Friday, December 18, 2020

The Narrow Small Neck and the Narrow Pass Passage—Are They Different? – Part I

Since theorists keep making claims to support their Land of Promise models in order to make their theories appear to match the scriptural record, but indeed only pollute and change Mormon’s descriptions, we need to take a look at some of their claims. So what is the makeup of the Land of Promise? Is it a very wide isthmus (144 miles) with land (Land Southward or Land Northward) on either side extending for thousands of miles—from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to Alaska, and from the isthmus to Tierra del Fuego? Is it a Peninsula? Is it a large continent with small, narrow land between large lakes with numerous additional ways around it?

Mormon and Moroni writing on the plates


Mormon, Nephi, Jacob, and Moroni describe the Land of Promise very differently than that proclaimed by these theorists. As an example, the overall Land of Promise is described as an isle or island (2 Nephi 10:20), and also to being surrounded by four "seas” (Helaman 3:8) with a "Small” or “Narrow" Neck of Land (Alma 22:32; 63:5) linking the “Land Northward” to a "Land Southward" (Alma 22:32) to which the Jaredites never ventured except for hunting (Ether 10:19-21) and the Nephites filled from sea to sea (Helaman 3:8).

Some theorists claim this core area does not preclude expansions into areas beyond the north, east or west seas; however, at no point in the entire 1500-year-history of the Jaredites is any land beyond these seas mentioned or implied.

As an example, consider the case of Omer and his family. When “the Lord warned Omer in a dream that he should depart out of the land; wherefore Omer departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent, and also his sons and his daughters, and all his household, save it were Jared and his family” (Ether 9:3, emphasis aadded). If there was a land beyond the Sea (East), there is no mention of it, or even any reference or implication to it.

Nor is there any mention of a land beyond any sea in the 1000-year-history of the Nephites. As an example, Helaman mentions that the Nephites “did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 3:8, emphasis added); or the case of Mormon’s description of when the Nephites drove the Lamanites out of the East Wilderness southward, back into their own land The Nephites began the foundation of a city, and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites” (Alma 50:13, emphasis added). Again, there is no mention or suggestion of anything beyond the East Sea; or “they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore” (Alma 50:15, emphasis added).

One would think if there were lands beyond the East Sea as theorists claim, they would have been mentioned or implied in one of these passages, or in several others throughout the scriptural record. But there is nary a comment—nothing inferred, meant or denoted.

In fact, numerous Theorists have difficulty with the four main areas often referred to as only the “narrow neck of land,” which is described in four different ways in seven different scriptures: 
1. Small Neck of Land (Alma 22:32)
2. Narrow Neck of Land (Alma 63:5, Ether 10:20)
3. Narrow Pass (Alma 52:9, 50:34; Mormon 3:5)
4. Narrow Passage (Mormon 2:29)

Top: Examples of a narrow neck between two larger land masses; Bottom: Examples of a narrow pass or passage


With just a cursory reading of the scriptural record, one might be led to think these are different areas, while a more diligent reading shows they are not. However, because some people use the terms interchangeably, while others question whether they are two or more separate locations, let’s take a further look at Mormon’s descriptions to see if these statements all describe a single area, or whether more than one area is involved.
    As an example, we first must look to see if the three areas of Bountiful, Desolation and the narrow neck intersect. That is, is there one or more avenues or ways to get from the Land Southward into the Land Northward—is there more than one location where the two lands are connected? We also need to recognize that nearly all the important landmarks in the northwestern corner of their lands are mentioned in this scripture: 1) the west sea, 2) the land of Bountiful, 3) the land of Desolation, and 4) the narrow neck which led into the Land Northward. So how are each of these described in the scriptural record?
• “And thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32—emphasis mine).

To be nearly surrounded means that some land kept the Land Southward from being completely surrounded. That land Mormon describes as a small neck of land. It should also be kept in mind that the Nephites of this period obviously had no access to aerial photos or satellite images—what they saw was from a standing position along the coast, or inland, and that view had to show the land was narrow, i.e., that is was both noticeably narrower than the land on either side, and that the narrowness was distinct enough to be seen from their vantage point in 600 B.C. to 421 A.D. It did not have to be an hourglass shape, but the narrowing had to be significant, with an inlet, bay, or other condition that actually separated the land at that point, except for a “small” and “narrow” neck of land.

• “And it came to pass that 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 – emphasis mine).

Nearly all the important landmarks along the West Sea in the in the northwestern corner of the Land Southward are mentioned in this scripture: 1) the west sea, 2) the land of Bountiful, 3) the land of Desolation, 4) the narrow neck which led into the Land Northward, and 5) A sea path for a ship to head northward after launching. The following scriptural references address these areas and similarly describe the location for the narrow neck of land.

• “And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land” (Ether 10:20 emphasis mine).

Incut into the Land of Promise


This describes the incut of the ocean and/or a narrowing of the land on one or both sides of the narrow land mass, i.e., the narrow neck. This incut or narrowing must be significant enough for a land-based individual to see that it exists with the naked eye and his line of sight. It is highly unlikely that such a viewpoint would lead to the Nephites that what is now the 144-mile-wide Isthmus of Tehuantepec would be seen.
• “And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side” (Alma 52:9—emphasis mine).

Now, this narrowing area had to be narrow enough to provide a simple and meaningful military “choke point” that could be easily defended by part of an army. It also had to be a singular entrance into the Land Northward in order to guard it against an enemy flanking a defensive position and obtaining the north country from some other approach. In addition, while those who were in Bountiful and the northern area of the Land Southward, this narrow pass led into the Land Northward, however, for those living in the Land Northward, they would have viewed this narrow pass as leading into the Land Southward, as is stated by Mormon: “And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward“ (Mormon 2:3—emphasis added).

This is obviously understood in the time frame Mormon writes it, for the Nephites at this time had been driven out of the Land Southward by the ever pressing-northward Lamanites, for in the earlier verse, we learn that: “And in the three hundred and fiftieth year we made a treaty with the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton, in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided. 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 2:28-29—emphasis mine).

It seems obvious from these scriptures that Mormon used these terms, “small neck,” “narrow neck,” “narrow pass,” and “narrow passage,” as terms describing the exact same area, however they were not interchangeable terms, since “neck of land” describes a land mass, and “narrow pass” or “narrow passage” describes the way through or across the land mass.

Only one way between the Land Northward and the Land Southward and that is the Small or Narrow Neck of Land


That is, there was a narrow neck of land between the Land Southward and the Land Northward, that was both small (in overall size and length) and narrow (in width), and within that narrow neck of land was a narrow pass that allowed people to cross from the Land Southward to the Land Northward and back. It should also be noted that this was the only way between these two lands, through the narrow pass, across the small or narrow neck of land.

Now, once understanding this, we can turn to another feature of this narrow neck and that is Mormon’s description of how long a man walking would take to cross through it.

(See the next post, “The Narrow Small Neck and the Narrow Pass Passage—Are They Different? – Part II,” for a continued description of these four scriptural record statements)

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