Saturday, November 5, 2011

Was the Land of Promise Really That Small? Part I

After going into great length about how small and compact the Land of Promise really was, John L. Sorenson supports his belief by stating:

1. “Many Latter-day Saints will have to change their thinking markedly to adjust to the dimensions we have discussed.”

Those dimensions are just a few hundred miles in distance, rather than a much larger Land of Promise most people have come to understand. The problem is, that Soreonson claims he is right on the dimensions that, as has been pointed in earlier posts, are based on Sorenson’s completely arbitrary distances that are not supported in the scriptural record. Perhaps Sorenson is the one that should change his thinking.

2. “And we have other evidences in the scripture that the Nephites occupied a fairly compact area. For example, 3 Nephi 3 tells how the Nephites and righteous Lamanites, threatened by Gadianton robbers, gathered to a common stronghold with a seven-year supply of food to starve the parasitic robbers out of the land. The size of the gathered population was described as "thousands and... tens of thousands: from the land southward and the land northward."

He goes on to state that these people had to be in a small, compact area for the Robbers to lay a siege. But once again, Sorenson shows his lack of understanding military maneuvering, yet seems to feel his knowledge of such tactics is sufficient to explain away the scriptural record on such matters.

First, scorched-earth policies have been around for a long time. Russia used the tactic against Nazi Germany in World War II, where the Russians burned every farm, village and crop as they retreated before the German army, which, as most thrusts into enemy territory do, they ran out of supplies and food and could not gather it from the land. The Nephite governor, Lachoneus understood this principal very well, and brought his scattered people from far distances. Leaving their lands desolate (3 Nephbi 3:3), the Nephites took up a position in the Land Southward (3 Nephi 3:24), just south of the narrow neck of land (3 Nephi 3:23).

The Nephites were numbered in the tens of thousands (3 Nephi 3:22), and had populated the land about 63 years earlier from sea to sea (Helaman 3:8). Thus, the Nephites were many in number, and had several armies (3 Nephi 4:8). They were obviously guarded by those armies around the perimeter of the land they occupied in the center of the land (3 Nephi 3:21). This perimeter must have been very large indeed, for it covered tens of thousands of people who would have had their tents, flocks and herds, and all their substance, with them (3 Nephi 3:3).

Now the Robbers also had several armies (3 Nephi 4:1) and numbered in the tens of thousands (3 Nephi 4:21). For so many people to be in close proximity to one another, a very large area would have to have been occupied since these people spent three years living together (3 Nephi 4:14-16) in an area where they could protect one another, rather than being spread out across the land as they had been. Obviously, this grouping could not have been as compact as Sorenson claims. Also, as long as the guarding armies were stationed around the perimeter (3 Nephi 3:14), with scouts out monitoring the enemy movements—as Alma did when fighting the Amlicites (Alma 2:21), it would have been very difficult for the Robbers to penetrate any one area because sufficient repelling forces could be summoned. Nor could they amass a large army to attack one spot, for the scouts would have seen and reported this build up.

Thus, it would seem, a compact area would not only have not been needed, but certainly impractical to a small portion of a land occupied by such large numbers of both Nephites and Robbers.

(See the next post, “Was the Land of Promise Really That Small? Part II,” for the rest of this debate)

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