Sunday, May 31, 2020

Was Nephite’s Temple Built of Stone?

One of the things we constantly find in our study and research of the Book of Mormon and all that is within its pages, specifically about geography, descriptions, objects, locations, etc., that people who write about it, almost always have a purpose in mind regarding the location of the Land of Promise. And as such, their views and information are directed by the properties of that location, and in the end, their writings are almost always misleading at best, and outright deceptive and false at worst.
    For instance, consider an article “Searching for Book of Mormon Ruins—What should we expect to find?” by Lynn and David Rosenthall, September 2010, who make an extreme effort to point out that stone was not used to build either the Nephie temples in the Land of Promise nor the Jewish temples in what is now Israel. On one occasion, they write: “We have scoured the scriptures trying to validate any of the claims that the people in the Book of Mormon record built large stone structures. We have found from the text of the Book of Mormon that the people, not unlike the children of Israel in the Biblical record, built with wood, metals and sometimes cement materials.”
Book of Mormon record keepers

In addition, the Rosenthals state: “Why did the Book of Mormon record keepers not mention any stupendous building feats that were representative of their culture and their construction abilities? It would appear that their most formidable civil project was the building of a “breastwork of timbers” and “ridges of earth” around several cities for the defense and safety of their people (Alma 50:1–5; 53:4–1).
    To answer the latter, let us consider Mormon’s comment: “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), which sounds like a lot more than “breastwork of timbers” or “ridges of earth.” However, let us take a look at one more area where Noah “also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things” (Mosiah 11:9), which suggests some monumental building.
    However, the most important part is when the Rosenthals write: “In all the recorded descriptions of Nephite temples, built in four widely scattered areas of the Nephite lands, there is not a single mention of stone construction. The record does indicate, however, that their temples were built of wood (timber) and metal of various types. And Mormon indicates that the Nephite structures “were built after the manner of the Jews” (Alma 16:13). No temple is described as pyramidal in shape nor monumental in purpose or built to honor a leader or its builder. According to the Book of Mormon record, these temples were built for ordinance observance and worship as revealed by the Lord, not unlike the tabernacle of Moses, the temple of Solomon or the temple in Kirtland, Ohio, and subsequent temples in this dispensation (D&C 94:1–9; 105:33; 109:2–4).”
    Now, the most important thing mentioned in the above statement, which was listed almost as an afterthought, is that which Mormon informs us. The Rosenthals wrote: “And Mormon indicates that the Nephite structures “were built after the manner of the Jews” (Alma 16:13, emphasis added).
The Jews built the temple out of stone, covered the inside with cedar paneling, and covered that with gold sheets. Wood was used for structural purpose for floors, second story and roof

So, if the Nephites built “after the manner of the Jews,” then we should know what the manner of the Jews was in their building of temples. In looking into this, we find in the Jewish Encyclopedia, “the unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia,” under “Temple of Solomon,” by Executive Committee of the Editorial Board, George A. Barton, the following:
The stone of which the Temple was built was dressed at the quarry, so that no work of that kind was necessary within the Temple precincts (I Kings vi. 7). The roof was of cedar, and the whole house was overlaid with gold (I Kings vi. 9, 22).”
    Now the Resenthals make a point of showing that: “Solomon’s temple was built primarily of wood (cedar, cypress, juniper, olive and pine) and metal (gold and bronze) and precious gemstones.”
    However, this again is not only inaccurate, but the use of wood in the temple’s construction is totally misleading, other than for bracing, such as floors and ceilings. As an example, “Solomon’s temple wall was not of equal thickness all the way up, but had ledges on which the floor-beams rested” (Encyclopedia), showing, that the walls of stone had niches or ledges upon which wood beams rested for their support, upon which floors of wood were laid.
    As for the cedar, “the Holy of Holies interior was lined with cedar and overlaid with pure gold.” Obviously, the stone of which the temple was built was not decorative, but the basis of the structure and what gave the three story building its needed support. In the Holy of Holies, the most important room or chamber in the entire temple, the stone walls were “lined with cedar panels,” which in turn, were “overlaid with pure gold.”
The two cherubim in the Holy of Holies

In addition, the use of wood was also in the making of large objects. The “Holy of Holies contained two cherubim of olive-wood, each 10 cubits high (I Kings vi. 16, 20, 21, 23-28) and each having outspread wings 10 cubits from tip to tip. so that, since they stood side by side, the wings touched the wall on either side and met in the center of the room” (Encyclopedia).
    Now, the rest of the temple building, which was also built of stone, the walls “were lined with cedar, on which were carved figures of cherubim, palm-trees, and open flowers, which were overlaid with gold” (Encyclopedia). Also, “the floor of the Temple was of fir-wood overlaid with gold. The door-posts, of olive-wood, supported folding-doors of fir. The doors of the Holy of Holies were of olive-wood. On both sets of doors were carved cherubim, palm-trees, and flowers, all being overlaid with gold (I Kings vi. 15 et seq.)” (Encyclopedia).
    It should also be kept in mind that the temple was built on the dome of a rock, not a place or foundation for a wood building, but one using a stone base and stone walls. Neither were the altars built of wood, but of bronze and unhewn stone (Encyclopedia). Also, since the walls are stated to be “of equal thickness,” this would relate to a stone cut to size, rather than timbers which come that way.
    The Rosenthals go on to write: “We need not look, therefore, to areas of ostentatious and extensive ruins in the Western Hemisphere to find the heartlands of the Book of Mormon peoples, that is, the actual locations where the record keepers lived and wrote the geographical descriptions of their land.”
Solomon’s great wealth—Nephi built his temple like that of Solomon

That is an interesting view, since the Nephites are recorded as having all sorts of valued metals, gold and silver, and plenty of copper, as well as a decorative metal called “ziff” (Mosiah 11:3,8), which was used in their building along with “gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper” (Mosiah 11:8). In fact, this opulence is noted during the time of Jacob’s grandson, “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” (Jarom 1:8), as well as earlier when Nephi said, “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15), as well as 500 years later (3 Nephi 6:2; 4 Nephi 1:46).
    Part of the problem is jumping to conclusions, such as Rosenthals’ statement: “Not unlike the palace and other buildings that king Noah previously built of wood, along with “precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper,” it is not unexpected that the temple renovations were also built of wood and these same listed materials” (Mosiah 11:8–9).
    While there is no way to know what materials were used, it should be obviously apparent that in 600 BC, massive buildings could not be built with wood and decorative metals alone—lsuch large buu8ildings were built of stone, with wood used for supports, such as flooring and ceiling and decorative uses.
    In addition, the Rosenthals state: “Clearly “fine wood,” and “copper” and “brass” were the principal building materials in the restoration of this first Nephite temple, with an emphasis on “fine wood” construction.”
    Again, this is patently not true. Not only can you not build large structures out of only wood, copper and brass, but that these are all “decorative materials,” which is seen in the Jews nature of building their temples of stone, and decorating them with wood, gold, etc.
    Another inaccurate statement is: “But as with temples today, the most important “manner” of construction might not have been the size, shape nor the materials, but the intent of building a well-crafted and attractive temple, though small, as a place for the performance of sacred ordinances, including, for the Nephites, the ordinances and practices of the law of Moses.”
LDS temples today are magnificent examples of exterior beauty and internal function

One of the most important things involved in the construction of a temple, is its location and appearance, i.e., where it is located and what it looks like. Once that is satisfied, then the insides, which are only seen by qualified members, is designed for functionality. The Church has never built functional buildings in appearance—only in the inside use of ordinance needs.
    What is important is to be honest in writing about the Book of Mormon, specifically regarding the geographical settings and the many descriptions provided. When personal opinion drives the dialogue, nothing at all is accomplished. As Mormon tells us, the Nephites built after the manner of the Jews, and the Jews built with stone, therefore to claim that the Nephites only built with wood is simply not true, and totally misleading,
    The Rosenthals, of course, have their mind set on Baja California being the Land of Promise, which has no ruins to speak of and therefore, they must find a way to diminish and disqualify both Mesoamerica and Andean Peru because of the stone ruins found in those two place. Therefore, we have their very long explanation as to why there should be no stone buildings found in the Land of Promise, which is contrary to what they themselves quote in their own article as pointed out above.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Fascination with the Mesoamerican Model

It seems as though there has been over the years a singular purpose in many professors and department leaders at BYU, who have taught hundreds of archaeology students, as well as students who went on to write books on the singular issue of the location for the Book of Mormon. This is rarely a credit to looking for the truth. Imagine where the world of the Christian Religion would be if dissenters from the Catholic Church had not questioned and provided alternative thought.
    Had it not been for men like Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, Erasmus, and Thomas Moore, it is unlikely that we would have the civil liberties we have today, nor would society have evolved to the point where the truth of the gospel could have been restored.
For many years the Land of Promise location was all that was publicized in the LDS community

Fundamentally, most educated people recognize the importance of having more than one view on a matter. After all, if one only knows of a single answer, it is not likely that person will search for an alternative unless there are negative feelings toward that answer.
    In fact is said that “All genuinely creative ideas are initially met with rejection, since they necessarily threaten the status quo. An enthusiastic reception for a new idea is a sure sign that it is not original” (Eric Weiner, The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley, Simon Schuster, NY, 2016).
    This is the problem we face with theorists of the Mesoamerican model of the Book of Mormon geography. To understand how this was created, we need to take a look at why and how long has Mesoamerica been considered by theorists and members alike as the location of the Land of Promise.
    In the 1930’s. as a graduate student at UC Berkeley, M. Wells Jakeman founded the Itzan Society with a handful of LDS friends. These included Milton R. Hunter, Hugh W. Nibley, and Thomas Stuart Ferguson. This was the first LDS organization dedicated to serious Book of Mormon geographical research.
    Its successor was the University Archaeological Society (UAS) at BYU which became the Society for Early Historic Archaeology (SEHA). When SEHA ceased operations in the 1980’s, most of its assets passed to the newly-formed Foundation for Ancient and Historic Studies (FAHS), which was soon renamed Covenant Foundation. Covenant Foundation changed its name to Ancient America Foundation (AAF) in 1984.
Key people involved in the formation of AAF included Paul R. Cheesman (left), F. Richard Hauck, Vaughn E. Hansen, Bruce H. Jensen, Macoy A. McMurray, T. Michael Smith, and Sherman Young.
    AAF was granted preliminary non-profit status by the Internal Revenue Service in 1985. During the 1990’s and 2000’s, key people in AAF included Richard K. Miner, V. Garth Norman, and Bruce W. Warren. Kirk A. Magleby joined the organization as General Manager in 2010. That same year, AAF began funding projects managed by John W. (Jack) Welch. In 2015, major donors came forward and tasked AAF with a mission to re-vitalize Book of Mormon studies.
    AAF’s principal initiative, Book of Mormon Central, was born with Jack Welch as chairman; M. Wells Jakeman (who is often called the “Father of Book of Mormon Archaeology”); Milton R. Hunter (as a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, was called by David O. McKay to be the Church’s point man for Book of Mormon Studies); Hugh W. Nibley (was the most influential Book of Mormon scholar in the Church in his era); Thomas Stuart Ferguson (founded the New World Archaeological Foundation—NWAF); Paul R. Cheesman (the leading Book of Mormon enthusiast on the BYU religion faculty in his era); Bruce W. Warren (ceramicist, established the stratigraphic sequence at Chiapa de Corzo); F. Richard Hauck (an expert on the archaeology of Guatemala’s Salama Valley); T. Michael Smith (who led historic sites archaeology for the Church); V. Garth Norman is the world’s leading authority on the Mexican site of Izapa); and John W. Welch (who founded the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies—FARMS).
In 1946, M. Wells Jakeman, who received his Ph.D. from the University of California (at Berkeley), where he wrote his doctoral dissertation based on a combination of archaeological evidence and Spanish documents relating to the history of the Yucatan, and also the author of The Origin and History of the Mayans, came to teach at Brigham Young University and founded the department of archaeology (now anthropology), encouraged by Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Council of the Twelve. Jakeman firmly believed in the Mesoamerican setting for Book of Mormon geography andtaught it openly until his retirement in 1976, influencing a large number of BYU students and faculty and made consideration of the Mesoamerican hypothesis acceptable.
    Among the Latter-day Saint archaeologists who profited from his insights were Ross T. Christensen and John L. Sorenson, each of whom later became chairman of the same BYU department, along with V. Garth Norman, Gareth W. Lowe, and Bruce W. Warren, each of whom taught in that department, and taught about Mesoamerica as being the location of the Land of Promise of the Book of Mormon.
    Elder Widtsoe, while acknowledging that Joseph Smith “did not say where, on the American continent, Book of Mormon activities occurred,” leaned toward the Mesoamerican view (John A. Widtsoe, “Is Book of Mormon Geography Known?” Improvement Era 53/7, July 1950, 547, pp596-7)
    In April 1949, Jakeman, Warren, and others organized the University Archaeological Society (UAS) in order to provide outreach to the Latter-day Saint community on matters of Book of Mormon archaeology and geography, with all their physical work centering on Mesoamerica.
    The society’s name was changed in 1962 to Society for Early Historic Archaeology (SEHA). The official view of the society was that events described in the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica only, which remains the view of the Ancient America Foundation (AAF), which absorbed the SEHA in the late 1980s.
    Prominent Latter-day Saints who supported the Mesoamerican limited-geography view of Book of Mormon geographical setting during the 1950s and 1960s were Apostle Howard W. Hunter (who later became president of the Church)—one of Elder Howard W. Hunter’s assignments was to oversee the work of BYU’s New World Archaeology Foundation (NWAF), which performs archaeological excavations in Mesoamerica, an organization founded by Thomas Stuart Ferguson and others,
Later, the organization later became associated with BYU; Elder Milton R. Hunter of the First Council of the Seventy; renowned BYU religion professor Sidney B. Sperry; BYU religion professor (left) and SEHA board member Paul R. Cheesman; and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, founder of the New World Archaeology Foundation.
    In 1959, Fletcher B. Hammond, an SEHA member, wrote a book entitled Geography of the Book of Mormon, in which he opted for a Mesoamerican view of Nephite and Lamanite lands, with the river Sidon emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. He observed that accepting the New York hill as the location where Mormon hid the plates “disrupts and confuses the entire concept of Book of Mormon geography...All of the places and countries named in the record may be consistently assembled on a map which may cover some of the countries now known as Mexico and Central America. This cannot be done if the hill Cumorah is placed on a map in the vicinity of what is now Palmyra, New York (B. Hammond Fletcher, Geography of the Book of Mormon, Utah Printing, Salt Lake City, 1959, pp72, 89-90, 119)
    Hammond reiterated his view in a paper delivered in 1964 to the Campus Chapter of the University Archaeological Society at Brigham Young University, published by the society as a monograph, Geography of the Book of Mormon: “Where is the Hill Cumorah?”)
    During the 1960s and 1970s, the SEHA published a number of articles reinforcing the idea that Book of Mormon peoples lived in Mesoamerica. In 1981, SEHA contributor David A. Palmer published a book entitled In Search of Cumorah, in which he gave evidence from the Nephite record that sites named therein could be found in Mesoamerica. He located the hill Cumorah in the same area suggested by others (David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah: New Evidences for the Book of Mormon from Ancient Mexico, Horizon, Bountiful, Utah: Horizon, 1981).
    By 1984, the concept of a limited geography for Book of Mormon peoples was sufficiently widespread for the Church’s Ensign magazine to publish two articles by John L. Sorenson on the subject (John L. Sorenson, “Digging into the Book of Mormon: Our Changing Understanding of Ancient America and Its Scripture,” 2 parts, Ensign, September 1984 and October 1984). The material was drawn from the manuscript of the book that was jointly published the following year by the Church’s Deseret Book Company and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Deseret and FARMS, Salt Lake City, 1985).
    While publication in these venues does not grant the status of doctrine (except in the case of official declarations from the First Presidency, sometimes in conjunction with the Twelve Apostles, Mesoamerican theorists point to the fact that it is interesting that their publication was allowed. It is also interesting that the Mesoamerican view of Book of Mormon geography is mentioned in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism under the entry “Book of Mormon Studies” and that it has been the theme of several other books, some of them written by archaeologists.
In an address to FARMS supporters on 29 October 1993, Elder Dallin H. Oaks (left) of the Council of the Twelve Apostles noted that his acceptance of the Mesoamerican view “goes back over forty years to the first class I took on the Book of Mormon at Brigham Young University: “I was introduced to the idea that the Book of Mormon is not a history of all of the people who have lived on the continents of North and South America in all ages of the earth. Up to that time I had assumed that it was...if the Book of Mormon only purports to be an account of a few peoples who inhabited a portion of the Americas during a few millennia in the past, the burden of argument changes drastically" (Dallin H. Oaks, The History of the Book of Mormon, in Paul Y. Hoskisson, ed/, Historicity and the Latter-dah Saint Scriptures, BYU Religious Studies Center, Provo, 2001, pp238-239).
    While a lot of people have dedicated themselves to a single issue, and much work has been accomplished by them, one can only wonder how much the studies of the Book of Mormon have been advanced by this method of a single issue—or in this case, a single location for the Land of Promise. Usually, monopolies are not particularly effective in finding truth, but they certainly are effective in limiting research into other possibilities. Even so, this might be excused if the Mesoamerican model really matched and supported the scriptural record and numerous descriptions left us by Mormon.
    Unfortunately, as we have shown on numerous occasions and in numberless articles, Mesoamerica does not!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Do We Know Where the Jaredites Landed?

While few people realize it, the location of where the Jaredites landed is found, in part, in Mormon’s insertion into his abridgement of the Book of Alma. At the time Mormon is inserting descriptive information regarding the location of the land of the Lamanite king who sent a proclamation throughout his land (Alma 22:27). In this, Mormon describes where the Lamanites were located and where the Nephites were located and how they were divided. In the course of this discussion, Mormon states that the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land (Alma 22:29).
    In fact, not only did the Nephites control all of the land north of the narrow strip of wilderness, “from the east to the west…but also on the north until they came to the land which they called Bountiful.
    Now the city of Bountiful is mentioned as the northern most major city in the Land Southward. Beyond this city was the narrow neck of land, though how far beyond, or what the distance was between the city of Bountiful and the narrow neck is not listed.
    Now the Land of Bountiful “bordered upon the land which they called Desolation” (Alma 22:30). In addition, there was some sort of “line” or boundary or border between Bountiful and Desolation (Alma 22:32). Years later, when Mormon entered into a treaty with the Lamanites, this “line” between Bountiful and Desolation (Alma 22:32) became the division line dividing the Lamanites and the Nephites, of which Mormon wrote: “And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward” (Mormon 2:29).
“So far Northward”

Now this Land of Desolation was “so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed” (Alma 22:30). Thus, the Land of Desolation was in the Land Northward and the Land of Bountiful was in the Land Southward (Alma 22:31).
    This leads us to the passage that has confused so many theorists over the years, and convinced them that the Mulekites landed in the Land Northward. Here is the passage: “And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30).
    This phrase was inserted was stated within Mormon’s insertion of the Land of Promise geography—it had nothing to do with the Mulekites, but with the Jaredites. To read this properly, it is broken down in the exact words from the scriptural record (in italics) and an explanation added for clarity (in normal type): 
• it being so far northward
In this case, “it” refers to the Land of Bountiful, following the introduction of Bountiful in the previous verse (Alma 22:30);
• that it came into the land
In this case, “the land” refers to the land where the Jaredites lived, or the Land Northward;
• which had been peopled
Referring to the people of the Jaredites who had inhabited the Land Northward;
• and been destroyed
Refers to the location of the destruction of the Jaredites, in a final civil war;
• of whose bones we have spoken 
Mentioned earlier in this insertion that the bones were of the Jaredites who had been destroyed;
Limhi’s 43-man expedition sent out to find Zarahemla

• which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla
Refers to the 43-man expedition sent by king Limhi to find the city of Zarahemla—these people were originally from Zarahemla three generations earlier;
• it being the place
“It” refers to The Land Northward;
• of their first landing
“Their” refers to the people of the bones, or the Jaradites, and was (in the Land Northward) the place of the Jaradites first landing
    As Alma is describing the events in this chapter, his intent is to illustrate that the missionary work went forth, and that a proclamation from the King was issued through all the lands of the Lamanites.  At this point, Mormon interjected a description of the area, size, and location of the Lamanite lands to: 1) help the future reader under-stand Alma's perspective, and 2) to show the future reader his own perspective on how the Lamanites had been bottled up in the south and the Nephites having provided them an escape route in the north.
    Several points are important to keep in mind:
Lamanites: the subject matter is the Lamanites and their location;
Land First Settled by the Lamanites: the Lamanites “fathers” were the same as the Nephite fathers if we go back far enough to the Lehi Colony.  In this case, Mormon is illustrating that the landing site of the first colony was on the west coast and that coastal area had always been in the hands of the Lamanites (after Nephi fled following Lehi's death).  This land and area is referred to throughout scripture as the land of the Lamanites first inheritance (and the original land of first inheritance of the entire Lehi colony until Nephi fled, vacating the area and leaving it to Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael);
Nephi fled northward when fleeing from his brothers and the sons of Ishmael

North of the Lamanites: obviously, Nephi fled north when leaving the land of the colony's first inheritance (the landing area of the Lehi colony).  Thus, from that point forward through to the very end of Mormon's life, the Nephites occupied the land to the north of the Lamanites generally.  On occasion, the Lamanites held land to the west and east of the Nephite area, but as Mormon points out, the Nephites held the land to the north in such a manner as to keep the Lamanites from getting into the northern lands north of the Nephites
Not in a Straight Line: the word roundabout as defined in an 1828 Noah Webster American Dictionary of the English Language, means "not in a straight line."  Thus, round about meant in some fashion other than a straight line;
Bountiful: the word "it" in this case, refers to the previous noun...that is, the word "it" refers to Bountiful;
Land of Desolation: the word "it" in this case, refers to the previous subject noun...that is, the word "it" refers to the Land of Desolation;
Land of Desolation: the word "it" in this case, refers to the previous subject noun...that is, once again the word "it" refers to the Land of Desolation;
Jaredites: this land north of the Land of Desolation was the land of the Jaredites; the people that had been destroyed were the Jaredites;
Previously Mentioned: these bones, which had been earlier mentioned in Alma's abridgement of the Book of Mosiah, belonged to the people who had been destroyed in this far north land—that is, the Jaredites (they were the bones of the Jaredites)
The 43-man expedition to find the city of Zarahemla that became lost

• Limhi’s 43-man Expedition: when Limhi was King of the city and area of Lehi-Nephi (having gone back to reclaim their inheritance in the land of Nephi), he became concerned that the Lamanites might destroy them, having already placed them under bondage, so he sent this 43-man expedition northward to try and find Zarahemla and seek help from their brethren the Nephites.  Instead, they became lost, never found Zarahemla, and stumbled into the land of the Jaredites and saw the remains of the Jaredites total destruction;
• The Land That Had Been Peopled and Destroyed, i.e., the Jaredite Lands: the word "it" in this case, refers to the previous subject noun...that is, "it" refers to the land that had been peopled and destroyed—the land which Limhi's 43-man expedition found;
Jaredites: in this case, the word "their" refers to the last subject noun, that is the people of the land which had been destroyed who were the Jaredites.  Thus, the place of their first landing referred to the Jaredites.
   Thus, the Jaredites landed in the Land Northward, and went up from there to the Land of Moron.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Great Tower and the Jaredites

Unfortunately, many Book of Mormon scholars have tried to determine the building of the Great Tower by using carbon-14 dating methods on artifacts and ruins located in Babylonia.  This is the nature of archaeology; however, Latter-day Saint scholars cannot ignore the scriptural record, and should be wise enough to take the Lord's word over that of the so-called men of science, especially when that science is tenuous at best.
    Actually, there are two ways in which we can place the general date of Jared's debarkation from Mesopotamia more accurately. 
Jaredites left Babel and followed the Lord

First, Ether's writings in the Book of Mormon tell us that the Jaredites crossed vast distances of land and many seas before arriving on the coast where they dwelt for at least four years.  Since the waters were all gathered in one place prior to the division of the earth in Peleg's time, it must be that this division had already taken place or was in the midst of taking place when the Jaredites left the tower area and traveled to the coast in preparation of being led across the great deep and to the promised land.  This great deep is obviously a very large ocean and very deep since the boats that the Brother of Jared built were like submarines and took 344 days to cross from one shore to another, despite the winds blowing the seas in the direction of the promised land all that time. 
    Since the earth was divided in Peleg's day, this would have occurred between 2148 B.C. and 1909 B.C. as already shown.  This obviously places the Jaredite departure from Mesopotamia within a two-hundred-year period around 2000 B.C.
Second, if we take a look at Noah's descendants, we can also place a time frame on the tower from those who built it.  Noah, of course, had three sons that came on the Ark:  Jepheth, Shem, and Ham.  The scriptures said they dwelt in the west after journeying from the east and found a plain in the land of Shinar where the Great Tower (of Babel) was eventually constructed.
    The scriptures also tell us that Jepheth had seven sons: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras; but only the descendants of two (Gomer and Javan) are listed.  The concluding remark made by Moses of these descendants is: by these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands
Relaxing along the seashore for four years

According to the scriptures, Ham had four sons: Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan.  We know nothing of Phut's descendants, but Mizraim was the ancestor of the Philistines, and Canaan that of numerous peoples who settled from Sidon to Sodom and Gomorah in what is present-day Israel, and many areas abroad, including an island off the coast of Syria.  From Cush came Nimrod, who was the last of Cush's six sons and who built the cities of Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar.  This is where the Tower of Babel was built in Nimrod's day.
Third: Since Shem lived 600 years, we can assume his brother, Ham, would have lived several hundred himself, especially when we realize that Ham was, himself, basically a righteous man.  The birth of his son Cush could have been anywhere from directly after the flood (such as Araphaxad for Shem) to as much as one or two hundred years after the flood.  Cush's sixth son, Nimrod, giving a time frame of 100+ years for Cush to live, may well have been born anywhere between 50 years after the flood to as much as two or three hundred years after the flood.
    Considering the manpower needed to build the Great Tower, and considering the fact that Nimrod built at least four cities, we can assume there were numerous people living at the time.  This suggests a later, rather than earlier, date.  If we take about 100 years, this means the tower was begun about 2243 B.C., or if we take a later date that would allow for three couples to have populated the area sufficiently to established the numbers needed for the multiple cities and manpower to build a tower, we are looking at the start date of the tower around 2150 B.C. to 2050 B.C.  How many years it took to build the tower sufficiently as indicated in the scriptures, and for the Lord to grow weary of the evil and confound the languages, is not known.  But somewhere in this two hundred years, between about 2250 B.C. and 2050 B.C., Nimrod started his tower and the Lord confounded the language.
    This is the time the Book of Ether begins, that is, with Jared asking his brother to inquire of the Lord and ask that their language be not confounded.  As a result, Jared and his brother, and 22 other adult couples, were led out of Babel and into the valley of Nimrod between 2250 and 2050 B.C.  How many years they wandered, how long they remained in the valley, how long it took to build barges and cross many waters and an inland sea and finally reach the coast is not known.
The length of time it took the Jaredites to reach the sea where they spent four years is unknown

Nor do we know how long it took for the Jaredites to construct the boats that would take them across the great deep.  But no matter the amount, we are still in the same general time period as the life of Peleg (2148 B.C. and 1909 B.C.) and the earth being divided.
    When theorist F. Richard Hauck places the Jaredite landing at 3000 B.C., John L. Sorenson at 2700 B.C., and Joseph Allen between 3000 and 3300 B.C., it is clear these scholars are using man's reckoning rather than that of the Lord. 
    These same scholars, who are off anywhere between 700 and 1,300 years of the Jaredite landing in the land of promise, also claim the Jaredites lived well after the arrival of the Nephites in the New World.  Some even claim the Jaredites co-mingled with the Mulekites and Nephites, thus increasing the numbers of both groups, despite there being not a single word in the Book of Mormon to indicate such a mixture.
    Sorenson adds: When did the Jaredites originate as a people?  Historical texts and archaeological research on Mesopotamia, their homeland, tell us that big pyramid-shaped temple platforms called ziggurats were being erected well before 3,000 B.C.  There is no sound evidence, by the way, to support the idea from outmoded Biblical commentaries that the great tower ("of Babel") dated to near 2200 B.C., as some Latter-day Saints continue to believe.  Indeed, contrary data abound.  If the departure of the Jaredite party from their original home had been many centuries later than 3000 B.C. or earlier than about 3300 B.C. their account about "the great tower" would sound odd in terms of Near Eastern history” ([7  John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, 1985, pp 116-117).
    Allen states: 2700 B.C. (is) the arrival (date) of the Jaredites.  The date of arrival is based upon 1) the dating of the great tower, 2) the archaeological and traditional evidence coming out of Mesoamerica in relationship to the first settlers [2].  The Jaredites developed a massive New World civilization dating approximately 2500 B.C. to approximately 300 B.C. [3]  We encounter great difficulty in determining when the flood actually occurred [4].  3114 B.C. (is the date) of the great flood [5], (and the) jaredites arrived in the New World in 2700 BC” Joseph L. Allen, Ph.D., Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, S.A. Publishers, Inc., Orem, Utah, 1989, p14).
Author F. Richard Hauck and his book about the Land of Promise

Hauck adds that “Perhaps as early as 3,000 B.C. (the Jaredites) migrated to an undisclosed location in the Americas.  Sometime between 600 B.C. and 300 B.C. a major civil war erupted between the protagonists of the two dominant political and ideological factions... the struggle for domination became so intense that the localized feud gradually deteriorated into a destructive scorched-earth model of intensive civil war...over the years local peoples were forced to choose sides and enter the foray”(F. Richard Hauck, Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, 1988, pp 6-7).
    To better understand this fallacy, we need to look at what Ether and Moroni wrote about the original 24 families that came from the Tower to settle the Land of Promise:
1. The land of promise was a special place for only those who served God.
Ether 2:8: Before arriving in the new land, the Brother of Jared was told by the Lord that this land of promise would be preserved for those who would serve God.
Ether 2:9-12: Moroni inserts his own testimony about the need for those who inherit the land of promise to serve God.
Ether 2:11: To make this clear, Moroni testifies that the previous inhabitants (previous to the history of the Nephites) had been destroyed because they did not serve God.
2. The Jaredites were completely destroyed.
Ether 1:5: Moroni explains that Ether's record gives an account of the Jaredites "from the Tower down until they were destroyed."
    Thus we see, without equivocation, the time of the Jareidtes leaving the Tower of Babel on their severed year journey to the sea and beyond to the Land of Promise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

What Are Isles of the Sea?

Since none of the Land of Promise models created by the many theorists are not and never were an island, these theorists must disclaim Jacob’s statement that the Nephites were upon an isle of the sea. However, given the context in which the statement is made and the reason why Jacob said it and Nephi wrote it down on his plates, purpose behind it, it seems impossible to say Jacob and Nephi never meant anything other than an island.
Top: LtoR: Atoll, Islets; Bottom LtoR: Skerries, and Cays

1. Isle: an isle or island is any contiguous piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water.
    Very small islands such as emergent land features on
2. Atolls: atolls are ring-shaped coral reefs, islands, or groups of islets surrounding a central lagoon;
3. Islets: islets are very small islands that are smaller than necessary for any useful purpose, but still larger than rocks;
4. Skerries: skerries are most commonly formed at the outlet of fjords where submerged glacially formed valleys at right angles to the coast join with other cross valleys in a complex array
5. Cays: cay is a small, low, island largely made of sand or coral that has formed on the surface of a coral reef. They are also called keys.
    The etymology of the word “isle” is from the 13th century, Old French “ile,” earlier isle, from Latin insula "island.” The ancients referred to “isle” from in salo "(that which is) in the (salty) sea," from ablative of salum "the open sea," related to sal "salt.” It is also believed that “isle” came from Old Irish “inis,” Welsh “ynys,” meaning "island" and Greek nesos "island." The “s” was restored first in French, then in English in the late 1500s.
    By 1828, Webster defined the word as “isle: Ile, from Latin “insula,” a tract of land surrounded by water, or a detached portion of land embosomed in the ocean, in a lake or river.” He then listed as an example: “The isles shall wait for his law” (Isaiah 42:4).
   Regarding the word “island” in 1828, Webster stated: “This is an absurd compound of isle and land, that is, land-in-water land, or ieland-land. There is no such legitimate word in English. A tract of land surrounded by water.”
    Thus, Joseph Smith would not have used the word “island” to interpret or translate the meaning of the Reformed Egyptian word in any other way than “isle.”
    Further evidence is seen in the face that the Lehi Colony in Nephi's ship was driven forth before the wind toward the promised land (1 Nephi 18:9-10) and landed on an island (2 Nephi 10:20).  This comes to us from the mouth of three witnesses (Ether 5:4), with Jacob making the statement, Nephi writing it down, and Isaiah testifying of it in prophesy.
The Lord, in talking to Nephi, says of a future generation that they "shall say:  A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need nor more Bible" (2 Nephi 29:6).  To show that the Bible was only written as a testimony of Christ in Jerusalem, the Lord adds: "Know ye not that there are more nations than one?"  And to what nations did he refer?  Among others, he described "those who are upon the isles of the sea" (2 Nephi 29:7). Not finished with this future generation, the Lord continues "Because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written" (2 Nephi 29:10).
    He then commands those of past generations in other nations which he has led away from the house of Israel: "For I command all the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them" (2 Nephi 29:11), for "I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another.  And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also." (2 Nephi 29:8).
Obviously, these two nations, whose records shall "run together," are those of the Bible lands and those of Lehi's land of promise.  Later, of course, other records will be added, specifically those of the lost ten tribes and whoever else of the house of Israel the Lord has led away "from time to time."
    To set the stage so that the Nephites in the land of promise knew they were not forgotten of the Lord and that their nation would be the one to "speak out of the dust," Jacob said: "For we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; 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" (2 Nephi 10:20).  Jacob then climaxed his point by adding: "But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore, as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren" (2 Nephi 10:21).
    Obviously, Jacob knew that not only were the Nephites upon an isle of the sea, but so were others of the house of Israel that had been led away.  From what source did he know "as it says isles," was written?  The plates of brass.  And to show this, we find both quotes from the Old Testament in Isaiah, plus the repetition of Isaiah's writings in the Book of Mormon.
Isaiah writing about future events in the Bible

Now, Isaiah knew that remnants of the house of Israel would be upon the isles of the sea (Isaiah 11:11), and that they would wait upon the Lord for his law (Isaiah 42:4; 51:5; 60:9), when he said, "Hearken, O ye house of Israel, all ye that are broken off and are driven out, because of the wickedness of the pastors of my people; yea, all ye that are broken off, that are scattered abroad, who are of my people, O house of Israel.  Listen O isles unto me and hearken you people from afar” (Isiah 49:1)—the full and correct passage is found in Nephi which was quoted from the plates of brass which did not undergo numerous changes and corruptions over time (1 Nephi 21:1)
    Jacob, of course, well understood this when  he added, "For behold, the Lord God has led away from time to time the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure.  And now behold, the Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off, wherefore he remembereth us also" (2 Nephi 10:22).
    Zenos, the Old Testament prophet of whom the modern bible knows nothing, but whose record existed on the brass plates, spoke about the "three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of Christ's death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially, given unto those who are of the house of Israel" (1 Nephi 19:10).  This sign, of course, that was given unto the isles of the sea and the remnants of the house of Israel, was quite apparent in the Land of Promise (3 Nephi 8:19), thus it can only be concluded that the land of promise was one of the isles of the sea of which Zenos spoke.
    Jacob also knew that many branches of the house of Israel had been led away, and many of those were upon the isles of the sea as were the Nephites.  "There are many who are already lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem.  Yea, the more part of all the tribes have been led away; and they are scattered to and fro upon the isles of the sea" (2 Nephi 22:4).  But to satisfy the concerns of his people, Jacob then promised the Nephites that not only were they not forgotten of the Lord, but that the Lord would gather them into his fold, saying: "They shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea" (2 Nephi 10:8).
Zenos was an Old Testament prophet who was quoted by Jacob in the Book of Mormon

Zenos foresaw the Nephites' destruction upon their island in a vision and understood the great catastrophe that would befall them at the time of the Savior's crucifixion, the damage and destruction of this event is outlined in 3 Nephi and prophesied in several places in the Book of Mormon. Zenos said: “And the rocks of the earth must rend; and because of the groanings of the earth, many of the kings of the isles of the sea shall be wrought upon by the spirit of God, to exclaim: The God of nature suffers” (1 Nephi 19:12).
    We need to keep in mind that as clear and understandable as the scriptural record is, almost all theorists reject the Land of Promise being an island because all of their models now and in the ancient past, were not islands, thus discounting their opinions and beliefs.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A Day’s Journey vs Day and a Half Journey

It is both amazing and alarming that so many theorists claim these two lines were somehow the same, even though they were different length and served different purposes.
    “The Nephites and the armies of Moronihah were driven even into the land of Bountiful; and there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day's journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country” (Helaman 4:6-7). Now three things need to be understood in the 57th year of the reign of the judges:
• The Nephites were driven out of the Land of Zarahemla by the Lamanites all the way to the land that was near Bountiful (Helaman 4:5);
• The Nephites were even driven into the Land of Bountiful (Helaman 4:6);
• Once into the Land of Bountiful, the Nepihtes built a wall or defensive position that was long enough that it would take a day for a Nephi to walk its length (Helaman 4:7).
Red line: the border between the Land of Desolation and the Land of Bountiful, spoken of as a “line” in Alma 22:31-32;  50:11)

This day’s journey to walk the length of a wall or fortified position is not the same nor even in the same location as the day and a half journey mentioned by Mormon in Alma. “Now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea” (Alma 22:32, emphasis added).
    The first line was within the Land of Bountiful, the second line was along the border between the Land of Bountiful and the Land of Desolation. The first line was “a fortified line” and the second was a “border” or line separating two lands (Bountiful and Desolation).
    Mormon clearly states these differences:
1. When abridging Alma’s record, Mormon came across the statement of the Lamanite king sending a proclamation throughout all his land—at this point Mormon inserts a lengthy description of the king’s land and where it was located and how it butted up against the Nephite lands. After describing the Land of Nephi and a narrow strip of wilderness running from the Sea West to the Sea East between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, Mormon then shows that the Nephite lands went northward to Bountiful and the Land of Desolation beyond in the Land Northward—which evidently the Nephites had not yet entered early in Alma’s time.
Mormon then describes a narrow or small neck of land running between Bountiful and Desolation, separating the Land Southward from the Land Northward. He refers to this border as a line, the width of the narrow neck being the length of a day-and-a-half’s journey for a Nephite. This, by the way, was the same border or line used by Mormon in the truce
    While this line is described as a boundary dividing two lands, it has not been suggested that it was defensive line or one that was fortified. This line was also used by Mormon when working out a treaty with the Lamanites in the final days of the Nephite Nation (Mormon 2:28).
Moroni fortifying Nephite cities

2. About 72 B.C., Moroni altered the management of affairs among the Nephites (Alma 49:11) and fortified every city in all the land (Alma 49:13).  While the Nephite defector Amalickiah was maneuvering his way into being crowned the Lamanite king, Moroni was erecting small forts and building walls of stone round about their cities and the borders of their lands (Alma 48:8).  He built forts (Alma 49:13), and piled dirt so high in ramparts that Lamanite weapons had little effect (Alma 49:4).  These fortifications of walls and ramparts had never been built before (Alma 49:8), and the Lamanites were unable to get past the height of the banks, nor could they climb up without exposing themselves to rocks and missiles from above (Alma 49:18, 22-23). When they tried to tear down the walls, the Nephites hurled stones and shot arrows down on them (Alma 49:19).
    Thirty-six years after this astounding success, other Nephite dissenters joined the Lamanites and stirred them up to war (Halaman 4:4).  When the Nephites were driven out of the Land of Zarahemla toward Bountiful (Helaman 4:6) by overwhelming numbers, Moronihah, having learned from his father's achievements, fortified a line "from the west sea unto the east," a distance of a day's journey for a Nephite (Helaman 4:7). 
    Along this fortified line, the Nephites stationed their armies to defend their north country since the Lamanites then occupied all the land to the south (Helaman 4:8).  This fortification must have been successful in turning back the Lamanites because we find that the Nephites were driven no further north, and from there Moronihah fought his way south and obtained many parts of the land and many cities which the Lamanites had captured (Helaman 4:9). Moronihah eventually recaptured half of the Nephite's original lost territory (Helaman 4:10).
    Thus, in the Land of Promise there should be a fortification that runs along a line for quite some distance—a fortification that is so constructed as to keep an invading army at bay, a fortification that can be defended by an army of smaller size strung out along its length, a fortification that is intertwined with the landscape that would be a strong deterrent, a fortification that starts on the west coast and moves along a straight line to the east, and a fortification of such magnitude that it would protect not only the homeland, but keep an invading army from breaching its walls and getting behind and into the north country. 
    And such a fortification is found in South America.
Called the Muralla Chimu, or Great Wall of Peru runs from the sea inland between Huambacho and Chimbote

In northern Peru, north of Huambacho—an area by the sea that was occupied by a large settlement, and just north of there is the bay of Samanco, which provides one of the few really protected harbors on the Peruvian coast—and just beyond Chimbote, there is a magnificent wall, called The Great Wall of Peru, which snakes up from the Pacific sea coast.
The first five or six miles inland the Wall has been destroyed and the rocks have been carried off by locals for other building with the buildings and the remnant covered by sand.
    Today the wall runs into the interior for about 100 miles, beginning at a demolished village, itself all but lost beneath centuries of drifting sand, and leads away up the north side of the Santa River, across the level sandy plain of the river's delta, then up over the bordering foothills where the valley narrows (Victor Wolfgang von Hagen, The Royal Road of the Inca, Gordon & Cremonesi, London, 1976, p156a, Fig 65).
    As the foothill ridges become sharper and steeper, the Wall rises and dips and in places is turned slightly from its generally straight course.  Its distance from the river is about a mile and a half, though in one place it dips down close to the edge of the river bed.  In places the wall blends in so well with the background as to be almost indistinguishable (Leo Deuel, Conquistadors Without Swords, St. Martin's, New York, 1967, p 71).
    According to von Hagen, this wall was built by the ancestors of the pre-Inca Chimu, and was intended for defense—to stop incursions into the north by southern tribes. According to Deuel, along its length there were circular and rectangular forts at irregular intervals on both sides of the wall, and most were inset on the top of small hills so as to be quite invisible from the valley floor.
    Von Hagen states that of the fourteen forts overall, the larger ones were located on the south side of the river opposite the wall, with the largest fort being about 300 feet by 200 feet with walls fifteen feet high and five feet thick. Some were of piled stone construction while others were adobe.
The Wall in a sad state of repair and only half as high as it once was

The greater part of the actual wall is of pirca rock and over ten feet tall (Robert Shippee, "The Great Wall of Peru," Geographical Review, Vol 22, No 1, Jan 1932, pp 1-14), and most rocks broken and set together in adobe cement creating an outer surface so smooth it was practically impossible to scale without ladders. In occasional places the Wall is twenty to thirty feet high where it crosses gullies, and about twelve to fifteen feet wide at its base, tapering upward to an average height of between twelve and fifteen feet
    The Wall winds its way from the sea, over the low mountain-spurs parallel to the Santa river, and up into the sierra 90 miles away where further passage northward was blocked by steep mountains. In the higher areas, where rain does occasionally fall, terraces were fashioned from the near-perpendicular mountainsides, and earth and fertilizer transported there over considerable distances. 
    The terraces were then used for a readily-available source of food supply for the wall's defenders, who occupied the many lookout posts and strategically placed, enormous fortresses, which were built of stone blocks carefully fitted together without mortar.  To the south is another wall which was part of the outer defenses of the Great Wall.
    This wall was not discovered until 1931 when, quite by accident, Robert Shipee and Lt. Johnson saw and photographed it from the air. Before then, no one knew of, or even suspected, its existence, with even local residents unfamiliar with the Wall.
    Thus, we need to understand that the line between Bountiful and Desolation is a boundary line on the northern border of the Land of Bountiful, while the line which they had fortified is another line entirely, somewhere in the Land of Bountiful