Thursday, July 1, 2021

Another Look at the Hill Cumorah – Part VI

 Continuing with Roper’s and other theorists, particularly Mesoamericanists, the distance from the Narrow Neck of Land to the Hill Cumorah was not very far—however, Mormon’s opposite simple explanation seems quite clear. In this explanation, Roper claims that while the Land of Many Waters was “an exceedingly great distance, nothing in the text, however, hints that Cumorah was that far away.”

Yet, Mormon sttes otherwise that the Hill Cumorah was within the Land of Cumorah, which in turn was within the Land of Many Waters. As Mormon stated: “And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:4, emphasis added).

Red Circle: Land of Desolation; Blue Circle: Land of Many Waters; Maroon Circle: Land of Cumorah


First of all, it should be noted that in the treaty arranged by Mormon with the Lamaniates, “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, emphasis added). From this point on, the Nephites were to the north of the Lamanites, and the constant battles, retreats and battles again, all took place in this arrangement—the Nephites to the north of the Lamanites.

As Mormon states: “In the three hundred and twenty and seventh year the Lamanites did come upon us with exceedingly great power, insomuch that they did frighten my armies; therefore they would not fight, and they began to retreat towards the north countries. (Mormon 2:3, emphasis added); and also: “In this year the people of Nephi again were hunted and driven. And it came to pass that we were driven forth until we had come northward to the land which was called Shem (Mormon 2:20, emphasis added)

Since the Land of Desolation was north of and contiguous with the Narrow Neck of Land (also called Small Neck of Land), the Land of Many Waters had to be north of and contiguous with the Land of Desolation. Now, we know that the Jaredites fell in large numbers around the Hill Cumorah—they called it the Hill Ramah (Ether 15:11), and that the Hill Cumorah was in the Land of Many Waters, the 43-man expedition traveled through the Land of Desolation into the Land of Many Waters, and then into the Land of Cumorah—and that all this was a far distance.

As Mormon states in his insert explanation of the diagram of the Land of Promise, they traveled northward: “even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful. 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” (Alma 22:29-30, emphasis added).

Many left their homes in Zarahemal to seek new ones in a distant land


Thus, when Mormon writes that “many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land (Helaman 3:3), he again reinforces the northward movement. “And they did travel to an exceedingly great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water and many rivers (Helaman 3:4), he is describing location and general distance (“exceeding great distance” “so far northward”).

Oblivious to these simple explanations Roper goes on to state: “The more important question is whether these other possibilities are more likely than those which favor a limited Mesoamerican model.

First of all, Mormon’s simple explanations and descriptions do not favor a Mesoamerican model at all as just a few of the many differences show below:

1. Mesoamerica runs east and west, not north and south (Alma 22:27-34);

2. Mesoamerica has two seas, not four (Helaman3:8);

3. Mesoamerican seas are labeled “east” for a sea to the north, and “west” for a sea to the south;

4. Mesoamericanists call a land to the west as the “Land Northward,” and a land to the east as the “Land Southward”;

5. Mesoamericanist John L. Sorenson has the hill Cumorah near the narrow neck, but the Land of Many Waters several hundred miles away.

Andrew H. Hedges, in “Cumorah and the limited Mesoamerican theory,” claims: “Nor was Mormon necessarily referring to “water springing from under the earth” when he noted the presence of “fountains” in the land of Cumorah, the lack of which, according to Palmer is further evidence that Palmyra’s hill is not the hill of the Book of Mormon (David A. Palmer, Search for Cumorah, Horizon Publishers, Springville, Utah, 2005, p44).

Continuing, Hedges states: “Fountain is used earlier in the Book of Mormon to designate at least two phenomena other than water springing from the earth—the Red Sea in one case, and a river in the other (see 1 Nephi 2:9, 12:16). Home to several large bodies of water and rivers, upstate New York fits the bill very well” (Hedges, Religious Educator, Vol. 10 No. 2, BYU Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University Press, Provo, 2009)

Always one of the problems is how people choose to define words. From our view, since Joseph Smith translated Mormon’s writing under the direction of the Spirit in the definition of words known to him, we should pay attention to what words Joseph chose from the words known to him in New England in 1830.

According to Noah Webster, 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, the word fountain, found under “Fount ain,” a word origination with the Latin Fons (“to flow”), means “A spring, or source of water; properly, a spring or issuing of water from the earth. This word accords in sense with well, in our mother tongue; but we now distinguish the, applying fountain to a natural spring of water, and well to an artificial pit of water, issuing from the interior of the earth (emphasis added).

One may want and even choose a word to mean what he thinks, but words do have meaning and when a word appears in the Book of Mormon we should understand that it means exactly what it meant in 1829 to Joseph Smith. In fact, when completed, he stated: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

It is important to use meaningful words that convey an intended meaning—no doubt the Spirit saw to that, though leaving the tense, spelling, and grammar to Joseph and his scribes. Throughout the Book of Mormon are specific words, sometimes so little like “at” and “in” they are hardly noticed, that people skip over as they read the scriptural record. Some of these and short phrases a bout in the descriptions of the Hill Cumorah, which will be listed in the final article in this series.


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