Friday, June 30, 2017

The Value of Omni – Part III

Continuing with our previous post regarding the more or less unknown books of the Small Plates, Jacob through Omni, and especially the latter in Omni. 
Now we come to Amaleki, perhaps a prophet in the true sense—though we know little of his prophetic involvement, if any. What we do know is that he was willing to record the events of his life, though it appears that during his lifetime, some important things happened, giving him cause to be prolific in his writing. 
Amaleki, the last record keeper before and during Mosiah I, and received the records from his father, Abinadom
Too bad he was not more prolific, since we really have very little to transist from Amaleki to Benjamin through Mosiah I. It is as though the record really began from a totally separate source (as indeed it has) with Mosiah II’s reign—from whom we know much more about what took place in that era. Perhaps it was Amaleki's awarenss of space on the plates was running out, and it seems just as obvious that he had nowhere to go to get more ore or to have someone mold plates for his use. Does this tell us that toward the end of their period in the Land of Nephi that the Nephites had become less involved in literacy, less involved in writing, less involved in recording? Most likely, with the debauchery of the Nephites, and the Lamanite wars, little time and effort was spent on molting metal for the purpose of making plates upon which to write.
At this point, with limited space and much to say, Amaleki seems to pour one idea on top of another as he hurriedly records the things that took place. Did he wait until he was old and near death before jotting down anything? Did he not have the plates to begin with to record upon? Or was he too busy in shifting his life from the city of Nephi to the city of Zarahemla, and all that would have been involved in such a move.
    Thankfully, Amaleki did not run out of space before he completed at least that which he gave us. This is the only history we have for probably over two hundred years. Unfortunately, there is one detail which he left out. For all his spilling forth with specifics of his history he failed to give us a date. 
Omni, the almost pompous military man, tells us twice the dating of his record. He was a military man, would we expect less? His son, Amaron, also provides a date, but nothing after that. In fact, that is the last date referencing the time of Lehi until the first verse of 3 Nephi, with all other dating to the birth of Christ counting backward from the time of that birth.
    Still, thanks to these unheralded men, some of which, no doubt, would have been questionable in their righteousness, especially in a more righteous period, we have a limited record that shifted from the Large Plates of the kings in the first 116 pages lost by Martin Harris, to this supplemental record the Lord intended to have come forth. It is interesting that the period from about 350 A.D. until about 70 to 50 A.D. is so poorly documented. 
We see glimpses here and there, that when put together, give us a little insight into this period, but think what a void would have occurred had we not had this record as a backup. In this same vein, what other occurrences might we know about had the original record not been lost, and the story continued from beginning to end with a more complete historicity.
Obviously, it was not necessary for our salvation, but it certainly would have helped with our curiosity and likely, our understanding. 
    Others, no doubt, have written more and clearer about these few writers, but our interest was simply to point out to our reader that even in very limited writing, we can often get some insights into both the writers themselves and their backgrounds, as well as the people as a whole and what was going on, especially at a time when so little is basically left us about the Nephites and their condition toward the end of their occupation of the Land of Nephi.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Value of Omni – Part II

Continuing with our previous post regarding the more or less unknown books of the Small Plates, Jacob through Omni, and especially the latter in Omni.
    Like Mormon, Amaleki, the last historian of the Nephite’s first 400 years in the Land of Nephi rose to the occasion and, filled with a sense of longing for what has been lost, eloquently recounted the last days of the Nephite people in their ancestral homeland, the land of Nephi.
The assemblies at the city of Nephi when prophets called the Nephites to repentance in their final days before he told Mosiah to leave Nephi
We also see from this period how much the Lord blessed the Nephites, even in their frailties, constantly bringing them to the peak of achievement before allowing their re-occurring evil practices to throw them back into a depraved state. We also see from these periods how quickly the change can occur. Sometimes in only a two or three year period, sometimes longer.
    We also encounter Jarom’s son, Omni, a Hebrew name meaning “all” or “every.’ Omni actually  tells us a great deal about himself in just a couple of sentences: “Wherefore, in my days, I would that ye should know that I fought much with the sword to preserve my people, the Nephites, from falling into the hands of their enemies, the Lamanites. But behold, I of myself am a wicked man, and I have not kept the statutes and the commandments of the Lord as I ought to have done” (Omni 1:2).
    We also know from Omni, that within a ten-year period (328-318 B.C.) that the lives of the Nehites experienced both peace and serious wars, which suggests that when the Nephites were not directly involved in battles, they were preparing for them; and that these battles may well have been far more serious and bloody (meaning more deaths) than might have occurred before this time.
    Omni has been called the self-centered soldier. He was the first of five authors in this book, ending with Amaleki. In verse 5 we find "the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed." There is little detail about the destruction, except to say that the Lord did visit them in great judgment because of their wickedness.
We quickly read through four writers in the first dozen verses of Omni, each telling us within a few words much about themselves. Omni, himself, uses the pronoun “I” ten times in three verses, focusing his writing on himself rather than events, and as a soldier he makes it clear he is a wicked man, though he carries out the commands of his father. His interest, however, is about his own valor in battle and obvious thinks about his time in terms of war and peace as he writes: "We had many seasons of peace, and we had many seasons of serious war and bloodshed" (Omni 1:3).
    That reference to "serious war" shows us that he does not consider war to be evil and without merit, but merely sees it as a vocation to which he is quite adept. While Omni is up front about himself and paints us a picture obviously of not being a prophet but merely a custodian of the records, his words seem to tell us a lot about those of his day—warlike, but staunch defenders of the Nation. He reminds one of Douglas MacArthur, when he is awakened one night that the North Koreans had attacked South Korea, is credited with saying, “I’ve been blessed with one last war.”
    We also see in such recording an increase in both wars and savagery of the Lamanite psyche and their desire to increase their hatred and response to those whom they felt had stolen the birthright from them. Obviously, the wars had continued for so long, that among the Nephites there would have been many such men as Omni, those professional soldiers who either gloried in war, or found great satisfaction in its pursuit—a very real and drastic change in the Nephite psyche, which looked forward to battle or did not object to it when it occurred.
    We know almost nothing from this point on of Omni’s son, Amaron, a name meaning “to hear, to obey,” yet can see where the teachings of his grandfather, Jarom, regarding the Lord had left an imprint upon him when he tells us: “he did spare the righteous that they should not perish, but did deliver them out of the hands of their enemies” (Omni 1:7); and his careful and organized manner seen in his writing show us he was more like his grandfather than his father, though he seems to lack Jarom's writing ability and sensitivity (Jarom, by the way means “to be prosperous, happy). His sentences, unlike Omni's, are neatly balanced, but appears to be a mechanical neatness. As others have suggested we find in his writing that he either was torn between his parent and grandparent, or was trying very hard to be like both.
When it comes to Chemish, we know even less about him than we do of his brother, Amaron. According to Avigad and Nahman in their scholarly West Semitic onomasticon and iconography of the biblical period, Chemish is a name related to that of the Ammonite god Chemosh, spelled Kmš in prevocalic Hebrew and Ammonite languages. A number of names containing the element Kmš are known, in which it is clear that the divine name was meant. Also known is a seal currently in the Israel Museum that has Kmš as the name of a man or woman (Nahman Avigad and Benjamin Sass, Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem, 1997) pp373–374, 380–388).
    One can only wonder the motivation of Che4mish, who would have surely known about the record he jotted a few words in and that it would “come forth in the latter-days," yet, it appears rather than writing in it, he couldn’t wait to get rid of it, and his few words tell us nothing of himself and nothing to increase our knowledge of his time or circumstance. He strikes one as being like many members today who move through life adding and taking away little or nothing, and provide no mark of their existence or passing.
    When Abinadom, a name meaning “wandering stone” or “father or people of my wandering,” perhaps from the categorization of the Nephites as “wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem,” or “wanderers in a strange land.” However, it appears he little interest in leaving much for postrrity—in his two verses, using words reminiscent of Omni and Jarom, he tells us only that he fought the Lamanites with the sword and knew of no additional revelations to write about.
    In fact, of these three generations, we have but 480 words, 165 written by the last two of these, that describe very little other than the wars with the Lamanites continued, nor is there any suggestion that they lessened, suggesting that they continued unabated in their ferocity.
    By this time, as Amaleki steps onto the scene, the Nephites in the city and Land of Nephi had become so wicked, that Mosiah I is told to take those who “obey the voice of the Lord” would go with him and leave the city and go into the wilderness—a trek that was closely directed by the Lord, for “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).
    Interestingly, we are told nothing about Mosiah I background, who his father was, his right to the kingship, if indeed he had one, and in what capacity the events prior to Amaleki’s words had taken place. 
(See the next post, “The Value of Omni – Part III,” for more information regarding these oft-skipped over words of men we sometimes think little about, and seldom consider the significance of what we can learn from them)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Value of Omni – Part I

We received a comment in from a reader recently in which we were asked about our opinion of the books of Jarom and Omni, to which the reader thought they were of little value and that we spent far too much time quoting from them, specifically Omni.
Frankly, we found this an interesting opinion, for in our estimation, Omni especially, is one of the more important works for several reasons. First, it gives us a link between Nephi, son of Lehi, and Mormon, the last prophet, as well as bridging that gap from Nephi to King Benjamin. What is a shame is the limited information we have on king Benjaman and his father, Mosiah I—those two men would have made for some very fascinating reading.

As for the Small Plates of Nephi, after he gave the Large Plates to his son, or at least the next king over the Nephites who was called Nephi II (Jacob 1:10-11), we find the plates went:
• Nephi passed them to his brother Jacob (Jacob 1:1-4);
• Jacob passed them to his son Enos (Jacob 7:27);
• Enos passed them to his son Jarom (Jarom 1:1); 

• Jarom passes them to his son Omni;
• Omni passes them to his son Amaron, (Omni 1:3);
• Amaron passes them to his brother Chemish, (Omni 1:8); 
• Chemish passes them to his son Abinadom, (Omni 1:10); 
• Abinadom then passes them to his son Amaleki (Omni 1:10), who, nearing death, gave the records to king Benjamin (WofM 1:10), who already had in his possession, as Mormon tells us, the Large Plates of Nephi (WofM 1:10-11).
Amaleki is not only the last prophet to record events on the Small Plates, but tied in the meeting between the Nephites and the Mulekites, telling us where Mulek landed and settled, rather than the mistaken idea theorists get when reading what Mormon tells us that in Alma 22:30, which has nothing to do with the Mulekites, but is describing the Jaredites, whose records  (Mosiah 28:11) and remains were mistakingly found by Limhi’s 43-man expedition he sent to find Zarahemla.
    Had it not been for the book of Omni, and specifically Amaleki’s writings, we would know almost nothing about the people of Zarahemla, of the culmination of Ether’s prophecy to Coriantumr that he would live to discover the people who would inherit his land after he had stubbornly refused to seek peace in his kingdom and that he would live with them for nine months before dying and be buried by them. 
Zeniff negotiates with the Lamanite king to reacquire a portion of the Land of Nephi a dn the City of Nephi (Lehi-Nephi) 

Amaleki also informs us of what happened during king Benjamin’s early reign when he drove the Lamanites out of the land after several wars. Nor would we know about the large number of Nephites who returned to reclaim their lands around the city of Nephi and the battle that broke out and Zeniff’s role in this, which ultimately led to the second expedition under his leadership that resulted in the Nephites acquiring a portion of their homeland among the Lamanites. And, of course, that initial meeting between the Mulekites and Mosiah’s Nephites, and why Mosiah was elected king, and how glad they were of the Nephites arrival and so willing to become Nephites under Mosiah’s direction—at the same time, while a smaller group, no better equipped than a larger group, rarely acquire dominance over the larger group except by subterfuge and evil acts, we learn here how this came about.
The Book of Omni brings to a close the record of the prophets—from that point onward, the record was kept by the kingship lineage of which there was some mingling of prophets involved, such as Alma, Helaman, and the Disciple Nephi. From First Nephi to the end of Omni, the book is a first person narrative of the writers (although there are many quotations). The book immediately following Omni, the Words of Mormon, is an editorial insertion that explains how the first person narrative came to be inserted into the Book of Mormon and how subsequent narrative will differ, being mostly third person narration by Mormon that summarizes more lengthy accounts taken from the Large Plates of Nephi that were had among the king. This third person record extends from Mosiah to Fourth Nephi. 
We learn from Enos, the grandson of Lehi), who wrestled not with God, but before God in prayer, suggesting a struggle to find and express one's real desires under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, showing us how to come to know God more completely. 
    Through him we find the deterioration of the Lamanites in the short time that in their “evil nature they became wild and ferocious, a bloodthirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness" (Enos 1:20). Enos’ son, Jarom, gives us an accusation that is precise: "They loved murder. . ." A fact that helps us understand even more in later writings how far the Lamanites had fallen from the time of first landing, and understand the hopelessness of later generations and their attitude of calculated wickedness.
Lehi’s grandson, Jacob, giving the plates to his son, Enos, who recorded mighty words upon it of a repentant man and his memory of his father’s teachings 

These are not one-dimensional, false characters, but very real people with distinct  qualities, such as Enos being a caring and deeply inquisitive individual, though his son, Jarom, seems almost detached in his record as he writes efficiently about the events of his day, quite opposite of his father as he tells us that the Nephites “observed to keep the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy unto the Lord” (Jarom 1:5), but needed “persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was” (Jarom 1:11), making it clear that the law of Moses was not only real to them, it was a matter of experience and could be understood in that light. However, the teaching about the Savior in startling contrast was a matter of the future, and require persuasion to be understood. Jarom provides us with an important, albeit brief, insight into a mastery of the language and understanding of his people, not seen in any of the latter writers of these small plates through to Omni, where Jarom also provides us with an insight into the decline of the Nephite Nation and people while a smaller group remains vigilant, prosperous and increases in their performance and lives as those around them become reduced and disrespectful toward God.
    We also see this decline in the lack of written information of several recorders, other than Abinadom, who manages to write a little more than Chemish, his father, with most having almost nothing to say other than fulfilling their predecessor’s command to keep the records. In this unrighteous and unworthy state, each admits to their lack of desire to add to the writings, obvious each feeling uncomfortable with their father’s assignment.
    It seems obvious from all of this that while those in authority may do the right thing in governing and leading amid constant wars with their hereditary enemy, the Lamanites, this continual killing and living in such awful circumstances of defense, hatred and death took their toll on these people, forcing them  into a negative and unrighteous life unlike their predecessors Nephi, Mosiah, Alma, and Helaman, who remained righteous through such experiences.
    It is just as obvious that we learn from these writings that while some are affected quite negatively from contentions and wars, others who are called upon to lead and defend their people during such horrendous times were not robbed of their humanity.
Amaleki was with Mosiah I when he discovered Zarahemla and faithfully recorded the events of the Mulekites 

Not until Amaleki, the last of these writers do we find someone who was willing to tell us the details of the events of his time. Through him we see an end to this downward spiral, holding on to his humanity in the midst of wars and killing going on around him; through him we see a return to the righteousness that the writers in earlier times provided us
(See the next post, “The Value of Omni – Part II,” for more information regarding these oft-skipped over words of men we sometimes think little about and seldom consider the significance of what we can learn from them)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mountains Actually Shoot Up in Spurts – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding how mountains have recently been found to have formed sudden and rapid rising based on new understandings of the developing roots beneath the crust that form and act as an anchor until the root becomes too weighty and dislodges, falling into the liquid mantle, allow the earth’s surface to suddenly “bob” upward.
According to Jonathan Sherwood (left), of the University of Virginia, in “The Measure of Mountains,” not only is Garzione changing the way geologists think about the rise of mountain ranges, her findings show “A remarkable growth spurt for a mountain range that now features peaks between 17,000 and 23,000 feet.”
    According to Garzione, “the composition of rainwater changes with altitude. More than 99 percent of the oxygen in water is made up of oxygen-16 and less than 1 percent of oxygen-18.” Her point is that as vapor rises in the form of clouds to higher altitudes, oxygen-18 is removed from the cloud in rainfall, leaving the cloud more and more depleted in the isotope. “This change locks into the minerals that formed at the surface from rainwater.” This resulted in accumulated minerals collecting in sedimentary basins in Bolivia to become the rock strata Garzione sampled.
    As Jonathan Sherwood stated: “The second method looked at the same Bolivian sediment, but focused on the temperature at which the surface-forming carbonates were created. Atmosphere once again played a key role since air temperature decreases with altitude, meaning a temperature-based recording of the rocks' original altitude should be preserved.”

Garzione, along with Dr. Prosenjit Ghosh Professor of Geology at Max Planck Institute (far left) and Dr. John M. Eiler Professor of Geology and Geochemistry, of the California Institute of Technology (left), employed a technique developed at CalTech that looks at the abundance of oxygen-18 and carbon-13 that are bonded together.
    This results in individual atoms vibrating vigorously and their breaking of bonds with other atoms in the high temperatures of the warm climate at low elevations in the Andes. From this the team gauged the temperature in which the carbonates formed, ranging from the icy cold peaks of the Andes to the heat of the Amazon jungle. This CalTech measurement method showed that between 10 million and 7 million years ago, the Andes shot up—a fact that scientists wouldn’t believe. As Garzione stated, “When I first showed this data to others, they had a hard time believing that mountains could pop up so quickly.”
    However, if the Andes actually rose such a dramatic amount as suggested by the studies, scientists would be able to assign a very specific, though controversial process to their uplift. As Garzione stated: “It took a lot of supporting data from the new paleotemperature technique to become accepted and gain confidence in the uplift history, then the processes that caused the mountains to rise can be determined."
    The unscientific name of "Deblobbing" is given to a dense root that becomes unstable and begins to flow downward into the Earth’s mantle from the weight of its own mass. This “blob” acts like an anchor, and weighs down the entire range from rising beneath the Earth’s crust until it detaches.
    When two tectonic plates collide, such as the Nazca oceanic plate in the southeastern Pacific colliding with the South American continental plate, the continental plate usually begins to buckle. This is because the plates, floating on a liquid mantle, press together resulting in the buckling which begins the first swell of a mountain range.
When the “Blob” or anchor melts away into the Asthenosphere, the weight holding the crust in place is suddenly released and the Mountain root, the density of the mountain is also released and “shoots” upward 

    It should also be noted that there is a kind of buckling going on below the crust in the solid portion of the upper mantle, creating a dense root clinging to the underside of the crust. This root grows in combination with the rising mountains above, acting like an anchor, keeping the buckling mountains from rising in a manner somewhat like a weight on a small fishing bobber that holds the bobber low in the water.
    Thus, before the mantle root finally detached in the Andes, the mountains had already risen nearly a mile. With the sudden elimination of the anchor when it detached, sinking the root into the liquid mantle, the mountains suddenly "bobbed" high above the surrounding crust, and “in a short geologic period, lifted from about 2/3 of a mile to about 2 ½ miles.” It was like cutting the line to the fishing weight.
    It should also be noted that this process has been proposed since the early 1980s, but it could never be proven since the techniques to determine it had not been developed until just recently. As Garzione added, "People have largely ignored the role of the mantle lithosphere because it is difficult to look 50 to 200 kilometers into the earth; whereas we can easily see the deformation on the surface."
We cannot see into the past to verify first hand or prove any belief or philosophy—we can only test under very imperfect means to arrive at a hypothesis or assumption 

    The problem, of course, has always been associated with time and view—we cannot see into the Earth’s interior and we do not have the capability of looking backward over millions of years for so-called evidence. "Some geologists have guessed,” Garzione continued, “that the mantle lithosphere is removed continuously and evenly during mountain building. Our data argue that the mantle just accumulates down there until some critical moment when it becomes unstable and drops off."
That critical moment of destabilizing occurs when two tectonic plates collide—in the case of the Andes, it would be when the Nazca oceanic plate running all along the South American continent from the tip of Colombia to nearly Tierra del Fuego, and as far westward as the Galapagos in the north and to around Eastern Island in the south, collides eastward into the South American continental plate, causing the continental plate to buckle. Floating on a liquid mantle, the plates press together and the buckling creates the first swell of a mountain range as the Nazco plate slides underneath the South American Plate. In this process, the growing root, which had been acting as an anchor, is dislodged and falls into the liquid mantle as the growing mountain above swells or “bobs” upward, surging the mountains to higher elevation.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mountains Actually Shoot Up in Spurts – Paart I

A little over two years ago we wrote a series of articles about the way mountains grow that met with a lot of resistance among people who decided to parrot their beliefs based on old paradigms in their comments. In fact, the idea of the Andes shooting upward “overnight” so to speak especially by the average individual and typical geologists. However, now, two years later, what we wrote about has been coined the “Blob Effect” and is beginning to be recognized by mainstream science as a very likely case scenario for mountain building—a scenario which is both “rapid” and “sudden.”
This new understanding was partially pioneered by Carmala N. Garzione (left) of the University of Rochester, who was quick to say “We've always assumed that the folding and faulting in the upper crust produced high elevation mountains.” However, around two years ago, her beliefs began to morph into a new paradigm regarding mountain building. Her more recent comment, “Now we have data on ancient mountain elevation that shows something else is responsible for the mountains' uplift," suggests her changing attitude based on the studies she has made in the Andes Mountains of South America, considered the youngest mountain range, yet the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, and certainly one, she claims, has shown a tremendous and sudden movement upward defying all the old beliefs.
    In the past, it was generally accepted by NASA and the National Science Foundation, that the rise of the Andes was 1.4 inches per year of the Nazca plate sliding smoothly under South America, with another 1.3 inches per year locked up at the plate boundary, squeezing South America, and was released every hundred years or so in great earthquakes. About 0.3 inches of motion per year crumples South America, building the Andes. Then, two years ago, Garzione found that mountains, especially the Andes, shoot up in spurts as much as two and a half kilometers (8,202 feet) in 7 million years, as opposed to the 70 million years previous understood. Now, however, that 7 million years is being downgraded to 2 million years.
    The problem scientists face, obviously, is that their measurement techniques are minimal at best, since they are trying to measure something that cannot be seen (techtonic plate and their assumed movement) and the height of a mountain growth over millions of years. Now for the scientist, that is really not a major issue, since we are still talking about inches in hundreds of thousands of years. However, the issue then becomes one of exactly how much time are we discussing? If the world is, indeed 4.55 billion years old, then mainstream science is correct and the movement or growth of mountains is so slow by our life-cycle standards, it really doesn’t matter one bit.
 Top: a “Blob” forms along the bottom of the Mantle, these are anchors, keeping the crust from rising and in place; Middle: the density of the “Blob” or anchor begins to falter, its density buildup is too heavy to be held by the Mantle or Lithosphere, as the crust begins to rise slightly; and Bottom: the “Blob” or anchor melts and falls into the Astenosphere to begin again, and with the loss of weight the crust shoots upward, as Casione puts it, “like a popsicle”

    On the other hand, what if the Earth is not that old? What if God knows something that man does not know about mountain building? What if He can alter, change, increase, speedup the process, etc.? As an example, what if God can alter what has been found by Garzione and her colleagues as the “Blob Effect” from a slow process of heating and separating to a much quicker process—say hundreds of years instead of millions? Or even hours? If that is the case, then He can speed up the movement upward of a mountain increasing in height to very short periods of time—all it takes is the increasing of heat to melt the “anchors” (the blob) of the mantle that keeps the crust from expanding upward in those areas where mountains, either buckling, folding, or in the case of Garzione’s words, “popping” upward?
    Consider what we do not know: Despite all the fancy drawings to the contrary, we do not know anything about what is further down into the Earth than we have been able to drill and see for ourselves—the deepest borehole ever drilled to-date is by a Russian project in the far north Kola Peninsula during the 1980s that reached 7.46 miles, or just over 2410 feet (2410.07873)—we have barely scratched the surface of our planet.
The Crust is brown, the top of the mantle is gray—the project is to drill down to the gray mantel

According to CNN, there is a project to drill down to the Earth’s mantle, at a project cost of $1 billion. A team of international scientists plan to drill into the Earth's mantle in an attempt to answer questions about the origins and evolution of life. The drills are planned to get through almost four miles of oceanic crust to reach the mantle, and to a point that begins three to five miles under the oceans to as much as 25 miles under continents. The mantle itself is believed to be 1864-miles thick through the slowly deforming rock between the crust and the core which makes up the majority of our planet—and bring back the first ever fresh samples.
Pipe that would be used to drill into the mantle 

Part of this new understanding is the evaluation and measurement of temperatures along the Andes over the past few years concentrating on the Bolivian Altiplano, which is a large, high elevation basin in the Andes Mountains in South America. There Garzione and her team took samples of sedimentary rock that had accumulated between 12 million and 5 million years ago (geologically speaking) from erosion of the surrounding ranges. One type of mineral, carbonate, precipitates from surface water, so the composition of the carbonate is a good indicator of the composition of rainfall.
(Continued in the next post, “Mountains actually Shoot Up in Spurts, Part II,” regarding how mountains have recently been found to have formed sudden and rapid rising based on new understandings of the developing roots beneath the crust that form and act as an anchor until the root becomes too weighty and dislodges, falling into the liquid mantle, allow the earth’s surface to suddenly “bob” upward).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Land of Promise: Choice above All Other Lands

What is meant in the Lord’s promise to Lehi, when the aged patriarch said: “notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:5).    This promise guaranteed to Lehi, his family, and their seed, a perpetual land blessing providing the area of the Nephite Land of Promise to Lehi’s seed forever. This promise, like all promises, cannot be withdrawn by the Lord, i.e., the blessing of this land. Man’s requirement, meaning the people involved (Lehi, his family and descendants) each, in turn have to qualify through their willingness to be righteous and serve the Lord, to inherit the land for eternity. While those who do not qualify will not be part of the promise, all those who do qualify would retain that promise for it was binding, as are all promises of the Lord.
    For some reason, many theorists consider the fact that the Nephites lost their blessings, lost their grace, and were wiped out in their evil state, that they lost the Land of Promise, which the Lord promised to them.
    Nothing could be further from the truth!
    The Lord promised that land to Lehi, and to his seed forever. Because the last of the Nephite seed was evil and wiped out, and none remained after Cumorah and Moroni’s eventual death, does that mean Lehi, Nephi, and the many other righteous Nephites who lived during their 1000-year history lost their inheritance? Of course not. The land was promised to them by the Lord and that promise remains in effect.
    When the Lord promised Israel the land of Palestine, which was later divided among the twelve tribes by his decree, and they lost their land entirely, though now reclaiming a smaller portion of it, does that mean the tribes lost their inheritance?
    Of course not!
    That land of promise will be restored to them in the future, including its fullest dimensions that were promised to Abraham, which basically is from “the River of Egypt” (Nile River) in the south, including the Sinai Peninsula, to the area just north of Seleucia, Antioch, and Karkamisin in the north, and including Tipsah, Damascus, Ammon, Moab, and Edom in the East, to the seacoast of the eastern Mediterranean in the West. That land was given to Abraham for his direct, or priesthood descendant, line (Isaac, Jacob and Joseph) and will be theirs forever.
    Thus, we look at the Lehi Land of Promise, given to Lehi, from the tribe of Manasseh, which included that area described as the Land Northward and the Land Southward, which at one time was an island according to Jacob (2 Nephi 10:20).
The area of land given to the 10 tribes, from the Nile River to the Euphrates and bordering on the Mediterranean is only a small portion of the entire Middle East

Like the land given to Abraham (Isaac, Jacob and Joseph) was only a part of the land we call the Middle East today or the land bordering the eastern Mediterranean, the Land of Promise given to Lehi and his seed did not include the greater area of the Western Hemisphere; however, the Western Hemisphere is the land spoken of in: “that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof“ (Ether 13:2).
    This greater land, which includes that portion of the Land of Promise that has been dedicated for the New Jerusalem (Ether 13:3), and the remnant of the house of Joseph (Ether 13:8) where “it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old” (Ether 13:8).
    In fact, another quote from Nephi regarding his father’s discussion of the land with his family as he approached the end of his life: “he also spake unto them concerning the land of promise, which they had obtained“ (2 Nephi 1:3), tells us that the land they were in was most definitely the Land of Promise the Lord gave them and they had already achieved it—they were already both in the land and the promise of the land was then in effect.
    One of the things we need to keep in mind when it comes to the Nephite Land of Promise and its current location, is that when the Lord discusses such with man, he is not looking at national boundary lines, but of a land in general—His land that he is giving to those he denotes. We sometimes get caught up in a line between countries that we forget the Lord talks about land, areas, or regions, and not a particular piece between political boundaries.
The land Joseph would have understood was the United States—the red and orange; the purple, at less than 18 people per square miles, with the green two or less per square mile would have been rarely considered as the U.S. in 1830

    Thus, it was not the land of the United States he was discussing with Nephi in the latter’s vision—an area not then in effect, and would have been unknown to Joseph Smith in 1830, but the entire Western Hemisphere of which Joseph would have easily understood.
    Thus, it goes without saying that there is a huge difference between a “promised land” as mentioned in scripture and that of dynasties in the feudal system of men or would-be conquerors. The latter were part of the enduring itch for aggrandizement, a condition aptly described by Machiavelli as “the disease of princes.” On the other hand, the concept of a promised land, as defined in scripture, involved special lands offered to special peoples by God himself. Moreover, receiving and possessing the lands as an inheritance was confirmed by covenant, with God offering both temporal and spiritual blessings for high levels of righteous behavior. If the covenant was broken by man, the divine sanction and protection were forfeit to future generations and hence the loss of the land itself for a time. We see this in the case of Lehi’s seed. For a thousand years the promise was in effect, but after “the day of grace was passed with them, both temporarily and spiritually,” the Nephites lost their land (Mormon 2:15), and there were no future generations to inherit it.
The Western Hemisphere as both Zion and the overall Land of Promise to the Tribes of Menasseh and Ephraim

A “promised land,” prepared and protected by the Lord and tied to the covenant that “inasmuch as ye keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land,” is surely one of the more vivid and pervasive concepts of the Book of Mormon. Both the Jaredites and the Nephites occupied land on the Western Hemisphere under this condition and, failing to keep the covenant, lost it to their utter ruin from that point onward.
    As part of a great land promise, and the vision associated with it, both Lehi and Nephi, witnessed many wonderful things and were instructed as to their meaning as he viewed such things as the tree of life and the iron rod leading to it. Nephi’s guide, an angel, told him of the Land of Promise, of which he was given several views, including what would befall his people, and their final annihilation. He also saw the visit by the resurrected Savior and the glorious two-hundred year “golden years” of the Nephites.
    He also saw that the Lamanites would survive, eventually dwindling in unbelief as a perverted people “full of idleness and all manner of abominations” (1 Nephi 12:23). He also saw numerous events on how the Land of Promise would be unveiled to the world and many people looking for freedom would reach its shores. As Nephite stated of this:

 “And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land (1 Nephi 13:12).
    Obviously, a clear reference to Christopher Columbus and his “discovery” of the New World, though when it comes to political lines, never saw or touched what is called the North American continent of today, but only the islands of the Caribbean and South America. Yet, as Nephi looked at the vision, he “beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12).
    Thus, we see Nephi’s vision was not limited to a politically bounded area of land, but of the land in general—of the entire Land of Promise. A choice land. A choice land above all others. He was visioning the Western Hemisphere and the Land of Promise, an area far greater than that of a single nation.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Frankincense Trail Lehi Followed

There seems to be some misunderstanding in the Frankincense Trail Lehi followed to the area he called Bountiful and the fact that in that area the Frankincense trade had not yet spread to the Salalah Plain or the Garbeeb (that fertile strip of land between the Qara Mountains and the seashore. That is, the area of Salalah known today as Khor Rori and Sumhuram, which were not settled during Lehi’s visit there and did not become settled until at least 500 B.C. and Sumhuram not built until around the last century B.C., yet Lehi followed that Frankincense Trail to the Qara Mountains and then down into the Garbeeb Plain.
The misunderstanding comes in not knowing that the Frankincense Business during the time of Lehi was centered in the area Shisr and Uber, and more specifically Dawkah, an area 25 miles north of Salalah, on the way to Shisr, which are on the desert side of the Garbeeb Plain, beyond the Qara Mountains. In old Sumarian texts, Uber is believed to have been a remote desert outpost from about 2800 B.C. (or sometime after the Flood) where caravans were assembled for the transport of the very valuable frankincense across the desert, some caravans going north toward the Persian Gulf, others going west toward the Red Sea, with the Dawkah and Shisr-Uber the center or hub of the frankincense trade.
Thus, while the Frankincense Trail existed between these settlements and north of Jerusalem, which Lehi followed down along the Red Sea dn then across the Rub’al Khali from water hole to water hole, the settlements of the time did not extend south of the Qara Mountains into the area now known as the Garbeeb Plain and communities of Salalah and Khor Rori/Sumhuram.
    In fact, the best resins from the frankincense trees was thought to be from a belt in the arid zone just behind (north) of the Qara mountain range, beyond the reach of the monsoon rain, but within reach of cooler winds. Today, the current Boswelia belt stretches about 18 miles beyond the jebels. It is also believed that the frankincense trade was already in effect during this third millennium B.C., when a scarce resource in high demand in the ancient civilizations resulted in prices higher than gold and a booming trade in the trading centers along the caravan routes such as found at Shisr in Oman.
    This belt, to the north of the Qara Mountains is best understood by the following image:
From the (Top Left) coast of the Sea of Arabia, which Lehi called Irreantum, the Khareef (monsoon winds) blows into land that Lehi called Bountiful, from the sea, turning the plain into a lush green garden (Top Right) as it continues to blow north toward the distant mountains (Middle Left), which 3,000-foot Jabal al Qara Mountains (Middle Center) blocks the further movement of the Monsoon winds, keeping them from passing on beyond to the (Middle Right) desert, where is seen the sporadic growth of the Frankincense trees, and then further northward beyond the belt of trees, is the (Bottom)
    This belt of Frankincense trees beyond the Qara, as well as in the foothills, is where the original trail ended and where the harvest of frankincense was started, long before Lehi. This is where the trading hub of Dawkah, Shisr-Uber were located and where the trail, had Lehi continued eastward would have taken him.
    However, Lehi turned south into the mountains at this point, led no doubt by the Liahona, and emerged along the Garbeeb Plain above Salalah, at which event Nephi 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” (1 Nephi 17:5).
    Thus, while Lehi basically followed the Frankincense Trail from the Wadi Arabah south of Jerusalem all the way to the area of the Qara Mountains and the Garbeeb Plain, the Old Trail during Lehi’s time did not drop down into the Garbeeb, but ended in the area of Shisr, a settlement that was already playing a major role at the time, an important outpost providing traders with water before they entered the desert of the Rub al-Khali.
    In fact, the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meeting in November 2000 in Cairns, Australia, attached world Heritage Site status to the Frankincense Trail in Oman, with the official citation reading:
    “The frankincense trees of Wadi Dawkah and the remains of the caravan oasis of Shisr/Wubar [Uber] and the affiliated ports of Khor Rori and Al-Balid vividly illustrate the trade in frankincense that flourished in this region for many centuries, as one of the most important trading activities of the ancient and medieval world” (World Heritage Committee Inscribes 61 New Sites on World Heritage List; Land of Frankincense, UNESCO).
When Lehi reached the Frankincense Trail where it veered toward Shisr, he was directed into the pass that led onto the Garbeeb Plain and down into Khor Rori

Thus, while Lehi traveled the trail all the way to the Qara Mountains, the Liahona obviously directed him into the pass that led him through the Qaras and onto the Garbeeb Plain, a marvelous paradise-appearing area during Kareef season after spending some much time in the extreme heat and endless monotony of the Rub’al Khali sand desert.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Not After the Manner of Men – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding where Nephi’s ship was constructed, built and launched. 
    One of the unique aspects of Khor Rori is that two huge rock promontories, or cliffs, one on either side of the inlet entrance, and referred to as (east cliff) Inquita’a Taqah and (west cliff) Inqita’a Mirbat, provide very important protection for a ship entering and leaving the inlet.
The cliffs on either side of the entrance to the Khor Rori inlet--top: from inside the Khor looking past the cliffs out into the Sea of Arabia; middle: Inside the Khor looking at the West Cliff on the Yemeni side of the entrance; bottom: Outside the inlet, looking past the East Cliff at the West Cliff in the distance, the inlet is in between. Note the height of the cliff compared to the camels in the middle image. This matches Nephi's comment of "throw me into the depths of the sae" (1 Nephi 17:48)

These flanking rock promontories created safe and convenient breakwaters that allowed ancient ships a corridor for sailing into the sea for nearly 500 yard before they needed to pick up the ocean current. This was the great strength of Khor Rori as a port; the natural breakwaters provided protection from both the summer southwest monsoon and the winter northeast monsoon winds, enabling the port to be used all year for shipping and for the building of ships, such as Nephi’s vessel.
One of the side channels between the entrance and Sumhuram that branches off to the east, providing an extremely attractive location for the construction site of Nephi’s ship

The site has been heavily investigated, beginning as early as the 1950s by an American expedition (the American Foundation for the Study of Man–AFSM) directed by W. Phillips and with the archaeologist F. Albright as field director. And since 1996 the Italian Mission to Oman (IMTO), directed by professor A. Avanzini, has been working in the area of Khor Rori.
    Situated along the southern coast of the Arabian peninsula near the Yemeni border, the Dhofar province (“Zafar” in Arabic) actually appears and feels like a world away from the rest of Oman. This largest of the eleven Governorates in the Sultanate of Oman is separated from just about everywhere else in the country, hugging the coast behind a mountainous area that covers over 38,000 square miles. In fact, the region’s history and identity have always been largely separate from that of the rest of the Sultanate.
An ancient copper bowl burning incense that people traveled more than a thousand miles over sea and desert to obtain and trade

Fabled in antiquity as the source of the legendary frankincense trade, Dhofar boasted one of Arabia’s oldest and most cosmopolitan cultures—whose remains continue to exercise historians and archeologists to this day. The region was only finally brought under the control of the sultans of Muscat in the mid-nineteenth century, while the Dhofaris continued to assert their independence until as recently as the 1970s before finally being brought into the Omani fold.
    What more peaceful and remote place could the Lord have provided for Lehi and his family to spend their time isolated from others while they built their ship that would take them across the “many waters” to the Land of Promise without a soul knowing of their voyage, or its final destination. As Lehi told his family: “And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8).
    Thus, we can see that the Lord brought Lehi and his party some 2400 miles from Jerusalem down along the Red Sea, then across the largest sand desert in the world to this narrow strip of land beyond the mountains and along the seashore where there would be peace and quiet, no disturbances from people, where the Lord could commune with Nephi on a regular basis while he taught and showed this future prophet how to build a ship worthy of traveling into deep water and across the ocean to a land the Lord had promised Lehi.
Experienced shipwrights would have paid no attention to the inexperienced Nephi if he tried to tell them how to build a ship

It should be noted as mentioned earlier, there could have been no other people in the area, especially people experienced in building ships as so many theorists want to claim, for no experienced shipwright and builder would pay any attention to a young man with no building and maritime experience telling him how to build this ship the Lord had instructed. No builders of boats would sit still while a novice told them how to reverse their lifetime experience in building boats to construct a ship “not after the manner of men” (1 Nephi 18:2), but after the manner the Lord instructed Nephi.
    What shipwright worth his salt would sit back and let a young man who had never built even a canoe, raft or rowboat tell him how to construct a large ship capable of carrying fifty people or more out into the deep ocean? What shipwright is going to tolerate Nephi telling him “to work timbers of curious workmanship”? Or to build a boat different from the many others he had built over his life time? Anyone who thinks this way simply has had not experience with the intent and passionate independence of the Arab shipwrights who even today follow the same ancient methods of building their boats.
    If theorists would be honest with themselves on this matter, they would realize that as much as logic tells them experienced builders were necessary to build a large ship like Nephi’s, that it was not to be built after the manner of men, but after the manner the Lord instructed Nephi, there is simply no way men with any experience are going to accept such a change in their life’s work.
Nephi says he went into the mount often to inquire of the Lord. Some theorists claim there are no mountains around Khor Rori, but above the Garbeeb Plain, is the Wadi Dirbat (Darbat), which is itself on a mountain, and above that are high mounts as these images show (the river is the Wadi Dirbat)

It should be noted from Nephi’s words that the Lord told him: “Arise, and get thee into the mountain. And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord” (1 Nephi 17:7). Later, Nephi said, “I did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord” (1 Nephi 18:3). It is interesting that in neither case does Nephi tell us it is a high mountain as he does during his earlier vision when he said he went “into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen” (1 Nephi 11:1), or when he “did go forth up into the top of the mountain” when he was directed to go for game (1 Nephi 16:30). Is this significant? Perhaps not. On the other hand, we have no reason to assume we are looking for a high mountain around Khor Rori, which, by the way is surrounded by the Jabal Qara mountains.
    All Nephi needed was a mountain. And since the area was bereft of people in 600 B.C., where evidence shows the area was not occupied until at least 500 B.C. onward, all Nephi need was some area of height where he would not be disturbed and where the Lord could  communicate with him—where he went oft.
In fact, the process of building the ship was evidently so complicated and different from anything anyone would have known, that Nephi had to go into the mount frequently for the Lord to show him many great things (1 Nephi 18:3). Nor should we neglect to remember  that Nephi, if he was around ship builders, would never have needed to ask the Lord where to go to find ore that he could melt and make tools to construct the ship--they would have been available for purchase or use.
    We need to recognize when we read the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon, that in addition to all the most valuable knowledge we can acquire about the Gospel and about the workings of God with man, and the Plan of Salvation, and all the other doctrinal information contained therein, is a valuable set of lessons as to how we can do and accomplish things in our lives—Nephi was the perfect example for he tells us quite clearly, “I will go and do the things which the Lord had commanded,” because he knew and makes it also quite clear to us that “for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). This is true whether it is in going back and getting the brass plates, which Nephi understand all the parameters of the assignment, or in building a ship, the parameters of which Nephi had no idea, experience or reason to believe it could be done.
    Nephi did not need help in building his ship other than his own family and that of Ishmael’s sons and people. No experienced ship builders were needed, no maritime knowledge was required. The Lord knew all that man knew and far more and could convey that to Nephi in such a manner that he was fully capable of accomplishing. Obviously, the Lord led Nephi to this one spot, the only natural harbor that exits in southern Oman where an ocean-going ship could have been constructed.
    The ship was not only built “not after the manner of men,” but it was also built not by maritime shipwrights and builders. It was built by Nephi under the Lord’s tutelage, which Nephi makes quite clear in the beginning of 1 Nephi 18.