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.

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