Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reaching the Great Lakes from the Atlantic: St. Lawrence River

Many Great Lakes Theorists claim that the Lehi Colony sailed up the Atlantic from the tip of Africa, then across the Atlantic to the St. Lawrence Gulf, then down the St. Lawrence River to Lake Ontario, then into Lake Erie (their West Sea).

On a map, this 1900-mile-voyage up the St. Lawrence River looks plausible, but in reality, would have been impossible in 600 B.C.
At about the area of present-day Montreal in Canada, the St. Lawrence River was blocked from maritime movement up until 1825 when the Lachine Canal opened, bypassing an impassable area along the St. Lawrence, about 200 miles from Lake Ontario, known as the Lachine Rapids. Considered virtually impassable before 1825, maritime traffic on the St. Lawrence River was halted by these rapids and any supplies to Montreal had to be portaged overland.

Simply put, this means, that no ship of any kind, unless it had wings, could have reached the Great Lakes in 600 B .C. Nor were there any other direct routes for a ship to have taken during those B.C. centuries that would have allowed the settlement of the Great Lakes area, including the states to the south, being upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota or Wisconsin—the stomping grounds of the ancient Indians known as the Hopewell culture.

It is true that the St. Lawrence was continuously navigable, but just short of Montreal where these rapids were caused by a series of uneven levels, rocks, and shallow waters between the present day island of Montreal and the south shore, near the former city of Lachine. The rapids contain large standing waves because the water volume and current do not change with respect to the permanent features in the riverbed, namely its shelf-like drops. Seasonal variation in the water flow does not change the position of the waves, although it does change their size and shape.

The first European to see the rapids was Jacques Cartier, who sailed up the St. Lawrence River in 1535, believing he had found the Northwest Passage. In 1611 Samuel de Champlain named the rapids Sault Saint-Louis, after a crewman who drowned there; the name later extended to Lac Saint-Louis. This name remained in use until the mid-19th century, but later came to be replaced by the name of the adjacent town of Lachine.

An extensive system of canals and locks, known as the Saint Lawrence Seaway, was officially opened on 26 June 1959, by Queen Elizabeth II (representing Canada) and President Dwight D. Eisenhower (representing the United States). The Seaway now permits ocean-going vessels to pass all the way to Lake Superior. But in 600 B.C., and, in fact, all the way up until 1825, no type of vessel could navigate the St. Lawrence to Montreal and to the Great Lakes—it was virtually impossible.

In the mid-19th century, a paddlewheel steamboat, with its shallow draft, designed for this specific purpose, was unable to shoot the Lachine Rapids. Later attempts resulted in ships hung up on the sandbars or rocks, and had to be towed out by salvage vessels.
As has been said in many former posts—those who do not know what they are talking about often make drastic mistakes about voyages, directions, and routes that appear viable today on a map, but were impossible in B.C. times and often as late as the 18th or 19th centuries.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reaching the Great Lakes from the Gulf of Mexico: Mississippi River

Many Great Lakes Theorists claim that the Lehi Colony sailed up the Atlantic from the tip of Africa, then across the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico and then up the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes. While on a map, this 2000-mile-Mississippi River voyage looks plausible, in reality however, would have been impossible in 600 B.C. Like the Lachine Rapids blocking movement down the St. Lawrence (see last post), the Des Moines and Rock Island rapids blocked movement up the Mississippi for any type of ocean going vessel—if in fact, a deep sea vessel could never have gotten that far because of the shifting sand bars and other extremely difficult navigational problems.

Note the extremely shallow draft of a Mississippi paddle wheel boat

Note that two entire decks are beneath the water line on a regular deep-sea sailing vessel

In 1829, there were surveys of the two major obstacles on the upper Mississippi, the Des Moines Rapids and the Rock Island Rapids, where the river was shallow and the riverbed was rock. The Des Moines Rapids were about 11 mi (18 km) long and just above the mouth of the Des Moines River at Keokuk, Iowa. The Rock Island Rapids were between Rock Island and Moline, Illinois. Both rapids were considered virtually impassable. In fact, the Indians along the Mississippi called the river, hahawakpa, meaning the "river of the falls." In 1848, the Illinois and Michigan Canal was built to connect the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan via the Illinois River near Peru, Illinois. Before that, the Mississippi River had no route to the Great Lakes.

Rock Island Rapids in 1881. Today locks and dams are needed to bypass this navigational hazard

In addition, both the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence rivers flow toward the oceans. This means that any weather vessel, “driven forth the before the wind” would have to sail against extremely strong currents. The Mississippi river flows between 200 and 700 thousand cubic feet of water per second (moving 400 million metric tons of sediment annually into the Gulf), twice that of the Columbia River and 40 times that of the Colorado River. The St. Lawrence moves 244 thousand cubic feet of water per second. For a sailing ship to move against these currents would require a considerable wind to compensate.

As is thoroughly diagramed in the book “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica,” a ship moving by wind must have at its back a wind stronger than the current moving against it. As an example, if the wind is moving a ship forward at 10 mph (a good clip for a sailing ship in the 18th century), but the current is moving against the ship (pushing it backward) at 5 mph, the ship is only making 5 mph headway. On the other hand, if the current is moving against the ship at 10 mph, the ship is making no headway at all—it is literally standing still in the water. Further, if the current against the ship is 15 mph, the ship is losing headway at the rate of 5 mph—it is literally driven backward.

Normally, the flow of water on the Mississippi at high water level is between 6 and 9 miles per hour. Winds, on the other hand, generally average 9 to 11 mph. If the winds are blowing upriver, this would give a ship a heading of 2 to 3 miles per hour under normal circumstances. To cover 2,000 miles, traveling only in daylight hours since the Mississippi is a treacherous river for navigation, that would be about 83 days to cover this last leg of the journey—almost 3 months. Plus sailing the distance of about 7,500 miles form the Arabian coast (using Columbus’ average speed, the Mississippi Leg would be 50% longer than the entire voyage across the oceans).

Finally, the Mississippi is one of the most dangerous navigatable rivers in the world. In 1988, record low water levels provided an opportunity and obligation to examine the climax of the wooden-hulled age. Four and a half acres of water craft remains were exposed on the bottom of the Mississippi River at West Memphis, Arkansas. They dated to the late 19th to early 20th centuries, which included the period of time of the Steamboat Age along the Mississippi—flat bottomed vessels which were built specifically for this river. Consider the challenge for Lehi’s family, in a deep-hulled ocean vessel to have navigated this river. It is easy to make claims in the 21st century about the past, but something else to have accomplished the impossible in B.C. times.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Land of Promise Surrounded by Water

Lehi’s son Jacob, speaking as a prophet to the Nephites while his older brother, Nephi, wrote down his words, stated: “…for we are not cast off..for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20), and “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).

So Jacob told the Nephites that they were on an isle of the sea, and Nephi wrote down his words. According to Noah Webster in his 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, an isle is the correct word for island—so an isle to Joseph Smith is the word “island” to us. And since the Land of Promise was an isle or island, and as such, surrounded by water, what kind of water surrounded the Land of Promise? Was it a river, a lake, or an ocean? And how do we know it was nearly surrounded by water?

Mormon, inserting a geographical explanation into Alma’s writings in Alma 22:27, says that his land, the Land of Nephi, “bordered even to the sea, on the east and on the west.” That is, the Land of Nephi stretched from the west sea to the east sea. And that land was separated from the Land of Zarahemla (to the north) by a narrow strip of wilderness, which “ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore. Thus, we find that the Land of Nephi and the narrow strip of wilderness to the north (between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla) stretched from sea to sea—from the sea west to the sea east. We also find that both “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). Thus, it can be seen that the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful, as well as the Land of Nephi, stretched from the east sea to the west sea and were completely surrounded by water except for a narrow land bridge (narrow neck of land) between the Land Southward and the Land Northward. We also know that the West Sea stretched the length of the Land Southward, from the narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32; 63:5), that extended along the West Sea south (Alma 53:8) to the land of First Inheritance (Alma 22:28), or where they first landed.

An example of matching Jacob’s Isle and Mormon’s description

We also find that the Land Northward was surrounded by water, since there was a north sea, an east sea, and a west sea adjacent to it (Helaman 3:8), and that they spread out “from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 3:20). We also know that the Land Northward had a North Sea (Helaman 3:8) that was called Ripliancum, that is “waters to exceed all” (Ether 15:8).

For those who keep wanting to limit or call the “seas” in the Book of Mormon “lakes,” such as Lake Ontario (Sea East) and Lake Erie (Sea West), which could not be called “seas,” we also need to understand that the use of the term seashore meant the shore along an ocean, such as Irreantum that bordered Bountiful. As Nephi wrote: “we came to the seashore; and we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit” (1 Nephi 17:6). This is the same “seashore” which they launched their ship into that was “driven before the wind to the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:89; 19:22).

An example of a Land to the South nearly surrounded by water except for a Narrow Neck (Alma 22:32)

In the plain and simple language in which Nephi delighted, and the simple translation of Joseph Smith in the language “to our understanding,” the land of promise was an island, completely surrounded by water, with a narrowing that separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward, where there were four seas, the Sea North, Sea South, Sea East and the Sea West.

An example of a long and narrow Land to the Southward and a smaller Land to the Northward, making up an island completely surrounded by water. Note that in this example, there is a sea (Gulf) to the south of the Land Northward to satisfy Helaman 3:8.

Unfortunately, scholars and “theorists” want to create outlandish ideas and interpretations of simple language to justify and support their ludicrous models—an act that has not served the Church, its members, or the Book of Mormon any good will. Joseph Smith translated language written in Reformed Egyptian, which no man could know without the aid of the spirit of God, into the English language known to him in his day (1829) that is not dependent upon Hebrew, nor any other language or writing. A fete impossible for anyone unless inspired by the Spirit which, in this case, testified to every statement Joseph dictated and the scribe wrote down. To place obscure ideas within such writing is disingenuous.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Fallacy About Ohio Valley Mound Building – Part III

Great Lakes Theorists like to point out the mounds found in the area, beginning with those in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, with the unsupportable claim they were the construction of the Nephites. By 100 B.C., these mounds were found all over the eastern states, from Florida to Louisiana in the south, to Wisconsin, New York and Canada in the north. Certainly the dates coincide with the Nephite nation; however, when Nephi taught his 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” (2 Nephi 5:15), where are the ancient buildings? Where are the highways that were cast up? Where are the temples, like unto Solomon’s temple? Where, in fact, were anything of impressive structures and abilities the Nephites had ever found in the eastern United States? Mounds, after all, though impressive in their labor, were nothing more than the movement of earth into shapes and piles—hardly a fulfilment of the above description.

The excavation shown in this 348-foot-long muslin panorama painting of a Mississippi Valley Mound was the work of Dr. Montroville Dickeson in the Louisiana countryside strewn with tumuli. This detail is from “Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley,” a painting by John J. Egan in 1850. Dickson commissioned the work and toured the nation with it as he lecutred on the mound and mound builders of early America. As can be seen, there were no buildings, or massive or impressive structures buried within the mound—only skeletons and artifacts buried with them.

In 1881 Congress appropriated funds to the newly founded Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institute for an investigation to determine the identity of the Mound Builders, under the direction of the entomologist, Cyrus Thomas. For more than a decade Thomas’ group criss-crossed much of the eastern half of the United States, surveying and excavating some 2,000 sites and preserving and cataloging thousand fof artifacts. Two years before Thomas’ results were published, a major find was made on a farm belonging to a Captain M.C. Hopewell in southern Ohio. The earthworks there, close by the Scioto River in Ross County, included more than 30 mounds, the largest of which rose 23 feet in the midst of a rectangular enclosure of 110 acres. Excavating the great mound, the researchers uncovered about 150 burials accompanied by distinctive and superbly crafted grave goods. Fifty years later an equally important find, on a country estate known as Adena, yielded log tombs containing skeletons and quanities of grave goods, though different enough to be considered those of another culture. Thus, over the years, the different mound building cultures were discovered that became known as the Hopewell, Adena, and Mississippian.

The mounds found in the United States, and those around the world, are considered burial tumuli as excavations have shown. A tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds, Hügelgrab or kurgans, and can be found throughout much of the world. A tumulus composed largely or entirely of stones is usually referred to as a cairn. A long barrow is a long tumulus, usually for numbers of burials. And these, as has been pointed out, were not unique to the Ohio and Mississippi valleys of antiquity.

Hallstatt culture-era Mound in Styria, Austria

The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Central European culture from the 8th to 6th centuries B.C. By the 6th century B.C, the Halstatt culture extended for some 621 miles, from the Champagne-Ardenne in the west, through the Upper Rhine and the upper Danube, as far as the Vienna Basin and the Danubian Lowland in the east, from the Main, Bohemia and the Little Carpathians in the north, to the Swiss plateau, the Salzkammergut and to Lower Styria.

Burgstallkogel, Lavamünd, Koralpe Mts, Carinthia, Austria

The Burgstallkogel (also known as Grillkogel) is a hill situated near the confluence of the Sulm and the Saggau river valleys in Southern Styria in Austria, about 18 miles south of Graz between Gleinstätten and Kleinklein. The hill hosted a significant settlement of trans-regional importance from 800 B.C to about 600 B.C. Surrounding the hill is one of the largest iron age hill grave necropolises, originally composed of at least 2,000 tumuli, that exists in continental Europe. Other locations where numerous mounds have been found are:

Famous tumulii in Korea, dating around 300 AD, are clustered around ancient cities in modern-day Pyongyang, Seoul, Ji’an, and Gwangiu.

Noge-Ōtsuka Kofun, Tokyo, Japan, where powerful leaders built tumuli known as kofun, a period of Japanese history taking its name from these burial mounds. The largest is over 400 meters in length, and in addition to other shapes, kofun include a keyhole shape.

Located between Randers and Viborg, one of about 26,000 conserved tumuli in Denmark

To try and palm off the Mounds in the United States as peculiarly Nephite is nothing short of disingenuous, and lends no support to the Great Lakes or Heartland theories.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Fallacy About Ohio Valley Mound Building – Part II

As discussed in the last post, there were mound builders all over the world dating from somewhere around 5000 B.C. onward. Their mound remains are found throughout Europe and numerous other countries. There are mounds from the Black Sea, which contain not only inscriptions but also drawings, jewelry, and other artifacts. The mounds stretch from the Black Sea northward through Russia to the top of the Scandinavian Peninsula, then southward to southern Sweden—where thousands of mounds are found. Similar burial mounds are also found in Britain and western Europe, indicating other migrations in westerly and northwesterly directions.

However, as one archaeologist so vividly pointed out, mound building was not a typical type of burial in the Middle East.

This information is meant to show that the claim of Great Lake Theorists that the mounds found in the Ohio Valley and the Mississippi Valley were Nephite constructions, is not true. These world-wide mounds were burial mounds and, as pointed out in the diagram in the last post, did not contain any construction. In fact, no remains anywhere in the United States rivals the construction Nephi taught his people as found in 2 Nephi 5:15-16.

In addition to the thousands of mounds found throughout Britain, here are just a few of the thousands of ancient world-wide mounds found in far-flung countries.

Kernave Lithuania
The multi-chambered Dilmun Burial Mounds, Bahrain
Mounds in Knowth, Ashbourne, Ireland
Ostrusha Mound near Kazanlak, Bulgaria
Sarmatian Kurgan 400 BC, Fillipovka, Southern Urals, Belarussia

(See more on the Ohio Valley mounds in the next post: The Fallacy About Ohio Valley Mound Building – Part III)

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Fallacy About Ohio Valley Mound Building –Part I

One of the major issues with Great Lakes Theorists and people like Rob L. Meldrum with the idea that Nephites built the mounds found in the Ohio Valley and along the Mississippi Valley, etc., is that mound building is not unique in any way to the Americas or the Western Hemisphere. Mounds date back to 5000 B.C. and are spread all over Europe. According to archaeologists, “These monumental earthen mounds or barrows lie scattered across the European landscape from Poland to Ireland and represent one of the most tangible and enduring confirmations of Neolithic peoples’ funerary practices.”

They are found in Bahrain (3000 B.C.), the Balkans (2500 B.C.), Sweden, Europe, England, Ireland, and Scotland—the latter areas are quite littered with ancient earthen mounds of the Neolithic era. The best known of these are the standing stone circles. The passage graves at Newgrange, Ireland, have produced a 2845 BC date, and the average date for the Newgrange tumulus is 2500 BC.
Ostrusha is one of the thousands of mounds found through Europe, and a 2500 year old temple has been found buried with some well-preserved frescoes. Silbury Hill in England is the largest prehistoric man made mound in Europe, standing 40 meters high and 167 meters in diameter at its base. Built around 4,600 years ago, it has been calculated that 18 million man-hours were required to construct the hill in two distinct phases. According to all authorities on the subject of these worldwide mounds, they “were burial mounds and monuments to the dead—only important community or religious leaders were buried in the large mounds. Common people were buried in stone mounds that are often found on the hills and along the ridges overlooking the Kanawha Valley. The dead were sometimes cremated and their ashes were also buried in mounds.”
This cross-section of the Cotiga mound in West Virginia, shows the earthen levels of the mound. There was no construction of any kind, village, walls, structures, etc. Just dirt built atop a prepared base, and the 19 cremations.
These historic hillfort mounds are in Pajauta valley at Neris, Lithuania.
These mounds are found at Gamla Uppsala, Sweden.

The presence of all these mounds throughout the world should suggest to anyone that the ones found in northeastern United States are not unique, nor are they indicative of any particular culture.

(Next Post: More mounds from around the world in The Fallacy About Ohio Valley Mound Building – Part II)

Friday, August 20, 2010

The following comment was made regarding the last post:

MrNirom said...

Personally I believe that most people want to somehow and someway tie in the "promised land" as being the United States. Do we not feel that this land is "choice" above all others? It is hard to swallow that there is something more choice.. so of course they try to make it fit. When looking at the Malay theory.. it was also hard for me to think that "that" land was choice but before hearing about your theory.. I felt that Malay was a good one. I just wish the Lord would give a revelation to the Brethren and end all of this speculation once and for all.
August 20, 2010 9:55 AM

Normally, I would have just responded in that thread, but since others may have the same feeling, I thought I would place it in a new post. So here is my response:

Thank you for your comment. If I may respond, the entire Western Hemisphere is the Promised Land--North America promised to Ephraim's lineage and South America promised to Menassah's lineage as the double portion Joseph asked for and received. Having said that, the Book of Mormon lands (Land Northward and Land Southward) is not in the United States--no relationship can be found and none should be forced. Nephi saw the United States part of the Land of Promise in his vision, beginning with Columbus (Central and South America resulted from that) and then the Pilgrims, etc., resulting in the United States and the wars fought between England and other nations for this land, and then the wars of independence. No one should feel the U.S. is not part of the Land of Promise--and the main part for it is to be the place of the New Jerusalem, the Church government, and the Lord's leadership of his Chosen People. It should also be pointed out, as has been stated in numerous earlier posts, that thousands upon thousands of Nephites and Lamanites sailed northward in Hagoth's ships and settled a lang which was northward--suggesting it was not connected to the Book of Mormon lands. In such a case, that would have been Mesoamerica, where monuments of their building efforts can still be seen. It is also obvious that from there Nephites migrated ever northward into the present day United States, and migrated eastward into the Heartland and to the eastern seashore. But the Book of Mormon lands took place in its entirety in the Andean area of South America.

In regarding a "choice" land, the climate, natural resources, wealth, and beauty in the entire Western Hemisphere, taken as a whole, is unmatched by any other continent or combination of continents in the world---though each region has its own attractiveness. Still, the Western Hemisphere is unmatched anywhere and "is a choice land above all others." This is not to denigrate anyone's home and beloved country---it is only meant to suggest that a "choice land" is not just in the economic wealth, freedom and government it currently possesses (though that is certainly important to each of us), for those things, unfortunately, can change; but the concept is meant to speak of the land and all that goes with it, including its natural resources, beauty, and favorable status with the Lord. While South America, at this point in time, has less freedom, more turmoil, less economic wealth, etc., the land itself was blessed from the beginning, as was North America, as Moroni wrote, and it will be here, in this overall land, that the promises of the Lord will be fulfilled (as well as in the modern area of Israel).

As for a revelation, I do not see this happening any time soon because of all the attacks it would elicit from the enemies of the Church (it is the same concept that caused the Lord to have Joseph Smith translate from the small plates and not retranslate from the Large Plates after the original translation was lost by Martin Harris). However, it is written that in the last days, the Lord's spirit will be poured out and knowledge will move forth, revealing all that was beneath the earth, above the earth, and on the earth---I believe those days are upon us, and such revealing is taking place. Man has come to know more about the earth and its many aspects than ever in its history, and we are finding out more about the past and its historical evidences than man has ever before known. But to me, the best bet for anyone interested in the subject of the Land of Promise is to go by the scriptures, not somebody's theory--if a location does not fit EVERY scripture about the Land of Promise, then it is suspect, and undoubtedly wrong.

I hope this helps, and again, thank you for your comment.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Erroneous Great Lakes Theory

The concept of a Great Lakes Land of Promise has been gaining ground in some circles over the past decade, and it seems no one is taking the time to look into the relationship of the Great Lakes to the Book of Mormon account. As an example, Mormon, inserting a geography lesson into Alma 22, makes it quite clear as to the directions and locations of this land.

In describing the Lamanite king’s land, or the Land of Nephi, Mormon wrote about the location of the Lamanites: “who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea on the east and on the west and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore” (Alma 22:27).

First of all, Mormon describes these lands (the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla) as stretching from the east to the west. That is, the borders of this land “bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west.” He is not saying the East Sea or West Sea at this point, only that the land stretches from the east to the west between two seas. That is, the land runs from east to west. Then Mormon places the two seas, one in the east and one in the west, calling them the west sea and the east sea “which ran from the sea east even to the sea west,” which should suggest to anyone that this area of land, called the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, that both lands stretched from the east to the west, and “ran from the sea east even to the sea west.”

However, in the Great Lakes Theorists’ maps, with Lake Ontario as the East Sea and Lake Erie as the West Sea, the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla as they show it, do not stretch from these two seas running from the east to the west. In fact, as the map below shows, these lands run from two seas, one on the NORTH and one on the SOUTH.
And so it goes with Theorists who do not use the scriptures to determine the location of the Book of Mormon, but try to get the Book of Mormon to agree with their pre-determined map location. Of course, one looking at an overall map could say that Lake Ontario runs to the east and Lake Erie runs to the west, but at the narrow neck of land, they are north and south of one another, contrary to Mormon’s description.

One would also find it difficult that Mormon, who tried so thoroughly to make geography understood by his future reader, or the other prophets, never wrote about or at least indicated, one of the greatest landmarks in all North America, and that is Niagara Falls, while claiming it was along the Narrow Neck of Land separating the Land Northward from the Land Southward (however, in their map, it separates two lands that are east and wet of the division). In addition, the Niagara River, which flows from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie (an impassable river to sail) is also not mentioned in this narrow neck of land, though there is mention of a pass and passage.

How is it possible such a magnificent landmark that has existed since time began according to geologists that can he seen and heard for miles around is never mentioned? Mormon mentions a narrow neck, a narrow pass, and a narrow passage, but never this awesome landmark that people for two centuries have traveled thousands of miles to see.

It actually boggles the mind to think that anyone could place what is written in the Book of Mormon within the Great Lakes region for there simply are far more disagreements than there are agreements in land location and geography.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sh’moneh - The Number 8 in Hebrew – Part III

In written communications, letters and numbers serve to express the thoughts and ideas, wants and needs of people. In Hebrew and also Greek, the entire alphabet served as both letters and numbers. In Hebrew this is called Gematria or by its Greek name Isopsephia. Therefore, in the Hebrew language, every letter has a meaning, and also a numerical value. This has tremendous significance, in that numbers become very relevant.

Continuing with the importance of the number 8 in ancient Hebrew, contrary to the comments made in an article to me recently and following the earlier two posts on this subject, the 8th letter in the Hebrew Alphabet is Chet.

This eighth letter, Chet, has an ordinal or positional Gematria and it's standard Gematria are the same (8). It is the number of new life/new beginning. Raised to its triplicate, 888 is the numerical name of Jesus in the Greek New Testament text. The literal meaning of this letter is a "fence," "hedge" or "chamber." The symbolic meaning is "to make private" or "to separate." In ancient Hebrew the 8th letter was drawn as a fence, and the word picture it gave was Brother [Gen 24.29] because the word brother is "a strong fence" (that protects). As an example, the following understanding of the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet brings us to understand the significance of the number 8, especially as it is incorporated into the 888 listed above.

The First letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, called in Hebrew, the Aleph-Bet, is the Aleph, drawn as shown here. The literal meaning of aleph is ox or bull. The symbolic meaning of this letter is: God, strength, strong leader. It shows God's mastery and oneness.

In the ancient Hebrew, it was drawn like the head of an ox which is part of the original meaning of the letter. The literal meaning is "strong leader, strength, master, 1 or 1000. This is the example of ancient wisdom in the scriptures that read: "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?"2nd Cor. 6:14. A young, inexperienced oxen would be yoked with a full grown ox accustomed to ploughing, and the younger would learn from the older because of the latter's size and great strength, he would literally drag the young ox around in the proper direction as commanded by the ploughman.

The Gematria of the letter Aleph is 1 and always means God. Yeshua/Jesus said "I and my Father are ONE" (John 10:30). In the full spelling it's Gematria is 111, which is the same Gematria as "The Lord My God" (Ps 38.15) and "Children of the Living God" (Hos 1:10).

This first letter of the Hebrew alphabet that stands for God, when written out is amazing and shows the deep complex and integrated design of the word of God that millennia later, would become flesh, alive and living in the person of Yeshua/Jesus Christ. Can we believe the accuracy of the "New Testament" Greek text? Can it be traced back to the ancient Hebrew teaching. Of course.

The aleph spelled full by it's Gematria of 111 gives us a bed rock solid truth. When multiply the number 8, the number of new life, new beginnings by Aleph, the first letter, we arrive at the number 888 which is "Jesus" in the Greek text of the New Testament! This ties the person of Jesus directly back to the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and God Himself! The first and "Greatest" commandment is that we love God with all of our heart, mind and strength.

For someone to claim he has studied thoroughly and not found any significant meaning for the number 8 in ancient Hebrew is to show one’s ignorance. And so it is with all who write about the Book of Mormon and try to find ways around the plain and simple language therein which, in and of itself, is completely understandable and needs no special interpretation by scholars who try to make it into something that agrees with their erroneous models. The Jaredites built eight barges that brought them to the Land of Promise (Ether 3:1)—no further discussion on this number is necessary.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sh’moneh - The Number 8 in Hebrew – Part II

Actually, the number 8 in Hebrew is very significant. And for the person who studied and could not find anything to relate to 8 in Hebrew, he might want to study further:

In Hebrew the number eight is hnm# (Sh'moneh), from the root Nm# (Shah'meyn), "to make fat," "cover with fat," "to super-abound." As a participle it means "one who abounds in strength," etc. As a noun it is "superabundant fertility," "oil," etc. So that as a numeral it is the superabundant number. As seven was so called because the seventh day was the day of completion and rest, so eight, as the eighth day, was over and above this perfect completion, and was indeed the first of a new series, as well as being the eighth.

• Eight is 7 plus 1. Hence 8 is the number specially associated with Resurrection and Regeneration, and the beginning of a new era or order.

• When the whole earth was covered with the flood, it was Noah "the eighth person" (2 Peter 2:5) who stepped out on to a new earth to commence a new order of things. "Eight souls" (1 Peter 3:20) passed through it with him to the new or regenerated world.

• Circumcision was performed on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12), because it was the foreshadowing of the true circumcision of the heart, that which was to be "made without hands," even "the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Colossians 2:11). This is connected with the new creation.

• The first-born was to be given to Jehovah on the eighth day (Exodus 22:29,30).

• Resurrection is the great truth which is signified. Christ rose from the dead on "the first day of the week," that was of necessity the eighth day. And it is remarkable that the Bible contains the record of eight individual resurrections (other than the Lord and the saints):
3 in the Old Testament, 3 in the Gospels, 2 in Acts 9 and 20

• The Feast of Tabernacles lasted eight days, with a special reference to the Incarnation (John 1:14).

• The transfiguration also took place on the eighth day (inclusive reckoning) after the first announcement of Christ's "sufferings," and it was the showing forth of the "glory" which should follow at His coming again.

• Pesach (Passover) lasted eight days outside of Israel.

• Eight is the first cubic number, the cube of two, 2 x 2 x 2. We have seen that three is the symbol of the first plane figure, and that four is the first square. So here, in the first cube, we see something of transcendent perfection indicated, something, the length and breadth and height of which are equal. This significance of the cube is seen in the fact that the "Holy of Holies," both in the Tabernacle and in the Temple, were cubes. In the Tabernacle it was a cube of 10 cubits. In the Temple it was a cube of 20 cubits. In Revelation 20 the New Jerusalem is to be a cube of 12,000 furlongs. Dr. Milo Mahan is inclined to believe that the Ark of Noah, too, had a kind of sacred Shechinah in "the window finished in a cubit above.”

• The miracles of Elijah were eight in number, marking the Divine character of his mission.

• There were eight songs in the Old Testament outside the Psalms.

• The miracles of Elisha were double in number, viz. Sixteen, for his request was, "Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me" (2 Kings 2:9).

• The use and significance of the number eight in Scripture is seen to recur in marvelous exactitude. It may indeed be said that Eight is the dominical number for everywhere it has to do with the LORD. It is the number of His name, IHSOUS.

• In the book which relates to His great Apocalypse or Revelation, there are in the introduction which sets forth the glory of the Lord, to be revealed in the day of the Lord, eight references to the Old Testament on which the claims of His Lordship are based It will be noted, moreover, that these are not given at haphazard. Our attention is called to their importance by the order in which they are given. They are arranged in the form of an epanodos, the first being from the same book as the eighth, the second corresponding in the same way to the seventh, the third to the sixth, and the fourth to the fifth. Thus the Divine seal of superabundant perfection is there set on the Scriptures, which declare the Lordship of Jesus:

If one is going to write about the scriptures in the Book of Mormon and what is and what is not there, and what is significant, etc., one might want to do a little more studying and make sure they know what they are talking about before they begin pontificating about it.

(See the next post, Sh’moneh - The Number 8 in Hebrew – Part III, for more on the Hebrew alphabet)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sh’moneh - The Number 8 in Hebrew – Part I

Recently, a Great Lakes Theorists sent me an article he had posted on his website regarding the number 8 in relation to the number of barges the Jaredites used to reach the Western Hemisphere. His argument was that the number 8 had no significance in Hebrew and that in all his research he had never found any meaning in Hebrew at all for the number 8 in Hebrew. Therefore, the number 8 for the barges had to be in error.

His argument was that he felt the use of the number 8 in the Book of Mormon showed an inaccuraacy in specifics—that is, exact numbers, words, etc., in the record could not be counted on to be exact, therefore, the west sea or east sea were not meant to be exact terms and, therefore, there was no conflict in his argument that the Great Lakes or Heartland model of the Book of Mormon geography did not conflict with the text.

Pardon me, but after I stopped laughing, I sat down and wrote him back. In essence, this is what I wrote: “There are two answers to your article:

First, the Jaredites were not Hebrews. The Hebrew genealogy (Genesis 11:10-17) came through Noah, Shem, Aram, Arpachshad, Shelab, Eber, and Peleg. In the next few verses, we see the Hebrew line from Reu through Abraham. However, Eber had two sons mentioned, one was Peleg (through whose genealogy Christ came), Joktan, whose descendancy is never mentioned in the Bible other than the fact he had 13 sons. The fourth son, Jerah, is another Mesopotamia spelling for Jared, through whom the Jaredites descended. Therefore, while Heber and Jared were cousins, their descendants were through two entirely different lines—Peleg was the line that we know of as Hebrews in the Bible, and Joktan, unknown in the Bible, can be found in the Book of Ether of the Book of Mormon, who came to the Western Hemisphere.

Thus, when the “earth was divided” in Peleg’s day, it is likely that division was in the birthright, for Heber inherited the eastern hemisphere, which is where his descendants lived and the chosen line of Israel is mentioned. The other division was for the western hemisphere through Jared, and his lineage and descendants are covered in the Book of Mormon (See the details of this in Chapter 11, The Brother of Jared in the Old Testament, of my book, “Who Really Settled Mesoamerica?”). The point is, the number 8 to Jaredites would have nothing to do with the number 8 to Hebrews.

However, the number 8, despite what this person wrote, is a very significant number in Hebrew. First of all, Hebrew numbers are formed differently from Western or European numbers. In the west, only 10 digits are used, and the position of the digit indicates its value in powers of 10 beginning at 1. But Hebrew numbers simply add the values of each letter together and the position doesn't matter. They are generally written from largest to smallest, which in the right-to-left Hebrew script, means the largest is right-most.

For numbers greater than 799, tav (ת 400) is repeated. Numbers are formed by choosing the Hebrew letter with the largest value that doesn't exceed the number, and then selecting the next largest valued letter that reduces the remainder. For example, to represent 765, the largest valued letter is tav (400 ת) leaving a remainder of 365. Adding the letter shin (300 ש) leaves 65. Adding somekh (60 ס) and he (5 ה) eliminate the remainder. So 765 is represented by tav, shin, somekh, he: תשסה. There is one exception—numbers ending in 15 or 16 would be written as yud-he (10+5) and yud-vav (10+6), but the letters "yud he vav he" spell out the name of God and for religious reasons are not used. Instead, by convention, tet-vav (9+6 טו) and tet-zayin (9+7 טז) are always used.

With that said, let us take a look at the significance of the number 8 in Hebrew. To do this requires more space than available here, so in the next post, Sh’moneh - The Number 8 in Hebrew – Part II, we will cover the importance of that number anciently.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Finger Lakes Are Not Mormon's Fountains

According to many Great Lakes Theorists, the Finger Lakes in upper New York State are the Sea East in the Land of Promise of the Book of Mormon. In fact, they use two concepts for the Sea East, one is Lake Ontario, the smallest of the five great lakes, and the finger lakes, which are to the south in what is now New York state.
As with all proposals of Great Lake Theorists, they are forced to improvise in identifying the named seas of Book of Mormon lands. Many claim the northern portion of Lake Erie is the west sea, and the western portion of Lake Ontario is the sea west, while the eastern part of this same lake is the sea east. Lake Cayuga of the Finger Lakes is the east sea. The sea south is the southern portion of Lake Erie. For the greater land northward, Lake Huron serves as the sea west with its northernmost extremity (Georgian Bay) serving as the sea north. A critical point in this confusing cascade of "seas" is one's point of reference, whether it be in the land northward or southward.
As one Great Lakes Theorist claims, “Yet, those trying to reconcile this area with the geographical descriptions provided in the Book of Mormon will find various clues interspersed throughout the text. For example, they inform us that the Hill Ramah/Cumorah lay just to the south of Ripliancum, which the Jaredites claim means “large” or “to exceed all,” which can only mean Lake Ontario.”

Why this can only mean Lake Ontario is unclear, since it is not at the northern extremity of their Land Northward as it is in the scriptures. However, since they are forced to have the Hill Cumorah where it is located in New York, any body of water to the north of this hill has to be their Sea North, or Ripliancum. On the other hand, Vern Holly’s celebrated map of the Land of Promise in the Great Lakes region shows the Hill Cumorah in the Land Southward with Lake Ontario to the north of it as the Sea East.
Another quote is, “Moreover, the Prophet Ether informs us that their final battles took them eastward toward the Hill Ramah. Thus we can place at least one of their kingdoms in western New York. Further, both the Nephites and Jaredites described the territory around the Hill Ramah/Cumorah as being a land of many waters; a description which fits the lands around the Hill Cumorah perfectly, for the entire region is simply filled with water, including literally thousands of streams, creeks, ponds, and eleven finger lakes which extend from north to south across the land like great fingers of water ranging in length from three miles to forty.”

Two points should be made here. First, the final battle around the Hill Cumorah is in Holly’s Land Southward, south of the Sea East, not in the Land Northward, near the northern extremity of the Sea North or Ripliancum as the scriptures state. And second, the Land of Many Waters in the Book of Mormon is described by Mormon as, “We did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tent around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” (Mormon 6:4). Theorists are fond of quoting only a portion of this scripture, which describes a land of many waters, which, literally, could be placed almost anywhere that lakes exist. But what they do not consider, and seldom even quote, is the fact that in this land of many waters were not only rivers, but fountains. In Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, a fountain is described as: “a source of water, a spring or issuing of water from the earth, a natural spring of water issuing from the interior of the earth, the head or source of a river, the source.”
Lakes, of course, are rarely fountains. That is, lakes are formed as part of a drainage area of rivers and streams that enter into them. In the case of the Great Lakes, their largest single source of water supply is precipitation, amounting to an average annual depth of 27 to 33 inches on the surface of the five lakes. The second largest supply is from the streams, which drain the adjacent land. While no great rivers empty into the Great Lakes, the entrance of water is carried by thousands of drainage streams and small rivers.

And, most importantly, the drainage of the Great Lakes, which themselves are not fountains (original water sources), is what creates the Finger Lakes and the other drainage streams and rivers to the south in what is the Theorists Land of Many Waters. Thus, not a single fountain among them. Evidently, what Mormon had in mind when he used the word “fountain,” is the source of the many waters about him, or about the Hill Cumorah—a very clear description that does not match the Finger Lakes area, nor does it match the Great Lakes region at all.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Great Lake Theorists - Ignoring Disagreeing Scripture

According to all Great Lakes Theorists, the Lehi Colony came across the Atlantic Sea and landed somewhere on either the east coast, or up one of the rivers, such as the Mississippi or St. Lawrence. In all cases, they claim that Lake Erie is their West Sea and Lake Ontario their East Sea. In some cases, they claim that Lake Huron is Ripliancum or the North Sea.
In any event, the area of the Great Lakes is completely landlocked, and until 1920s, did not have access via the St. Lawrence River to the St. Lawrence Gulf, which flowed into the Atlantic through the Strait of Belle Isle between Labrador and Newfoundland, or the Cabot Strait between Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island, as well as the Strait of Canso between Cape Breton Island and peninsular Nova Scotia (since 1955 and the construction of the Canso Causeway, this no longer opens into the Atlantic).

For those who are not geographically knowledgeable of this area, the St. Lawrence River (called Fleuve Saint-Laurent in French, and Kaniatarowanenneh, meaning "big waterway" in Mohawk) is the widest river in the world and flows approximately from southwest to northeast, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage of the Great Lakes Basin and traverses the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario and forms part of the international boundary between Canada and the United States. The problem is, until the 19th century, this river, which runs 1900 miles from Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence estuary in the Gulf, was impassable just northeast of Montreal. In fact, until the early 1600s, the French used the name Rivière du Canada to designate the Saint Lawrence upstream to Montreal and the Ottawa River after Montreal, because they could not travel continuously on the river. By the very nature of the impassable Lachine Rapids, the river was not continuous for any kind of small or large raft, canoe, boat or ship and, therefore, not a connecting waterway for vessels to Lake Ontario. Not until 1825 was a canal dug around the rapids, allowing continuous river travel in either direction.

For modern-day Theorists, it might seem a good way to reach the Great Lakes, but for Nephi’s ship in 600 B.C. (and for any vessel until 1825), such a trip was impossible. This merely shows one of the great problems in modern day scholar work trying to prove what took place in 600 B.C.

In addition, these Great Lake Theorists completely ignore the preaching of Jacob and writing of Nephi when Jacob says: “And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, 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. 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. For behold, the Lord God has led away from time to time from 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 10:20-22).

In this speech, Jacob tells us the Lehi colony were led across the sea by the hand of the Lord and landed on an island of the sea. And upon this island, they were not cast off from the presence of the Lord, for God knew them where they were on this island in the sea far from Jerusalem.

In addition, Amaleki tells us that the Mulekites (people of Zarahemla) wandered 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). They, too, were brought to this island, and where they landed upon the shores is where they dwelt and where Mosiah found them.

The point is, the Land of Promise was an island in the middle of the sea, surrounded by the ocean and, therefore, cannot be located in any land-locked area such as the Great Lakes or Mesoamerica which, in neither case, were ever islands surrounded by water.

It should be noted by all interested in the subject matter, that this scripture is never quoted by Great Lakes Theorists or Mesoamerican Theorists because it simply does not in any way agree with their models!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Turning Lakes Into Seas

The disingenuousness of Great Lakes Theorists sometimes staggers the imagination. First of all, you have a landlocked set of waterways being called seas, though, as has been pointed out in earlier posts, the word sea as Joseph Smith knew it in his translation is a portion of an ocean. In earlier sections of his translation, Joseph correctly called the Red Sea a sea (it empties into and is part of the Arabian Sea), and is not a land-locked sea.
Second, and most important, in Mormon’s description of the geography, in Joseph’s translation of the seas, and in mention by other prophets writing in the record, an understanding of movement across great bodies of water is outlined in which the winds and the currents drove Nephi’s vessel toward the land of promise. At some point (after many days sailing), the vessel landed along a coast of some sort and the occupants (the Lehi colony) disembarked. At this point, “they went forth upon the land and did pitch our tents” (1 Nephi 18:23), and began “to till the earth and we began to plant seeds, yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought form the land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 18:24). Following this, Nephi describes finding where they disembarked, set up tents, tilled the earth and planted their seeds, beasts and wild animals, ore, and a combination of gold, silver, and copper (1 Nephi 18:25).

At no point is there any suggestion, reference, indication, or wordage to suggest that they traveled from their landing site to an area where they then settled. Yet, Great Lakes Theorists, out of necessity, must move the Lehi colony form a coast to an inland, land-locked lake, or series of lakes and rivers, for the colony to settle in a land which would later be called their “Land of First Inheritance.”

This movement overland for hundreds of miles is necessary for these Theorists because there is no direct coastal area within their land of promise. In 600 B.C., and for more than 2000 years afterward, no ocean-going vessel could have reached any of the great lakes within the U.S. and Canada. As has been shown in previous posts, the St. Lawrence River did not have passage to Lake Ontario as it does now because of the rapids that blocked passage to Montreal; nor could a deep ocean ship sail up the Mississippi and reach any of the great lakes, then or now (passage upriver from the Gulf of Mexico has always been restricted to flat-bottomed boats, like the Mississippi paddlewheel river boats of the 19th century) before dredging of the river. In fact, the closest the Mississippi comes to Lake Michigan is 170 miles, to Lake Superior is 180 miles, and the closest the Ohio comes to Lake Erie is 100 miles. However, the closest a deep-sea ocean vessel driven by the winds could have come to any of the great lakes in 600 B.C. would be Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the river becomes too shallow for ocean-going vessels, which is 800 miles from Lake Michigan and 875 miles from Lake Erie.

This means, if the route suggested up the Mississippi is considered, the overland travel would have been upwards of 800 to 900 miles—which is about the same distance the colony traveled along the Red Sea before turning eastward. And that journey took quite some time and Nephi wrote about it extensively—yet not a word of the travel it would have taken across an unknown land with numerous sights never seen before and, no doubt, more problems from his older brothers and the sons of Ishmael.

On the other hand, some of these Theorists claim the Lehi Colony sailed up the Chesapeake River and landed in Baltimore, which would be about a 300 mile overland journey to either Lake Ontario or Lake Erie. Still, a considerable distance—about the length of the entire country of Palestine in their day and not a single word about it nor even the slightest indication they traveled from their coastal landing site.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Nephite Seas – Plain and Simple Language

“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. And behold, there were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took took their course northward” (Alma 63:5-6).

From this one scripture, we see that some type of body of water represented as the West Sea is large enough for a very large ship to sail in, and that this body of water had to have been more than a lake—no matter how large—that went somewhere for a large number of emigrants to travel upon to another land “a land which was northward” (Alma 63:4)

In earlier posts, we have discussed this west sea as the Pacific Ocean, and the “land which was northward” as that portion of Central America across the Pacific-Atlantic Passage before Panama was lifted out of the ocean and formed a connection to South America above the water—a fete which all geologists, including the findings of the Glomar Challenger deep-sea drilling vessel proved, happened at one time in the past. The Book of Mormon suggests that the upheavals that took place at the time of Christ’s crucifixion in the Old World (3 Nephi) as that point in time.

The point is, lakes are not seas—seas are portions or sections of oceans that are set apart in name only, such as the Arabian Sea, which is part of the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea which is part of the Atlantic Ocean, etc. (see the post on What is a Sea?). Thus, no matter how much the Great Lakes Theorists want to claim that area and the Heartland as the Land of Promise as described in the Book of Mormon, they cannot show scripture that verifies that without changing the “plain and simple” language of the scriptures.

If the writings of the ancient Nephite prophets, and Mormon in his abridgement, had to be qualified by modern scholars to show what was meant, such as north really meaning west, a sea really meaning a lake or river, etc., then it cannot be claimed the scriptures contained “plain and simple” language as Nephi said. It must also be suggested that the spirit in verifying Joseph Smith’s translation was really not being plain and simple, but convoluted and mysterious, requiring reams of written words to try and define what was really meant.

Such a scenario, of course, is unthinkable and untenable. Nephi delighted in plain and simple language as has earlier been stated in these posts. Joseph Smith said that the Lord speaks to us in our language of our day. The Book of Mormon scriptures, whether dealing with a doctrinal issue or a location description, states the information in plain and simple language for our use in our day and for our understanding. To claim otherwise, as so many Theorists try to do, is disingenuous at best.

And in this sense, lakes are not seas! And in 600 B.C. or 421 A.D., you could not sail into Lake Erie (Theorists’ west sea) and go anywhere, because Lake Erie, before canals and man-made openings, did not connect to any other of the Great Lakes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where Did Lehi Land Along the Coast?

As has been stated in numerous posts here, Nephi’s ship was “driven forth before the wind to the land of promise,” which suggests that they were carried along on the ocean currents and winds to a spot where a landing could be affected. While Mesoamerican Theorists like to take Nephi against the winds and currents across the central portion of the Pacific Ocean, no ship in 600 B.C. (even up until about the 18th or 19th century) could have made such a journey in a weather sailing ship against the winds and currents. Nor would a northern journey up past Japan and along the west coast of North America have taken a sailing ship in 600 B.C. much past southern California before sending it back out to sea again and back across the Pacific-and more likely, down to Hawaii and not North America at all.

The fact of the matter is, only one path was open to a sailing ship leaving the south Arabian coast and that is illustrated below along the Roaring Forties driven by the Prevailing Westerlies and the West Wind Drift (see earlier posts for a full description, or the book: Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica).

Lehi’s Course with winds and currents across the Pacific (southern) Ocean.

It should also be understood that a ship moving along the coast of a continent must have a place to land that fits three absolutely critical criteria: 1) Winds die down to allow a shoreward movement, 2) Currents stop flowing to allow a shoreward movement, and 3) The shore must have a landing site. As to the latter, most of South America (and much of North America) is covered in coastal cliffs and impossible landing sites.

However, in South America, along the Chilean coast, a remarkable area exists at the 30º South Latitude, where the Bay of Coquimbo is located. The swift ocean currents here drop to almost zero, and the swift winds also drop to almost zero, and this coastal area has a unique Mediterranean climate like that of Jerusalem from which the Nephites came. No other area in the western hemisphere has such an exact Mediterranean climate nor a place where winds and currents fall off to nothing where a ship in 600 B.C. could so easily have affected a landing.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Word Sea—What Did it Mean? Part II

Why spend so much time on the meaning of the word “sea”? Because Great Lake Theorists limit the scope of the word’s usage in their Great Lakes and Heartland models to enable them to use some of the smaller Great Lakes as the Land of Promise Sea West and Sea East. But when the word is properly understood as it was used in the record and as Joseph Smith translated it, the word cannot be used for a lake and the Great Lakes model loses its basis of seas.

First of all, the word sea is a smaller portion of an ocean. It might also help to know that the word ocean, from the Greek Okeanos (Oceanus), is defined as a large body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 75% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water, the world’s ocean, which is the interconnected system of the earth's oceanic waters that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas. That is, the word sea means a designated part of the ocean, such as the Caribbean Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Greenland Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the North Sea are all parts of the Atlantic Ocean; the Barents Sea, the Kara Sea, the Laptev Sea and the Chukchi Sea are all parts of the Arctic Ocean; the Bering Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea, the East and South China Seas, the Philippine Sea and the Coral Sea are all parts of the Pacific Ocean; the Andaman Sea and the Arabian Sea are parts of the Indian Ocean—the list can go on and on. In addition, much smaller divisions of the ocean are called gulfs, bays, straits and other names.

It would appear, then, that when Joseph translated the Reformed Egyptian word as “sea,” and the spirit verified it, he was thinking of an ocean—not a lake. It is really as simple as that. As Jacob said of the Book of Mormon, that it was written “according to the plainness of the word of God” (Jacob 2:11), and Nephi said, “in plainness, even as plain as a word can be” (2 Nephi 32:7) and that “I glory in plainness” (2 Nephi 33:6) and also “for my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work, for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3).

An ocean or sea is not a lake

The mistake we make is in trying to use a word as it is understood today to understand the word used by Joseph Smith in 1830. When Great Lake Theorists claim the Lake Ontario was the East Sea, and Lake Erie was the West Sea, they are working against the plain and simple language of the Book of Mormon in which a sea has always been part of an ocean.

Nor can we refer to the Hebrew or Jewish use of the word sea in Sea of Galilee, as many Theorists try. First of all, the Sea of Galilee, also called Lake Galilee, Lake of Gennesaret, Lake Kinneret, Lake Kinnereth, Sea of Tiberias or Tiberias Lake is referred to by Luke as the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1). Throughout history it has been known variously as the "Sea of Chinneroth" and "Kinnereth" (Old Testament), "Water of Gennesar" (in accounts of the Hasmonean revolt), the "Lake of Gennesaret" the "Sea of Tiberias" and the familiar "Sea of Galilee" (New Testament), and the "Lake of Gennesareth" (in The Wars of the Jews, Josephus' record of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome). Christian religious texts call it the Lake of Gennesaret, and the name in Arabic is Lake Tabariyya (Lake Tiberias). The Old Testament has no specific word for lake. The Hebrew yam is generally used of oceans and divided bodies of salt water, like the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. The Greek words thalassa and limne are used for lakes, though thalassa in the New Testament is used as a sea in relation to the Mediterranean and Red Seas like the Hebrew yam. Matthew 4:18 was written in Greek as Lake Galilee, but ended up sea in English translations. First century historian Flavius Josephus referred to it as a lake, and today it is appropriately called Lake Kinneret by the International LEC. In the Christian era, the word yam was translated into Greek as Sea, and today in Israel the lake is known by its ancient name—Yam Kinneret. In Hebrew, the word 'yam' means 'sea' and in ancient times it was used to describe both large and small bodies of water. That is why it was translated 'sea' in European languages by those who never saw the lake nor stood on its shores.

The Arabian Sea is a smaller area of the Indian Ocean

Since the word sea even in the Jewish language and record can mean several things, and has been translated mostly as an ocean or portion of an ocean, one cannot rely upon that argument to try and prove Lake Erie and Lake Ontario were the Sea West and Sea East. Taken as a whole, one cannot escape the fact that the word Sea, as Joseph Smith knew it, and the Reformed Egyptian word representing “sea,” were well understood by the spirit who verified to Joseph that the correct word and usage of “sea” as translated refers to a portion of an ocean.