Wednesday, December 25, 2019

More Comments from Readers – Part I

Comment #1: “The problem, as I see it, is that you are letting the only system regarding directions you know suggest that it is the only possible system anyone else could know. Don't confuse the terms for the directions—and  remember that the Book of Mormon is a translation. So we don't know the original word, just that Joseph chose to call it north” Quinn B.
Response: Numerous tests have shown that people use different ways in which to communicate directions. Europeans are more inclined to use up, down, right, left, backward and forward, where Americans are more inclined to use street names. Northeastern and southeastern Americans are more inclined to use physical objects: “You go down this street to the bridge and turn right,” while mid-westerners and easterners are more inclined to use street names, and westerners of the U.S. inclined to use personal and obvious references: “Turn left for three blocks, then turn right for five blocks, pass the Wal-Mart and…”
    However, all have shown a knowledge and use of cardinal and ordinal directions on more specific points: “The pharmacy is on the north-east corner of 5th and Main Street.” “There is a Piggily Wiggily over in Taylorsville, about five miles north of here.” Then, too, pilots relate to directions differently than mariners, athletes differently than accountants, etc.
    Over the centuries, the principal direction has changed from east to north in the Western Hemisphere. The word “orientation” originally meant “east” from “orient,” but that emphasis has changed to “north” in the recent era. East is the principle direction in Asia, the Middle, Far and Near East, while “south” is the principal direction in China—in fact their word for compass is zhinazhen, meaning “south-pointing needle.” They also have the same word for back as north, similar in purpose as the ancient Hebrews who were oriented to the East and had the same word for back as West.
    The point is, however, that all these cultures, the major cultures and civilizations of the Earth, all had and have the four cardinal directions in the same place and always have had. To think that directions (north, east, south and west) are different with different meanings or locations among any society is simply not true and has no validity among Earth societies.
    As for Joseph Smith “choosing to call it north,” suggests you are completely unaware of how the translation of the plates took place. We have written several articles on this, and the Church website and other sites have several articles, quoting those who worked with him in the translation, including his wife, Emma, describing how that was done.
In no way could it be said, “Joseph chose to call it north.” He read off the word as it appeared on the seer stone and it was written down by the scribe, who then repeated it. If the word was correct, it disappeared and another sequence appeared. If it was incorrect, the word remained until it was corrected. This system, employed by the Spirit, did not leave room for error. If Joseph said “north,” it was because that was what the translation process determined.
Comment #2: “I found it interesting that on then Church website," under “The Mulekties,” and subheading “A Colony is Established in the Promised Land,” it states: “The Book of Mormon gives us some general proximities of the Mulekite, the Nephite-Lamanite, and the Jaredite civilizations. “Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was called Mulek” (Helaman 6:10). Alma, in describing the city Bountiful, wrote that Bountiful was “so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed … , which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla the Mulekites, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30).  They left out the most important part about the people of the bones, etc.” Randy W.
Response: First of all, the author stated the scripture wrong when he said it was Bountiful that was so far north. The scripture (Alma 22:30) is about the Land of Desolation, not Bountiful. Second, you are correct in their leaving out the reference to the Jaredites, whose place of first landing this was referencing. I guess you can say you can’t even believe what is written on the Church website. However, we should keep in mind that this article, though on the Church website, was written by Garth A. Wilson, of Blanding, Utah, who by the way was a winner of the 1987 Writing and Music Contests for the Ensign Magazine, who won $400 for this first place article “The Mulekites.”
    It is hard to believe! He misquotes a scripture with a glaring mistake, then leaves out an important part of another scripture, giving an entirely wrong idea, and wins $400.00.
Comment #3: “I received a response from a Mesoamericanist the other day to my question about Jacob’s comment a bout being on an “isle of the sea,” in which he responded: “By the way did you know that in Hebrew usage, “isle of the sea referred to a coast, not necessarily an island. Secondly, Nephi uses the phrase to tie his people directly to Isaiah’s promises about the isles of the sea. It disappears after that.” Don’t you find that interesting?” Mr. N.
Response: There are three really important errors this Mesoamericanist makes. 1) The Book of Mormon was not written originally in Hebrew, but in Reformed Egyptian, and we do not know what words or hieroglyphs of that language were used or their meaning—however, Joseph Smith translated it in English as “isle of the sea,” a phrase that in 1829 New England where Joseph was located and grew up, meant “an island in the midst of the sea,” which phraseology is verified by Jacob’s following statement, “but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea,” can hardly be suggested to be a coast (emphasis added);
2) It was not Nephi who said that, but Jacob, speaking during a two-day General Conference of the Church within the Temple in answer to a concern shared by the membership about them (Nephites) being forgotten of the Lord since they were no longer in Jerusalem and has nothing to do with tying the Nephites to Isaiah—in fact, it was not about Isaiah at all, other than the fact that Isaiah also used the same phraseology and, therefore, was being shown to know about the Nephites and that they were not forgotten of the Lord; 3) Nothing disappears after that; the point being that the Nephites knew they were on an island, being on an island was not the question or the concern, nor was Isaiah, but that the Nephites felt the Lord had forgotten them, thus Jacob states: “let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off” (2 Nephi 10:20).
    Your Mesoamericanist, like other Mesoamericanists, seems to miss the entire point of the scriptural reference. Obviously, one must understand no prophet of God is going to stand up in General Conference and lead the Church astray with a completely erroneous comment that, in this case, is verified by the Spirit through Joseph Smith’s translation. It is a shame how far astray from the gospel that Mesoamericanists can get in trying to maintain their personal pre-determined viewpoint when it is so contrary to the scriptural record.
Comment #4: “I am more interested in determining which river was the river Sidon, and where the head of the river Sidon was. Priddis has interesting ideas about it, but I have never fully accepted them. When I look at each instance of the word "Sidon" in the Book of Mormon the river is clearly North-South, but the direction of the flow is not given. But since the head of the river Sidon clearly is put in the wilderness between the Nephites and Lamanites it only makes sense the river ran to the North. When I look at a map of the area, the Montaro (the Priddis choice) does seem the best choice, but it runs South. However, it joints other tributaries and collectively they eventually run North. So my question is: Was it common for Hebrews and/or Egyptians to name a river and include all its tributaries with the same name?” eRichard
The Mantaro River flows to the south out of Lake Junin and past Lima (Zarahemla), then curves and winds its way into the Apurimac to flow north into the Ene and finally the Ucayali River and the Amazon River beyond

Response: Since the great destruction of mountains crumbling into valleys and valleys rising to mountains “whose height is great,” It seems likely that the flow of the river(s) of the Land of Promise would have been affected. All common sense suggests that the Sidon River did not continue in its previous state after all of this destruction and drastic change in topography, rise of the Amazon drainage basin, etc. However, none of our extensive study on this has proven of any value in determining such an event. The only clue is that after 3 Nephi, the Sidon is mentioned only once, and not as a river, but as the “Waters of Sidon” (Mormon 1:10), which is a term used three other times in the scriptural record, but one would expect it to be Sidon River in this case. 
    Also, the Mantaro River has its headwaters or source to the north of Zarahemla in Lake Junin, not the south as the scriptures clearly state, and from there it runs south until joining the Apurimac and eventually the Ene—it is interesting that in this “fish hook” movement can be worked into the scriptural record descriptions as Priddis and Kocherhans clearly did. However, but one cannot be comfortable with that—the fact that it runs south past Zarahemla should eliminate that. It is possible that the lowering and rising of mountains changed that source, but there is no way of verifying that at this time.

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