Wednesday, March 25, 2020

What was Mulek’s Course to the Land of Promise? – Part I

There have been many opinions presented over the years about how Mulek got to the Land of Promise and where he landed. Many consider that he landed on the eastern shores of the North America Land Northward, and over time moved  inland and some moved down into the Land Southward to found the city of Zarahemla where Mosiah found him. Others think he crossed the Pacific Ocean to land on the western coast of Central America (Mesoamerica), also in the Land Northward and then some moverd down into the Land Southward to found Zarahemla.
    Specifically, these courses break down into four specific beliefs:
Orange is course 1; Blue is course 2; Yellow is course 3; Red is course 4. The red line on a round globe is shorter than any of the others because while the circumference around the Earth at the equator is 24,901 miles; at 90º south Latitude (poles) it is only 69.4 miles. The greater the latitude of sailing, the shorter the distance
1. He left Jerusalem and sailed west out of the Mediterranean Sea and across the Atlantic Ocean to land on the east coast of either North or Central America;
2. He left the Arabian Peninsula and sailed directly east, around India and through Indonesia and then across the Pacific Ocean to land on the west coast of Central America;
3. He left the Arabian Peninsula and sailed south and around the tip of Africa and up the Atlantic and across to land on the east coast of North or Central America;
4. He left the Arabian Peninsula and sailed in the same direction that the Lehi Colony took, down through the Indian Ocean and into the Southern Ocean, picking up the Prevailing Westerlies in the West Wind Drift and eastward across the southern Pacific Ocean to the west coast of South America to land on the west coast of the Land of Promise.
    Obviously, only one of these courses could have been correct. Which one is easily determined by understanding the four choices and their physical properties and the information given in the scriptural record.
1. As an example, if one thinks it was off the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and out through the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar) and across the Atlantic Ocean on the currents Columbus would take more than a millennium later. This then opened the opportunity of landing on the east coast of Mesoamerica, the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico or eastern coast of Florida.
    From a Gulf landing, Heartlanders claim that Nephi moved northward into what is now Tennessee to settled in the area of Chatanooga. Mesoamericanists claim Mulek landed on the east coast of Mexico (Yucatan) and moved inland and southward. Either way, the first part of this theory hangs on Mulek leaving Jerusalem and picking up a ship along the coast that would take them across the Mediterranean then across the Atlantic. This, of course, hinges on the fact that such a ship was available and that the crew would know how to sail into the ocean and knew how to get across it to the Americas in 600 BC.
    Most think that this was a Phoenicians ship and crew. However, three things work against this idea:
1. While the Phoenicians were the greatest seafaring civilization of the ancient world, and dominated trade in the Mediterranean for nearly a thousand years, they never sailed out through the Pillars of Hercules. Records show them only in the Mediterranean trading among the settlements they established;
The Phoenicians were traders and sailed coastal waters, hugging the coasts around the Mediterranean trading with the settlements they established

2) They were traders, thus rather than just establishing settlements around the Mediterranean like the Greeks, the Phoenician ships went from outpost to outpost trading goods—they were not explorers, but traders of material and goods, especially high-end products like the timbers of Lebanon; murex shells used to make the purple dye; purple cloth; glass trinkets; perfumed ointments and fish (Department of Ancient near Eastern Art, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 2004).
    They traded with the pharaohs of Egypt and carried King Solomon's gold from Ophir. There are Egyptian records, dating to 3000 BC of Lebanese logs being towed from Byblos to Egypt, and by 2650 BC there is record of 40 ships towing logs. Phoenicia competed with the Greeks and Etruscans and later the Romans. A 2,500-year-old gold plate with Phoenician letters found in Prygu, Italy in 1964 is offered as proof that they traded with the Etruscans by 500 B.C., before the rise of Rome.
    The majority of the trade between the eastern and western Mediterranean passed through the strategic waterway off Cape Bon, Tunisia, between North Africa and Sicily.  That is, for more than a thousand years, the Phoenicians were limited to the eastern Mediterranean, finally passing into the western Mediterranean.
Replica of a Phoenician Ship 600 BC

Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, wrote: “The Phoenicians, who had formerly dwelt on the shores of the Persian Gulf, having migrated to the Mediterranean and settled in the parts which they now inhabit, began at once, they say, to adventure on long voyages, freighting their vessels with the wares of Egypt and Assyria. They landed at many places on the coast, and among the rest at Argos, which was then pre-eminent above all the states included now under the common name of Hellas (Greece). After the power of the Phoenicians declined, the Greeks became the main traders and economic power in the Mediterranean (Herodotus, Histories, Book I, '1-2 (480 BC); translated by George Rawlinson, New York: Dutton & Co., 1862).
    It should be noted, that after nearly two thousand years, the Phoenicians had barely reached the eastern side of Lake Tunis, in what is now called Tunisia, and the ancient area of the hostile indigenous Berbers. Here they established a small trading post, which did not get its independence from Lebanon until 650 BC, and not gain power until around 312 BC. It was one of a number of Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean created to facilitate trade from the city of Tyre. Beyond this point, the sea opened in the western part of the Mediterranean.
3) Babylon, originally a small settlement called “The country of Akkad,” a deliberate archaism in reference to the previous glory of the Akkadian Empire,” by 620 BC when Nabopolassar seized control and eventually gained power over the Medes, Babylonians, Scythians and their allies. With their defeat of Egypt, Babylon controlled the entire Levant, or eastern Mediterranean and known today as the Babylonian Empire. Nabopolassar was followed by his son, Nebuchadnezzar, who rose to be ruler of much of the civilized world.
Zedekiah plotting to  break with Babylon

In 598 BC, a siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians occurred, king Johoiakim was killed and his son Jaconiah placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar. However, after a three-month siege, Judea was soundly defeated and Mattanyahu (“Gift of God”), under the name of Zedekiah given him by Nebuchadnezzar, was named regent and placed on the throne as a puppet king controlled by Babylon. Later leading a revolt against Babylon, he was captured in 589 BC and his sons killed.
    Babylon held such power over the entire eastern Mediterranean and controlled all the countries along the coast from northern Syria to Egypt, and eager to kill anyone in leadership of Judea, there would have been no way for Mulek to escape.
    Thus it can be seen from historical records and factual knowledge of the events of the time, that Mulek would never have been able to leave Jerusalem and reach the northern lands, Egypt or any coastal area. This should eliminate any claim or belief that Mulek sailed west across the Mediterranean and then across the Atlantic.
    This, of course, means that any theory that Mulek sailed across the Mediterranean, or that ancient Phoenicians took them across the Atlantic is completely without merit according to the historical record. For more support of this, we need to keep in mind that the Phoenicians were traders, not explorers, and since at the time ships did not sail away from land, an Atlantic crossing would have been so unlikely for a Phoenician vessel, which was made and sailed for trading, that a Mediterranean route should be rejected out of hand.
    For those who quote the Phoenician crew sailing around Africa in 600 BC, we should consider that this voyage was one that took two years to complete, setting in each night and sailing only in the daytime, and twice staying on land long enough to plant and harvest two crops to provide required food to continue their voyage.
(See the next post, “What was Mulek’s Course to the Land of Promise? – Part II,” to continue this information, picking up with Point Two, or the second course considered by theorists)

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