Sunday, January 31, 2021

Answers to Reader Comments - Part IV

Following are some of the comments or questions we have received from readers:

Comment #1: “Why do you spend so much time writing about so many cities in your Land of Promise that you do not tie into cities in the Book of Mormon?” Deana F.

Response: For two reasons:

1) From the scriptural record we know that the Land of Promise had scores of cities and settlements scattered over the land. It is learned frojj the scriptural record that there were at least sixteen cities introduced only once, and that is very late in the story line, such as Gadiomnah, Onihah, Josh, Shem, Jordan, and others. Most cities mentioned do not described where they were, consequently, we don’t know much, if anything, about their locations.

The point is, there were numerous cities that we know of that were scattered around the Land of Promise and would have had to have been many, many more to meet Mormon’s comment that “they 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). Our description of a land filled with cities is paramount to the location of the Land of Promise.

Two of the fortresses of Andean Peru


2) The purpose of most cities introduced were as forts or defensive positions and building, in fact the word fort is used 45 times in the scriptural record, most describing cities. Thus, in our writing we show that only Andean Peru shows such numbers of cities and settlements and that they were defensive.

Comment #2: “What about the Nephitish altar and tower that Joseph Smith named on an expedition travelling in Missouri? Doesn’t this how that the Nephites were in North America?

Response: In 1836, Daviess County Missouri was organized from Ray County and was an area of gently rolling prairie and fine timber lands, cut diagonally from northwest to southeast by the Grand River, a principal tributary of the Missouri River, which is a tributary to the Mississippi, and the principal watershed of the county. By 1837, a small number of Latter-day Saints had settled in Daviess County (Campbell’s Gazetteer of Missouri, 1836-37, R.A. Campbell, St. Louis, 1874), and in May of 1838, Joseph Smith led an expedition into the sparsely settled county to survey possible future settlements (JS, Journal, 18 May-1 June 1838).

Map of Daviess County, Missouri  (small map is of Missouri with Daviess County highlighted in red


The county remained lightly inhabited until 1838, when Joseph Smith told those in his expedition that Tower Hill or Altar Hill, adjacent to Spring hill along Grand River in the center of Daviess County was where Adam-ondi-Ahman was located. Not long after, numerous members flooded the county, which had been created less than two years before from Ray Co., on December 1836, in an attempt to resolve conflicts related to Latter-day Saint settlement in that region (“Aaron Johnson, First Judge of Utah County,” Tullidge’s Quarterly Magazine, vol.4, Apr. 1885, pp409–416)

Significant Latter-day Saint settlements in Daviess Co. were Adam-ondi-Ahman, Marrowbone, Honey Creek, and Lick Fork (LaMar C. Berrett, Sacred Places: A Comprehensive Guide to Early LDS Historical Sites, 6 vols. Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1999–2007), and as the Latter-day Saint population grew, so did antagonism of neighboring Missourians who feared the Saints would soon dominate county government—a problem which eventually led in October 1838 to the Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs ordering state militia to the county under issued order to exterminate Saints or drive them from the state.

On 19 May 1838, George W. Robinson, who was serving as general church recorder and clerk for the First Presidency at the time, recorded in the Scriptory Book (History of Joseph Smith) that:

Route of the expedition, when they left Honey Creek, crossed the Grand, and followed the river north to Col. Lyman Wight’s


“The next morning we struck our tents and marched crossed Grand river at the mouth of Honey Creek at a place called Nelsons ferry [south of Gallatin]. We next kept up the river, mostly in the timber, for ten miles, until we came to Col. Lyman Wight’s who lives at the foot of Tower Hill, a appropriated by Pres Smith in consequence of the remains of an old Nephitish Alter an Tower, where we camped for the Sabbath (George W. Robinson, The Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith Jr. (Far West, MO: April 12 1838, p43. Gallatin, it might be remembered was the sight of one of Jessee James’ bank robberies 30 years later.,

The History of the Church account mistakenly refers to this as a Nephite altar; however, original source material clarifies that instead Joseph Smith calling this a Nephite altar, he referred to as a Nephitish altar—a term which does not appear in the Book of Mormon, though Lamanitish appears twice: Alma 17:26 (he was with the Lamanitish servants going forth with their flocks to the place of water), and Alma 19:16 (save it were one of the Lamanitish women, whose name was Abish, she having been converted unto the Lord for many years)—both these accounts referring to royal servants among the Lamanites. In fact, that altar is the only thing ever having been described as being Nephitish. As for Joseph’s description of the altar, he does not link it to any named Nephite city, place or land.

The only physical altar that is ever explicitly mentioned the scriptural record among the Nephites is at the city of Sidom in association with their sanctuaries (Alma 15:17). “Before the altar,” however, does not mean a physical altar, but a figurative statement like: “Praying before God.”

The "altar of prayer,” was located by Col. Lyman Wight's house on Tower Hill. On June 25, 1838, at a conference in Wight's orchard, a Latter Day Saint settlement at Adam-ondi-Ahman was formally established


Finally, there is nothing to preclude the altar that Joseph Smith mentions as having been built anciently by a much later generation of Nephites who moved into North America as shown in the previous post (Comment #2).

Comment #3 : “What happened to the Jaredite language and the Mulekite language. Was either spoken by the Nephites?”

Response: There are three important points to be made here.  First, when the Jaredites were annihilated, there was no one left who knew that language to continue it—it simply died out from non-use and when Coriantumr stumbled into the Mulekites in Zarahemla, no one knew it and could not communicate with him. To leave a record of his people, this last Jaredite carved his history on a large stone, which took a seer, the prophet Mosiah, to interpret it (Omni 1:20).

When the Mulekites were reintroduced to their original Hebrew language, there was no one left to continue with their corrupted language, since speaking it would have alienated that fringe or group from the language being spoken by everyone else. If any did retain its use, it would have died off in the next generation or two. Lastly, when the Nephites were annihilated, there was no one left to speak the Hebrew language. Consequently, whatever bastardized language the Lamanites spoke would be the only language left after 421 A.D. in the Land of Promise. In fact, when the Europeans arrived, there were 172 languages spoken by the native Americans, 112 in the area of the U.S., 60 in Canada and thousands in South America (Ethnologue, ISO Country Names [ISO 3166-1], ISO Languages Names [ISO 639-1], CIA World Factbook and others).

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Answers to Reader Comments - Part III

 Following are some of the comments or questions we have received from readers:

Comment #1: “I am very much a proponent of a more limited geography, and I believe the best available evidence places the core narrative of the Book of Mormon squarely in Mesoamerica as John L. Sorenson places it” Marion T.

Response: Since Sorenson and other Mesoamericanist theorists have to turn the map of Mesoamerica about 90º in order to make the directions of his theory line up with Mormon’s descriptions in the Book of Mormon, this is hardly the  best available evidence of the Land of Promise descriptions available—not only that, but several other problems exist with this theory as we have record continually in this bog, and in the book: Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.

Comment #2: “There were likely countless Nephite and Lamanite settlements spread across the continent, including within the so-called “Heartland,” whose history is not contained in the Book of Mormon; they are simply external to the text. It doesn’t make them any less Nephite or Lamanite, it just means their history is not recorded in that book” Wm. T.

Nephite movement over the centuries into the north


Response: We have been writing for years that Lehi landed at 30º South Latitude, the Bay of Coquimbo in Chile, from there Nephi fled northward to where he finally settled in an area they called the Land of Nephi (2 Nephbi 5:8), and over time from there to the Land Northward. Hagoth then sent ships “to a land which was northward” (Alma 63:4,6) full of immigrants with provisions and settled there (Central America), who then migrated overland into Mesoamerica, then the southwest land now called the United States, and finally northward into the central U.S. However, the Book of Mormon story is involved only with the area of first landing and the migration northward into Peru (Land Southward) and Ecuador (Land Northward).

Comment #3: I believe we do ourselves a disservice with the either/or mentality when it comes to issues of geography in the Book of Mormon. We often play the game of “General Authority Chess”; Elder So-And-So said this! Oh yeah? Well President Such-and-Such said this! We pit the words of one early Saint against another, chasing each other around the chess board trying to check each other but never really able to end the game” B.E.

Response: We can avoid playing this game if we trust the Book of Mormon and use it for the basis, description, and understanding of any point and use the scriptural record for all our information. Relying on who said what is of little value—knowing what the early prophets wrote is of major importance.

Comment #4: “The Mesoamerican evidence put forth by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood in Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan verifies this area. Stephens and Catherwood’s researches in Central America abundantly testify of this. The stupendous ruins, the elegant sculpture, and the magnificence of the ruins of Guatemala, and other cities, corroborate this statement, and show that a great and mighty people—men of great minds, clear intellect, bright genius, and comprehensive designs inhabited this continent. Their ruins speak of their greatness; the Book of Mormon unfolds their history” Craig W.

Response: First of all, neither (left) John Lloyd Stephens (who was born the same year as Joseph Smith) or Frederick Catherwood were members of the Church. Stephens was an explorer, writer, and diplomat, and also a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Maya civilization throughout Middle America, and also in the planning of the Panama railroad. It is doubtful Catherwood knew anything of Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon.

Secondly, the early Saints along the trek of Zion’s Camp, upon hearing the story of the Lamanite Zelph and Onandagus logically would have thought in terms of the Book of Mormon. They would have been thrilled to know there was finally evidence of lamanites in direct opposition to all the criticism of the people of the region who thought the record was nothing more than fallacious writing, made up by Joseph Smith and possibly others. Anything that would have supported the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and defended its accuracy would have been of great interest to these me. Much of what they saw was interpreted in that manner.

Consequently, while the majority of the seven first hand records we have from those on the trek stated that Joseph Smith said: “From the eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains” became in the minds of some thinking in terms of the Book of Mormon recorded that it was “From the Sea East to the Rocky Mountains,” or “from the Hill Cumorah to the Rocky Mountains.” In addition, in these different journal accounts, Zelph is described as a “warrior,” “chieftain,” “soldier,” “officer” or “General,” and also that Zelph was a “white Lamanite,” “righteous warrior” “a man of God,” or a “righteous man under the prophet Onandagus.”

The cause of his death was due to “a battle,” “a battle with other Lamanites,” “final battle between the Nephites and Lamanites,” or “during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.” Indeed, change is seen in: “The statement that the battle in which Zelph was killed occurred “among the Lamanites” became “with the Lamanites.” Also, “Zelph’s bones belonged to a man of large stature,” whereas other accounts claim that “he was short and stout.”

Obviously, if “Cumorah” had been stated by Joseph, it stands to reason that more than one person would have heard and recorded it. Since others did not, it seems reasonable to suggest that this was an opinion inserted later, evidently by Wilford Woodruff (left) that, to him, made sense later when Book of Mormon terms were better understood.

Third, it is of interest that one of the witnesses named Reuben McBride—who was 31 years old at the time of Zion’s Camp and had been baptized the year before. After Zion’s Camp, McBride became the custodian of the Church property and the Temple in Kirtland. A footnote as to the character of the man is shown in the incident when he was subpoenaed to court to give testimony concerning the whereabouts of the Prophet Joseph, which he adamantly refused, saying, “I refuse to give such testimony, and rather than be thus imposed upon, I will lie in your jail until the maggots carry my body through the keyhole of your door.” Later, he was the first person to be baptized for the dead in the font of the Nauvoo Temple—his journal entry of the vision about Zelph is the closest to the date of the event, while others are several days or weeks later, penned in his journal that Zelph: "was known from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains” which has no mention of Cumorah or eastern sea, suggesting Joseph’s mention of the breadth of knowledge about the ancient prophet was from the Atlantic (eastern sea) to the Rocky Mountains. In addition, Levi Hancock’s journal entry said that: “Zelpf was a white Lamanite who fought with the people of Onandagus for freedom.” Moses Martin wrote in his journal: "Soon after this Joseph had a vision and the Lord shewed him that this man was once a mighty Prophet and many other things concerning his dead which had fallen no doubt in some great battles.”

The point is, that what seemed quite evident to the early Saints, looking for evidences of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, interpreted finds not so much to a geographical area as they did its existence. John Lloyd Stephens’ accounts and Frederick Catherwood’s drawings, showed not so much an area of importance to these Early Saints, or even to Joseph Smith, but that an ancient and advanced civilization once existed in the Americas, countering the critics disdain for such an idea before such a discovery. The Stephens and Catherood’s book and drawings merely authenticated such a civilization.

Comment #4: “To proponents of the Heartland theory, the comment Joseph made regarding his letter to Emma while he was on the Zion’s march, said that they crossed the Plains of the Lamanites. This is pretty open and shut. Joseph makes it plain that this was Nephite territory. Mesoamerican proponents, on the other hand, have suggested that perhaps Joseph was simply conjecturing or sharing his opinion rather than declaring this information was received by revelation” Ted R.

Response: The individuals and geographic features that are named in these accounts of Lamanites in North America are nowhere to be found in the text of the Book of Mormon. They are external to its history. There is no Zelph and no Onandagus named in the Book of Mormon. The is no specific area called “The Plains of the Nephites.” As the Apostle John A. Widtsoe suggested, “Zelph probably dated from a later time when the Nephites and Lamanites had been somewhat dispersed and had wandered over the country” (John A. Widtsoe, “Is Book of Mormon Geography Known?” Improvement Era 53, July 1950)

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Answers to Reader Comments - Part II


Following are some of the comments or questions we have received from readers:

Comment #1: “I read where there were no draft animals in the Americas anciently, before the arrival of the Spanish. Is that true, since there is no mention of ‘draft animals’ in the Book of Mormon” Beverly R.

Response: The definition of a “draft animal” is “an animal, usually domesticated, that is kept by humans and trained to perform tasks that aids in work or labor. ”Thus, the elephant, ox, and horse are all mentioned in the scriptural record, which are draft or working animals. Using the above definition, a llama can be a draft animal, and since llamas have been extant in Andean South America for thousands of years, and domesticated very early on, at least by 2000 BC, they have performed numerous tasks for the ancients, including hauling, packing, guarding livestock, and other tasks—making them a draft animal.

Llamas have numerous uses and values, like pulling carts

While llamas, which originated in Andean South America, are basically known for packing, like a donkey, they can (and are) used for pulling light carts. For short distances, llama carts have been used for millennia in South America and are used there currently. In fact, llamas are surprisingly tough and can easily pull a 100+ pound cart with two adults on board for many miles, and not just on the level. They can walk, trot and canter between the shafts and reach speeds of nearly 20mph for short spells. Most llama carts are lightweight two-wheeled steel framed carts but four-wheel carts can also be drawn.

Though we rarely think of llamas as draft animals, they are in reality exceptionally adept at pulling carts. Llamas can be trained to pull carts alone, or in a team. Special lightweight two-wheeled carts designed to be pulled by llamas are widely available and are a wise choice over standard pony carts, since the llama's stride is considerably longer than that of a pony. However, it is possible to drive a standard pony cart pulled by a llama if a special llama harness is used.

Training a llama to pull a cart may take some time, but a well-trained llama can be a skillful and sturdy draft animal. Llamas may be trained to pull carts for pleasure driving or even to compete in obstacle course driving. 

Comment #2: “Why wouldn’t the Amulekites have gone west, also? There is no, even semi-logical explanation, why they would have gone east.”

Response: There were no Amulekites—Amulek was a man that befriended Alma, then joined him in preaching. We assume you meant the Mulekites. We also assume you meant “why would they have gone east?”

West, East, and North were controlled by the Babylonians, who would have run down anyone escaping from Jerusaleam as they did the sons of Zedekiah


One of the reasons they went east is because they could not have gone west into the Mediterranean as some theorists claim, since Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonians at the time Mulek left Jerusalem (probably as a baby or young child). Nebuchadnezzar controlled all of the eastern Mediterranean, including the coasts. The Egyptians, Palestinian coastal groups, and the Phoenicians were under attack by the Babylonians and would not, and could not, have sailed away with someone of the Jerusalem royal family or any other Jews.

Mulek could not have gone north, since that was directly into the Babylonian army and stronghold, and could not have gone south into Egypt since the Babylonians controlled those routes, blocking Egypt, their enemy to the south, from aiding those in Jerusalem. They could not have gone due east, that was into the stark desert where no travelers went and no water holes existed for travel. Their only course was the inland Frankincense Trail that Lehi had earlier taken, going southeast and then down toward the Gulf of Aqaba, far to the east of Egypt. Very likely they paid a passing caravan to take them in, and thus evaded any inspection of Babylonians along the way. This route would have taken them to the same location of Bountiful where Lehi went and from which both departed by ship.

When determining matters such as this, it helps to know something about geography, history, and the conditions between nations at the time.

 Joints being made through tenon and mortise for stronger connections


In addition, once at Bountiful, following the same course of Lehi and Nephi there and evidently building a ship to sail across the many waters as Nephi had done—obviously, the Lord was involved: “And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16, emphasis added). They would have followed the same route since that is where the currents and winds flow—they simply would have followed the course of the ocean, especially the route that was the easiest, simplest and most direct requiring the least amount of navigational skill.

Comment #3: “If Zeniff was truly a Nephite, as he claims in Mosiah 9, why did he need to be taught in all the language of the Nephites?” Wally W.

Response: The statement Mormon gives us is: “I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers' first inheritance, and having been sent as a spy among the Lamanites that I might spy out their forces, that our army might come upon them and destroy them—but when I saw that which was good among them I was desirous that they should not be destroyed” (Mosiah 9:1, emphasis added).

The first part of this statement has to do with the qualifications of Zeniff who was sent to spy on Lamanites in preparation for an attack on them. Thus: 1) He had a knowledge of the Land of Nephi; 2) He spoke the language needed (evidently the Lamanites still spoke their original Hebrew). It is not that Zeniff had to be taught the Nephite language, but that he was qualified to go spy on the Lamanites because having been taught as a child growing up, he could understand the Hebrew language and, evidently, understand the Lamanites speaking to one another as he spied on them.

Comment #4: “I am clearly a novice in winds and currents, but it is clear looking at any map that Lehi sailed down the west side of the Indian Ocean, around the Cape and up the Atlantic coast, crossing toward South America and reaching the Caribbean Sea to land in Florida. Even a novice can find this route without difficulty and is not a difficult route to understand” Randy P.

Response: When looking on a flat map, this route makes a lot of sense; however, flat maps do not show obstacles, and normally do not show wind flow and ocean current directions. In addition, Nephi twice tells us his ship was “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8-9). Thus, such a ship can only go where the wind blows it and the ocean current takes it.

Ships of the 1400s through the Age of Sail could sail “close-hauled,” that is, somewhat into the wind. Nephi’s could not—it could only said in front of a direct wind


It should also be kept in mind that ships in the 1400s could sail into the wind by moving the yard(s) and sails to adjust the air flow and catch it to fill the sail (tacking). However, Nephi’s ship could only sail forward (driven forth—in 1828 meaning forward, progression or advance). Consequently, making comparisons between 600 BC and 2,000 years later in the 1400s, seems foolhardy.

In addition, it should be remembered that what enormously experienced ship captains and crews accomplished in ships built by professional shipwrights was something that Lehi and Ishmael’s families, who had never been to sea, let alone built a ship or sailed it, could do. That over 3,000 early ships went to the bottom trying to negotiate the extremely dangerous waters you mention around the Cape in Africa seems to have no impact on such thinking. No matter what the Lord teaches, or instructs, even moment-by-moment information, it is still up to the mortal to do it. And sailing in such waters around the Cape of Africa is something that even the most experienced Portuguese seamen of the time (1400s AD), 2,000 years after Lehi sailed to the Land of Promise, was something that his family could have accomplished.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Answers to Reader Comments - Part I

Following are some of the comments or questions we have received from readers:

Comment #1: “I find it difficult to believe that there were no diseases among the indigenous Americans when the Spanish arrived, and that these Europeans brought disease with them that killed most of the Aborigines.” Paula B.

A normal life for the indigenous Peruvian before the Spanish arrived


Response: It is not that indigenous Americans (Indians) did not have diseases of their own, in fact, in recent examinations of 1,000-year-old Peruvian mummies, for example, paleopathologists under the direction of Richard H. Steckel, an economist and anthropologist at Ohio State University and Jerome C. Rose, an anthropologist at the University of Arkansas, discovered clear traces of tuberculosis in their lungs, more evidence that native Americans might already have been infected with some of the diseases that were thought to have been brought to the New World by European explorers (Steckel and Rose, The Backbone of History: Health and Nutrition in the Western Hemisphere, National Science Foundation, vol.94, University of Chicago Press, 2003, p695).

The problem was in the fact that while Europeans had built up immunity to such diseases over time, intermingling with numerous cultures and nations, those in the New World had no such background of immunity development, which means that upon exposure to a foreign antigen, either the antigen is eliminated by the standard immune response (resistance), or the immune system adapts to the pathogen, promoting immune tolerance instead.

Without this immunity, new diseases (or most any disease) would have rapidly spread throughout the population with devastating results—as was the case among in the Americas of the indigenous peoples in the New World.

Comment #2: “The pressing question in my mind is why the slow rise of a continent [at the time of the crucifixion]? It is true that fault scarps will form almost instantaneously. We are not dealing with such a thing here of course since the entire block came up relatively together. There had to be movement along individual fault traces during such an event. But the big question is why the relatively slow rise over 3 hours? I think the answer is still - it was an act of God to preserve life” Ira T.

Destruction in the Land of Promise following the crucifixion


Response: There was obviously great destruction during this time, with many people dying (3 Nephi 8:24-25). Those who survived were those “who had not fallen” (3 Nephi 8:20), but there were many who were slain (3 Nephi 8:14-15), with many being drowned (3 Nephi 8:9), and many being burned (3 Nephi 8:14), while others were buried in the earth (3 Nephi 9:5), or carried away in whirlwinds (3 Nephi 8:16) evidently meaning in tornadoes—all of these lives lost because of their iniquity and abominations (3 Nephi 9:2) and that there were none righteous among them (3 Nephi 9:11). According to the Lord, those that were spared were more righteous than those who were killed (3 Nephi 9:13).
Obviously, the way in which the destruction took place, the way in which the land rose, the way in which the face of the whole earth was changed was meant to destroy the wicked and save the more righteous. Under what conditions some were killed and others spared is not given us, other than the Lord controlled these events as described in 3 Nephi 9.

Comment #3: “A friend shared this comment with me and I was wondering what you thought since you are so opposed to Mesoamerica. “Dr. Sorenson, in agreement with most who have given careful scholarly consideration to this question, proposes a Book of Mormon location in Mesoamerica. Most Book of Mormon readers, when they find reference to the narrow neck of land, immediately imagine this to be Panama. They then conclude that the land northward is North America and South America is the land southward. Dr. Sorenson says that this just doesn't fit the data. He has found, however, that if the narrow neck is assumed to be the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a very close correlation with the details of Book of Mormon geography is achieved. This theory would place Lehi's landing somewhere near the coast of present day El Salvador. The Land of Nephi would then be in Guatemala. There are those who have proposed an ancient city, near the present day Guatemala City, as the location of the City of Nephi.” Brigham M.

Response: We certainly agree that North and South America, along with Central America, are not the lands North and South and the narrow neck of land in between. However, that would end an agreement with Sorenson. It is difficult to see how the Isthmus of Tehuantepec achieves any close correlation with the Book of Mormon geography. Consider:

1. Mormon tells us the narrow neck of land can be crossed in a day and a half. Tehuantepec is 144 miles across—short of some type of Iron Man, no one can cross that much land in a day and a half on foot—no one!

2. When standing along the southern shore of Tehuantepec, it cannot be determined from line of sight that the land cuts in sufficient to form a narrow neck; the same is true when standing along the northern shore. One simply does not get a perspective of an isthmus. The only reason Sorenson or anyone else knows there is an isthmus is because modern maps call it such, and satellite photos show the slight, gentle curve inward of both shores. In Nephite times, without these modern visionary aids, it would have been impossible to have known that this areas was a “narrow neck of land.”

3. Because of its width, this isthmus does not and would not have curtailed movement through it of an invading (Lamanite) or escaping (Morianton) army, nor could a defensive (Moroni/Teancum) army have sealed off this location from being entered. Thus, it does not serve the single purpose Mormon credits it to have—a way to keep the Lamanites to the South of the Nephites (Alma 22:33-34)

Mesoamerican theorists claim the sea to the north is the east sea and the sea to the south is the west sea


4. The two seas at Tehuantepec are: a) the Pacific Ocean to the south, and b) the Gulf of Tehuantepec to the north. There is no West Sea or East Sea as Mormon describes, thugh these north and south seas are claimed to be east and west by Mesoamerican theorists like Sorenson.

5. While the Land of Bountiful, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Land of Nephi, as well as the entire Land Southward are all described as being to the south of this narrow neck of land—Tehuantepec is to the West of all three lands Sorenson and other Mesoamerican theorists place them.

Obviously, there is not any way in which Sorenson’s map of Mesoamerica clarifies the geography of the Land of Promise, or could be considered “a very close correlation with the details of the Book of Mormon geography.”

Comment #4: “I read recently that the Jaredite word for Cumorah was Ramah, which is also a good Hebrew word meaning “height” or “high point.” I had not heard the Hebrew connection before. Is it correct?” D.G.

Response: The word Ramah רָמָה from its root word means “hill,” it also means “height” as a seat of idolatry, and also “lofty” as one consecrated to the worship of idols. It is a proper locative noun, meaning its reference is to a location. In trying to claim that a Jaredite word was Hebrew, one forgets that the Jaredites arrived in the Land of Promise around 2100 BC., and neither the term “Hebrew” nor a “Hebrew people” did not yet exist according to Biblical scholars.

The name Hebrew designates the descendants of Eber, great-grandson of Shem, who claim that the term Hebrews to designate the descendants of the patriarchs of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)—i.e., Abraham (six generations after Eber), Isaac, and Jacob. The word ‘Eber’ means “the region beyond” and “crossing over beyond the Euphrates,” suggesting where Eber first settled (Marcuis Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature, London, W.C. Luzac & Co., G. P. Putnam's Sons; New York, 1903, p1039).


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part XIII

Continuing from the graph of 31 scripturally-based descriptions of the Land of Promise (graph shown in the first of these articles and here at the end). 30 of these descriptions are listed in the previous posts. Here we conclude with 31 below:

The sea cutting into the land in a wide inlet or deep bay


(31) Sea Divides the Land. The scriptural record states: “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 added). Note that it doesn’t say “a sea,” but “the sea.”

• The word “a” preceding a noun means that the noun is being introduced for the first time.

• The word “the” preceding a noun means that the noun has already been introduced.

This is seen earlier in Moroni’s abridgement where he introduced the great sea that divided the continents, in which he called it “that [introduction] great sea [larger than any sea yet seen], which dividedeth the lands [continents]” –note that it didn’t divide the land [singular] but the lands [plural—meaning  more than one land was divided. With this great sea now introduced, Moroni goes on to state of it as the sea, since the reader knows which sea is being discussed:

When they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God” (Ether 6:4); and they were “tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind” (Ether 6:5); as well as “and no monster of the sea could break them” (Ether 6:10). The next time this sea was mentioned is found in the case of Omer who fled northward, then eastward to a place “which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent” (Ether 9:3), emphasis added in these scriptures).

Finally, Moroni states of this sea: “by the place where the sea divides the land. Consequently, we can see where this sea, upon which Jacob told the Nephites was their island, is the same sea over which the Jaredites had journeyed—and the same sea that divided the land. So what does it mean to divide land? In the 1830 dictionary, it means “to part,” “to separate,” “to part into two or more parts.”

Mormon obviously describes two specific land masses in the Land of Promise. One he referred to as the "Land Northward" (Alma 22:31; Mormon 2:29), which contained a land called "Desolation" (Alma 22:30) and also the "Land of Cumorah," which was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains (Mormon 6:4). The other or second land mass Mormon called the "Land Southward" (Alma 22:32; Mormon 2:29), where "Bountiful" was located in the far north to the Land of Nephi in the far south.

Adjacent to the Narrow Neck of Land was “the sea that divided the land”


Between these two lands Mormon says there was a small (Alma 22:32) or narrow (Alma 63:5) neck of land—it being the only land keeping the entire Land Southward from being surrounded by water (Alma 22:32). Thus, this narrow neck was the only land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, and within it was a narrow pass or passage, which ran between the Land Northward (Alma 52:9) and the Land Southward (Mormon 2:29; 3:5), and ran by the sea that was on the east and on the west (Alma 50:34).

Now this narrow neck of land was by the sea that divided the land (Ether 10:20). In addition, there were seas to the north and south, and to the east and west (Helaman 3:8) of the entire Land of Promise, from the Land Southward to the Land Northward (Helaman 3:8), and these seas surrounded the entire Land of Promise since Jacob tells us, and Nephi confirms it, that their land was an island (2 Nephi 10:20).

So what sea divided the land?

Since we are dealing here with an island that has two major land masses, one to the north and one to the south, with a narrow neck of land in between, and the sea that divided the land was by this narrow neck of land, the only option is that this land’s division was some type of bay, gulf or inlet where the sea separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward.

Thus, the Land of Promise was separated into two parts, the Land Northward and the Land Southward, connected by a small neck of land (Alma 22:32).

In looking at Mesoamerica, the theorists claim the Isthmus of Tuantepec was the narrow neck of land; however, there is no sea of any type creating separate or an extension of the sea near this isthmus that divides or could have divided the land. There is only a sea to the north that they call the Sea East and a sea to the south they call the Sea West. There is no division of the land of any type.

As for the Heartland or Great Lakes models, there is no Sea that divides the land around their Narrow Necks of Land, that divided their Sea East from their Sea South—hardly consistent with Mormon’s description.

Narrow Neck of Land before and after the crucifixion. The narrow neck remains but the Sea East is driven east by the raising of the Amazon Drainage Basin


Peru. Between the Land Northward and the Land Southward is the Gulf of Guayaquil, with an eastern boundary between the east coast of the Gulf and the western edge of the steep Andes Mountains, forming a narrow Pass or Passage between the Land of Desolation to the North and the Land of Bountiful to the South—referred to by Mormon, which existed in his day, about 350 years after the crucifixion (Mormon 2:29; 3:5).

Anciently these mountains did not exist, with the area they now cover below the sea, which was called the Sea East, forming a Narrow Neck or Land Bridge between the Land to the north and the land to the south (Alma 22:32). This Gulf was the “sea that divides the land” (Ether 10:20), creating a land bridge between the two major land masses, and all that separated the Land Southward from the Land Northward.

31 Scriptural Matches in the Book of Mormon regarding the location of the Land of Promise


As can be seen from the references above there are at least 31 descriptions found in the Book of Mormon regarding the Land of Promise. It would seem that any claim to the location  of this Land of Promise would at least have to match these 31 descriptions, which are not opinions but statements of fact by ancient writers, i.e., Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni, who all wrote about this land in which they spent their entire or almost entire lives. Thus, any attempt to locate the Land of Promise should include references to these 31 points, as well as others, such as the fevers that Mormon described as “there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land,” and the cure “but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40). That disease, of course, being malaria, which is still a major killer in certain parts of the world because of the climate at certain times of the year—but not so much anymore because of a plant indigenous to Andean Peru in South America called the cinchona tree, the only place in the world where this plant grows that produces quinine from its bark—the treatment and cure for malaria.

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part XII

Continuing from the graph of 31 scripturally-based descriptions of the Land of Promise (graph shown in the first of these articles and at the end). 29 of these descriptions are listed in the previous posts. Here we continue with 30 below:

(30) Unknown Animals. As Moroni wrote in his abridgement of the record of Ether regarding the animals the Jaredites brought with them to their promised land: “all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man(Ether 9:18, emphasis added). He then described their beasts of burden or animals that they used for work purposes: “They also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumom” (Ether 9:19, emphasis added).

Theorists’ suggestions: (Top LtoR): Buffalo, Mountain Goat; (Bottom LtoR): Sloth, Tapir


Most theorists pass right over this point in the scriptural record, or suggest animals that do not fit the purpose described by Moroni. As example, Heartland and Great Lakes theorists claim the cureloms and cumom—names by which the Jaredites called these animals and evidently also the Nephites—were the Buffalo and Rocky Mountain Goats. Mesoamerican theorists claim they were probably the sloth and tapir. As these suggestions show, all of these theorists appear to have chosen animals by their uncommon appearance rather than by their described purpose.

Looking at Moroni’s description, of all the animals, the beasts of burden included all manner of cattle, of oxen, horses and asses, as well as elephants and the two unknown animals. It should also be noted that in terms of value or importance to man, Moroni stated that “more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms. Obviously, elephants would be the most valuable because of their strength; however, because of their importance and value, the cureloms and cumoms were listed next, ahead of cattle, oxen, horses and asses.

Now to be useful to man, the animals would have to have been domesticated, trainable, and behavioral suitability. The domestication of animals is the mutual relationship between animals and the humans who have influence on their care and reproduction. It is also recognized that a small number of traits that made domesticated species different from their wild ancestors are found only in a few species. Only 14 large animals have been domesticated: sheep, goat, cow, pig, horse, Arabian camel, Bactrian camel, llama and alpaca, donkey, reindeer, water buffalo, yak (bovine), Bali cattle, and Mithun/gayal (bovine), and domesticated Gaur (bovine).

Elephants can learn more than 60 commands and have a wide range of abilities that man uses


The value of elephants is remarkable. While they have not been officially domesticated, one third of Asian elephants live in captivity and have been known to learn more than 60 commands. They have been used in the logging industry and other areas where their strength is used to move heavy items around. They are also used for riding, hunting, and movement of dignitaries. Thus, their help in building entire villages and their great size and strength made them the most useful animal to man.

Next in line of importance were the cureloms and cumoms—two draft animals that were very useful to man; following were the horses, donkeys, oxen, and cattle. These were the animals in the land, which came southward from the Land Northward at the time of the Jaredite poisonous serpents, and were discovered by Nephi who stated after landing in the Land of Promise, “we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men” (1 Nephi 18:25).

Obviously, the Mesoamerican sloth and tapir would not meet this criteria, since neither animal is worthwhile to man, except for meat; and the Rocky Mountain Goat and the Buffalo cannot be domesticated, and have never filled the role of a draft animal.

It should also be noted for those theorists who claim that domesticated Jaredite animals could not have lived unattended in the wild between the Jaredites and the  Nephites, cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry—all of these will happily survive in the wild. Despite being "domesticated," all of them are still capable of surviving without farmers to tend to them. What will happen however is the traits they have all been selectively bred for will diminish quickly (L. Dutch, “Which Livestock Could Survive Without Humans?” Worldbuilding, UK, July 8 2018). Dairy cattle (cows) would not survive, but this only applies to dairy cows, with high milk production. Cattle used for Beef production or breeds, that are not used for unnaturally high milk production, will not suffer the same fate.

LtoR the Llama and the Alpaca; South American camelids


Peru. In Andean Peru are two unique camelid animals that would have been unknown to Joseph Smith. In fact, would not have existed in North America in 1830 at all, as the first llamas to be imported into the U.S. were in 1920, 90 years after the publication of the Book of Mormon, and the alpacas 63 years later in 1983. Their multi-purpose usefulness to the early Peruvians is found in hair that has been used for handicrafts, ropes, rugs, fabrics and clothing. Their hides have been used by the early Peruvians to make sandals, belts, and harnesses, and their meat is dried and consumed for nourishment. Even llama dung is used as a source of fire and warmth.

Llamas are highly social animals and need the companionship of other llamas or other livestock. Their intelligence and their pleasing, diverse personalities provide challenging opportunities for use and training. Llamas are aristocratic and regal, yet llamas and alpacas are both easily trained and have a rather low key, cooperative disposition.

A single llama can provide large quantities of wool for spinning, matting for blanket and cushion fill, and even insulation—their wool is 99% hypoallergenic. They breed easily and can be used for meat as well as milk. In addition, they are great beasts of burden and can carry a large amount of weight easily. Best of all, even a single llama will make a formidable guardian for other livestock and property. Llamas can even be taught to pull a cart and require less care than horses kept for the same purpose. With livestock such as sheep, goats, horses, or even cows, that are vulnerable to predators, from coyotes to wolves, llamas are excellent guardian animals—They’re a big animal, they stand right out and they don’t give ground, which cowers predators, especially against large predators like bobcats and coyotes. A single llama can guard several hundred other animals, but are equally at home with one or two charges to guard. They take less care and training than dogs and are less likely to jump a fence and roam.

In general, llamas are very hardy. They are less prone to illness than most livestock, and do not require a barn or other formal building. Their dense wool keeps them very comfortable in all types of weather, even in the coldest climate—the thick wool also provides insulation from heat and sun.

As for alpacas, they were bred for their fiber, which is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to sheep’s wool—and is highly prized.

Native peoples have used llamas as pack animals for centuries. Typically, they are saddled with loads of 50 to 75 pounds. Under such weight they can cover up to 20 miles in a single day. Pack trains of llamas, which can include several hundred animals, have carried large amounts of goods over even the very rough terrain of the Andes for millennia.


(See the next post, “The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part XIII,” for the continuation of the list of items regarding the matching of the scriptural record)