Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where the Events of the Book of Mormon Took Place – Reached by Boat – Part II

In addition to the information outlined in the last post, a sidelight of the previous post showing the disingenuous definition by John L. Sorenson of the word “isle” claiming it meant: “Isle anciently did not necessarily mean an area entirely isolated by water, but rather that the area so labeled could be reached via boat. See the dictionary in the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible, s.v. ‘Isles’."

It should also be understood when referring to Bible Dictionaries, that they were all basically compiled by non-LDS scholars who have a very different view of word meanings, attitude, and understanding of ancient prophets. Latter-day Saints know and understand that prophets anciently were often given insights and visions of the future and spoke in terms of a future point in the unfolding history of mankind. Isaiah was certainly one of those, for he knew and understood who the Nephites were and spoke of them on several occassions. Even Joseph of old saw the day of the Nephites (2 Nephi 3:5).

However, non-LDS scholars seldom think in terms of statements made by ancient prophets of a future time except in the abstract. Obviously, when these scholars deal with islands mentioned in the Old Testament, they equate them to the lands of the Old Testament, thus the islands of the Mediterranean and the Mediterranean coasts. While this might make sense to non-LDS scholars, to Latter-day Saints, who know and understand ancient prophets’ language depicting our time, the time of the Nephites, etc., the world is a much larger place than the Mediterranean area where the Old Testament was acted out.

Thus, when Jacob says: “And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, 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. 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.”

Jacob speaks this in relation to his quoting Isaiah (2 Nephi 6:4, 5; 11:2, 8, etc.), and Isaiah, who spoke often about the gathering of Israel in the last days, clearly spoke of the ISLES of the sea (Isaiah 11:11; 40:16; 42:4; 60:9), and in all cases spoke of “isles” in the plural, and Jacob understood that, saying: “wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren.”

Consequently, it cannot be denied that Jacob knew the Nephites were on an island, and that Isaiah knew of them, and referred to the point in time when the Lord would remember these Israelites, and that at some future time (to Jacob) these Israelite (Nephites) on the isle of sea would be instrumental in bringing the word of God to the Gentiles. Regarding the "sign" of the Book of Mormon, Isaiah said: “And I will set a sign among them and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow to the Tubal and Javan to the isles afar off that have not heard of my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles” (Isaiah 66:19).

Bible Dictionary compilers , having no understanding to the unfolding plans of God for his children, read Isaiah and think in terms of the Mediterranean world. The islands of the Mediterranean include Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, Corsica, Credte, Euboea, Rhodes, Chios, Kefalonia, Minorca, Corfu, Majorca, Lesbos, Ibiza, Djerba, Lemnos, Samos, Naxos, Zakynthos, Cres, and Krk, all ranging from just under 16,000 square miles in size down to about 250 square miles. In addition, there are another 128 islands in the Mediterranean ranging from under 250 square miles down to about 7 square miles, a 150 islands in all.

However, we have no evidence that any of Israel were dispersed onto these islands in the Mediterranean during Jacob’s time. From 587 B.C. until about 540 B.C., during Jacob’s lifetime, Israel was mostly in captivity in Babylonia—their Diaspora or Golus. Jews were also later in Persia and elsewhere in the Middle East (Western Asia and Northern Africa).

Of course, we do not know what Jews were led out of Israel to other locations. As Jacob said, “For behold, the Lord God has led away from time to time from the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure” (2 Nephi 10:22), but seems to have understood these to be on other isles, “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).

Consequently, when Bible Dictionary compilers limit the word “isle” to reference the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean, they are far afield from what we know through the Book of Mormon and modern day revelation.

Thus, we must conclude that the word “isle” as Joseph Smith wrote it must, indeed, refer to “A tract of land surrounded by water, or a detached portion of land embossomed in the ocean,” as Noah Webster defined it in 1828.

(In the next post, we will return to “Where the Events of the Book of Mormon Took Place – Part III”)

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