Sunday, March 31, 2019

More Comments from Readers – Part IV

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:
    Comment #1: “Why was the city of Nephi later called the city of Lehi-Nephi, or are these two different cities?” Wanda T.
    Response: A simple answer is, “no,” they are the same city, and we do not know why the name of Lehi was added later. However, we might surmise a reasonable answer—first of all, the major cities in the Land of Nephi were Nephi (later called Lehi-Nephi), Shilom, Shemlon, Ishmael, Middoni, Lemuel and Shimnilom. It is probably safe to assume that the city of Jerusalem was in the same area. Secondly, the initial area of Lehi’s landing was called the Land of Lehi (from the lost 116 pages) and the “place of their father’s first inheritance” (Alma 22:28).
    After Lehi’s death, Nephi was told to flee into the wilderness with “all those who would go with” him (2 Nephi 5:5) to escape his brothers who sought his life (2 Nephi 5:4). He settled any area, evidently quite some distance away, and likely northward since the Nephites were always to the north of the Lamanites (Alma 22:33). Nephi several of the original party of Lehi with him when he fled into the wilderness (2 Nephi 5:6-7), and when they settled, the people “would that we should call the name of the place Nephi” (2 Nephi 5:8).
This was the original City of Nephi, in the Land of Nephi. The Nephites remained in this general area, spreading out and after about 200 years, they had “multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceedingly rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war” (Jarom 1:8).
    About 200 years later, the Nephites had become so evil that the Lord told Mosiah I “to flee out of the land of Nephi, and as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord should also depart out of the land with him, into the wilderness” (Omni 1:12), and were led northward into the Land of Zarahemla (Omni 1:13), where they settled among another people, descended from Mulek (Mosiah 25:2; Helaman 8:21), whom the Lord brought into the land north, and Lehi into the land south (Helaman 6:10).
    While the scriptural record is vague about what happened to the City of Nephi after Mosiah left, evidently the Lamanites moved in and took it over, along with the surrounding cities especially Shilom and Shemlon. During the days of Mosiah’s son, Benjamin, a group of Nephites in Zarahemla returned to the Land of Nephi to reclaim the City of Nephi. Evidently, at this time the city was being called Lehi-Nephi, perhaps a name developed by the Lamanites who did not want to live in a city named Nephi. It is even possible that the Lamanites called it simply the City of Lehi, but Zeniff, the leader of these Nephites from Zarahemla, and his Nephite followers, applied the name Lehi-Nephi to make it as their city as well.
    It should be noted that the Lamanite-controlled portion of the Land Southward was called the Land of Lehi (Helaman 6:10) and the Lamanites might have referred to themselves as Lehites. In addition, Zeniff, made a deal with the Lamanite king who moved himself and his people out of the city and that of Shimlon, and turned them over to the Nephites (for his own purposes which became obvious later on), but continued to occupy the city of Shemlon.
    From this point on, the city is referred to as the City of Lehi-Nephi (Mosiah 7:1,21; 9:8), until it reverts back to the City of Nephi (Mosiah 9:15) and continues to be so called (Mosiah 20:3;21:1,12) until Alma and later king Limhi leave the city and make their way to Zarahemla.
    After this, the city became the chief city of the Lamanite kingdom (Alma 47:20), and the Land of Nephi ran in a straight course from the Sea East to the west (Alma 50:8). This city of Nephi (Lehi-Nephi) was located in a valley surrounded by hills at a higher elevation than Zarahemla, from which it was separated by a wilderness, that evidently consisted of forest land, where wild beasts could be hunted (Enos 1:3). 
    The city of Nephi was probably situated between the Lamanite land of Shemlon and the wilderness, for when the Lamanites approached from the direction of the land of Shemlon, the Nephites fled into the wilderness, presumably in the opposite direction (Mosiah 19:9, 23). Earlier, Zeniff had the women and children hide in the wilderness when the Lamanites attacked (Mosiah 10:9). Similarly, when Limhi saw the Lamanites preparing to attack—probably from the land of Shemlon (Mosiah 28:1)—he sent the people into the fields and forests (Mosiah 20:8).
    Comment #2: “How many ways is Sacsayhuaman spelled? I have yet to find the one correct spelling to which all adhere” Leonard M.
Top: Aerial view of Sacsayhuaman. The circle in the middle is the tower base next to the temple with the fortification on the other side and in the top is seen two of the three zig-zag walls protecting the northern side with a cliff surrounding the southern loop which overlooks the valley below: Bottom: A portion of the lower zig-zag wall

Response: The name in Quechuan (runa simi, or “people’s language”), which was influenced by the Aymara (Aymar aru), is correctly spelled Saqsahuamán, though it has been Anglicized to Sacsayhuaman, Sacsahuaman or Sacsahuayman. It should be kept in mind when looking for Quechuan words, the Cuzco variety of Quechua developed as quite distinct from elsewhere in the Andean area today, because of the Inca policy of insisting the Empire speak Quechua, many diverse dialects sprang into use, altering words and even entire phrases in various parts of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. 
    Also, since the late 18th century, when Quechua was banned from public use in Peru in response to the Tupac Amaru II rebellion, the Spanish crown banned even loyal pro-Catholic text in Quechua, such as Garcilaso de la Vega’s Comentarios Reales. Currently, the major obstacle to the diffusion of the usage and teaching of Quechua is the lack of written material in the Quechuan language, namely books, newspapers, software, magazines, etc. Thus, Quechua, along with Aymara and the minor indigenous languages, remains essentially a spoken language, with adoption of Spanish for the purposes of social advancement.
    It should also be noted that because of the modern tourist guide habit of making fun of the name to English-speaking tourists, by calling it “Sexy Woman,” it has acquired the spellings of Saksaywaman, Saqsaywaman, Sasawaman, Saksawaman, Sasaywaman or Saksaq Waman. In this blog, we often use the Anglicized version Sacsahuaman for brevity.
    Comment #3: “Is there any indication that the ruins and ancient settlements in Ecuador, your land northward, are older than those of Peru, in your land southward?” Peter D.
Response: According to the experts in the field, the Manabi remains of Ecuador are exceedingly ancient, dating to around 1500 B.C.. Hyatt Verrill (left) said that these unknown, forgotten races of Ecuador were more remarkable, and were unquestionably far more ancient than the Incas, Aztecs, or the Mayas and the others” (Alpheus Hyatt Verrill and Ruth Verrill, America’s Ancient Civilizations, Putnam Sons, New York, 1953, p148); In fact, they add, “It would appear that the Manabis were a distinct race with a culture different materially from that of any other ancient people of South or Central America” (Alpheus Hyatt Verrill, Old Civilizations of the New World, New Home Library, 1942, p242)
    Comment #4: “So many things in ancient Peru seem to be named puma. I have read that a puma is like a cougar. Is that true of the Nephite era?” Maryann W.
    Response: It is true that most dictionaries define “puma” as a “cougar,” which is defined as a large American wild cat with a plain tawny to grayish coat, found from Canada to Patagonia.” However, “puma” was a Quechua word that meant “lion.” Garcilaso de la Vega, in his chronicles of Peru, claims the Andean “puma” is a “lion,” and much like the African lion, the males had manes and the females did not. Originally the word was evidently spelled “poma,” according to Johann Jakob von Tschudi (Fauna Peruana (Animals of Peru), St. Gallen   University, HSG Publishing, Switzerland, 1844-1846, p126). It is also defined as “lion” by the Hakluyt Society,Vol V, London, England, p238)
The Puma is a genus in the family felidae that contains the cougar (also known as the puma, among other names)

Others have associated the “puma” with the Western American mountain lion, at least in appearance. In addition, during Inca times, the “puma” was part of the Incan trinity of condors, pumas and snakes, which figures often appeared together in art and legend—the condor does not hunt and only eats the dead. What condor eats comes harmlessly from the earth and goes back to it. The Puma has patience and strength. The snake travels to the underworld, and when it sheds its skin, is reborn, transformed. This is a circle of life the Inca promoted.
    Early archaeologists tried to see the puma design in all things, from rock carvings to the layout of Cuzco, fitting the remaining round tower base on Sacsahuaman as “the eye of the needle.” Today, however, that is less likely indicated except by historians who have not understood this change.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

More Comments from Readers Part III

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:
    Comment #1: “There is no reason why timber palisades cannot "tremble" or have some depth with a platform at the top for standing. The Book of Mormon indicates both stone and timber fortifications. Consider Alma 48:1, Alma 50:2 and 53:1.”
    Response: The reason for a palisade or wall for protection is to not only keep people out, but to protect those inside. Put a platform on top of a timber palisade and what is its purpose? The body would be exposed to enemy fire of slings, spears and bows—the purpose of a standing area near the top of a bulwark was to hide behind the protection of the wall and intermittently return enemy fire, such as with bows. If that was what Samuel was supposed to be standing on, he would not be seen by the people below to whom he would have been speaking.
A typical wood palisade or stockade built in the U.S. showing the inside. There is no way to get on top of this or stand anywhere 
    As can be seen from any wood palisades of antiquity, they were never meant to stand upon and to climb up a timber palisade would be most difficulty since they are built to defeat against such an action. In addition, when wood timbers, such as tall, stake fencing (palisade), trembles (which means to shake involuntarily from frailty, the wood breaks, generally shattering into many pieces; whereas stone can be shaken apart and collapse.
    Comment #2: “Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies,” (Alma 48:8), showing specificallsy the use of dirt walls, which evidence is found in the Heartladn model” Paul D.
    Response: The mounds of earth were to enclose his armies as Mormon so states: “to enclose his armies.” No one is denying that dirt bulwarks were used in the Land of Pormise—one such is described in Alma 53:3-5). The problem lies in not completing a statement made by Mormon that further explains the event of using dirt and wood, such as the one you began quoting: “Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land” (Alma 48:8).
    This shows that stone walls were built around cities as well as round about the borders of their lands—yea, all round about the land”—a part conveniently left out by theorists when wanting to talk about the dirt bulwarks thrown up.
    While mounds of dirt can be found in the Heartland—stone walls all aroun the land cannot!
    Comment #3: “And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities. And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high.”
Response: Where Moroni was “erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies” he placed timbers on top to increase the height of the fortification so his army could not be randomly attacked from arrows or slings. This is not the same as building stone walls around the land.
    Comment #4: “Suggest you look to the OED archaic English rather than to an 1828 Dictionary for Book of Mormon word definitions. Royal Skousen (author of The Book of Mormon, The Earliest Text) has pretty clearly established that the Book of Mormon is written in Early Modern English, similar to the KJV Bible, and definitely not Joseph Smith 1820's English” Jay Mackley.
    Response: The OED, or Oxford English Dictionary archaic English was not spoken in New England in 1830 and would not have been the language Joseph Smith used in his translation, or even knew.
    To understand this, we need to keep in mind that New England was a unique area, very definitely American, not English, in all its manners, beliefs, and understanding. In May 1643, the colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, New Haven, and Connecticut joined together in a loose compact called the New England Confederation (officially "The United Colonies of New England"). Speaking historically, the New England colonies were settled primarily by farmers who quickly became relatively self-sufficient. Five of the six New England states or colonies had a coastline and their early interest in England was mostly a business one, where their products were for the English markets of Britain and Europe.
    New York was and is not part of New England, even though upstate and western New York were settled by New Englanders, which provided a shared cultural heritage throughout the region. However, by the 1770s, those who had been forced to leave England and settle in the northeast had grown rebellious toward British rule and non-governmental representation that had placed heavy taxes on the colonies to help pay for Britain’s French-Indian war, and seeds of rebellion were sewn throughout the area.
    Not only did the Revolutionary War separate New England completely from Britain, but the War of 1812 with England, which centered in the northeastern colonies, and gave rise to their manufacturing capabilities, served to further separate the people from whatever vestiges of English origin that had still existed in the northeastern colonies. The northeastern colonies were still impressed by Puritanism, and the unity of her moral life was exceptional. Moreover, the area had developed a strong independence and was extremely interested in its own development and way of doing things, which included its own way of speaking.
    By the mid-1820s, the attitude in New England had waned toward any interest in England whatsoever, and was more commonly associated with that of the rest of the northeast, including New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio—this separation was further enhanced by the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825.
Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon (purple dots) in western Pennsylvania, and western New York (Harmony and Fayette). His was not the language of New England in 1828, it was the language of a much larger area that had separated itself from the northern New England states, such as New Hampshire and Maine, and Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language was developed in Massachusett

The language of the emerging strength in the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio areas had changed considerably over the four- or five-generation separation, with numerous colonial colloquialisms being adopted throughout the northeast that had no connection to English as spoken in Britain and Europe.
    Thus, the language of Joseph Smith was akin to this separation from England and unique, American way of speaking and thinking. The 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language was the language being spoken in the area Joseph Smith grew up and lived and closer to the translations Joseph gave. Daniel Webster claims he was inspired to create this American dictionary, and though he worked on it for some time, it is interesting that it was published the year before Joseph Smith began translating. In fact, Joseph chose that dictionary for his School of the Prophets training and teaching sessions.
    It should also be kept in mind that when one thinks a certain way, no matter what era words one chooses to use, they are still couched in the user’s mind as those that he knows, grew up with, and understands. Joseph Smith loved the sense of the Biblical language because of its spirituality and sacred referencing to God and his Son, but his understanding of those words would have been based on his knowledge of words of his own day. Thus, Joseph might have chosen to say “God liveth,” but his meaning would have been “God lives,” or “the commandments of the Lord,” would have been understood by Joseph as “the Lord’s commandments,” or “the year of the reign of the kind,” would have been understood to mean “when the king reigned.”
    This is especially found in “it came to pass,” used 2,711 times in the book of Mormon, would have been understood by Joseph Smith as it is by us today, to mean “it happened,” “then this happened,” “eventually this took place,” etc. It is not that Joseph loved the Old English language—he loved the Biblical language. In fact, in 1829 when translating, he would not have known the language of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton, though the latter was born three years before the 1611 King James Version was published.
    In addition, if you had been reading this blog for any length of time, you would know we do not adhere to Royal Skousen’s views on the Book of Mormon language and do not agree with him that the words should be changed and modernized. We have time and again shown correlation that Joseph Smith’s words used are very close to the 1828 dictionary, and certainly not to the OED. Skousen’s claims, as we have pointed out in a word for word comparison are not correct.
    Finally, it should also be note that Noah Webster, in his dictionary, related almost all of his words to their use in the Bible or among the famed English writers Shakespear, Milton, Spenser, Bacon, Dryden, Newton, Locke, Brown, Blackstone, etc. The OED (Oxford English Dictionary), by the way, was not published until 1884, and not in a single volume until 1928—the Book of Mormon was published in 1830.

Friday, March 29, 2019

More Comments from Readers – Part II

Here are more comments and questions received from readers of this blog.                           
    Comment #1: “So how did Moroni walk with 60lbs of gold plates all the way from Chile to NY to put them in a hillside? I imagine you have a story for this event?” Papa K.
    Response: First of all, Moroni would not have traveled from Chile to New York. The Hill Cumorah in the Land of Promise was likely Cerro Imbabura, located in northern Ecuador in an area referred to as the “Land of Many Waters,” with that Ecuadorian land being the Land Northward and Peru and Western Bolivia being the Land Southward. Lehi landed in Chile, about 30º South Latitude, in the Bay of Coquimbo, adjacent to La Serena, where Lehi would have dwelt before his death, of which land was referred to as the Land of Lehi in the Book of Lehi (the lost 116 pages).
    Secondly, we have detailed this event, that is, Moroni and the plates, the hill Cumorah in the Land of Promise and the small, drumlin hill in New York where Joseph obtained the plates on this website blog many times.
    Thirdly, as for moving about and carrying the weight of the plates, we know Moroni had the plates at the hill Cumorah at the final battle in 385 AD (Mormon 6:6), we also know he had the plates in 400 AD (Mormon 8:6), when he abridged the Jaredite record of Ether (Moroni 1:1), and we also know he had the plates when he made his final entry in 421 AD (Moroni 1:1; 10:34)—and in all that time he was running and hiding for his life, trying to keep from being found by the Lamanites who would have killed him on the spot (Moroni 1:1). So how did he carry those plates around with him as he moved about (when one is in hiding he does not keep returning to a single place, but rarely is in the same area for very long and keeps moving into areas where there is no evidence of his prior being).
    Also, with some 300,000 or so being killed at Cumorah, who were left unburied as the Lamanites were engaged in a tremendous civil war among themselves, which ending was nowhere in sight 36 years later in 421 AD (Mormon 8:8; Moroni 1:2). it is unlikely anyone could have been around the hill Cumorah where the battle took place for many, many years, much longer than the 36 years indicated between the battle and the hiding of the plates in 421 AD or after for the stench would have been both unbearable and obviously full of wild animals for many years.
Lastly, Moroni never tells us where he hid the plates—there is no mention of Moroni burying the plates in the hill Cumorah, or anywhere else other than his final statement on the matter: "I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whether I go it mattereth not" (Mormon 8:4).
    The problem with trying to understand or answer questions arising from the Book of Mormon is one's pre-determined interpretation of events that, themselves, are in error. We cannot assume Moroni buried the plates in the hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon where the final battle took place. We cannot assume where Joseph Smith obtained the plates was where they were buried originally around 421 AD, and where they would have remained for nearly 1600 years—after all, they were not returned to the stone box buried in the hill in New York after Joseph completed his translation, they were placed in a cavernous room full of thousands of other plates and records of the Nephites, of which Brigham Young said it would have filled many wagon loads (Journal of Discourses 19:38)—the hill in New York was basically a gravel deposit from ancient Glaciers, called a drumlin hill, and could have not had any type of cave or cavern within it for drumlins are composed of till, significant amounts of gravels, and rock underlying the surface till. There would be nothing within the base of the hill to hold up the hill around it.
    It should also be noted that the hill in New York was unnamed at the time of these events, and after Joseph obtained the plates from that hill in New York, the hill was called “Gold Bible Hill,” “Mormon Hill,” and “Inspiration Point”—and not ever called Hill Cumorah by either Moroni or Joseph Smith. That was a name given it by early members of the Church as we have chronicled in this website.
    Comment #2 “To those who claim North America was the Land of Promise, I have one question: “Where are the large stone buildings recorded in the Book of Mormon and where is the volcanic evidence that was the cause of the three days of darkness that has to be in evidence on the North American continent? Opinions are fun but when you lack all proof of evidence to back them up, you prove your ignorance of the truth and a biased premeditation for a falsehood” J. Cameron S.
Response: Well said. By the way, in order to have volcanic evidence, you have to have mountains—other than the Rockies in the far West, and smaller ones along the East Coast, there are really no mountains in the Heartland or around the Great Lakes where North American theorists want to place their Land of Promise. In addition, those mountains in the Land of Promise were to be "mountains whose height is great" (Helaman 14:23).
    Comment #3: “The fact that none of the known archaeology, anthropology, or cultures found in MesoAmerica come close to matching the Hebrew/Christian cultures claimed in the BOM, is much more damning to the BOM than not finding any actual sites” Chrissy M.
    Response: If you intend to look for evidence about the stand at the Alamo, I would suggest you not go to Quebec, Canada, or to San Miguel, El Salvador, to look for it. Common sense alone says you would need to go to the site of the actual place for which you are looking to find evidence. Along this line of thinking, then, Mesoamerica is not the place to look for evidence of the Book of Momron, since it has nothing to do with the cities, settlements and locations described in the scriptural record. Best you look into Andean South America. On the other hand, if you are looking for some semblance of Hebrew/Christian culture in the Land of Promise more than a thousand years after it was totally wiped out, good luck. The remaining culture in the Land of Promise after 385 A.D., was Lamanite, anti-God by nature and practice. Their culture was far different than the Nephites.
    Comment #4: “You write that Mormon wrote only what the Lord told him to." While I agree that the Lord inserted Himself into the narrative at times, it doesn't mean that he exercised absolute control over the text. One simple example to be brief: "And now I, Mormon, would that ye should know..." is one phrase that indicates that Mormon himself is in control of the text” Fairly B.
    Response: We have never written that the Lord dictated to Mormon what he should write—that was done to Moses when he wrote Genesis dictated to him by the Lord. Mormon was instructed at times to include certain things, however, his assignment was to abridge the record. While that abridgement was his choice, it seems highly likely the Lord (Spirit) was more involved in it than perhaps you may think. Yet, it is certain Mormon made choices on his own, as any servant is expected to do once given a direction (and probably certain guidelines). That Mormon relied on the Spirit to direct him seems highly likely, but ultimately he did the writing.
    Comment: #5: “In 1600 years, there should be plenty of evidence of Hebrew/Christian based culture and religion, but there is none” Brad G.
Response: It has been 1600 years since the Nephite nation came to an end, and all that was Nephite being destroyed—none survived to tell the tale other than Moroni (Mormon 8:3). Those remaining in that land were hereditary enemies, who vowed to destroy everything possessed by their thousand-year war with the enemy. In addition, those who survived (Lamanites) were not an advanced people, who had fallen into savagery and a very lengthy civil war after a 60 year war that ended in the annihilation of the Nephites, their culture, their civilization, their language, their writing, and everything about them.
    Exactly what would you expect to find when everything about them was wiped out and those who survived were barely above the hunter-gatherer level of civilization. By the time these survivors’ descendants achieved the level the Spaniard conquistadors found, nearly a thousand years had passed. The fallacy that there should be some semblance of this earlier civilization would survive, other than the buildings that were left behind is a fallacy. And there are plenty of buildings left behind by the Nephite nation all over Andean South America, and lesser buildings built by the Nephites who went north in Hagoth’s ships (Alma 63:4-8), in Central and Mesoamerica, showing an advanced civilization in the Americas, dating to the right time of the Nephites, and the Jaredites before them.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

More Comments from Readers – Part I

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:
Comment #1: “You simply cannot blame the disappearance of all evidence for the BOM on
earthquakes, Spaniards, or other such lame BS as "the Lord wants us to accept the BOM on faith, not on evidence." That is the stuff confidence men are made of—men like that are hoping you will accept it on faith alone
” Jack T.

Response: What you have stated is not our stance or belief on this issue; however, it is found among some theorists as an explanation for how their models are not consistent with the scriptural record. There is no question that we cannot lay blame to the Spaniard Conquerors other than their destruction of a mighty civilization (the Inca), which they found—but that was not the Nephite nation. Nor can we blame earthquakes for they would not have obliterated all evidence of a once powerful and civilized society—there is much evidence in Andean South America to show that societies had ruled there for some time and their magnificent buildings, what is left of them, are still being found, uncovered, and categorized archaeologically. On the other hand, we are expected to accept God and his workings on faith—that is the message of the Bible as well. On the other hand, it is not suggested that the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon has no actual reality to be found—you have just been reading the wrong blog sites and information. As for “faith alone,” it was the Savior who told the skeptic Thomas, after showing him his wounds and Thomas coming to realize the Lord had been resurrected, said, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed” (John 20:29).
    Comment #2: “As far as your theory goes, the church announced on 1.30.19 that there is no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, it has asked its members to focus on the message of the Book of Mormon and not the evidence or lack of evidence that any of this actually happened” Rick M.
    Response: If you are going to write about things, no matter how briefly, try (really try) to get your facts and information correct. The Church did not say there is no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon. Such a statement would be ludicrous since certain areas in the Americas show much evidence toward an ancient culture or civilization dominating the land in antiquity during or close to the Jaredite and/or Nephite period. Even Joseph Smith stated that the physical evidence (archaeology) “is proof of its divine authenticity.”
    What the Church did recently state is: “The Church takes no position on the specific geographic location of Book of Mormon events in the ancient Americas. Church members are asked not to teach theories about Book of Mormon geography in Church settings but to focus instead on the Book of Mormon’s teachings and testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel” (emphasis added). This is not a new idea or stand, the Church has always maintained that teaching in Church settings should be the factual knowledge of the Gospel and not speculation, opinions, or personal views.
    The Church also stated: “Since the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have expressed numerous opinions about the specific locations of the events discussed in the book. Some believe that the history depicted in the Book of Mormon occurred in North America, while others believe that it occurred in Central America or South America. Although Church members continue to discuss such theories today, the Church takes no position on the geography of the Book of Mormon except that the events it describes took place in the Americas.”
What we should learn from this Church statement is that when we teach, comment, participate, speak in Church settings (meetings, etc.) we should stick to the Gospel as outlined in the scriptures—not express personal views that are controversial. The Church article concluded by emphasizing the Church’s neutrality on Book of Mormon geography and quoting President Russell M. Nelson on the importance the book’s primary purpose—to testify of Jesus Christ and his Gospel.
    We might also add to that idea by saying that when people write about their geographical theories as so many do, they should stick and adhere to, follow and uphold, the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon, and if one wants to make a suggestion, state a view, opinion, or belief, make certain it is consistent with the numerous comments and descriptions Mormon left us in his abridgement and what Nephi and Jacob wrote about the geographical setting.
    Comment #2a: “That is pretty much what I said. There is no proof” Rick M.
    Response: No, that is not what you said. Not even "pretty much." You said "the Church announced that there is no archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon." That is both an inaccurate and highly misleading comment. They did not state or comment about proof or evidence in any way shape or form. We are not talking about proof or evidence, nor is the Church. You are the one claiming there is no proof or evidence. The Church simply does not take sides or support a particular location within the Americas.
    Comment #3: “Almost every archaeologist out there supports the theory that human migration went east from Malaysia and Indonesia. Humans spread across the map and to all the islands of the Pacific over time, eventually reaching as far as Hawaii and Easter Island. You don't have to look at a map to guess it, just read a history book” George D.
    Response: Actually, while that was the original belief many decades ago, and still is in the settlement of Micronesia and Macaronesia (Macronesia), most scientists today are beginning to accept a South America-Polynesia contact based on recent studies, DNA testing, the sweet potato, and other factors. About half of those are in the camp of Polynesia contacting South America, the other half believe South America advanced into Polynesia as Thor Heyerdahl showed.
    Comment #3a: “I think Olsen would argue that Zhenla and Langkasuka were the Nephite/Lamanite societies. So their existence supports the theory. Legend (as recorded by the Chinese) state that Zhenla was founded by a foreigner that received a divine mission to cross the seas. Chinese explorers describe cities with walls and towers and communities ruled by kings” Sithu M.
Zhenla (Chenla) in defeating the previous culture, the Funan, occupied most of southern areas of Vietnam,  Laos, and Thailand, and all of Cambodia; but id not actually occupy the Malay Peninsula

Response: While Ralph Olsen’s theory about Malay being the Nephite Land of Promise was covered quite thoroughly in earlier posts, including (“Problems With the Malay Theory-Parts I thru VIII,” this comment brings up a point not covered, i.e., the (Pinyin) Zhenla (commonly called Chenla) were a people in Southeast Asia, i.e., Cambodia, southern Laos and East Thailand, existing from the 6th to the 8th centuries A.D. In fact, the earliest mention of Chenlas is found in Chinese chronicles, specifically the Book of Sui (Sui Shu is the History of the Sui Dynasty, the official history book of that Dynasty and is the 13th of the 24 dynastic histories of Imperial China and covers the period from 581 to 617 A.D.), which documents an embassy from Chenla for the years 616-617.
    The Chenla (whose surviving inscriptions were in Sanskrit) predecessors were the Funan, whose kingdom stretched in southern Southeast Asian centered on the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, and were established in the first century A.D. according to ancient Chinese historians. It would be difficult to associate this people with the Nephites under any circumstances.
    The Langkasuka, which occupied the northern area of the Malay peninsula, founded sometime around in the 2nd century A.D., descendants of Ashoka from Magadha in India, by ancient Chinese historians, and were considered Hindu-Buddhist. Again, it would be difficult to associate these people with the Lamanites or Nephites.
    Comment #3b: “Your arguments against the Malay theory all hinge on the argument that since we're not told about it in the Book of Mormon, it can't be true. But my guess is all those less important things were probably cut out of the abridgment and sealed up in the hills by Mormon with all the other records that we've never read. There are plenty of extant legends in SE Asia talking about buried golden books bearing ancient histories that have been lost” Sithu M.
    Response: The discussion and argument against the Malay theory has nothing to do with it not being mentioned outright—Peru is not mentioned, nor Guatemala, nor New York, but that is not why we consider the former and reject the latter two. The argument comes from matching the meanings in the scriptural record, the overall concepts, and the direct wordage of Mormon and others, including Nephi’s mention of a vessel being driven forth before the wind, and what was found in the land where he landed.
    As for less important things being cut out of the abridgement, certainly much was when the authors wrote that they could not include the vast majority of what was written; however, where Nephi landed, where events took place are described fairly well and provide us with much information to think that a location in the Eastern Hemisphere would not have been mentioned in some way since the entire Church recognizes that the Book of Mormon took place in the Western Hemisphere.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Jaredite Animals in the Land of Promise – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding the animals the Jaredites brought from Mesopotamia and their use in the Land of Promise, as well as the development of the two animals mentioned in the Book of Ether and unknown to Joseph Smith when he translated the Plates.
    First of all, the only indigenous new world animals that could possibly qualify as the Jaredites “cureloms and cumoms, which were useful to man,” and equal to the elephant and more useful than horses and asses (donkeys), would be the guanaco and the vicuña, from which descended both the llama and the alpaca—two animals with a very long history in Andean South America. No Central or Mesoamerican animal can satisfy the usefulness of the horse and donkey for their riding and conveyance ability, nor the elephant for its productiveness in work and as a beast of burden—with the main value of these animals while they are alive and producing. Almost any animal has value when dead since its meat can be eaten, its hide used for daily necessities, as clothing, leather necessities, and horn, bone, hooves and tail for other needs, such as tools, fish hooks, weapons, ornaments and ropes, etc. However, the real value of elephants, horses and donkeys was in their living and providing daily work and living benefits.
As an example, living animals, like cows and goats, produce milk and wool; sheep produce wool; oxen and cattle provide work, such as pulling power; horses provide transportation and work such as plowing, tree felling and hauling; donkeys provide some transportation and will guard other animals, but mostly they provide conveyance.
    On the other hand, when theorists claim that certain animals fill the role of the Jaredites’ curelom and cumom, they fail to consider that all animals cannot be domesticated. There are several reasons (experts list six), but mainly it has to do with two things: 1) economy—the end result of use justifies the time it takes in development; and 2) behavior—animals that are aggressive, picky eaters, have elaborate courtship rituals, and are not gentle and easy going, simply will not be domesticated, and humans will neither spend the time and effort, nor put up with the difficulty in trying to domesticate them.
    As an example, while the zebra is a relative of the very useful horse, it is far more aggressive and makes terrible human companions, as does the lion, tiger and wild cat, or wolf, though the latter is connected to the dog. The same can be said about the African buffalo and the American bison, two animals that are highly unpredictable and very aggressive, making them quite dangerous to humans.
    This is why irresponsible comparisons made by some theorists that the American buffalo (bison) and the Mountain goat in North America are the Jaredite curelom and cumom is so erroneous. Neither of these two animals are domesticated or would be domesticated because of the extremely aggressive natures, inherent fear of humans and isolation from habitable areas. The same can be said for the sloth and tapir claimed by Mesoamericanists, though for different and earlier stated reasons. However, the important part, is none of these suggested animals are of any value to man while alive—they are not beasts of burden, do not provide useful hair or byproducts, and though the tapir can be petted, the others are not compatible with humans. It is after they are dead that their meat, hide, wool, and products become useful—mostly the buffalo, but the others provide food in different parts of the world. But in that sense, they are no more value for meat than any other hunted animal, such as deer, moose, antelope bear or wild cat.
What needs to be understood is the description given about the two Jaredite animals—of them it is said, “they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19). Thus the Jaredite animals:
1. Were beasts of burden through comparison with the elephant, horse and ass;
2. Provided transportation;
3. Carried supplies, products and objects;
4. Provided work for farms, clearing fields, plowing, etc.;
5. Were domesticated;
6. Useful to man while alive, and when dead;
7. Were bred from animals known to the Jaredites.
    In Andean South America, the wild guanaco and the vicuña, and their domesticated descendants, the llama and the alpaca are the only two Western Hemispheric animals that provided all of these important benefits to the Jaredites and later the Nehites. They did not have the brute force of the elephant, and perhaps why they were listed after the elephant, but certainly performed similar work, as they did to the horse and ass, matching these latter in all qualities, and being far superior in other stated attributes, surpassing all the earlier stated domesticated animals.
    They are native to the high puna of the South American Andes—a montane grassland and shrubland of the high central Andes, and specifically the regions of Ecuador, Peru, western Bolivia and Chile, as well as peripherally Argentina and Colombia.
These two animals would have been bred by the Jaredites from the camels they brought to their land of promise, especially needed after finding the mountainous regions of the area and the difficulty camels would have had in the rocky terrain. Not only were the llama and alpaca bred from camels, there are only six camelids in the world: the Dromedary camel, the Bactrian camel, the vicuña, guanaco, llama and alpaca.
    The llama and alpaca were the two animals mentioned in the Book of Ether that were unknown to Joseph Smith who used their Nephite or Jaredite names when translating the Plates. In fact, the alpaca and llama were not known in North America until the late 1800s, and not actually introduced, though in very small numbers, into North America until 1930. Their real inclusion into the North American conscience did not begin until the 1970s, when the government lifted all restrictions on animal imports from South America.
    It is well understood that the guanaco and vicuña, which introduced into South America, and that they adapted to the harsh climate, sporadic moisture, high elevations, large daily temperature fluctuation, and unpredictable food supply of the region. It is also understood that the domestication of these two species gave rise to the llama and alpaca, with the llama originating from the guanaco and the alpaca from the vicuña. In fact, the domestication of the llama and alpaca marked the beginning of a high dependence on these animals by the early culture of the Andes, providing not only a beast of burden, as was its predecessor the camel, but also food, fiber, fuel, and shelter. These animals during much later Inca times,  also served as cultural icons in spiritual and fertility rites.
    This domestication also allowed the llamas’ additional use as a beast of burden as well as selective breeding for specific traits. The llama's adaptability and efficiency as a pack animal in the mountain terrain of the Andes made it possible to link the diverse altitude zones and to cover the great linear distances of the region. The llama was bred specifically to produce a large, strong animal for the packing function. The alpaca was bred to accentuate its naturally finer wool. The harvest of this fine wool served as the base for a significant ancient domestic textile market.
    The reign of the llama and alpaca in the Andean region ended abruptly in the early 1500s with the Spanish conquest of that region of South America. The Spaniards initiated their colonization with the systematic destruction of the llamas and alpacas and replaced them with their own domestic species, principally sheep. The European stock displaced the native camelids from every part of the region save the highest reaches of the puna where the foreign stock had no chance of survival because of the harsh climate.
Exiled to the upper regions of their natural territory, the llama and alpaca languished as second-rate citizens while the sophisticated husbandry and management systems, were lost amid Spanish prejudice and misunderstanding. The wild vicuña and guanaco were hunted to the point of near extinction for their fine pelts and to eliminate competition with domestic stock. The llama and alpaca became animals of the poor and formed the base of a subsistence culture for the natives of the high puna.
    Rediscovery of the alpaca's fine wool by the international textile market in the late 1800s led to a higher level of interest in the alpaca, in turn leading to increased management, research, and selective breeding. The llama continued its obscure existence until about 40 years ago. The Andean countries, especially Peru and Bolivia, have, of late, recognized the importance of native camelid species in their cultures and have begun to restore them to their rightful place as the preferred inhabitants of their varied landscape. The alpaca has led in this resurgence because of its desirable fiber. Strong world demand has fostered growth of an economically significant industry and, more importantly, has caused these Andean countries to recognize all the camelid species as unique to their region and as a part of their heritage.
    Obviously, modern transportation capability has reduced the importance of the llama as a beast of burden and means of transportation. Primary emphasis is now being placed on this animal as a food source with fiber production as a secondary function. The exportation of camelids has been closely monitored and discouraged as the Andean countries attempt to improve the quality of their stock and build numbers. However, in the ancient past, the llama and alpaca served all the needs of the early cultures of Andean South America so well, that the animals were venerated in each subsequent generation.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Jaredite Animals in the Land of Promise – Part I

A follow up to the previous post that introduces the animals which the Jaredites brought from Mesopotamia and their use in the Land of Promise.
    Obviously, since the middle east is mostly desert outside the narrow, curved, fertile crescent, the camel has always been the ideal mode of transportation and conveyance of goods, supplies, and products. The reason for this is partly found in the unique legs and feet of the camelid.
A camel’s feet are not hooves and are strongly adapted for the desert environment. The spreading toes help it not to sink in shifting sands while thick sole in a camel provides a hurdle against the summer sands, and saves the camel from being burned when it crosses the hot sand

A camel is an even-toed ungulate in the genus Camelus, strictly adapted to desert movement. They have four large and specially designed feet, with each having two toes at the front, the bones of which are embedded in the foot. Each toe consists of a wide pad of flexible fibers and fats surrounded by a thick lathery cover. Camels do not have hooves, but each toe has a nail which is actually a partially formed hoof. When the thick, leathery pads of the foot hit the ground, the toes spread wide, creating a silent gait, and preventing the foot from sinking into the sand when walking or standing. These tough, leathery pads under their feet also allow camels to walk on rough, stony desert ground, which is quite common, especially in the northern Arabian Peninsula.
    The camel is nicknamed "the ship of the desert" because they walk like the motion of a rolling boat—they move both feet on one side of their bodies, then both feet on the other side, giving them an unusual gait. In addition, their thick coat reflects sunlight, which helps to keep it from overheating in the hot, dry deserts. The animal also has long legs that help keep their bodies farther away from the hot ground, allowing them to walk long distances across desert sands.
    As worthwhile and valuable the camel was to the Jaredites in both their Mesopotamian world, and in the trek to the sea that divided the land, they had only limited use in the Land of Promise, since whether one is looking at Andean South America, Mesoamerica, or the Heartland/Great Lakes in North America, there would be little sense in using a camel. On the other hand, there are certain areas where camels could not be used at all, and that is typically in the mountainous regions, as depicted in the scriptural record that saturated the Land of Promise: “There shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23). Even the earlier mountains that existed before this time in the land were tumbled into pieces (1 Nephi 12:4), or laid low, and became like valleys, the rocky terrain that had existed would still exist, just at lower or flat levels—that is the rocks now lad low and the rocks rent and the plains were broken up (1 Nephi 12:4), all of which would make footing difficult for a camel.
Camels were used for riding across the desert

Thus, along with the hooved flocks and herds they brought with them, they would have needed a beast of burden as versatile as a camel for transportation and conveyance. Thus we find that the Jaredites, who were husbandmen, a term that in Biblical times meant “farmer,” or “worker of the soil,” (Zechariah 13:5) and involved in animal husbandry (Genesis 4:2; 25:27), that is “a man of the field,” and “a keeper of animals.” Anciently, that also included breeding of animals—in fact, animal husbandry has from the beginning of time always been “involved with the domestication of, care for and breeding of animals, such as dogs, cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs and other like creatures.” This included such things as “dog breeding,” and “beekeeping,” and “horse management,” which involved the development of selective traits, such as color, strength, behavior, speed, or other positive and necessary traits.
    All of this among the Jaredites led to the two animals described in the scriptural record as the curelom and the cumom (Ether 9:19). Now, the nature or type of animal these two were, we are not told, other than that they were on a par in value to the Jaredites (useful to man) as the elephant, and more so than the horse and ass (donkey). There were also “wild asses” in Biblical times (Asinus hemippus), a “swift and untamable animal,” equaling the speed of the gazelle, that frequented the deserts of Syria, Mesopotamia, and northern Arabia. The modern donkey spring from the wild ass known as the Asinus vulgaris, a much slower and docile animal called “hamor” in Hebrew, and was an “unclean” animal since it did not chew its cud, but made up a considerable portion of wealth in ancient times (Genesis 12:16;30:43).
Camels were used for carrying supplies, products and provisions across the desert 

So what animal do we find that is as valuable to man as the elephant, a beast of burden, used for transportation and conveyance, in the Western Hemisphere? Only in one location. First, though we might submit that Heartland theorists claim these two animals were the buffalo (of the Plains) and the wild mountain goat (of the Rocky Mountains). Neither of these, of course, meet the criteria stated in Ether. The buffalo has never been tamed nor domesticated, cannot be ridden nor used to convey burdens, such as a pack animal, and its only use to man is when it has been killed. The mountain goat, which is not a goat, but part of the antelope family, and found only in subalpine and alpine mountainous areas. It, too, has never been domesticated, cannot be ridden or carry burdens.
    Neither of these animals could be bred from the animals existing in Mesopotamia in Jaredite times!
    In addition, the Mesoamerican theorists point to the sloth, or giant sloth, and the tapir, though neither meets the criteria found in Ether. In fact, in looking at today’s sloth (something like a monkey) or a tapir (something like a pig) one hardly sees any similarity to the description in Ether. On the other hand, John L. Sorenson claims a “giant sloth” was involved—an animal the size of an ox, with long curved claws, likely an adaptation for foraging for grabbing branches and stripping foliage from tree limbs, as well as for protection from predators.
    The giant sloth (and today’s sloth) were and are endemic to South America, not Mesoamerica, with the giant sloth becoming extinct, according to paleontologists, 11,700 year ago. Hardly living during Jaredite times (2200-2100 BC). In addition, the giant sloth had large, lumbering bodies, with large hind feet, enabling them to stand on their hindquarters to reach high into trees for forage. No giant sloth was ever recorded or known to be domesticated, be ridden or carry burdens.

Left: Tapir, which prefers a moist, dense forests, in temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere (South America), and is an animal that can be domesticated and enjoys human contact, but can also be highly aggressive to both other animals and to humans, with a tendency to attack rather than retreat; Right: Sloth, which is a wild animal and are not domesticated, and are not to be held or touched by humans

The sloth known since that time is a small animal, arboreal (living in trees), and hardly an animal of any worth, which is also the description of the tapir, the latter being an animal that is related to the horse, donkey, zebra and rhinoceros, and claimed to have lived in the Oligocene, called tapirids, and were half the size of the present tapir. The current animal somewhat resembles swine and have a long, flexible snout, is nocturnal, and inhabit jungles and forest regions, spending a great deal of their time in rivers and particularly underwater, otherwise tend to wallow in mud pits.
    While both of these animals have worth to man, that worth is only after they are killed.
    In addition, while the sloth and tapir may well have been unknown to Joseph Smith, himself and his ancestors being farmers, who knew about most animals of their day, he certainly would have heard of the Buffalo and Mountain Goat. On the other hand, in South America, are two animals that are extremely well known to be of great worth to man, and have been for thousands of years, yet were completely unknown in North America until well into the 20th century, more than a hundred years after the publication of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph’s death.
The camel was brought to the New World by the Jaredite, with which they bred to deve3lop the smaller, more durable in non-desert environments, and known as a camelid

These two animals are descendants of the camel, forming two sets of wild camelids, each having a domestic descendant. They are all indigenous to Andean South America, and while some have been imported into Central and North America and elsewhere, they are both known as, and were in fact, original South American animals.
    The original New World animals were the guanaco and the vicuna, from which descended both the llama and the alpaca—two animals with a very long history in Andean South America. They are native to the high puna of the South American Andes—a montane grassland and shrubland of the high central Andes, and specifically the regions of Ecuador, Peru, western Bolivia and Chile, as well as peripherally Argentina and Colombia.
    These two animals would have been bred by the Jaredites from the camels they brought to their land of promise, especially needed after finding the mountainous regions of the area and the difficulty camels would have had in the rocky terrain. These were the two animals mentioned in the Book of Ether that were unknown to Joseph Smith who used their Nephite or Jaredite names when translating the Plates.
(See the next post, “The Jaredite Animals in the Land of Promise – Part II,” regarding the development of the two animals mentioned in the Book of Ether and unknown to Joseph Smith when he translated the Plates)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Jared’s Journey from a Mesopotamia Climate to the Western Hemisphere

A continuation of the previous post and introducing the climate from which the Jaredites left and the nature of Mesopotamia for planting.
    When Jared and his brethren reached “that great sea which divideth the lands…they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer” (Ethr 2:13), doing so after the name of the brother of Jared, Mahonri Coriancumer. It was his spiritual gifts and communication with the Lord the Jaredites honored, for “the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel” (Ether 2:5) in order to reach the great sea.
In Mesopotamia, before leaving, the 24 families that eventually made up the Jaredite group, would have been mostly farmers and herdsmen, for few other type people would have been able to create a civilization in a virgin land, strictly living off the land and by their own planting, harvesting and their husbandry, as they built their settlement and cities.
    Anciently, in fact, it was the practice of all developing cultures to practice animal husbandry, which almost always occurred along with farming. The herdsmen were frequently members of a family who owned a small farm, and their responsibility in early pastoral life, was in the raising of livestock, and nearly every countryside was occupied by herds and flocks. It was common practice to pasture smaller herds and flocks in close proximity to planted fields, while larger herds, especially cattle, wandered further into upland ranges further from the farm center in search of grazing.
    In Mesopotamia, the highly fertile land resulting from vast silt deposits caused by continual yearly flooding of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, made it a perfect haven for the development of civilization. In those early developing years, numerous occupations abounded, including farming, which because of the fertile region, food production from farming was a highly profitable occupation. In addition, because the population was between two rivers throughout Mesopotamia, most men knew about boating, both along the rivers and in the nearly 13,000-square miles of the southern wetland marshes of the Gulf delta, an area referred to as simply the Marshlands—one of the world’s largest inland delta systems, created by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers that flood the Mesopotamia lowlands, creating a haven for fish and fowls.
(The only way through or over the marshlands is by boat, barge, or raft

This area, currently called the Hawizeh, in the northeast, the Central in the central west, and the Hammar in the south, which make up separate but adjacent marshes, though anciently they were one general intertwined marshland (until Saddam Hussein drained the marshland in 1990 to punish and eliminate the homeland of the rebellious Marsh Arabs).
    The travel of the Jaredites, would have included camels, an animal known to be in Mesopotamia at the time. While camels are known to have existed in Palestine before 1000 BC, they had been far more prevalent to the north. In fact, there is abundant evidence that the Bible's mention of camels as early as the time of Abraham is contextually and historically accurate. Abraham, of course, left the area of Ur (Uruk) and traveled to Haran (a city in southeastern Turkey, 24miles southeast of Urfa). That camels were known in Mesopotamia during the earliest times following the Flood is well known and the Jaredites, knowing they would be traveling into the wilderness (the deserts to the southwest and south), would have taken camels for the desert crossing.
    As herdsmen, no doubt, the Jaredites would have known the camel quite well, and would have had them when they arrived far to the south at the “sea that divides the lands” (Ether 2:13). These were the only animals in the ancient world (as well as now) that traveled across deserts—and were excellent beasts of burden in the wilderness (except in mountains, were rocky shale rip up the camel’s soft foot pads.
    After the barges were built, and the Jaredites “when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them…when they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God” (Ether 6:4).
Obviously, the Jaredites took all their animals with them in the barges, at least sufficient numbers for their need in settling in and building a new life in a foreign land—one that was “choice above all the earth” (Ether 1:38); a “land which was choice above all other lands” (Ether 9:20). The number of their animals during their long trek south and four years at the seashore would have increased significantly among their flocks, herds, and bests of every type.
    The Jaredites first homeland in Mesopotamia was within a semi-arid climate, with hot summers and sporadic rain. The presence of two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, along a 300-mile-long and 150-mile-wide-land made it humid, fertile and ideal for nomads to start settlements. The abundance of water and nutrient-rich soil made it an ideal place to develop agriculture.
    The rivers, which followed a near parallel course from the highlands of eastern Asia Minor (Turkey) through what is now Syria and Iraq and into the Persian Gulf, annually flooded the area every spring when snow from nearby mountains melted and made its way into their currents that overflowed the lower rivers, forming a vast delta system, known in later times as the Marshland—a rectangular area thousands of square miles in size, with intertwined marshes, rivers, small lakes, and estuaries.
    The floods, although destructive, also enriched the sandy soil with vital nutrients, which made agriculture feasible. Though a desert, early inhabitants built an irrigation system that provided water year round. To tame the rivers, they built levees and canals, as well as reservoir basins. By the time of the Jaredites, the area produced sustainable crops.
    It should be noted that the Mesopotamian climate, referred to as Bwh on the Köppen Climate System, “warm, desert climate,” is the same as the Bwh climate of Santa Elena and coastal Ecuador along the Pacific coast, as well as northern coastal Peru.
The Mesoamerican Climate according to the Köppen Climate Classification, shows no connection to the Mesopotamian Climate of the Jaredites

On the other hand, the climate in Mesoamerica, is predominantly  Aw/As, a “Tropical Savanna Climate.” The Koppen climate classification for the Heartland is mostly Cfa—Humid Subtropical Climate, and to a lesser degree, Dfa—Warm, Humid Continental Climate; the Great Lakes area is mostly Dfa, and also Dfb—Temperate Continental Climate/Humid Continental Climate. Obviously, the seeds brough to the Western Hemisphere land of promise from Mesopotamia (Ether 1:41; 2:3) simply would not have grown in either Mesoamerica or the Heartlant/Great Lakes areas.
    In addition, the Mesopotamia climate was far more moderate and agriculturally productive in the past than it is today, with arid climate with hot dry summers and short cool winters. Farmers learned to control the floods and grew some of the most valuable crops like flax, barley, wheat, fruits and vegetables that helped the Mesopotamian economy progress.
    From this desert land, the Jaredites traveled to the Western Hemisphere in barges that were blown by furious winds and currents. With them they took their seeds and animals that we should find somewhere the Western Hemisphere.
(See the next post, “Jaredite Animals in the Land of Promise,” for the Jaredite arrival and their husbandry skills that developed the animal known throughout the Land of Promise)

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Jared’s Journey to the Great Sea that Divideth the Land

The people who later became known as the Jaredites in Book of Mormon history, were originally under the leadership of Jared, and the spiritual guidance of his brother, Mahonri Moriancumer, typically referred to in the Jaredite record as the Brother of Jared. During the time of the confusions of tongues in the area of Babylon, in what is now Iraq, about 59 miles southwest of Baghdad, in was in the center of what was then called Mesopotamia, meaning “Land Between the River.” It was here on the Alluvial Plain between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, later to be called Sawad, that mankind first began to read, write, create laws and live in cities under an organized government—notably Uruk, from which "Iraq" is derived.
Mesopotamia “the Land Between the Rivers”

This area, considered to have had civilized centers as early as 2300 BC, has been the early home of the Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian empires. It was the earliest center of agriculture, tool-making and architecture, as well as mass-produced goods, and the first written history, as well as the first evidence of mathematics, astronomy, astrology, written law, medicine, and organized religion.
    Somewhere along this period, in an area of Mesopotamia known as Shinar, the building of the Tower of Babel was commenced. At this time, everyone in this vast area spoke one language, commonly thought to have been Chaldaic or pure Hebrew—the first tongue or mother tongue spoken by Adam, Shem, and Noah, though some disagree with this point.
    However, in all of Mesopotamia, a single language was spoken—whether the language of Adam was preserved up until the confusion of tongues, or it had evolved into the Chaldaic claimed by many linguists, is doctrinally unknown. What is known, is that the people in Mesopotamia at this time had achieved much in art, architecture, agriculture and animal husbandry. There were flocks and herds of animals, abundant fowls of the air, plenteous fish, and vast regions of bees.
The Brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon their friends and their families also, that they were not confounded

When the Brother of Jared inquired of the Lord regarding the confusion of tongues and the dispersion of the people, the people of Jared were agriculturists and herdsmen—they were not involved in the evil of building the tower to seek a way to heaven and bypass any further punishment of God, or to get to heaven without God. Obviously, those who built the tower were disobedient to God’s command to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1).
    The word “replenish” according to an 1828 definition means “to recover former fullness.” In other words, to fill the Earth as it had been filled with people prior to the Great Flood. However, the people of Shinar decided to dwell in one place, in Mesopotamia along the plain in Shinar—they did not disperse and replenish the Earth. So God confounded their language, forcing them to move into other areas “and scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:7-8).
The Route (dotted white lines) of Jared and his brethren to, first, “down into the valley which is northward,” then from the valley of Nimrod into the wilderness, across the “many waters” or the many rivers, lakes, and deep marshes to the south of Mesopotamia, near the sea in the wilderness

To the brother of Jared, the Lord said, “Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind; and thy families; and also Jared thy brother and his family; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families” (Ether 1:41). The Jaredites began their enormous pilgrimage to a “land of promise” (Ether 2:7), beyond the vast sea or ocean or Great Deep (Ether 2:25) with its towering mountainous waves (Ether 2:24).

They did also prepare a vessel, in which they did carry with them the fish of the waters

As part of that pilgrimage, the Lord told them to take flocks of every kind, seed of every kind (Ether 1:41; 2:1), every kind of fish, fowls of the air, and honey bees (Ether 2:2-3), as well as herds (Ether 6:4). Obviously, they were going to a land where there would not be the animals, nor seeds for planting to replenish the vegetation, trees, and plants, as well as the animals, all of which had been destroyed by the Flood.
    Not only did the Jaredites land on an unoccupied and undergrown or barren land, they brought with them the only animals, birds, fish and plant seeds known to that land. When theorists, historians, anthropologists, and other “men of letters” write and discuss that the people of the Book of Mormon were not the only ones in the Land of Promise, that others were there before them, they might want to realize that if others had been there, the Jaredites would not have needed fish, birds, animals (herds and flocks) and honey bees, let alone seeds of every kind.
    After all, we have another example of a large number of people migrating elsewhere. When the Israelites left Egypt, they took what they already possessed, their flocks and herds (Exodus 12:32), including sheep, goats, and cattle (Exodus 12:38), but also took “yeast and bowls of leaven dough,” (Exodus 12:34,39) and asked their Egyptian friends and neighbors as Moses commanded them to do, for things made of silver and gold, as well as for clothing (Exodus 12:34-35).
    Interesting that they did not take seeds for plants and fruit trees, birds, fish, or bees, likely as they did not already possess them and that they would not be needed in an occupied land, i.e., Palestine. Neither did they leave their gold and precious things behind as Lehi did, but obtained even more to take with them—clearly they were going into an occupied land where money and wealth meant something. Where Lehi, with his animals and seeds of every kind went without wealth for it would not be needed in an unoccupied land.
The Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud

Regarding the Jaredites, who had been guided through the wilderness being led toward “that quarter where there never had man been” and “the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel” (Ether 2:5). And upon their  voyage, they took with them sufficient food that they could subsist on the water, as well as food for their flocks and herds (Ether 6:4).
   Now, once reaching their land of promise following a 344-day voyage in the eight barges they built, the Jaredites commenced with their agricultural abilities (Ether 6:13,18). They also practiced their herdsman and husbandry skills (Ether 10:12), earlier, large numbers of their flocks and herds were driven southward by an epidemic of poisonous serpents into the narrow neck of land and to the Land Southward, “which was called by the Nephites Zarahemla (Ether 9:31,32). 
    Many of these animals that escaped into the Land Southward are mentioned by who stated: “Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food” (Alma 22:31), and were those that eventually worked their way downward to the area of Lehi’s landing, for Nephi says that the land there contained “beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men” (1 Nephi 18:25). They were also those wild beasts that filled the wilderness of Hermounts, which was wet and north of the city of Zarahemla (Alma 2:36).
    Now the herds and flocks of the Jaredites would have included camels, which made up a large number of the animals in and around Mesopotamia, which could be drive into the desert for transportation and as beasts of burden. In fact, the Jaredites would have had camels when crossing the deserts after leaving the Valley of Nimrod (Ether 2:4) in Mesopotamia, and “passing the sea in the wilderness” (Ether 2:7), which would have been the Persian Gulf, on their trek as the Lord led them through the wilderness (Ether 2:5) further to the “great sea that divideth the lands” (Ether 2:13), which had to be crossed to reach the land of promise, which God had preserve for a righteous people (Ether 2:7-8).
The wilderness of the Syrian Desert just southwest of Mesopotamia

Now, upon leaving Mesopotamia, the wilderness around these two rivers and the fruitful land in between, was the vast desert to the west and south, including the Syrian Desert and the Arabian Desert, the latter stretches down across the Arabian Peninsula, clear to the Rub’ al Khali, the largest sand desert in the world in the far south.
    Since northeast, north and northwest of Babylon in Mesopotamia at the time was occupied with other cities, farmlands, settlements, the only direction they could have taken “into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been” (Ether 2:5), would have been to the south. So “that they did travel in the wilderness…being directed continually by the hand of the Lord” (Ether 2:6) and come to a “sea in the wilderness” (Ether 2:7), which would have been the Persian Gulf, often referred to as the Persian  Sea, and then into the wilderness of the desert and across as they headed to the great sea. 
    The only sea along this southern journey through the wilderness, which “the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands” (Ether 2:13) would have been the sea of Arabia, along the southern shore of the Arabian Peninsula.
(See the next post, “Jared’s Journey into the Wilderness and the Climate of Their Seeds,” for the Jaredite arrival and their planting seeds and the husbandry skills that developed the animal known throughout the Land of Promise)