Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part VIII

One of the important controversies among scholars and theorists is where did the Mulekites, those who came to the land of promise with Mulek, land. Mesoamerican theorists like to point out that Alma 22:30 shows that the Mulekites landed in the Land Northward. But as pointed out in the last post, that is simply not the case for that verse does not indicate the Mulekites at all. Which leaves people wondering where the landing site actually was located.

And they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla. And they discovered a people who were called the people of Zarahemla

So where did the Mulekites land when they reached the Land of Promise? We have the writing of Amaleki, the fifth great grandson of Lehi, who was with Mosiah when they discovered the city of Zarahemla and the people that lived there around 200 B.C. Amaleki tells us the Nephites with Mosiah I “came down through the wilderness until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla. And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla” (Omni 1:13-14).

These people of Zarahemla were the descendants of Mulek and those who left Jerusalem with him at the time of the Babylonian invasion.

Amaleki then goes on to write: “Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon” (Omni 1:15), which would have been about 587 B.C. “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).

Now, the “land where Mosiah discovered them” was called the land of Zarahemla. And Amaleki tells us that they had dwelt there in that land of Zarahemla from the time of their landing to the time Mosiah discovered them. By necessity, this landing site and the subsequent area in which they pitched their tents as Lehi had done, was basically along the coast of what they called the West Sea. The Lehi colony landed along this same coast further to the south, and encamped close to the shore as is indicated in that area referred to “on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers’ first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28).

It would seem obvious that after a long sea voyage, the Mulekites did as the Lehi colony had done, pitched their tents in the basic area where they landed. In the case of the Mulekites, they eventually built a city there, a city that they called Zarahemla at the time Mosiah discovered them. Some claim that Zarahemla (Za-Rahem-la) means “my son, the seed of my womb is taken away and scattered,” which could suggest that Zedekiah’s descendant was “scattered to a land across the sea.” Zara also means the “true seed,” again suggesting the rightful heir of the kingdom of Judah was scattered—driven or led away from Jerusalem.

In any event, the Mulekites landed along the west coast of the Land of Promise—not the east coast—for the Lord led Mulek and those who came with him, to a land under the same circumstances that he brought Lehi. That is, “it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of otbher nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8). Since Mulek left Jerusalem about ten years after Lehi, it would seem obvious that whatever secrecy the Lord arranged for which the Lehi colony to come to the land of promise. He would have wanted to same secrecy in the Mulekite travels.

This alone should suggest that no sailing from the Mediterranean Sea by Phoenician seamen or any others would have been acceptable in keeping the Land of Promise from the knowledge of other people. It should also suggest that however the Mulekites got to the Land of Promise, they did so on their own as the Jaredites and Nephites before them. Thus, we can understand that the Mulekites came across the Pacific or Southern Ocean as had the Jaredites and Nephites before them, and landed along the western shore as had the Nephites before them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part VII

For the second of the two reasons mentioned in the last post that show the fallacy of the Mulekites founding a city on the east coast, called the city of Mulek in 67 B.C., is stated here.

When Mormon inserts his description of the Land of Promise in the 22nd chapter of Alma, he makes a statement that scholars and theorists have long misunderstood and misquoted. To fully understand this statement, given below, we need to know why it was inserted into the record. First of all, it is the result of an event that took place between 90 and 77 B.C., when Ammon was teaching the Lamanite King Lamoni and Aaron and his brethren were encountering Lamoni’s father, the king over all the Lamanites (Alma 22:1), and teaching him the gospel (Alma 22:12).

After the king was converted, he had Aaron and his brethren preach to the assembled Lamanites in the king’s palace and city. After that, he “sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided form the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran form the sea east even to the sea west round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti by the had of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west—and thus were the Lamanhites and the Nephites divided” (Alma 22:27).

Now this land, the Land of Nephi, was controlled by this king, who had sub-kings under him, such as his son, Lamoni. Because this land was very extensive and covered the Land of Promise from the seat east to the sea west, and from southward toward the north to a narrow strip of wilderness separating the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla, Mormon decides to insert a better understanding or description of the overall Land of Promise for the benefit of the future reeader.

Beginning in verse 29, Mormon writes that the Nephites controlled all the land to the north of the Land of Nephi, beginning with the Land of Zarahemla and continuing “on the north even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29). And that Bountiful “bordered upon the land which they called Desolaton, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been people and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken: (Alma 22:30). Thus, the Nephites controlled all the land from the south where the Land of Zarahemla bordered on the Land of Nephi (with a narrow strip of wilderness in between) all the way to the north and the Land of Many Waters, far north of the Land of Desolation.

This Land of Desolation on the north and the Land of Bountiful on the south was separated by a narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32), causing the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi to nearly be surrounded by water except for this narrow neck (Alma 22:32). Within this information, Mormon draws attention to the bones that were found by Limhi’s expedition: “came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla” (Alma 22:30).

At this point we need to understand who the people of Zarahemla were—and that is, in 90 to 77 B.C., they were Nephites who occupied the city of Zarahemla since around 200 B.C. when Mosiah discovered the city. This fact was certainly known and understood by Mormon. He knew that by this last century B.C., the Nephites and Mulekites many years earlier had joined into one group. He also knew that Zeniff, a Nephite, was the first “king” of this group of Nephites leaving Zarahemla to “to inherit the land which was the land of their fathers” (Mosiah 7:9). No Mulekite would have called the city of Nephi in the Land of Nephi “the land of their fathers.” Only a Nephite would have said this. And the inhabitants of the city of Nephi (Lehi-Nephi) under king Zeniff, king Noah, and king Limhi, were obviously Nephites from the lineage of Lehi—not Mulekites from the lineage of Mulek or his friends. It was Ammon, who King Mosiah sent to find out what happened to this three-generations of Nephites who went into the Land of Nephi to “inherit the land,” that was a Mulekite—a descendant of Zarahemla (Mosiah 7:13)--not those who went with Zeniff some fifty years earlier to “inherit the land of his fathers” (Mosiah 7:21)

Thus we understand that the term “people of Zarahemla” at the time of Mormon’s insertion into Alma’s record (about 385 A.D., some 500 years after the Mulekites had joined with the Nephites) referred to the Nephites who had occupied Zarahemla since about 200 B.C. With this in mind, we can correctly understand the phrase that scholars and theorists of Mesoamerica misunderstand:

”So far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30).

Obviously, then, no Mulekites landed in the Land Northward.

(See the next post, “The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part VIII” showing contrary to most Book of Mormon scholars beliefs, where the scriptures tell us the Mulekites actually landed and what part of the Land of Promise they occupied between 600 B.C. and 200 B.C. when they joined with the Nephites)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Been Gone

For those who follow these posts daily, I have been gone with no access to a computer. My last grandchild had to have an emergency operation in the Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City. Operation yesterday was successful and all is well.

The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part VI

When the Mulekites landed in the Land of Promise, they would have pitched their tents, as the Lehi Colony did. Later, some type of permanent buildings would have been constructed

The “City of Mulek” is mentioned only twice in scripture, both in Alma, describing the Lamanites capturing the city (Alma 51:26) and the Nephite recapture of it (Alma 52:26). This city of Mulek was on the east borders by the seashore, along with the cities of Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton Omner and Gid (Alma 51:26).

This, and the scripture in Alma 22, have led most Book of Mormon scholars and theorists to believe that the Mulekites first landed along the east seashore in the Land Northward, then later move into the Land Southward along the east seashore, then eventually move across the Land of Promise to settle in the area of Zarahemla, where Mosiah found them.

This erroneous concept is based upon two the misunderstanding of two scriptures. First, is the one mentioned above in Alma chapter 51. Because this city had the name of Mulek, these theorists believe it was first settled by a man named Mulek. While this might be true, it was not the Mulek from Jerusalem that was Zedekiah’s only surviving son. There are two reasons for this, the first being listed in this post and having several explanations:

1. That Mulek that came from Jerusalem would have been a baby or child, depending on how long it took those who whisked him out of Jerusalem before the Babylonians sacked the city took to build a ship and sail to the Land of Promise. He would not have settled anything. Those who brought him would have settled the area mentoned in Omni 1:16.

2. Even if those who brought Mulek to the Land of Promise named their city after Mulek because he was a son of the former king of Judah, not all who brought him to this land would have been Jews, and may not have acknowledged such a birthright.

3. The scripture statement: “Now it was the custom of the people of Nephi to call their lands, and their cities, and their villages, yea, even all their small villages, after the name of him who first possessed them.” (Alma 8:7), has led many scholars’ and theorists’ to believe that all cities and lands were named after its founder’ however, that is obviously not true. While some people named a city or land after its founder, many did not, such as Jerusalem, Bountiful, Manti, Ani-Anti, City of Desolation, City by the Sea, City of Jordan, and the City of Judea. While this might have been a custom of the Nephites, there is no indication it was the custom of the Mulekites before joining with the Nephites, since they brought no records, lost their language, and all knowledge of their heritage over a four hundred year period.

4. Lands were often called after its principal city even though other cities were located within the borders of the land. This was an ancient Jewish and Middle East custom, as found in the Mesha or Moabite stela of the ninth century B.C., which provides ample evidence for the interchange of city and land. The reason that lands were named after their principal cities was that some cities controlled other nearby sites. In the account of the assignment of lands to the tribes under Joshua, we frequently read of "cities with their villages." In some cases, a known city is named and is said to have other cities, towns, or villages under its dominion as in "Heshbon and all her cities" (Joshua 13:17), "Ekron, with her towns and her villages" (Joshua 15:45), "Megiddo and her towns" (Joshua 17:11), "Ashdod, with her towns and her villages" (Joshua 15:47), and "the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land" (Joshua 8:1).

The problem lies in scholars and theorists trying to claim something existed when the scriptures do not indicate such. The city of Mulek is only mentioned in 67 B.C., more than 500 years after the Mulekites reached the Land of Promise. To try and link this city with the Mulekites is a stretch not warranted by other scripture.

The second reason, dealing with the Mulekite landing site, will be covered in the next post.

(See the next post, “The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part VII” showing contrary to most Book of Mormon scholars beliefs, where the Mulekites actually landed and where they lived in the Land of Promise)

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part V

The description “Mulekite(s)” is never mentioned in scripture. The name “Mulek” is mentioned only twice:

“Now the land south was called Lehi and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10), and also “will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will he say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek?” (Helaman 8:21)

The term “People of Zarahemla” referring to the Mulekites is mentioned only in Omni and Mosiah:

Amaleki gives us the most information when he wrote about Mosiah who “was made king over the land of Zarahemla” after coming down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla” and “discovered a people who were called the people of Zarahemla” (Omni 1:12-14). Which people “came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon” and who journeyed in the wilderness and were brought by the hand of the Lor across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:15-16).

These people of Zarahemla during their four hundred years in the land of Zarahemla “had become exceeding numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serous contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator” (Omni 1:17) and that their language, which had originally been Hebrew as had Lehi’s family and the Nephites, was so different, that neither “Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them.”

Mosiah then “caused that they should be taught in his language” after which Zarahemla gave Mosiah “a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory” which were written on other records, but not on the small plates of Nephi (Omni 1:18). After Mosiah taught the people of Zarahemla in the matters of the brass plates and the promises made to Lehi about his family, and that only Nephites could inherit the land, the people of Zarahemla “did united together” with the people of Mosiah (Omni 1:19; Mosiah 25:13).

We also know that a man named Coriantumr, the last surviving Jaredite, lived among the people of Zarahemla for nine months before dying (Omni 1:21) and that Mosiah interpreted the engravings on a large stone on which Coriantumr wrote (Omni 1:20) about his people being slain (Omni 1:21) and of their first parents coming “out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people,” and that the bones of his people “lay scattered in the land northward” (Omni 1:22).

King Benjamin gave all of “his people” (Mosiah 5:1) a name, “the children of Christ” (Mosiah 5:7) “that thereby they may be distinguished above all the people which the Lord God hath brought out of the land of Jerusalem” (Mosiah 1:11). He referred to all those present, both Nephite and Mulekite by this time, all called Nephites as “my friends and my brethren, my kindred and my people” (Mosiah 4:4). And never after this were the former Mulekites separated out in scripture as anything but Nephites.

(See the next post, “The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part VI” regarding the city of Mulek, and contrary to most Book of Mormon scholars beliefs, where the Mulekites were actually located in the Land of Promise)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part IV

When those caring for Mulek fled Jerusalem a step ahead of discovery by the invading and conquering savagery of the Babylonians, they had no time to take much with them. Certainly, scriptural records would not have been at the top of their list of things to take. Probably they took some weapons, clothing, bedding and food if they had time for much at all. As a result, the people later identified as Mulekites would not have gone back to acquire records as did Lehi who sent his sons back for the plates of brass.

Thus, this first group of “Mulekites” left Jerusalem and eventually made their way to the Land of Promise without the benefit of any records. Nor, would it seem, they were record-keeping people for when Mosiah discovered them some 400 years later, “their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator” (Omni 1:17).

Consider a people almost four hundred years after the death of those who had come out of Jerusalem, who had lost all knowledge of their beginnings, their heritage, and their founding beliefs. This was the state of Zarahemla and his people when Mosiah and the Nephites encountered them around 200 B.C. One might expect that they would be curious as to their beginnings, where they came from, what land far away had spawned their ancestors.

Suddenly, a group of people show up in the city with records of the Mulekite ancestors and claiming to know all these answers and many more. Obviously, the Mulekites were elated to have such information given them. “Now there was great rejoicing among the people of Zarahemla; and also Zarahemla did rejoice exceedingly, because the Lord had sent the people of Mosiah with the plates of brass which contained the record of the Jews” (Omni 1:14)

“And who believed those record which were brought out of the land of Jerusalem and also in the tradition of their fathers, which were correct, who believed in the commandments of God and kept them, were called the Nephites, or the people of Nephi from that time forth” (Alma 3:11).

“Now all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi” (Mosiah 25:13).

Obviously, the Mulekites, the people of Zarahemla, were thrilled to know who they were, and who was the God of their fathers, and from what land they had come and what their ancient history had been, and to know that they had been led by the hand of the Lord to this land, a Land of Promise, and that they could share in that promise by joining with the Nephites.

No wonder they rejoiced at the coming of Mosiah and the Nephites. And no wonder they elected Mosiah their king, despite outnumbering the Nephites by a large population percentage.

Thus, we can see that the Mulekites, the people of Zarahemla, were originally Jews, having come out of the land of Jerusalem about ten or eleven years after Lehi left, and had among them an ancestry of the king of the Jews through the lineage of Zedekiah.

We should keep in mind that the Mulekites did not have the advantage of the training Nephi had. Nor did they have the ability in building to match that of the early Nephites. But they did built a city they called Zarahemla and occupied a large area of land referred to as the Land of Zarahemla. Once the Nephites arrived, no doubt the city was expanded and increased in size and capability. The current ruins cover a very large area with temples, pyramids, palaces, plazas and residential buildings.

It is just as obvious that the Mulekites, like the Nephites, were a people the Lord led to the Land of Promise. Through their focal leader, Mulek, though a child or baby, people of Jerusalem, whether all Jews or a combination of tribes, and whoever else was involved in that “journey through the wilderness and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters” in some similar manner as had been the Lehi Colony before them.

Differences between Nephite and Mulekite construction. Left, the Temple built by the Nephites in Zarahemla. Right, a wall built (stacked) by Mulekites)

(See the next post, “The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part VI” regarding the city of Mulek and its position within the Land of Promise)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part III

As stated in the last post, the Mulekites landed about the 13º South Latitude along the Peruvian coast where the ancient ruins of Pachacamac now rest. "Pacha Kamaq" means the "Creator God" or “Earth-Maker” and was considered the supreme god by the peoples who lived in ancient Peru. Pachacamac is a Quechua name which also means: "that which gives life to the world." In the Nephite language, we do not know the word they used for God, but in the translation, it is God, the Father, or the Lord, Jesus Christ.

More than a thousand years later, when the Inca arrived, they took Pachacamac into their pantheon of gods, and relegated the name to a lesser and confusing position. This area today called Pachacamac, overlooks the Pacific Ocean and was the area in which the Mulekites landed. Coming ashore, they moved less than a mile inland onto higher ground where they settled. Eventually, they built a city, which they called Zarahemla at the time Mosiah discovered them around 200 B.C. In the preceding four centuries, “they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time,” though they were still “exceedingly numerous” (Omni 1:17).

This impressive early Peruvian sanctuary, along with Sacsahuaman in Cuzco, are the two main places of worship in ancient Peru. Situated about 30 miles outside Lima, Pachacamac is a large expansive and impressive adobe brick-structure surrounded by various monuments, with temples, a great pyramid, small palaces and numerous "residential" houses of the ancient city.

Considered the preeminent religious center of coastal Peru, pilgrims flocked there from far and wide to worship Pachacamac, believed to be the Creator of the World and all of its creatures, coming from all over the coastal, inland and highland areas. The ancient city is at the top of a hill next to the fertile valley of Lurin and faces the ocean from which its earliest inhabitants came.

The impressive temple is built with four platforms with a trapezoidal shape, forming another pyramid. This city of Pachacamac, known as Zarahemla in the Book of Mormon, was built by the Mulekites. The lesser construction of the site, using mud brick in most cases, a common building material found in Peru, rather than stone as in Sacsahuaman, was not built by the Nephites that were taught by Nephi in distinct and exact construction methods as seen in Cuzco, the city of Nephi. Still, the site of Pachacamac is impressive, having expanded over the early centuries as the capital city of the entire region.

These early inhabitants, the people of Zarahemla, “came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, King of Judah was carried away captive into Babylon. 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 1:15-16).

The impressive ruins of Pachacamac (Zarahemla) a little southwest of Lima, Peru:

(See next post “The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part IV,” regarding the reason the people of Zarahemla were excited about the Nephites entering their city)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part II

The reign of King Zedekiah of Judah began in 597 B.C. and ended in 587 or 586 B.C.) This means that Lehi left Jerusalem in 597 B.C., and reached the Land of Promise about 10 years later in 587 B.C., which is about the time the Mulekites left Jerusalem, some eleven years later.

Where the Mulekites, that is, those who took Mulek, no doubt as a baby, (see last post), and traveled to the sea. Some would suggest that he left through the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, but such a thought seems unrealistic. At the time of Mulek leaving Jerusalem, the city was about to fall to the Babylonians who were not known for their morality or forgiveness. The physical destruction wrought by the Babylonian troops was tremendous. The Temple, the palace, and all of the houses of Jerusalem were burnt, the walls of the city were torn down, and the remaining treasures from the Temple were taken to Babylon (II Kings 25:8-17).

Archaeological evidence shows that the destruction extended beyond Jerusalem to as far as Ein Gedi in the east, Arad in the south, and Lachish in the west. These cities, as well as Ramat Rachel, Bet Shemesh, and Bet Tzur were reduced to subsistence level villages. The population was diminished through military action and forced relocation; II Kings and Jeremiah differ on the numbers, but they both present a sense of economic and political disruption.

Consequently, it is unlikely that Mulek and his people would have stayed in the area, or even tried to escape from a local port. Thus, they would not have chosen to go west to the Mediterranean Sea, since the Babylonians covered the entire land of Palestine during and after the siege of Jerusalem. To spirit a Jew out of the area via the sea would have been both dangerous and foolhardy.

The best way to get someone out of Jerusalem without detection would have been to go south, as Lehi had done ten years before. The path down to the Red Sea would have been open, for the Babylonians had withdrawn from their Egyptian campaign after failing to add that land and people to their expanding Empire.

As we have suggested in other posts, especially about the Jaredites, and stated more fully in the book, “Who Really Settled Mesoamerica,” the Lord tends to have a conservative nature about how he orders the affairs of his people. The path to the area Lehi called Bountiful along the coast of Irreantum was well established by the time of Mulek. The Lehi colony would have left planted crops growing at least in the area of the Valley of Lemuel, and the road to the coast was along the King’s Highway that stretched from Oman to Assyria, over which camel caravans traveled to bring frankincense northward.

And at Bountiful, among the remains of crops planted and animals left from the days of the Jaredites, of which the Lehi colony benefitted, so too would the Mulekites have benefitted a year or two later. So too would the trees and wood for building a ship been available to Mulek’s people as it was for Lehi’s family. And the path across the sea as known and exact as it had been for Lehi.

Thus, when the Muleite ship reached the Land of Promise and sailed in out of the current somewhere along the Chilean coast, it could have continued up the coastal waters to around the area of present-day Lima without endangering being swept back into the South Pacific Current that curved outward along the bulge of Peru and back into the Pacific, eventually to curve downard into the Polynesian islands.

At about the 13º south latitude the coastal currents (Humboldt Current) sweep in against the bulge of Peru and are halted by the upswelling of the deep water moving north from the Antarctic area along this Peruvian or Humboldt Current. At this point the Mulekites landed along a shoreline a little south of present day Callao in an area archaeologists have named Pachacamac, the name of the one universal God of the ancient Peruvians.

(See the next post “The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part III,” to see about the beginning of Zarahemla and the Mulekite nation)

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part I

Tzidkiyahu, which means “My righteousness is Yahweh,” called Zedekias in Greek, and Zedekiah in English, was the last king of Judah before its destruction by the kingdom of Babylon. In 597 B.C., he was installed at the age of 21 or 22 as the king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon, after a siege of Jerusalem, to succeed his nephew, Jeconiah, who was overthrown as king after a reign of only three months and ten days.

Zedekiah’s reign is stated as beginning in 597 B.C. and ending in 587 B.C. (some claim 586 B.C.) The prophet Jeremiah was his counselor, yet “he did evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 24:19-20; Jeremiah 52:2-3). Despite warnings from Jeremiah, Barush ben Neriah and other family advisors, Zedekiah revolted against Babylon, and entered into an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt. Since Judah was a tributary to Babylon at the time, Nebuchadnezzar responded by invading Judah (2 Kings 25:1) and beginning a siege of the city in January of 589 B.C.

During this siege, which lasted about thirty months, "every worst woe befell the devoted city, which drank the cup of God's fury to the dregs" (2 Kings 25:3; Lamentations 4:4, 5, 9). In the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar succeeded in capturing Jerusalem. Zedekiah and his followers attempted to escape, making their way out of the city, but were captured on the plains of Jericho, and were taken to Riblah. There, after seeing his sons put to death, his own eyes were put out, and, being loaded with chains, he was carried captive to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-7; 2 Chronicles 36:12; Jeremiah 32:4,-5; 34:2-3; 39:1-7; 52:4-11; Ezekiel 2:12), where he remained a prisoner until he died.

About 400 years before Zedekiah, King Saul had wives and concubines (2 Samuel 3:7), the next king, David, had seven wives and at least ten concubines (2 Samuel 20:3), and his son, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings). David’s son, Absalom, who had many wives and concubines, became the forefather, on their mother's side, of all of the succeeding kings of Judah until the Babylonian exile. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines. So it stands to reason that Zedekiah, a later king of Judah, had both wives (Jeremiah 38:23) and concubines, named “women who were left in the king of Judah’s house” (Jeremiah 38:22).

At the time of his capture, Zedekiah would have been 31 or 32 years of age. During the last days of the city before the Babylonians conquered, it would seem likely that one of these wives or concubines gave birth to a baby boy. When the city fell, this baby, no doubt entrusted in the hands of servants and guardians, was hustled out of the city for safety. Unknown to most, especially the Babylonians, he was not known as one of Zedekiah’s sons who were put to death before his eyes.

Thus, this baby, was safe from the Babylonians and in the care of a small group of people who were sworn to protect him. How they escaped the city, how they managed to keep the baby out of sight, and where they immediately went, is not known. But revelation has shown us that this baby, Helaman identified as Mulek, a son of Zedekiah (Helaman 6:10), and those who went with him, escaped capture by the Babylonians and eventually sailed to the Land of Promise as stated in the Book of Mormon.

(See the next post, "The Mulekites—Who Were They? Part II," to see where the Mulekites landed in the Land of Promise and where they settled)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Nephites, the Lamanites and the Inca – Part III

The Inca themselves, and the many other groups that archaeologists have so flippantly given modern names, were the remnant of the house of Israel that entered this land around 600 B.C. and flourished there for a thousand years before degenerating into two distinct groups and the savagery that left only one group upon the land.

These were called Lamanites after their founder, Laman, who fought one another in smaller, independent tribes, for decades after the fall of the other group called Nephites, named after their founder, Nephi, in a battle that annihilated the remainder of the Nephite army of some 230,000 men (Mormon 6:11-13), and probably half a million or more women and children. Moroni, the last surviving General of the Nephite armies, describes the Lamanite savagery in the wars that followed among themselves “as one continual round of murder and bloodshed upon all the face of the land” (Mormon 8:8) and later that these wars were fierce between them (Moroni 1:2), and with no end in sight (Mormon 8:8).

An event about a thousand years later, as recorded in the epic poem “Inca Rocca,” written by Chauncey Thomas, who had the records of Montesinos and others to draw upon, describes the great, depressive lamentation of the continual wars between the Peruvians (Lamanites) in these words:

Since the time of the old empire’s fall,
A thousand years had passed.
Insatiate war, that heeds not right nor life, nor love,
Had gorged upon the people’s sustenance,
With famine, dread pestilence,
And still the strife went on,
No lasting peace, but ever and anon,
And now the angry notes of war were heard again,
And then the growing corn was trampled down,
And smoking hamlets marked
The deathly trail of warlike bands.
And time wore slowly on,
The victors of today, tomorrow slaves,
Then slaves grown stronger break their bonds
And thus a thousands years had passed,
Like created waves that roll on
To break along a rock-bound shore,
Then sink back silent in the vast abyss.
So had the noisy years for ages gone,
Scattered their fretful foam athwart the world,
And sunk to silence in the endless past.
A thousand years of war.
Oh sympathy ‘tis will thou canst not scan
With pitying eye the boundless world
Of woe the past hath known,
Else thou wouldst weep thine eyes away in grief,
And bless thy loss that thou no more could see…
Our schemes o’er thrown, enemies bolder grown,
Days without peace, and nights without repose,
Friends turning cold, aye, many cold in death,
Yet colder than the dead, are friends estranged,
All this and other ills not yet complete,
Do but destroy our inborn love of life,
And make most welcome that which endeth all.

It would appear that this poem captures the feelings of the Lamanite survivors after a thousand years of internal civil war, that saw no peace for fifty generations or more, one can see the result of the Lamanite conquest and total annihilation of the Nephite nation. The result was not peace, but as Moroni pointed out, continual and savage war. War that brought misery and constant attacks and battles among those who destroyed the earlier, at one time, righteous, nation.

Today, archaeologists and anthropologists call them Inca, a people who rose to power less than 100 years before the Spanish conquest of the Andean Plateau. But we know them as the Lamanites.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Nephites, the Lamanites and the Inca – Part II

The City of Nephi in the Land of Promise is the same area as the City of Cuzco in present day Peru. The temple site where Nephi built his temple “like unto that of Solomon” was located on the heights overlooking the Cuzco valley, today called Sacsahuaman (Saqsaywaman).

Noah’s tower in the city of Nephi was “built near the temple, yea, a very high tower, even so high that he could stand upon the top thereof and overlook the land of Shilom, and also the land of Shemlon” (Mosiah 11:12).

When the Conquistadores entered the Cuzco valley in August 1533, an area 24 miles long by 9 miles wide, they saw on the heights of Sacsahuaman three towers, one much taller than the others. These towers, so magnificently made, were considered constructions of the Devil and destroyed by the Spaniards, but not until a drawing and description was made of them by one of the conquerors. A modern equivalent of that drawing appeared in a National Geographic magazine in recent years, showing the towers situated next to the temple of Sacsahuaman. The base of this tower can still be seen today.

Not until 1934 was the concentric circles of the tower base discovered in modern times. But Garcilaso de la Vega (Gomez Suarez de Figueroa), a Peruvian Viceroyaty of Peru, and historian of the Inca (known as El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega) considered to have written the most complete and accurate accounts available, wrote that the main tower was described as five stories tall, magnificently constructed of rock and mortar, and containing a peaked roof. Today, the base consists of three concentric, circular stone walls connected by a series of radial walls, with a web-like pattern of 34 lines intersects at the center and also there is a pattern of concentric circles that corresponded to the location of the circular walls.

It was in this area of Cuzco in 1463 that the Inca rose to power, obviously utilizing a series of buildings, temples, and other magnificent structures, including the fortress of Sacsahuaman, the much earlier Nephites left behind. Since at no time in the scriptural record do we find the Lamanites constructing buildings, roads, palaces, or other magnificent edifices, we must conclude that the ancient workmanship of the Andean Plateau, from Tehuantepec (Lake Titicaca) to Sacsahuaman (Cuzco) to Pachacamac (Lima) were built by the ancient Nephites.

The Inca rise to power and their ability to control their empire rested in part with the buildings, roads and resorts (forts) already in existence that the Nephites built. With such an infrastructure already in place, and behind capable and expansionist emperors, the Inca took control of Cuzco and then spread outward, eventually conquering the western lands southward to Chile, and northward to Ecuador, and along the coast from Cajamarca to Nazca. This achievement over a mere 58 years is considered a remarkable accomplishment in that era and over such a widespread area—a fete that would have been doubtful had there been no roads, no structure already in existence.

This area of the Inca Empire is, of coure, the same area the Nephites and Lamanites occupied between 600 B.C. and 421 A.D., referred to as the Land of Promise in the Book of Mormon.

(See next post “The Nephites, the Lamanites and the Inca – Part III,” the lamantations of the Lamanites during the thousand years between the end of the Nephites and the end of the Inca)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Nephites, the Lamanites and the Inca – Part I

It is interesting and meaningful that the area occupied by the Inca and referred to as the Inca Empire in history, between 1463 and 1525 A.D., very closely mirrors the exact area of the Land of Promise as occupied by the much earlier Nephites and Lamanites. That area, today, called the Andean Plateau, which encompasses southern Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, western Bolivia and northern Chile, is the same area that made up the “isle of the sea” to which Jacob referred (2 Nephi 10:20).

When the Lehi Colony disembarked from their ship at the landing site of the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 18:23), they settled in an area later referred to as the Lamanite “Land of First Inheritance” (Alma 22:28). When Nephi, and those who went with him, left to settle an area referred to as the “Land of Nephi” (2 Nephi 5:8), somewhere around 580 B.C., this was referred to as the Nephite “Land of First Inheritance” (Mosiah 9:1).

Later, around 200 to 130 B.C., Mosiah fled from the Land of Nephi and discovered an area called Zarahemla, and the people of Zarahemla who were the descendants of those who left Jerusalem at the time king Zedekiah was carried away captive into Babylon (Omni 1:15). They came with Zedekiah’s only surviving son (Helaman 8:21) named Mulek (Helaman 6:10), and are referred to as the Mulekites in Latter-day Saint teachings, but called the people of Zarahemla in the Book of Mormon.

The Nephites from that point forward and continually were at war with their brethren, the Lamanites, and extended their holdings ever northward to an area they called Bountiful (Alma 22:29), which ran from the east sea to the west sea (Alma 22:33), which was just south of the old Jaredite lands called the Land of Desolation (Alma 22:31), which was separated by a narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32) that was narrow enough for a person to walk across it in one and a half days (Alma 22:32), which would equate to about a 25 to 30 mile width.

Thus, the land to the north of the narrow neck was called the Land Northward and the land to the south of the narrow neck was called the Land Southward (Alma 22:32). This land was long (north-south) and narrow (east-west), for the Land of Nephi went from the West Sea to the East Sea (Alma 22:27), as did the Land of Zarahemla, with a narrow strip of wilderness in between that ran from the west sea to the east sea (Alma 22:27), thus the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla were surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32). Also, to elongate this land north and south, the Land Northward went so far northward that it came to an area called the Land of Many Waters (Alma 22:30). According to Mormon, who lived after the great upheavals described in 3 Nephi, and how had the records and read them (Words of Mormon 1:3), described the Land of Promise as long and narrow.

The center of the Nephite nation for about 400 years centered in the area of the city of Nephi (Mosiah 9:15; 21:1; Alma 23:11; 47:31), it being the chief city in the Land of Nephi (Alma 47:20). This Land of Nephi was also called the Land of Lehi-Nephi, as was the City of Nephi also called the city of Lehi-Nephi (Mosiah 7:1, 21). This is the land where Nephi taught his people how to build, working all manner of wood, iron, and precious lmetals (2 Nephi 5:15), and where he built a temple like unto Solomon’s Temple (2 Nephi 5:16). This is where king Noah later built spacious and elegant buildings and a palace of find wood, iron and all manner of precious things (Mosiah 11:8), and a tower next to the temple Nephi built that was so tall, one could see clear to the Land of Shilom that was possessed by the Lamanites (Mosiah 11:12) and had been a resort (fort) for Nephi and his people (Mosiah 11:13) when they fled from Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael after Lehi died. This was also the city where Abinadi preached (Mosiah 11:20), and where Alma (the Older) was converted (Mosiah 17:2).

This City of Nephi was not only the chief city in the Land of Nephi, but it was the headquarters of the temple and the religious atmosphere of the Nephites, and was also the seat of government of the Nephite nation for over four centuries. From this city, founded by Nephi,the Nephites spread out into other lands and cities in the Land of Nephi.

(See next post “The Nephites, the Lamanites and the Inca – Part II,” and see how this exact area was the same area that where the Inca came to power a thousand years after the last Nephi battle. Part III will show the lamantations of the Lamanites during that thousand years)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

That Island of South America

Geologic history shows that the Andean area was the only part of South America above water until the Andes rose up to their great height, which brought the eastern portion of the land up out of the water, and the Panama Isthmus up to connect Central and South America. The Glomar Challenger deep sea drilling rig confirmed this understanding when it showed that Panama, at one time in recent history, was not connected to South America. In addition, as many geologists now recognize, the Andes mountains rose suddenly, also in recent history.

The fact is, that the western strip, or Andean area, of South America—that land west of the Andes—has always been considered as separate and generally referred to as the Andean Plateau or just Peru. Consequently, the word Peru is generally used by archaeologists to include not only the modern Republic of Peru, but also the highlands of Bolivia and often the northernmost part of Chile as well, although some historians and scholars have also included all of Ecuador in this term and almost all of Chile, while still others include southern Colombia. This cultural area shared a common tradition of long duration and is often called by archaeologists the Central Andes. It extends westward from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean and from just above the equator to about 35º south latitude. Further south, the land does not offer an agreeable living climate.

It is the agreement of those who have traveled the Chilean coastal lands that this narrow fringe of western land hangs from the Andes Cordillera, second only to the Himalaya in height, like a gray balcony over the largest of oceans. The desert at the northern boundary with Peru, the natural frontier of the Andes with Bolivia and Argentina, and the sea in the west and south give Chile the psychological character of an island; which certainly fits the description given by Jacob and Nephi about their land of promise being an island (2 Nephi 10:20).

To the east of the amazing Andes Mountains lies the Amazon basin, which at one time was entirely underwater and even today, is rarely more than 14 feet above sea level, with much of it at or just below sea level. It is the largest river basin in the world, covering an area of about three million square miles, making it more than twice the size of the next largest river basin, with the river having eleven times the volume of the Mississippi.

The Amazon used to flow westward into the Pacific until the Andes Mountains rose up to block its westward flow, causing it to become a vast inland sea. As the eastern continent rose up out of the water, it became a massive swampy, freshwater lake and eventually a river outlet to the receding Atlantic Ocean, with a vast near-continent wide river basin about the size of the United States. This amazing river is as large as the next 8 world rivers combined, and the volume of water flowing from the basin into the sea is about 11% of all the water drained from the continents of the earth. The greatest flow occurs in July, and the least in November. While there are many rivers flowing through the basin, the most important and well known is the Amazon.

The width of the Amazon ranges from about one mile to as wide as six miles, and during flood season, as wide as twenty-two miles. However, the Amazon is only about 20 to 40 feet deep, and runs westward for 1000 miles, the river itself rising only 144 feet compared to the Mississippi, which drops 1475 feet. Geologists agree that in times past, this vast basin was submerged until the rising of the Andes, which brought this basin and the land surrounding it up out of the water to form the continent of South America as we see it today.

When taking all of this into consideration, it is not hard to visualize that the entire basin area east of the present-day Andes was once under water as Jacob said and Nephi recorded (2 Nephi 10:20).

(See the next post which shows how this “island” shaped the geography and development of the Nephites and Lamanites anciently, and the Inca in more modern times)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Inca Were Latecomers

The Inca have been given all the credit for the marvelous works found in the Andean area of South America that archeaologists date back as early as 1500 B.C.. But that is like giving George Washington credit for the discovery of America. Actually, the Incas were relative newcomers themselves when the Spanish arrived.
The Inca Empire had only begun expanding after 1400 A.D., so had been around for a mere century before being so brutally cut short by the Spanish. The Incas were only the last in a whole series of cultures predating the Spanish conquest, but it has taken a while for the world to appreciate the achievements of these earlier Peruvian civilizations, not least because the Incas liked to pretend that it was all their own work and when the Spanish arrived and asked about what the found in Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador, the Inca claimed it had been built by their Incas, and it was part of the Inca Empire.

In fact, there is much evidence that the Incas substantially retold the history of preceding civilizations to downplay their achievements, and in some cases to ignore those achievements completely. In “Crónica del Perú,” one of the best of the early Spanish chroniclers, Pedro de Cieza de León, quoted his Inca sources as saying that before them there were only “naked savages” and that “these natives were stupid and brutish beyond belief.” They say “they were like animals, and that many ate human flesh, and others took their daughters and mothers to wife and committed other even graver sins.”

This manipulative distortion of history was so successful—the same myth was repeated by other chroniclers like Garcilaso de la Vega in the early 17th century—that the truth has only recently emerged. Far from imposing order on an unruly bunch of savages, the Incas were merely the latest dominant tribe (and a short-lived one at that) in a series of Andean civilizations that had flourished over the preceding 4000 years, including the Moche in the north of Peru, the Wari of the central states and the Tiahuanaco culture near Lake Titicaca.

It was a German archaeologist, Max Uhle, who first began to reveal how literally deep the roots of Andean culture were. In dig after dig in southern and central Peru in the early 20th century, he showed conclusively that the Inca had been preceded by earlier cultures, and that some of these cultures had built up similar, or even greater, empires. In the north, the doyen of Peruvian archaeologists, Julio C. Tello, started in 1919 to excavate the extraordinary Chavín de Huántar, with its jungle iconography of snakes and jaguars dating from as early as 1200 B.C., which is over two and a half millennia before the arrival of the Incas.

So where did the Incas come from? The prosaic response is that up until around 1400 A.D., they were just one of a number of competing tribes in the area around Cuzco, before they built up their enormous empire under a series of dynamic and capable emperors. By the time the Inca arrived, the God-name Pachacamac and Viracocha, were well established in the Andean mind. However, the Inca, ever wanting to build up a history to warrant their rising claim to power, evolved their own religious explanations and called Inca Yupanqui by the name of Pachacutec, and claimed him to be a younger son of an emperor they renamed Viracocha, during whose rein the Inca were little more than one of the many small tribes in the area.

Then, some time around 1438, the Chanka, a rival tribe to the north of Cuzco, attacked the Incas with such ferocity that Viracocha and his designated heir, Inca Urcon, fled the capital. Only a small band of captains, led by Inca Yupanqui, remained to provide a last-ditch defense. Although facing seemingly hopeless odds, they managed to defeat the enemy with the help, so it was claimed, of the very stones of Cuzco, which rose up from the ground to fight alongside them. Not only were the Chanka defeated, but Inca Yupanqui supposedly adopted the soubriquet Pachacutec, “Transformer of the Earth,” and took the throne from his disgraced father and brother. He then embarked on an ambitious program of conquest that initiated the imperial phase of Inca culture. Within a generation the Incas had grown from an anonymous small tribe of the Cuzco valley to become the dominant force of the Andes.

The Inca then expanded under an organized army over much of the Andean area, from Chile to Colombia, in just a generation or two. This empire covered a distance of some 3000 miles and an area the size of continental Europe. Indeed, a remarkable achievement, somewhat akin to Alexander the Great, Ghengis Kahn and others. However, like all empires, it did not last long. The Inca fell under the attack of a small band of better armed and better equipped Conquistadores. Soon, the Inca, little more than a century old, were gone—but the Spaniards amazed by what they saw, and what they heard, gave the Inca credit for all that existed—many areas thousands of years old, dating back into B.C. times, 1500 years before the term Inca was ever heard.

(Much of the foregoing is from Hugh Thomson, “White Rock,” Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publisher, 2003. He also wrote a sequel “A Sacred Landscape,” Overlook Press, 2007)

Monday, October 11, 2010

The 30º South Latitude—Bay of Coquimbo, Chile

Repeatedly, we find that those early apostles who were close to Joseph Smith all speak of the Lehi Colony landing at the 30º South Latitude in South America.

Within this area called South America today the land that is now Venezuela was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1498, and later named Venezuela (Little Venice) by Amerigo Vespucci in 1499. In 1542, all of Spanish controlled South America was formed as the Viceroyalty of Peru, with its capital in Lima. Because of difficulty in communication over such a large area, in May of 1717, the area of New Granada (Viceroyalty of New Granada) was established as the New Kingdom of Granada, which included all the Spanish jurisdiction in northern South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, northwestern Brazil, northern Peru, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. In 1739, Panama was added to this Viceroyalty).

In 1776, the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata (present day Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay), was established, taking land and control out of the Viceroyalty of Peru. In 1811, Venezuela declared its independence. After the defeat of the Spanish by Simon Bolivar and his armies in 1819, Venezuela, along with Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama, formed the independent Republic of Gran Colombia..

In 1818, Chile was liberated from Spanish rule, and in 1821, Peruvian independence was officially declared, All of Ecuador (the Republic of the Equator) gained its independence in 1822, following Guayaquil’s independence in 1820, when Antonio Jose de Sucre defeated the Spanish Royalist forces at the Battle of Pichincha near Quito. In 1830, Venezuela emerged from that coalition to become an independent nation.

While we think of South America as individual countries today, in 600 BC., the area along the western strip, usually referred to as the Andean area, was one continuous, unbroken wilderness (uninhabited), with tall cliffs along the Pacific shore with only a few areas suitable for landing a group of people from a deep-sea, ocean-going vessel. That area is today called the Bay of Coquimbo, which is situated exactly along the 30º south latitude, in what is today the country of Chile. Several things work for this area being the landing site of the Lehi Colony:

1) The winds and currents, which move swiftly across the Southern Ocean from the Indian Ocean to the Western Hemisphere, dies down within the Tropic of Capricorn, making landfall a simple matter. It should be kept in mind, that in 600 B.C. and for nearly two thousand years afterward, making landfall on a shoreline was no simple matter. Many shores were cliffs, not suitable for landing or moving inland. The Bay of Coquimbo is one of those very few areas along the west coast of South America where a landing could have easily been achieved.

2) The 30º south latitude encompasses one of the five Mediterranean climates in the entire world, with the only other one in the Western Hemisphere along the San Diego are of Southern California. A Mediterranean Climate would have been essential and absolutely necessary to plant and grow crops abundantly from seeds from Jerusalem (one of the other areas with a Mediterranean Climate).

3) Two unknown animals perfectly matching the description of Cumom and Curelom (Ether 9:19) are indigenous to this area—the Llama and Alpaca. No other animals that would have been unknown to Joseph Smith in 1830 match such description were or are found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.

3) Two unknown grains match the description of neas and sheum (Mosiah 9:9) and are indigenous to this area—quinoa and kiwichi, both supergrains that were unknown to Joseph Smith in 1830, and found nowhere else in the world.

4) A natural, herbal cure for fever (Alma 46:40) is indigenous in this area and unknown anywhere else in the world until the 16th-century A.D. This is quinine made from the bark of the cinchona tree and, until transplanted into Indonesia in the 18th and 19th centuries and synthesized in the 20th century, found nowhere else.

5) “And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25). Gold, silver and copper within a single ore is found in abundance in this area and very little anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.

There are many other points, as illustrated in the book: “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica,” but this should be sufficient to suggest the landing site of the Lehi Colony, and why Joseph told his associates that is where Lehi landed.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

As Long as We Are Quoting Modern-day Church Leaders

James E. Talmadge, A member of the Quorum of the Twelve and author of the book “Articles of Faith,” quotes Erastus Snow in saying:
“The Prophet Joseph informed us that the record of Lehi was contained on the one hundred sixteen pages that were first translated and subsequently stolen, and of which an abridgment is given us in the First Book of Nephi, which is the record of Nephi individually, he himself being of the lineage of Manasseh; but that Ishmael was of the lineage of Ephraim, and that his sons married into Lehi’s family, and Lehi’s sons married Ishmael’s daughters, thus fulfilling the words of Jacob upon Ephraim and Manasseh in the 48th chapter of Genesis (vs 16) which says: ‘And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’ Thus these descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim grew together upon this American continent, with sprinkling from the house of Judah from Mulek descendants, who left Jerusalem eleven years after Lehi, and founded the colony afterwards known as Zarahemla and found by Mosiah –thus making a combination, an intermixture of Ephraim and Manasseh with the remnants of Judah, and for aught we know, the remnants of some other tribes that might have accompanied Mulek. And such have grown up upon the American continent.” (Articles of Faith, App 15, Notes of Chapter 15, pp 504-504; Snow: Journal of Discourses, vol 23, pp 184-185)

Elder Talmadge, in this same appendix, went on to write: “[there is] an impressive array of evidence pointing to the Old World and specifically to Egypt, as the source of many of the customs by which the American aborigines are distinguished. The article is accompanied by a map showing probable routes of travel from the Old World to the New, and two landing places on the west coast, one in Mexico and another near the boundary common to Peru and Chile, from which places the immigrants spread.” (Articles of Faith, p 508).

The prevailing view of early Church members who knew Joseph Smith is that they believed the Lord had revealed to the prophet that Nephi's ship landed in Chile. Elders Orson Pratt and Elder Franklin D. Richards, openly taught that the prophet received a revelation that Nephi's ship landed at 30 degrees south latitude in South America. Both apostles knew Joseph Smith, and it goes without saying that apostles are themselves prophets, seers, and revelators--special witnesses of Christ---and certainly are men who would not have taught a falsehood or a doctrine that conflicted with one taught by Joseph Smith. Evidence supporting this revelation to Joseph Smith is that the words thereof were written in the "handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, Counselor to the Prophet, and on the same page with the body of an undoubted revelation" which is now part of the Doctrine and Covenants.

The Church included the revelation that Nephi landed in Chile as a footnote to the 1879 edition of the Book of Mormon. Indeed, contrary to the revisionist thinking of some later Book of Mormon scholars, B. H. Roberts reminds us that the dominant belief among the early Church members was that Joseph Smith revealed that Nephi landed in South America.

In his History of the Church in Peru, Dale Christensen cites: On October 29, 1959 a conference was held with some 300 people in attendance (in Santiago, Chile). At this meeting Elder Harold B. Lee presented the names of the Andes Mission Presidency . . . It was explained that the southern headquarters would be in Santiago, Chile, but the main office would be in Lima, Peru . . . the Presidency and the Twelve had decided to organize a new mission to consist of the countries of Peru and Chile. The name that was chosen for this new mission was the Andes Mission. The following are excerpts are from a stirring address given in the morning session of the Conference by Elder Harold B. Lee of the Council of the Twelve Apostles: "there have been a flood of memories and thoughts running through my mind; where the followers of Lehi landed no one knows exactly where this location was. In the wisdom of the Lord it has not been definitely revealed. We know that at the time of the crucifixion of the Lord, the whole face of the earth was changed and the arrangements of mountains and valleys and rivers may not be the same as they were before that time. But from the writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and of other inspired men, it seems that all are in agreement that the followers of Lehi came to the western shores of South America.” (B.H. Roberts, New Witness for God, Vol. 3., p 501; Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, "Book of Mormon Geography").

Having said all that, it should still be understood that the ancient prophets who lived in the Land of Promise and who wrote about their land are the best source of information relative to the geography of the Book of Mormon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Origin of the Brass Plates – Part II

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin identifies the language of the Brass Plates as being Egyptian (Mosiah 1:4). This introduces a further line of speculation regarding this record. Could the Brass Plates have originated as the family record of Joseph the son of Jacob? His wife was Egyptian. His sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were Egyptian. That may have been the only language they knew. Of course, Joseph would have had a copy of the then extent scriptural record in Egyptian. Might not his family have continued to maintain that Egyptian (maybe reformed Egyptian) language record?

Our Old Testament is the record of the tribe of Judah–it's the "Stick of Judah." Are the brass plates not at least part of the "Stick of Joseph"? If this view of the Brass Plates as the record of the tribe of Joseph is correct, then the Book of Mormon is but the continuation of a family history, which may have been begun by Joseph himself. The Book of Mormon would be the middle chapters of this history, so then the Doctrine and Covenants and current church history would be the final chapters of this great family epoch.

Nephi makes another statement about the brass plates that arrests our attention. He says, "And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records" (1 Nephi 5:16). These words seem to indicate that the recording of the Hebrew scriptures on the brass plates had begun many generations before Laban's time. Furthermore, it would be kept in the senior tribe of Israel, that is to say, in the tribe of Ephraim (see Genesis 48:5, 13—20; 1 Chronicles 5:1—2). Laban may well have been a descendant of Joseph through Ephraim. We may properly ask ourselves how it happened that Laban—and Lehi's family, for that matter, inasmuch as they were descendants of Joseph through Manasseh—happened to be living in Jerusalem. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, as the reader is well aware, had been allied generations before with the northern kingdom of Israel, not with Judah in the south.

The northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians when its capital of Samaria capitulated to Sargon II in 721 B.C., just over 120 years before Lehi left Jerusalem. The forebears of Laban may well have fled to Jerusalem to prevent the sacred records from falling into alien hands. Lehi's grandfather or great-grandfather may have left his northern home for Jerusalem in order to prevent his children from intermarrying or making religious compromises with the foreigners brought into the land by the Assyrians. Such a course would not be unreasonable on the part of many devout families.

If the brass plates had been kept by Laban's ancestors in the tribe of Ephraim as early as the united kingdom under Saul, David, and Solomon, it would be of great interest to know their history and that of any other sacred records subsequent to the division which took place after Solomon's death; it will be remembered that the northern confederation of tribes followed Jeroboam, and the southern kingdom of Judah remained under Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:29; 12:24). What happened to the keeping of sacred records when the Israelites became sharply divided on political grounds—so much so that the two nations were enemies?

It is also possible that the writings of some prophets in Judah were not placed on the brass plates during the period under consideration, but of this we have no way of knowing. After the fall of Samaria, in 721 BC, it is very probable that most Jewish prophetical writings were engraved on the brass plates, assuming, of course, that Laban's immediate forebears came to Jerusalem as has already been stated. It is a fact of considerable importance in biblical studies that the Book of Mormon indicates the presence on the brass plates of more scripture than that contained in our entire Bible (1 Nephi 13:23—26). Considering the fact that these plates recorded Hebrew scripture written only before the year 600 B.C., we have ample testimony to the loss of much scripture between that date and the present time.

When Lehi had searched the brass plates, he was filled with the Spirit and began to prophesy to the effect that the day would come when they should be made known unto all kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed (1 Nephi 5:17-18). Moreover, he prophesied that the brass plates should never perish or be dimmed by time (1 Nephi 5:19). We know, therefore, that many unknown or hitherto corrupted texts of Hebrew scripture will be restored to the world in correct form. To those of us who are interested in the study of the Bible, this is a comforting and even a thrilling prospect.

But had it not been for the Book of Mormon, none of this would have been known

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Origin of the Brass Plates – Part I

The Book of Mormon does not give us a lot of information about the origins of the plates of brass. Nephi said that: “Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records” (2 Nephi 5:16). Since the records kept in the northern kingdom would have been kept by the senior family, the Ephraimites, this would make Laban an Ephraimite. We know that tribes of Ephraim, as well as Menassah, were in the northern kingdom so how did they come to be living in Jerusalem? First of all, the brass plates, on which may be found lost scripture, may have been the official scripture of the ten tribes.

The Brass Plates contained the following:

• The record of the Jews down to the days of Zedekiah, including the genealogies of the people and the prophecies of the holy prophets, among which are the words of Isaiah and portions of Jeremiah.
• The law of Moses, in its perfect form, and the five books of Moses–Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
• The writings of Joseph who was sold into Egypt, than which few have been greater, and on them is found the mysteries of God and the commandments he has given to the children of men.
• The books of holy scripture of which the world does not dream, including the writings of Zenock, Neum, And Zenos.

Sidney B. Sperry suggests that “the prophets in both nations probably paid little attention to the political lines of division, but it is improbable that all of them had their words recorded in the scriptures of both nations. The Brass Plates may well have been the official scripture of the Ten Tribes. It is probable that some prophets wrote on these plates whose writings may not have been recorded on the records kept in Judah. Were Zenos, Zenock, Neum, and Ezias among them?” Also, other migrations occurred before the destruction, and Laban’s ancestors may have settled in Jerusalem during one of those. The Old Testament mentions one particular migration during the reign of Asa, one of the most righteous Judean kings. Many from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon left the northern kingdom for Judah when they saw that God was with King Asa (2 Chronicles 15:9).

Scholars now believe that a significant number of Israelites fled the Northern Kingdom, seeking refuge in Judah and that they brought Scriptures with them and those Scriptures were different from the Scripture of Judah. A further insight regarding the brass plates prophets is found in a comment of Mormon, in 3 Nephi 10:16. There had been great persecution of the believers prior to the crucifixion of Christ and his appearance to the Nephites. Mormon, acknowledging that this was a fulfillment of prophecy, declared, "Yea, the prophet Zenos did testify of these things, and also Zenock spake concerning these things, because they testified particularly concerning us, who are the remnant of their seed.”

Note Mormon's identification of the Nephites as remnants of the seed of the Brass Plate prophets, Zenos and Zenock, who were tribe of Joseph prophets. Sperry assumes that there must have been separate records and suggests the outlandish, yet almost obvious possibility, "the brass plates may well have been the official scripture of the ten tribes." That is, the brass plates may have been the master copy, the original, of the Northern Kingdom scripture.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Zelph, the White Lamanite

Zelph was a white Lamanite. He well might have been a General among the Nephites, but he was a Lamanite. As stated in the corrected text of Church History: “Zelph was a white Lamanite, a man of God who was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus who was known from the eastern Sea, to the Rocky Mountains. He was killed in battle, by the arrow found among his ribs, during a great struggle with the Lamanites.”

Note that In 1842, Willard Richards compiled a number of records 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—neither statement of which was ever recorded by Joseph or even correctly attributed to him, but rather the interpolation of these two brethren who were present at the time of the discovery.

As for support of his being a Lamanite, there were Lamanites among the Nephites who went north in Hagoth’s ships. This period of time (about 46 B.C.) followed the end of one of the great periods of war between the Nephites and the Lamanites, and was about 17 years after the Lamanite Stripling Warriors went to battle for the Nephits (Alma 53:22). Thus, not only those young warriors, who would have been somewhere in their mid- to late-thirties when the emigrants went north in Hagoth’s ships, but possibly some of their parents, who would have been about 20 years older or more, or about 55 to 60. Thus, converted Lamanites (the people of Ammon Alma 53:10) were undoubtedly among the Nephites going north.

That Zelph was white, he either descended from those converted Lamanites who were granted a white skin, or those mentioned in 3 Nephi 2:14-15, who received a white skin because of their righteousness, which extended to their children (2 Nephi 2:16)—this was recorded in 15 A.D., about 60 years after those who went north in Hagoth’s ships—but others could have also gone north in other ships later on.

It might also be suggested that the 2,060 Lamanite stripling warriors, after the war, finding themselves around 20 or so, would have had less interest in the Land of Promise as in a new land “which was northward,” and would make sense they went north in great numbers—at east they are never mentioned again in the record.

In any event, we do know that a white Lamanite showed up in Illinois and died in a battle with the Lamanites sometime after these events recorded in the BOM. John A. Widtsoe 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." Obviously, this somewhat later time would have been after they separated themselves from the lands recorded in the Book of Mormon and were elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere, just as obviously in the Land of Promise covering North America.

At this time in question, anyone not a Nephite was called a Lamanite. The difference was more accurately described as those who were members of the true church and believers in Christ (Nephites) [4 Nephi 1:36-37] and those who were enemies of the church (Lamanites) [4 Nephi 1:38]. Those called Lamanites under this division, taught their children to “hate the children of God, even as the Lamanites were taught to hate the children of Nephi from the beginning (4 Nephi 1:39).

These wicked people (calling themselves Lamanites) “began again to build up the secret oaths and combinations of Gadianton” (4 Nephi 1:42). As a side note, Gadianton and the Gadianton Robbers were, in the beginning, wicked or evil Nephites, not Lamanites. Anyway, with all this in mind, it might be assumed that after about 230 A.D. or so, the split and identity of Nephite and Lamanite was not necessarily by blood, but by religious preference (Members, non-members). So in the 3rd century A.D., we might find that many of those called Lamanites were, in fact, originally Nephites who rejected Christ and His church.

Thus, we are left with only speculation regarding Zelph. He was, as we are told, a white Lamanite. A Nephite military leader. And lived during the time of a prophet known well across the breadth of the land.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Words in the Book of Mormon – Part II

As shown in the previous post, words in the Book of Mormon mean something. It might also be said that there were words Joseph knew well (unlike cumom, curelom, neas, sheum, and ziff outlined in the last post).

Wilderness is one of those words. While some scholars claim that the use of the word “wilderness” in scripture refers to a mountainous region, we need to know that the word conveys a far more descriptive meaning. Wilderness in the Book of Mormon refers to desert, seashore, valleys, meadows, mountains, plains, etc. As Joseph Smith would have understood the word, the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language : “A tract of land or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings, whether a wide forest or a wide barren plain” (see former post).

Such other words like horse, chariot, building, bones, palace, etc., were well known to Joseph Smith and understood. Take the word building for instance.

When the prophet wrote the words of King Limhi, who sent a 43-man expeditionary force looking for Zarahemla and they became lost and wandered into the Land Northward where they found the bones and ruins of the Jaredites. It is written that the Jaredite lands were covered “with ruins of buildings of every kind” (Mosiah 8:8).

This description was given by a people who were familiar with magnificent buildings as their former king (Noah) had “many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff and of copper” (Mosiah 11:8).

In Joseph Smith’s time, the word “building” was defined as an “edifice constructed for use or convenience, as a house, a church, a shop, etc.” It is interesting that the word “mound” is not associated in any way with the concept of a building in the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language.

Consequently, we can understand from their and Joseph’s description, this land was covered with magnificent and large buildings, palaces (Mosiah 11:9), and high towers (Mosiah 11:12). These buildings were built in at least two separate cities (Mosiah 11:13), including another high tower, as well as resorts (forts).

Thus, the Land Northward was covered with buildings “of every kind” which should have, in some condition, survived down through the ages as such buildings have survived in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile in South America; and in Guatemala, Belize, Yucatan and Mexico in Central America. There are no such ruins of any kind in the area of the Great Lakes, the Heartland, or the New England area. No such ruins can be found now, or were any recorded by the early settlers of these areas about the same time that European settlers of Central and South America found and amply recorded.

The Great Lakes and surrounding areas have only some mounds and a few small artifacts as a testimony of an earlier civilization occupying that area. Mounds, after all, are not buildings. No building construction has ever been found within a mound through the east, Ohio and Mississippi valleys. We should also keep in mind that no unknown animals or unknown grains matching the scriptural description have been found in the Great Lakes, New England or Heartland area dating to such a period. So why do these theorists doggedly claim that was the area of the Book of Mormon?

That is such a good question.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Words in the Book of Mormon – Part I

Quite often scholars and theorists forget that words have meaning, and in the Book of Mormon, the original words written by the prophet, and the words used by Mormon in his abridgment, and the words used by Joseph Smith in translation, all had and have meaning. In addition, these same scholars and theorists fail to consider that Joseph Smith not only used words known to him, but his words were verified by the spirit as to their accuracy, before being written down by the scribe.

We cannot ignore the words Joseph knew and understood at the time of his translation if we are to completely understand the scriptural account. These words, or his language, was that of the New England area of a poorly educated farm boy. He had no sophistication such as modern writers, no desire to exaggerate or minimize such meanings as does modern man. He simply used the word that he knew to describe what the image before him meant.

As an example, when he ran across words like: Cumom, Curelom, Neas, Sheum, and Ziff, Joseph had no understanding of the items they represented, and even if shown an image or vision of it, the item was outside his experience and knowledge. Therefore, he used the original word itself since he had no way of substituting a modern or English word for it. Thus, we understand that the two animals, cumom and curelom, the two grains, neas and sheum, and the metal, ziff, were unknown items in his English speaking knowledge. Consequently, we cannot say he used horse when he meant deer, as John L. Sorenson suggests. Nor can we say he meant some insignificant animal when cumom and curelom were written. “And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms, all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19).

Thus we see that the curelom and cumom were animals on a par with the elephant in its usefulness. The elephant, obviously, is not as useful as a food as it is a drought animal and a beast of burden. It is also useful for its products, such as ivory and hide. The most commonly understood drought animals the world over are horses, donkeys, mules, camels, llamas and elephants.

The camelid Llama of the Andes, a drought animal and beast of burden

Consequently, the cumom and curelom were also very useful, not so much for food, but for the tasks they could accomplish and the products they furnished. Therefore, we cannot look for some insignificant animal like a tapir or a sloth, as some scholars and theorists have rationalized to try and match something in Mesoamerica, for these animals have little value to man, either in the past or today.

Nor can maize be considered the unknown grains for it is written: “even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits” (Mosiah 9:9). Thus, these two grains had to be something of equal value to the common grains mentioned, but outside the knowledge of a New England farm boy at the time of the translation.

The supergrain quinoa, found only in the Andean area

The same thing can be said for the word ziff as a metal. It should also be noted that the words, quinoa, kiwichi, llama and alpaca do not appear in the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, created by Noah Webster, a New England contemporary of Joseph Smith, listing the language of Joseph’s day in the area in which Joseph grew up.

Thus, any location for the Land of Promise must have two such unknown animals of great worth to man, two very important grains, and some type of metal, all of which would have been unknown in the New England area and not appear in the vocabulary of the day.

(See next post "Words in the Book of Mormon – Part II", which covers some words the theorists hold in controversy, but that Joseph Smith would have obviously known)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book of Mormon Lands Not Hidden – Part III

Continuing with the concept of whether or not the Lord “hides” things from man, earlier posts suggest that this is not exactly true. Man simply, at times, is not capable of seeing what is there, or does not have the technology yet to accomplish or learn certain things. Of course, if the Lord wants man to find something, he merely inspires him to do so. But in the end, whatever it is that man ultimately discovers, it was there all the time—he simply did not know how to uncover it, find it, or do it.

When the Lehi Colony left Jerusalem and traveled to Bountiful, Nephi was present. When they built the ship that would take them across the Great Deep, when they used the Liahona that showed them the way, when they landed and settled in the land of promise, Nephi and Jacob were present.

Should we not, then, pay attention to how they described their land? Meaning no disrespect to any other in this present last dispensation, Joseph Smith, for all his knowledgeable greatness was not present; nor were any modern day prophets present. Not even Mormon or Moroni were present.
An example of the isles of the sea

It is from the scriptures and writings of Nephi and Jacob that we learn of the parameters of the land of promise in which they lived, how they got there and what they found when they arrived.

Quoting the words of Zenock and Zenos, Nephi writes: “which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel” (1 Nephi 19:10). Nephi also wrote: “Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, O isles of the sea, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee” (1 Nephi 21:8). Jacob preached, and Nephi wrote, about the land of promise being an island: “for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20), and “But 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).

Does the Lord hide this information from us? No. He has given us the Book of Mormon and the testimony of those who lived there and they have given us their descriptions of their travels, efforts and lands. It is not “hidden,” it simply is not looked for by most people, and many of those who do, look in the wrong places to try and match scripture to their own ideas.

As an example, science now knows that South America east of the Andes was once under water. Because of the findings of the deep-ocean drilling ship, Glomar Challenger, science now knows the Panama isthmus was once underwater and not connected to South America. As a result of modern knowledge about winds and ocean currents, science now knows the path a sailing ship would take to get from southern Arabia to the Western Hemisphere. As a result of modern knowledge, science now knows about quinine and where it originated, quinoa and kiwichi super grains and where they originated, and where the llama and alpaca live—all in the Andean area of South America, and all matching the scriptural description within the Book of Mormon, as has been pointed out in past posts. Nor do any other models have answers to these BOM descriptions of what was found in the Land of Promise.

The problem is, no matter what we know and what the Lord has made available to us in these latter days, so many people look beyond that mark and try to match unmatchable information with the scriptural record in order to satisfy their own personal opinions.

Scholars should try less to find limited matches between their models and the scriptural record and spend more time in acknowledging the non-comparisons which show that the overall scriptures, taking all points regarding the geography, flora, fauna, etc., as a whole, do not match their models. Then, as any scholar or scientist worth his salt would normally do, look for a model that does match every scripture, not try to bend or change the facts to agree with their point of view.

NOTE: As an added note, we need to keep in mind that the Church has no position on the matter of the location of the Land of Promise other than it being in the Americas of the Western Hemisphere; therefore, modern-day prophets will not speak on this matter other than to state their own opinions. As a result, those authorized to speak on this matter will be found in the Book of Mormon.