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.”)

No comments:

Post a Comment