Monday, December 3, 2012

A Question About the Land of Many Waters

I was siting in a parking lot waiting for my wife who was clothes shopping (ugh!) recently when a person—a Sheriff’s Deputy of all people—stopped by my open window to chat. He pointed to my book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica that was on the dash that had attracted his attention. He was intrigued to find a fellow anti-Mesoamerica believer, and began talking to me about his Great Lakes theory. When I commented that my book was about South America, he asked me why I would reject the Land of Many Waters being the Great Lakes and its drainage system, or the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Before I could answer, he got a call and had to leave. I’ve never seen him again, but thought I might post this answer in case he decided to look up this blog, which was on my card I gave him.
First of all, the term “many waters” is found only twice in the Book of Mormon. Once in Mosiah, where Limhi is describing the land through which his 42 man expeditionary force to find Zarahemla traveled, in which he stated: “having traveled in a land among many waters…” (Mosiah 8:8). However, the more understandable account of this area is recorded by Mormon who not only knew the area well, having been born in the Land Northward, but also fought his last battle there—knowing it well enough to convince the Lamanite king to have their war concluded in the Land of Cumorah, near the Hill Cumorah, which was in the land of many waters (Mormon 6:2,4).
Mormon wrote of this place: “We did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” (Mormon 6:4).

Fountains refers to the source of water, in this case, water gushing from the ground or bubbling up from underground springs
The key word here in conjunction with this geography is “fountains.” Obviously, “many waters” could be any area of lakes, lagoons, loughs, ponds, or other expanse of water. The term “rivers” is just as obviously self-explanatory. However, the word “fountains” is often misunderstood.
In this sense, the word fountain means some type of water source that “spurts or cascades into the air.” More accurately, it is a spring or source of water—that is the beginning, or head of a stream, the point of origin or dissemination of a water flow, such as a river or water course. Clearly, the “land of many waters” found in the Land Northward was not merely standing water, such as large lakes claimed by the Great Lakes theorists, nor just rivers as claimed by numerous other location theorists, but had to be an area, evidently at a high elevation, where the water’s sources originated—an area of lakes and rivers, but most importantly an area of springs and water sources, whether springing out of the ground, or from melting snow, it was a location of the source of the “many waters” found there.
It is interesting that such a land is found in South America, in Ecuador (what would be the Land Northward) that even on very old maps was called “Land of Many Waters.” It might be of interest to know that this “Land of Many Waters” was located in the “Land of Cumorah,” and by the “Hill Cumorah” (Mormon 6:4), however, there is no such “springs or fountains” located around or near the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York—which is about eight miles north of Canandaigua Lake (one of the Finger Lakes, which are mostly to the east of Cumorah) and about 20 miles south of Lake Erie. There are no springs, fountains, or sources of water anywhere nearby.
Great Lakes watershed, showing that water reaches Lake Erie via the Detroit River, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and from the north Lake Nipigon and waters flowing from the north. Note that Lake Erie is at the bottom of this watershed and nowhere around it would be fountains or sources
Lake Erie is fed from surrounding watersheds draining from the north, but 80% of its feed (source) comes from the Detroit River, which is about 50 miles across the lake to the west, and that river comes from drainage of Lake Huron from the north, which receives its water via the St. Marys River from Lake Superior, which itself is fed by over 200 tributaries, whose sources are hundreds of miles further north. Consequently, though there is much water in this area, its “fountains” originate from the northwest, north and northeast of the lake, from as far away as the Ogoki River, north of Lake Nipigon, about 200 miles north of Lake Superior. This would hardly be within the Land called Cumorah.
In addition, let’s consider the moment. Mormon who was born in 310 A.D. is about 75 years old in 385 A.D. (Mormon 6:5-6) as they gathered at Cumorah. He had been a Commanding General of the Nephite armies for most of his life since he was sixteen (Mormon 2:2), having nearly 60 years experience commanding troops in battle. Though he hoped to gain an advantage over the Lamanites at Cumorah (Mormon 6:4), he knew this battle was going to be the last struggle of the Nephites (Mormon 6:6). Still, he set his troops in order, with 23 divisions of 10,000 fighting men each (Mormon 6:11-15), or 230,000 fighting men (Mormon 6:10). In addition, these combatants had their wives and children with them (Mormon 6:7). We do not know if the women and children fought, though it stands to reason that probably many, if not most, did. On the other hand, being a good general and concerned for his people, Mormon would have cosseted those unable to fight by placing them in the rear and probably on high ground, such as in the hills.  
There were two things he would have understood: 1) The Land of Cumorah provided room to fight, yet held some protective benefit for him to think he might obtain an advantage over his enemy there, and 2) He knew he could gain some safety by retreating into much higher ground. No troop commander is going to fight a battle if he has a choice in the area, where he has no advantage, and clearly Mormon believed Cumorah provided that advantage since he chose that area over any other place in the Land Northward (Mormon 6:2). The Lamanite king’s acceptance of Cumorah suggests that he knew the size of the Nephite army he faced, and knew he had more than sufficient troops to defeat his enemy wherever they fought (Mormon 6:3, 8).
In addition, we know from Mormon’s writing that the Hill Cumorah was: 1) sufficiently high enough to see a battle field where 230,000 men, plus women and children had fallen (at least 300,000, probably closer to 400,000), and could observe their dead bodies (Mormon 6:11-15); and 2) it was sufficiently large and difficult to climb that it provided protection for those who had escaped from the field of battle (Mormon 6:11) and were not pursued. Neither of these conditions, by the way, fits the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York, which is a small, low, rolling hill, a mere 202 feet in height.
While Frieberg’s image (left) is only a painting, it does correctly portray a high area where Mormon could look out over the surrounding battlefield; and (Right) the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York is far to low for such a view

1 comment:

  1. Del, do you have a source for the place on Ecuador maps called "the land of many waters?" Would like to see it and see where exactly it is.