things that almost all theorists ignore, especially those who claim the voyages were very short distances, is that moving people by ship even only a couple of hundred miles would be a very expensive way to emigrate—it would take some time to recoup the cost of building the ship, let alone make a profit. The cost to the immigrants might be exhorbitant for their meager means, having just survived a lengthy war. We should not lose sight of the fact that free enterprise and free markets have basically always existed among the people of God. It is claimed that Lehi was a merchant, as would his sons have been (Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City. 1952, p36). There is simply no reason to believe that the land of promise was any different. Hagoth would have built his ships only if there was some profit reward in doing so since there is no record that he personally sailed anywhere as a discoverer or explorer.
    It should be noted that some scholars claim that this was a venture sponsored by the government to get colonization moving into the land northward, but under the circumstances of a just-concluded lengthy war with the Lamanites, it is unlikely that the government would have the funds to sponsor such emigration, or even want its people to leave. After all, at this point in time, the Lamanites had been attacking and warring with the Nephites for around 500 years. No matter how badly the Nephites might defeat the Lamanites in any one of these ongoing wars, the Lamanites always came back for another war later on. The Nephite government, knowing this, would not want to move their military strength (people) away from the battle area of the Land Southward and weaken their future defense against another Lamanite attack. Scholars might claim the government sponsored emigration away from battle zones, but that seems highly unlikely.
    In connection with this, it should also be concluded that there would have been no value in having people in the land northward from a governmental or military point of view. With the numbers of Nephites that were killed in this lengthy war, it is doubtful there would have been an over-population of the lands of Zarahemla and Bountiful. Nor could they have needed people in the land to the north to secure that land, since it was easily secured by defending the narrow neck of land as is seen much later in the Nephite-Lamanite wars. No, it would have made more sense for the government to get people to stay rather than emigrate elsewhere.
Left: As is today; Right: During the time of Hagoth and the Nephites, showing the Central American Seaway that passed through between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea before the Isthmus of Darien (Panama) formed and rose out of the water from the development of volcanoes, sediment, and mountain buildup—anciently this seaway provided access by ship of Hagoth’s vessels to reach “a land which was northward” before the forming of the Isthmus of Darien (Panama)

Thus, we can only conclude that the Nephite emigrants went north in Hagoth’s ship through some private enterprise endeavor and in such case, it would had to have been profitable to someone. Obviously, the people who went north by ship would have paid for their passage, and that of their family, provisions, and possessions. Such a cost, following a lengthy war, might seem out of the ordinary had they also been able to merely move overland into the land northward without incurring the cost of sea passage. For these reasons, it seems obvious that the migration by ship was to a land different than the scriptural “land northward.” A land that could not easily have been reached overland, or not reached at all. Given the land of promise being an island like Jacob said and Nephi recorded (2 Nephi 10:20), it can be suggested that this land to which they emigrated was not connected physically to the land of promise.
    People going into the land northward went to inherit the land within the land of promise (Helaman 3:3-4), and are singled out separately than those who went by ship. In Alma 63:9 and Helaman 3:3 we find the terms “went forth into the land northward” and “went forth unto the land northward” used to describe land migrations. Helaman 3:4 clearly illustrates such a land migration, penetrating the interior of the land northward all the way to the area of many waters and rivers which describes the Old Jaredite lands. We get an even clearer picture of this by defining the key words used—the word into means passing from the outside of a place to its interior; specifically noting penetration; on the other hand, the word unto, which is a compound of un (on) and to, meaning simply to—which was an obsolete word even in the days of Noah Webster, whose definitions are being used from his 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language. Thus, those Nephites left the land southward and went into, or penetrated, the land northward. This can only describe a land migration.
    Now in Alma 63:4, preceding the description of Hagoth’s ships and the ocean migration north, we find the rare term “into the land which was northward.” A definition of this key word shows a different process. That is, the word which in this case is a substitute, as it supplies the place of a noun, or of an adjective, or a sentence or a clause. Thus, the term “into the land which was northward” would be more appropriately written as “into the land, which land was northward.” That is, there was a land northward from the narrow neck area, a land that could be reached by sea, a land that was relatively unknown or at least not connected to the land northward that was known. This separation of terms is extremely important when we see where Hagoth’s immigrants may well have gone.
Understanding the use of the term which can also be helpful to describe in clearer fashion the narrow neck area. Therefore, the term “by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” should actually be rendered “by the narrow neck, which narrow neck led into the land northward.” From this we see that the narrow neck was some type of division between the two lands and provided the only passage between them, signifying a narrow neck that obviously suggests some area smaller than the Isthmus of Tehuantepec as the Mesoamerican theorists propose.
    It would seem logical that if he went by ship, that he was following those others who went by ship, not by land. So it would seem that he went to bring supplies to those who migrated by ship because they could not have taken as much by way of supplies as those who traveled by land. They would have been short of supplies and Corianton, Helaman’s son and a righteous man (assuming he repented of his earlier transgression while on a mission). Obviously, Corianton went somewhere where he was never heard from again, because when it came time for him to inherit by birthright the records from his prophet-father, his older brother had already died and Helaman was the youngest of the three boys, Corianton could not be reached in order to bestow the records on him, so Helaman gave them to his youngest son, Helaman.
    Now, if Corianton was in the Land Northward, which had both intercourse and interaction with the Nephite capital in Bountiful, why was he not called home by his prophet- father to take over the most sacred and important responsibility of the records? Obviously, he was not anywhere where he could be reached. He was in the land which was northward, which had no intercourse with the Land Northward because it was separated by a large body of water. Nor can one consider that he went north to take supplies to those who went by land into the Land Northward, since a ship is extremely limited to a coastal port and the Nephites inheriting the Land Northward, had expanded into large areas where a ship would be a poor method of transporting supplies to them (If people migrated from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, you would not take supplies to them by boat, even though Los Angeles is a coastal city—and even using a Mesoamerican Model, you would not take a ship from the Gulf of Tuehuantepec (Mesoamerican West Sea) to settlers in the Oaxaxa area—Sorenson’s Land Northward, or Desolation, or Cumorah, etc. It simply does not make any sense at all if you think about it. Another rather obvious point is “why would the people in Mesoamerica need timber Mesoamerica is mostly a jungle!
Hagoth’s shipyard

So Hagoth is relatively an unknown figure in the scriptural record. He built many ships, thus would have been a shipwright. He was a curious man, meaning he was “Habitually inquisitive; addicted to research or inquiry; after things elegant and beautiful; curious of antiquities; accurate; careful not to mistake; solicitous to be correct; careful; exact; and artful.
He was not an adventurer, explorer or migrant/immigrant. According to the scriptural record, he neither went anywhere on his ships nor even left his shipyard.
    To claim he did is to ignore the scriptural record and insert one’s own opinions instead. 
(See the next post, “What Does the Record Tell Us About Hagoth? – Part VII,” regarding this continuing article about Hagoth and the role he played in the Nephite immigration)

1 comment:

  1. Del- can you clarify? In this post you say Corianton would not have been taking provisions to the land Northward (modern Ecuador) because “ since a ship is extremely limited to a coastal port and the Nephites inheriting the Land Northward, had expanded into large areas where a ship would be a poor method of transporting supplies to them”

    But we know the Nephites did ship timber to the land Northward just a few years later per Helaman 3:

    10 And it came to pass as timber was exceedingly scarce in the land northward, they did send forth much by the way of shipping.

    What am I missing?