Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What the Story of Hagoth Tells Us – Part III – Why Never Heard From Again?

Regarding these emigrants that went north in Hagoth’s ships, there are certain questions that need to be answered:

1. How many emigrants went north in Hagoth’s ships?
2. Where did Hagoth's immigrants land and why were they never heard from again?
3. Why did no one know where these first immigrants went when the first ship returned for a second group of immigrants?
4. Did Hagoth's immigrants land in the same vicinity that those who traveled by land, mentioned in Helaman 3:3-4, reach?
5. When the immigrants mentioned in Helaman 3:3-4 settled the Old Jaredite domain of many waters and rivers just eight years after Hagoth's ships sailed, then spread out over the entire land from the north sea to the south, from the east sea to the west, why did they not encounter Hagoth's immigrants?
6. When Mormon led his people in a retreat from Zarahemla to the area of many waters and rivers in the land northward around 385 A.D., why did they not seek aid from the Nephite descendants of Hagoth's immigrants (who had settled somewhere to the north) in the great and final battle with the Lamanites?
7. If Hagoth's ships with their thousands of immigrants went north beyond the Old Jaredite Land Northward, where is the evidence of Nephite culture to the north of the Land of Promise?

In this post and the next few, we will take a look at and answer each of these questions:

1. How many emigrants went north in Hagoth’s ships?

Mormon tells us as an introduction to the building and sailing of Hagoth’s ships, that in the year they were built, 5,400 men, plus women and children, went northward (Alma 63:4). If we take 5,400 men and add a like number of wives, we have 10,800 people. If they had 2 children each, there would be 21,600 people. If each couple had an average of three children, there would be 27,000 people. Thus, somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 people are described as going north in Hagoth’s ships. After describing this ship movement, Mormon then writes about those who went overland into the Land Northward (Alma 63:9). About ten years later, in Helaman, Mormon again mentions those who went overland into the Land Northward (Helaman 3:3). Thus, we can see that these were two entirely different movements—one by ship, and one by land.

2. Where did Hagoth's immigrants land and why were they never heard from again?

Mormon tells us they went to “a land which was northward” (see last post), which describes a place not connected to the Land Northward. And since at this time the Land of Promise was an island (2 Nephi 10:20), the land “which was northward” would have been across an open sea to some land beyond the Land Northward. This location is the subject of the next post.

3. Why did no one know where these first immigrants went when the first ship returned for a second group of immigrants?

Mormon writes that in the second year, the first ship Hagoth built that went northward returned while he was busy building another ship (Alma 63:8). Obviously, this ship deposited all their emigrants and returned. Evidently, another large number boarded the ship, which again took its journey northward (Alma 63:7). Therefore, other than the crew which returned on the ship, no one would have known exactly where it went—and if the ship went into unknown waters to the north and landed along the shore of an unknown and nameless land there, no one returning on the ship could have specifically said where they went except “to a land which was northward.” That this land would have had no name is obvious.

The entire land making up the Land of Promise given to Lehi, and the Land Northward, given to the Jaredites, is never recorded as having a name other than the Land of Promise or the promised land. When Columbus discovered the islands in the Caribbean Sea on his first two voyages, and then the area of lower Central America and the northeast corner of South America, none of these lands had names—other than the names given them by Columbus, which were often changed by others who settled the lands much later. Based upon much later writers of the 16th century, including Ixtlilxochitl, the emigrants landing in Hagoth’s ships in the land which was northward, eventually called the land Bountiful, after the land from which they sailed. But at the time of Mormon’s writing, these lands had no name, and could be referred to by the sailors who made at least one round trip, as the land which was northward—the term Mormon used to describe their journey. Then, too, because there was no future intercourse between these 20,000 to 25,000 emigrants into that far off land and those in the Land of Promise, Mormon’s only other conclusion was that maybe they had perished and went down at sea (Alma 63:8).

(See the next post, “What the Story of Hagoth Tells Us – Part IV,” for more information in answering these questions about Hagoth and his ships and emigrants)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What the Story of Hagoth Tells Us Part II – The Land Which Was Northward

Mormon uses a completely different terminology to tell us about where the 5,400 emigrants in Hagoth’s several ships went. Mormon wrote and they “departed out of the land of Zarahemla into the land which was northward.” (Alma 63:4)

The words describing a land “which was northward” is used nowhere else in the scriptural record. In every other instance, any land to the north was referred to as “the Land Northward.” In the same writing about Hagoth’s ships, Mormon writes: “many people who went forth into the land northward” (Alma 63:9) as he did later in Helaman: “went into the Land Northward to inherit the land” (Helaman 3:3).

So why the difference in language?

First, we have to keep in mind that in Mormon’s day, settled lands had names, typically after the major city of that land, such as the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, etc.; however, unsettled lands were typically called “wilderness,” or collectively in a large area called “the Land Southward” or “the Land Northward.” Thus, around the time of Hagoth, Nephites were moving northward into the Land Northward, in large numbers, and soon filling up the Land Northward (Helaman 3:8).

However, if a large group of Nephites decided to go to a land that was not part of the Land Northward, what terminology would Mormon use? Would he say, “to a land which was beyond the Land Northward”? or “to a land across the sea?” or “to a land not connected to the Land Northward”? Certainly, he would have no name to call it, like “the Land of Smallwood” or “the land of Cezoram.” So, since this land far to the north had no name, had evidently not seen people (Nephites) or been populated before, Mormon simply used a term that described the unknown land—“to a land which was northward.”

As an example, in the Andean area, there are hundreds of valleys formed by the cross ranges of the mountains criss-crossing the main cordilleras. That is, the mountain cordilleras run north and south (three ranges forming the Andes), but frequently there are cross ranges of mountains and hills, which form valleys in between, somewhat like a stepladder. These valleys, where people would have dwelt in the Nephite era (as they exist even today) , were separate lands, and to move from one valley to another, or from one land to another, a person had to “cross over” some hill system or low-lying mountain to get there. Obviously, not all these separate lands would have been occupied in the time of the Nephites, and would have been unnamed—called wilderness by them. In the north, especially in the Land Northward, these many lands were unnamed, so when Mormon wrote about the Nephites moving into the area, he had few descriptive nouns to use regarding the land, so mostly it was simply called “the Land Northward.”

Thus, the term “land which was northward” differentiated another area from the already “in use” term “Land Northward.” This lack of terms is also seen in Mormon’s description of the Land Southward when Captain Moroni talked about the land southward as “a land of liberty, on the north and on the south” (Alma 46:17) to describe the separation of the Land Southward into the Land North (Mulek) and the Land South (Lehi), the separation between the narrow strip of wilderness between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, for “the Lord brought Mulek into the land where Mosiah found them------“ (Omni 1:16), which was Zarahemla.

Thus, somewhere to the far north, beyond the Land Northward in the Land of Promise, lay a land to which Hagoth’s ships sailed with boatloads of emigrants—5,400 men, plus their wives and children (Alma 63:4).

So where was this “land which was northward”?

To locate such a land, we need to find an area where the accomplishments of the Nephites were duplicated. After Nephi and “those who would go with him” settled a land they called “Nephi” (2 Nephi 5:8), they were taught by Nephi how to “build buildings” and “all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores” (2 Nephi 5:15). Before Nephi’s death, they built a temple, similar in design and construction to that of Solomon’s Temple (2 Nephi 5:16). Before the Nephites, the Jaredites built buildings of all types (Mosiah 8:8). Thus, in another land like that of the scriptural record Land of Promise, we should find the ruins of buildings, temples, and cities.

In fact, there are really only two such areas in the entire Western Hemisphere—that of the Andean area of South America (Ecuador, Peru and Chile), and that of Central America, (Guatemala, Mexico and the Yucatan).

Thus, the land to which Hagoth’s emigrants sailed in the ships he built would be to the area we now call Mesoamerica. This is where the Nephite and Lamanite emigrants in Hagoth’s ships sailed, where they landed, and where they built up a magnificent empire similar to that of the original Land of Promise.

(See the next post, “What the Story of Hagoth Tells Us – Part III,” to see why these emigrants “were never heard from again.”)

Monday, November 28, 2011

What the Story of Hagoth Tells Us – Part I

Speaking of Hagoth's ships and the reference to the location of its launching, Mesoamericanist F. Richard Hauck, in his book “Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon,” writes regarding the Hagoth verses in Alma 63:

“There is no indication given in this reference to the nearby existence of an isthmus or an east sea.”

First of all, as has been stated in numerous earlier posts, there is no mention of the word “isthmus” in the entire Book of Mormon record. The word “isthmus” has been associated with the narrow neck of land by scholars who propose the Mesoamerica model as a geographical location for the Book of Mormon lands, because they use the Isthmus of Tehuantepec as their narrow neck. However, Mormon uses the term “Small” or “Narrow” in describing the narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32; Alma 63:5) and the term “narrow” in describing the “pass” or “passage” that ran through it from the south to the north (Alma 52:9; Mormon 2:29;3:5)
Second, Mormon makes it clear that Hagoth's ships were launched into the West Sea at this narrow neck of land area. He writes that Hagoth “built a ship on the borders of the land Bountiful by the land Desolation and launched it forth into the west sea by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5).
Third, we understand that this narrow neck ran between the Land Southward to the Land Northward, between the Sea West and the Sea East. Mormon wrote: “by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east (Mormon 50: 34).

Fourth, the story of Hagoth teaches us certain things:

1. The shipyard was on the border between Bountiful and Desolaton;
2. The shipyard was in an area by the narrow neck of land;
3. The land northward lay beyond the narrow neck;
4. The ship was built near a seashore;
5. The ship was launched into the west sea.

We also understand from the story of Hagoth that there were a lot of people who sailed northward. Mormon wrote: “There were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took their course northward” (Alma 63:6). This tells us that:

1. The ship was not built for military or expeditionary purposes;
2. The ship was built with human cargo in mind;
3. The ship was big enough to hold a large number of people;
4. The ship was built to transport emigrants;
5. Some type of family arrangements were provided so women and children could be transported;
6. The ship contained space for equipment, supplies, and agricultural products
7. The ship set a course northward after it was launched.

In addition, several other points can be gleaned from the story of Hagoth, though contained in but a few verses. Mormon tells us that: “This man built other ships. And the first ship did also return, and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward” (Alma 63:7).

1. There was a shipbuilding industry in this area;
2. Hagoth did not accompany the first immigrant voyage north;
3. The shipyard was along the seashore, which had both launching and docking facilities;
4. The first ship reached its destination safely;
5. The voyage of the first ship lasted some time, perhaps up to a year before the first ship returned;
6. Immigration was a booming business;
7. Somewhere to the north lay the first immigrant colony;
8. The second immigrant group headed in the same general direction.

Fifth, there is one additional point Mormon makes by his use of language generally overlooked by Book of Mormon scholars and theorists. And that is of a land far to the north where these people went and were never heard from again that Mormon knew. He wrote that they “departed out of the land of Zarahemla into the land which was northward. (Alma 63:4).

As has been pointed out in earlier posts, this “land which was northward” is not the same as the Land Northward, which others went into (Alma 63:4).

(See the next post, “What the Story of Hagoth Tells Us – Part II,” to see what was meant by Mormon’s “land which was northward.”)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How Old Was Nephi When He Left Jerusalem?

Following the tradition of ancient Israel, Lehi would have been married before he turned thirty years of age. Considering him to be about 25, and having children immediately, Lehi would have been around 27 when his oldest was born. His wife, Sariah, would customarily be about ten years younger than he. According to Nephi’s record, we know of four sons born to Lehi while living at Jerusalem (1 Nephi 2:5). We also know that Jacob and Joseph were born in the wilderness (1 Nephi 18:7), and when we find them in the promised land later, Nephi casually mentions having at least two sisters (2 Nephi 5:6).

In addition, Erastus Snow has said that Ishmael's sons married into Lehi's family, and since Ishmael's two sons were already married with families (1 Nephi 7:6) before leaving Jerusalem to join the Lehi Colony, it can be assumed that these two sons had married two older daughters of Lehi not specifically mentioned in scripture. Thus, Lehi may have had at least six children at the time he left Jerusalem. Assuming he was 26 or 27 when the oldest was born, he would have been at least 36 when Nephi was born.
If Laman was born first, this could put as much as ten years in age difference between himself and Nephi. This would explain some of Laman's later antagonism toward Nephi, lack of acceptance in a younger brother's abilities, and his irritation about a younger brother trying to usurp his right of leadership and inheritance.

George Q. Cannon concluded that “Nephi was probably not more than fifteen years old” when he left Jerusalem. Other writers on this subject have suggested that Nephi was sixteen when leaving Jerusalem, seventeen when the Lord visited him, eighteen when he beheaded Laban and seized Zoram, and perhaps nineteen years old when he married.

However, these estimates are usually made based upon Nephi's own statement describing himself as “being exceeding young, nevertheless, large in stature” (1 Nephi 2:16). Yet, soon after leaving Jerusalem, we find Nephi taking command and leading his brothers back to Jerusalem, seizing and holding Zoram, a grown man (1 Nephi 4:31), and cutting off the head of Laban with a man's sword (1 Nephi 4:18). Thereafter, he had the timber of voice, and stature of character, to pose as Laban in the man’s armor, and fool Laban’s trusted servant, Zoram (1 Nephi 4:21),
And even his brothers when they first saw him (1 Nephi 4:28). Shortly there after, he had a vision of the Savior (1 Nephi 11), and not too long after that, he married one of the daughters of Ishmael (1 Nephi 16:7). These latter events do not fit into a youth of “exceeding young” age, despite his being large in stature. In fact, the word exceeding, as used elsewhere, would mean considerably, unusually, greatly, etc. When used against age, this would suggest that he was very young, maybe even ten or twelve as such a term would warrant.

However, when compared with the Jewish thinking of his day, Nephi's exceeding young age takes on another meaning. By custom, Jews were not considered old enough to preach until they were 30, when they came of age in wisdom and understanding. Jews had to be 30 and married to belong to the Sanhedrin. Customarily, men married in their mid to late twenties, typically taking a wife at least ten years their junior (Joseph was an older man when he married the young Mary; by older, he may have been as much as 30 years old and Mary as young as 15). In a land and among a people who considered men under the age of 30 to be immature and lacking in wisdom and learning, it would be understandable for a young man, even around 20, to consider himself “exceeding young” when compared to men of age and wisdom.

In addition, Nephi makes this comment thirty years after leaving Jerusalem when he is much older, perhaps about 50 to 60, and looking back over the travails of his life, considered himself “exceeding young” at the time he left Jerusalem in experience and understanding of all that he must encounter. It is not uncommon for men of achievement to look back on their younger years and consider how young and inexperienced they were.

It seems likely that Nephi was at least 20 to maybe 25 when he left Jerusalem. This would both allow him to overpower a grown man, have the self-confidence required to obey the Lord in such matters as killing a man, the self-assurance to impersonate Laban, the intellect to outwit Zoram, the character to take charge and lead his older brothers, the wisdom to convince Ishmael to join the Lehi Colony, and the maturity to marry—all within a time frame of about two years of his leaving Jerusalem. While Joseph Smith was a boy of 14 when he received his first vision, the Lord waited four years for the boy to mature enough to receive the gold plates, during which time he had constant training from the angel Moroni.

If Nephi was about 20 when leaving Jerusalem, he would have been about 28 when he forged the ore to make the tools to build a ship, about 30 when he set foot in the promised land, around 40 when he forged a new nation, ruled as king, and led the defense of his people after the schism with his brethren. Continuing on, this would have made him about 50 when he sat down to abridge the Large Plates in the promised land, and seventy-five when he turned over the responsibilities of being prophet to his younger brother, Jacob (Jacob 1:1). If he was 25 when leaving Jerusalem, he would have been about 80 when he relinquished those responsibilities to his younger brother—who would have been some 30 years his junior.

To be about 15 or younger as some claim, would have made Nephi far too young to marry in the custom of the Jews of the day. He would also have been extremely young to follow the foregoing time line with any success.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How Did Lehi Know Where to Go When Fleeing Jerusalem?

When Lehi was told by the Lord to flee into the wilderness (1 Nephi 2:2), he not only had tents, donkeys, seeds and other provisions at his immediate disposal to take with him, he also knew exactly where to go. For the first two hundred miles to the Gulf of Aqaba where he camped in a valley he named Lemuel, where a year ‘round river flowed, which he called Laban, Lehi had no instrument to tell him where to go. While he may well have been inspired of the Lord in which direction to flee, a knowledge of the route would have been essential.

How did Lehi know where to travel and where the water holes would be?

As discussed in the last post, Lehi would have had knowledge of, and intercourse with, the Arabs who traveled by caravan north and south along the king’s highway from the Arabian Sea to the Syrian markets far to the north.
These caravaners would have had an extensive knowledge of the trails, the water holes, and where oaises were located. This king’s highway, of course, was merely a route—not a specific trail. Often many miles wide, and undefined other than it being a more-or-less flat terrain, the Frankincense Trail covered over 2200 miles from what is now Oman in the southern Arabian Peninsula, then westward across the Empty Quarter, turning northward paralleling the Red Sea, one trail along the shore, another along the eastern slope of the foothills, and both converging around the Dead Sea before heading northward past Jerusalem (which was on top of a mountain) and into Syria, trading at every opportunity along the way.
After camping in a valley near the Red Sea (1 Nephi 2:6) for upwards of two years while the brass plates were obtained, read and studied, and after Ishmael’s family was retrieved and joined them, and after five weddings took place, the Liahona appeared as the colony was ready to continue their journey (1 Nephi 16:19). This compass showed them the way “in the more fertile parts of the wilderness” (1 Nephi 16:16). Before this, however, there is no mention of any aid to help Lehi find his way to that first camp along the Red Sea, approximately 200 hundred miles distant from Jerusalem, which he called the Valley of Lemuel (1 Nephi 2:14).

Thus, it can be assumed that Lehi specifically knew where he was going when he left his home, and had a working knowledge and understanding of the routes available to him down to the Red Sea (Gulf of Aqaba). And, with the likelihood that Lehi over the years would have taken his four sons down the mountain to trade or buy from the caravans, it would also explain why the boys would have had experience with the large tents of the day—something that those within the city would not have known.

It should be kept in mind that to modern man who gives little attention to traveling—he hops in a car, gases it up, and heads off along one of the many interstate freeways where food and gas stops are frequent. But in 600 B.C., one's very life depended upon knowledge of terrain, water holes, and oases. For someone living within the city of Jerusalem, such knowledge would be both unknown and unnecessary. When traveling around Israel, as some did, a distance of a little over a hundred miles from north to south, overnight stops were in caves that pockmarked the routes, and along trails or roads that were many hundreds of years old. Such travel on foot was a time-consuming process, but not dangerous. Travel along the route Lehi took was dangerous and any lack of knowledge of the route could end up in disaster.

When Lehi stopped in what he called the Valley of Lemuel, there was a year ‘round river or stream that flowed down from the hills and into the Gulf of Aqaba. There he stayed for some time while his sons retrieved the brass plates and later went back for Ishmael’s family.

Nephi describes his father going forth and returning (1 Nephi 1:5,7) and we can see how, during one of these encampments along the caravan trail where Lehi would have had not only time to rest while waiting for a caravan, but also meditate upon the matters of his soul. At such a time he could have received his future calling from the Lord. Nephi describes his father receiving his calling while away from home, then returning exhausted after the experience (1 Nephi 5:7).

While on one of these trips into the desert, encamped along a trail awaiting the caravan, Lehi might have been engaged in mighty prayer to the Lord. Here he would have had time on his hands and his concerns over the people of Jerusalem must have weighed heavily on his mind, for many prophets had been sent among them to warn the people of their evil ways (1 Nephi 1:13). Here Lehi might have had his vision of the pillar of fire and saw many things that made him "quake and tremble" (1 Nephi 1:6). After this experience, and, perhaps, after the caravan passed by and he concluded his business, “he returned to his own house at Jerusalem” where he cast himself on his bed in exhaustion from the trip and the spiritual experience (1 Nephi 5:7).

From then on he was involved in his prophetic ministry, before eventually being led to the Land of Promise.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lehi’s Possessions When He Left Jerusalem

The Lord told Lehi to flee into the desert because the Jews sought his life (1 Nephi 1:20). We know from Nephi’s record that Lehi took tents, seeds, and what was needed to live in the wilderness (1 Nephi 2:4).

The question is, where did he get these items on the spur of the moment and why did he have them?

First of all, the tents of Lehi's day were not simple pup tents or camp tents like those of our time, but large, roomy, multi-roomed tents weighing around 500 pounds and requiring three donkeys (or camels) to transport—one animal to carry the roof, one the walls, and another the partitions. These tents were laborious to make, requiring a time-consuming process of weaving the fabric out of durable goats' hair. In addition, the Israelites were not tent dwellers, and when traveling throughout the land of promise camped in caves—tents were generally found only among desert dwellers like the Arabs, especially the Bedouins.

For an Israelite, possession of such tents would have had to serve some particular and reoccurring purpose for Lehi to justify their cost and size—since storage space in his time was minimal, especially within the city walls where houses were small, multi-storied and animals often were stabled on the ground floor. Nor would he have purchased these tents, even if they were available in Jerusalem, which is doubtful, since he would have not wanted anyone to know his plans. Some time later, after reaching the Valley of Lemuel and the sons returned for the brass plates, Nephi, after overcoming Zoram and convincing him to join the colony, makes this secrecy clear. "We were desirous that he should tarry with us for this cause, that the Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us" (1 Nephi 4:36).

Obviously, this supports the fact that the provisions they took with them, including tents, animals and seeds, were not purchased in Jerusalem, but were on hand in the Lehi household. Lehi would have left Jerusalem with no one the wiser. When sending the brothers back for the plates, Lehi obviously warned Nephi not to let the Jews know of his whereabouts or destination. Despite the colony being two hundred miles from Jerusalem, separated by two kingdoms and numerous sheikdoms, Lehi still must have felt insecure for the hatred of the Jews toward those who preached of their sins was well known.

If Lehi had his home a few miles from Jerusalem, living on the “lands of his inheritance,” he would have to provide for his own food and sustenance. This would probably mean raising goats, sheep, fruits and "all manner of grains." This could have led to his supplying his abundance beyond his needs to one of the “sugs” or markets, in the old, walled city of Jerusalem, including grapes or wine, since planting vineyards and producing wine was considered part of a settled life.

Such merchandising added to his possible broker/merchant business with passing Arab caravans (trading for, or buying, merchandise along the king’s highway and taking them up to Jerusalem and brokering them with local merchants). So, if Lehi did transact business with Arab caravans who passed along the king’s highway at the base of the hills upon which Jerusalem was built and where Lehi evidently lived, he would have taken his tents and donkeys down the mountain and camped along the trail awaiting the caravans that traveled across the desert on the Frankincense Trail from near the Arabian Sea in present-day Oman where the olibanm incense was harvested. Obviously, these caravans used camels for their transportation, but camels never went into Jerusalem because the city was built on a mountain where shale deposits were found that cut into the soft underfoot pads of the camel’s feet—only donkeys went up the hill to Jerusalem.

All of this, of course, could account in part for his being a wealthy man, and as a planter, it would account for why Lehi had seeds of every kind on hand when told to flee the city (1 Nephi 16:11; 18:24), while being a broker/merchant, why he had tents for encamping along the king’s highway waiting for the passing caravans. Which would also explain why he had a pack of donkeys for both transporting tents and products up and down the mountain.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Food Supply for the Nephites and Mulekites

Many theorists have suggested that the Lehi Colony sailed through Indonesia and across the Pacific, island-hopping their way through the numerous islands of Micronesia and Melonesia, on their way to Mesoamerica. This is claimed because of what they consider to be Lehi’s need for food and water on such a long voyage.

Obviously, the European mariners of the 14th through 19th centuries had great difficulty with running out of food and supplies, especially water, on their voyages of discovery.

On the other hand, the Lehi Colony and later the Mulekites, were led across the ocean by the hand of the Lord, who thoroughly prepared them for whatever they would need. In addition, the Lord knew where Lehi was going, what waters he would be sailing, and what would take place along the way. Thus, we find, as Thor Heyerdhal did in his Kon-Tiki voyages, that food and water were plentifully supplied by nature on such a voyage.

Moving with the current along the course of the Southern Ocean as they were turned north in the Humbolt Current (see last post), “there was access to a continual supply of fish, which included flying fish, sardines, tunnies, bonitos, dolphins, shark, pilot fish, remora fish, and squid.” In fact, these drift-voyage sailors said that flying fish often landed on the deck of the ship which coasted with the current, as many as half a dozen to nearly two dozen in a single night, and dolphins and tunnies swam close alongside and were easily snared—and the dolphins were extremely delicious especially when eaten fresh the first or second day after the catch.”

Even shark which swam close alongside were simple to catch with hand-harpoons or hooks and were good tasting when sliced and soaked overnight in sea-water. Bonito and dolphin occasionally came onto the deck and floundered as the water receded, and were, with the flying fish excellent bait for catching dolphin and tunny.

In addition to fish, seaweed and barnacles immediately attached themselves to the wet boards and, grew quickly to edible size all over the bottom as plankton and pelagic crabs and tiny fish found refuge in the seaweed. In eating such caught fish, the ancient Peruvians soaked it in fruit-juice, and early Peruvian boats were seen by the Spanish conquerors to have cooking places of flat stones over the wood deck covered with wet earth or clay, or plaited baskets filled with dry earth.

In addition, Heyerdahl found that rainwater could be collected at sea from a sail spread out on deck or from other means, and large jars or animal bladders can be filled and stored. He also found that a person could chew thirst-quenching moisture from raw fish, or press it out of pieces twisted inside a cloth. The British Royal Air Force recommends that 20% to 40% sea water be added to regular water intake on hot days where natural body salts are lost, and Samoans claim that certain leaves and herbs will allow a person under certain conditions to drink sea water with impunity. In Peru leaves of the coca tree are chewed with wood ashes or lime and used by Indian travelers and sportsmen to remove the sense of thirst and hunger.

Gourd or other containers could be carried beneath the deck and alongside awash within the current to keep the water fresh and cool and away from the heat which so quickly turns water brackish and nearly undrinkable. In addition, a person's water requirements can be diminished by keeping the body frequently under water.

Whatever the knowledge the Lord imparted to the Nephites and Mulekites, it could have been advanced from even these simple methods of extending ocean voyages without suffering from lack of supplies, food or water.

Lastly, in the case of the Nephites and Mulekites, the swiftness of the currents and winds in the Southern Ocean are so great, that modern sailboat enthusiasts have found it a quick path traveling east beyond Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Several races have used this path, and though modern small sailing vessels have been quite successful sailing these waters, before such knowledge of construction was available, it would have taken a very strong and sturdy ship to withstand the constant pounding of surf and winds.

When Nephi said he did not build his ship after the manner of men (1 Nephi 18:2), it becomes understandable in light of the path he had to sail. Ships of his day, and for many centuries afterward, were merely flimsy coastal vessels. To reach the Western Hemisphere, Nephi needed to build a very different ship than what was known in 600 B.C.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Same Course for Jaradites, Nephites and Mulekites

The Infamous Southern Ocean. As has been stated in many earlier posts, when leaving the southern Arabian Peninsula, and sailing into the ocean Lehi named Irreantum (the Arabian Sea), the currents and winds move southward into the Indian Ocean, not eastward toward India and Indonesia. Once past the storm center of the trade winds that move in a narrow gyre between Australia and Madagascar, the currents and winds bend eastward, moving a sailing ship “driven forth before the winds,” toward and into the Southern Ocean.

In this ocean, the West Wind Drift currents (the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties and Screaming Sixties) are pushed along at unprecedented high speeds by the winds of the Prevailing Westerlies, a wind and current circulation that moves swiftly and completely around the globe from the west toward the east.

Now when this wind and the currents approach the continental shelf of South America, the northern edges are pushed northward by two thing: 1) the continental shelf itself, and 2) by the north-moving underwater currents that become the Holbolt or Peruvian Current as they continue along the west coast of South America.

The Important Humboldt Current. As the ice cold waters of the Antarctic rise toward the surface, they are pushed northward by the warmer waters of the Southern Ocean. As they move along the coast, the warmer waters push them downward and inward toward the coast. This process, known as Ekman transport, causes a constant flow toward the coast all along Chile and Peru to the upwelling and outflow of the current and along the Peruvian bulge that eventually drives the Humboldt Current either into the coast or pushes it out into the northern branch of the South Equatorial Current as it heads westward back across the Pacific in the southern counter-clockwise gyre.

This Humboldt or Peru Current has its beginning from a welling up in the Antarctic area and moving northward along the west coast of South America. Also called the Peruvian Current, it is the north-moving extension of the West Wind Drift, which is blown clockwise around the globe and was occasionally suggested by anthropologists as being an inviting highway for eastbound migrations across the Pacific. This circumnavigational current is part of the well-known gigantic circulation of surface water in the Southeast Pacific and is a cold ocean current drifting east towards Tierra del Fuego and southern Chile, where part of the water passes south of the Americas and into the extreme South Atlantic Ocean while the other part, blocked by the projecting tip of the South American mainland, is forced in a big circular movement up along the Chilean coast, and brings an extravaganza of fish from the south northward and to the surface, making these waters some of the finest commercial fishing on the planet.

Because of the continual turnover of cold water warming and warm water driving the cold downward and then back up, the flux of movement toward the coast is continually circling, constantly bringing fish up to the surface as it slows along its ocean-side and moves up the coast because of an increasing set towards the west of an upwelling off both Chile and Peru

Thus, there are two points a surface sailing ship would normally be driven to shore along this coast. The first, is along the 30º south latitude, the Tropic of Cancer, where present day Coquimbo provides a protected bay and harbor for a sailing ship, and where winds and currents die down to calm water, and landfall would be a natural inward (toward land) movement. The other is where the Peruvian bulge begins to affect the northward flow and drive it outward. At this point, around present day Lima, Peru, the Humboldt is driven inland in its last circular movement before being dragged outward and into the outflow of the Equatorial Current. A sailing ship at this point, “driven forth before the wind,” could easily make landfall along the inviting beaches.

These are the two landing sites of the Book of Mormon peoples known as the Nephites (Bay of Coquimbo) and the Mulekites (along the coast just south of Lima, Peru).

There is another landing site to consider, since it is possible to reach the northern Ecuadorian coast along this current between May and November when it forces its way far up the coast before it is driven west by the Nino Current. However, most of the currents strike the finger of land just beyond the Bay of Guayaquil, in what today is Santa Elena Point in Ecuador, which juts out into the Pacific, the furthest western point of South America, and where the underwater currents caused by the coastal waters is completely blocked toward shore.

Barges that moved on the surface with currents driven by the winds, and that were so constructed they were at times submersible, moving with underwater currents, would have ended up here—like flotsam moving along the surface and beneath with the coastal currents that eventually brings it upon the shore.

Any weather-driven sailing craft, “driven forth before the wind,” not effecting a landing along the coast from Coquimbo to Lima, would be trapped and pulled back out to sea by the extension of land in a great sweep due west and into the South Equatorial Current and end up in Indonesia, sailing westward into the islands or south toward Australia.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

No Written Record in Egypt

Many Mesoamerican theorists claim that because no written record of any kind was ever been found in Ecuador, Peru, or Chile before the time of the Spanish conquistadores, that the people who lived there anciently were illiterate, and obviously could not have been the Nephites.

It is an interesting theory, and sounds reasonable with no other information involved; however, if we take that at face value, then we must also say that the Israelites were never in Egypt, the story of Moses (which he wrote) is totally inaccurate, and that the Exodus never took place.

This is because, despite Moses saying the Israelites were in Egypt for over 400 years, there is conspicuously no Egyptian records or legends speaking of the Israelites in Egypt that have ever been found despite the extensive research, digging and interpreting that has taken place there! Therefore, according to the reasoning of Mesoamerican theorists, the Israelites never went to Egypt, the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors is all fiction, and the twelve tribes of Israel must, in part, be a fairytale.

While some archaeologists leave open the possibility of a Semitic tribe coming from Egyptian servitude among the early hilltop settlers and that Moses or a Moses-like figure may have existed in Transjordan ca 1250-1200, they dismiss the possibility that the Exodus could have happened as described in the Bible

In the past century of research by archaeologists and Egyptologists, there has been found no evidence which can be directly related to the Exodus narrative of an Egyptian captivity, no record of two million Hebrew slaves, no record of their escape and travels through the wilderness, no record of any Pharoah or his army being suddenly lost, no record of any plagues, and no Egyptian records that lends itself to any kind of support of this period involving Israelites or Moses’ category of events at all.

Evidently, using the Mesoamerican logic, we can never again tell the story of Moses in Egypt, the Exodus, or that of Joseph and his many trials and accomplishments as the Prime Minister of Egypt. Nor, even can we account for Joseph’s sons (Ephraim and Manasseh) born in Egypt, through which so many blessings are promised.

The question is, does this sound reasonable or logical? After all, Moses tells us in two different areas of writings that all these events did take place. But they cannot be verified by secular records.

The same is true of the Nephites. We know they existed and we know they had records and could write in at least two languages. Yet no secular record of their writing has ever been found in the one location in the Western Hemisphere that matches EVERY geographical description in the scriptural record.

So what do we do with such type of reasoning? Do we follow the scriptural record, or do we go after secular historical information?

Certainly, the Mesoamerican theorists follow secular history by constantly referring to the writings of Bernardino de Sahagún (16th century); Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl (16th century); Juan de Torquemada (16th century); the “Popol Vuh” a text corpus of mythistorical narratives of the Post Classic Quiche kingdom in Guatemala’s western highlands (16th century, oldest copy 1701); the Chilam Balam, nine manuscripts named after small Yucatec towns such as Chumayel, Mani, and Tizimin, and mostly consist of disparate texts in which Mayan and Spanish traditions have coalesced (18th and 19th centuries); The Annals of the Cakchiquels, a Maya history, and the Annals of Xahila, history written in the Maya tongue (both 17th century).

While there is nothing wrong with including such manuscripts for support information, the Mesoaemrican theorist relies more on these secular histories than the scriptural record according to their various writings. Thus it is no wonder they reject the area of Educador, Peru and Chile, since there are no ancient histories that have survived the area and can be used to prove a model.

The point is, despite there being no written records surviving in the Andean area of ancient peoples, Mormon and Book of Mormon prophets have described time and again the nature of their enemy, the Lamanites, and how they would destroy every record they found. The fact that no such records were found prior to the coming of the Spanish seems a mute testimony of the accuracy of Mormon’s comment: “having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them)” (Mormon 6:6).

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Stature of the Jaredites – Part IV

Continuing from the last two posts in discussing the legends and myths of giants in the land in the area of Ecuador in Andean South America:

The objects of antiquity found on the coast of Ecuador, especially the remarkably sculptured stone seats of giants and other matters, attest to the advanced skill of some unknown people long before recorded history. Today, there is no knowledge obtainable of the earliest settlement of the Ecuadorian coast. According to Velasco, the native historian of Ecuador, writing in 1789, the first people of whom definite facts are known were the Caras, who were an immigrating or invading people, who came by sea on larger craft in a not very remote epoch, possibly during the 6th or 7th century A.D. They were superior in intelligence and culture to the natives, conquering all, and rapidly covered the territory of the barbarians of the district. The history of the Caras is however wrapped in speculation and obscurity, and their migration uncertain. We do know of the Manta Indians, an indigenous tribe of Indians with a knowledge of very remote times in Ecuador.

It is known that the territory of this land the giants occupied and later civilizations covered, ranged as far north as Colombia and as far south as Puruha near Moche, Ecuador. Later, the kings of Quito bearing the general title of Caran-Shiri (the distinguishing names of the first ten or eleven chiefs having been lost) extended their territory over this very considerable area.

In addition, we need to keep in mind that almost all societies have some types of legends and myths dating back into antiquity to which they place some to great value upon. In modern times we tend to treat such legends and myths as little more than fables of people and events that never existed or happened. Aesop, a Greek slave of the fifty-century B.C., wrote stories everyone knew were not true in order to make a moral point; on the other hand, the stories of the Brothers Grimm, such as Cinderella, are obviously make believe, yet the Legend of King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Lancelot may or may not be true—no one knows; however, all know that these people are placed in a real time amidst real history.
All may be called legends, or myths, or even fables, depending on who is telling the tale. In addition, folklore and literary invention also play a part in legends and myths, and may well have been taken from some obscure event(s) and handed down over the generations or centuries. Atheists and many scientists consider Bible creation a series of myths interwoven into a fanciful belief about how man came to be. On the other hand, evolutionists believe in the myth that a spontaneous generation of life happened strictly by chance.

The fact is, though, that legends and myths often have a beginning in reality, such as the Arthurian belief stemming from a genuine historical figure, a Romano-British leader who fought against the invading Anglo-Saxons sometime in the late 5th to early 6th century, who battled at Mount Badon, and was later killed in the battle of Camlann. Some legends are about people who lived on the borderline of history and mythology, or were half-forgotten Celtic or Teutonic dieties, or normal people romanticized into bigger-than-life characters of a bygone age. One thing is certain, however, that any legend or myth becomes larger, greater, and more mystical with the retelling over the ages. In this sense, a natural disaster becomes the vengeance of a god, a good swordsman becomes a royal defender of his country, and taller than normal people become giants—there have always been taller people in any age and among any people.

Goliath was reported as being over eight feet tall, Guiness reports eight men in the 20th century over eight feet, with the tallest at a whopping 8’11”, and 14 men between 7’6” and 8’. With 13 athletes over 7’ tall, and three others at 6’ 11”. Since the average American is 5’9”, most people would tend to call these people giants.

But what of people whose history is not specifically recorded as is modern man’s, who lived in the shadows of antiquity, but whose reputations and stories survived by the telling and retelling around campfires and village meetings. Of these, with each retelling of the stories grew larger, as did that of the giants who grew taller. An interesting comment made in the The Evening and Morning Star, regarding the Jaredites is that “they were a very large race of men; whenever we hear that uncommonly large bones have been dug up from the earth, we may conclude that was the skeleton of a Jaredite” (“The Book of Ether,” Evening and Morning Star, August 1832, p 22).

In anqituity, the Phoenicians were not physically large, at least not according to any ancient accounts; Polybius said they were smaller than Romans, and Romans were described as small compared to Gauls and the even larger Germans. There were Philistine giants (such as Goliath), and giants are described as living in Canaan when the Israelites arrived there; however, Canaanites, Phoenicians and Punic are all directly related and called themselves "ki-na-ani" whether they lived in Gades (Spain) or Carthage or Sidon or Tyre. However, Claudius Aelianus (Aelian) also wrote of giants in the land, and fables and stories of giants have survived for thousands of years.

Were there giants in Ecuador around 2000 B.C.? The legends handed down through various indigenous tribes of that area suggest there were. And since this is the Jaredite area of the Land Northward in the Andean area, it seems quite likely.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Stature of the Jaredites – Part III

Continuing from the last two posts in discussing the legends and myths of giants in the land in the area of Ecuador in Andean South America:

According to the 16th-century writings of Pedro de Cieza de Leon, the ancient Mantamanian Indians, also called Manta Indians, one of the three indigenous tribes along the coastal area of Ecuador, north of the Bay of Guayaquil, were said to have Egyptian characteristics, and they called the area where the “giants” landed “Jocay,” meaning "golden doors," as it has always been a port and center for trade since the first men appeared. The Manta Indians claimed they received from their ancestors of very remote times, the following legend:

“Ages ago, at Point Santa Elena, a barren peninsula on the north side of the Bay of Guayaquil, Ecuador, there arrived on the coast giants “of such size” that an ordinary man was only as tall as their kneecaps. They had long hair and eyes as large as small plates, and they were covered in skins. This colony of giants put great pressure on the region’s resources, consuming “more meat than fifty of the natives of the country could.” All the giants were destroyed at one time by God, with only bones, skulls, and teeth remaining.”

Pedro de Cieza de Leon concluded his report by saying, “We may gather, that since so many persons saw and affirmed these things, these giants really did exist.” Cieza had set off at the age of fourteen for adventures in the New World. His Chronicle of Peru, dated 1553, recounts his travels in the Andes from 1532 to 1550. He conversed sympathetically with the indigenous people and described the natural history of the land, as well as customs and beliefs. He encountered the Manta Indians of Ecuador and received from their ancestors from very remote times several legends about giants

In 1543, the deputy governor of Truxillo, Juan de Olmos, and some men reportedly dug up huge skeletons, including skulls, ribs, and other bones of giants, matching the legends of Ecuador, and “from that time forward the native tradition of giants was believed.” In 1570, Arica Indian legends about gigantic bones unearthed at Manta and Puerto Viejo—about 100 miles north of Santa Elena—were recorded by Father Jose de Acosta, who said that the Indians made “great mention of certain giants” of huge dimensions. And that “they came by sea to make war, and for their abominable sins, they were consumed by fire from heaven.”

These legends mention that giants destroyed the game of the area, perhaps referring to Jaredite times when most of the animals in the Land Northward were killed off by the fiery serpents, with others escaping into the Land Southward (Ether 9:31-32; 10:19). There are traditions of a race of giants of Tarija on the eastern slopes of the Andes and in Ecuador, who fought Gods and men, and traditions of giants who arrived on boats were recorded on ancient quipos, the knotted cord mnemonic system of the Inca. There are legends of giants among the Carta Indians of Ecuador, and there are Aztec legends in Mexico and Inca legends of Peru about giants called Quinames (or Quinameti or Quinametinime) meaning monstrous or deformed giants legends and considered to be relict survivors of the great flood and earthquakes that destroyed the past worlds.

There are legends of giants recorded by Jesuits as far north as Baja California, and as far south as Chile, with bones of giants found in caves during the construction of a railroad line in Ecuador. Pizarro himself was supposed to have seen stone statues eight feet high with mitres and other insignia, representing the giants. Spaniards of the Conquest saw two massive sculptured figures of these giants, a male and female, and that the Indians preserved from father to son many particulars of the giants, especially concerning their end, which they claimed had been annihilated by Divine wrath, who drove the giants into a valley and killed them with flames of fire, with great ruins attributed to the giants.

(See the next post, “The Stature of the Jaredites – Part IV,” for the continuation of this subject about the Jaredites and where they landed based on legends and myths of giants in the land)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Stature of the Jaredites – Part II

Continuing from the last post in discussing the legends and myths of giants in the land:

Now, when these “large and mighty men of great strength” landed in the Land Northward, they would have left an impression on the land, that generations later, would have been immortalized by peoples who would come later because of their great size and strength. Their bones were scattered all over the land (Ether 11:6; Mosiah 8:8), the ruins of their buildings of all types remained for some time (Mosiah 8:8).

So do we find anywhere that “giants” or men of great size, left such an impression in legends and myths that were handed down by later native peoples?
Interestingly enough, there is such a legend of some antiquity in the area of present day Ecuador, which would be the Land Northward of the Andean area. The knowledge of this ancient Ecuadorian history is relatively unknown except for legends and myths handed down through generations and ultimately recorded by the Spanish invaders beginning in the 16th century A.D. Diego de Almagro, also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo (The Elder), was a Spanish conquistador and a companion and later rival of Francisco Pizarro.
He participated in the Spanish conquest of Peru and is credited as the first European discoverer of Chile. He later recorded histories and events of the Andean past and, among other numerous writers, interviewed hundreds of different Indian groups, each found that all seemed to have an interesting legend about the area of Ecuador just north of the Bay of Guayaquil (the narrow neck of land).

This area is the Point of Santa Elena along the tip of a barren peninsula that juts out into the Pacific just north of the Bay and is the furthest western-most point along the entire coast of South America.
This area has very old legends that claim a race of giants came ashore before man lived in this north country that has white beaches and warm water, and plenty of marine life to sustain large numbers of people. The legends claim the “giants” settled there in the third-millenium B.C. The north side of this point slopes eastward and northward forming the Bay of Manta where the Jaredites barges could have drifted ashore. Certainly, this point would have been the last possible area any undersea current (Humboldt Current) would have brought submersible barges ashore—behond here, all Pacific currents sweep on out to sea, westward, forming the northern branch of the South Equatorial Current gyre that heads for Indonesia before seeping south along the east coast of Australia, and picks up the Southern Current coming back westward.

The traditions of “giants” were universal among the Indians at the time of the Spanish conquest, and in one form or another, were recorded by all historian writers of the time. According to their findings, “giants” landed on the Ecuadorian coast in Santa Elena Point, disembarking from large boats, and that men of great stature inhabited the land at this point.

These legends, the Spanish believed, were likely the stories that had their origin in the far distant past, from the advent of some warlike people who arrived in craft of some nature and overran the land. These “giants” were evidently superior in intelligence and culture to the later natives, bellicose and conquering, and they rapidly covered the territory of the barbarians of the district, and, according to Velasco, the native historian of Ecuador, their history was wrapped in speculation and obscurity, and their migration uncertain. Yet, all Indian tribes of Ecuador had such an ancient legend of such “giants” landing and spreading across the land.

The ancient Greeks had legends regarding a great flood, referring to it as the Great or Heliacal Year of the Cataclysm or Great Deluge, in which they claimed that giants escaped the deluge and founded ancient Babylon, building the sky-towers of ancient Babylon, that is, the Tower of Babel.

(See the next post, “The Stature of the Jaredites – Part III,” for the continuation of this subject about the Jaredites and where they landed based on legends and myths of giants in the land)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Stature of the Jaredites – Part I

In describing the Jaredites, Ether on three separate occasions, described them as having impressive size and strength.

• “And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man” (Ether 1:34)

• “And Lib was a man of great stature” (Ether 14:10)

• “And they were large and mighty men as to the strength of men” (Ether 15:26)

While we do not know against whom Ether was judging the height and strength of his people, for some reason he saw fit to tell us that the Jaredites were large and mighty men with great strength, and it might well be that directly after the Flood (as well as before) mankind was larger and stronger than later people, such as the Nephites and Lamanites. Or, that the Jaredites, themselves, were larger than the normal men of Mesopotamia.

Just prior to the time of Noah, Moses wrote: “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown” (Genesis 6:4). He then followed up that statement with: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them” (Genesis 6:5-7). Then Moses added, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8).

Whether this means that Noah and his sons were linked with the large and mighty men, and large in stature themselves, is not known, but if they were, then carrying over the seeds of this size beyond the Flood would have happened, and makes sense out of: “giants in the earth in those days; and also after that.”

The point is, however, that mighty men of great stature generally leave behind them some legends and myths about their unusual size. Usually, with almost all myths and legends, they would have grown in size and stature to even greater proportions over time—the longer the period, the greater the size and dimensions of the tales told. Even Moses wrote about giants upon seeing the entire human race in his vision before writing Genesis.

According to James R. Clark, professor emeritus of ancient scripture at BYU, in a 1976 Ensign article, called Moses’ writing of Genesis (and in the Pearl of Great Price) “The Vision of Moses.” So, if Moses’ vision and Ether’s writings, are correct in the size of some men, and the Jaredites, then we ought to find some record of “giants” in regard to an area of Nephi’s Land of Promise—at least in the Land Northward, where the Jaredites landed, and in times of great antiquity.

It should also be remembered that these Jaredites were only two or three generations removed from the Great Flood, and were direct offspring (grandsons or great-grandsons) of Noah through Shem. This is borne out in the understanding that Noah’s son, Ham (Genesis 10:1), fathered Cush (Genesis 10:6), who fathered Nimrod (Genesis 10:8), who is described as being a “mighty hunter” (Genesis 10:9)built the great tower (Genesis 10:10). As a side note, the word “mighty” is “gabar” in Hebrew, whose basic meaning is “to be strong.”

In addition, the Jaredites were outdoorsmen who labored with brute strength to build and carve out an existence in an untamed and inhospitable land along the Euphrates River which is an area that is extremely hot in the summer months, reaching 120ºF, and below freezing in the winter months. In addition, two types of wind phenomena occur in the summer months: 1) From April to June, and from September through November, the southern and southeasterly “sharqi” is a dry, dusty wind with occasional gusts to fifty miles an hour; and 2) the “shamal,” is a steady wind from the north and northwest, prevails from mid-June to mid-September, with very dry air that causes intensive sun heating of the land surface, with dust storms that may rise to height of several thousand feet. This was the generation of men that built Nimrod’s Great Tower, and though Jared, his brother and friends would not have been involved in that labor, they were men of great strength and resolve as the time required.

(See the next post, “The Stature of the Jaredites – Part II,” for the continuation of this subject about the Jaredites and where they landed based on legends and myths of giants in the land)

Monday, November 14, 2011

“The Time of the Jaredites Part III

Continuing from the last post, the Prophet Joseph Smith used the dates given by Moses as a basis for one of his lectures in the second lesson of Lectures on Faith in his School of the Prophets. These dates are the same as the dates used by Moses to describe the birth of each prophet and that of his son in the patriarchal order.

Thus, after reading Genesis, Moses, Abraham and the Second Lecture delivered by Joseph Smith, we should be able to provide a realistic and accurate date for the beginning time of the Jaredites. Obviously, with such records at our disposal, we do not need to look for historical data as scholars are wont to do—we need only understand the dates as God has had them set down for our use. The one assumption made is the time of Adam’s “birth,” that is, when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden and his age began in earthly terms, which most scholars set at about 4000 B.C.

• Adam 130 when Seth was born, year 3870 B.C. (Genesis 5:3/Moses 6:10)

• Seth 105 when Enos was born, year 3765 B.C. (Genesis 5:6/Moses 6:13)

• Enos 90 when Cainan was born, year 3675 B.C. (Genesis 5:9/Moses 6:17)

• Cainan 70 when Mahalaleel was born, year 3605 B.C. (Genesis 5:12/Moses 6:19)

• Mahalaleel 65 when Jared was born, year 3540 B.C. (Genesis 5:15/Moses 6:20)

• Jared 162 when Enoch was born, year 3378 B.C. (Genesis 5:18/Moses 6:21)

• Enoch 65 when Methuselah was born, year 3313 B.C. (Genesis 5:21/Moses 6:25)

• Methuselah 187 when Lamech was born, year 3126 B.C. (Genesis 5:25/Moses 8:8)

• Lamech 182 when Noah was born, year 2944 B.C. (Genesis 5:28-29/Moses 8:12)

• Noah 450 when Japheth was born, year 2494 B.C. (Moses 8:12)

• Noah 492 when Shem was born, year 2452 B.C. (Moses 8:12)

• Noah 500 when Ham was born, year 2444 B.C. (Genesis 5:32/Moses 8:12), and also when the Ark was started (Genesis 6:14)

• Noah 600 when the Flood came, year 2344 B.C. (Genesis 7:6)

Thus, in the year 2344 B.C., 1656 years after Adam left the Garden of Eden, the floods began according to this biblical chronology, supported by both Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, and in Joseph Smith’s School of the Prophets. Eventually, the floodwaters ceased to rise and then slowly receded until one year and three days after they began, “the face of the ground was dry,” and in 2343 (Genesis 8:14), the earth was dry once again.

Thus we can conclude that in the year 2343 B.C., Noah left the Ark (Genesis 8:18). Now the Tower of Babel was built sometime after this (Genesis 11:4), for Noah’s son Ham had Cush, and Cush had Nimrod (Genesis 10:6-8), and Nimrod built Babel (Genesis 10:10) and a great tower (Genesis 11:4). This means that the tower was built within two generations of Noah after the Flood, or somewhere between 50 and 100 years, making the latest date 2243 B.C. Sometime in the next few years, God confounded the language of those at Babel and scattered them abroad (Genesis 11:7-9). This was the period Jared and his brother left the area of the tower: “Which Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others and their families, from the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people” (Ether 1:33).

So how is it that Sorenson can write: “Latter-day Saints have accepted a date of around 2200 B.C. for the tower event, actually there is no adequate basis in the Bible for such a date”? Is this not being disingenuous? And why would Hunter and Ferguson claim “3513 B.C. for the Flood”? Is this not denying the scriptural record?

The choice each person has is whether to accept the scriptural record, or to use sectarian history with all its errors and man-included information. To anyone looking for the truth, the answer seems quite simple—though it obviously is not to these Mesoamerican theorists.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Time of the Jaredites – Part II

Continuing from the last post, the Prophet Joseph Smith used the dates given by Moses as a basis for one of his lectures. These lessons, popularly known as the Lectures on Faith were originally delivered to a class of the elders in Kirtland, Ohio, in the winter of 1834-35. They consisted of seven theological and doctrinal treatises prepared chiefly by the Prophet Joseph Smith and were written so as to give instruction about faith needed to enable one to obtain the fullness of salvation. The lectures are logically and systematically arranged and scripturally based. Their purpose, as stated in the first lecture, is "designed to unfold to the understanding the doctrine of Jesus Christ" (1:1).

These lectures were then published in the forepart of the Doctrine and Covenants in all editions from 1835 until 1921, at which time they were removed because they are not specific revelations to the Church and were never sustained as such. However, they are profitable for doctrine, for learning, and for instruction.

In the second lesson, referred to as Lesson Second, of this series, delivered by Joseph Smith, dealt with the history of the creation down through the patriarchs to Abraham, at which point the Prophet then enumerated the ages of the ancient Patriarchs, beginning with Adam (2:37) and continuing on down to Noah, in which he said in part,

“So that Noah was 84 years old when Enos died, 176 when Cainan died, 234 when Mahalaleel died, 366 when Jared died, 595 when Lamech died, and 600 when Methuselah died” (2:42), and continuing (2:45), said, “Having traced the chronology of the world from Adam to Noah, we will now trace it from Noah to Abraham. Noah was 502 years old when Shem was born; 98 years afterwards the flood came, being the 600th year of Noah's age. And Moses informs us that Noah lived after the flood 350 years, making him 951 years old when he died” and then Joseph traced the post-flood period up to Peleg, and then down to Abraham (2:52).

The interesting part of this is that after completing this lecture, Joseph Smith then proceeded to test the leaders in attendance on what he has just taught, twice questioning them on the dates of each patriarch given. Obviously, Joseph thought this information important enough not only to make it the basis of his second lecture in the School of the Prophets, but also in a question and answer period following to make sure the elders understood and knew these patriarchs and dates.

Since the lectures have not been included in the Doctrine and Covenants for several years, many members of the Church have not known of their value and hence have not studied their content nor appreciated their doctrinal importance. President Joseph Fielding Smith lamented this condition when he said: "I suppose that the rising generation knows little about the Lectures on Faith…In my own judgment, these Lectures are of great value and should be studied…I consider them to be of extreme value in the study of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Elder Bruce R. McConkie appraised the lectures as "some of the best lesson material ever prepared…and they can be studied with great profit by all gospel scholars." In a discourse at Brigham Young University, McConkie quoted certain portions of the lectures that dealt with the Deity and praised them as follows: "In my judgment, it is the most comprehensive, intelligent, inspired utterance that now exists in the English language…and is written by the power of the Holy Ghost, by the spirit of inspiration. It is, in effect, eternal scripture; it is true…We need to study and ponder and analyze the expressions that are made."

(See the next post, “The Time of the Jaredites Part III to see how all this fits into knowing the time frame of the Jaredites)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Time of the Jaredites – Part I

Many Book of Mormon scholars and Mesoamerican Theorists, when describing the time frame of the Jaredite people, typically ignore the scriptural chronology in favor of historical data, which has been handed down through various means over the centuries. While the same might be said of the Bible, in the case of the Jaredites, we also have in the Pearl of Great Price, a second and supportive writing in the Book of Moses concerning the time frame of the Great Tower.

1. John L. Sorenson states in his book, “The beginning date for the Jaredites depends upon historical data from the Old World.”

Historical data from the old world is mostly fragmented inscriptions on broken tablets and walls or monoliths. Sometimes the inscription is in one piece, but mostly they are fragments, often with much key information missing, causing the archaeologist to “fill in the blanks.” The actual oldest non-Egyptian writing was of the Minoan Protopalatial period (1900-1800 B.C.) and are still undeciphered; however, the oldest historical records go back less than 6000 years, and are about the Biblical patriarchs. There are undeciphered scripts claimed to be within this range: Vica, 6000 to 4500 B.C.; Harappa, 3500 to 2000 B.C.; Proto-Elamite, 2900 B.C.; Old Elamite, 2250 to 2220 B.C (partially deciphered); Linear A, 1800 to 1450 B.C., Phaistos Disk, 17th century B.C., and Rongo Rongo (undeciphered). Many others fall into the A.D. period, with the Voynich Manuscript, and Rohonic Codex.

In addition, many ancient scripts are claimed to have been deciphered, but “Some researchers have made claims of being able to decipher certain writing systems, such as those of Epi-Olmec, Phaistos and Indus texts; but to date, these claims have not been widely accepted within the scientific community, or confirmed by independent researchers.”

Compare these problems of deciphering and determination with the translation of the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, which lists the ages of the Earth in specific terms and dates that can be easily understood.

2. Sorenson also adds: “Fundamentalist Christians and some Latter-day Saints have accepted a date of around 2200 B.C. for the tower event, actually there is no adequate basis in the Bible for such a date.”

There is a definite reason that “Fundamentalist Christians and some Latter-day Saints” have accepted the date of 2200 B.C. See the dates Moses wrote and Joseph Smith used as listed below.

3. Hunter and Ferguson use the dates of a 16th-century native Mesoamerican historian, Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl for the dates, claiming 5229 B.C. for the Creation date, 3513 B.C. for the Flood, 3097 B.C. for the departure date from the tower, and 2993 B.C. for the arrival (of the Jaredites), concluding with the comment, “Thus, we may have help from the New World historian, Ixtlilxochitl, in arriving at the true date for the Tower of Babel.”

It is always interesting when men of letters consider that they know more than the revealed word, and that historical information is more accurate than biblical information. First of all, the time of the Flood is recorded factually in three places by two separate authors, and that is in Genesis, Moses and Abraham; the chronology of the patriarchs is clearly defined, with birth year, age, and years lived. In fact, no better chronology can be found anywhere. And as if Genesis and Moses are not enough, we have a third witness to these dates delivered by Joseph Smith in the School of the Prophets.

(See the next post,” The Time of the Jaredites – Part II,” for how the prophet Joseph Smith listed these dates in his School of the Prophets)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The 43-Man Expedition and Their Travel

In trying to limit the distance in the Land of Promise, in John L. Sorenson’s book, he writes that Limhi’s 43-man expedition to find the city of Zarahemla would not have gone very far into the Land Northward. He claims:

1. “At such a distance from home they would have thought of turning back. Surely diligent men such as the king would have sent on this mission would not have pressed on much farther.”

Actually, to understand this, we need to understand the mission of these men. King Limhi told Ammon, “Being grieved for the afflictions of my people, I caused that forty and three of my people should take a journey into the wilderness, that thereby they might find the land of Zarahemla, that we might appeal unto our brethren to deliver us out of bondage” (Mosiah 8:7).

Obviously, these would have been men of principle who were given an extremely important task. Limhi would have charged his men to find Zarahemla at all costs and bring back a rescue party so they could escape from bondage under the Lamanites. It is unlikely they would have given up when the entire future of their people was at stake--they would have wandered in the pursuit of finding Zarahemla until they found it.

Sorenson claims, that after wandering in the wilderness for some time, these men would not have continued on much longer and would, in fact, have given up and turned back rather than keep going in what might have seemed like a fruitless quest. However, Sorenson evidently does not understand the situation or the caliber of men involved, nor the urgency and importance of the assignment.

Men charged with such an assignment are not likely to give up and return as failures in such an important mission. In fact, diligent men sent on a rescue mission would have persevered to find Zarahemla no matter the cost in time and effort—their entire people were under severe domination by the Lamanites and they were in bondage, and it was ups to them to find Zarahemla and affect a rescue—to have not continued on until they found Zarahemla and succor their people in the city of Nephi would have been unconscionable.

In fact, they did just that—they continued on until they found the Jaredite ruins and believed they had found Zarahemla—and only then did they turn back.

In addition, the expedition’s return trip would have been some distance, though not as far and as long as in the going for they were wandering and obviously covered a great deal of territory unnecessarily. To men of that day, time was not such a issue as it is today, and travel by foot was all that was known. It would not have been such an issue to them to keep going as it would be to a people of today. Still, they had traveled so long and so far initially, that the return trip must not have seemed that far to them.

2. “So it is unreasonable that the battleground of the Jaredites where Limhi's explorers ended up would have been more than 100 miles into the land northward from the "line" at the neck.”

Again, trying to limit the size of the Land Northward to match his Mesoamerican model, Sorenson claims that Limhi’s 43-man expedition would not have traveled more than 100 miles into the Land Northward. Even if they had known where they were and what land they had entered, and that they had passed through a narrow neck of land, it still would have been unconscionable for them to give up and return empty-handed when their king and their people counted on these men to save them.

3. “The hill Ramah, where the Jaredites destroyed themselves, was the same hill as Nephite Cumorah (Ether 15:11). This whole affair tells us, then, that the total distance from the city of Nephi to the last battlefield at Ramah or Cumorah is unlikely to have been more than 450, or perhaps 500, miles.”

By comparison of distances, the Mormon Battalion walked 1,850 miles from the Little Pony River in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to the Mission in San Diego, California, with part of this journey through the dreaded Imperial Desert in Mexico between the Colorado River and where Mexicali is today. The journey took 6 months. Later, most made preparations for joining the pioneers in the Great Basin. They pushed north and picked up the Old California Trail east of San Francisco. Some decided to winter at Sutter’s Fort and were present when gold was discovered in January 1848. Those who had gone on arrived in Salt Lake Valley 16 October 1847, a trip of 505 miles to San Francisco, and another 647 miles to Salt Lake City. In a period of 18 months, these men walked a total of 3,000 miles.

There simply is no reason to limit the size of the Land of Promise based on how far someone had to walk or travel from one point
to another.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Line Between the Land of Bountiful and the Land of Desolation

In John L. Sorenson’s book, he writes that:

1. “From Nephi to Zarahemla, on a direct line, was about 180 miles.”

There is no way a figure any distance can be determined from the scriptural record, let alone 180 miles. The only thing we can consider is that it took Alma and his group of some 450 men, women, children, and provisions, to walk from the Waters of Mormon to the Land of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 23:3;24:23-25). But that was not from the city of Nephi to the city of Zarahemla. The description of Limhi traveling directly from the city of Nephi to the Land of Zarahemla is described as “many days” (Mosiah 22:13), however, once again, this was to the “Land of Zarahemla,” not the city. In addition, it took Ammon and his group 40 days wandering in the wilderness (Mosiah 7:4) from the Land of Zarahemla to the hills over looking the valley north of the Land of Shilom. From there they went “down into” the Land of Nephi (Mosiah 7:6) and to the “walls of the city” (Mosiah 7:10)

It might even be said that Ammon might well have been more than 40 days, for “they knew not the course they should travel in the wilderness, therefore they wandered many days in the wilderness, even forty days did they wander” (Mosiah 7:4). This does that mean they wandered from the moment they left the city of Zarahemla, for they would have known of the land until they reached the borders of the wilderness. Therefore, Ammon may have been even longer reaching the Land of Shilom. And, too, how long did it take him to reach the city of Nephi from the hills north of Shilom?

To use the 21 day travel time of Alma, one would have to know how far from the city of Nephi were the Waters of Alma, and how far from the borders of the Land of Zarahemla to the city of Zarahemla. However, both of these figures are unknown.

The point is, all distances in the Book of Mormon are so ambiguous that it is simply not possible to arrive at even assumptive distance measurements, let alone set 180 miles as the distance between the city of Zarahemla and the city of Nephi—especially when there is not one single record of anyone traveling that specific route from city to city and how long it took.

2. “Twice that distance would have taken them to the "line" (Alma 22:32, logically a river) separating Bountiful from Desolation, the beginning of the land northward.”

First, there is no way of knowing that the distance between the city of Nephi and the city of Zarahemla was the same distance between the city of Zarahemla and the narrow neck of land boundary between Bountiful and Desolation. Here again, Sorenson sets an arbitrary distance between two points, then using that figure, uses it to determine the distance between two more points. That can hardly be called scholarship.

Second. The “line” mentioned by Mormon that separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward was the narrow neck of land (Alma 63:5), referred specifically as a “line” in which he states: “it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation” (Alma 22:32). How Sorenson arrives at this line being a river is beyond the scriptural record. There is never a river, marshland, swamp, or other waters mentioned in connection with the narrow neck except for the east and west seas (Alma 50:34); however, there is a river in his Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mesoamerica, so he glibly places it into his reading of the scriptural record. Whatever the reason, it is both lacking in scholarship and honesty since it cannot be tied to Mormon’s many descriptions in any way.

Third, “logically a river” is no more logical than the line being referred to is the narrow pass or passage, which is mentioned by Mormon (Alma 50:34;52:9). It is just as logical to assume that the line is imaginary, like any line referred to between two points, as in the line between Los Angeles County and Orange County, or between Ogden and Salt Lake City.