Friday, June 17, 2011

Was Guatemala the Land of Nephi? Part II

In the last post, Sorenson took it upon himself to describe the “land of first inheritance,” though there is nothing in the scriptural record to suggest any type of conditions at all, with one exception—the climate for their Jerusalem seeds.

Regarding the climate, Sorenson wrote: ”The coastal plain where the landing of Lehi would have occurred was uncomfortably hot and humid. That climate favored rapid crop growth, but the weather would be unpleasant for colonizers.”

Now, let’s take a look at this. The seeds the Lehi colony planted were described as “we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.” (1 Nephi 18:24).

In approximately 587 B.C., they planted seeds “which had been brought from the land of Jerusalem.” Therefore, more than two thousands years before the Pilgrims’ crops failed at Plymouth in Massachusettes, from which they would have starved had it not been for the food and knowledge the local Indians provided for planting and harvesting, the Lehi Colony put their seeds into the ground in the Land of Promise.” Any farmer worth his salt, knows that seeds do not grow just anywhere, especially before modern knowledge, chemicals, soil preparation, and residue management techniques were known. Even today, a farmer needs to know the temperature conditions, times of rainfall, frost, soil conditions, etc. While the Lehi and his sons were undoubtedly farmers, having lived outside Jerusalem all their lives, and having seeds on hand when fleeing the area, it does not mean they would know the temperature, weather, soil, etc., of a new land just arrived upon.

For modern man who goes to the market weekly to buy his groceries, the idea of preparing soil, planting, nourishing, and preparing seeds, knowing weather conditions, and times of harvesting, are foreign concepts. Today, it seems to most of us that crops can be grown anywhere—and with modern techniques, knowledge and ingredients, this is comparatively true. However, in ancient times, seeds grew for the first time in like soils, consistent temperatures and precipitation, and similar climates. For the seeds brought from Jerusalem, a climate similar to that of Jerusalem, would have been necessary in B.C. times for seeds to “grow exceedingly, providing an abundant crop.”

The climate Sorenson claims was the land of first inheritance, “was uncomfortably hot and humid.” According to Koeppen, such a climate would be found in a tropical area, such as southern Mexico, Yucatan, known for their high temperatures year round and for their large amount of year round rain, and Guatemala, which is located in tropical Central America, with the area between sea level and roughly 3,000 feet of altitude being indeed tropical, with hot and humid day and night, year round. Daytime temperatures can go as high as 100° F and nighttime temperatures rarely dropping below 70° F., with The rainy season begins around mid-May and lasts until October or November

The Mediterranean climate differs considerably, with a wet-winter, dry-summer climate. Extremely dry summers are caused by the sinking air of the subtropical highs and may last for up to five months. Plants have adapted to the extreme difference in rainfall and temperature between winter and summer seasons. The annual precipitation is 17 inches, and is found only in the areas of central and southern California, the zones bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the coastal Western Australia and South Australia; portions of the Chilean coast, and the Cape Town region of South Africa.

Sorenson claims that the hot and humid climate of his land of first inheritance would have “favored rapid crop growth.” But today, Guatemala grows sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, and cardamom (a tropical spice plant); while Chile grows grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus, beans; and Peru grows asparagus, coffee, cocoa, cotton, sugarcane, rice, potatoes, corn, plantains, grapes, oranges, pineapples, guavas, bananas, apples, lemons, pears, coca, tomatoes, mango, barley, medicinal plants, palm oil, marigold, onion, wheat, dry beans.

In 587 B.C., wheat and barley would not have grown in coastal Guatemala, nor much else in seeds brought from Jerusalem’s Mediterranean climate. But they would have grown exceedingly and provided an abundant crop in a like soil—that is, another Mediterranean Climate:

The only two Mediterranean Climates found in the Western Hemisphere are located in Southern California and Middle coastal Chile.

(See the next post, “Was Guatemala the Land of Nephi? Part III,” for how Sorenson fancifully describes the Lamanite life style in the land of first inheritance.”

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