Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Who Were the Mulekites? Part III

Continuing from the last two posts about the Mulekites, and how Mulek escaped from Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians and made his way to the Land of Promise. As stated in the last post, it is most likely, because of the Babylonians controlling the entire Mediterranean, the Phoenicians, and the land round about, that the only route open to Mulek would have been the same route Lehi had taken a short time earlier.
Red Hatched Lines: The area controlled by Babylon from 605 B.C. onward. Yellow Area shows the heavily guarded Babylonian Frontier, which was the route from Egypt northward into Damascus, Syria and the northern Hitite country, which had been Babylon’s enemies and previous antagonists, whom they defeated. This region was heavily guarded—making any penetration from Jerusalem to the seashore to take a Phoenician ship out of the question. The Red Arrow: shows Babylon’s control of all Phoenician waters; Blue Arrow shows the only open area out of Jerusalem and that was to the southeast—a direction Babylon had no interest in because it was nothing but desert 
    Despite this very clear understanding of the Babylonians and their control of the Mediterranean coast from what is now Turkey to Egypt, as well as their dedication to bring every member of the Israelite Royal Family into captivity for their emperor, John L. Sorenson wrote: “The premier sailors of that era were the Phoenicians, who frequented Egyptian ports and were familiar with the waters of the entire Mediterranean. Since they possessed the finest seafaring vessels and the widest knowledge of sailing conditions, it is reasonable for us to suppose that one or more of their vessels became the means by which Mulek and those with him were “brought…across the great waters” (The Mulekites, p9).
    In addition, the Mesoamericanist Robert A. Pate wrote: “Also, it is very apparent from the diversity of their appearance that the people found in the Americas have multiple and diverse genetic origins. We know that Lehi’s family absorbed others: those Zoram, the servant of Laban; the Mulekites, and possibly some Phoenician sailors who may have brought the Mulekites and the Jaredites [to the land of promise]” (Mapping the Book of Mormon, A Comprehensive Geography of Nephite America, Cornerstone Publishing, SLC, 2002, p 18). Of course, the fact that the Babylonians jealously guarded their empire, the Mediterranean coast, and their vassals, of which the Phoenicians were at the time the Mulekites left Jerusalem is of no import to Pate, neither is the fact that the Phoenicians did not come on the scene until about 1550 B.C., six hundred years after the Jaredites came to the promised land—via barges they made, not by the hand of Phoenician sailors!
    Getting back to the Mulekites, we can see that the travels and planting along the way by the earlier Nephites would have certainly benefitted the Mulekites who followed, which gives meaning to the comment that the Mulekites were “led by the hand of the Lord” (Omni 1:16). This, by the way, is the same method of travel, leaving help along the way for the next group to pass that way, that the early Pioneers did coming across the plains from Far West to Salt Lake Valley, of which we read about mostly in the journals of those Saints, like that of my own great grandfather, Porter DowDell, who was assigned by Brigham Young to lead the second group of Saints into Salt Lake.
At certain points along the trail, Brigham Young had the pioneers plant seeds and get them started so those who followed would have a crop to harvest and eat along the way 
    We might even look beyond these two groups to the Jaredites before them, who would have been led to the same shore where they spent four years, no doubt planting trees and growing crops for their sustenance during that time and while building their barges, of which the later Nephites wrote: “And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters. And it came to pass that we did pitch our tents by the seashore; and notwithstanding we had suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all, we were exceedingly rejoiced when we came to the seashore; and we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit” (1 Nephi 17:5-6).
     If not planted by the Jaredites, then who? The area was uninhabited after the Flood until a couple of centuries after Lehi left there—and after the Flood, crops would not have been growing there that was not replanted by man.
    But such is the workings of the Lord, for he knows all things from the beginning and plans for them to be in place when and where he needs them.
    Of course, Amaleki tells us that the Mulekites landed along the coast and dwelt there from that time onward, which was where Mosiah found them. Since the Land of Zarahemla did not stretch to the Sea East, that means Zarahemla was off the Sea West, which was the seashore the Mulekites would have landed—not possible if they left via the Mediterranean or crossed the Atlantic as so many theorists want to claim. As Amaleki put it, “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 1:16). Of course, to get around this problem, Michael M. Hobby, himself a champion of Central America, writes: “Even Amaleki himself seems not to have comprehended the full significance of their (Mulekite) role” (Angular Chronology-The Precolumbian Dating of Ancient America, Zarahemla Foundation, Coto Laurel, Puerto Rico, 1994, p 11).
    Naturally, Hobby living and writing more than 2000 years later considers himself to know more than a prophet who was an eye-witness to the events which he writes about.  Amaleki was born in the days of Mosiah (Omni 1:23) and lived into the days of king Benjamin.  His brother went with Zeniff back to reclaim the land of Nephi (Omni 1:30), and he was present when Zarahemla was first encountered, when the Mulekites rejoiced at learning of the brass plates, when the man Zarahemla learned to speak the Nephite language and gave his genealogy, when the stone of Coriantumr was translated by Mosiah, and when the history of the Mulekites was learned.  It seems rather clear from Omni 1:12-30 that Amaleki had a good working knowledge of the Mulekites and their history.
    On the other hand, Richard F. Hauck, seems to want to add other people into the Mulekite mix, when he wrote: “A segment of the Nephites abandoned the land of Nephi probably during the third century B.C. and settled at Zarahemla who included descendants of the migratory party accompanied by Mulek.  (Deciphering the Geography of the book of Mormon, Deseret Book, SLC, 1988, p 21). The scriptural record, of course, does not say that “the people of Zarahemla included descendants of the migratory party accompanied by Mulek.” The scriptures make it clear that all the perople of Zarahemla came from Jerusalem.  As Amaleki wrote: "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" (Omni 1:15). The scriptures do not suggest, hint, or intimate that there were other people among the people of Zarahemla than those who came out of Jerusalem, which seems reasonable to suggest would have been those of the Palace Guard and their families to whom king Zedekiah would have trusted the last of his line!
    Another interesting, but erroneous idea about the Mulekites is one put forth by Hobby when he wrote: “The fact that the city (Zarahemla) was initialy taken by force of arms is also masked in the record, though obvious upon reflection” (ibid, p 9). There is no reflection warranted that would change the wordage found in the scriptural record:
"And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla."  And how did these Mulekites react to the Nephite presence?  "Now there was great rejoicing among the people of Zarahemla; and also Zarahemla did rejoince exceedingly." Why did they rejoice? "Because the Lord had sent the people of Mosiah with the plates of brass which contained the record of the Jews" (Omni 1:14.) And what was the result of this rejoicing? "The people of Zarahemla, and of Mosiah, did unite together, and Mosiah was appointed to be their king" (Omni 1:19.) Why did they unite together? "Because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi" (Mosiah 25:13). And what was the result of becoming Nephite? "And I will bless thee, and whomsoever shall be called they seed, henceforth and forever" (Alma 3:17).
    There is no scriptural reference, hint, or suggestion that Mosiah and the Nephites took Zarahemla by force of arms. In fact, the Mulekites vastly outnumbered the Nephites (Mosiah 25:2), and were experienced in warfare (Omni 1:17).
    The problem is when trying to piece together the scriptural record as seen through the eyes of many theorists, is that they take you far afield from the truth and cloud the issues until it is difficult to wade through their imaginative ideas and locate the truth.
(See the next post, “Who Were the Mulekites? Part IV,” for the continuation of this regarding Mulek, the youngest son of Zedekiah, and how he came to be in the Land of Promise and found the city of Zarahemla, and who were his descendants and those of his people)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Who Were the Mulekites? Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding Zedekiah, his capture and death, and the survival of his youngest son, Mulek. First of all, while we do not know how old Mulek was at the time he escaped from Jerusalem, we can assume he was quite young. After all, Zedekiah was only 32 when he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, and though he had several wives once he was made king at the age of 21, it is unlikely that Mulek would have been one of the older sons, who the Babylonians would have known all about.
Young king Zedekiah brought before Nehuchadnezzar, who killed his sons before his eyes, then had him blinded
It also seems likely that Mulek would have been the youngest son and as such, probably unknown to Nebuchadnezzar, having been born during the peaceful years that Zedekiah as a puppet king, drew little attention from the Babylonians.
    As for the period when Mulek left Jerusalem, it is likely this happened before Nebuchadnezzar lay siege to the city in 589 B.C.—an event that lasted 18 months before the city fell. Zedekiah’s first overtures to Pharaoh Hophra (Herodotus calls him Apries) were in 589 B.C., and likely there was little time between Zedekiah sending his ambassador into Egypt, for almost immediately Nebuchadnezzar sent his armies to Jerusalem.
The Egyptians immediately marched to the relief of Jerusalem, but when Nebuchadnezzar drew off a portion of his army to meet the Egyptian threat, the Egyptians returned to Egypt without attempting to engage the Chaldeans in a pitched battle, leaving Jerusalem to fend for itself, and her king, Zedekiah (left), at the mercy of the Babylonians.
    “And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about.  So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. (Jeremiah 52:4-5).
It seems likely that just before this total siege, Mulek was escorted out of the city to the south, before a full siege was in place, as a precautionary measure, while the rest of the males in the Royal family remained to defend the king. It is also likely that Nebuchadnezzar did not know of Mulek, for after the fall of Jerusalem, the death of the Royal Family and capture of Zedekiah, the dispirited remnant of Judah, against the advice of Jeremiah, fled into Egypt with the prophet, only to be overrun by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.
For Mulek to have escaped a similar capture and likely death, his retinue would have fled into the Negev and then to the Red Sea and down the route that Lehi had earlier taken.
    To believe that Mulek would have been taken to the Mediterranean coast, which Babylon controlled and would have been on the lookout for any escapees from the Royal Family or ranking members of Jerusalem, is simply without merit, as is the thought that the Phoenicians sailed away with Mulek, his retinue and their confiscated funds from the Royal Treasury—an act that the entire Chaldean army, then engaged all along the coast from Babylon to Egypt, would have easily prevented.
Nebuchadnezzar surveys his domain in Babylon. He was a very jealous leader, demanded perfect loyalty from his conquered peoples and punish those who set against him very severely
    It should also be kept in mind that the Phoenicians at this time were under the control of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (Chaldeans) referred to as the Neo-Babylonian Empire Rule in history. Phoenecia—Lebanon—had been under foreign rule from the 13th to the 12th centuries B.C., and from the 10th to the 7th centuries B.C., by first the Hittites and then the Assyrians. When the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar the year before he took power in 605 B.C. while his father, Nabopolassar, lay ill in Babylon, finally defeated the Assyrians at Carchemish, much of Lebanon and Syria was already in their hands. Since the Babylonians were the most formidable enemy of the area the Phoenicians had known, and since Nebuchadnezzar placed a very high degree of importance on loyalty, it is highly unlikely that the Phoenician would have agreed to rescue a member of the Jewish Royal Family from Babylonian capture under any circumstances.
    Thus it should be seen that Mulek and his Royal retinue would have had no chance at all of hiring a Phoenician ship to sail them to the Americas, and just as improbable that they would have headed toward Babylonian controlled lands to the west in any event.
    Considering that Mulek would have been born somewhere in Zedekiah’s late twenties, he would have been somewhere between an infant and about 4 years old in 589 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar lay siege to Jerusalem, and he was spirited away to safety. It is also just as likely that those involved in this rescue, no doubt members of the Palace Guard and their families, would have been led down the same course Lehi had taken, and benefited from the crops Lehi grew along the way, and all that had been planted and provided at Bountiful.
    Obviously, they were led by the Lord. This was not a chance happening, with people uninformed about their destination or purpose. For “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 1:16). The fact that “they were led by the hand of the Lord” should suggest to us that the Lord had a hand in this group, its travels, and destination.
    No doubt, the Mulek party sailed on the same currents and with the same winds that had taken Lehi to the Western Hemisphere a few years earlier, and landed a little to the north of Lehi, in an area today called Lima (Calleo) and built Zarahemla, the site now known as Pachacamac.
The city of Pachacamac, a major site in the ancient Andean kingdom, and a religious center for centuries—no doubt, the same status Zarahemla held, especially after being located by Mosiah around 225 B.C.
    Like the Nephites before them, the Mulekites came from the Jerusalem area, themselves having lived inside Jerusalem, in the Palace of the king, and would have been used to such structures as the palaces and temple, and would have built a city for Mulek, their lineage king, out of the best constructive methods available to them.
    Sometimes in our modern world of modern and very advanced technologies, which we take for granted each day, the idea of being in the desert and led by the hand of the Lord, we forget the trials and strengthening processes that took place with the ancients as they overcame the rigors of their day, like that of Lehi of which Nephi wrote as they started across the great Rub’ al Khali, the largest sand desert in the world: “And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness. And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings” (1 Nephi 17:1-2).
    It is also interesting to note that Nephi said, ”Wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 17:3). No doubt, part of the means he provided for the later Mulek party were those things of which Nephi wrote about, and the many things the Nephites left along the way, for they spent much time there. In fact, “we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 17:4).
    It also seems most likely that since both the Lehites and Mulekites originated their travel from the same place, and both were doing so under cover with an effort not to be noticed and found out, and their destinations were the same place (Land of Promise) within a few miles of each other, it is most likely they traveled the same route, left by ship from the same shore, traveled the same winds and currents, and landed in the same general area.
(See the next post, “Who Were the Mulekites? Part III,” for the continuation of this regarding Mulek, the youngest son of Zedekiah, and how he came to be in the Land of Promise and founded the city of Zarahemla)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Who Were the Mulekites? Part I

Of all the peoples involved in the Land of Promise of which we have been told, the Mulekites are the least known and understood. While most of us know the basic story behind this group, we may not know who they really were, both before they arrived in the land of Promise, and afterward. As an example, Hugh Nibley, without a single reference in the entire scriptural record lays at the feet of the Mulekites the several Nephite insurrections, such as the King-Men rebellion. Several other Theorists blame all Nephite insurrections on the Mulekites. 
    So in taking a look at this group, first of all, the term “Mulekite” is never mentioned in the scriptural record, though the city of Mulek is mentioned several times and plays an important role in the Nephite-Lamanite wars. The man, Mulek, “the son of Zedekiah,” is mentioned only once (Helaman 6:10), though he was the forerunner of the Mulekite people who we know in the scriptural record as the “people of Zarahemla.”
Zedekiah (left), a name given him by Nebuchadnezzar (his Hebrew name was Mattanyahu, meaning “gift of God”), said to be the twenty-third king from Saul, and last king of Judah before the destruction of the kingdom by Babylon. He had been installed as king of Judah at the age of 21 by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II, after a siege of Jerusalem in 597 B.C., and succeeded his nephew, Jeconiah, who was overthrown as king after a reign of only three months and ten days. It was during “the commencement of Zedekiah’s first year” that Lehi left Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:4).
    In 589 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar lay siege to Jerusalem, which lasted about eighteen months. At this time, Zedekiah and his followers attempted to escape, making their way out of the city, but were captured on the plains of Jericho and were taken to Riblah, where his sons were put to death and his eyes were put out before Zedekiah was carried captive to Babylon where he remained a prisoner until he died.
    While the Bible gives us no proof of Mulek’s survival, there is some interesting language that leads to an understanding that not all of Zedekiah’s sons were killed. The first clue of the existence and escape of Mulek, son of Zedekiah, can be found in 2 Kings 25:1-10, which reports that Nebuchadnezzar and "all his host" scattered "all the men" and "all [the king's] army" and burnt "all the houses of Jerusalem," and with "all the army" they destroyed the walls. Though the word “all” is used several times to describe this event, the word “all” is left out in 2 Kings 25:7 when it reports only that “the sons" of Zedekiah were killed, leaving open the question whether all of his sons were slain. There is a clear distinction here between using the clarifier "all" in reference to the other subjects and not using it when talking about the sons of Zedekiah. It is not necessary that the author write "all but one" when referring to the death of the other sons.
    Secondly, although it is debatable, there is some evidence that "Malchiah the son of Hammelech" in Jeremiah 38:6 is a possible reference to Mulek in the Book of Mormon, for Hammelech is Hebrew for “The king.” So, accurately translated, Jeremiah 38:6 refers to "Malkiyahu son of the king." One can easily see how the author of these verses could have used "the king" rather than redundantly repeating Zedekiah's name. It is also suggested that the Book of Mormon name Mulek might be a shortened form of the biblical Hebrew Malkiyahu. In support of this possibility, it is noted that while Jeremiah's scribe is called Baruch in Jeremiah 36:4, a longer form of his name, Berekhyahu, appears on an ancient stamp seal impression.
    Hugh Nibley wrote about some ancient documents found in the city Lachish during the time of Lehi. Nibley explains: “Mulek is not found anywhere in the Bible, but any student of Semitic languages will instantly recognize it as the best-known form of diminutive or caritative, a term of affection and endearment meaning little king. What could they call the uncrowned child, last of his line, but their little king? And what could they call themselves but Mulekiyah or Mulekites?”
Whether or not that is all the case, the point is that the youngest son of King Zedekiah did survive Nebuchanezzar’s elimination of the Royal Family eleven years after Zedekiah became king. In fact, the publication of “The Babylonian Chronicles”—a series of tablets written by Babylonian astronomers (“Chaldaeans”), recording the major events in Babylonian history, gave evidence that the years of Zedekiah were measured in a non-accession sense. This reckoning makes year 598/597 (i.e., spring of 597 B.C.), the year Zedekiah was installed by Nebuchadnezzar according to Judah's Tishri-based calendar, to be year "one," so that the fall of Jerusalem in his eleventh year would have been in year 588/587 B.C., i.e. in the summer of 587 B.C.
    These Chronicles give 2 Adar (16 March) 597 as the date that Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, thus putting an end to the reign of Jehoaichin. Thus, Zedekiah’s installation as king by Nebuchadnezzar can be firmly established as the early spring of 597, and in that first year, actually “the commencement” of that year (1 Nephi 1:4), Lehi was instructed to leave his home “at Jerusalem” and head into the wilderness (1 Nephi 2:2). Eleven years later, in the summer of 586 B.C., Zedekiah is captured, along with his sons and servants, on the plains of Jericho.
    At the time, Jerusalem was so fortified, that it could not be taken till famine rendered the besieged unable to resist. When Zedekiah learned that the Egyptians failed to prevent the Babylonians from Jerusalem’s defeat, he and his fighting men managed to slip out of the city during the night. Making their way cautiously through the line of surrounding forts, they hurried off to the east toward the Jordan Valley. 
As Jeremiah records it: Then the city was broken into, and all the men of war fled and went forth from the city at night by way of the gate between the two walls which was by the king's garden, though the Chaldeans were all around the city. And they went by way of the Arabah (the plain east of Jericho through which the Jordan River flowed).
    After the walls of the city were breached, the Chaldeans went into Jerusalem for the king and his household, but not finding him in his palace, some of the captured palace servants told them where Zedekiah had fled. When the escape of Zedekiah and the soldiers of the garrison was discovered, hot pursuit was made, since the honor of the great king Nebuchadnezzar required that his enemies should be brought captive to his presence.
Heading east across the Palins of Jericho toward the Jordan River and Moab beyond, Zedekiah was caught by Nebuchadnezzar’s army before he could escape across the river
    As the Chaldeans overtook Zedekiah on the plains of Jericho, a fertile tract of land on the right bank of the Jordan nears its embouchure (mouth), which was excellently watered, and cultivated in gardens, orchards, and palm-groves. It is probable, though not certain, that Zedekiah intended to cross the Jordan, and seek a refuge in Moab. No doubt his deserting army and generals had scattered into surrounding farms and homestead, seeking refuge themselves, for according to Josephus, Zedekiah’s army scattered, each man for himself, including his generals, and left the king with but a few.
    They captured Zedekiah and he was dragged in fetters up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath (Antioch in Syria), where Nebuchadnezzar berated and criticized him, treating Zedekiah as a common criminal, not as a king. One by one his sons were brought in and slain in his presence, then his eyes were blinded; in fetters he was led off to Babylon and there thrown into prison for the rest of his days.
    An interesting paradox is shown here in the record of two prophets, one saying Zedekiah should be brought to Babylon (Jeremiah 32:5; 34:3), but the other said he should not see Babylon (Ezekiel 12:13). Yet, both were right, since Zedekiah had his eyes put out by Nebuchadnezzar, who had him then taken to Babylon—thus, he entered Babylon, but did not see it because he was blinded.
(See the next post, “Who Were the Mulekites? Part II,” for the continuation of this regarding Mulek, the youngest son of Zedekiah, and how he came to be in the Land of Promise and found the city of Zarahemla)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

How North Does North Have to be?

So many writers over the years have tried to make light of Mormon’s adamant comments about north and south, east and west. It is almost as though some contest took place at BYU years ago to decide how north could be re-figured to be east, and the resultant winners all decided to write books about their newly found directions and the Mesoamerican landscape.
Max Wells Jakeman (left) was evidently the first to bring this so-called huge error of directions in the Book of Mormon to the forefront, when he became the first head of the newly created chair of archaeology, a regular academic department at Brigham Young University in 1946. Considered the “father of Book of Mormon archaeology,” he taught archaeology in the framework of “historical archaeology,” based on a close connection with historical documents (text-related archaeology as opposed to field archaeology).
    Jakeman, the author of The Origin and History of the Mayans (1945), and a firm believer in Mesoamerican Land of Promise location while at UC Berkeley, to become the first Latter-day Saint ever to earn the doctorate in the field of archaeology, whose dissertation was entitled The Maya States of Yucatan 1441-1545. His conviction that the Book of Mormon Land of Promise was located in Mesoamerica dates to eight years before he was appointed archaeology chair at BYU, from his early days at UC Berkeley and studies there about the Maya. He also negotiated the 1946 BYU purchase of the famous William Gates Collection of Early Middle American Literature, believed to contain 98% of all known early manuscripts in the native Indian languages of Mexico and Central America.
    Under his leadership, archaeology became an established academic subject at BYU and widely recognized as an approach of great potentiality with which to study the scriptural foundations of the Latter-day Saint faith—the Book of Mormon.
Top: Jakeman (seated) discussing the location of Aguacatal with members; Bottom: BYU archaeological expedition at the ruins of Aguacatal, Campeche, Mexico, believed to be the city of Bountiful by Jakeman
    Consequently, it should be kept in mind that  since at least 1946, studies of the Book of Mormon at BYU were centered around a geographic location in Mesoamerica. In 1948, 1954 and 1956, Jakeman headed BYU expeditions to Central America, which are claimed to have “uncovered highly important evidence on the location of the Book of Mormon cities, particularly Bountiful and Zarahemla.” Between 1946 and 1956, about 4,500 students passed through classes offered by the BYU Department of Archaeology, many of them taught by Jakeman himself. As a result, then, from the very beginning (in fact, eight years before the Archaeology Department at BYU was formed), Jakeman was convinced that Mesoamerica was the site of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise; an attitude and belief he brought to BYU and began teaching in his “historic archaeology.”
    Thus, from the man who had no problem changing Mormon’s explicit scripturally stated north-south Land of Promise to an east-west oriented land in Mesoamerica, thousands of individuals have over the past 59 years been taught that Mormon was wrong, Joseph Smith mistranslated the Book of Mormon and the Spirit allowed such an error to be propagated regarding the direction of the Land of Promise.
    In 1950, one of Jakeman’s early protégés dating back to the University of California at Berkeley, Thomas Stuart Ferguson, teamed with Milton R. Hunter, who had been responsible for bringing Jakeman to BYU from Berkeley, with a forward by John A. Widtsoe, who had recommended Jakeman’s appointment, (Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, p 176), began to write about Mesoamerica and had to change his directions in mid-sentence from the scriptural record: “The literate Nephite-Mulekite nation began colonizing north (actually west and north or northwest) of the Isthmus in 55 B.C.
Ferguson’s overall map of Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise. Note that this land actually runs east and west, not north and south, nor even northwest to southeast as Ferguson claims, but due east and west
    The resultant change in direction, beginning with Jakeman, continued with Ferguson, picked up by John L. Sorenson and others, until the inaccurate directions of Mesoamerica that disagree so strongly with the scriptural record and Mormon’s clear north-south directions, has been accepted in all corners of the discussion about the Land of Promise until today only a few are knowledgeable enough to make a negative comment about this glaring inaccuracy.
    The point is, Jakeman, Ferguson, and Sorenson’s Mesoamerica cannot be altered by language—it does not run to the northwest or southeast, but along an almost true east-west axis at the narrow neck area, where Bountiful and Zarahemla have been inaccurately placed to the east of the narrow neck (instead of south) and also to the east of Desolation and the Land Northward (instead of to the south). It is interesting with these very obvious and uncontested differences with the scriptural record, Ferguson wrote to Richard L. Evans in 1941: “For many years I have been actively interested in the Book of Mormon, and I believe I have an unusually strong testimony of its divinity,” yet still felt free to rearrange the directions of the Land of Promise, ignoring the directions Mormon made so clear in Alma 22:27-34. It was also clear at the time that he believed Church members entertained certain misconceptions about the Book of Mormon that needed to be corrected—a belief also held by Hugh Nibley who mentioned this belief frequently.
    The point being, that when modern historians, writers, and theorists begin playing with the wordage of the scriptural record in an effort to bend Mormon’s words to a more general fit of their ideas, both the Book of Mormon and the members of the Church are ill-served.
    Take, as an example, Jakeman’s early belief (before he came to BYU) that the city of Bountiful was located in the ancient settlement of Aguacatal, Compeche, Mexico.
In Jakeman’s Land of Promise, his city of Bountiful is located far to the east of his Land of Bountiful, to the east of Zarahemla, and far from the narrow neck of land, where Mormon placed the city
    With little, if any, real evidence of any kind, one of Jakeman’s early decisions was to lead a group of BYU archaeology students to Aguacatal for a dig in 1948, that over time, extended into a series of trips to Aguacatal and later other sites, including Tula, Mitla and Teotihuacan and the museums of Mexico City, Jalapa and Oaxaca.
    So steeped in Mesoamerica did Jakeman and Ferguson become, that thousands of archaeological students at BYU have been taught this location for the Book of Mormon Land of Promise until hardly a single LDS archaeologist would think of looking elsewhere for the location, despite the continual lack of any evidence to support Mesoamerica in any archaeological manner. So much so, that non-LDS archaeologists have long criticized and blatantly rejected such a connection.
     The problem is, and it always is the same problem, when people start trying to alter or change the meaning of the scriptural record, it unleashes a whole series of problems that have far-reaching effect. Mormon gave us his simple directions of north and northward as he outlined the relationship of the various lands in the Land of Promise beginning with the Lamanite king’s proclamation, showing us, his future reader, exactly where that land was located, and where it was located in relationship to the Nephite held lands of Zarahemla, Buntiful, the narrow neck of land, and Desolation in the Land Northward—all in a northward movement from the Land of Nephi.
    The question asked earlier was, how far north does north have to be for it to be north? Nibley, Jakeman, Ferguson, Sorenson, Allen, Hauck, and numerous other Mesoamerican theorists all want us to believe that if you go west, you will eventually go north, or if you go east, you will eventually go south, that a sea to the north of the Land of Promise was called the Sea East by the Nephites, and the sea to the south of the Nephites was called the Sea West.
When overlaying a north-south-east-west compass direction rose on the map of Mesoamerica, there can be no question that the land runs east and west, nor north and south as Mormon describes the Land of Promise
    However, all this playing with words does not change the fact that Mesoamerica runs east and west, just like the United States runs east and west between the seas—you can move from Southern California to Main, which is truly a northeast direction, but you are going east and no one would entertain the thought you were going north or even northward. And since Mesoamerica is located in a much smaller land area, the idea that east is south and west is north is simply out of the question to any sane individual. Only Mesoamericanists can consider the opposite—certainly Mormon did not when he told us the directions of the Land of Promise.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Changing of the Land

Hugh Nibley made an interesting comment regarding the destruction mentioned in 3 Nephi in which he wrote: “The Book of Mormon mentions the rising and sinking of the land, forming new "hills and valleys" (3 Nephi 9:5-8)—with no mention of major mountain ranges. 
     It is interesting how different people can read the same scriptural record and come up with far ranging differences in meaning. Along this same line, Sorenson in his book wrote: “It was the intensity of nature’s rampage that impressed the Nephite recorder, not the novelty of the phenomena (3 Npehi 8:5, 7).” He also wrote: “All these kinds of destruction evidently had happened before in the land, but never with such terrifying effect.” In addition, he writes: “The power of the thunder and lightening particularly impressed the Nephite writer; he said they were powerful enough to contribute to deforming ‘the face of the whole earth’ (3 Nephi 8:17).
One’s first response to such a statement is wonder; how could these atmospheric phenomena possibly ‘deform’ the surface of the earth?” Finally, he adds: “So we need to use restraint in the picture we allow our minds to construct of the totality of destruction—we should not go beyond what the text declares with measured care.”
    While we should not go beyond what the text declares, we should certainly include all that it states—something Sorenson frequently does not do if it disagrees with his point of view. As an example, and this goes toward Nibley’s statement about “no mention of major mountain ranges,” in understanding two sources:
When tall mountains collapse, leaving jumbled pieces strewn across the land, it would, without question, change the topography of that land
1. Nephi in his vision regarding the destruction at the time of the crucifixion, stated: “I saw a mist of darkness on the face of the land of promise; and I saw lightnings, and I heard thunderings, and earthquakes, and all manner of tumultuous noises; and I saw the earth and the rocks, that they rent; and I saw mountains tumbling into pieces; and I saw the plains of the earth, that they were broken up; and I saw many cities that they were sunk; and I saw many that they were burned with fire; and I saw many that did tumble to the earth, because of the quaking thereof” (1 Nephi 12:4);
2. Samuel, the Lamanite, in his prophecy of the coming destruction, stated: “And behold, there shall be great tempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23).
When valleys are changed and tall mountains take their places, it is definitely a change in topography that is not cosmetic

In addition, there are other statements about mountains, as stated in the plural which suggest ranges:
1. "And the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah that in the place of the city there became a great mountain"  (3 Nephi 8:10)  
2.  "Mountains which shall be carried up"  (1 Nephi” 19:11)
When we read the scriptural record in total, and not just one part of it, we get a clearer picture of the meaning of numerous statements, especially when covering the same subject. In this case, the destruction that took place at the time of the crucifixion.
   Nephi saw the mountains tumbling into pieces as they collapsed, the image Samuel saw, and to which he added that flat land would rise into mountains—which is the same as saying a mountain rage since mountains make up a range—whose height is great. So not only do we find that mountain ranges are mentioned in regard to the destruction at the time of the crucifixion, but those ranges have individual peaks or mountain tops that are very high.
    Yet, Nibley in his comments about this isn’t finished. He states: “Highways broken up, and the level roads spoiled, and many smooth places become rough (3 Nephi 8:13, 17-18) needs no commentary since such are the commonest of all earthquakes phenomena.  The remarkable thing about such statements is their moderation.  (Nibley, p 268).”
    However, as is often the case, the scriptural record suggests a far different happening.  Consider that the Nephites had a history of being in this land for about 600 years when the disciple Nephi wrote about the destruction that occurred in 33 A.D.  He described those events with the following statements:
•  A storm that was worse than any ever known in the land (3 Nephi 8:5)
•  Lightning that was worse than any ever known in the land (3 Nephi 8:7)
•  The whole face of the land was changed (3 Nephi 8:12)
•  The face of the whole earth became deformed (3 Nephi 8:17)
•  6 cities sunk into the earth
•  3 cities were covered with seas
•  5 cities burned with fire (there was no electricity or gas to start these totally destructive fires—it would have taken continual lightning strikes)
•  1 city was covered with earth
When rocks beneath the earth are broken up,  the upper crust and sediment is moved about, forming and reforming various hills, valleys, canyons and other topographical changes 
    Foreseeing this destruction, Samuel the Lamanite wrote regarding the land:  "Yea, they shall be rent in twain, and shall ever after be found in broken fragments upon the face of the whole earth, yea, both above the earth and beneath." (Helaman 14:22).
    We also need to keep in mind that this destruction occurred in both the Land Southward and the Land Northward, a distance of several hundred miles, and the face of the whole earth was deformed, (3 Nephi 8:17) in a destructive event that lasted three hours (3 Nephi 8:19).
    It is hard to imagine these prophets wrote in moderation.  The destruction listed is far greater and far more widespread than almost anything listed in history.  While other catastrophes mention a city here or there or several villages being destroyed, this destruction totally wiped off the face of the earth without leaving a trace of 10 major cities.  In addition, five were destroyed in fires, and others were completely leveled with nothing but a jumble of rocks and earth left to mark their place (3 Nephi 8:14).  
Earthquakes, when viewed from a large scale, do tremendous damage to an overall topography, change hills and valleys, mountains, and flat valleys 
    We talk today about earthquakes that last from seconds upwards of a minute and cause untold damages—but this destruction lasted three hours!  The entire face of the earth was changed and deformed, huge mountains shot up from flat ground and other huge mountains disappeared.  In the 600-year history of the land of promise, nothing like this had ever before been seen.  While the prophet telling us of this event was far more interested (2 Nephi 9:2, 9, 11) in the cause (wickedness) than the results (physical destruction), he still gives us a clear picture of how vast and widespread was this destruction and nowhere does it show moderation or that the event was not significant in altering the face of the entire land of promise. Nor can it be said that mountain ranges or tall mountains were not involved.
    It is a sad fact that writers, no matter their outstanding credentials, are more interested in altering the meaning of the scriptural record to conform to their pre-determined location and the events known to have happened there, than to what the ancient writers and the abridger Mormon actually tell us of these events. However, when we get a clearer picture of the tremendous destruction that took place, and not only the toppling of “great and notable cities” (3 Nephi 8:14)—cities that even the Lord called great (3 Nephi 9:3, 4, 5, 9)—we find that the destruction was more than cosmetic. In fact, “Behold, the whole face of the land was changed” (3 Nephi 8:11). What exactly is meant that the whole face of the land was changed? How do you change the whole face of the land?
Until the earthquakes hit, these areas were flat lands without a landmark or distinguishing feature. Hard to claim that the topography didn’t change much—gives new meaning to the entire face of the earth was changed 
    Consider that one of the most devastating earthquakes ever recorded, and certainly the largest recorded in the 20th century, that of Valdivia, Chile, in 1960, lasted only 10 minutes, having a magnitude of 9.4 to 9.6, and extended over a 560 to 620 mile stretch of the Nazca Plate. The megathrust earthquake resulted in an estimated 3000 to 6000 dead, $6 billion dollar damage, 150,000 square miles of Chile, with a 500-mile-long rupture zone, moving at 2.2 miles per second.
    Landslides covered valleys; lakes were drained; mountains of the Andes were altered; rivers were dammed; floods wiped out uninhabited areas; mountain passes were blocked; seaports destroyed; enormous fissures and vents were created and caused enormous lava flows; entire cities, towns and villages were leveled, including concrete buildings; bridges fell; shoals rose, blocking sea lanes and entire bays; hills and banks fell and were compacted; roads, highways and railroads were demolished; fills subsided and collapsed.
   By comparison, the earthquake and devastation in the Land of Promise lasted three hours!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Both of Gold, and of Silver, and of Copper

While this is not a new subject, it is of such importance that it deserves more “print time,” in our blog. And this is, just after landing in the Land of Promise, Nephi tells us in walking around their settlement area adjacent to their landing site, among other things, “we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25). Few people have paid much attention to this, and when they have, they have taken the statement apart and used only parts of it.
As an example, when Phyllis Carol Olive talks about ore in her chosen area for the Land of Promise, i.e., the Great Lakes, she mentions copper, while acknowledging that gold is not found in the area, or that what might have been at one time became depleted. John L. Sorenson spends 7 ½ pages on ore, but mentions gold and copper little, and silver but once and that in merely repeating the seven ores mentioned in scripture.
    It is interesting that Nephi’s comment has gone so much unnoticed with its important and far-reaching significance: “both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.” That is what he found at first near where they landed. Not until he traveled “many days” away from their first settlement and pitched their tents in the area they called Nephi (2 Nephi 5:8), does he mention the various ores he taught his people to work with: iron, copper, gold, silver and “precious ores.”
Of course, “brass,” and “steel” that Sorenson mentions are not pure ores, but alloys (copper and zinc make brass; steel is made from iron and carbon; actually there are four types of steel: carbon steel, alloy steel, tool steel and stainless steel. However, it is most likely that Nephi made what is called today “low-carbon steel,” with less than 1% carbon. Although, he could have alloyed it with copper, which he had, or possibly nickel, if niccolite was available, to him).
    That Nephi found more than gold, silver and copper is suggested by his statement “all manner of ore.” The word “manner” in this sentence means “sort, kind,” and “manner has the sense of a plural word; all sorts or kinds.” Thus, there were all kinds or all sorts of ore, including gold, silver and copper—a form of statement that has a particular significance. That is, the three ores he mentions are listed in a way that suggests all three were found together, or what is called “in single ore.”
That is, in the statement “both,” he mentioned three ores. Obviously, it can be construed that the statement meant both “gold and silver,” and “copper,” which splits the three into two groups, i.e., two precious ores (gold and silver) and one non-precious ore (copper). However, by combining the three also means that these three ores were together and not separately found.
    Take, as an example, in the statement where Nephi lists several ores and materials that he taught his people to work with, he did not include a qualifying word, such as “both,” as when describing the three ores earlier he found. After all, “wood, iron, copper, brass, steel, gold, silver, and precious ores,” have no qualifying combinations, though they are all material to be reshaped and reused in various ways, as are gold, silver and copper. In the earlier statement, the qualifying word “both” is necessary since all three were found together, but not of the same worth or value (two previous ores and one not a precious ore). Wood, iron and steel are used in one manner, though of different value; and copper, brass, gold, silver and precious ores are, again, similar, but because they were not found in the same ore, need no qualifying word.
    Now gold, silver and copper are found in the same ore, but not everywhere. None are found in the eastern United States, and none found in Mesoamerica except one mine located in Honduras. But in Chile, gold, silver and copper are found in single ore right in the vicinity of where Lehi landed, and throughout that area of Chile and also can be found in Peru.
Pascua-Lama mine in Chile. Top: Yellow Arrows: shows strips of veins of gold, silver and copper ore deposits throughout the mountains faces; Bottom: Locations of the various mines and principal functions
    As an example, the Pascua-Lama mine, an open pit mining project of gold, silver, copper and other minerals, is located in the Andes mountains in the southern reaches of the Atacama Desert, now being mined by the Toronto-based Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold mining company, who plans to spend 1.5 billion on the project, however, delays and environmental difficulties has already cost 3.7 to 5 billion.
A wall of rock containing gold, silver, copper and other minerals is clearly seen in this photo (above) compared to a horse and rider in the mountains near the town of El Corral. It is easier to see how Nephi could have remarked that “as we journeyed in the wilderness…we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25). There is also no doubt that Nephi, who had been tutored by the Lord regarding finding ore (1 Nephi 17:10). As for this mine, which has been halted for a dozen years because of environmental groups and rulings, is estimated to produce 800,000 to 850,000 ounces of gold in the first full five years of production, of an estimated 26 million ounces of gold, 635 million ounces of silver, and a likely a million tons of copper.
    All of this is meant to show that when Nephi said he found these ores while journeying around his settlement area after landing, that the amount of gold, silver and copper in single ore, and the appearance of it when exposed by nature, is readily available to be seen, as Nephi states.
Mining at Pascua-Lama, once began, has been stopped by court orders over environmental issues; but if ever approved is slated to be one of the world’s largest gold, silver and copper resources
    And so it is with the entire scriptural record—there is much to understand, much to learn, much to comprehend. We see where there was a hill Cumorah in the scriptural record, understand there is a hill Cumorah in upstate New York, and try to put two and two together to come up with four, however, our understanding is so limited as to the things of God, his Word, and meaning, that we lack a perspective in recognizing that we have far more to learn and understand about his workings than just such a simple two plus two equation as that. When Mormon tells us that there was a “small” or “narrow” neck of land, he meant just that. When he tells us that it was the connection between the two major land masses (Land Southward and Land Northward) he meant just that. And when he tells us that Nephite defectors and Lamamite captains wanted to gain that land, and that it was a narrow neck that could be defended as the only egress into the north lands, he meant just that—our job in understanding is to put it all together for that it was Mormon had in mind—a single location that served these different purposes and was critically important to the Nephites. It doesn’t mean we can put a narrow neck here, a narrow passage there, a choke point over there, and some other means of movement somewhere else.
    Our job in learning and deciding is to recognizer the purpose of why Mormon tells us these things and how they are meant to help us understand an overall picture of the Land of Promise, not to glibly place these items willy nilly on the land so they are closer to what w think--but that they show us the land as Mormon and the others knew it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nephite Highways and Roads – Part II

Continuing from the last post on the Nephite roadway system that not only covered nearly 25,000 miles, but connected what is now six countries and made the Nephite nation a commercial haven and provided the ability for a few Spanish invaders on horseback to conquer a population hundreds of times larger than their tiny force. 
The Andean roadway system (left) was the most extensive and advanced transportation system in the pre-Columbian Americas, estimated at 24,800 miles in total length; however, the true extent of the road network will likely never be known, since only about 25% of the original road network is visible and can be seen today. This, because the Spaniards after the conquest, both completely dug up entire sections of roadway, and allowed it to deteriorate under the metal hooves of horses and iron-bound wheels of carts and wagons. In fact, the ignorant, destructive nature of the conquerors in their wanton devastation of the Inca Empire, its people, magnificent buildings, artifacts and the ancient accomplishments of a civilization dating back two thousands years with histories of accomplishments the Spanish could never have achieved, let alone equaled, is appalling.
    Yet, this destruction of Lehi’s descendants had been foretold from the very beginning with Lehi’s prophecies and Nephi’s vision (2 Nephi 1:18; 1Nephi 1:13-14).
    When the Spanish arrived in what is now Peru, the Inca Empire, under Sapa Inca (the “Only Emperor”) Atahualpa, covered some 690,000 square miles, from the Patia River in southern Colombia to the Maule River in Chile, and eastward from the Pacific Ocean to the edge of the Amazon jungles. The Inca controlled upwards of 16,000,000 people at the time with Pizarro landing with only 168 Spanish soldiers and some indigenous auxiliary Indians (Indios amigos) who were friendly to the Spanish. At this time, two things enabled Pizarro to conquer such a vast Empire.
1. The Inca had just entered into a civil war of succession between two brothers: Atahualpa, an illegitimate son, and his brother, the rightful heir, Prince Túpac Cusi Hualpa, also known as Huáscar—the Spanish were very good at establishing such alliances that exploited ethnic and tribal antagonisms and enabled Pizarro to side with one and gain help in defeating the other;
2. A network of roads and highways that made movement throughout the Empire swift and easy, especially by horseback.
    This Andean Road System was an extensive communication, trade and defense network of roads and associated structures covering about 25,000 miles. Constructed over several centuries, the network reached its maximum expansion having spread across the length and breadth of the Andes.
    The network was based on four main routes, which originated from the central square of Cusco, the Nephite capital until Mosiah fled to Zarahemla around 200 B.C.
These main routes are connected to several other road networks of lower hierarchy, which created linkages and cross-connections. 273 component sites in 137 segments highlight the network, encompassing architectural and engineering achievement along with its associated infrastructure for trade, storage and accommodation as well as sites of religious significance. Many roads moved along cliffs, making it possible to move quickly from one area to another that would have otherwise taken days to cross.
    The road network was the outcome of an ongoing project that linked towns and centers of production and worship together under an economic, social and cultural system, which is an extraordinary road network through one of the world’s most extreme geographical terrains used over several centuries by caravans, traveler, messengers, armies and whole population groups.
    When the Inca came to power in 1438, these roads became the lifeline of the Tawantinsuyu, linking towns and centers of production and worship over long distances. Towns, villages and rural areas were thus integrated into a single road grid. Several local communities who remain traditional guardians and custodians of Qhapaq Ñan segments continue to safeguard associated intangible cultural traditions including languages. 
The magnificent roadway system, by its sheer scale and quality of the road, is a unique achievement of engineering skills in most varied geographical terrains, linking snow-capped mountain ranges of the Andes, at an altitude of more than 20,000-feet high, to the coast, running through hot rainforests, fertile valleys and absolute deserts. It demonstrates mastery in engineering technology used to resolve a myriad of problems posed by the Andes variable landscape by means of variable road construction technologies, bridges, stairs, ditches and cobblestone pavings. 
    The road system exhibits important processes of interchange of goods, communication and cultural traditions within a cultural area of the world, beginning during the Nephite times and expanding over nearly a 1000 year period—then later, into Inca times that served the Empire at its height in the 15th century. It is based on the integration of prior Andean ancestral knowledge and the specifics of Andean communities and cultures forming a national organizational system that enabled the exchange of social, political and economic values for a single governmental system under the Nephites. It was still in operation a thousand years after the Nephites, and enabled the Inca to quickly gain control and subjugate millions of people because of the Empire’s swift movement throughout their territory as they moved their troops from land to land, city to city and place to place.
    Several roadside structures provide lasting evidence of valuable resources and goods traded along the network, such as precious metals, muyu (spondylus shell), foodstuffs, military supplies, feathers, wood, coca and textiles transported from the areas where they were collected, produced or manufactured, to distant cities and lands. The Nephite construction of this vast network of roads and highways tied together their Land of Promise in a way no other system could have done. It enabled movement of settlements, missionary labors, and later military campaigns to stop and cut off Lamanite advances. The roads are a unique testimony to Nephite ingenuity and building capability. The road network was the life giving support to the Nephite Nation, integrated into the Andean landscape. As a testimony to the building legacy of Nephi, it illustrates a thousand years of cultural evolution and was an omnipresent symbol of the Nation’s strength and extension throughout the Andes.
The Andean Road System is an outstanding example of a type of technological ensemble which despite the most difficult geographical conditions created a continuous and functioning communication and trade system with exceptional technological and engineering skills in rural and remote settings. Several elements illustrate characteristic typologies in terms of walls, roads, steps, roadside ditches, sewage pipes, drains, etc., with construction methods unique to the Nephi roads while varying according to location and regional context. Many of these elements were standardized by the Nephites, which allowed for the control of equal conditions along the road network. 
    The roadway system played an essential role in the organization of space and society in a wide geographical area along the Andes, where the roads were used as a means to share cultural values with outstanding intangible significance.
    It was the highways and roads that enabled Moroni to move his troops quickly from west to east, and from south to north as he spent his lifetime defending his country against the Lamanites. It was the highways and roads that allowed Teancum to intercept Morianton in his flight toward the Land Northward (Alma 50:33-35). It was the highways and roads that enabled Coriantumr to march so swiftly to Zarahemla (Helaman 1:19), and believe he could march as fast to Bountiful (Helaman 1:24), and also allowed Lehi to cut Coriantumnr off on his march to the north (Helaman 1:28). It was over the highways and roads that Helaman moved  with his 2000 stripling warriors, and Antipus moved his forces against the Lamasnites, and it was along these highways and roads that Moroni moved his army to succor the cities in the east.