Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Were There Two Sidon Rivers? Part III—The Use of Thence in the Scriptural Record

Continuing with the Theorist who claims that there were two River Sidons, who used an abbreviated example of Alma 8:1, 3 to make his point; however, when comparing the entire scriptural record of Alma 8:1-3, we find a very different meaning.

In the last post, we discussed the word “thence,” as used by Mormon. Continuing with that concept, the word “thenceforth,” which is archaic today, but was in use during Joseph Smith’s time, was a common saying in early 19th century, and always followed the word “from,” which might have been the meaning in the saying: “that Alma departed from thence[forth], meaning from that time forward, and took his journey over into the land of Melek..."

As stated in the last post, the word “thence” is not a word used today, but was used in Joseph Smith’s time. Also, keep in mind, that Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, Amaleki or other early writers did not use the word “thence.” Mormon does not use the word in his own writing (Book of Mormon, Words of Mormon) nor does Moroni (Book of Moroni). The word “thence” is used mainly in Alma and Helaman and twice in 3 Nephi, which in both cases the Lord is speaking and his meaning is “from there," and once in Ether.

However,  in all Alma and Helaman cases, it means “after that event or after that time.” The word “thenceforth” is used twice in 3 Nephi, again the Lord is speaking, and both times the meaning is “from this time forward.” The same is true in Alma where it is used once with the meaning “from this time forward.” It is used once in Helaman with the meaning of “from that place."

Alma 5:1 -- Now it came to pass that Alma began to deliver the word of God unto the people, first in the land of Zarahemla, and from thence throughout all the land. 

Meaning, after that (after the land of Zarahemla), throughout all the land. 

Alma 8:6 -- So that when he had finished his work at Melek he departed thence, and traveled three days' journey on the north of the land of Melek; and he came to a city which was called Ammonihah. 

Meaning: he departed after that (after finishing in Melek), and traveled three days’ journey.

Alma 8:13 -- Now when the people had said this, and withstood all his words, and reviled him, and spit upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city, he departed thence and took his journey towards the city which was called Aaron. 

Meaning: he departed after that (after being cast out of the city) and took his journey...

Alma 24:5 -- Now when Ammon and us brethren and all those who had come up with him saw the preparations of the Lamanites to destroy their brethren, they came forth to the land of Midian, and there Ammon met all his brethren; and from thence they came to the land of Ishmael that they might hold a council with Lamoni and also with his brother Anti-Nephi-Lehi, what they should do to defend themselves against the Lamanites. 

Meaning: they came forth after that (after meeting all his brethren) to the land of Midian.

Helaman 5:16 -- And even from one city to another, until they had gone forth among all the people of Nephi who were in the land southward; and from thence into the land of Zarahemla, among the Lamanites. 

Meaning: they departed after that (after going forth among all the people of Nephi) into the land of Zarahemla.

Helaman 5:19-20 --  Therefore they  did speak unto the great astonishment of the Lamanites, to the convincing them, insomuch that there were eight thousand of the Lamanites who were in the land of Zarahemla and round about baptized unto repentance, and were convinced of the wickedness of the traditions of their fathers. And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did proceed from thence to go to the land of Nephi.

Meaning: After that (after converting 8000 Lamanites) they proceeded to the land of Nephi.

3 Nephi 12:25-26 -- Agree with  thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him, lest at any time he shall get thee, and thou shalt be cast into prison. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence until thou hast paid the uttermost senine. And while ye are in prison can ye pay even one senine? Verily, verily, I say unto you, Nay. 

The Lord is speaking and his meaning is: You will not be released from there (prison) until after thou has paid the uttermost senine.

3 Nephi 20:41 --  Then shall a cry go forth: Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch not that which is unclean; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.

Again the Lord is speaking and his meaning: Go ye out from (there).

Ether 9:3 -- And the Lord warned Omer in a dream that he should depart out of the land; wherefore Omer departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent, and also his sons and his daughters, and all his household, save it were Jared and his family.

Meaning: came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and after that they went eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom. 

The point is, that the word “thence” cannot in Alma 8:1-3 suggest that right after being in Zarahemla, Alma departed for Melek. Keep in mind that the significance of the statement is to show that the ninth year had ended. We do not know how long the event in Alma 8:1 was separated from the event in Alma 8:3, which heralded in the beginning of the tenth year. Nor do we know if Alma was still in Zarahemla when the tenth year began. Remembering that Mormon is abridging the record of Alma, we do not know if other things took place of lesser significance, taking Alma away from Zarahemla, before he went on another missionary call to preach in the land of Melek, and then to Ammonihah.

To make such a claim on so many unknown factors is not wise when it comes to trying to understand such topography, especially when dealing with a condition (two River Sidons) not mentioned elsewhere or support in any other scripture. Even other factors could be involved, such as the River Sidon not being a river that runs on a continually straight line. Most rivers, after all, do twist and turn, even if briefly and limitedly, and could well have curved to the west north of Zarahemla. 

There is simply far too much we do not know to make such a two-river claim on this one arguable statement. In addition, in the next post we will show how this Theorist misreads the scripture he is using to make his point of another River Sidon.

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