Monday, June 30, 2014

Comments from Readers – Part I

We continue to receive comments, questions and criticisms being sent in from readers of our blog. And since it is our policy to answer all such, here are a few more with our responses.
    Comment #1: “Do you have any idea how long Lehi lived after they reached the Land of Promise, and how long before Nephi left to settle in the city of Nephi?” Kelvin G.
Response: Nothing is directly stated in the scriptural record; however, there is a clue that might suggest a time frame. Upon landing, Nephi writes that the seed they brought from Jerusalem grew exceedingly, providing an abundant crop (1 Nephi 18:24); then after leaving there to found their settlement, eventually called the City of Nephi, they planted and Nephi says: “we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance” (2 Nephi 5:11). Note that he uses the term “we did reap again in abundance.” In this case, the word again must relate to a former occurrence and the only former occurrence mentioned is found after first landing, which might suggest that this was the next crop they planted and harvested. If that is correct, then it could be said that at most, they planted and harvested in one year, and then moved and planted and harvested in that second year. If their crops grew on a shorter time frame, it could be less than two years. Either way, based on this we can suggest that from the time of landing to Lehi’s death would have been within that first year, since planting would have been one of the first things they did. So, if their second crop was the following year in their new home, Lehi would have died before that time (2 Nephi 4:12).
    This might well be borne out by Nephi’s comments about the increasing anger of his brothers toward him (2 Nephi 5:2). With Lehi quite old by the time they landed (1Nephi 18:17-19). After landing, two things are recorded: First: Nephi was commanded to make plates and record a second set (1 Nephi 19:1-5)—which led to extensive discussions in which Nephi taught his brethren (2 Nephi 1:1), and Lehi prophesied to his family (2 Nephi 1:6); and Second Lehi blessed all his family preparatory to his death (2 Nephi 2-4).
    With the assumption that Lehi died soon after these two events, Nephi would not have been safe among his older brothers for any length of time and, as the record states, was told to depart into the wilderness, taking all those who would go with him (2 Nephi 5:5).
    These events suggest a very short time—a year perhaps, two at the most.
    Comment #2: “When Nephi says he taught his people in wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, what exactly did he teach them and how did he know more than they?” Rigby R.
Response: Although there were no factories in Jerusalem during Lehi’s time, there were industries. Most craftsmen worked in their own homes, at such crafts as potters, blacksmiths, bronze smiths, goldsmiths and silversmiths. There were also many stonemasons and carpenters. No doubt, with Lehi’s wealth, he either employed some smiths on his property, or there were those who came by to take care of whatever smith requirements were needed from time to time. Either way, Nephi would have been exposed to such activity, and may well have developed either an interest in, or a skill in, some of these things.
    When Nephi was in Bountiful, the Lord taught him many skills necessary in the building of his ship (1 Nephi 18:1-3)—after all, this ship was not some minor accomplishment like one would build in his garage. It was a ship large enough to hold two very extensive families, children and grandchildren, supplies, food, seeds, tools, and whatever else Lehi brought with him or that Nephi made in Bountiful. It would also have been strong enough and deep-hulled to weather the pounding of deep ocean waves, storms, and strong winds. In building such a ship, Nephi would have needed to know, or at least learn by doing, with the tutelage of the Lord, several crafts, not just carpentry. In fashioning tools, he knew or learned metallurgy; he may well have used metal in some way in constructing the ship, such as joints holding timbers together, etc.
    No doubt, by the time he was in his permanent location after leaving his older brothers, developed further some of those skills. Woodworking, of course, is the skill of a carpenter, and he would have taught those interested in that skill the craft of carpentry—something Nephi would have been very well suited for after building his ship.
He either knew how, or developed the skill of smelting ore and making tools (1 Nephi 17:9, 11), which would have been needed in this new land, especially those for planning and harvesting, building and repairing. Nephi obviously knew to mix copper and zinc ores for brass; adding zinc to iron to make steel; and no doubt knowing some other important ores the Lord had told him about (1 Nephi 18:1-3). To what degree Nephi knew how to do these things we are not told, other than his ability to build a ship, and a temple he compared to that of Solomon—both of these accomplishments stagger the mind. How many of us could do either?
    Probably the gold and silver work was used in decoration, and it seems unlikely it would have been in making jewelry, since building seems to have been Nephi’s main emphasis.
    Comment #3: “I came across this on the internet, and I assume you disagree with it—‘If there had only been one candidate for the River Sidon, Book of Mormon archaeology would probably have progressed much further by now. Because there are supporters for each of these rivers, the efforts have been divided, and hence we are unsure of just where Zarahemla was located. With all our modern technology, we have been almost as confused as Limhi's expedition. M. Wells Jakeman favored the Usumacinta River, whereas John L. Sorenson, head of the BYU Dept. of Anthropology from 1978-1986, favored the Grijalva because the archaeology is better there. He has proposed that the ruins at Santa Rosa were Zarahemla. Most researchers have followed his lead. Garth Norman, however, has maintained all along that the Usumacinta is indeed the correct solution. The one thing on which most researchers agree, is the location of the Land of Desolation, and the area of several destroyed Olmec cities which might have been confused with Zarahemla. The principal candidates seem to be La Venta, San Lorenzo, and Tres Zapotes’.” Sloane.
As seen, both mentioned rivers in Mesoamerica run a compass north and south, but the land runs a compass east and west. Mesoamericanists seem to have difficulty believing their own directional system for the Land of Promise
    Response: It is interesting that there is a debate over two different rivers for the River Sidon, yet in the entire scriptural record, there is not a single mention of another river, let alone a second major river that runs parallel with the River Sidon. At the same time, according to Mesoamericanist theory of west being north and east being south, both the rivers mentioned by Jakeman and Sorenson run to their east, not their north and empty into their East River (Gulf of Mexico). However, it seems when something is running in the right direction (these two rivers actually do run north), they accept that direction in the scriptural record, but when the entire land runs east-west, they reject that and try to tell us the Nephites had a different directional system. As the old adage says, “you can’t have it both ways.”
    As for my disagreement, how could one not disagree with these comments when they are based upon a Mesoamerican model for the Book of Mormon that, despite these strong- and single-minded individuals trying to ram this model down everyone’s throat without a concern for, or any attempt to match, the scriptural record and its descriptions of the Land of Promise? It would not matter whether one chooses Jakesman’s Usumacinta River, or Sorenson’s Grijalva River, Book of Mormon archaeology would not progress in the area of Mesoamerica, since that land runs east and west and the scriptures make it clear that the Land of Promise runs north and south.
    When Joseph Smith announced that he had seen God, the Father, and his son, Jesus Christ, most, if not all, of the religious community were of a different opinion—but it did not make them right. Even if almost everyone believed Mesoamerica to be the Book of Mormon lands, it does not change the fact that Mesoamerica is 90º off-kilter of the Land of Promise (Alma 22:27-34); does not have a narrow neck of land where the sea actually divides the land (Ether 10:20); does not have four seas in the north, south, east, and west (Helaman 3:8); does not have a terminus in the south or in the north and has never been an island (2 Nephi 10:20); does not have two animals that are as useful to man as the elephant that were unknown to Joseph Smith in 1829 (Ether 9:19); does not have two important grains that are on a par with corn, wheat and barley that were unknown to Joseph Smith in 1829 (Mosiah 9:9); does not have walls built “round about their cities” (Alma 48:8) 
Top: The large ancient complex of Teotihuacan (100 BC) in the Valley of Mexico; Bottom: The ancient Maya city of Palenque (200 BC). Note in both cases, neither is surrounded by defensive walls, fortress like defensive positions, etc., and were not called or referred to as fortresses by the conquering Spanish 
    As seen above, Mesoamerican city sites are mostly open and were not built with defensive walls; Mesoamerica also does not have “places of resort,” that is, outpost defensive positions (Alma 48:8). For more differences, see the book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


After a major surgery and nearly three weeks gone in hospital and rehab, our blog will resume tomorrow, Monday, June 30.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Missing the Point in Locating the Land of Promise – Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding how Theorists start out by looking at maps and trying to locate an area that is a Peninsula, has two or three seas around it, and has something that they think will pass for a narrow neck of land, then proclaiming it the location of Lehi’s landing and name it the Land of Promise. In the last post, it ended discussing whether or not the Lamanites would have been literate after the 120 years of savage and brutal wars that wiped out the entire Nephite nation and people (and even if they were literate before that time).
Left: Atilla the Hun, though illiterate, slaughtered Goth tribes in what is now Germany and Austria on his way the conquest of Rome, ruling territories from Germany to the Caspian Sea; Right: Also illiterate, Ashoka the Great killed all his brothers and slaughtered a hundred thousand citizens on his way to ruling India Pakistan Nepal and Afghanistan
   So, let’s be realistic about this—the more vicious the person, the less inclined they are to intellectual pursuits. And by the time of the final Lamanite wars, there is no evidence that the Lamanites themselves were literate, and certainly after the length of time of their long civil wars. As Moroni stated after the fall of Cumorah and all the Nephites had been destroyed (Mormon 8:7): “the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8), and nearly forty years later, added, “their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves” (Moroni 1:2)  421 A.D.
    One might ask Sorenson how he thinks any books were written, copied, read, etc., by the Lamanites during and after this violent and bloodthirsty time. And as stated in the last post, even the Mulekites, in less than 400 years, lost their original language altogether and were not literate, though they sprang form the royal house of Judah. 
    Now we come to the interesting part. What makes anyone think that any Nephite writings survived this period? Mormon tells us that he “began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni” (Mormon 6:6).
    Moroni tells us that after Cumorah, the Lamanites hunted down all the Nephites who escaped the battle and killed them all (Mormon 8:2). It cannot be over-emphasized that the Lamanites were “hell bent on” destroying all the Nephites, everything Nephite, “because of their hatred” (Moroni 1:2). In fact, the Lamanites had a history of their hatred toward the Nephites (Alma 26:9), and anyone who disagreed with them, even their own people (Alma 43:11), and took up arms against them (Alma 24:2), especially savage in their hatred were those Nephite defectors who became Lamanites (Alma 43:7).
Obviously, this hatred, which constantly degenerated into bloodshed, was directed at the Nephites, but also anyone who worshipped God, and all such “knew that if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites, that whosoever should worship God in spirit and in truth, the true and the living God, the Lamanites would destroy” (Alma 43:10). By the time of the final wars that culminated in the battle at Cumorah in 385 A.D., the Lamanites were so depraved and steeped in bloodthirsty wantonness, that the Lord warned Mormon that any records the Lamanites found would be destroyed. So Mormon, commanded of the Lord, buried all the Nephites records in his possession.
    So again, one might ask Sorenson, why he thinks any books written by the Nephites would have survived that final purge? In fact, who could even imagine that the Lamanites would want to preserve any written records, codices, books, et al, that the Nephites possessed?
    Perhaps these two examples might suffice.
Spanish priests burned thousands of Maya codices or books in the 15th and 16th centuries
    1) Sorenson’s own writing tells us that the Spanish conquistadors burned thousands of Maya books. Actually, it was their priests, namely the Bishop (and Inquisitor) of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Yucatan, Franciscan Friar Diego de Landa, who ordered in 1562 the burning of 5000 Maya cult images and 27 hieroglyphic scrolls, who said, “We found a large number of books in these characters and, as they contained nothing in which were not to be seen as superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all.”
    These codices were primary written records of Maya civilization, and it is claimed “their range of subject matter in all likelihood embraced more topics than those recorded in stone and buildings, and was more like what is found on painted ceramics.” Alonso de Zorita wrote that in 1540 he saw numerous such books in the Guatemalan highlands that “...recorded their history for more than eight hundred years back, and that were interpreted for me by very ancient Indians.”
    Only three codices survived this holocaust, approximately 208 pages (the authenticity of a fourth, the Grolier Codex, fragments of 11 pages, is disputed).
In 1933, students giving Nazi salutes and singing anthems from several universities gathered in Berlin and burned 20,000 books deemed unGerman
    2) When Adolf Hitler gained control of Germany, a large number of students from several universities gathered in Berlin, along with Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and protected by brown-shirted storm troopers, burned 20,000 books on the Opera Square. As Goebbels proclaimed watching the bonfire, “And  thus you do well in this midnight hour to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past.”
    In both cases, the important books and records of past generations were destroyed by fanatical zealots proclaiming the destruction of evil. This is so similar to the fanatical nature of the Lamanites at the time of their final victories, that one cannot imagine anything Nephite surviving. In fact, we are told that during Mormon’s rapid retreat, trying to save as many civilian Nephites as possible “that whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns, and villages, and cities were burned with fire” (Mormon 5:5—emphasis mine).
    It is simply not realistic to think that any books or writings survived this Lamanite holocaust that destroyed everthing in its path, including people, buildings, towns and cities. It is simply not realistic to think that the Lamanites, seething with this thousand-year hatred would want, let along keep, anything Nephite, especially books. While we know the Nephites had books (Helaman 3:15), which contained their proceedings and history (Helaman 3:13-14), what Mormon didn't bury (and there are reports of early Church leaders seeing wagon loads of them hidden in Cumorah) would not have been preserved by the Lamanites.
    Another example of Theorists picking an area rather than the scriptural reference, is seen in the Great Lakes Theorists whose chief claim to location is based upon the Hill Cumorah in Western (upstate) New York. Nothing else in the entire area fits any description of the scriptural record, yet they hold to that location as though it has been sacredly revealed to them.
    Still another area is Baja California, chosen because it is a peninsula, yet, there is no suggestion in the scriptural record that the Land of Promise was a peninsula. It was an island (2 Nephi 10:20), and while the Land Southward was nearly surrounded by water, it had a narrow neck of land connecting it to the Land Northward, which had a sea to the east (Ether 9:3; 14:13), a sea to the north (Ether 15:8), and a sea to the west (Ether 10:20), and basically seas in every direction (Helaman 3:8),which pretty well confirms Jacob's statement of the Land of Promise being an island (2 Nephi 10:20).
The point is, as has been stated in the last post, and here innumerable times before, the only—and we mean only—criteria for locating the Land of Promise, and that is that it must match all—and we mean all—of the descriptions written about in the scriptural record first, and foremost. Other criteria can be used, but it is the scriptural record that is where we start, pursue and end our search. Twenty-seven of these scripturaly-documented criteria were covered in some degree during our posts: “So Where is the Land of Promise?” Parts 1 thru 12, posted between December 26, 2013 and January 7, 2014. All the others can be found in our book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica. And every one of these criteria is found in Andean Peru as is outlined in that book!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Missing the Point in Locating the Land of Promise – Part I

Land of Promise Theorists seem to miss the point in trying to locate an area where Lehi landed and the Jaredite and Nephite nations existed. For some reason, they look at maps and try to locate an area that is a Peninsula, has two or three seas around it, and has something that they think will pass for a narrow neck of land. Once they locate such a place, they proclaim it the location of Lehi’s landing and name it the Land of Promise. They then set about trying to prove it with rhetoric sometimes based upon the scriptural record, and sometime based upon their wishful thinking, and sometimes based upon a statement a Church leader once made.
The fact of the matter is, as has been written about here in these posts for the past four years, is that the only—and we mean only—criteria for locating the Land of Promise is that it must match all—and we mean all—of the descriptions written about in the scriptural record first, and foremost. Other criteria can be used—but only as backup and support for the descriptions Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, and Ether (through Moroni), wrote about and recorded.
    As simple and logical as that sounds, it is amazing how many Theorists, some well credentialed in academia, pay little attention to anything but their own very biased pet theory. And if the scriptural description does not match it, they try desperately, and sometimes quite involved, complicated and always convoluted, to make it fit. The most bizarre is that of John L. Sorenson and his claim that the Nephites, and thus those who recorded the scriptural record, did not understand north, south, east and west in the same manner as we do today. Thus enabling him to use Mesoamerica, a basic east-west land mass as the Land of Promise, which Mormon described many times as a north-south land.
Another interesting theory is that the Land of Promise was a peninsula, i.e., “a piece of land almost surrounded by water projecting out into a body of water. This brings to mind Florida, Baja California, or the area of Boston, Massachusetts. While this seems to be the opinion of many Theorists, Jacob describes the Land of Promise quite differently: “we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea”  (2 Nephi 10:20).
    Now, an “isle” is a word in Joseph Smith’s time that was used as we use “island” today. In fact, Noah Webster, in his 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, tells us that “island” in his day “is an absurd compound of isle and land, that is, land-in-water land, or ieland-land. There is no such legitimate word in English.“ The word then used was “isle,” which is “A tract of land surrounded by water, or a detached portion of land embosomed in the ocean.”
To support Jacob’s statement, Helaman added, “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). An isle (island) of course is surrounded by water (shown in the example left), and anciently, that water (ocean) would have been described by directions rather than names. Thus, the sea to the north of the island was the Sea North; the sea to the south of the island was the Sea South; the sea to the east of the island was the Sea East, and the sea to the west of the island was the Sea West.
    It is also interesting and should be duly noted that the words “isthmus” and “peninsula,” both words known to Joseph Smith, were not used in the description—just “isle.”
    In any event, while those scriptural-based criteria—all of them—have been written about in this blog over the years, no other Theorist has tried to use all of the descriptions and information the above four writers of the record have given us.
    As an example, John L. Sorenson insists that the location of the Land of Promise “must have evidence of an ancient civilization during Nephite times that had a written record.” However, at the same time he ignores other hard criteria such as:
1. No evidence of iron and metal working (2 Nephi 5:15, Jarom 1:8; Mosiah 11:3,8; Helaman 6:9; Ether 10:23);
2) No two unknown animals (Ether 9:19); 
3) No two unknown grains (Mosiah 9:9);
4) No herb to cure deadly fever (Alma 46:40); 
5) No climate where seeds from Jerusalem (a Mediterranean Climate) would grow exceedingly and provide an abundant crop (1 Nephi 18:24; 2 Nephi 5:11);
6) No island as in Nephi’s time (2 Nephi 10:20);
7) No four seas (Helaman 3:8);
8) No sea that divides the land (Ether 10:20);
9) No forts and resorts (Alma 48:5,8; 49:13,18; 52:6).
Sorenson’s Mesoamerica, turning Mormon’s clearly written descriptions of a north-south (Alma 22:27-34) Land  of Promise on its side so it reflects Mesoamerica, an east-to-west land 
    Yet, despite this very unarguable fact of the difference in cardinal directions, Sorenson writes in a very self-serving manner regarding his theory of Mesoamerica: “In addition to the cultural criteria, only in that area can all of the geographical requirements be met” (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: Vol 12, Iss 1). He has also written: “Ingenious and impassioned arguments have been mustered in support of other theorized areas (from the Great Lakes to Peru or encompassing the entire hemisphere) as the scene for Nephite history. But every proposed geographical setting other than Mesoamerica fails to meet the criteria established by the text of Mormon's account.”
    One can only wonder how his Mesoamerica can get around just those above nine scriptural descriptions without even a comment, yet still smugly proclaim his model the only one that fits all the criteria.
    He goes on to say, "For example, only in Mesoamerica are there lands of appropriate scale (that is, several hundreds, but not thousands, of miles in extent) that can appropriately be said to be "nearly surrounded by water" (Alma 22:32), as well as an isthmus bounded by Pacific and Atlantic waters." In reality, it is difficult to say that Mesoamerica can be described as nearly surrounded by water when it extends far to the south and far to the north and is never surrounded by water. An isthmus is never described as nearly surrounded by water, like a peninsula could be; but neither are surrounded by water as is an island.
    Another interesting comment by Sorenson is: “That the inhabitants of Book of Mormon lands knew and used formal writing systems and compiled numerous books (see Helaman 3:15) restricts the possible real-world location to Mesoamerica (central and southern Mexico and northern Central America). In Mesoamerica there were thousands of books in use at the time of the Spanish Conquest, but nowhere else in the Western Hemisphere is there convincing evidence for genuine writing being used on a consistent basis. In addition to writing, other social and cultural conditions required by the scriptural text to be present in the Nephite homeland area confirm Mesoamerica as the only plausible location of Book of Mormon lands.”
Yet, at the same time, he fails to mention that these works were far more modern than Nephite times, and written by people, if Mesoamerica was indeed the Land of Promise, that would have been Lamanite descendants. When the Spanish arrived, it is claimed the Maya had thousands of books, which the conquistadors burned or destroyed around 1523—only four books or codices survive. For these books to have been written by Nephites, they would have had to be at least over 1138 years old—but more likely date to a period before the final series of Lamanite-Nephite wars, or to around 300 A.D. or earlier, over 1250 years old!
    Naturally, it could be claimed that these were copies of copies—that is, copied by the Lamanite survivors; however, one small but extremely important factor seems to be ignored in such a scenario. Except for the time Amulon taught the Lamanites to be literate (Mosiah 24:4), they could neither read nor write even among themselves. That they learned to do so in more congenial times around 130 B.C. (24:6-7), it is not likely that after some 500 years this warring people, with no recorded history of building, repairing, creating, planting or growing, would have a need for such matters, especially by the time they entered into such debauchery as sacrificing women and children prisoners before idols (Mormon 4:14, 21).
    So savage and bloodthirsty were their acts that Mormon did not even want to write about them (Mormon 5:8) and “daring not to give a full account” of what he did write (Mormon 5:9), it might be suggested that such a people do not hold much interest in book learning or writing. Obviously, it seems doubtful that after some 120 years of such brutal and violent natures, that the last generation or next ones, would be interested in, let alone capable of, copying or even reading books.
    Even the Mulekites, in less than 400 years, lost their original language altogether and were not literate, though they sprang from the royal house of Judah. What of the Lamanites who, for nearly a thousand years had lived such lives and never been known, at any time they were called Lamanites, to have accomplished anything noteworthy. Even what cities they lived in were either captured from the Nephites (Mosiah 7:21), or were built by Nephite defectors (Alma 21:4). And once Lamanites became converted, they recounted the name Lamanite (Alma 23:17).
(See the next post, “Missing the Point in Locating the Land of Promise – Part II,” to see why the Lamanites would not have been inclined to keep books, Nephite-written or otherwise, and how fallacious it is to claim that Maya books destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors are evidence of a Nephite location because of a literacy in that area)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

There Shall be no Kings Upon the Land

One of the areas we need to be careful about in reading the scriptural record or other statements about the Land of Promise is in understanding what is being said and why. Sometimes people hold a strict interpretation when it is obviously not stated as such, and other times too loose an interpretation when no leeway is intended. 
As an example, “And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12).
    In this passage, a specific man is suggested, not just “a man,” for the “the spirit wrought upon the man.”
    Thus, we can look to learning who that man was that Nephi saw.
    In another example, “And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles” (2 Nephi 10:11).
    In this case, the looser interpretation is in the term “no king,” and the stricter interpretation is in the word “upon.”
    Another example is Moroni’s words to Joseph Smith: “"When I first looked upon him I was afraid, but the fear soon left me. He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni. That God has a work for me to do... He said there was a book deposited written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang."
    In this case, people interpret the term “this continent,” by today’s standards, i.e., North America; however, as has been stated here many times, in the day of Joseph Smith and as late as World War II, the term continent referred to the single American Continent—there were not two continents (North America Continent or South America Continent).
    This is being brought up because we have received numerous inquiries regarding the passage about “no kings” and its meaning. As an example, one reader wrote in recently and stated: “The Book of Mormon states several times that the land which they were led to, was the Promised Land, or a Choice Land. According to the Book of Mormon, the Promised Land shall be a Land of Liberty, with no kings upon the land, and be discovered by a Gentile whom the Spirit of God wrought, to cross ‘many waters’ in order to find. Now, the Gentile who discovered the Americas is generally thought to be Christopher Columbus. In the 1879 Book of Mormon, Orson Pratt added the footnote to 1 Nephi 13:12 which named this gentile as Christopher Columbus. How then do you feel these references are not about the United States as the Land of Promise?”
Columbus landing on Watling Island in the Bahamas, which he claimed for Spain
    Many members and people seem to think that Columbus discovered the area now known as the United States. He did not—he explored areas that are now the Bahamas, Cuba and Haiti, as well as setting foot on Central America and South America on the Paria Peninsula in present-day Venezuela. On the other hand, North America was first discovered by Leif Erickson in the 11th century, and both John and Sebastian Cabot discovered New Foundland (Canada) in 1497, but neither entered what is today U.S. territory. The first person to sail to what is now the U.S. was the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de'Leon, who was with Columbus on his second expedition in 1493, settled on Hispaniola (Dominican Republic), later discovered Puerto Rico (1506), and in 1513, discovered Florida—the first man to actually discover and set foot on what is now the area of the United States. He explored what is now southeast Georgia and Florida, and in 1521 tried to set up a farming colony of 200 people in Florida, though the Calusa Indians attacked them and the colonists fled to Cuba where de Leon died of his wounds.
    Does that make the scripture wrong? No. Not to those who understand that the vision Nephi was given related to what we now call North and South America—or the Western Hemisphere--this continent.
    As for a land of liberty, since the early part of the 19th century, all of North and South America and almost all of the islands in proximity to it, would be considered lands of liberty, though there are sharp differences in degrees of economic freedom. Liberty, of course, is “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views.” It is the state where a person can enjoy the freedom to pursue their own interests, and to control their own actions; where one can believe as they choose, and act upon those beliefs without infringing upon another’s beliefs and freedoms. Certainly, in this era, such as been achieved throughout almost all of the Americas—it is the economic successes and failures of various countries within the Western Hemisphere that separates one country from another.
    Now, as for kings, the scripture reads: “There shall be no kings upon the land” (2 Nephi 10:11, emphasis mine). There has never been a reigning king upon the lands of North and South America—over them, but not upon them, unless you count native Americans, such as the Four Mohawk Kings, who were three chiefs of the Iroquois Confederacy and a Mahican of the Algonquian peoples in the early 18th century.
The Four Kings. LtoR: Etow Oh Koam (Mohican), Sa Ga Yeath Qua Pieth Tow (King of Maguas), Ho Nee Yeath Taw No Row (King Canajoharie and Tee Yee Ho Ga Row (King Hendrick), who visited Queen Anne in England in 1710
    One might also make an exception for Hawaii, who was ruled over by Queen Liliuokalani, who was upon the land. But it is doubtful that one would count James Jesse Strang, who reigned as the crowned king of an ecclesiastical monarchy upon Beaver Islands in Michigan over 12,000 people.
    On the other hand, King George III was king over what is now the United States; Canada has always had a king/queen, thought it actually rules itself; Spain ruled much of South America. In fact, even today there are thirteen monarchies in the Americas, i.e., self-governing states and territories in North and South America where supreme power resides with an individual, who is recognized as the head of state. Each is a constitutional monarch, where the sovereign inherits his or her office, usually keeps it until death or abdication, and is bound by laws and customs in the exercise of their powers.
    Ten of these monarchies are independent states, and equally share Queen Elizabeth II, who resides in the United Kingdom, as their respective sovereign, making them part of a global grouping known as the Commonwealth of realms: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize,Canada,Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
    The remaining three are dependencies of European monarchies. As such, none of the monarchies in the Americas has a resident monarch.
Left: King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands; Center: Governor Colin Richards; Right: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
    Aruba, Curacao and Saint Maarten are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and thus have King Willem-Alexander as their sovereign, as well as the remaining islands forming the Caribbean Netherlands. In addition, there is Greenland as a constituent country under the monarchy of Denmark, with Queen Margrethe II as the reigning sovereign. And lastly, the Falklands Islands off the coast of Argentina, under the control of Great Britain, whose monarchy is represented by Colin Roberts, the Governor of the Falklands Islands, and the Commissioner for South Georgia and the Souht Sandwich Islands.
    Again, the question is, does this make the scripture wrong? No. Not when we understand that the comment is directed to the general overall understanding that this Western Hemisphere, i.e., North and South America, were to be kept free of the type of kings and dictators that ruled the Old World from the beginning. Unlike that world, where people were born into a station from which they could generally never escape; they were also subject to sovereign whose whim could dictate, change and even end their lives. This type of living eventually was eliminated in most of the Western Hemisphere, where countries are, by comparison, far more free  than those of the Old World.
    The point is, the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon is never wrong—people’s misinterpretations and misunderstandings may make it seem so. It is imperative that we read the scriptural record in the way intended, understanding what words mean and especially what they meant in the time of Joseph Smith whose translation we read.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lehi Was Brought to the Land of Promise Through Natural Means

To those who might feel we have been beating a dead horse on our continuing comments about the eastern rivers, the inland water way system and the Great Lakes, I have found over the years that no matter how many facts are presented to Great Lakes Theorists to show how their theory is in total conflict with the scriptural record, they keep throwing out alternate avenues they consider possible answers. So in this extended, and repetitive series, began five posts ago, we are providing unarguable answers to show those die-hard Theorists that Lehi could not have reached their area of the Land of Promise by ship as they claim.
As an example, after a lengthy discussion with one Great Lakes Theorist in which he went over all his approaches to the Great Lakes and I showed where the facts of winds, currents, river depth, rapids, falls, etc., would keep Lehi’s ship “driven forth before the wind” from negotiating, he calmly replied, “Then the Lord simply picked up his ship and set it down on Lake Erie.”
    Obviously, the Lord could have done that; however, the truth of the matter is that such an act has never been recorded in the scriptural record or anything near it.
    It is just as obviously that the Lord could have removed the walls of Jericho with a simple act, but he had Israel march around the city not once, but seven times, then blow trumpets and give a loud shout. The Saints could have been picked up in Nauvoo and set down in the Salt Lake Valley, but they trudged over 1250 very difficult miles that took many lives in the process.
    When the Lord leads people from one place to another, he has always done so by means of natural laws and involved the people in the process: “for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:17).
The way the Lord prepared for Lehi to reach the Land of Promise was to show Nephi how to build a ship that could withstand deep-ocean pounding of waves and weather--something that was unknown at the time--and for him to take the sea currents and winds that would bring him to the landing site--something else that was unknown at the time. He provided Nephi with the Liahona so they could follow its directions--since compasses of any kind were unknown at the time.
    The trouble is, man, with is limited knowledge and understanding, often tries to determine what the Lord did, but seldom seems to grasp the method, means, or import of the process. Lehi did not go to sleep one night along the Arabian coast and wake up the next morning in the Land of Promise. Nor did he board Nephi’s ship and sail where the winds and currents did not go. It was not “climb aboard and let the Lord do all the work.” This has never been the Lord’s method.
    “And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led” (1 Nephi 17:13). The Lord commanded Nephi to build a ship (1 Nephi 17:49). The lord showed him how to [make] timbers of curious workmanship” (1 Nephi 18:1), and not to build a ship “after the manner of men” but he built it “after the manner which the Lord had shown” (1 Nephi 18:2). And in this process, Nephi went to the mount often and prayed often, and the “Lord showed unto [him] great things” (1 Nephi 18:3).
Since the issue at hand during this time was getting to the Land of Promise and in the building of a ship, it is likely that these “great things” were related to that task. The Lord told him, “Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters” (1 Nephi 17:8). In a similar comment much earlier in history, the Lord told the Brother of Jared much the same thing, then added, “And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come” (Ether 2:25).
    Whether the Lord said something like this to Nephi, we are not told, but certainly he and especially his doubting brothers, looked out from the coast where they camped at Bountiful and across the Irreantum Sea, and were struck with the task before them—that is, building a ship that could carry them across the “great waters” they saw. Obviously, they scoffed and were doubtful (1 Nephi 17:17), and one can only wonder what their wives, now mothers of children, thought looking out into this great ocean and wondering to their safety and fate.
    It seems Nephi was especially aware that the types of boats and ships he had seen on his journey from Jerusalem down along the Red Sea could not possibly carry them safely out into and across these great waters, for he continually tells us that he did not build his ship “after the manner of men,” but along a pattern the Lord showed him.
    So Nephi bent to the task and, reluctantly, his wayward brothers and the sons of Ishmael assisted. We are not told how they built the ship other than it was not after the manner of men, but according to the Lord’s plan and directions. But it was obviously a sea-worthy vessel the Lord showed Nephi how to build, far more advanced than anything known at the time. Evidently, the women made sails, since the ship was “wind driven” (1 Nephi 18:8-9), and it also had some type of oar-rudder system, for it could be steered (1 Nephi 18:13).
In fact, in recent years, the shape of the sail and the hull of the boat (left) are the major factors that have allowed sailboats to more closely approach the ability of sailing upwind. While the Lord knows how to build any kind of ship he chooses, it is doubtful that Nephi’s ship could be guided by tacking (moving the yards so the sails could catch cross winds), simply because those involved were not seamen and knew nothing about such matters and under normal circumstances would take a long time "before the mast" to acquire such abilities. This is why in the early years of sailing ships (12th thru 15th centuries), the European ships had a square sail design, which only allowed for sailing with a favorable wind (“before the wind, or wind on the quarter”—what Nephi describes as “driven forth before the wind”), and “were dead in the water without a favorable wind.”
    Thus we might conclude that, as Nephi tells us, in his being driven forth before the wind, his vessel required a favorable wind to move the ship forward. Nor could the ship have had much success sailing into a current, since the speed of the current can offset the speed of the wind, thus causing limited or negative forward movement.
    Ether tells us the Jaredite barges, which had no sails, were driven by the force of the current, which was driven by the force of the wind: ”And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind” (Ether 6:5). Now since the Lord operates through normal and natural principles (known to him, but not always to us), we need to know where those winds blow—which today is a well-known understanding of the principles of winds and their directions. In Ether’s day, there would have been very little or no understanding of such matters, and his description “for the winds have gone forth out of my [Lord’s] mouth” (Ether 2:24) is an apt description, but can be misunderstood by unknowing readers.
In the past 100 years, the winds and sea currents of the Earth have been well mapped and understood; before that time, various sea captains and pilots knew certain areas, but little of the overall planet
In the following verse, the Lord further states: “And the winds which have gone forth” (Ether 2:25), is a little more clear that these winds are not fickle, nor subject to capricious changes, but are constant in their known patterns and have, in our age, been clearly understood and mapped so that every sea captain, pilot and master is well aware of their direction, general force, and strength.
    When Nephi had been sailing his ship “for the space of many days” after leaving Bountiful, he spoke sharply to his partying brothers who became angry and tied him up, thus causing their compass (Liahona) to stop working (1 Nephi 18:10-12). This resulted in the unskilled brothers Laban and Lemuel to allow the ship to move into an area of the current and winds that took them into a “great storm” that threatened during the following four days to swamp and capsize their ship (1 Nephi 18:20). When Nephi was finally freed, the compass began working again and showed him where to steer the vessel into calmer waters and to where the storm abated (1 Nephi 18:21).
    This event suggests several things, among them that the winds and currents were constant and known (to the Lord) and the directions of the Liahona showed Nephi where to steer his ship to regain control and send the vessel back on course and toward the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 18:22).
All of this should show each of us that not only is the Lord in charge, but that he uses known and natural means to bring about his purposes. Lehi sailed along winds and currents to the Land of Promise. Such winds and currents are found in the seas (oceans), but not up rivers. To be “driven forth before the wind” requires winds and currents to be moving in the direction the ship wants to go on its course to the Land of Promise. As stated, this would not include sailing up rivers, nor in opposition to the winds and sea currents, but only in the direction the winds and currents moved. Thus, they set forth into the sea, crossed the sea, and landed on the coast of the sea—otherwise, Nephi’s statements would not be accurate and make little sense.
    As Jacob said, “for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20). Lehi crossed the great sea, Irreantum, and landed upon the shores of that sea, upon an island, and there they set up camp and lived until Nephi was told to flee with those who would follow him (2 Nephi 5:5). Mormon verifies this coastal landing and settlement when he described the land “on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28).
    They sailed up no river. They never trekked hundreds of miles inland to settle. They remained on the seashore, where they landed, after crossing the great sea from Bountiful.
    This should be and must be the beginning of any Land of Promise location of any theory.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

When is a theory not a theory? – Part IV

Continuing with the Theory that the Great Lakes area is the Land of Promise and the question, “If Lehi landed in that area, how did he get there?” To which Great Lakes Theorists glibly answer that he went up a river from the ocean and into the Eastern waterway system toward the Great Lakes and finally walked the final short distance.
    In the previous posts, we showed once again that the St. Lawrence and Mississippi rivers were not the avenue Lehi could have taken with his deep-sea vessel that Nephi built as these Theorists claim. We have also shown that he could not have sailed up the largest eastern river, the Susquehanna, nor another eastern major river the Potomac. In this post, we will look at other possibilities of sailing along the inland waterway system of the Eastern U.S. to show there is no possibility that Lehi sailed from the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes
The Santee River Watershed in the Carolinas, far from Lake Erie, even at its headwaters 
    1. Santee River is the second largest river on the eastern coast, is 143 miles long, with its tributaries providing the principal drainage for the coastal areas of southeastern South Carolina and navigation for the central coastal plain. The river empties into the Atlantic Ocean approximately 440 miles from its farthest headwater on the Catawba River in North Carolina—a point 437 miles from Lake Erie.
    It was originally called the Jordan River by the Spaniards, who discovered it in 1526. In 1793, the 22-mile long Santee Canal was dug to link the river to the Cooper, a tidal river in South Carolina, to allow for transportation upcountry from the coast. The Santee’s depth “varies from a few inches deep to a bout 9 feet deep,” and much of the Old Santee River is only “accessible to serious paddlers.”
2. The Delaware River is the longest non-dammed river in the United States east of the Mississippi. Descending from the Catskill Mountains, it extends 388 miles in a north to south direction from the confluence of its East and West branches at Hancock, New York—345 miles from Lake Erie—to the mouth at the Delaware Bay, when it meets the Atlantic Ocean 31 miles further near Cape May. Where it passes East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, the river is 328 miles from Lake Erie. With no dams or impediments on the river's main stem, the Delaware is one of the few remaining large free-flowing rivers in the United States. 
    However, as early as 1771, the Delaware River needed to be deeper to allow shipping to reach Philadelphia on the upper river. In the "project of 1885," a 26-foot deep channel, 600 feet wide, was dug along the shallow Delaware River from Philadelphia to deep water in the Delaware Bay, and the River and Harbor Act of 1899 provided for the channel to be 30-foot deep. In addition, canals were also dug at Trenton and Bulls Island, as well as the Morris Canal to the Hudson River and later the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal was completed. All of this opened up the Delaware River to handle ocean-going vessels that earlier it was unable to do. 
Top and Bottom: The Delaware River above Trenton. Note how shallow and clogged with rock, sand bars, and shoals it is, making any ship passing impossible
Above: Top: Skinners Falls; Bottom: The Shallow Trenton Falls. Note again how impossible for shipping to pass upriver through these areas
Above: Staircase Rapids on the Upper Delaware River. No sailing ship could pass through here
    According to Delaware River officials, one rapids area used by tubers, a 5 to 6 mile stretch of the Delaware River, has a depth between 2 and 4 feet, in a few places it can be 6 to 8 feet—certainly too shallow for any sailing vessel.
    It should be kept in mind that from the mouth of the river to a distance of 134 miles, the river is navigable, but there to Wells Falls is another matter, and these falls are “the most severe rapids on the Delaware.” In fact, in 1834, New Jersey commissioned E.A. Douglas, an engineer, to investigate the Wells Falls and, in part, his report stated: “..the most dangerous part of the falls” where “rocks crowd the channel.”
    Besides the Trenton Falls and Wells Falls, along the Delaware, there are numerous other rapids, such as the Skinners Rapids, Falls of the Delaware, along with rifts and rapids including Ten Mile, Shohola, and Mongaup, with the entire Upper Delaware known as Whitewater Haven.
Top: The shallow Delaware River at Hawk’s Nest, New York, 343 Miles from Lake Erie; Bottom: The “Falls of the Delaware” passing near Trenton, New Jersey
    In addition, some might consider that the Lehigh River (branch of the Delaware) would extend the length of the Delaware, since it rises from its mouth at Easton, Pennsylvania, to a point at Bear Creek, and is 304 miles from Lake Erie. However, a 46 ½-mile long canal was dug in 1819 from Easton upriver to Mauch Chunk (Jim Thorpe), which included eight dams and guardlocks, to make navigation and shipping of coal possible, which opened up the Lehigh River.
3. Hudson River (North River/Muhheakantuck) is 325-miles long (275 miles beyond the East River), flowing southward from Henderson Lake—392 miles from Lake Erie—in the Adirondack Mountains, through eastern New York to emptying into Upper New York Bay and later the Atlantic Ocean. The Lower Hudson is actually a tidal estuary, which extends as far as Troy, New York (north of Albany and 152 miles from the river mouth), with strong tides that make it difficult and dangerous even today to navigate.
    The Mohawk, a tributary of the Hudson, is a southern branch near Albany and moves westerly for 149 miles. At its mouth at Cohoes, New York, it is 392 miles from Lake Erie and 229 miles from Lake Ontario (a ship on Lake Ontario would have to sail up the Niagara River and get up and over Niagara Falls to reach Lake Erie—a climb in elevation of 325 feet in 35 miles, more than nine feet per mile. Stated differently, that would be sailing against a current dropping nine feet per mile).
    The Mohawk today is connected to the Great Lakes via the Erie Canal at its upper length, with numerous barge locks that connect the Hudson to the lakes. At its lower length, five permanent dams and nine others are needed to provide sufficient depth for boats.
Cohoes Falls near the eastern end of the Mohawk River in Cohoes New York. To sail up the Mohawk from the Hudson, a ship would have to climb over these Falls 
    There are 19 islands in the Hudson River through the New York and New Jersey length, with the depth today of 43 feet in the lower channel and a Federally mandated depth of 32 feet to Albany. However, it is important to keep in mind that Troy Lock and Dam, 134 miles above the Battery, permits vessels to pass from tidewater to the upper river and the New York State Canal System. Before that time, a sailing ship would have found it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to progress past this point. The river to Troy flows both upriver and downriver, according to the tides, but at Troy, the tidewater runs into the southward (downriver) flow of the river. Where the river has not been channeled, deepened, dredged and a depth maintained, depths as low as 7 feet are reported, with the depth at Nyack, New York Federally mandated at 10 to 12 feet, and at Mile 24, mandated for depths of 12 feet, though in places it is only 10 feet, suggesting that without such intervention, the upper river between Manhattan and Albany was originally much shallower.
    Colonel John G.D. Knight, of the Corps of in Engineers, specified in 1907-8 report found in the U.S. Congressional [Record] Serial Set, that a channel in this area of upper Hudson had to be deep enough to accommodate schooners and barges, and to maintain a depth of 12 feet (for commercial traffic), as much as five feet would have to be dredged (a minimum depth at the time showed 8.6 feet (7 feet in places), which was considered acceptable at the time because the river steamboats drew only five to six feet). He also noted that the river was as low as five feet in some areas. In another 1908 report in the Congressional Record of the Engineers, it is stated that the low water level of the Hudson in the area of Nyack is at 8.6 feet, but also mentioned that depths at Piermont were shallow and to maintain the required depth would take “frequent operations at considerable expense.”
    Once again, if you are going to postulate a theory, it has to agree with all of the facts involved. Nothing less should be acceptable when postulating about the Book of Mormon. And for the Great Lakes and Heartland theorists, you simply cannot sail up a river that is not navigable to reach an area you claim to be the Land of Promise.
    And this brings as back to the point about theories.
    A theory is no longer a theory when it can be shown that there is no way for the theory to have happened. Wishful thinking does not equate to a legitimate theory, nor does ignoring the facts involved. Nephi told us how he got to the Land of Promise and what he found on it—at the location he landed. Mormon gave us numerous descriptions of the Land of Promise and told us much about it, as well as the place of Lehi's landing, which he called "their land of First Inheritance." Ether, through Moroni, supported Mormon’s descriptions and added more.
    Taken as a whole, the scriptural record cannot be used as the basis of a theory, when that theory flies in the face of the record, and is unsupportable by the facts involved in the theory itself. You simply cannot pick the Lehi Colony up along the Arabian Peninsula and place them down wherever you want. Nor can you claim they sailed here or there when the facts of sailing—winds and currents—do not support that and, in fact, make it impossible.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When is a theory not a theory? – Part III

Continuing with the Theory that the Great Lakes area is the Land of Promise and the question, "If Lehi landed in that area, how did he get there?" In the first two posts, we showed once again that the St. Lawrence and Mississippi rivers were not the avenue Lehi could have taken with his deep-sea vessel that Nephi built as some Theorists claim, and also he could not have sailed up the largest eastern sea, the Susquehanna. In this post, we will look at other possibilities of sailing along the inland waterway system of the Eastern U.S. as other Theorists claim.
Red Arrow: Mouth of the Potomac River; Yellow Arrow: Chesapeake Bay; Green Arrow: Washington D.C.; Orange Arrow: Great Falls (series of rapids); Blue Arrow: Shenandoah River
    Another large eastern river is the Potomac, whose mouth also empties into the Chesapeake Bay. The Potomac is the 4th largest river along the Atlantic coast, is 405 miles long (including the main stem and North Branch), and beyond Washington D.C. is quite shallow. From the mouth of the Potomac River, where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay to Hains Point in southwest Washington D.C. (near the Jefferson Memorial), a distance of about 103 miles, the river is 48 feet deep, but from there further upriver, the depth drops dramatically.
    As an example, the normal water level at Little Falls, just upriver from Washington is 2.9 feet; it is 0.7 feet at Point of Rocks, 1.7 feet at Shepherdstown, 2.5 feet at Hancock, and 3.0 feet at Paw Paw. In addition, from Bear Island to Olmsted Island the river is strewn with large and small islands and narrow channels that are extremely shallow and full of rocks, creating several falls, or rapids, where only canoes and kayaks can negotiate. In fact, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources issues bulletins when it is not even safe on the river in a kayak except for very experienced individuals and teams.
Aerial views of obstructions on the Potomac River. Top Left: Turkey Island; Top Right: Great Falls; Bottom Left: Little Falls; Bottom Right: Stubblefield Falls. All of these areas are within 10-15 miles of Washington D.C., about 115 miles from the mouth of the Potomac River
    From the Atlantic Ocean into Chesapeake Bay, which has an average depth of 21 feet (200 feet in some isolated areas, though a 6’ tall person could wade through more than 700,000 acres of the Bay and never get their hat wet), to Washington D.C., deep-sea sailing ships and ocean-going vessels have always been able to navigate. However, because of numerous rapids, falls and shallow depths, the Potomac above Washington has always been unnavigable.
    As an example, according to National Weather Service, the Potomac at Harper’s Ferry and the confluence with the Shenandoah River, 62 miles upriver from Washington D.C., is only four feet in depth; only 18 miles upriver from Washington is the area known as The Great Falls of the Potomac River, an unnavigable area that blocked all types of shipping beyond that point.
The Great Falls of the Potomac River have always been unnavigable by any type of boat or ship. Even kayaking through here is considered extremely dangerous
    In 1785, George Washington had the "Patowmack Canal" started that eventually connected the Tidewater region near Georgetown with Cumberland, Maryland. Finished in 1802, the canal allowed freight to be transported by shipping around the rapids for the first time. Obviously, there is no possibility that Lehi sailed up the Potomac in Nephi’s ship that crossed the Great Deep. For those who claim Lehi went up any of the eastern inland waterways is simply a fallacious or ignorant argument since all these waterways in the east that might point toward the Great Lakes area are shallow and rarely are navigable beyond a hundred miles inland, leaving Lehi having to travel several hundred miles overland to the area that the Great Lakes Theorists claim is the Land of Promise--which is not supported by the scriptural record.
The inland water system of the Eastern United States, when viewed on a map (left) certainly looks possible for Lehi to have sailed to the Great Lakes or very near them. However, and it is a big "however," maps are deceiving because they tell nothing about the actual waterway, river, or stream. As an example, sailing ships had to have sufficient “depth under the keel”—today referred to as UKC: under-keel clearance available between the deepest point of the vessel and the seabed/riverbed in still water. This is always a little more because of pitch and roll of the ship and the movement up and down in waves. In fact, this increases in severe weather or other abnormal conditions, and the POLA/POLB advises ship Masters and pilots to use prudent seamanship at all times when piloting vessels in the harbors and approaches. This is extremely important when moving up and down rivers in order not to run aground--one can only image how difficult it would have been for Lehi to have negotiated any river and its approach, had he tried to sail up a river.
    In addition, many of these inland water ways, part of the river commerce system of the United States, have been man-made, i.e., canals, channels, and waterways that have been dug, such as the Erie Canal; connected, such as the canal connecting the Ohio to Lake Michigan; extended, such as the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Key West Florida, to Norfolk, Virginia; dredged, such as the Mississippi, Ohio, and others, in order to allow commerce and travel today. Many have locks, which raise the water level to accommodate shipping, such as the Ohio, Upper Mississippi, Illinois and Tennessee rivers.
    Many others are only deep enough for barges that haul freight, but not an ocean going vessel that requires depth for its deeper hull. As an example, barges are an extremely efficient mode of transportation, moving about 22,500 tons of cargo as a single unit. A single 15-barge tow is equivalent to about 225 railroad cars or 870 tractor-trailer trucks. If the cargo transported on the inland waterways each year had to be moved by another mode, it would take an additional 6.3 million rail cars or 25.2 million trucks to carry the load. So the waterways have been dug, extended, formed or altered to make them navigable, beginning in the 1800s.
Digging canals was back-breaking work in the 19th century, and took several years to complete
    Obviously, this inland waterway which modern man accepts without thought, did not exist in its present configuration and length in 600 B.C., or even before the 19th-century.
   What is often not understood is that historical events did not always happen the way we think or according to our interpretation of the facts. As an example, as has been reported here many times, the early trade routes from India to and through Indonesia to China, etc., which Sorenson and others have used to claim Lehi sailed through Indonesia to the Pacific in the same manner, did not take place in deep sea, ocean-going ships, but in shallow-bottomed, weak-hulled coastal boats that sailed close to shore and were put in at night, for storms, or in bad weather since their vessels were not strong enough to handle the constant pounding of the deep sea, strong waves and the pressure of much canvas on masts (despite what is shown in Hollywood movies). As an example, the basically calm waters of the Mediterranean Sea upon which the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Phoenicians sailed, is far different from the heavy pounding sea upon which the later explorers of the 15th century onward sailed. One cannot judge the one example with the other--that is like comparing apples and grapes.
    In addition, what is not seen on a map that appears to provide a course from one point to another, is the obstructions that hinder passage or block it all together along rivers and waterways, making it impossible to sail where the finger on a map can go. And finally, ships of today can go places and handle difficulties that no ship of the past could have done—in 600 B.C., there were no compasses, maps, GPS, radar, sonar, radio, etc. When Lehi set sail, he was on his own across thousands of miles of ocean. He went where the wind blew him and the ocean currents took him, and sailing up any river under such circumstances would be highly unlikely when you consider that the currents flow downriver and the winds along rivers are fickle at best because of the surrounding terrain.
Top: The eastern inland rivers are frequently blocked by falls, rapids, islands and very shallow depths. Top: Where the falls begin just above Washington D.C. on the Potomac River; Bottom Left: Swainson Island near Cabin John, and Bottom Right: Gladys Island, just past Riverbend and just beyond Bealls Island about 12 miles upriver from Washington D.C. Note the impassability of any vessel up this river
    The point is, as has been shown in these past three posts, the inland waterway system of the Eastern United States would simply not be a viable method of getting Nephi’s ship from the ocean to an inland area, such as the Great Lakes. It has to be kept in mind that a theory that looks good on paper (map in this case) is not necessarily workable in the real world.