Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Sea Did Lehi Cross? – Part III

Continuing with the list of inaccurate items written by a Heartland/Great Lakes theorists, we find:

8. “Clark’s broad oceanic reference frame(s) seems inconsistent with the clearly local designation of “the sea on the west and on the east” of a terrestrial location “by the narrow pass…”. It can only be concluded, based on LDS scripture, that the American land of “first inheritance” extended to and included a place by the shore of a sea that situated west relative to the land of Nephi.”

Let’s not get complicated. The Land of promise was an island (2 Nephi 10:20). That means it was a “tract of land surrounded by water.” Since the Lord made the sea their path, they landed on the west coast of the island (evidently a long, narrow island) where Mormon placed them (Alma 22:28). It is no more complicated than that. As for local designations, we have to keep in mind that anciently, when places and waters had no names, people referred to them in rather simple terms—often by their compass direction.

In addition, the word “Irreantum” meant “many waters,” a term used by the Nephites and Jaredites when standing upon land and looking out into the great sea fronting Bountiful. However, when talking about crossing, or upon, the ocean, it was called “the great deep” or “the great waters,” which was simply a difference in viewpoint. Where the word Irreantum came from we are not told, nor do we know what language the word came from—perhaps even from the Lord to Lehi. The point is, seas, oceans, waterways, lakes, etc., seldom had names in the beginning when first confronted.

Nephi’s ship sailed across the many waters, “driven forth before the wind” until it reached the Land of Promise: “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land. And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:22-23). It is kind of hard to make anything more of this than what is said—they sailed across the sea and landed on the coast of their island.

Since the Nephites were on an island and there was a sea all around them, they very well might have chosen simple cardinal directions to designate which area of the sea to which they referred. Thus, they called the sea to the west the “West Sea,” the sea to the east, “The East Sea,” etc.

9. “To allege that all Book of Mormon seas are oceans is to make extrapolations beyond what the scripture actually states.”

And to try and limit the size of seas mentioned, and their location, and to ignore that they were on an island in the midst of the sea over which they traveled, is to try and change the meaning and content of the scriptural record—which is far more of an extrapolation than what Clark wrote.

10. “The logic that sea = ocean, fails in the case of many biblical verses that refer to a “sea” or “the sea.” Even “the great sea” (the Mediterranean, Numbers 34:6) bordering the biblical Promise Land, is essentially an inland body of water.”

Here again, the ideas presented are inaccurate, stated by someone with limited knowledge on the subject, or intended to mislead. While the Mediterranean may be considered an “inland sea,” it is not landlocked, therefore, is actually part of the Atlantic Ocean. The same is true with the Persian Gulf (anciently called the Arabian Sea), the Red Sea, as well as any Gulf, bay, or inlet that opens to the ocean. It should also be noted that the Hebrew word “yam” is far more often referred to and reserved for a saltwater sea/ocean than any other meaning. However, what a Hebrew word meant is not important when discussing the Book of Mormon, which was originally written on plates in Reformed Egyptian and translated directly into English by Joseph Smith with the aid of the Spirit.

The problem is, people get so carried away with their own beliefs and ideas, they simply ignore the facts against their argument. After all, facts cannot be discredited by changing the basis of those facts, nor even by adding or introducing other facts. The issue at hand is the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon. This is not something to trifle with in bending, altering, changing, ignoring, or adding to the record. We must use the record as it was written, understanding that no matter what language it was originally written in (Reformed Egyptian), it was translated by Joseph Smith, under the direction of the Spirit, using the language known to him in 1829 New England. The fact that the Lord inspired the first-ever American dictionary to be published during the time of the translation merely provides for us with an understanding of what the words Joseph used actually meant.

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