Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Where the Events of the Book of Mormon Took Place – Part VI

Continuing with the article by Matthew Roper and John L. Sorenson, discussed in the last five posts, some of their points about the shape and size of the Land of Promise need further discussion and understanding. In their article, speaking of the Land Northward, they wrote:

“The groups occupying most of this territory at times reached a civilized level of development and at one point constituted a population of more than two million.”

First of all, it would seem “two million” is only a fraction of the numbers of Jaredites that lived in the Land Northward. His “constituted a population of more than two million” is simply far smaller than the scriptural record tells us.

The problem is, since the area of Mesoamerica Sorenson uses as his Land of Promise is quite small, only a few hundred miles in each direction, he has to limit the numbers of Jaredites who lived there. However, the record tells us another story.

“And it came to pass when Coriantumr had recovered of his wounds, he began to remember the words which Ether had spoken unto him. He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children” (Ether 15:1-2).

Two million mighty men of his army had been killed. More or less, there would have been an equal number of wives—which makes the number close to 4 million. And if only two children per couple that is another 4 million, or a total of about 8 million Jaredites had been killed at this point in the war just in Coriantumr’s army and among his people. And that does not include the number of Shiz’ army and people. In fact, his numbers must have been quite similar because he saw that “the loss of men, women and children on both sides was so great that Shiz commanded his people that they should not pursue the armies of Coriantumr; wherefore, they returned to their camp” (Ether 14:31).

Therefore, at this point in the war, those killed on both sides could have exceeded a conservative number of 16 million people. If there were three or four children per family, the numbers could have been 20 to 25 million, and so on to a much higher number of dead if much larger numbers were involved. But that is not all. After exchanging letters to end the war (Ether 15:3-5), no truce could be agreed upon, and the war continued with more fighting and dead (Ether 15:6-7). This followed with a day’s break and then “an exceeding sore battle” took place (Ether 15:9).

After this, both sides “did gather together all the people upon all the face of the land, who had not been slain, save it was Ether” (Ether 15:12), which took four years “that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they could receive” (Ether 15:14), with “every one to the army which he would, with their wives and their children -- both men women and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breastplates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war” (Ether 15:15).

We have no idea how many Jaredites were in the two armies at this point, but it must have been a significant number, having spent four years gathering all the remaining people “upon the face of the land” (Ether 15:14). After four full days of battle with the sword, there were but ”fifty and two of the people of Coriantumr, and sixty and nine of the people of Shiz” (Ether 15:23). After three more days of fighting, there were only the two leaders left (Ether 15:29).

That is, there were seven full days of battle, from sun up to sun down, with breaks only during the night. How many were killed? In just one day of fighting, the Nephites lost 230,000 in their final battle with the Lamanites (Mormon 6:7-15). How many Lamanites were killed in that battle is not recorded—but reason alone suggests that the numbers must have been a total of 300,000 to 350,000 killed in one day of battle on both sides. If we applied that figure to the final battle of the Jaredites, we could add as much as another two million dead.

The point is, there were tens of millions of Jaredites killed in the final battles in the Land Northward. So many, in fact, that the land “was covered with bones of men” (Mosiah 8:8). And this does not include the numerous Jaredites who had lived and died over the previous 1500 years of their existence in the Land of Promise before the events recorded by Ether.

Thus, it must be concluded that the Land Northward was large enough to have handled upwards of 15 to 25 million people at one time in the last few years of their society.

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