Thursday, March 8, 2012

How Do We Read the Book of Mormon Geography? – Part I

According to Lynn and David Rosenvall, in placing The River Sidon, wrote in describing the Land Northward:

“The people of Zarahemla (the people of Mulek) initially landed in this northern area and then moved south to a place they called the city and land of Zarahemla.”

It is interesting that someone who claims to research the Book of Mormon and describe for others its locations, directions, lands, etc., can so flagrantly disregard the very text they are quoting. As an example, when Mormon describes the land northward in Alma 22:30 “And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing,” he was referring to the land northward as it was occupied by an earlier people who had been destroyed, and not describing the history of those who found this earlier people.

Almost every BOM historian wants to claim from this statement that the Mulekites, or people of Zarahemla, landed in the Land Northward and then came southward (Alma 22:31). However, they seem to ignore the very English they are reading. Mormon states:

1. The land description (moving from south to north) came to an area called Desolation
2. This Land of Desolation was so far north that it came to the land where a previous people had dwelt
3. The bones of this previous people were found there
4. These bones had been mentioned before (Mosiah 8:8)
5. These bones had been discovered by those from the city of Lehi-Nephi who had originally came from the City of Zarahemla, and two generations later had been searching for the City of Zarahemla when they found the bones (Mosiah 8:7)
6. The people who had dwelt in this northern land, whose bones had been found by the people of Zarahemla, had first landed there in the location where they had been found.

Somehow lost to all these historians is the fact that Mormon was writing about the land that the Lamanite King controlled, and in so doing, indicated a people who had occupied the land far to the north in a much earlier time, and that it was the location where these earlier people had first landed when they arrived in this northern land.

To verify this, we need only turn to Omni. Amaleki, the last of the Nephite prophets to record on the plates before turning them over to King Benjamin (Omni 1:25), was with Mosiah when he fled the city of Nephi, and they traveled “into the wilderness, as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord; and they were led by many preachings and prophesyings. And they were admonished continually by the word of God; and they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness, until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla” (Omni 1:13).

When they reached that land, they “discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla. Now, there was great rejoicing among the people of Zarahemla; and also Zarahemla did rejoice exceedingly, because the Lord had sent the people of Mosiah with the plates of brass which contained the record of the Jews” (Omni 1:14)

Continuing on with Amaleki’s description of these people they found in Zarahemla, he writes: “Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon. And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:15-16).

Now, let’s read that again:

“and were brought by the hand of the Lord ACROSS the great waters, INTO the land WHERE Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there FROM THAT TIME FORTH.”

For those who seem to not understand Amaleki’s writing, he is telling us that the Lord led the Mulekites (people of Zarahemla) across the great waters from Jerusalem to the Land of Promise where they landed and had always lived—in the spot where Mosiah found them. Where Mosiah found them! He did not find them in the Land Northward, nor did they move from the area of their first landing. Obviously, then, the Mulekites landed along the coast of the Land Southward and settled in the land, establishing the city that was known as the City of Zarahemla when Mosiah discovered them.

That doesn’t seem too difficult to understand. But misunderstand these two scriptures almost all Book of Mormon historians do! Yet, they feel completely confident to tell us where this place and that place was located in the Land of Promise.

(See next post, How Do We Read the Book of Mormon Geography? – Part II, to see how easily and confidently the Land of Promise is placed in a local that simply does not meet the scriptural record)

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