Saturday, May 16, 2020

Nearly Surrounded by Water

Top: An island; Bottom: A Peninsula

An island is an area of land completely surrounded by water. A peninsula is an area of land projecting out into the water, having water on three sides, but the portion of land connecting the Peninsula to the Mainland being sufficiently large enough not to deter movement back and forth. The latter is often referred to as a promontory or a headland.          
    An isle is an island, and was so listed in 1828 in Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, a book familiar to Joseph Smith, and his choice of a reference book for the School of the Prophets. In fact in 1828, the word island was not recognized as a proper word, appearing only occasionally in fictional writing, and was considered by Webster as a “non-word,” stating of “island”: “This is an absurd compound of isle and land, that is, land-in-water land, or ieland-land. There is no such legitimate word in English.”
    When Joseph Smith translated Mormon’s writing as the ancient Prophet described the Land of Promise, Joseph used words familiar to him. Consequently, we should understand that he did not use the word “Peninsula,” nor did he use the word “Isthmus.” He chose to use the word “Isle,” which was the word used in 1828 for “island.”
Peninsulas may be any size, so long as the land jutting into the sea is connected to a mainland as these samples

Consequently, theorists who try to use a Peninsula as the Land of Promise, or try to use an “isthmus” for the narrow neck of land, are simply out of step with the scriptural record and Joseph’s translation of the plates. This means that those who promote Baja California, Florida or the Malay Peninsula as the Land of Promise are in error, and their cherished models have no legitimacy.
    That leaves only Mesoamerica and the north American heartland models.
    Now, an “isle” or “island” is a tract of land surrounded by water, which means it cannot have a land to the north beyond the Land Northward, nor can it have a land to the south of the Land Southward. This is born out by Jacob, Nephi and Mormon. Jacob told the Nephites in a meeting in the temple, that the Lord had led them to an isle of the sea. His exact words were: “for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20). Nephi agreed with that comment, having recorded on the plates. In fact, shortly after this comment was made, Nephi added “And now, Jacob spake many more things to my people at that time; nevertheless only these things have I caused to be written, for the things which I have written sufficeth me” (2 Nephi 11:1).
    Mormon added his comments by stating: “the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32). He went on to say of this small neck of land on a line between the land of Bountiful  (Land Southward) and the land of Desolation (Land Northward), which would have run from the Sea West to the Sea East, could be covered by a Nephite in a day-and-a-half journey (Alma 22:32).
    Since Mormon did not use any adjective to describe this Nephite, it must be assumed that any Nephite was intended. Thus, trying to insert a unique individual with extra qualifications, into this role is contrary to Mormon’s words. Thus the Mesoamerican claim that a special runner, or special method, of achieving this journey is, once again, contrary to the scriptural record.
26 miles across the Narrow Neck of Land, making it about a  day-and-a-half journey to cross

His simple statement begins with the words: “And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea” telling us his intent in this 32nd verse was in talking about there being a narrow neck of land. How wide was the narrow neck of land? It was 1the width of a day and a half journey for a Nephite. Then he goes on to tell us that this narrow neck of land was all that kept the entire Land Southward, which he described in the previous verses, from being completely surrounded by water. That is, the Land Southward was nearly surrounded by water except for this narrow neck of land.
    In this inserted statement by Mormon, he attempts to clarify the appearance and of the Land Southward to the future reader, he states that “the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water.”
    The only thing that kept them from being completely surrounded by water was a small neck (called a narrow neck elsewhere). In addition, we find that this small and narrow neck was the land that connected the Land Southward to the Land Northward—this small and narrow neck of land. It is interesting that Joseph did not use the word “isthmus” here since he was well familiar with the word. Perhaps because in 1828, the word “isthmus” was defined as “A neck or narrow slip of land by which two continents are connected, or by which a peninsula is united to the mainland, and is applied to land of considerable extent.” Since the Land of Promise was not made up to two continents, nor was it a peninsula connected to a connected to a mainland, the word “isthmus” would not have applied.
    We should keep in mind when reading this description that Mormon begins in verse 27 with his insertion into Alma’s record, and that he is describing the Land of Promise to future readers, not Nephites. At that point, he was abridging Alma’s record of Aaron’s conversion of the Lamanite king and the king then invited Aaron and his brethren with him to preach to the king’s subjects that were present, then Mormon tells us that the Lamanite king sent a proclamation throughout all the land of the Lamanites: “throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west” (Alma 22:27).
    At this point, so the future reader can get a clear picture of how vast the Land of the Lamanites was, Mormon describes the boundaries of their land, then includes the boundaries of the Nephite lands, and how the two lands were divided by a strip of wilderness.
    We need to keep in mind that at this point in the Nephite record, which was between 90 and 77 BC, about 23 to 36 years before Alma tells us that many Nephites went north into the Land Northward (Alma 63:9) and about 31 to 44 years before Helaman tells us that a great many Nephites went into the Land Northward to “inherit the land” (Helaman 3:3). 
Nephites moved into the Land Northward as described in Helaman 3:8

In 90 to 77 B.C., the vast majority of Nephite were settled in the Land Southward, and the entire scriptural record from the time of first landing (about 587 BC) to that point in time, nearly 500 years, had taken place in the Land Southward, and most of that in the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla. Before this time, the Land of Bountiful had never been mentioned, and not until Alma 27:22 is it used in the context of a land inhabited by the Nephites, which was about 77 BC.
    Consequently, it can only be concluded that when Mormon is inserting the description of the land in Alma 22, his intent and purpose is to basically describe the Land Southward, and mostly the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla. Thus, at this point, he tells us the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, which he had clearly described, and that both ran from sea to sea across the width of the land, as well as the narrow strip of wilderness, he tells us this entire area was surrounded by water except for a "small neck of land" (the first we know of this area) that separated the Land Southward from the Land Northward.
    This narrow neck of land was all that kept the entire Land Southward from being surrounded by water. And this is verified, as stated above by Jacob’s description of the entire Land of Promise described around 559 to 545 BC, as an “isle of the sea,” and Nephi’s verification of such by writing it into the sacred record (2 Nephi 10:20).
    Now according to the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language (Noah Webster and Joseph Smith both lived and grew up in New England around the same time), an isle is described as “a track of land surrounded by water, a detached portion of land embosomed in the ocean.”
    Thus, we see that the Mesoamerican model is inaccurate.
The Heartland Model which does not show the sea nearly surrounding the Land Southward

 Likewise, all these descriptions of the seas surrounding the Land Southward are not applicable to the Heartland theory or Great Lakes theory.
    Consequently, the Land Southward was part of an island, and completely surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land—a narrow neck Mesoamerica does not have! And no amount of trying to change meaning, alter wordage, or claim “Mormon was confused” can change that simple fact.
    It might also be noted that Mormon’s words: “nearly surrounded by water” should be understood to mean “almost, within a little” according to the 1828 dictionary mentioned above. That is, the Land Southward was “almost, within a little” surrounded by water. The word “nearly” suggests “closeness, a small distance” according to Webster, thus, the map above shows two distances, that are not really that close. That is, each of the two distances represent the basic width of the area outlined except for the Yucatan bulge. Stated differently, 144 miles across on the west side is hardly suggestive of a day and a half travel for a Nephite, nor is the 180 miles on the east of this outlined area.


  1. "Isle of the sea" can be more easily explained away than "nearly surrounded by water". How is that brushed off by the MA and NA models?

  2. Here are three witnesses that the Nephites lived on an island of the Sea before the mountains rose at the time of Christ:

    ...we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and WE ARE UPON AN ISLE (Island) OF THE SEA. But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea.... -- 2 NEPHI 10:20-21

    And it came to pass that 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

    … and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were NEARLY SURROUNDED BY WATER, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward. -- ALMA 22:32