Thursday, October 31, 2019

Mormon, the Prophet and Commander of the Nephite Armies

Mormon, after whom the Book of Mormon is called, and his father, also named Mormon (Mormon 1:5), were descendants of Nephi, son of Lehi. The only other recording we have of the name “Mormon” is in the land near what would become the Land of Nephi, in an area not far from what would become the city of Nephi (Lehi-Nephi), and referred to as the Land of Mormon, the Forest of Mormon, and the Waters of Mormon—an area given its name by the king and having been infested at certain times and during certain seasons with wild beasts (Mosiah 18:4).
The Waters of Mormon, where Alma later baptized more than two hundred converts
We are not told in the scriptural record what the purpose or meaning is of the name; however, according to Joseph Smith, the name “was not derived from the Greek word mormo, for there was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of Mormon. Let the language of that book speak for itself. On the 523d page, of the fourth edition, it reads: And now behold we have written this record according to our knowledge in the characters which are called among us the Reformed Egyptian ... none other people knoweth our language; therefore [God] hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof."
    Joseph went on to say, [The] Bible in its widest sense, means good; for the Savior says according to the gospel of John, "I am the good shepherd" and it will not be beyond the common use of terms, to say that good is among the most important in use, and though known by various names in different languages, still its meaning is the same, and is ever in opposition to bad. We say from the Saxon, good; the Dane, god; the Goth, goda; the German, gut; the Dutch, goed; the Latin, bonus; the Greek, kalos; the Hebrew, tob; and the Egyptian, mon.
    Hence, with the addition of more, or the contraction, mor, we have the word MOR-MON; which means, literally, more good” (Correspondence, Times and Seasons, Nauvoo, Illinois, vol 4, no 13, May 15,1843, p194; Teacings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1938,p299-300).
The Prophet Mormon as (left) a Warrior and leader of the Nephite armies; and (right) as the recorder and abridger of the Book of Mormon

As for the Prophet Mormon, it is of interest to find that his youth from the time he was fifteen years old onward, had been involved in military matters and the defense of his people. It would be interesting to know what experiences he had in those first fifteen years of his life. We know he was brought up in the far reaches of the Land Northward until he was about 10 years old—“being a mature and sober youth” (Mormon 1:2), was told by, Ammon, the last prophet of his day where the sacred records were deposited and that he was to obtain them in 14 years from then from their location in the hill Shim (Mormon 1:3), and that he was to record on the plates of Nephi all that he had observed among the Nephites during his first 24 years of life (Mormon 1:4). In the following year, at age 11, his father “carried him into the Land Southward, even to the Land of Zarahemla” (Mormon 1:6).

When Mormon was 15, he was visited by Jesus and he learned about the savior and his goodness (Mormon 1:15)
There is some speculation that Mormon’s father was involved in the military, and may have been serving on an outpost in the far north or engaged in some type of military endeavors, like mapping the country, etc. For why else would he be called back to Zarahemla, to the capital of the nation, especially since there were rumors of war on the horizon with the Lamanites that broke out in open conflict in the year they arrived in Zarahemla—why else would Mormon bring his son from their home in then north to Zarahemla with a war ready to break out? And while we know nothing of Mormon’s family, or that of his father’s, since there is no mention of their coming to Zarahemla with Mormon, might they have been left at home in then ancestral home in the north for their safety?
    While that is speculation, we know that Mormon the elder brought his son, Mormon the younger, into Zarahemla from the safety of the Land Northward at the same time a war was breaking out in the borders of Zarahemla near the Waters of Sidon. And within four years, Mormon the younger is appointed the Commander-in-Chief of the Nephite army at the age of 15 (Mormon 2:1).
    During that first year of arrival, the Nephites “gathered together a great number of men even to exceed the number of thirty thousand…and had a number of battles, in which the Nephites did beat the Lamanites and did slay many of them” (Mormon 1:11). While there is no confirmation that a connection existed between Mormon’s father and the military campaign of the Nephites to defend themselves against the Lamanites, the two events seem far more connected than the scriptural record tells us. For why else would a beleaguered army of 30,000 men, just having defeated the Lamanites in a series of battles appoint a fifteen-year-old to be their military leader?
Since it has always been the Nephite practice to appoint a prophet as their military leader, and as we see in this period of time that it was typical of the son to take over the father’s military leadership: Moronihah took over for Moroni; Nephihah took over for Nephi, etc. It stands to reason that Mormon took over for his father, Mormon, who might have been killed in this series of battles during those four years, or severely wounded that he could not continue in command.
    Again, this is speculation, and what happened to his father after arriving in the Land of Zarahemla, is not mentioned in the record, only that Mormon the younger was not only a sober youth, but a man large in stature and a man of God (Mormon 1:15-16), and may well have been appointed to replace his father as commander of the army. However, the fact is that he was appointed at the age of 15 to be the commander (Mormon 2:2) and lead the army against the Lamanite horde that was brandishing their swords in the south once again, suggests the Nephite armies’ faith in this young, sober lad.
    But despite whatever faith the armies had in Mormon, his appointment and presence did not instill them with much courage, for as the Lamanites approached that next year, their powerful numbers frightened the Nephites so much that they retreated toward the north countries (Mormon 2:3).
    From the beginning, Mormon understood that their strength lay in assembling their people, the Nephites, and gathering them into one body (Mormon 2:7). In addition to the attacking Lamanites, “the land was filled with robbers and with Lamanites; and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land” (Mormon 2:8).
By 330 A.D., the numbers had increased and Aaron, the Lamanite king, had assembled an army of 44,000 against Mormon’s army of 42,000, and Mormon prevailed with Aaron fleeing with his army (Mormon 2:9). This brought about a national attitude of repentance among the Nephites, but the prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite began to establish themselves “for behold, no man could keep that which was his own, for the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land” (Mormon 2:10).
    Unfortunately, the repentance of the Nephites and the expression of their mourning and a lamentation in all the land was not truly repentance because of these things, and more especially among the people of Nephi, for as Mormon wrote: “for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin, And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives. And it came to pass that my sorrow did return unto me again, and I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually; for I saw thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against their God, and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land. And thus three hundred and forty and four years had passed away” (Mormon 2:13).
Shortly after, Mormon led his beleaguered army to Cumorah to face the last, final tragedy of their failure to repent and seek their God as their fathers had always, ultimately done. In that failure, the Lamanite army prevailed and Mormon, the epitome of a prophet-leader, was mortally wounded, and the Nephites fell to the last man, a final testimony to their fall from grace as Mormon had years earlier stated.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

No Other People in The Land of Promise

When reading scripture, it can be vitally important to pay attention to the tense which is a verb to indicate the time of action—that is, when action described is to take place. As seen in grammar, Future Tense is identified by he words “will” or “shall” plus the verb. As an example in “He shall bring,” in scripture, refers to the fact that the Lord will in the future bring to pass whatever is the noun of the sentence.
    To understand this is to better understand the Book of Mormon, since most people read the scriptural record quickly, often like they would read a novel. However, what is done quickly, often misses the point of the scripture involved. An example of this is in the Simple Future Tense, which is an action that has still to take place, the statement “shall see him,” “next year will be 2020,” “shall be brought,” indicate such a tense. An example in scripture is “inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise” (1 Nephi 2:20), meaning: 1) a person shall keep commandments; 2) a person shall prosper; 3) a person shall be led to the land of promise. The point is, these three points had not yet been achieved when the statement was written.
    So how does that effect our reading of the Book of Mormon? First of all, by understanding this, we are able to answer some questions being asked, such as: “Were there people living in the Land of Promise before Lehi arrived?”
    Mesoamerican theorists adamantly claim there were. Of course, they have to, since the sciences involved claim that the Olmecs entered Mesoamerica near Veracruz in Mexico, laying “many of the foundations for the groups that followed them. So if the Olmecs were in Mesoamerica from 1600-1500 BC to about 400 BC, what Book of Mormon people could they have been? Certainly not the Jaredites, who arrived in the land around 2100 BC, nor the Nephites or the Mulekites who both arrived around 600 BC. Nor can it be suggested that any group before about 2350 BC, time of the Flood, have occupied the land that continued through the Flood and survived it. However, it id suggested that the Olmecs derive in part from neighboring Mokaya or Mixe-Zoque, who are said to have arrived in Mesoamerica around 2500 BC.
    So how do we deal with Mesoamrica?  First, to find out if Mesoamerica is the location of the Land of Promise by determining what the Book of Mormon says about people in the land before Lehi.
    This brings us back to the future tense of the scriptural record.
From the very beginning, the Lord told Nephi that he “shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands” (1 Nephi 2:20). The Lord had also made it clear to Lehi that this Land of Promise was to be for him (1 Nephi 5:5) and his posterity—a person’s children and descendants (2 Nephi 1:5) often called “seed” in scripture. Lehi and his family and household, as well as Ishmael’s family and household, were eventually led into the Land of Promise by the hand of the Lord (1 Nephi 17:42), which they ultimately obtained (2 Nephi 1:3).
    Lehi states: “But, said he, 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, emphasis added).
    Obviously, “should be” is an event to occur in the future—that is, when Lehi was in the Land of Promise and making this statement, no other people had, as yet, been led to the land. In other words, Lehi arrived in a virgin land that no other people had yet been given.
    We learn more on this empty land from Ether when Moroni abridges the Jaredite record, writing: “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), meaning that no one had ever come to this land, this Land of Promise that had not been brought by the Lord, who also told Lehi that this Land of Promise would be kept from other people as stated above (2 Nephi 1:8).
    Thus, we see that this land, the Americas, was to be a choice land—would be meaning after it was settled. When this statement was made (Ether 13:2), the Jaredites, Nephites and Mulekites had not yet arrived. Nor had anyone else, or all this future tense language would not have been used.
Even after Lehi arrived, the Lord was telling him of future people to be brought to the Land of Promise, which may have meant the Mulekites, or later the Europeans. The point is, Lehi was told that no others occupied the land, but that others in the future would arrive.
    As a result, Lehi prophesied that “I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:6), and note the future tense language of those who would be brought at some point in the future from Lehi’s time: “This land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Nephi 1:7).
    Lehi then adds on these future events: “Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever” (2 Nephi 1:9).
    However, Lehi, having seen the future of his posterity in the Land of Promise adds:  “Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever” (2 Nephi 1:9).
Once again, in grammar, a future tense is a verb form that generally marks the event described by the verb as not having happened yet, but expected to happen in the future. When we read these passages for what they are, future tense statements, we get an understanding of the fact that there were no other people in the Land of Promise after Lehi arrived other than himself and his people.
    Thus, in all of this, it should be noted that Lehi was speaking of a future time from when he uttrered the words. That up until he came, the land had been kept free from those who would be upon it in his time, that is, none were left of the Jaredites and no other people were in the land when he, Lehi, arrived. In fact, at that time, the Land of Promise was empty of all people other than his party, except for Coriantumr, the last surviving Jaredites, who eventually wandered into the camp of the Mulekites at Zarahemla. There were no other people and the Lord promised Lehi it would remain that way as long as they were righteous.
    Thus, when Mesoamericanists claim their area was the Land of Promise, it should be noted that Mesoamerica was inhabited by large numbers of people prior to the arrival of the Olmecs in 1600 BC, such as Mokayas in 1900-1600 BC, the Proro-Mixe-Zoque, 2000-1200 BC, and it was also occupied before that. While the Olmecs are considered the earliest known major civilization in Mesoameric with their formative period 1500 to 400 BC, Pre-Olmec cultures had flourished in the area since about 2500 BC, but by 1600–1500 BC, early Olmec culture had emerged, centered on the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán site near the coast in southeast Veracruz.
    None of these dates match anything in the Book of Mormon.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

What are Nephite Resorts?

Words change over time

Any word-smith or linguist knows that “words change meaning all the time—and over time,” such as:
Awful: Awful used to mean “worthy of awe,” which is how we get expressions like “the awful majesty of God.” Today, however, awful means very bad or unpleasant; to emphasize the extent of something unpleasant or negative
Bachelor: A bachelor was a young knight. It’s been used for unmarried men since Chaucer’s day, and more recently for someone who had achieved the lowest rank at a university—such as today’s B.A. and B.S degrees.
Cheater: Originally an officer who looked after the king’s eacheats (land lapsing to the Crown on the death of the owner). Mistrust of the king’s cheater, led to the word used today for dishonesty or swindling.
Clue: Centuries ago, a clue was a ball of yarn. Think about threading your way through a maze and we got from yarn to key bits of evidence that help us solve things.
Divest: 300 years ago, divesting could involve undressing as well as depriving others of their rights or possessions. It has only recently come to refer to selling off investments.
Furniture: Originally meant equipment, supplies or provisions, as in “Great increase & furniture of knowledge.” Gradually, the meaning narrowed to the current sense: large moveable equipment such as tables and chairs, used to make a house, office, or other space suitable for living or working.
Myriad: If you had a myriad of things 600 years ago, it meant that you specifically had 10,000 of them—not just a lot.
Naughty: Originally meant people who had naught (nothing); they were poor or needy. The meaning shifted to being worth nothing, being morally bad or wicked. It could refer to a licentious, promiscuous or sexually provocative person, or the more gentler meaning, especially as applied to children: mischievous, disobedient, badly behaved.
Nice: This word used to mean “silly, foolish, simple,” far from the compliment it is today!
Silly: In its earliest uses, this word referred to things worthy or blessed; from there it came to refer to the weak and vulnerable, and more recently to those who are foolish.
Spinster: As it sounds, spinsters used to be women who spun. It referred to a legal occupation before it came to mean “unmarried woman.”
Sleight: Originally meant skillful, clever, knowing and wise. This changed to mean someone who is sneaky and deceitful.
Wench: A shortened form of the Old English word wenchel (which referred to children of either sex), the word wench used to mean “female child” before it came to be used to refer to female servants—and more pejoratively to wanton women.
    In the Book of Mormon there are words that had a different meaning in the 1830s than they do today.
Wilderness today: a thick, tree-laden forest
Wilderness 1830: any tract of land or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings, whether a forest or a wide barren plain or a desert, mountain, etc.
    Or words that meant something different in 1830 than intended in the scriptural record, thus originally identified with a meaning:
Resort (1830). To have recourse; to apply; to betake; assembly; meeting.
In Book of Mormon: small forts, or places of resort (Alma 48:5,8).
    Or words in the Book of Mormon with no definition today, but defined in the scriptural record:
Irreantum: which, being interpreted, is many waters (1 Nephi 17:5).
Ripliancum: which, by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all (Ether 15:8).
    Or no definition at all such as cumoms, cureloms, neas, and sheum.

As to resorts, the word is mentioned three times:
1. “And thus he did appoint chief captains of the Zoramites, they being the most acquainted with the strength of the Nephites, and their places of resort, and the weakest parts of their cities; therefore he appointed them to be chief captains over his armies” (Alma 48:5, emphasis added),
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, 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” (48:8, emphasis added).
3. But he kept his men round about, as if making preparations for war; yea, and truly he was preparing to defend himself against them, by casting up walls round about and preparing places of resort.
    During the lengthy fighting between the Lamanites and Nephites in the last century B.C., when Lamanite armies continued to come into the Land of Zarahemla and attack outlying settlements and cities, especially along the coastal area of the Sea East, Moroni built resorts, or small forts, in order to place a small detachment of soldiers to warn the main army or nearby city of approaching Lamanite movements.
    These resorts were typically stationed at a distance from the main force or formation of the army, usually in a remote or sparsely populated location, often positioned on a hill or mountain to afford the best view of the surrounding area. Since the area was full of canyons, mountains, and passes, these resorts were positioned in strategic areas to warn of approaching Lamanite surprise attacks as they came into Nephite lands through one of the ingress points.
    In modern times, before radar, satellite cameras, and aerial reconnaissance, these military outposts or advanced guard stations were essential to warn of enemy surprise or sneak attacks.
Small hilltop forts, or resorts (forward lookout outposts) are scattered all over the hills and mountains of Peru that were staffed by small military units assigned to monitor the passes and trails into the Land of Zarahemla

The word “resort” means a place where someone can turn for assistance, or a place where someone can fall back, have recourse, or resort. In times of military need, small forts, called resorts, were placed around a vulnerable area so that people could find temporary safety. In the case of outposts, this safety was at least in the form of a small military unit stationed there that could render aid in the case of a small disturbance. The saying, in the “last resort” meant a place where the last warning could be expected in the case of attack.
    When Amalickiah defected over to the Lamanites and stole the kingship, he sought to destroy the Nephites in an all-out war. He “did appoint chief captains of the Zoramites, they being the most acquainted with the strength of the Nephites, and their places of resort, and the weakest parts of their cities; therefore he appointed them to be chief captains over his armies” (Alma 48:5). That is these defector Zoramites, having lived as Nephiters, knew where these resort outposts were located and therefore would be able to guide the Lamanite armies into Nephite lands without being observed by the Nephite lookouts.
    Alma in describing on three occasions the “resorts” that Capt. Moroni had the Nephites build, expresses an importance to the effort. Since these outposts were so important to the Nephite safety, we should find them scattered about the land as we do in Peru. Individual, small, forts, or resorts, that served as a last resort in stopping or warning the Nephites of an impending attack. In Peru, these small forts or outposts are built on mountain tops overlooking entrances to Nephite forts or cities—an essential part of Moroni’s defending the Nephite Nation.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Response to a Reader – Part II

Continuing our response to a reader relating to one of our articles, printed here because of its length.
Comment: “Look up Ramah in your quad index. It says Hill Cumorah. There are many 'cumorahs', The cumorah for the United States would be Denali (or the former Mt. McKinley) in Alaska. The high hill (or cumorah) near Palmyra is called the Hill Cumorah. (Which is really rather redundant if you think about it) The 'cumorah' in Israel/Palestine would be the Golan Heights called in Hebrew "Golan de Rama."
Response: The word “Raamah” or “Rama” is a name found in the Bible (Hebrew: רעמה, Ra‛mâh), means "lofty" or "exalted" and also "thunder." It is used as the name of a person (fourth son of Cush, son of Ham [Gen 10:7]), as well as a country (which traded with Tyre [Ezekiel 27:11]), and the name for an Israelite city close to Tyre.
    It should be kept in mind that the quad index, which is not scripture, is no doubt using the name Ramah in the context of a hill by the Jaredites, who did not know Hebrew. What the Jaredite meaning for “Rama” might have been is unknown, no matter any similarity.
    Homophones are common in the English language where a word sounds alike and have different meanings, and also have different spellings. There are also homonyms and homographs. As an example: Crane is a bird; an object to lift; and a movement of the neck for better angle or sight; Date is a fruit, an event between boy and girl date, dating an object; and date of birth.
Whether words sound alike or are spelled the same, it does not mean they have the same meaning, such as engaged, foil, leaves, net, point, right, rose, and type. Or those spelled differently but sound the same, such as: dew, due; die, dye; discreet, discrete; doe, doh, dough; done, dun; douse, dowse; draft, draught; dual, duel.
The same is true in Hebrew to English, where words sound alike, but have very different meanings such as: The Hebrew word for a rod sounds like moat.  The word for "between" sounds like bane.  The word for capital (in the financial sense) sounds like hone. The word for “light” sounds like or; the word for “they” (masculine) sounds like hem, and (feminine) sounds like hen.
    As for Cumorah’s etymology in the East Semitic lexeme, the word’s etymology may be found, such as in the Akkadian verb kamāru in the G-stem means “to heap up, to layer” including corpses, and in the N-stem it is applied to ruin mounds and piled up corpses (Alessia Prioletta, Inscriptions from the Southern Highlands of Yemen, Bretschneider, Rome, 2013, p243-244).
Comment: Jaredite prophets prophesied that “there was great calamity in all the land, for they had testified that a great curse should come upon the land, and also upon the people, and that there should be a great destruction among them, such as the one in Ether 11:6.
Response: Ether states: “there was great calamity in all the land, for they had testified that a great curse should come upon the land, and also upon the people, and that there should be a great destruction among them, such a one as never had been upon the face of the earth, and their bones should become as heaps of earth upon the face of the land except they should repent of their wickedness” (Ether 11:6, emphasis added). An appropriate description of the destruction of both the Jaredites and the Nephites at the hill Ramah.
    Also note that the word or name Cumorah does not appear in Ether, for Moroni stated: “Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah; and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred” (Ether 15:11, emphasis added). Mormon hid the records in Cumorah, but not the records he gave to his son, which are the records Joseph Smith was given and translated (Mormon 6:6). Moroni, himself only stated that “I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not” (Mormon 8:4).
Comment: “Why would Moroni hang around 350,000 Nephi dead bodies of men. women and children just to bury the abridged copy in the same hill as Mormon hid the un abridged copy? The stench of the rotting dead would have been unbearable! It doesn't make sense, and if it doesn't make sense it is not true.”
Response: Obviously, he would not, as we have repeatedly stated in this blog.
Comment: “Why is it that a convert to the Church (me) can easily identify the lands down to the narrow neck of land (which by the way doesn't exist anymore) and the East Sea (which doesn't exist anymore either) and even the Land of Desolation (called that because of volcanic activity and the hardened pumice [cooled lava rock] which would be on top of the ground preventing the planting of crops).”
Response: First, unless you state an area, such a question cannot be answered. In the case of South America, which we have also repeatedly written about, the location of the narrow neck of land is easily shown, and is still now narrow, though the East Sea no longer exists, the central part, the Amazon Draining Basin has risen up to sea level, slightly above in some areas, and slightly below in others.
A land devoid of trees and location of the destruction of the Jaredites

Second, the Land of Desolation was not so called because it was desolate, no matter from what cause. It was called Desolation because “And now no part of the land was desolate, save it were for timber; but because of the greatness of the destruction of the people who had before inhabited the land it was called desolate (Helaman 3:6, emphasis added). This is also seen in Alma where it is said, “after many days their dead bodies were heaped up upon the face of the earth, and they were covered with a shallow covering. And now so great was the scent thereof that the people did not go in to possess the land of Ammonihah for many years. And it was called Desolation of Nehors; for they were of the profession of Nehor, who were slain; and their lands remained desolate” (Alma 16:11, emphasis added).
Comment: “Now 2000+ years later that pumice would be under several feet of dirt making that area very agricultural today (hidden in plain sight). Think volcanic geography of Hawaii. Lots of volcanos in its past but yet now very lush and green.”
Response: Whether or not the land was covered with volcanic activity and hardened pumice is unknown. On the other hand, the scriptural record tells us it was called Desolation because of the destruction of the people there. In addition, we are also told that the land itself was not barren in any way, except for their being no trees.
Comment: “What about Zelph? The great white warriorhuh? Huh? Easy. If you know your scriptures, you'll know Hogarth made rafts and set sail. Hogarth & Co., were Nephites. They sailed North eventually up through the Mississippi River (Bat Stone) eventually colonizing what is now known as the United States. Zelph and that whole bunch were probably decedents of those sailors
Response: First of all, the name is Hagoth, and secondly, Hagoth did not make rafts. Alma tells us: “Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5).
    It would require “rafts” to have sailed up the Mississippi anciently, but Hagoth did not build rafts—he built exceedingly large ships.