Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Great Sea, the Great Deep

Just what do all the different named seas in the Book of Mormon signify? First, they all refer to the same thing—the major oceans of the world that all run into, or merge, with one another. As mentioned in the last Post, the Irreantum Sea (1 Nephi 17:5) is the Arabian Sea, which runs into the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and once beyond South America, merges with the Atlantic Ocean—truly a sea of “many waters.” In the Book of Mormon this sea is also described as the "Great Sea," "Great Water," "Deep," and "Great Deep."

Sometimes people lose sight of the fact, in trying to promote a specific model, that all the world’s oceans are interconnected. Irreantum, meaning “many waters,” obviouisly suggests these world oceans—as does the “Great Deep” over which the Lord led the Jaredites, Nephites, and Mulekites:

The Jaredites:

“The Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that Great Sea which divideth the lands” (Ether 2:13). “Behold O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this Great Water in darkness?” (Ether 2:22) And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the Great Waters in darkness” (Ether 6:3). “O Lord, look upon me in pity and turn away thine anger from this thy people, and suffer not that they shall go forth across this Raging Deep in darkness; but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock” (Ether 3:3). And it came to pass that when they were buried in the Deep there was no water that could hurt them” (Ether 6:7). “He remembered what the Lord had done in bringing Jared and his brother across the Deep” (Ether 10:2). And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this Great Deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come” (Ether 2:25). “And he remembered the great things that the Lord had done for his fathers in bringing them across the Great Deep into the promised land” (Ether 7:27). “Hath he not read the record which our fathers brought across the Great Deep?” (Ether 8:9).

The Nephites:

“We did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which being interpreted, is Many Waters” (1 Nephi 17:5). “Our brother is a fool for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these Great Waters” (1 Nephi 17:17). “My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the Great Deep” (2 Nephi 4:20). “Art thou not he who hath dried the sea, the waters of the Great Deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?” (2 Nephi 8:10) “And behold, also, if he say unto the waters of the Great Deep—Be thou dried up—it is done” (Helaman 12:16).

The Mulekites:

“And they journeyed in the wilderness and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the Great Waters into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16).

Land of Promise Separate from England/Europe:

“And it came to pass that I looked and beheld Many Waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren” (1 Nephi 13:10; see also 13:12, 13, 29).

As can be seen, it matters little what term is used to describe the oceans of the world that were involved getting to and surrounding the Land of Promise—all terms had the same meaning.

(Next Post will show how far afield some people go to try and support their own model for the Land of Promise in “Book of Mormon Lands Were Hidden”)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Seas Border the Land of Promise?

The Lehi Colony set sail from Bountiful on the ship Nephi built according to the instructions of the Lord (1 Nephi 8:1-2), they “put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind toward the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:8). After they had “been driven forth before the wind for many days” (1 Nephi 8:9), a mutiny arose and after some difficulty with Nephi’s older brothers and the sons of Ishmael, Nephi regained control of the ship and they “sailed again toward the promised land” (1 Nephi 8:22), and after a certain time, they “did arrive at the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23), and after arriving in the land by ship, “they did begin to till the earth” and “plant seeds” which seeds they “brought from the land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 8:24).

These passages are quite clear on the following points:

1. Nephi’s ship was a weather-driven sailing ship and required the wind to propel it across the seas.

2. The winds drove the ship all the way to the land of promise.

3. The winds and sea currents driving the ship took them directly to the land of promise where they landed.

4. After landing, they cultivated the land and planted the seeds they had brought with them.

There is no mention, no indication, no suggestion or innuendo in Nephi’s description of their sailing to the Land of Promise that alters the above four points.

In addition, Jacob said and Nephi wrote down, that “the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20). Which should clearly show that the Lehi Colony sailed across the sea and landed on their island, which was upon that very same sea. There is no indication of any kind to suggest anything different.

Jacob’s sermon to the Nephites was clearly meant to show them that though they were on a distant island in the middle of the sea, far away from Jerusalem, that others from the House of Israel had also been led away to distant isles. He said, “great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren” (2 Nephi 10:21).

Then, to make sure the Nephites listening understood they were not forgotten by the Lord, Jacob added, “And now behold, the Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off, wherefore he rememebreth us also” (2 Nephi 10:22).

There seems little doubt that the sea the Nephites traveled across to the promised land was the same sea that bordered the promised land, for there is no suggestion otherwise of any kind in scripture to suggest the Land of Promise, the isle Jacob describes, was not upon the very sea they had traveled to get there.

Obviously, the Nephites set sail into the sea they called Irreantum, or “Many Waters” (1 Nephi 17:5). This body of water that merges with several seas or oceans, includes the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and once beyond South America, merges with the Atlantic Ocean—truly a sea of “many waters.” In the Book of Mormon this sea is also described as the "Great Sea," "Great Water," "Deep," and "Great Deep." These oceans or sea are the only way a sailing ship could get from the southern coast of Arabia, the land they called Bountiful, to the Land of Promise. Yet, in a work entitled “True Book of Mormon Geography” of New York, a blogger claims that: “The Great Sea does not border Book of Mormon lands.”

(See the Next Post “The Great Sea, the Great Deep” for a further understanding of the oceans or seas that made up the Land of Promise West Sea, East Sea, North Sea and South Sea)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The So-Called H38 Virus – Part IV

According to the blogger on this H38 Virus (See Parts I, II and III), he states as his third and final point:

3. The Land Northward was crossed by the Mulekites, they having first landed in the northern border then traveled south later to found Zarahemla. A true model must have a LAND NORTHWARD bordered by the SEA NORTH connecting to the "GREAT DEEP." (1 Nephi 17:17; Omni 1:16; Ether 6:3, 2:25, 7:27, 8:9; Helaman 12:16; 2 Nephi 4:20).”

In this point, an agreement certainly exists that there were four seas: Sea North, Sea South, Sea West and Sea East. However, there can be no agreement with his comment about the Mulekites, for Amaleki clearly stated in Omni 1:16 that the Mulekites landed in the area where Mosiah found them (Zaraemla) in the Land southward. As to the seas, this blogger claims the Sea South was south of the Land Northward and separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward. This is not in agreement with Mormon's account (as shown in the following model that we have presented in “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.”) In addition, the blogger claims that the oceans around the Land of Promise had to be open to the “Great Deep,” which is also true according to the scriptural account. However, the Great Lakes Model, nor the Heartland Model, do not allow for this, the "Great Deep" of the Atlantic Ocean 300 miles or more away from the Land of Promise shown in their models.

Map South America: Today and in 600 B.C. The drawing to the right shows the Land of Promise is open to the "Great Deep" in all direction

As can be seen, the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean at one time were connected through a passage when the area of Panama was underwater, referred to anciently as the "Gulf Straits," and not connected to South America as the Glomar Challenger undersea drilling ship found when drilling on both sides of the Isthmus of Panama. This means that both coasts of the Land of Promise, that is both the West Sea and the East Sea, connected by the North Sea, were part of the “Great Deep,” as well as Irreantum “many waters” where all these oceans flowed into one another.

As for these Great Lakes Theorists’ claims, and the H38 Virus in particular, one cannot decide to lay claim to one part of the Land of Promise and ignore all the rest of it. The H38 Virus concentrates on the Land Northward to the exclusion of the Land Southward. As an example, no Great Lakes model can substantiate the comment Mormon makes in Alma 22:29 “And also there were many Lamanites on the east by the seashore, whether the Nephites had driven them. And thus the Nephites were nearly surrounded by the Lamanites; nevertheless the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful.”

And also, Mormon writes that the Nephites had “hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north” (Alma 22:33). Consequently, while the Lamanites occupied the Land of Nephi to the south, the Nephites occupied the Land of Zarahemla to the north of “a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west” (Alma 22:27). While Great Lakes models sometimes show this, their delineation of these lands and this strip of wilderness in no way runs across the entire land as the scriptures state, and thus hemming the Lamanites in on the south so they could not be overrun in the north, the the Nephites “might have a country whither they might flee, according to their desires” (Alma 22:34).

In the Great Lakes Model, a Map of Lamanite Approaches to the Land Northward where the Nephites could not have stopped them in such broad areas of approach

Instead, nowhere in the Great Lakes area would a people to the south be “hemmed in” and not be able to circumvent a “round-about” route to attack from the rear. Something the Lamanites in the Land of Promise could not do according to Mormon.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The So-Called H38 Virus – Part III

According to the blogger on this H38 Virus (See Parts I and II), he states:

“1. The Land Northward was a prized piece of land. The Jaredites lived there solely, and the Nephites protected it at all costs, living there exclusively just before their extinction in 400 AD. The land was considered "choice above all other lands."

In reality, the Land Northward was part of the Promised Land, and along with the Land Southward, was all a choice land. The Jaredites lived there solely because the Lord did not want them moving into the Land Southward, and placed the poisonous serpents to bite any humans that tried to pass through the Narrow Neck of Land and go into the Land Southward (Ether 9:33).

An example of a Land Northward with a Narrow Neck of Land separating the Land Southward, which the Jaredites referred to as an Animal Preserve (Ether 10:20-21). By the very nature of hunting into this area, the Jaredites would not have gone very far into this land and would have known very little about it beyond their hunting area

The Nephites protected the entrance into the Land Northward at all costs because it was “wisdom in the Nephites” to keep the Lamanites from obtaining the Land Northward (Alma 22:33-34) in which case the Nephites would be surrounded and have to fight a two-frant war.

The Nephites lived in the Land Northward exclusively just before their extinction, because the Lamanites captured all the land to the south of the Narrow Neck, driving the Nephites back into the Land of Desolation (Mormon 3:5-7; 4:2), and a truce was established by which the Nephites were granted (by the Lamanites) the Land Northward, and the Lamanites kept their possession of all the Land Southward (Mormon 2:28-29).

The Land of Promise was considered choice, above all other lands by the Lord and he led the Jaredites, Nephites and Mulekites to it for their future inheritance.

“2. The Land Northward was such a small piece of land, the scent of their dead covered "all the face of the land:"

It was very common in the Hebrew language to call places by extensive names, thus we find in the Book of Mormon that the terms “in all the land,” “on all the face of the Earth,” etc., when actually the statement deals with a much smaller area. Hebrew, like most Eastern languages, is figurative by nature, and colorful in expression. When Ether writes about the death and destruction of the Jaredite nation, and the running battles that moved all over the land and, in some cases, from the east to the west seas, and even to the sea north (Ripliancum), there is no suggestion this land was “such a small place.”

After all, two million of Coriantumr’s men (plus women and children) had died in battle long before the last battles took place. Assuming that Shiz’ side lost as many, that would be 4 million, plus the remaining armies on both sides of at least a couple million or more each when including women and children. These numbers could be as many as 8 to 12 million. How much land does it take to house, feed, and care for 8 to 12 million people in an agrarian society? One that required land to grow crops, etc.? Certainly not a land small enough for the stench of death to permeate every square foot of it. Also, the phrase "he had the smell of death about him" refers to a characterization often used where a person or people were involved in much bloodshed, not an actual smell.

Ether’s comment, however, is well intended, for the dying were everywhere, the fighting took place everywhere, and the concept of death was upon all the land without question. The same was said during the battles of Europe when the Allies landed on Normandy, and eventually pushed their way to Berlin. All of Europe, it was said, was covered with the dead—8,000,000 died in Europe during WWII, and counting Russia, another 8,000,000. Europe, including Russia and England, is a very large land.

In addition, when Limhi's 43-man expeditionary force looking for Zarahemla ended up in the Land Northward and discovered "a land covered with bones of men" which were located so far north "they traveled in a land of many waters" (Mosiah 8:8). Mormon describes this land of many waters "so far northward" (Alma 22:30) in the Land Northward, which was where Cumorah was located (Mormon 6:4), that we might assume these Nephites traveled for to the north before discovering all the bones mentioned. Which suggests that not all the Land Northward was covered with bones at that time, but just the land of Cumorah located in an area of many waters, rivers and fountains.

(See the Next Post, for the third point of the H38 Virus in “The So-Called H38 Virus – Part IV”)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The So-Called H38 Virus – Part II

As mentioned in the previous post (Part I), at no time do the scriptures single out one part of the Land of Promise and separate it from another part as the H38 Virus attempts to do. The Land of Promise was an entire land mass as described in Alma 22, and included two distinct areas that were kept separate by the Lord, leading the Jaredites to the northern land and the Nephites and Mulekites to the southern land, which was connected by a narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32).

The Jaredites, who the Lord led “into that quarter where there never had man been” (Ether 2:5), which was “into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:42), were granted the Land Northward in the Land of Promise. The Jaredites reached this land via submersible (Ether 2:24-25) barges they built that moved before “a furious wind that blew upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land, and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind” (Ether 6:5) and “were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind” (Ether 6:6). One cannot claim these waters, or this furious wind or mountainous waves that would move a non-sailing vessel (on or below the surface) through the sea currents, would be along a river inland for hundreds of miles to reach the Great Lakes region.

The description in Ether suggests a wide expanse of water (ocean) where mountainous waves and huge tempests would exist and which would propel eight such vessels across great distances to the Land of Promise. Keep in mind that this is the same Land of Promise the Nephites were led to where Nephi’s sailing ship was brought over “many waters” to land along the West Sea. Again, to claim this West Sea was an inland body of water (Lake Erie) hundreds of miles from an ocean, is ludicruous.

In Moroni’s abridgement of Ether’s account, originally written in the last 50 years or so existence of the Jaredite nation, we find that Moroni injects a general understanding of this Land of Promise Ether wrote about in Chapter 13 regarding this land the Jaredites inherited, that is, the entire Land of Promise (for the Land Southward, which they never occupied but knew about and used as an animal preserve), was a choice land that “after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord,” a land that “was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord,” and the land that “Lehi should come,” and that after the old city of Jerusalem should be destroyed, a “New Jerusalem should be built upon this land unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph” (Ether 13:2-6). This land, the Western Hemisphere of North, Central and South America, was a chosen land from the time the waters recedec from the Great Flood, and only those the Lord brought here, came to inhabit this Land of Promise.

Thus, this “choice land above all others” would be the entire Western Hemisphere, kept hidden by the Lord until he led the Jaredites, then the Nephites to it. The southern portion of this entire hemisphere was given to Lehi, for the Lord brought him into the Land South (Helaman 6:10) and gave that land to him for an inheritance forever (1 Nephi 5:5; 2 Nephi 1:5). The northern portion of this Hemisphere was given to a “remnant of the house of Joseph” and “shall be a land of their inheritance” and “shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old” and they shall keep this land “until the end come when the earth shall pass away” (Ether 13:8).

The H38 Virus tries to separate the Land Northward from the Land Southward in its importance, and the promises of each the Lord gave in the Book of Mormon. To consider anything else is purely an individual interpretation not supported by the basic reading and understanding of the scriptures, and the enormous amount of talks given by General Authorities as to the blessings the Lord gave to both the North and South American continents.

After all, it was Joseph Smith who said “the whole of America is Zion itself from north to south” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 362) -- that is, North America, Central America and South America "the whole of it" is Zion -- or the Land of Promise.

(See the next post: The So-Called H38 Virus – Part III, for more information about the scriptural makeup of the Land of Promise)

Friday, September 24, 2010

The So-Called H38 Virus – Part I

One rather arrogant blogger has made quite an issue out of what he calls the H38 Virus—Helaman 3:8, about the Land Northward being the main issue of the Land of Promise and the four seas he claims surrounded it. This scripture illustrates a serious migration event that took place in about 46 B.C. Following the peace Moronihah had established between the Nephites and the Lamanites 5 years earlier, and following a year-long war with the Gaddianton Robbers who had tried to take control of the government by assassination, many Nephites in the Land Southward, where these events had taken place, decided to emigrate to a more peaceful area to the north in the Land of Promise.

First, it should be remembered that about 10 years earlier, another serious migration took place with 5400 men, plus their wives and children—possibly 25,000 people—set sail in Hagoth’s ships over a three year period to a “Land Which Was Northward” (Alma 63:4). In addition, during this time, “many people went forth into the land northward” (Alma 63:9). Thus, the Nephites in this ten year period were involved in emigration.

Now, in 46 B.C., “there was much contention and many dissensions” in the Land Southward, following these years of bloodshed and disruption (Helaman 3:3). So “there were an exceeding great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth into the land northward to inherit the land” (Helaman 3:3). These people did not just go through the narrow neck of land and into the Land of Desolation, but “they did travel to an exceeding great distance…that they came to large bodies of water and many rivers” (Helaman 3:4).

It should also be kept in mind that the Land of Promise encompassed two land masses that were connected by a narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32), with the land Southward of this narrow neck, which included the Lands of Nephi, Zarahemla and Bountiful, was nearly surrounded by water except for this narrow neck (Alma 22:32), obviously, causing there to be a sea to the west, a sea to the east, and a sea to the south. Up until this period of time, the Land Northward had not been occupied by the Nephites in any numbers, so there were large tracts of land to the north that were part of the Land of Promise and, therefore, part of the Nephite’s land of inheritance or land of promise.

So, during this ten-year period (55 B.C. to 46 B.C.), probably as a result of the previous extensive wars and all the contention in the Land Southward, tens of thousands of Nephites traveled into the Land Northward “to inherit the land” (Helaman 3:3). As a result of this migration, the Land of Promise began to fill up and, Mormon, abridging the record some 400 years later, and reading all the Nephite records which were particular and very large (Helaman 3:13), of which Mormon could only write a “hundredth part of the proceedings” (Helaman 3:14) of the Nephites, made it clear to the future reader that Lehi’s descendants filled up the Land of Promise from the north sea to the south sea (that is, from the top of the Land Northward, to the bottom of the Land Southward) and from the east sea to the west sea (a narrower distance, but including the breadth of both land masses), or, in short, covered the entire earth of the Land of Promise which was an island (2 Nephi 10:20).

The H38 Virus, as mentioned earlier, is one Theorist’s attempt to claim the Land Northward was really the focal point of the Book of Mormon, and that Helaman 3:8 shows that the Land Northward was surrounded entirely by water, including a north sea, south sea, west sea and east sea. However, at no time do the scriptures single out one part of the Land of Promise and separate it from another part. The Land of Promise was an entire land mass as described in Alma 22, and included two distinct areas that were kept separate by the Lord, leading the Jaredites to the northern land and the Nephites and Mulekites to the southern land, which was connected by a narrow neck of land.

(See Part II of “The So-Called H38 Virus,” to get a clearer picture of this issue that has led to a North American Theory without scriptural justification)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Joseph Was Trained by Moroni

When scholars and theorists regarding the Book of Mormon, specifically the geographical information, often forget just how this record came to us and by whom. Joseph, an untrained and unschooled boy of 17 was visited by an angel with whom he had many conversations over the years.

And lest we forget, Moroni was the last of the Nephi prophets. He lived during the last portion and early quarter of the 300s and 400s A.D. He lived among the Nephites. He wrote the last several chapters of the Book of Mormon on the gold plates. He witnessed all that happened during these many years, and learned from his father about the Nephites and lands dating back to about the first part of the 300s A.D. He obviously would have read the entire Nephite history available to him after he obtained all the records.

Moroni knew and understood the language of the Nephites. He knew and understood Reformed Egyptian and Hebrew. He knew and understood the history of the Nephite nation and its 1000 year existence in the Land of Promise. He knew and understood the Jaredite civilization, having read all of Ether’s record and that record handed down over the centuries to Ether, from the Brother of Jared onward. Moroni read the Ether records covering the creation of the Earth to the Flood, which he chose not to translate into his record of what we know have as the book of Ether.

No man in modern history knew as much about the Nephites, Lamanites, Mulekites and Jaredites as Moroni. And Moroni taught Joseph Smith much about this history, the Nephite customs, and daily life. Joseph Smith’s mother records that Joseph used to tell them stories about the Nephites in their family gatherings. No mortal man on the face of the earth in modern history knew as much about these ancient people, their lives, history, success and failures as Joseph Smith. Not Hugh B. Nibley, not John L. Sorenson, not Joseph L. Allen, not Hilton, Meldrum, May, Potter, Wellington, Aston, Pate, Goble, Olive, Hansen, Hauck, Curtis, Palmer, Hunter, Ferguson, Ainsworth, or the many others, including myself, who have endeavored to promote one theory or another about the location of the Land of Promise.

Joseph knew more than them all, and Moroni knew more than Joseph.

It is impossible to determine the number of “interviews” Joseph had with Moroni, but twenty-two visits are often identified between 1823 and 1829. During this time Moroni displayed amazing patience. He wrote the last portion of the book, he knew the language and the culture of the Nephite record keepers, he knew the Lord. But “line upon line; here a little, and there a little,” Moroni instructed Joseph in how to perform his task, helping as the young Prophet persevered in learning his role. As Joseph read Moroni’s words “when we write we behold our weakness” (Ether 12:25), he must have empathized and yet felt reassured when he realized that his angelic instructor had at one time experienced deep frustrations relative to his own literary ability. No doubt the next verse furnished great comfort: “Fools mock, but … my grace is sufficient for the meek.” (Ether 12:26).

The plates were in Joseph’s possession for about twenty-one months. Joseph wrote: “By the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand. When, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him.” These six years of advanced training were anything but ordinary, for his tutors were celestial beings who taught eternal truths that would never change or become obsolete. Whereas much of man’s formal education is tentative, wrong, or outdated within a few years of graduation, Joseph said of his own education: “Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.”

This was the quality of the heavenly instruction Joseph Smith enjoyed.

How is it that so many have written that Joseph, or the ancient Nephite prophets, either did not know for certain what they wrote about, or that they wrote in ambiguous prose that requires an educated man of today to understand and interpret to the rest of us?

The words of the Book of Mormon are clear, concise, and completely understandable. They were written by ancient prophets who lived at the time and thoroughly knew that of which they wrote. Their words were translated by an individual who had been tutored by an angel, and received constant confirmation from the Spirit as to what he wrote.

Until someone comes along better trained than Joseph, who was taught by Moroni, who lived and understood the Nephites and earlier prophets, I think it prudent that the Book of Mormon scriptural record is where we ought to “hang our hat” regarding any and all geographical understanding of the Land of Promise.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another Word About The Moving of Records

For those who like to claim the gold plates and Nephite records could not have been moved from the Hill Cumorah in the Land of Promise to another location, such as a hill in upstate New York called the Hill Cumorah within LDS nomenclature, should be aware that the records were moved at least once within the scriptural record, and likely at least twice.

In Helaman’s day, about 46 B.C., we find that the Nephites had many records covering all sorts of activities, such as “their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries…there are many books and many records of every kind” (Helaman 3:14-15). Where these records were kept is not known, nor how many times these records were moved is not known, however, we do know that they were “handed down from one generation to another” (Helaman 3:16) over the centuries, “even until they have fallen into transgression” etc., which should suggest to the day of Mormon.

Now we know that the last prophet mentioned before Mormon was Ammaron, who, in 320 A.D., under the direction of the Holy Ghost, hid up all the sacred records of the Nephites which had been handed down from generation to generation (4 Nephi 1:48) in a hill called Shim in the Land of Antum (Mormon 1:3). These records were many, and some were “books and records of every kind” and were “handed down from one generation to another by the Nephites” (Helaman 3:15-16).

When Mormon was 24 years old, he took the plates of Nephi from Ammaron’s hidden cache, but left the remainder of all these records in the hill Shim (Mormon 1:4).

In about 375 A.D., Mormon went to this hill Shim and took all the other Nephite records which Ammaron had hidden (Mormon 4:23) before they began retreating further and further northward before the invading Lamanites, passing through many lands (Mormon 5:5). Finally, in 384 A.D., Mormon hid up the plates of Nephi which he had taken from the hill Shim, and hid them up in the hill Cumorah, which was in the Land of Cumorah (Mormon 6:2), along with all the records which had been entrusted to him by the hand of the Lord save it were a few plates which he gave to Moroni (Mormon 6:6).

This Cumorah, was so far north (Alma 22:30) that it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains (Mormon 6:4). Therefore, it can only be concluded that the records mentioned were first handed down from generation to generation throughout the Land of Promise, no doubt beginning in Zarahemla, until the Nephites fell into transgress, then hidden in a hill called Shim in the Land of Antum, which was far to the south of the Land Northward, then taken and re-hidden in a hill called Cumorah in the Land of Cumorah, which was far to the north in the Land Northward.

To conclude that these records could not have been later moved from Cumorah by Moroni after he concluded his final record, as the Spirit directed, or by some other means known only to the Lord, is foolhardy. After all, they were moved from one end of the Land of Promise to the other during the 1000 years of Nephite recorded history. Certainly, they could have been moved again under the direction of the Spirit by a living or spirit body Moroni, or by some other means, during the following 1400 years of time from Moroni’s last writing to when Joseph Smith was directed to them in what has become known within LDS circles as the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York.

After all, according to the Historical Record, vol 6, Map 1887 pp 207-209, David Whitmer told Elder Joseph F. Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve about his wagon trip to Fayette with Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. As they traveled across a section of prairie, they came upon a man walking along the road, carrying something that was obviously heavy in a knapsack on his back. Invited to ride, the man replied, “No, I am going to Cumorah.” Puzzled, David looked around inquiringly, but when he turned again, the man was gone. David demanded of Joseph: “What does it mean?” Joseph informed him that the man was Moroni, and that the bundle on his back contained plates which Joseph had delivered to him before they departed from Harmony, Susquehanna County, and that he was taking them for safety, and would return them when he (Joseph) reached father Whitmer’s home.”
Limiting God’s ability to bring about his own purposes through means unknown to man is not only foolhardy, but disingenuous by LDS scholars and theorists.

The box made to contain the records while in Joseph's possession.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Another Word About Mound Building

In the construction end of the Great Lakes and Heartland Theories, the claimed evidence of early Nephite existence in the eastern United States is the many mound building remains found throughout the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. These mounds, it is claimed, show advanced civilization remains, so-called evidence that Nephites lived in this area in what they claim was the Land of Promise.

Using a little common sense, let’s take a look at what Nephi and others said, and compare it with three different locations in the Western Hemisphere:

“And I did teach my people to build building, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance. And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine” (2 Nephi 5:15-16).

“And we multiplied exceedingly and spread upon the face of the land and became exceeding rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every” (Jarom 1:8).

In 3 Nephi 9:3-10, many cities were destroyed in the Land of Promise. These were not villages or towns or settlements, but cities. In 4 Nephi 1:7, we find that many of these cities were rebuilt: “And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land, yeq, insomuch that they did build cities again where there had been cities burned. Yea, even that great city Zarahemla did they cause to be built again”

“And they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to thi land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with apeople who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel” (Mosiah 8:8).

“And there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place” (3 Nephi 6:8).

The question always comes up when someone wants to claim the Great Lakes or Heartland theories—where are the remains of those cities, buildings, highways? What of the iron workings tools, and machinery? Where is the remnant of Nephi’s temple constructed like Solomon’s Temple?

What we find in the Great Lakes area and in the Heartland of eastern U.S. are mounds of dirt. While some are intricate in design, they are till simply moundes of dirt. There are no iron tools dating to the Nephite era, no buildings of any kind, no highways or roads. In short, there is nothing to suggest an advanced Nephite civilization ever set foot in the Great Lakes or Heartland areas of the U.S.

Left: The Grand Village of the Natchez mound. There were three such earthworks mounds which served as their main political and religious ceremonial center. Right: A section of the Great Circle Earthworks, part of the Newark Earthworks. Built by the Hopewell Culture between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D. The earthworks were used as places of ceremony, social gathering, trade, and worship.

Large structure ruins in the Andean area of South America

Large structure ruins in the Mesoamerican area of Central America

Now which looks like the Nephite construction outlined in 2 Nephi 5:15-16?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Did Moroni Hide the Plates in the Hill Cumorah?

This Post given in answer to a comment relating to the last post. After completing all his writings, Moroni hid the record upon which he wrote (Mormon 8:14), though he does not say where he hid them, though he seems to have known that someone, in some future time, would find the record in the earth (buried?) and translate it (Mormon 8:15-16) by the means the Lord provided (Mormon 8:34), and that he, Moroni, would yet speak to this future people “as though I spake from the dead; for I know that ye shall hear my words” (Mormon 8:30).

The plates upon which Moroni was writing were a few of those his father, Mormon, gave to him (Mormon 6:6; Moroni 9:24), after hiding up all the other records in the Hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:6). This Hill Cumorah, in the Land Northward, far north of the Hill Shim where Ammaron hid them and from which Mormon retrieved them (Mormon 4:23), may or may not be the place where Moroni later hid the records upon which he wrote—we only know that Mormon hid them there, on a Hill the Jaredites called Ramah, and the Nephites called Cumorah (Ether 15:11).

We also know that Moroni knew where Mormon had buried the sacred records (Ether 15:11). We also know that the last great battle between the Lamanites and the Nephites took place around 384-385 A.D. (Mormon 6:5). It also seems evident that Mormon was killed in this last battle (Mormon 8:5), and that Moroni spent some 15 years after this battle and his father’s death being alone (Mormon 8:5), and in some type of hiding for he does not start to write Mormon 8 and 9 (concluding his father’s record) until about 401 A.D. (Mormon 8:6). For about the next 20 years, Moroni spends hiding from the Lamanites and writing, including the translation and abridgement of the Book of Ether.

Around 421 A.D. or later, Moroni concludes his writing with an epistle “unto my brethren, the Lamanites,” stating that “more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ” (Moroni 10:1). At the beginning of his last writings, somewhere between 400 and 421 A.D., Moroni is still hiding from the Lamanites, knowing that if they find him, they would destroy him for “they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ” (Mormoni 1:1-2). During this time Moroni has been wandering, evidently hiding and keeping out of sight of the Lamanites (Moroni 1:3).

How far Moroni wandered is not known. However, it might be assumed that his wandering, or moving about, was not just in the Land of Cumorah, but likely to be far from there since even at this time the Lamanite wars were “exceedingly fierce among themselves” (Moroni 1:2) “and the whole face of the land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8) with only “Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land” (Mormon 8:9).

During this wandering it is likely that Moroni was visited by, or had as companions for a time, the three witnesses, “the disciples of Jesus, who did tarry in the land until the wickedness of the people was so great that the Lord did not suffer them to remain with the people” (Mormon 8:10), for Moroni saw them and was ministered to by them (Mormon 8:11).

The fact is, as you so adequately stated, we do not know where Moroni buried or hid the records upon which he wrote. We do not know if he moved them. We do not know if his writings were hid in the same area as the other sacred records his father hid. We simply do not know. Because he was hiding and wandering, trying to keep one step ahead of the Lamanites, it is very unlikely that at the close of his life, he was still at the Hill Cumorah.

More likely, he was elsewhere and had been assured by the Spirit that wherever he hid his writings, they would at some future time be together with the other sacred records in an area where Joseph Smith could find them. After all, at the conclusion of Ether’s life, he “hid them in a manner that the people of Limhi did find them” (Ether 15:33).

After all, the Lord knows all things from the beginning. The movement of some records from one place to another is certainly not beyond his ability. The one who has created worlds without number would not be troubled moving records a few hundred or thousands of miles to accomplish his future purposes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Problem with Theories

One of the major problem with Book of Mormon Land of Promise theories is that the scholar and theorists almost always try to limit what God can or cannot do. Nor do they take the time to really and truly understand the scriptural reference they use to prove their points. Scripture, whether doctrinal or geographical, is almost always much deeper than the reader initially understands. And when a theorist is trying to prove his theory, he quite often uses a very surface level understanding of the scripture’s true meaning—or, as in the case of trying to prove the Doctrine & Covenants describes that present-day northeastern United States was the location of the Land of Promise, to limit that ability beyond man’s thinking.

Because in the recent Post, “Was There Only One Cumorah?” and in an earlier Post, “The Problem with Zarahemla – Part II—Significance in a Name,” in which the claim that these scriptures in Doctrine and Covenants prove that the Land of Promise was in the northeastern states, is thoroughly answered, the information will not be repeated here again. However, a reading of those two posts should show that the scriptures used do not relate to the Land of Promise, but to events in the early days of the Church.

But, perhaps the most significant understanding of how scholars and theorists limit God’s power is shown in the discussion of the Hill Cumorah. On June 17, 1877, Brigham Young related a story at conference in which he commented on what was found within the hill Cumorah. He said, in part, “I tell these things to you, and I have a motive for doing so. I want to carry them to the ears of my brethren and sisters, and to the children also, that they may grow to an understanding of some things that seem to be entirely hidden from the human family.” With that reasoning, Pres. Young went on to tell the story: “Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls.”

A cave beneath the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York? There are at least ten second-hand accounts describing the story of the cave in Cumorah, however, Joseph Smith himself did not record the incident. And none of the accounts with us today are first hand. But the story of the cave full of plates inside the Hill Cumorah in New York is often given as evidence that it is, indeed, the hill where Mormon hid the plates. Unfortunately, the New York Hill Cumorah is a moraine, that is, it is a drumlin—a pile of gravel scraped together and laid down anciently by a glacier in motion. It is comprised of gravel and earth. Geologically, it is impossible for the hill to have a cave, and all those who have gone in search of the cave have come back empty-handed.

If, therefore, the story attributed to Oliver Cowdery is true, then the visits to the cave perhaps represent visions, perhaps of some far distant hill, or a divine transportation to another locale. However, few scholars or theorits are likely to think of such a thing, for their tendency is to limit God’s power, Yet, Nephi himself describes being “caught away in the Spirit of the Lord into an exceedingly high mountain which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set foot” (1 Nephi 11:1), and many other incidents are recorded where individuals are swept up in the Spirit to see and be places they had never been as recorded both in scripture like Lehi who saw many visions (1 Nephi 1:8,16), and in modern times.

The point is, we cannot limit the placement or movement of the gold plates in one single physical area and say they could not be moved by the Lord, by Moroni, or through God’s power. Yet, those who claim there is only one Cumorah deny the possibility that God could have seen to the transportation of those plates from one part of the Land of Promise to another for His own purposes. Whether He did or did not, we are not told—but to claim it could not have happened, and that there could not be another Cumorah, and that the Land of Promise could not be elsewhere but in the northeastern United States, is rather an arrogant attitude fostered by men who desire, for whatever reason, to deny God’s power to bring about His purpose differently than man assumes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Was There Only One Cumorah? Addendum

In the last post about Cumorah, there was a response that seems worthwhile to repeat here as a separate post. The individual who wrote under the moniker BOMG stated five disagreements, though all but one were far from self-explanatory. Here are those five comments and my response:

Comment: First off, the issue is adding to the text what it does not say.

Response: I am not sure what text you are referring to. Certainly, the Book of Mormon describes and names numerous cities and locations in the Western Hemisphere after cities and locations in the Middle East from which they came. It would be impossible for anyone to deny this.

Comment: Second, is inferring what is not inferred.

Response: Without further information, this comment is meaningless. There is no inferring in the article other than the fact that almost all emigrant peoples through history have renamed areas in their new land after areas in the land from which they came, and such would describe why there are two Cumorahs.

Comment: Third, D&C 128:20 proves Joseph did refer to the hill in Palmyra as "Cumorah."

Response: The D&C 128:20 does not prove any such thing. This scripture does not link in any way the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York where the plates were found by Joseph Smith in 1823 with the Hill Cumorah in the Land of Promise as described in the Book of Mormon. The referenced scripture is a letter or epistle to the Church from Joseph Smith in 1842, in which Joseph is declaring the reality of the Book of Mormon and the gospel therein outlined. In the proceeding verse (19), Joseph sets the tone for the verse referenced above: “Now what do we hear in the gospel which we have received?” he asked. “A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy.” He goes on to state a scripture regarding “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that they say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth!” and concludes this verse saying that “the knowledge of God descend upon them!” meaning the members of the church and all those who accept the gospel. Now in the next verse (20), the one referenced, he continues with this same theme: “And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfillment of the prophets—the book to be revealed.” Obviously, Joseph is talking about the restoration of the gospel. In doing say, he is expressing how this restoration began: “A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book.” Joseph is using the location in which this restoration took place (Fayette, Seneca County), and continues along this theme of saying what happened and where: “The voice of Michael on the banks of the Seusquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light! This voice of Peter, James and John in the wilderness between Harmon, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and the dispensation of the fullness of times!” In the following verse (21), he continues with his description of the restoration and where events took place. There simply is no indication in any way, intimated or stated, that any of these places relate to Book of Mormon Land of Promise locations—only to the restoration of the gospel in the early 1800s in the eastern U.S., which we all know today. Joseph, in stating “Glad tidings from Cumorah” is referencing the fact that Cumorah was the location of the gold plates which, when translated by him, declared glad tidings of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to both members of the church and to the world as a whole. The glad tidings is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not even by anyone’s wildest imagination can this comment be construed to mean the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York where the plates were found is the same Hill Cumorah described in the Land of Promise.

Comment: Fourth, Joseph never referred to another hill as Cumorah.

Response: Of course he did not refer to any other hill as Cumorah. He never desribed any Land of Promise locations. The Hill Cumorah in upstate New York is where he found the gold plates, which he translated into the Book of Mormon, and was that place from which the “Glad tidings” came forth. He never, at any time, tried to say exactly where the Hill Cumorah described on the plates in the Land of Promise was located originally. All we know from scripture, is that there was a land some distance south of the Hill Cumorah, called the Land Southward, south of the narrow neck of land separating the two lands (Land Northward and Land Southward) that was almost completely surrounded by water except for the narrow neck (Alma 22:32), which can not be identified in connection with the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York. The problem is, someone finds a name and wants to claim that was a Book of Mormon location. The folly of this is shown in the fact that there is a city called Moroni located in the Comoros Islands near Madagascar, where we have no record of any contact with Book of Mormon peoples. So what does this suggest? Nothing at all! Unless someone wants to claim east Africa and Madagascar were the location of the Land of Promise.

Comment: Fifth, prophecy dictates the Nephite record would come forth on the same land where it took place and Jesus himself would appear - in the same place!

Response: Really? Show me the prophecy, who stated it, when, and the context in which this was mentioned. Not having seen such a prophecy, one thought that comes to mind if there is such a prophecy, that in Joseph’s time, and much later, in fact, as has been pointed out in these posts, there was no concept of continents. A single land mass, as long as it was connected, was not separated by continental distinction. That idea came much later than Joseph’s time. Therefore, the “same land” could mean all of the Western Hemisphere, which is how land masses were separated at the time. Europe, China, Palestine, etc., belonged to the Eastern Hemisphere, the “Old World,” and North, Central and South America belonged to the Western Hemisphere, or the “New World.” If, by chance, you are referring to Ether 13:2, I would suggest you read it again, for the Land of Promise described there is all of the Western Hemisphere—there was no North or South America, nor was there a United State or Canada, just one large land mass connected to another large land mass—the Western Hemisphere—the Land of Promise.

Concluding Response: To whoever wrote these comments, perhaps he/she might want to be more self-explanatory next time. Also, try to use scripture as it was originally intended, not bend it to suit a model or an opinion--and rely more on Book of Mormon scripture regarding the Land of Promise than modern day comments. And read the verses before and after and understand in what context they appear. It might be helpful to keep from appearing ignorant of the overall scriptures. Also, it might additionally be helpful if you read the foregoing post(s) to understand in what context a single post is delivered on this site. As an example, “What Did Jacob Know?” states a scripture that though is rarely, if ever, quoted and understood by theorists such as yourself, describes a Land of Promise as an island surrounded by water in the sea. Hard to place the Hill Cumorah and surrounding area in such a location as an island in the sea—the same sea, by the way, that the Lord made their path from Bountiful in Arabia to the Land of Promise (2 Nephi 10:20).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Was There Only One Cumorah?

It is interesting that Great Lakes Theorists want to “hang their hat” on the subject of there being only one Hill Cumorah. That is like saying there is only one Bountiful, only one Land or City of Jerusalem, Angola, Boaz, Ephraim, Gad, Benjamin, Joshua, Judea, Noah. Many Book of Mormon locations are words or names brought from the Old World.

In the Book of Mormon itself, Lehi named the area along the seashore they reached after 8 years in the wilderness (1 Nephi 17:4) Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:5). About 500 years later, once in the Land of Promise, and once expanding northward from Zarahemla, they called the land far to the north Bountiful (Alma 22:29) and called a city there Bountiful (Alma 52:27).

It is typical that names are repeated by emigrant groups leaving an Old Land and settling in a New Land. Consider Birmingham, Athens, Oxford, and York, in Alabama; Bristol, Danbury, Derby, Dover, Milford, New London, and Norwich, in Connecticut; or Aberdeen, Cambridge, Dover, Moscow, Oxford, Paris, and Troy in Idaho. In Minnesota are Belgrade, Cambridge, New Prague, and Stockholm, with Vienna, Warsaw, New Madrid, Glasgow and Amsterdam in Missouri. And there are New York, Amsterdam New Rochelle, Rome and Venice in the state of New York. In all, there are listed 128 major cities in the United States named after cities in England, Europe, the Mediterranean area, Turkey, etc. What is so strange that a special hill in the Land of Promise—the Hill Cumorah, which the Jaredites called the Hill Ramah before them, where the history of the Nephite people were buried, would also be the same name the Lord would give the hill where the plates were transported by Moroni for Joseph Smith to receive?

In addition, as these Theorists like to claim: “the true lands of the Book of Mormon cannot be very distant from the place that scripture designates as Cumorah (Doctrine and Covenants 128:20).” Yet, in reading the scripture indicated to back up this statement, we find that in the time of Joseph Smith, “Glad tidings from Cumorah” are being declared, that “Moroni as an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfillment of the prophets—the book to be revealed” a “voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca County, declaring then three witnesses to bear record of the book” and also “the voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, directing the devil when he appeared as an angel of light” as well as “the voice of Peter, James and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Coleville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys to the kingdom and of the dispensation of the fullness of times.”

How can it be said that the true lands of the Book of Mormon cannot be far from the events that took place in the early 1800s when the Church was restored? These are two entirely separate events, separated by both two thousand years and purpose of statement. This statement in the Doctrine and Covenants has to do with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and also of the restoration of the Gospel, the Priesthood, and the Church of God. The Book of Mormon, as a Second Witness of Jesus Christ, outlines the events surround three groups the Lord led out of the Old World and to a Land of Promise in the Western Hemisphere, covering from about 2100 B.C. to 421 A.D. The scripture stated above took place in the New England area about 1.400 years later to a Gentile nation, unconnected to the Jews or Hebrews who closed out the Book of Mormon.

Because the Church was restored in New England does not mean the Book of Mormon took place there any more than saying that Christ was born, lived and died along the banks of the Susquehanna River where He restored the Priesthood. There is no connection in these events and none should be drawn from them. In reality, these events took place in three different areas—Christ’s life was in the Jerusalem/Israel area, the Book of Mormon lands were in the Andean area of South America (though some Nephites moved northward to cover nearly all of the Western Hemisphere), and the Church was restored in New England in North America. Why Great Lakes Theorists have so much trouble with this simple fact is difficult to understand—especially when the simple meaning in the Book of Mormon shows little correlation with upstate New York.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How Did Jacob Know?

In 2 Nephi 10:20, Jacob, in preaching to the Nephites, claimed the Land of Promise upon which they lived was actually an island. The Prophet Nephi wrote this statement down, and the following statement claiming that others have been led away from Jerusalem and occupy other islands of the sea.

This statement occurs between 559 and 545 B.C. At this time, the Nephites knew only of the area of First Landing (1 Nephi 18:23-25) and the area they called the Land of Nephi (1 Nephi 5:7), which was “many days” journey in the wilderness to the north of their landing (Alma 22:29). This Land of Nephi is later described as being south of the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful, and the Land of Desolation (Alma 22:29-33).

In 559 to 545 B.C., the Nephites did not know of the Land of Zarahemla, the Land of Bountiful, the Narrow Neck of Land, the Land of Desolation, etc., etc., etc. They knew only of the area of First Landing to the Land of Nephi. It is not known if they even knew at this time of an East Sea or South Sea.

So how did Jacob know they were on an island? Certainly when a prophet preaches, he is speaking the truth. This fact of their land being an island was known to both Jacob and Nephi, but not necessarily known to the Nephites to whom Jacob was preaching. The purpose of this preaching was to teach the Nephites that they were not cast off from the presence of the Lord—and though they were far from Jerusalem, and upon an island of the sea, the Lord knew of their whereabouts for he had led them to that island (2 Nephi 10:20), and that their brethren, other Jews from Jerusalem, were also upon other islands like theirs (2 Nephi 10:21).

The question is: How did Jacob know the Land of Promise, upon which they resided, was an island? Even if the Nephites knew there was a sea to the east at this time, they knew nothing of the land to the north of them, which was not even entered until sometime after 279 B.C. when Mosiah led those who followed him to the Land of Zarahemla. And even then, nothing was known of the land to the north of that until Limhi sent a 43-man expeditionary force that entered the Land Northward sometime around 130 B.C.

So how did Jacob know they were on an island?

There were two sources for that information: 1) A vision or inspiration from the Lord, and 2) Isaiah’s writings (2 Nephi 6:4), which they had on the Brass Plates. Even if it were the latter, how would they have known Isaiah, whose book was written between 701 and 681 B.C, about 40 years before Lehi was born, was speaking of the Nephites? Obviously, only through a vision or inspiration of the Lord!

Certainly, Jacob, or the Nephites, could not have known they were on an island from any other means. It was something that could not be guessed at for the Land of Promise, including both the Land Southward and the Land Northward, covered a fairly large area. Nor could it be suggested that Nephite sailors had circumnavigated the island by sea, for by the time Jacob is preaching in 559 B.C., not long after landing upon the shores of the land—left Jerusalem in 597 B.C., spent 8 years in the wilderness, one or two years building a ship, which would place their time of landing at 588 or 587 B.C. During that time, Nephi was occupied with his father and possibly his mother, and his own family, and after his father’s death, with troubles from his brothers and the sons of Ishmael, who continually sought his life (2 Nephi 5:2).

It is not known how long Lehi lived in the Land of Promise. The Book of Mormon dating suggests sometime between 588 B.C. and 570 B.C., as the date when Lehi died and Nephi was told to leave with those who would go with him—a period of about 18 years, making it about 10 years they were in the Land of Nephi. It is unlikely that any sailing ventures would have been taken during that calamitous time, nor in the first several years after reaching the Land of Nephi when they were busy building places to live, planting seed for sustenance, and building a temple like unto Solomon’s. By the time Jacob is preaching, the Nephites had little time to wander beyond their immediate land.

So how could Jacob know they were upon an island?

Only by vision or inspiration from the Lord. Thus, one must wonder why every single scholar and theorist delving into describing the Land of Promise and its location, and developing their maps, completely ignore this most vital descriptive information that came to Jacob and Nephi, and to us, directly from the Lord?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

James E. Talmage and the Chilean Landing Site

It is getting to the point lately that scholars and theorists today are more interested in what early church leaders had to say about the location of the Land of Promise than what the actual prophet/historians wrote. So taking that theme, perhaps James E. Talmage’s comment on pages 9 and 10 of his book, “The Story of Mormonism,” written in 1914 might suffice.

In writing about the book itself and describing its contents, Talmage, who was a Teacher, Mining Geologist, Engineer, University President, Writer and Apostle, wrote: “The book tells of the journeyings across the water in vessels constructed according to revealed plan, of the peoples' landing on the western shores of South America probably somewhere in Chile.” He also wrote: “The Nephites lived in cities, some of which attained great size and were distinguished by great architectural beauty. Continually advancing northward, these people in time occupied the greater part of the valleys of the Orinoco, the Amazon, and the Magdalena.”

Thus, Talmage tells us that the Nephites landed in the south and moved continually northward, reaching the Peruvian and Ecuadorian areas and spreading out as they went, building impressive buildings and infrastructures. Something not found, by the way, anywhere in what is now the United States.

In addition, of those who traveled further north, such as those who left in Hagoth’s ships to travel “to a land which was northward” (Alma 63:4), and of the later migration of Nephites across Central and North America, he adds that the Nephites: “successively occupied extensive tracts in what is now Mexico, the valley of the Mississippi, and the Eastern States. It is not to be supposed that these vast regions were all populated at any one time by the Nephites; the people were continually moving to escape the depredations of their hereditary foes, the Lamanites; and they abandoned in turn all their cities established along the course of migration. The unprejudiced student sees in the discoveries of the ancient and now forest-covered cities of Mexico, Central America, Yucatan, and the northern regions of South America, collateral testimony having a bearing upon this history.”

Thus, Talmage, who seemed to have a better grasp on the subject than most of his contemporaries as well as earlier writers on the subject, describes the movement of the Nephite/Lamanite nations from the Chilean area in South America to the area of the Mississippi valley and Eastern States. This is exactly the progression found in the books “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica,” and “Who Really Settled in Mesoamerica?”, and involves the accurte dispersement of the Nephites/Lamanites and, later the Lamanite descendants, across the entire Western Hemisphere—the Land of Promise.

Talmage also added, “The Lamanites led a roving, aggressive life; kept few or no records, and soon lost the art of history writing. They lived on the results of the chase and by plunder, degenerating in habit until they became typical progenitors of the dark-skinned race, afterward discovered by Columbus and named American Indians.”

No matter how well Talmage follows the Book of Mormon sequence, it is still the writers found on the pages of that book, and their description of the Land of Promise, that is the most important, for they lived there, new of its boundaries and location, and exactly where it was. Jacob spoke and Nephi wrote about this location.

[Dr. James E. Talmage's "Story of Mormonism" was first delivered by him at the University of Michigan, Cornell University, and elsewhere, and first appeared in print as a lecture report in the “Improvement Era,” and was afterward issued as a booklet from the office of the “Millennial Star,” Liverpool. In 1910 it was issued in a revised form by the Bureau of Information at Salt Lake City, and has been translated and published abroad, including in Swedish, modern Greek, and Russian. Parts were also delivered by Talmage before the Philosophical Society of Denver, and appeared later in the columns of the “Improvement Era,” and translations have been published in pamphlet form in the Danish and German languages]

(see the next post: “How Did Jacob Know?” regarding this location)

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Key to Knowing Where the Land of Promise is Located – Part III

As stated in the last two posts (Part I and Part II), there is a list of fifty scriptural references to the geography describing the Land of Promise in the Book of Mormon. The first 20 references were stated in Part I, the next twenty in Part II, and the final ten in this post. For any Land of Promise model to bear any credibility, ALL fifty must be answered and shown to exist in the model. Once again, all fifty of these references are found in the Andean area and listed thoroughly in “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.”

41) A hill in the north lands where records or treasures are believed buried (Mormon 1:3; 4:23; 6:6)

42) Use of thin sheets of gold, like in a book, around 600 B.C. (1 Nephi 9:2-5)

43) Two unknown animals to represent the curelom and the cumom (Either 9:19)

44) A temple like unto Solomon's temple (2 Nephi 5:16)

45) A mist of darkness with lightning and thundering, where mountains tumbled down and others rose up to great heights, and cities sank and burned (3 Nephi 8)

46) In the northern land of the Land of Promise wars began constantly to be fought beginning around 200 B.C. and up until about 400 A.D. (from Mosiah to Mormon)

47) A land where earliest beginnings are along the southern coast, then the next major development of culture in the southern highlands, and the second development in the north (First Landing: Alma 22:28; City of Nephi, land of Nephi: Alma 22:27; Zarahemla and Bountiful: Alma 22:29)

48) A reason why the Lamanites attacked the coastal Nephite cities rather than using other lines of attack (Helaman 1:26)

49) The fortified wall the Nephites constructed to defend their north country against the Lamanites (Helaman 4:7)

50) A spoken and written language (Mosiah 9:1; 24:4; Mormon 9:32-33)

In addition to these scriptural references, Hebrew culture and the Law of Moses demanded that a male child be circumcised (Genesis 17:23; Moroni 8:8). Obviously, the Nephites lived the Law of Moses (1 Nephi 4:15-16) and did away with it after Christ’s appearance to them (4 Nephi 1:12). Thus they would have performed the Law of Circumcision until the Lord’s advent.

Any Land of Promise location must have a history of its ancient people practicing the Law of Moses and the Law of Circumcision. This is the case in the Andean area of South America, but not shown in other areas where scholars have placed their models. Also, as has been pointed out on several occasions, the Nephites were on an island of the sea, not some heartland, or Great Lakes, or Mesoamerican area. Jacob wrote:
“For the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea: (2 Nephi 10:20). Note the phraseology used: They came by sea to an island in that sea. This scripture alone eliminates the Great Lakes area, the Heartland area, and the Mesoamerican area, as well as the Baja California area. The reason why it verifies the Andean area, is that the Andean area (Chile, Peru and Ecuador) were once an island with the rest of the continent of South America (east of the present day Andes) were underwater. In “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica,” this entire issue is dealt with in great detail. The point is, the Nephites were on an island as Jacob said and since that eliminates all other models submitted to-date except the Andean model, it is understandable by no other scholar or theorist quotes that scripture.

Again, someone can say that this place or that place is the Land of Promise, but it must bear up under a close inspection of ALL the scriptures relating to that land—not just a favorite few that can be pointed toward some area. Remember, the Nephites built large, walled cities of stone, built highways throughout their lands, and had two unknown grains, Sheum and Neas, (Mosiah 9:9), and the two unknown animals of great value, the Cumom and the Curelom (Ether 9:19). These and all other scriptural references are found in the Andea area, some of which, like the animals and grains mentioned, are found only in the Andean area. How can any other model claim to match the scriptural references when they simply do not?

(see the next two posts, “Talmadge and the Chilean Landing,” and “How Did Jacob Know?”, to see more about the island upon which the Land of Promise was located)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Key to Knowing Where the Land of Promise is Located – Part II

As started in the last post, there is a list of fifty scriptural references to the geography describing the Land of Promise in the Book of Mormon. The first 2o references were stated in the last post. For any Land of Promise model to bear any credibility, ALL fifty must be answered and shown to exist in the model. Here are the next twenty:

21) Building of fortresses and fortifications (Alma 49:13; 62:42; Helaman 4:7)
22) Culture and society dominated by religion
23) Two different peoples coming by sea and moving into the central lands, one group to the north and one group to the south (Nephites and Lamanites)
24) These two groups joining each other for a time, then fracturing once again (4 Nephi 1:2-3; 38-39)
25) One group in the south settled the land suddenly and were more skilled, but a second group, further south, annihilated them (Nephites in the land Southward and Lamanites further south in area of first landing)
26) A central figure, and his honored father (parents) who was the ruler of the first settlers (Nephi the central figure and his honored father, Lehi)
27) The Land Northward containing at its northern end "many waters" of lakes, rivers, and fountains (Mormon 6:4)
28) Brothers coming to the Land of Promise as the first settlers and how they interacted with one another (Nephi, Sam, Laman and Lemuel)
29) The geographical settings showing why cities and lands were so divided in the Land of Promise even though the Nephites filled up the land from sea to sea (Helaman 3:8)
30) The long, narrow plain or valley between Zarahemla and Bountiful up which Coriantumr raced in his attempt at conquest (Helaman 1:27)
31) A single language spoken by the surviving Lamanites after the destruction of the Nephite nation (Moroni the last Nephite; Mormon 8:5, 7)
32) The ability to grow seeds of every kind brought by the Jaredites in their new land—the Land Northward (Ether 2:3)
33) The groanings of the earth and vibrations that so scared the Nephites (3 Nephi 10:19)
34) A series of devastating wars around 400 A.D. in which one group was either totally or almost totally annihilated (Mormon 6:11-15; 8:2, 7)
35) The appearance of a kindly, divine being after a period of darkness and devastation, who teaches light and truth of his ways and then disappears and is never seen again (3 Nephi 8:20-23; 10:9; 11:1,8)
36) A people of the Middle East, typically white skinned, bearded, and wearing flowing robes (as Jews typically looked in 600 B.C.) arrive or appear suddenly on the scene and are considered religious and spreaders of culture, then were eventually wiped out or disappeared (Nephites arrive in Land of Promise from Jerusalem, eventually destroyed by Lamanites)
37) A land where seams and cracks in the rocks and mountains can be found significant enough to be mentioned in religious and secular history (Helaman 14:22; 3 Nephi 8:18)
38) A sailing and shipping connection between the Land of Promise and a land to the North where Hagoth's ships landed (Alma 63:10; Helaman 3:14)
39) Four seas surrounding the Land of Promise (Helaman 3:8; Alma 22:32)
40) A land to the north of the Land of Promise where Nephite culture, skills, and evidences are to be found (Alma 63:4, 6-7)

(In the next post, Part III, the final ten references will be listed, along with other points that are strictly Hebrew culture, all of which are found in the Andean area)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Key to Knowing Where the Land of Promise is Located – Part I

As has been shown in several recent and earlier posts, Mesoamerican and Great Lakes and Heartland Theorists show maps of their models that have little or nothing to do with the geographical scriptural record. Our last post suggested how the Andean model of the Land of Promise came about—that is, by following the scriptural record on every single point.

In fact, in our book “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica,” fifty specific points describing the Land of Promise are taken right from the scriptural record and shown their relationship in the Andeal area. In addition, fifteen other points, specific to this area and consistent with Hebrew culture, activity, and achievement are also show, such as circumcision, irrigation, slings used for weapons, building of roads, skeletal remains of great battles, etc. Following are several of these points and the scripture describing them:

1) Fevers and diseases due to climate (Alma 46:40)
2) Plants and roots for medicinal cures (Alma 46:40)
3) Gold and silver as a single unit with copper (1 Nephi 18:25)
4) All manner of ore (1 Nephi 18:25; Helaman 6:11; Ether 10:23)
5) Mining and working precious metals (Helaman 6:9, 11; Ether 10:23)
6) Roads and highway systems (Helamen 14:24; 3 Nephi 6:8)
7) Construction and building (2 Nephi 5:16, Mosiah 11:8-9, 12-13; 3 Nephi 6:7)
8) Volcanoes and earthquakes (1 Nephi 12:4; 2 Nephi 6:15;27:2; Mormon 8:30; 3 Nephi 8:6-19)
9) Fine-twined linen (1 Nephi 13:7-8; Alma 1:29; 4:6; Helaman 6:13; Ether 10:24)
10) Wild and domesticated animals (1 Nephi 18:25; Ether 210:19. 21)
11) Corn, wheat and barley (Mosiah 9:9)
12) Seeds and other plants (1 Nephi 8:1; 18:24; 2 Nephi 5:11; Mosiah 9:9)
13) Crops that grew in abundance (1 Nephi 18:24; 2 Nephi 5:11)
14) Arabic ancestors of the First Settlers (Lehi and Ishmael)
15) A North-South Elongated Land of Promise (Alma 22:28-33)
16) Two distinct racial characteristics (Nephites and Lamanites)
17) Shipyard building and port at the Narrow Neck of land (Alma 63:4-10)
18) Lamanite living conditions differing from Nephite conditions (Enos 1:20)
19) Signs of a combining or mixing of two cultures not at war with each other (Mulekites and Nephites, Omni 1:19)
20) An explosion of cultural development, building, and rapid growth around 600 B.C. (Nephites entered the Land of Promise, 2 Nephi 5:15)

The problem is, scholars and theorists pay little attention to the complete descriptions shown in the Book of Mormon, relying on their feelings and locations to make their point. However, Nephi, Jacob, Amaleki, Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, Disciple Nephi, Ether, and both Momon and Moroni, all left us clues as to the appearance, location, topography, mineralogy, oceanography, and other means for us to interpret in the way they were listed and written to gain an understanding of the overall Land of Promise. When their models do not match ALL these clues, then the model must be rejected, no matter how persuasive an individual wants to be over it. Nor can one take one or two ideas from the scriptures, but reject all the others.

(See Part II in the next post for the list of 21 through 50 such items and their scriptures that are found in the Andean area and consistent with scriptural description of the Land of Promise)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Winds and Currents: Where Would They Take Nephi’s Ship?

When Nephi telles us his ship was "driven forth before the wind to the promised land," perhaps it is important for us to understand his meaning. That is, the winds and currents that drove his ship. In the last post, the following two point were shown as a guide to knowing where Nephi’s ship landed:

3. Studying the winds and sea currents from the south Arabian coast and where they would take a weather driven (sailing) ship in 600 B.C.

4. Following these currents and winds to their idle point where a ship, “driven forth before the wind” would be able to disengage from the currents and winds and effect a landing.

The failure of most scholars and theorists in trying to determine a location and a map of the Land of Promise is that they fail to take into consideration the natural winds and currents that propelled ships in 600 B.C., and in fact, all the way up to the time of Columbus and afterward.

Those winds and currents are clearly shown in any Marine Atlas or diagrams of the Seas. This is not open to interpretation since winds and currents are constant and always have been because they are driven by natural forces that have not changed, such as gravitational pull of Moon and Sun, winds blowing across the oceans, and the various effects, such as the Coriolis Effect, caused by the Earth’s rotation and its effect on the seas.

In the following map of these currents, notice how the currents move from the Arabian coast. Also note how they move from east to wet through Indonesia and across the Indian Ocean toward Arabia (the course that all scholars claim Nephi’s ship sailed—into those winds and currents—which was an impossible task in 600 B.C. and for 2,000 years afterward. Any weather-driven ship with sails in 600 B.C., would have been moved along the currents shown in this diagram and is clearly spelled out by Nephi when he said they “were driven forth before the wind to the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:8, 9, 22-23).

Note the ocean current and wind tracks moving south from the coast of Arabia across the Arabian Sea and into the Indian Ocean where they turn eastward and move south of Australia and New Zealand, across the Pacific Ocean (in what is actually called the Southern Ocean), and turn upward along the west coast of South America, then turn outward, back into the Pacific about the area of Ecuador into the southern gyre of the Pacific Ocean. This is the only course a ship, “driven forth before the wind” could have taken—even today all drift voyages from that area follow this course.

Also note, that the winds and currents across the Pacific, move in a direction from east to west, against any course scholars and theorists like to use for the Nephi ship to sail across the Pacific to Mesoamerica.

The following map is one supposedly showing the courses taken by the Lehi Colony, the English Gentiles and the Spanish Gentiles to the Western Hemisphere. All three courses shown in black are against winds and currents (the white course shows where the winds and currents actually move and where these three groups would have had to sail in weather-driven (sailing) ships of their era. Of course, the Columbus and later Spanish and English voyages are well documented as having to travel south from England, Spain and Portugal to the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa before they could turn west and pick up the winds and currents blowing across the Atlantic (white line). In fact, their return voyage had to pretty much follow the black line (to the north on the map) for the English Gentiles to return to Europe.

Simply put, one cannot just draw a line across a map and say this is where any group went. The above map shows three such lines (in black and labeled), all completely wrong, and would not have taken any sailing ship in the direction shown along that route. Maps must follow passable terrain on the ground, and flowing currents and winds on the seas for any era prior to about the later 19th-century.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Problems with Map Making – Part II

Different from the Mesoamerican and Great Lakes maps and models, the Peruvian map and model, as outlined thoroughly in the book “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica,” evolved in quite a different manner. Rather than start with a place in mind, this map and model started by reading the scriptures and following the steps involved to see where it might lead.

1. Where the Lehi Colony left, where it traveled south southeast along the Red Sea, and where it turned almost east until they reached the area they called Bountiful along the Arabian coast of the Irreantum Sea. Nearly all scholars agree that this was in the area of Salalah, and particularly the inlet of Khor Rori (though some believe in the area of Khor Karfot a few miles to the west, but still along this same sea coast).

2. See what kind of ship Nephi built (not after the manner of men) and how it was propelled (by the weather, that is currents and winds—“driven forth before the wind”).

3. Studying the winds and sea currents from the south Arabian coast and where they would take a weather driven (sailing) ship in 600 B.C.

4. Following these currents and winds to their idle point where a ship, “driven forth before the wind” would be able to disengage from the currents and winds and effect a landing.

5. Seeing what kind of area this landing site would be—was it a Cliffside coast where no ship could land, was there a harbor there, was there a beach or landing place for a ship the size that brought the Lehi Colony across the “many waters”?

6. At this landing site, checking out the climate, precipitation, soil, soil groups, temperature, etc., that would all the “seeds they brought from Jerusalem” to grow abundantly.

7. Seeing if there were two unknown animals (curelom and cumom) in the area of this landing.

8. Seeing if there were natural ores of “gold, silver and copper,” in a single unit, in abundance in the area that could be easily mined in 600 B.C.

Actually, the list went on and on, for there are at least fifty points mentioned in scripture to describe this geographical area they called the Land of Promise.

Now, once this location was found to match the scriptures—without any tampering, changing, bending, or having to adapt language to alter its apparent meaning as Mesoamerican and other Theorists have continually done—then where Lehi landed was obviously apparent.

A map was then developed, using modern and ancient geological findings, descriptions and understanding of the area in 600 B.C., and using the scriptures to verify the shape and distances of this map. Of course, one of the first criteria of the map was that it be an island as Jacob wrote and Nephi recorded (2 Nephi 10:20). Nor could there be any hidden jutting or extension of land not mentioned or eluded to in scripture (such as the Yucatan Peninsula in the Mesoamerican model), or small lakes and rivers serving as the seas (as mentioned as in the Great lakes model).

Once this was all accomplished, and the map agreed every whit with the scriptures (see details in "Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica"), and its location was accessible by natural means for a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” across the oceans, then the location and map and model was decided upon. That is how the Andean area of South America, including Chile, Peru and Ecuador, was decided upon for the location—understanding that geologically this area was an island at one time, not connected to Central America, and with everything to the east of the Andes under water before the great upheavels at the time of Christ’s crucifixion.

If a map cannot meet ALL the geographical statements in the Book of Mormon, then it is not a map worthy of mentioning.