If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Anne Bradstreet

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Ether 12:27

Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season therof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. D&C 59:18-20

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book of Mormon Geography: Zeniff's Colony

The record of Zeniff's colony initially identifies three lands: Shilom, Shemlon, and Nephi (also referred to as Lehi-Nephi). Shilom and Shemlon seem to be side-by-side neighbors, with Nephi on their south, based on these descriptions:
  1. The Lamanites from Shemlon invaded Shilom on both the south (Mosiah 9:14) and the north (Mosiah 10:8), without any mention of having to pass through Nephi or any other land.
  2. When the Lamanites prepared to invade Shilom on the north, Zeniff hid the women and children in the wilderness (Mosiah 10:9). But, when the Lamanites invaded on the south, the people fled to the city of Nephi. Placing Nephi to the south of Shilom, rather than to its side or to its north, is the obvious conclusion.
  3. When Lihmi's people fled from Nephi, they departed "into the wilderness," and "went round about the land of Shilom in the wilderness, and bent their course towards the land of Zarahemla" (Mosiah 22:11). This description, too, fits best with Nephi located south of Shilom and a strip of wilderness (forest) along the east side of the Lake that merges into the sea-to-sea wilderness (narrow strip of wilderness) that separated NEPHI from ZARAHEMLA. When the people of Limhi reached the area of Lake Managua, their course bent from north/northwest to due north.
  4. Limhi, forewarned of a Lamanite invasion, had his people lay in wait "in the fields and in the forests" for the Lamanite army (Mosiah 19:1-9, emphasis added). This supports the presence of a strip of forest along Lake Nicaragua.

Noticeably missing from Zeniff's account is any threat from Lamanites to the south of Nephi; the threats come only from the Lamanites in Shemlon. That may be because the Rio San Juan and its rain forests provided sufficient deterrent to the Lamanites to its south. Also, at this time the Lamanites were not a cohesive society. Not until the Amulonites are "appointed teachers over" the Lamanites do they establish communication and trade among their various lands (Mosiah 24:4-7).

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