Friday, March 23, 2012

When is Reason Called Speculation? Responding to Rod Meldrum’s Answer – Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding two questions that were asked in an earlier blog: “Why did the Lord tell Nephi to build a ship unlike ones built by man? And Why did the Lord tell Nephi to work the timbers unlike that of man?” and Rod Meldrum’s uninformed answers, Meldrum wrote in his series of “maybes” of possible reasons:

“1. Nephi may have lacked certain tools required to work the timbers in a particular manner”

It is interesting to even suggest that Nephi would have lacked the tools necessary to build his ship like that of other men of his time. First, the tools available in 600 B.C. were limited to begin with, consisting of the adz, saw, chisel, axe and bow drill. These were not difficult tools to make, as long as proper ores (iron) and wood for handles was available. In fact, for more than two thousand years along the Red Sea area, the adz was the tool of choice and used in unique and very proficient manner to shape wood for the building of boats.

According to Hartenberg and McGeough, regarding Neolithic Hand Tools, identities of the ax, adz, chisel and saw were clearly established more than 4,000 years ago. The Bronze Age of tools and implements began about 3000 BC. In the course of the following 2,000 years the much more abundant iron supplanted bronze for tools, but bronze continued to be used in the arts. By 1000 B.C., 400 years before Lehi left Jerusalem, iron was readily used for tools and other implements.

An “adze” was an ax-like tool with a curved blade at right angles to the handle, which was used for smoothing or carving rough-cut wood for ship building anciently. It was being used in Egypt for building ships that sailed the Red Sea as early as the Old Kingdom (3rd millennium BC) onward. Originally the blade was made of stone, but in the Predynastic Period (3100 BC) copper adzes had replaced those made of flint. Examples of metal adzes can be found in the Petrie Museum in London, one of the greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world.

Axe – As early as 4000 to 3500 B.C., metal was used to make axes

Chisels – As early as 2345 – 2181 B.C. metal chisels made of iron were being used in Egypt (according to Herman Junker)

Saws – Earliest saws were made of copper in the Early Dynastifc Period, 3,000-2,800 B.C.

Bow drill – appears in Mehrgarh between the 4th and 5th millennium B.C., and also in the Indus Valley and soon after in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.

Mortise and tenon joining of wood was used in Egypt along the Red Sea as early as 1500 B.C.

The question Meldrum obliquely poses is, did Nephi have certain tools required to work the timbers in a particular manner? The answer lies in the scriptural account as Nephi wrote:

“And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters. And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me? And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make a bellows wherewith to blow the fire, of the skins of beasts; and after I had made a bellows, that I might have wherewith to blow the fire, I did smite two stones together that I might make fire” (1 Nephi 17:8-11).

Obviously, Nephi knew of the tools available in his day, and promptly asked the Lord to show him where he could find ore to shape the tools to built the ship. Consequently, Meldrum’s “maybe” about not having the proper tool is without merit and disingenuous from the start.

(See the next post, “When is Reason Called Speculation? Responding to Rod Meldrum’s Answer – Part III” for responses to more of Meldrum’s “maybes” that seem little more than a smoke-screen—certainly not ones a person with knowledge of the period and of the scriptures would suggest)

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