Thursday, July 15, 2021

Responding to Another Heartland Theorist – Part III

 Answering more of the critics’ comments:

• Comment: “The letter [from Joseph Smith to his wife, Emma], was cited several times in Saints, Vol 1, but the part about walking over the plains of the Nephites and the account of Zelph was censored in Saints Vol I. Why was it censored? Because it destroys the Mesoamerican Model and BYU scholars will not allow that narrative because their careers are highly invested in that bogus model.”

Response: Let’s not get carried away. The book Saints was created by the Church, not BYU, and as such, only contained standard gospel and historical information and events. Since the “Plains of the Nephites,” and “Zelph” were never stated by Joseph Smith to be a revelation for the Church, and no vote was ever taken to make it such, and neither are in any way expressed or alluded to in the Book of Mormon, they have no place in an official historical document or book regarding Church history. It is a simple fact that they are not contained in Saints because they do not belong on the same level as accurate information about the early days of the Church.

• Comment: “For a church that strongly promotes the Book of Mormon as scripture, why would anyone want to censor Joseph's; statement, "...wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity..."

Response: “There is no corresponding information supporting this eloquent description Joseph wrote to Emma. It, nor its type, is not found in the Book of Mormon, nor is it found in the Wentworth Letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune, nor in any of the official histories Joseph wrote or had a scribe write regarding the early years of the Church. 

Joseph sitting along the banks of the Mississippi waiting for a new boat in which to cross the river


In his letter to Emma, Joseph showed that his thoughts were upon her with “and in short were it not at every now and then our thoughts linger with inexpressible anxiety for our wives and our children (emphasis added), and he waxed strong in flowery terms as any man deeply in love might when talking privately to his wife—especially when both are young and recently married. Joseph, himself, never repeated this information, nor himself include any of it in his jurnals or histories. It was not meant for the Church—only for Emma.

• Comment: “The account of Zelph doesn't prove where Lehi landed, but it illustrates where some of the events of the Book of Mormon happened.”

Response: There is not a single iota of information in the Book of Mormon to substantiate any part of the events having taken place in the Land of Promise. Not only is it impossible to justify the overall map of the Heartland location, but almost none of Mormon’s 45 separate and specific descriptions that can be supported by the theory. Where are the two unknown animals that were beneficial to man; where are the two grains as important as wheat? What about Desolation being north of Bountiful, which as north of Zarahemla, which was north of a narrow strip of wilderness—which the Heartland Theorists claim is the Ohio River; however, a river is not a wilderness, even a “wild river.” In the U.S., wilderness is an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region. In 1828, it was described as a desert; a tract of land or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings, whether a forest or a wide barren plain. In the United States, it is applied only to a forest. In Scripture, it is applied frequently to the deserts of Arabia. Rangeland wildernesses in the United States are diverse lands, from wet grasslands of Florida to the desert shrub ecosystems of Wyoming. They include the high mountain meadows of Utah to the desert floor of California. Today, there are 765 wilderness areas covering more than 109 million acres that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, which is managed by the Forest Service.

A river winding through a wilderness area is not, in and of itself a wilderness or called a wilderness, which Heartland theorists claim Ohio River in their model is the Narrow Strip of Wilderness


In addition, rivers, which are not called nor part of the wilderness lands though often run through wilderness areas, are protected and kept "relatively untouched by development and are therefore in near natural condition, with all, or almost all, of their natural values intact. A wild river is one that has nothing to infringe on the free flow of water, such as dams or locks.

Within the United States, Canadas, New Zealand, and Australia, governments have opted to focus on rivers and river systems as a kind of “unmodified or slightly modified” landscape feature to protect, manage and preserve in near “natural” condition variously labeling or formally declaring such areas to be “wild rivers” or “heritage rivers”).

In the U.S. the policy is that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations

• Comment: “Most sensible people agree that the distances of travel in the Book of Mormon could not include such a wide expanse of Geography from South America to North America.”

Response: Doubtful that any knowledge person would disagree with this; however, the problem is not in travel from some far distant land to the hill in New York where Joseph obtained the plates. Take that requirement away—that the New York hill is the Hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon—and there is no problem with such travel. After all, in the Book of Mormon, between the Land of Promise and Palestine and Utah, there are several duplicate areas, such as 2 Bountifuls, 2 Jerusalems, 2 Mantis, 2 Nephis, 2 Zarahemlas, 2 Ramahs, and duplicates of Lamoni, Moroni, Ammon, etc. So why are there not two hill Cumorahs?

As to what sensible people believe, it would seem unlikely that they would believe that Lehi traveled 2541 miles from Jerusalem to Salalah in Oman on the first leg of their journey to the Land of Promise.

• Comment: “We also know from Church history that the city of Manti was in Missouri per the Joseph Smith Papers at” (included a lengthy email address).

Response: This information about Manti being in Missouri was written by Willard Richards and Thomas Bullock, not Joseph Smith. Had it been the prophet, it is highly unlikely that this confirming information would have been so restricted and not been available in other sources.

• Comment: “This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are mountains of evidence to show that the events of the Book of Mormon happened in ancient America.”

90% of an iceberg is beneath the water line


Response: Response: There is also a mountain of evidence that the Heartland is not the location of the Land of Promise. As an example, where are the mountains whose height is great that Samuel the Lamanite stated; or what about the elevation, that though Mormon constantly describes going up to the city of Nephi from the city of Zarahemla, or down to Zarahemla from Nephi, in the Heartland locations, the elevation of Nephi is 676 feet and Zarahemla at 670 feet—hardly a match to going up and down!

What about an earthquake? In the last year, there have been 19 earthquakes in their Nephi area, of which the strongest was 2.5 on the Richter Scale. In their Zarahemla there has not been an earthquake in 34 years. Zarahemla area is one of the few states that rarely has a quake—the strongest has been a 3.5 on the Richter Scale, with only 13 quakes since European settlement.

Then there is no island involved in the Heartland as Jacob described; growing all the seeds from Jerusalem in a different climate; ore of every kind, especially gold, silver and copper—the Heartland had Copper, but little gold and silver. Where are the roads and highways from city to city and place to place; or the stone walls around the entire land; or Jaredite buildings of every kind; or other than working copper, there was no metallurgy; evidence of fine-twined linen and silk; evidence of circumcision under the Law of Moses, which the Nephites lived until the crucifixion. Nor did Christopher Columbus land in North America, or even see the continent or know it existed.

The point is, there are so many factors and descriptions in the Book of Mormon about the Land of Promise that simply do not exist in the Heartland model. Hard to justify “There are mountains of evidence to show that the events of the Book of Mormon happened in ancient America.”

Actually, just the opposite is true!

Responding to Another Heartland Theorist – Part II

Answering more of the critics’ comments:

• Comment: “ The driving distance between the Zelph Mound (about 3 miles east of Griggsville, IL) and Palmyra is about 865 miles. As the crow flies, it is about 733 miles. I have no idea what you mean by "100 miles."

Response: It was a point that people at war would not carry a dead soldier a hundred miles to bury, let alone the distance from Palmyra to the mound where Zelph was found—more than 800 miles between the mound and your Hill Cumorah, where the last battle of which we know took place in the scriptural record.

• Comment: “During the time of Onandagus, the people were scattered farther to the west to the Rocky Mountains.”

Map of the Heartland Theory. Note all out of alignment the map is to Mormon’s descriptions


Response: There is no suggestion that the Book of Mormon storyline included the Rocky Mountains—in fact, there is nothing in the Book of Mormon that even remotely suggests that Zarahemla was west of the Sea West, or that the Land of Bountiful was east of the Land of Zarahemla, or that there were any “Plains of the Nephites” in the Land Bountiful, or that the four seas were all in the north of the Land of Promise, or that the lower Mississippi was much widfer than the upper Mississippi, etc., etc., etc. There are so many inaccuracies in this model and theory, that we have written about them many times, including lists and scriptural references. Nine of those writings are specifically about Zelph.

• Comment: “About 56 BC, Hagoth builds ships which sail forth into the west sea.”

Response: While this is true, we also need to keep in mind that “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. 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 it came to pass that one other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go we know not” (Alma 63:7-8).

• Comment: “The Great Lakes were bigger and deeper 2000 years ago. Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie could have been one large lake known as the west sea because they are close in elevation.”

Response: 9,500 Years Ago, the glaciers towered above the ground, and the massive weight of the ice pushed the earth's crust down. The north side of the Great Lakes was pushed down further than in the area south of the lakes (Erie and Ontario) where the ice was thinner. The sinking of the crust to the north of Lake Superior caused the lower great lakes to drain away to the north, as if a plug being pulled in the bath. The water flowed out of the lake at this time through North Bay, Ontario and continued on down the Ottawa Valley to the St Lawrence Sea.

Once the glaciers retreated, the Earth's crust started to rebound (rise), resulting in the north side of Lake Superior to rise about one foot per century compared to lands along the southern edge of the Great Lakes (Lower Michigan, Erie and Ontario). This process is called "isostatic rebound" by geoscientists. The result is that the Great Lakes are tilting to the south, with more land exposed on the north shore of Lake Superior each century—meaning the lakes are getting larger today than they were in the past

The early Great Lakes before man, claimed to be 9,500 years ago. Note the dotted line around each lake showing the original size of the lakes that were initially much smaller


SeawayLake Michigan was a mere “sliver’ of what it is today, with Lake Erie a littler smaller then and Ontario close to its present outline. In the north, ancient beaches and shorelines have been submerged, as an example Duluth Harbor (at the furthest point west of Lake Superior has undergone 20 feet of submergence over the past 2000 years, which caused the lakes to rise (enlarge), not get smaller—divers in the harbor have discovered submerged ancient tree stumps which help in determining the location and elevations of these ancient shorelines (Matthew C. Larsen Chief Scientist for Hydrology, United States Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, “Report to Congress,” Washington, March 2, 2006).

The many raised beaches on both the north and south side of the lake give further evidence both of glacial rebound and of the different water levels which existed in the Great Lakes basin as the glaciers retreated, consistently filling the lakes until today they are the largest they have ever been.

• Comment: “Today, Lake Ontario is about 20 miles from Palmyra. It makes sense to say "His name was Zelph, a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains.”

The St. Lawrence Seaway which, since 1959, has allowed shipping to reach not only Lake Ontario but Erie as well and thus all the lakes. The first locks were built in 1850, replaced in 1899, and again in 1959


Response: Lake Ontario is 325 feet below Lake Erie, and 243 feet above the St. Lawrence River—requiring seven locks completed in 1959 to raise a ship from the St. Lawrence River to Lake Ontario, with the combination of these locks, five of which are administered by Canada (Côtr St.Catherine and St.Lambert; 2 locks of the Beauharnois Canal; and Iroquois) and two administered by the U.S. (Eisenhower and Snell) forming the St. Lawrence Seaway, which permits ships to transit between “sea level in Montreal 243 feet upward to Lake Ontario (and another 326 feet higher through eight locks to Lake Erie)—interesting how an unaided ship made that rise in 600 BC.

• Comment: “His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains." Why can't people live west of the western sea?”

Response: In the entire Book of Mormon there is not one sentence, one word, or a single intimation that anyone lived, traveled or knew about any land west of the Sea West. The same can also be said about the Sea East.

However, those traveling northward in Hagoth’s ships that were “never heard from again” may well have landed far to the north, in Central America and over the centuries, some moved ever northward, coming into the area of what is today the United States, and becoming the people at the time of Onandagus, and living in the location of the Rocky Mountains to the eastern sea (Atlantic Ocean). There is nothing in the scriptural record, other than Hagoth’s northward-bound ships, to suggest this—but it is an interesting scenario.

• Comment: “The day after Zelph’s bones were found, Joseph wrote to Emma as he sat on the east bank of the Mississippi (4 June 1834) waiting for transportation to cross the River (I believe was the river Sidon) during the Zion's Camp March between Kirtland and Missouri.”

Response: First of all, the River Sidon in the Scriptural Record runs south to north. The Mississippi River runs north to south—a person can no more change the course of the Mississippi than they can change the meaning of scripture. Second, at this time, Joseph was likely thinking that the Lord had verified to him that there was physical evidence that Nephites and Lamanites once existed in the land—a land without borders and political divisions, but a vast area of his creation of which Lehi’s descendants had spread far and wide. Joseph would have been elated that this once again was verified to him and, more importantly, to many of the men who would replace him in the leadership of the church.

Joseph’s Letter to Emma written on 4 June 1834 while on Zion’s Camp after being gone from her several weeks


As he wrote to Emma, he would have likely been lonely for her to tell her all about it. Thus, he poured out his feelings in the letter he wrote to his wife—not intending it to become a pronouncement from on high! From the revelation he received about Zelph, he would not have known where Lehi landed, where Lehi’s Land of Promise was located—but did know that there had been Nephites and Lamanites in the land where Zion’s Camp trod.

Had he been told these things, he certainly would have announced them at the time—especially to his future replacements of the Church. But, alas, he did not, because he didn’t know. He only surmised that this land over which they traveled had been occupied by Nephites and Lamanites. But according to the Book of Mormon, not by Lehi’s immediate descendants that fill the story line of the scriptural record.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Responding to Another Heartland Theorist - Part I

Answering your comments: First, you speculate a great deal on events not listed in the Book of Mormon, some not even suggested or inferred. You also refer to “My belief,” “I’m guessing,” “Could have been,” which hardly suggests accuracy.

Comment: “Zelph died "during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites." He would likely have been buried (west bank of the Illinois River) near where he died.”

Response: Zelph was said to have died “during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.” If this is true, and there is some doubt based on the other six accounts of the event, the last great struggle was not the numerous battles that began around the waters of Mormon, as Mormon said: “the war began to be among them in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon” (Mormon 1:10, emphasis added). This war was fought in the Land Southward as the Nephites lost portion after portion of their land to the Lamanites, evidently with each battle—but the final battle where 230,000 Nephites were killed, wiping out the existence of the Nephite Nation and all the people other than 24 survivors, including Mormon and Moroni took place at the Hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:9-15).

The Treaty Line between the Nephites and Lamanites resulting from Mormon’s Treaty with the king of the Lamanites


In addition, it should be noted that in the 350th year, Mormon and the Lamanites agreed through treaty to divide the Land of Promise into two segments with the dividing line the Narrow Neck or Land. As Mormon described it: “the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward” (Mormon 2:29). Hard to have a treaty in the midst of the “the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.”

In any event, by the time these struggles were taking place, Mormon says the Nephites were in the Land Northward during a ten-year hiatus of peace, at which time “I had employed my people, the Nephites, in preparing their lands and their arms against the time of battle” (Mormon 3:1).

Comment: “I believe the last great struggle began in the Zarahemla area about 321 AD when the 3 Nephites were "taken away out of the land." See Mormon 1.

Response: First of all, the three witnesses were not taken away because of battles, wars, or any such type events, but because of the peoples’ unrighteousness. As Mormon put it: “But wickedness did prevail upon the face of the whole land, insomuch that the Lord did take away his beloved disciples, and the work of miracles and of healing did cease because of the iniquity of the people” (Mormon 1:13, emphasis added). Note that Mormon does not mention any war connected to the event of withdrawing the three witnesses—but they were taken away because of the wickedness and iniquity of the Nephites.

Second: “The last great struggle began in 360 AD according to Mormon, who said: “I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward” (Mormon 3:5). In fact, there were heated wars in 360 361, 362, and 363 in which the Nephites came out victorious until the last one. This was not, as is claimed, 39 years earlier, with ten spent in a peaceful hiatus.

However, from 360 onward there was no peace, but constant battles intended to dislodge the Nephites from the pass across the narrow neck, which the Lamanites were able to do, and push the Nephites further northward (Mormon 4:2-3).

Comment: “Many battles were fought between 321 and 385 AD. I'm guessing Zelph died about 321 to 330 AD as the Nephites retreated eastward towards Cumorah.”

Zelph’s Hill where those from Zion’s Camp found the remains of a white Lamanite warrior killed n a battle


Response: We do not know when Zelph died. Joseph Smith himself wrote nothing about the event, though his name appears in the Joseph Smith Papers and the History of the Church—but they were written by John Taylor who was publisher of the Times and Seasons, and had been writing the History of Joseph Smith and included in the January 1, 1846 issue the account of Zelph as though Joseph had done so—a practice used in most of Joseph’s writing who was a poor writer, speller and grammarian, often having scribes write for him.

On the other hand, there are seven members of Zion’s Camp who were present at the time and wrote about the event.

• Heber C. Kimball wrote in 1841 of the discovery of Zelph was published in the Times and Seasons in 1845 under the title “extracts from H. C. Kimball’s journal: “after we continued on our journey, it was made known to Joseph that he had been an officer who fell in battle, in the last destruction among the Lamanites, and his name was Zelph.

Reuben McBride's journal states that "His name was Zelph a warrior under the Prophet Omandagus, a white Lamanite—an arrow was found in his Ribs…which he said he supposed occaisoned his death." McBride also wrote that Zelph "was known from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains."

• Moses Martin stated "Soon after this Joseph had a vision and the Lord shewed him that this man was once a mighty Prophet and many other things concerning his dead which had fallen no doubt in some great battles."

• Levi Hancock's (1834) journal also refers to "Onendagus," stating that "Zelph was a white Lamanite who fought with the people of Onendagus for freedom."

Willard Richards compiled a number of records in 1842 in order to produce a history of the church. Among the records examined were the various accounts related to Zelph. In the process of combining the accounts, Richards crossed out Woodruff's references to “hill Cumorah," and Heber C. Kimball's reference to the "last" great struggle with the Lamanites.”

The two groups that formed Zion’s Camp that met at Salt River


• Wilford Woodruff. Woodruff writes that he “visited many of the mounds which were flung up by the ancient inhabitants of this continent probably by the Nephites & Lamanites.” Woodruff also states that he “visited the mound later with Jesse J. Smith, but who the other persons were that dug into the mound & found the body I am undecided.” He added interlinearly (between the lines) “he was a warrior under the great prophet that was known from the hill Cumorah or East sea to the Rocky mountains.” Years later on February 22, 1893 Woofruff wrote: “The Lord showed the prophet Joseph that this was the skeleton of a white Lamanite named Zelph and  that he fought under a great chieftain named Onandagus whose dominion covered an immense body of country—the Book of Mormon does not mention the name of this Indian chief Onandagus.”His account which appeared in the Times and Seasons shortly after Joseph’s death, stated that Zelph was killed “during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites—however, in Willard Richards and Wilmer Benson manuscripts it read: “during a great struggle with the Lamanites.”

• John A. Widtsoe in 1950 stated that the account of Zelph "is not of much value in Book of Mormon geographical studies, since Zelph probably dated from a later time when Nephites and Lamanites had been somewhat dispersed and had wandered over the country."  Zelph is not an individual mentioned in the Book of Mormon narrative and would therefore not necessarily be associated with any of the events presumed by some people, including many FARMS apologists, to have occurred in Mesoamerica.”

The point is, the difficulty of seven witnesses is that you get seven different viewpoints—so which one do you choose? After all there were three future Presidents of the Church among those recording the event, Levi Hancock who was a General Authority for nearly fifty years, and one of the witnesses of the Book of Commandments; Moses Martin who served three missions; Reuben McBride called to the 2nd Quorum of Seventy. So whom do we believe?

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

In the Heat of the Day

Along the east borders by the seashore situated from the south to the north, were the Nephite cities of Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid and Mulek (Alma 51:26). All of these cities were obtained by the defector Amalickiah, who worked his way among the Lamanites to command their armies, as he marched at the head of his Lamanite army northward to the borders of Bountiful (Alma 51:28), where he was finally stopped by Teancum (Alma 51:30) in 67 B.C.

A great battle ensued in which Teancum’s famed warriors killed many Lamanites throughout the heat of the day, “even until it was dark” (Alma 51:31), at which time Teancum and his men “pitched their tents in the borders of the Land Bountiful; and Amalickiah did pitch his tents in the borders on the beach by the seashore” (Alma 51:32).

Now these borders are not the borders of the city, but the borders of the land of Bountiful. And during the night, Teancum and his servants stole into the Lamanite camp, with Teancum killing Amalikiah, and when the Lamanites awoke the following day, with Teancum and his troops encircling their camp ready to do battle, the Lamanites gave up their plan of “marching into the land northward” and retreated with all their army into the city of Mulek, and sought protection in their fortifications” (Alma 52:2). 

The Heat of the Day is determined by the temperature, plus  the humity, which determines a “feels like” heat


An interesting point can be made here about the temperature of all three locations under discussion: Heartland/Great lakes, Mesoamerica, and Andean Peru. Mormon describes the reason for the Lamanites to all be asleep when Teancum entered the city at night as: “And it came to pass that when the night had come, Teancum and his servant stole forth and went out by night, and went into the camp of Amalickiah; and behold, sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue, which was caused by the labors and heat of the day” (Alma 51:33, emphasis added). Now, since this event took place on the night of the last day of the year, for the Lamanites awoke the next day, which was the first day of the year—as Mormon put it: “[1] And now, it came to pass in the twenty and sixth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, behold, when the Lamanites awoke on the first morning of the first month, behold, they found Amalickiah was dead in his own tent; and they also saw that Teancum was ready to give them battle on that day” (Alma 52:1, emphasis added).

It should be noted that the “heat of the day” suggests the heat of summer, which Mormon says occurred that last day of the year and the first day of the next year. Now the Heartland model of Tennessee is between 50º the last month of the year and the first of the following year; the temperature in western New York (Great Lakes) at that time of the year is 34º. In Mesoamerica, the temperature in Mexico City is 56º, with January the coldest month, is 65º F. The temperature in Guatemala City at this time of the year is 64º in the last month of the year, and 65º in the first month.

None of these temperatures, which are very cold to comfortable, could be considered in the “heat of the day.”

On the other hand, the area of Andean Peru, specifically Kuelap, or what would be the city of Mulek, is 88º during the last month of the year and the first month of the next. Now 88º would be considered “in the heat of the day,” and is hot and uncomfortable. In fact, in the vast area of eastern Peru occupied by plains and hills and belonging to the Amazon Basin, there is an impenetrable rainforest, almost completely uninhabited—the large eastern area covered by the Amazonian forest, called la Selva, covers 60% of the country and its eastern Environs resulted from being submerged for so many centuries, has a hot and humid climate throughout the year—which is 79% humidity in the last month of the year, which feels like 113º heat (statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, Silver Spring, Maryland). The average humidity of Mexico City is 55%, and of Guatemala City is 70%, with that of Tennessee 53%, and Buffalo 83%.

When Teancum stole into the city at night when the Lamanites slept, he made his way through the many quarters until he found Amalickiah where  he killed him


Thus, to match the description of the event surrounding Teancum’s penetration of the city to kill Amalickiah, the Land of Promise has to be in the southern hemisphere. In fact, the area all around this region of eastern Peru, which would have been the East Sea, is 86º to 92º degrees at this time of the year.

As for Teancum’s situation, Moroni engaged in battling the Lamanites on the West Sea and was unable to come to Teancum’s aid He fdid, however, send a part of his army to defend Teancum’s force, which was planning to mount an attack against the Lamanites that occupied Mulek, but in the end he gave up the idea because the city was so well fortified (Alma 52:17). Later in the following year Moroni finally arrived in the North to join Teancum (Alma 52:18).

Seeing that they could not attack the Lamanites within the fortifications of the city of Mulek, Moroni and his chief captains held a council of war the following year to decide how to coax the Lamanites out of the city, so they could retake Mulek (Alma 52:19).

It is interesting that this city, originally built by the Nephite, was so strongly defended that it was impossible to attack, therefore Moroni devised a plan of subterfuge to draw the Lamanites out of the city, which eventually worked.

The point is, the fortification of the city of Mulek, a northern city along the borders of the Land of Bountiful, and within some proximity to the seashore of the East Sea, was the last city the Lamanites captured in their drive to take the Land Northward.

In the area if where Mulek would have been located are the ruins of a magnificent city/fortress, called Kuelap. This city is built on the top of a high hill in the mountains that would have been along the eastern slope leading down to the seashore of the East Sea.

Obviously, there were no more major cities between Mulek and the narrow neck of land and its narrow pass (Alma 52:9), or none that were capable of giving the Lamanites any problem, thus the city of Bountiful was not between the city of Mulek and the narrow neck of land, but further south, nor close enough to the narrow neck to head the Lamanite army before it reached the Pass and was marching toward the Land Northward.

White Arrow: Narrow, uphill entrance a hundred yards long; Yellow Arrow: Defenders can stand above the entrance on the level of the city and shoot arrows down or drop rocks, etc.


This is why, once Amalikiah had captured Mulek, his path to the Land Northward was open as they marched to the borders of the Land of Bountiful, driving the Nephites before them and slaying many (Alma 51:28), and was so disappointed when Teancum arrived with his army to head them in their forward and northward progress (Alma 51:29).

As Mormon states it: “And it came to pass that he [Teancum] headed Amalickiah also, as he was marching forth with his numerous army that he might take possession of the land Bountiful, and also the land northward” (Alma 51:30). Thus, Teancum, when he headed or cut off Amalickiah’s march to the narrow neck and Pass, was north of the City of Bountiful, but still within the Land of Bountiful.

One can imagine how disappointed Amalikiah would have been, having marched all the way up the east coast, taking one city after another in his unopposed race to reach the Land Northward and occupy the northern lands beyond the Nephites, when so near his prize, his worst enemy shows up with his army to cut him off from his objective. As Mormon states it: “But behold he [Amalikiah] met with a disappointment by being repulsed by Teancum and his men, for they were great warriors; for every man of Teancum did exceed the Lamanites in their strength and in their skill of war, insomuch that they did gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Alma 51:32).

(Image C  - The formidable walls of Kuelap, the City of Mulek. It is not difficult to see why both Teancum and Moroni realized they could not attack the Lamanites entrenched in the captured city, so well defended was it

Kuelap is about 10 miles south of Chachapoyas, though at a higher elevation, about 2 miles south of Nuevo Tingo (same elevation), and about 60 miles northwest of Cajamarca. It is also about 250 miles southeast of the narrow neck of land. Both Kuelap and Chachapoyas lie between the Maranon River and the Utcubamba River, though Chchapoyas is to the east and Kulap to the west of the Utcumbamba, with Tingo along the west river’s edge.

Cajamarca is about 250 miles south and east of the narrow neck of land, with Kulap further east and not as far south.

Kulap and Chachapoyas are both on the eastward slope of the Andes overlooking the Amazonas to what was once the Sea East, but Cajamarca is on the western slope of the Andes and within a natural high plain called an Inter-Andean Valley (or capital parts of the Land) that moves from Lima (Pachacamac) to Cajamarca—and as far south from Lima to Avacucho and Arequipa and the Chilean border.

Around Kuelap and Chachapoyas, the Andes are relatively narrow and not quite tall enough to be snow covered, and sort of sandwiched in between the coast and jungle. Along the valley floor to the east and down the Andean slope from Kuelap is the Atuen River. In addition, from Kuelap to Cajamaka is a bridge across the Maranon River at Balsas.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Another Look at the Hill Cumorah – Part VII

Continuing with Roper’s and other theorists, particularly Mesoamericanists about the differences regarding the hill Cumorah and what Mormon said about it. Below is a list of several beliefs or concusions drawn about the Hill Cumorah promoted by Mesoamericanists, which disagree with the scriptural record

1. The hill Cumorah was near an eastern seacoast (Ether 9:3). The citing listed does not say it was “near an eastern sea.” The quote is: “The Lord warned Omer in a dream that he should depart out of the land; wherefore Omer departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent, and also his sons and his daughters, and all his household, save it were Jared and his family.”

The route of Omer’s journey from Moron to Ablom


This could be a short distance between the hill Cumorah and the coast, or a long distance. “and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore” is not distance specific. The fact that he traveled “many days” is also unknown. The only thing clear is that Ablom is near the seashore, but the distance they traveled east between the hill Ramah and Ablom is not known.

2. The hill Cumorah was on a coastal plain, and possibly near other mountains and valleys (Ether 14:12-15). The citing quoted does not list mountains at all, and there is no such “coastal” plain mentioned—it is the Plains of Agosh, which seem to be inland, though they did do battle on the seashore. However, all of this is far from the hill Cumorah.

3. The hill Cumorah was apparently a significant landmark (Ether 9:3; Mormon 6:6). The first citation does not suggest any landmark: “Omer departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward.” In the second citation, “I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord.” There is no reason to think the hill is a significant landmark from this quote.

4. The hill Cumorah was apparently free standing so people could camp around it (Mormon 6:2,11)

In the first citation, the one listed has nothing to do with this point; however 6:4 is a little more suggestive: “We did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah.” The phrase “around about” is improper English, though used often in Joseph Smith’s time, especially rural areas. It is an American idiom and means “approximately, roughly,” which cannot be used as an exact point as Hedges attempts.

In the second citation, which reads: “And when they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah, the ten thousand of my people who were hewn down, being led in the front by me.”

There is no reason to believe that Mormon and his 23 survivors limited their view of the dead by standing in one place, or that his men saw different views and talked among themselves on what they saw. This quote shows no reason why the hill Cumorah had to be a singular hill.

5. The hill Cumorah was located in a volcanic zone susceptible to earthquakes (3 Nephi 8:6-23).

In this lengthy quote, nothing is mentioned about the hill Cumorah—only that a singular earthquake hit the Land of promise, both in the Land Southward and in the Land Northward.

It is likely that Alma’s baptisms took place in the Spring through Fall—not in the winter


6. The hill Cumorah’s climate was apparently temperate with no record of cold or snow (Enos 1:20; Alma 46:40)

As for the first citation, the only suggestion is that the Lamanites wore loincloths—which are not only worn in temperate climates. Many parts of the world, as well as the Western Hemisphere, have cold winters (snow) and warm summers (heat). It is not uncommon to find adults and youth wearing only shorts (and halters) to ward off the high temperatures. However, in the winter, snow or just very low temperatures, forced most to wear some type of clothing, but the American Indian always wore a loin cloth on the outside of the clothing.

The second citation suggests that high temperatures existed, making mosquitoes and deadly fevers a problem, which particular plants and roots provided a cure.

Since wars are generally fought between late Spring and early Fall, it might be that the Nephites writing the scriptural record were unaware of what the Lamanites wore in the winter—certainly, they had never been south of the narrow strip of wilderness (other than the few that did missionary work there).

7. The hill Cumorah was tall enough that it could be used as a strategic defensive position.

We do not know, and the scriptural record does not suggest, that the hill Cumorah was a strategic defensive position. The hill Cumorah in New York would certainly not have been such, since the gentle slope up across and down from one side to the other would have provided no defense whatever.

For a mountain to be a strategic defensive position, it would have had to provide an unscalable approach to get over where few could manage at one time, allowing defenders the ability to deal with the enemy that tried to climb the hill and attack from the rear.

8. The lands of Desolation, Moron, the seashore to the east, the hills Shim and Cumorah were all comparatively close to each other.

Omer took his family and traveled northward from Moron


There is nothing in the scriptural record to suggest this. What is said, however, is rather specific: “The Lord warned Omer that he “should depart out of the land; wherefore Omer departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent, and also his sons and his daughters, and all his household, save it were Jared and his family” (Ether 9:3).                                             

First, the Land of Desolation was near the Narrow Neck of Land, to the south of the Land of Desolation (Alma 22:31-32). As Ether concluded: “Now the land of Moron, where the king dwelt, was near the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites” (Ether 7:6, emphasis added). Now since Desolagtion bordered on the Narrow Neck of Land, which separated the Land of Desolation from the Land of Bountiful, to be near the Land of Desolation, Moron would have to have been to the west, north, or east—also, it was at a higher elevation than Desolation as shown by: “when he had gathered together an army he came up unto the land of Moron where the king dwelt (Ether 7:5).

While we do not know the distance between the hill of Shim and the hill Cumorah, we most certainly do not know the distance between these two hills and Ablom, the latter being by the East Sea. The fact that Omer’s travel northward was “many days,” and his travel eastward not defined in any way, would suggest that the northern hills and city was farther northward, than the seashore eastward.

Second, Omer traveled many days in either a north or south direction—it could not have been south since the Jaredites did not enter the Land Southward. Thus the direction had to be north since it states that they turned to go east. Second, “many days” provides a time frame traveling northward longer than traveling eastward. Third, the hill Shim and the hill Cumorah were evidently near one another, but not close to Ablom

This places the hill Cumorah to the north, perhaps some distance since it took many days to reach it from the Land of Desolation.