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Before the 1840s, Joseph Smith made a few references to sites which he identified as scenes of ancient activity. He had, of course, claimed that a hill near Manchester, New York, where he uncovered the gold plates, was the hill where Moroni had buried the plates after the final battle between the Nephites and Lamanites. While Zion's Camp was traveling through Ohio in May 1834, Joseph, along with a number of other men, came to some thick woods, and he stated that he felt that a great battle had taken place there. A short distance further, they came upon "a mound sixty feet high, containing human bones" (Joseph Smith 1976, 2:66). Joseph also described what occurred about a month later, after they had crossed the Illinois River:
During our travels we visited several of the mounds which had been thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this country--Nephites, Lamanites, etc., and this morning I went up on a high mound, near the river . . . .
On the top of the mound were stones which presented the appearance of three altars having been erected one above the other, according to the ancient order; and the remains of bones were strewn over the surface of the ground. The brethren procured a shovel and a hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot, discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of a Lamanitish arrow, which evidently produced his death. Elder Burr Riggs retained the arrow. The contemplation of the scenery around us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms; and subsequently the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky mountains. The curse was taken from Zelph, or, at least, in part--one of his thigh bones was broken by a stone flung from a sling, while in battle, years before his death. He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites. (Joseph Smith 1976, 2:79-80)
It should be noted that Joseph's tale bears strong resemblances to Plutarch's account of the wounding of Alexander the Great. Zelph was a warrior and chieftain, associated with the great prophet Onandagus; Alexander was also a great military leader and was accompanied by a seer named Aristander. One of Zelph's thigh bones had been broken by a stone years before, and Zelph died from an arrow, which was found among his ribs. Alexander's leg bone had also been broken by an arrow, and he nearly died from an arrow which was embedded between his ribs.
The story about Zelph presents a problem, because it has been published both with and without the words "Hill Cumorah." The handwritten copy, in fact, contains these words, but a line was drawn through them, leaving the text to read, "who was known from the eastern sea to the Rocky mountains." To complicate matters further, Joseph's history says both that his group had crossed to the west side of the Illinois River, and that Zelph was killed "during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites," which, according to the Book of Mormon, occurred at the hill Cumorah. Was Joseph identifying the high mound near the Illinois River as the hill Cumorah? If not, how could Zelph's remains have been discovered there, if the hill Cumorah was located in the state of New York, hundreds of miles to the east? In any case, it appears that we can at least state positively that Joseph placed the Nephites and the hill Cumorah somewhere in North America.
On 4 June 1834 Joseph and his company arrived on the banks of the Mississippi River, where he wrote a letter to his wife Emma, in which he once again identified the country as Nephite territory. He said that he passed away the time "wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionaly the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as proof of its divine authenticity" (Joseph Smith 1984, 324).
The following year, Oliver Cowdery eliminated any uncertainty about the location of Cumorah. Oliver acted as Joseph's scribe during the translation of the Book of Mormon and was given the titles of "second elder" and "assistant president" of the church. The Messenger and Advocate, a Mormon newspaper published at Kirtland, Ohio, printed a series of letters from Oliver, giving a history of the discovery of the gold plates. In Letter VII Oliver supplied the following information:
You are acquainted with the mail road from Palmyra, Wayne Co. to Canandaigua, Ontario Co. N. Y. and also, as you pass from the former to the latter place, before arriving at the little village of Manchester, say from three to four, or about four miles from Palmyra, you pass a large hill on the east side of the road. . . .
At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. . . . here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.
By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the book of Mormon you will read Mormon's account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah. . . .
This hill, by the Jaredites, was called Ramah: by it, or around it, pitched the famous army of Coriantumr their tents. Coriantumr was the last king of the Jaredites. . . . In this same spot, in full view from the top of this same hill, one may gaze with astonishment upon the ground which was twice covered with the dead and dying of our fellowmen. (Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, July 1835)
The Messenger and Advocate printed another letter from W. W. Phelps in response to Cowdery, which reads: "Cumorah, the artificial hill of north America, is well calculated to stand in this generation, as a monument of marvelous works and wonders. Around that mount died millions of the Jaredits . . . . In that day, her inhabitants spread from sea to sea . . . . There, too, fell the Nephites" (Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, Nov. 1835). In a second letter, Phelps referred to another area as the land of the Book of Mormon: "What the design of our heavenly Father was or is, as to these vast prairies of the far west, I know no further than we have revelation. The Book of Mormon terms them the land of desolation" (Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, July 1836).
In May 1838 Joseph conferred the name Tower Hill on a site in Missouri, "in consequence of the remains of an old Nephitish Alter and Tower" that stood there (Joseph Smith 1989, 184). Three days later, he discovered some stone mounds, having a square shape, which, he said, "were made to seclude some valuable treasures deposited by the aborigionees of this land" (Joseph Smith 1989, 185). According to Paul Cheesman, Joseph also identified the Book of Mormon city of Manti as Huntsville, Randoph County, Missouri (Cheesman 1978, 25).
In addition, there is a document in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, one of Joseph's counselors, which Mormon scholars have dated between the years 1836 and 1837. This paper, which gives a description of Lehi's journey to the New World, has been attributed to Joseph, possibly as a revelation.
The course that Lehi traveled from the city of Jerusalem to the place where he and his family took ship, they traveled nearly a south southeast direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of North latitude, then nearly east to the sea of Arabia then sailed in a south east direction and landed on the continent of South America in Chili thirty degrees south of lattitude. (Cheesman 1978, 22)
Another copy of this statement was made by John Bernhisel after Joseph Smith's death. Joseph's wife Emma allowed Bernhisel to make a copy of Joseph's revision of the Bible, and the last page of Bernhisel's manuscript contains an exact duplicate of the above description.
Considering how specific this statement is -- giving the degree of latitude for both the location where Lehi set sail and the place where he landed -- it seems much more likely that it was the inspiration of Orson Pratt than of Joseph Smith. Orson was one of the original Mormon apostles, an intelligent man who was interested in mathematics, astronomy, and surveying. In his biography of Orson Pratt, Breck England says that Orson was in Kirtland, Ohio, in October 1836: "Business left Orson with some leisure for study, and he relished the winter hours with his copy of 'Day's Algebra' and his astronomy readings . . . . Spurred by his mathematical exercises and his former acquaintance with surveying, he became interested in astronomy, musing on the stars with the new measuring tools made available to him in 'Day's Algebra'" (England 1985, 49). When the Mormons later made their trek from Illinois to Utah, it was Orson who measured the longitude and latitude of the route which they used.
In 1840, when Orson was laboring in the Scottish mission in Edinburgh, he published a pamphlet entitled Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records. In this tract, he stated that Lehi's group was "safely brought across the great Pacific Ocean, and landed upon the western coast of South America." He also said that the righteous Nephites separated themselves from the wicked Lamanites and "emigrated towards the northern parts of South America, leaving the wicked nation in possession of the middle and southern parts of the same." The people of Zarahemla had, in the meantime, "landed in North America; soon after which they emigrated into the northern parts of South America," where they were discovered by the Nephites. In addition, he placed the Jaredites in North America. Furthermore, he stated that the final war between the Nephites and Lamanites "commenced at the Isthmus of Darien . . . . At length, the Nephites were driven before their enemies, a great distance to the north, and northeast . . . . They encamped on, and round about the hill Cumorah, where the records were found, which is in the State of New York" (Pratt  1975, 473-77). Orson's scheme seems to agree with the Frederick G. Williams paper.
In 1839 John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood had journeyed to Copan in Honduras, where they discovered some Mayan ruins. From there they traveled to Guatemala, Chiapas and Yucatan, uncovering more Mayan sites along the way. Stephens published an account of their discoveries in 1841 in a book entitled Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan. The Times and Seasons first took note of Stephens and Catherwood on 15 June 1841, reprinting an account of lectures delivered in New York by Catherwood. In September 1841 John Bernhisel sent a copy of Stephens's book to Joseph Smith. On 16 November 1841 Joseph wrote to Bernhisel, stating that the book "unfolds & developes many things that are of great importance to this generation & corresponds with & supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon; I have read the volumes with the greatest interest & pleasure & must say that of all histories that have been written pertaining to the antiquities of this country it is the most correct luminous & comprihensive" (Joseph Smith 1984, 502).
In February 1842 the Millennial Star ran an article with these headlines: "Ruins in Central America. Ancient Monument at Copan." This article was a reprint of a review of Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan. At the conclusion of the article, the paper stated:
We publish the foregoing for the purpose of giving our readers some ideas of the antiquities of the Nephites--of their ancient cities, temples, monuments, towers, fortifications, and inscriptions now in ruin amid the solitude of an almost impenetrable forest; but fourteen hundred years since, in the days of Mormon, they were the abodes of thousands and millions of human beings, and the centre of civil and military operations unsurpassed in any age or country.In September 1842 the Times and Seasons also heralded the Incidents of Travel as confirmation of the Book of Mormon and published long extracts from the book, concluding:
What a satisfaction it is for the lovers of intelligence to realize, that while the minds of Mr. Stephens and many others of the learned world have been and still are enveloped in mystery, impenetrable, dark, and drear on the subject of ancient America; and while they contemplate the ruins of a nation, whose very name they say is lost in oblivion, and whose history they say has not come down to us; we have their entire history,--their origin, laws, government, religion, wars, and lastly their destruction; lately discovered in their own hand-writing . . . .
The "mystery" which Mr. Stephens and the wise men of Babylon acknowledge themselves entirely unable to fathom, has, by a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, been opened, brought forth from amid the mouldering archives and sepulchral ruins of a nation and a country before unknown to the other parts of the world. It is a striking and extraordinary coincidence, that, in the Book of Mormon, commencing page 563, there is an account of many cities as existing among the Nephites on the "narrow neck of land which connected the north country with the south country;" and Mormon names a number of them, which were strongly fortified, and were the theatres of tremendous battles, and that finally the Nephites were destroyed or driven to the northward, from year to year, and their towns and country made most desolate, until the remnant became extinct on the memorable heights of Cumorah (now western New York),--I say it is remarkable that Mr. Smith, in translating the Book of Mormon from 1827 to 1830, should mention the names and circumstances of those towns and fortifications in this very section of country, where a Mr Stephens, ten years afterwards, penetrated a dense forest, till then unexplored by modern travellers, and actually fines the ruins of those very cities mentioned by Mormon.
The nameless nation of which he speaks were the Nephites.
The lost record for which he mourns is the Book of Mormon.
The architects, orators, statesmen, and generals, whose works and monuments he admires, are, Alma, Moroni, Helaman, Nephi, Mormon, and their cotemporaries.
The very cities whose ruins are in his estimation without a name, are called in the Book of Mormon, "Teancum, Boaz, Jordan, Desolation," &c.
Let us turn our subject, however, to the Book of Mormon, where these wonderful ruins of Palenque are among the mighty works of the Nephites . . . .
Mr. Stephens' great developments of antiquities are made bare to the eyes of all the people by reading the history of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. They lived about the narrow neck of land, which now embraces Central America, with all the cities that can be found. . . . . Who could have dreamed that twelve years would have developed such incontrovertible testimony to the Book of Mormon? (Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1842)
A second article in the paper entitled "Facts are Stubborn Things" stated that "Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien [Panama]" (Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1842). The following month, the paper declared: "Central America, or Guatemala, is situated north of the Isthmus of Darien . . . . The city of Zarahemla stood upon this land . . . . It is certainly a good thing for the excellency and veracity of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, that the ruins of Zarahemla have been found where the Nephites left them" (Times and Seasons, 1 Oct. 1842). The article went on to suggest that the ruins of Quirigua were those of the city of Zarahemla.
Orson Pratt said in August 1843 that the Book of Mormon gives a "history and names of cities that have been of late discovered by Catherwood and Stephens" (Joseph Smith 1976, 5:552).
In the Millennial Star (15 November 1848), Orson said that the Jaredites were the "first great nation that anciently inhabited Yucatan." He then continued:
The last great nation that inhabited that country and passed away, have also left their history, which was discovered, translated, and published in the English language nearly 20 years ago by Mr. Joseph Smith. . . . The Book of Mormon says that in the 367th year after Christ, 'the Lamanites'--the forefather of the American Indians--'took possession of the city of Desolation,'--which was in Central America, near to or in Yucatan . . . the Nephites being the nation who inhabited the cities of Yucatan . . . . In the 384th year, the occupants of Yucatan and Central America, having been driven from their great and magnificent cities, were pursued by the Lamanites to the hill Cumorah in the interior of the state of New York, where the whole nation perished in battle. (Cheesman 1978, 28)
In later years, however, Orson reverted to his original scheme. In a speech delivered in Salt Lake City on 27 December 1868, he said:
They [the Jaredites] landed to the south of this, just below the Gulf of California, on our western coast. They inhabited North America . . . .
After the destruction of the Jaredites, the Lord brought two other colonies to people this land. One colony landed a few hundred miles north of the Isthmus on the western coast; the other landed on the coast of Chili, upwards of two thousand miles south of them. The latter were called the Nephites and Lamanites. . . . Nephi and the righteous separated themselves from the Lamanites and traveled eighteen hundred miles north until they came to the head waters of what we term the Amazon river. There Nephi located his little colony in the country supposed to be Ecuador . . . .
. . . the Nephites fled again some twenty days' journey to the northward and united themselves with the people of Zarahemla . . . . (Journal of Discourses 1964, 12:341-42)
Orson reiterated his interpretation during another speech on 10 April 1870, and then two years later, on 11 February 1872, he elaborated the theory a bit further:
[The Nephites] came still further northward, emigrating from the head waters of what we now term the river Amazon, upon the western coast, or not far from the western coast, until they came on the waters of the river which we call the Magdalena. On this river, not a great distance from the mouth thereof, in what is now termed the United States of Columbia, they built their great capital city. They also discovered another nation that already possessed that country called the people of Zarahemla . . . .
The Nephites and the people of Zarahemla united together and formed a great and powerful nation, occupying the lands south of the Isthmus for many hundreds of miles, and also from the Pacific on the west to the Atlantic on the east, spreading all through the country. The Lamanites about this time also occupied South America, the middle or southern portion of it . . . . (Journal of Discourses 1964, 14:325-26)
Orson also stated, "As near as we can judge from the description of the country contained in this record the first landing place was in Chili, not far from where the city of Valparaiso now stands" (Journal of Discourses 1964, 14:325). Valparaiso is at latitude thirty-three degrees south; again, this fact seems to link Orson to the F. G. Williams paper. Orson also reaffirmed his belief that the Lamanites had pursued the Nephites all the way from the Isthmus of Darien to the hill Cumorah in the state of New York.
In 1879 Orson divided the Book of Mormon into chapters and verses and added marginal notes which interpreted the text in accordance with his geographical model. These notes stated that "the land of Nephi is supposed to have been in or near Ecuador, South America," and "the land of Zarahemla is supposed to have been north of the head waters of the river Magdalena, its northern boundary being a few days journey south of the Isthmus" (Lamb 1887, 311, 101). These notes were included in subsequent editions, until they were removed in 1920.
However, Brigham Young declared that the site for the St. George temple in Utah had previously been dedicated by the Nephites, while Moroni had dedicated the site for the Manti temple, also in Utah. According to Paul Cheesman, Brigham "also identified St. George as the site where the Gadianton robbers were found" (Cheesman 1978, 25).
It is apparent from the statements which Joseph Smith made between 1834 and 1838 that he had no conception of the geography of the Book of Mormon. He simply took whatever sites or artifacts which he happened to come upon as evidence of Nephite occupation. He never once mentioned either Central or South America, but referred to both Illinois and Missouri as Nephite lands. Although W. W. Phelps had linked the Book of Mormon to Central America in 1833, he continued to identify the land of Desolation with the "far west" and Cumorah with the hill in New York. Orson Pratt seems to have been the only one who recognized that the Book of Mormon outlines a very definite geography which cannot be disregarded. It is also evident that after the publication of John Lloyd Stephens's book, the official line which everyone, including Orson, was expected to support was that the Nephites lived in Central America. Nonetheless, Orson later had his own way and seems to have become the principal interpreter of Book of Mormon geography.
However, other people engaged in mapping the Nephite lands and theories proliferated, perhaps spurred on by the confusion resulting from statements which place Lehi's landing either in Chile or a little south of the Isthmus of Darien, while Zarahemla was either in Guatemala or Colombia. By 1890, there were so many different interpretations that George Q. Cannon, who was a member of the First Presidency, was forced to state: "When, as is the case, one student places a certain city at the Isthmus of Panama, a second in Venezuela, and a third in Guiana or northern Brazil, it is obvious that suggestive maps prepared by these brethren would confuse instead of enlighten . . . . For these reasons we have strong objections to the introduction of maps and their circulation among our people which profess to give the location of the Nephite cities and settlements" (Reynolds and Sjodahl 1958, 3:310).
For the most part, the traditional Mormon interpretation has embraced the broad view, holding that the Book of Mormon lands include most of North, Central, and South America. More recently, however, Mormon scholars have been quietly revising this view. They have realized that information presented in the Book of Mormon about distances traveled does not support the belief that such extensive territories were involved. Sydney Sperry, for example, says in the preface to Book of Mormon Compendium: "In this volume I have reversed my views, held many years ago, that the Hill Cumorah, around which the last great battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place, was in the State of New York. The Book of Mormon data are very clear and show quite conclusively that the Hill (Ramah to the Jaredites) was in the land of Desolation, somewhere in Middle America" (Sperry 1968, 6). Fletcher Hammond also concluded that "no amount of juggling of the Book of Mormon text can place the hill Ramah-Cumorah in what is now New York state. It was somewhere in what is now Central America" (Cheesman 1978, 34).
Readers of Sorenson's book may feel intimidated by his identification of Book of Mormon cities with specific archaeological sites. But, in fact, it is not necessary to know anything about Central American archaeology to assess Sorenson's scheme. What is required is that Sorenson's map agree with what the Book of Mormon tells us.
In simplest terms, the Book of Mormon describes a land northward and a land southward connected by a "small" or "narrow" neck of land. On Sorenson's map, this neck of land is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which lies between northern and southern Mexico: "The only 'narrow neck' potentially acceptable in terms of the Book of Mormon requirements is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico. All LDS students of Book of Mormon geography who have worked systematically with the problem in recent decades have come to agree on this" (Sorenson 1985, 29-30).
The one and only river mentioned in the entire Book of Mormon is called the Sidon. It, therefore, is an important geographical indicator. Sorenson says that the river Sidon "flowed northward from Zarahemla." Concerning the headwaters of the Sidon, he states: "Its origin was deep in the wilderness above the highest Nephite city on the river, Manti (Alma 16:6). Zarahemla was downstream" (Sorenson 1985, 10, 23). On his map, Sorenson correlates the river Sidon with the Grijalva River, which originates in the highlands of Guatemala near the border with Mexico, on the Pacific or "western" side. It flows through southern Mexico and empties into the sea on the Caribbean or "eastern" side. Sorenson says further: "Manti was, of course, at the uppermost point of Nephite settlement on the Sidon. Immediately beyond it rose the headwaters of the Sidon in the wilderness that separated Nephite from Lamanite territory" (Sorenson 1985, 254).
The Book of Mormon also contains an index heading which reads: "Sidon, River--most prominent river in Nephite territory, runs north to sea." But, of course, this is the point to be proven. Does the river Sidon really flow northward?
Sorenson's description of the river Sidon seems to be based primarily on two references in the Book of Mormon. In one passage Alma says to Zoram, "Behold, the Lamanites will cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti. And behold there shall ye meet them, on the east of the river Sidon . . . . And it came to pass that Zoram and his sons crossed over the river Sidon, with their armies, and marched away beyond the borders of Manti into the south wilderness, which was on the east side of the river Sidon" (Alma 16:6-7). This establishes the fact that the river Sidon extended beyond Manti into the south wilderness, but it does not tell us in which direction the river flowed. A second passage refers to both Manti and the head of the Sidon. We are told that the territory of the Lamanites "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, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west--and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided" (Alma 22:27). This passage is anything but clear. It could be interpreted to mean that the head of the river Sidon was near Manti. But, the subject of the sentence is the "narrow strip of wilderness," which ran from east to west, passing through the borders of Manti and by the head of the river Sidon, so that the head of the Sidon could be anywhere along the strip of wilderness, either on the east or on the west. We must, therefore, look for other clues.
In Alma 56, we learn that the Lamanites had captured some Nephite cities, including Manti, which were all located to the west of that stretch of the river Sidon which ran by Manti. Helaman was preventing the Lamanites from turning northward to attack Zarahemla: "Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla; neither durst they cross the head of Sidon, over to the city of Nephihah" (Alma 56:25). The Book of Mormon very clearly places Nephihah on the east coast: "And thus he went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore" (Alma 51:26). Thus, if the Lamanites had to cross the head of the river Sidon in order to reach Nephihah on the east coast, it seems that the head of the river would lie somewhere to the east of Manti, rather than south as Sorenson claims.
In Alma 43 the Lamanites had gathered in Antionum and were planning to attack Jershon, but were stopped by Moroni: "they durst not come against the Nephites in the borders of Jershon; therefore they departed out of the land of Antionum into the wilderness, and took their journey round about in the wilderness, away by the head of the river Sidon, that they might come into the land of Manti and take possession of the land" (Alma 43:22). Again, the Book of Mormon clearly establishes the fact that Jershon was on the east coast: "Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea" (Alma 27:22). Another passage refers to both Jershon and Antionum: "Now the Zoramites had gathered themselves together in a land which they called Antionum, which was east of the land of Zarahemla, which lay nearly bordering upon the seashore, which was south of the land of Jershon, which also bordered upon the wilderness south, which wilderness was full of the Lamanites" (Alma 31:3). All of the "which" clauses apply to Antionum, because we know from other passages that Zarahemla lay in the center portion of the land. Helaman 1:27, for example, says, "they had come into the center of the land, and had taken the capital city which was the city of Zarahmela." Thus Alma 43:22 tells us that the Lamanites went from Antionum, near the east coast, through a wilderness which took them by the head of the river Sidon, and that they then continued in the direction of Manti. It would be reasonable to assume, therefore, that the head of the river was east of Manti. Sorenson indicates that the best route for the Lamanites to take after leaving Antionum was to follow the Usumacinta River and then approach Manti from the south. However, the Book of Mormon does not refer to another river. Sorenson also places Manti at the center of a confluence of two or three streams, so that it is surrounded on both the east and west by the river. The Book of Mormon, however, never mentions any river west of Manti.
Moroni was informed by Alma that the Lamanites were marching through the wilderness towards Manti. Alma had received this information from the Lord. Moroni left Jershon immediately and marched to Manti. Looking at Sorenson's map, we discover that Moroni would have to cross the Sidon/Grijalva twice before reaching Manti--once after leaving Jershon, and again before arriving at Manti. However, Alma 43 does not give any indication that Moroni had to cross the river Sidon anywhere between Jershon and Manti. His journey seems to have been very rapid and direct; in fact, he arrived at Manti ahead of the Lamanites.
Moroni then left Manti and took his men to a valley on the west bank of the river Sidon. The text describes the deployment of his men: "Therefore, he divided his army and brought a part over into the valley, and concealed them on the east, and on the south of the hill Riplah; and the remainder he concealed in the west valley, on the west of the river Sidon, and so down into the borders of the land Manti" (Alma 43:31-32). The Book of Mormon consistently uses the word "down" to mean "up" or "north," and the word "up" to mean "down" or "south." This corresponds to biblical usage. Thus, since Alma 43:22 says "and so down into the borders of the land Manti," we must conclude that Manti was slightly north of the valley. Now, if Sorenson is correct, the Lamanites should be approaching Manti from the south. But, the text clearly indicates that Moroni fully expected that the Lamanites would come into the valley from the north, because his men were placed on the east, south, and west, leaving the north open. And in fact, this is what happened: "And it came to pass that the Lamanites came up on the north of the hill, where a part of the army of Moroni was concealed" (Alma 43:34). If the Lamanites had to cross the head of the river Sidon before arriving at Manti, as the text says, and if the head of the river was south of Manti, as Sorenson claims, then the Lamanites certainly would not come up on the north of the hill Riplah. But, the description in the text is fully consistent, if the head of the river was to the east of Manti.
Let us consider another passage from the Book of Alma: "And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west. . . . And thus he cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon--the Nephites possessing all the land northward" (Alma 50:8, 11). This passage seems to place the west sea and the head of the river Sidon at opposite ends of the line of fortifications, so that the head of the river would be near the east sea.
Thus, we seem to have established, as clearly as the text will allow, that the head of the river Sidon was east of Manti, not far from Nephihah, south of Antionum, and near the east sea. All of these bits of information are consistent with each other, and therefore, increase the probability of our conclusion.
As already noted, Sorenson says that the river Sidon flowed northward from Zarahemla, but this is a point which needs to be examined. The existence of a stretch of the river between Zarahemla and Manti is definitely indicated by the text. In addition to the passages already cited regarding the river near Manti, other references inform us that the river also flowed between Zarahemla and Gideon: "Alma . . . departed from them, yea, from the church which was in the city of Zarahemla, and went over upon the east of the river Sidon, into the valley of Gideon, there having been a city built, which was called the city of Gideon" (Alma 6:7). Alma 17:1 tells us further that Gideon was north of Manti: "as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti . . . he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla."
The river Sidon is mentioned in connection with another city called Melek. Sorenson states: "Alma left Zarahemla, on the river Sidon, to preach in Melek on the west edge of the settled land (Alma 8:3-5). From there he turned northward, parallel to the west wilderness (Alma 22:27-28), to reach Ammonihah (Alma 8:6). This place, like Melek, was near the western periphery, as demonstrated by Alma 16:2 and 25:2" (Sorenson 1985, 21). Thus, Sorenson places both Melek and Ammonihah north of Zarahemla, near the west wilderness. The text, however, does not seem to support this.
Alma 8:3 says that Alma, who was in Zarahemla, "departed from thence and took his journey over into the land of Melek, on the west of the river Sidon, on the west by the borders of the wilderness." Sorenson has made a subtle change here, placing Zarahemla on the river and Melek to the west. The text indicates, however, that Melek was on the west of the river Sidon and near the border of a wilderness, but it does not make clear what wilderness is being referred to. Alma 2 describes a battle between the Nephites and the Amlicites on the west bank of the Sidon, opposite the valley of Gideon. The Amlicites were routed: "And they fled before the Nephites towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land . . . . they were scattered on the west, and on the north, until they had reached the wilderness, which was called Hermounts" (Alma 2:36-37). This indicates that there was a wilderness northwest of that part of the Sidon where the valley of Gideon was located. We know that the valley of Gideon was east of the Sidon, north of Manti, and south of Zarahemla. The wilderness of Hermounts should, therefore, be in the direction of Zarahemla, and Melek could thus be both near Zarahemla and the wilderness. But Hermounts does not seem to be the wilderness area which bordered the coast of the west sea.
The Book of Alma tells us that the people of Ammon, who were originally given Jershon to live in, were removed to Melek. Later the Lamanites launched a two-pronged attack, both on the east coast and on the west. From the west coast, the Lamanites pushed inland all the way to Manti, and in between, they captured the cities of Zeezrom, Cumeni, and Antiparah. Of these cities, Antiparah was apparently the farthest west, because Alma 56:31 says: "And we were to march near the city of Antiparah, as if we were going to the city beyond, in the borders by the seashore." This Lamanite attack so alarmed the people of Ammon, that a number of their young men took up arms and marched under the leadership of Helaman to the city of Judea. Judea was to the north of the captured cities, because Helaman says, "we kept spies out round about, to watch the movements of the Lamanites, that they might not pass us by night nor by day to make an attack upon our other cities which were on the northward" (Alma 56:22). Thus, we can assume that Melek, where the Ammonites lived, was also north of the captured cities, and probably north of Judea. But, in order to fix the position of Melek more accurately, we must consider its relationship to other cities.
Alma 8:6 says: "when he had finished his work at Melek he departed thence, and traveled three days' journey on the north of the land of Melek; and he came to a city which was called Ammonihah." Thus, Ammonihah is placed to the north of Melek, but we do not know whether it was directly north or to the east or west.
Sorenson cites two passages which he says demonstrate that Ammonihah was near the west wilderness. The first of these reads: "the armies of the Lamanites had come in upon the wilderness side, into the borders of the land, even into the city of Ammonihah" (Alma 16:2). This reference does not tell us where the wilderness was, but let us continue. The Lamanites also attacked a neighboring town called Noah and carried some captives into the wilderness. As we have seen, Alma told Zoram, "Behold, the Lamanites will cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti. And behold there shall ye meet them, on the east of the river Sidon" (Alma 16:6). If Ammonihah was located north of Zarahemla on the western periphery, why would Zoram, who was apparently in Zarahemla, cross to the east side of the Sidon and march to the south wilderness to meet the Lamanites? This reference seems to prove that Ammonihah was actually to the east of Zarahemla.
Sorenson's second reference also does not demonstrate that Ammonihah was on the west. The Lamanites had crossed over from the land of Nephi to the land of Zarahemla: "But they took their armies and went over into the borders of the land of Zarahemla, and fell upon the people who were in the land of Ammonihah and destroyed them" (Alma 25:2). This really tells us little about the location of Ammonihah, but there is again an indication that it may have been in the eastern half of the land. Many of the invading Lamanites were slain, but the survivors "fled into the east wilderness" (Alma 25:5). Would they have fled into the east wilderness, if Ammonihah was far to the west? This passage, like the previous one, also seems to indicate that Ammonihah was not a great distance from the southern boundary, since the Lamanites had come from the land of Nephi in the south. Therefore, Ammonihah, it seems, could not be north of Zarahemla.
The Book of Mormon establishes a chain of interconnections between Ammonihah and other cities. Alma 8:13 says that Alma departed from Ammonihah "and took his journey towards the city which was called Aaron." Alma 50:14 says further: "And they also began a foundation for a city between the city of Moroni and the city of Aaron, joining the borders of Aaron and Moroni; and they called the name of the city, or the land, Nephihah." Thus, there is a clear progression from Ammonihah to Moroni.
Sorenson claims that the cities of Ammonihah, Aaron, Nephihah, and Moroni "stretched west to east across the land north of Zarahemla" (Sorenson 1985, 21). In fact, Sorenson's map places Nephihah and Moroni far to the north of Zarahemla. But, Moroni, we are told, "was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites" (Alma 50:13). Thus, Moroni was near the southern boundary which separated the Lamanites from the Nephites, and we have already seen that the line ran from west to east, passing by Manti and the head of the river Sidon, which, even on Sorenson's map, are south of Zarahemla.
In addition, Alma 56:25, which states that the Lamanites, who had captured Manti, did not dare to "cross the head of Sidon, over to the city of Nephihah," indicates that Nephihah was east of Manti, and Manti was indisputably south of Zarahemla. Another reference establishes a relationship between Nephihah and Manti. Alma 59 says that people from the cities of Moroni, Lehi, and Morianton had fled to Nephihah and were being attacked by the Lamanites: "Yea, even those who had been compelled to flee from the land of Manti, and from the land round about, had come over and joined the Lamanites in this part of the land" (Alma 59:6). This seems to suggest that Nephihah, like Manti, was in the southern portion of the land of Zarahemla.
Sorenson justifies placing Nephihah and Moroni northeast of Zarahemla by saying that the south wilderness stretched all the way around from their location in the northeast to Manti in the south. However, in order to maintain Antionum's position east of Zarahemla, Sorenson is forced to place that city below the line which separated Moroni from Lamanite territory, so that Antionum is not only south of both Nephihah and Moroni, but also in the south wilderness.
It is true that Alma 31:3 states that Antionum "bordered upon the wilderness south, which wilderness was full of the Lamanites." But, we must determine what constituted the wilderness south when this statement was made. The cities of Nephihah and Moroni did not exist at this time. The text says that "there were many Lamanites on the east by the seashore, whither the Nephites had driven them. And thus the Nephites were nearly surrounded by the Lamanites; nevertheless the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west" (Alma 22:29). A number of years later, Moroni cleared all of the Lamanites out of the east wilderness.
Moroni caused that his armies should go forth into the east wilderness; yea, and they went forth and drove all the Lamanites who were in the east wilderness into their own lands, which were south of the land of Zarahemla. . . . And thus he cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon--the Nephites possessing all the land northward . . . . (Alma 50:7-11)
It was at this time that the cities of Moroni and Nephihah were built to fortify the east wilderness, which had been taken from the Lamanites. This territory had not been included in the land of Zarahemla previously.
In order to determine what Alma 31:3 means by the wilderness south, we have to consider that at this time the Nephites possessed all of the land north of the head of the river Sidon, except the east wilderness, and we have determined that the head of the Sidon was near the east sea. If Antionum was east of Zarahemla, as Alma 31:3 says, there does not seem to be any part of the land which could be referred to as the wilderness south except the coastal area between the Sidon river and the sea, where the Lamanites had been driven by the Nephites. We must assume, then, that Antionum was actually north of this area, and that the boundary line south of Moroni was established later, after the Lamanites were expelled. Thus, Sorenson is wrong in placing Antionum south of the dividing line, and in fact, it must have been north of Moroni. Furthermore, since we have already determined that the head of the river Sidon was near Nephihah and south of Antionum, Nephihah should also be south of Antionum.
Thus, the text firmly fixes the location of Moroni and Nephihah southeast of Zarahemla, and since Nephihah was between Moroni and Aaron, and Aaron was near Ammonihah, it is difficult to see how Ammonihah could possibly be north of Zarahemla and on the western periphery, as Sorenson claims. We have seen, in fact, that all of the textual references indicate that Ammonihah was east of Zarahemla, and since Melek was three days south of Ammonihah, it surely could not be north of Zarahemla.
Melek, as we have seen, was on the west of the river Sidon. Ammonihah is also linked to that part of the river which passed by Manti, because Zoram crossed the river in pursuit of the Lamanites who had departed from Ammonihah and Noah. The route which the Lamanites traveled from Noah suggests that they went along the west bank of the river Sidon, until they crossed to the east side south of Manti. But, if Ammonihah was east of Zarahemla and the Lamanites remained on the west bank of the river while traveling south, this would imply that the Sidon bent around south of Ammonihah, rather than continuing on north of Zarahemla. Otherwise, the Lamanites would have had to cross from the east bank to the west after leaving Ammonihah, and then cross again from the west bank to the east after passing Manti. A bend in the river south of Ammonihah is also indicated by the fact that Moroni did not have to cross the river on his march from Jershon to Manti. It does not appear then that the river Sidon extended north of Zarahemla, as Sorenson claims.
Thus, if the head of the river Sidon was in the east, approximately on a line with Manti, as we have already determined, the river must have flowed northward for a distance, passing by Nephihah, and then turned west in the direction of Zarahemla. It would have flowed to the south of Ammonihah before bending around southward to pass by Gideon and Manti. Beyond Manti, it must have extended into the south wilderness, and thence into the sea. The river would, therefore, be somewhat like an upside down horseshoe in shape.
There is another matter concerning the Sidon which we should consider. When Moroni was battling the Lamanites along the Sidon near Manti, the text says that "they did cast their dead into the waters of Sidon, and they have gone forth and are buried in the depths of the sea" (Alma 44:22). We are never told where the river emptied into the sea, but if the bodies floated downstream from Manti, it seems that it could not be a very great distance. If we identify the Sidon with the Grijalva River, however, the bodies would have to drift nearly 300 miles before being discharged into the sea, which seems very improbable.
The picture of the river Sidon which we have derived from the text does not agree in any respect with the Grijalva River in Mexico. Sorenson's river originates in the south wilderness, flows northward past Manti and Zarahemla, and then bends around south of Nephihah and Moroni in the northeast and empties into the east sea. We, however, have determined that the river Sidon actually originates near the east sea, southeast of Zarahemla near Nephihah and Moroni, bends around to the west, and then heads south, passing by Gideon and Manti, and flows through the south wilderness to the sea.
Another discrepancy between Sorenson's map and the text is the placement of Minon. Sorenson locates Minon north of Manti, but the text indicates that it was in the land of Nephi. Alma 2 describes a battle between the Amlicites and Alma's forces near the hill Amnihu, east of the river Sidon. The Nephites pursued the Amlicites for a whole day and then pitched camp in the valley of Gideon. Alma sent out spies, who returned the following day and said, "in the land of Minon, above the land of Zarahemla, in the course of the land of Nephi, we saw a numerous host of the Lamanites" (Alma 2:24). The valley of Gideon, we know, was north of Manti, but Alma's spies had followed the Amlicites south ("above the land of Zarahemla") to Minon, "in the course of the land of Nephi." If Minon were north of Manti, it would be in the land of Zarahemla.
Apparently, the Amlicites had crossed to the west of the river, because the text says that when Alma's people left the valley of Gideon and crossed the river to the west bank, the Amlicites and Lamanites, who were rushing back northward, came upon them. Therefore, Minon must have been west of the Sidon and close to the border separating the land of Zarahemla from the land of Nephi.
Thus, there is a definite lack of agreement between the text and Sorenson's map of the land of Zarahemla. He is unable to identify the one major river in the Book of Mormon, and his placement of the cities of Melek, Ammonihah, Aaron, Nephihah, Moroni, Antionum, and Minon seems to be entirely wrong. And, as we shall see, there are other problems with Sorenson's description of the land of Nephi.
In Mosiah 7:1, we are unexpectedly introduced to a city called Lehi-Nephi. As is customary, Sorenson merely assumes that it is to be identified with the city of Nephi. The text, in fact, is not clear, since it alternates between references to both Lehi-Nephi and Nephi. However, I believe that it can be demonstrated that they are not the same, and that Lehi-Nephi was actually located a considerable distance from Nephi.
Not long after Lehi's group landed in the New World, Lehi died and the Lord warned Nephi to flee from his brothers. Nephi took Zoram and three of his brothers and their families: "And we . . . did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days. And after we had journeyed for the space of many days we did pitch our tents. And my people would that we should call the name of the place Nephi; wherefore, we did call it Nephi" (2 Nephi 5:7-8). The Nephites continued to live there for approximately 380 years. During this time there were many wars between the Nephites and Lamanites, who seem to have slowly encroached upon Nephite territory. The Book of Mormon is very sketchy regarding this long period of history, but about 200 B.C., the Lord again warned a man named Mosiah to flee out of the land of Nephi. He took a group of people with him, and they traveled northward through the wilderness until they came to the land of Zarahemla. Mosiah was made king over the people of Zarahemla, and the Lamanites occupied the land of Nephi.
Mosiah was succeeded by his son Benjamin, and during Benjamin's reign there was "a certain number who went up into the wilderness to return to the land of Nephi; for there was a large number who were desirous to possess the land of their inheritance" (Omni 1:27). We later learn that a colony was led to the land of Nephi by a man named Zeniff. Zeniff says that he "had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or the land of our fathers' first inheritance," which he obtained through his activities as a spy among the Lamanites. Zeniff states further:
. . . I being over-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land, and started again on our journey into the wilderness to go up to the land . . . . after many days' wandering in the wilderness we pitched our tents . . . near to the land of our fathers. And it came to pass that I went again with four of my men into the city, in unto the king . . . . and he covenanted with me that I might possess the land of Lehi-Nephi, and the land of Shilom. And he also commanded that his people should depart out of the land, and I and my people went into the land that we might possess it. (Mosiah 9:3-7)However, things did not go peacefully for Zeniff's colony; they were attacked by the Lamanites. The Lamanites, according to Zeniff, were taught to hate the Nephites, because they believed "that they were wronged while in the land of their first inheritance, after they had crossed the sea . . . . And again, they were wroth with him [Nephi] because he departed into the wilderness as the Lord had commanded him" (Mosiah 10:13, 16).
Zeniff's account contains so many references to "the land of our fathers' first inheritance" and "the land of our fathers" that we must conclude that he is designating the area which Lehi's group first reached after crossing the sea. This seems to be the land which Zeniff was intent upon obtaining, which was given to his people as their dwelling place. It is difficult to believe that the Lamanite king would have simply handed over the city of Nephi to Zeniff's colony, if it held an important position in Lamanite territory. However, it would not have been remarkable, if the king had given to Zeniff a city in some more remote part of the land, and we know that the city of Nephi was separated from the original landing site by a journey of "many days." The name "Lehi-Nephi" would also be appropriate, if it commemorated the spot where Lehi and Nephi landed and the place where Lehi died.
Some years after the departure of Zeniff's group, Mosiah's grandson, Mosiah II, became king in Zarahemla, and he became "desirous to know concerning the people who went up to dwell in the land of Lehi-Nephi, or in the city of Lehi-Nephi" (Mosiah 7:1). Accordingly, he sent out a group led by a man named Ammon: "And now, they knew not the course they should travel in the wilderness to go up to the land of Lehi-Nephi; therefore they wandered many days in the wilderness, even forty days did they wander. And when they had wandered forty days they came to a hill, which is north of the land of Shilom, and there they pitched their tents"" (Mosiah 7:4-5). Ammon was brought before the king of the land, who declared that he was Limhi, the grandson of Zeniff.
The hill north of Shilom is important, because another passage tells us that Noah, Zeniff's son, "caused a great tower to be built on the hill north of the land of Shilom, which had been a resort for the children of Nephi at the time they fled out of the land" (Mosiah 11:13). The phrase "children of Nephi" is ambiguous. Does it mean Nephi and his family, when they fled from the place of their first landing to the spot where the city of Nephi was built, or does it refer to Mosiah and his group of Nephites, when they journeyed from Nephi to Zarahemla? Considering the fact that the Nephites lived in the city of Nephi for about 380 years before Mosiah's group left, it does not seem possible that Ammon would not have known how to reach Lehi-Nephi, if it were the city of Nephi. However, if Lehi-Nephi were the site of the first landing, which the Nephites had not seen for 450 years, Ammon certainly might not have known the way. If Mosiah had passed the hill near Shilom on his way from Nephi to Zarahemla, its location should have been well known. Therefore, it must have been Nephi's group which stopped there, as they fled from Laman and Lemuel. Thus, the information that we have indicates that Lehi-Nephi was not the city of Nephi, but was the name given to the place where Lehi's group first landed in the New World.
Near Lehi-Nephi was a city called Shemlon, where the Lamanite king lived. Sorenson places Shemlon near the south shore of lake Amatitlan in Guatemala. North of the lake, he says, was Shilom, and farther north was Lehi-Nephi, located on the present site of Guatemala City. There is one passage which says that Zeniff's people were attacked by Lamanites "away on the south of the land of Shilom" (Mosiah 9:14). Sorenson adds: "The Lamanite attack came 'up' (Mosiah 10:6) from Shemlon" (Sorenson 1985, 169). However, these two passages do not refer to the same Lamanite attack. In fact, the second reference continues: "But I had sent my spies out round about the land of Shemlon, that I might discover their preparations . . . . And it came to pass that they came up upon the north of the land of Shilom, with their numerous hosts" (Mosiah 10:7-8). Thus the first Lamanite attack was to the south of Shilom, while the second was to the north. But, the first passage does not make any reference to Shemlon. The second passage not only refers to Shemlon, but also indicates that Shemlon was north of Shilom. Furthermore, Sorenson has not taken into account the fact that the Book of Mormon uses "up" and "down" in the biblical sense; therefore, if the Lamanite attack came "up" from Shemlon, it would actually come from the north. Thus, Shemlon was north of Shilom, not south, as Sorenson says.
Lehi-Nephi, however, was apparently north of Shilom. Ammon, we remember, had come "up" from Zarahemla, looking for Lehi-Nephi. After reaching the hill north of Shilom, "Ammon took three of his brethren . . . and they went down into the land of Nephi" (Mosiah 7:6). The word "down" must mean north. But Shemlon must have also been north of Lehi-Nephi. When some young Lamanite women were abducted from "a place in Shemlon," the Lamanites thought that Limhi's people were responsible: "Therefore, they sent their armies forth . . . and they went up to the land of Nephi to destroy the people of Limhi" (Mosiah 20:7). If the Lamanites went "up," they would be headed south. It appears then that Lehi-Nephi was north of Shilom and that Shemlon was even further north, but Sorenson places Shemlon south of both Shilom and Lehi-Nephi.
Alma, who was a priest of king Noah, aroused the wrath of the king by siding with a prophet named Abinadi. Alma fled when the king sent his servants to kill him. He started preaching and gathered together a number of followers, whom he led to a place called Mormon, which was near the "waters of Mormon." Sorenson identifies the waters of Mormon with Lake Atitlan and states that the distance between Lehi-Nephi and Mormon was a two-day journey. He says further that both Mormon and another city called Jerusalem were on Lake Atitlan.
The Book of Mormon does not tell us how many days Alma traveled to reach Mormon, but it states twice that Mormon was "in the borders of the land" (Mosiah 18:4, 31). When the king discovered a movement of people towards Mormon, he sent an army after Alma. Alma was warned by the Lord and led his group into the wilderness. After traveling for eight days, they reached a place which they called Helam. In the meantime, another Lamanite army was pursuing Ammon and Limhi, who were making their escape towards Zarahemla. However, after two days the Lamanites became lost and continued to wander "for many days" (Mosiah 23:30), until they found a place called Amulon. Both the Lamanites and the people of Amulon decided to set out to find the way back to the land of Nephi, but discovered Helam instead.
The fact that the Lamanite army which pursued Ammon and Limhi became lost after traveling only two days, and that neither the Lamanites nor the people of Amulon, who included priests of king Noah, knew the way back to the land of Nephi, suggests that the territory between Lehi-Nephi and Helam was very unfamiliar. This, again, implies that Lehi-Nephi was in some remote part of the land, and that the Lamanites around Lehi-Nephi had been more or less isolated for some time from the northern parts of the land of Nephi which bordered on the land of Zarahemla. But this would not be the case if Lehi-Nephi were the city of Nephi, because there had been continual wars between the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla.
Limhi had also sent out a group of men, before the arrival of Ammon, to search for the land of Zarahemla. They too became lost and apparently traveled far north of Zarahemla, but managed to find their way back to Lehi-Nephi. Again, this suggests the isolation of Lehi-Nephi and its remoteness from the land of Zarahemla.
It should be noted that although Sorenson says the distance between Lehi-Nephi and Mormon was a two-day journey, his map shows an almost equal distance between Mormon and Helam, when according to the text, it should be four times as great (Mosiah 23:3).
A later passage says: "now the Lamanites and the Amalekites and the people of Amulon had built a great city, which was called Jerusalem." And Jerusalem "was away joining the borders of Mormon" (Alma 21: 1-2). Another reference groups Jerusalem with Amulon and Helam: "the Amalekites and the Amulonites and the Lamanites who were in the land of Amulon, and also in the land of Helam, and who were in the land of Jerusalem, and in fine, in all the land round about . . . were stirred up by the Amalekites and by the Amulonites" (Alma 24:1). It is difficult to reconcile all of this. Jerusalem is supposed to be joining the borders of Mormon, but it seems also to be near Amulon and Helam. Helam, we know, was an eight-day journey from Mormon, and the Lamanite army had also been lost for many days in the wilderness before reaching Amulon. This implies that Jerusalem was some distance from Mormon, although of the three cities - Jerusalem, Amulon, and Helam - Jerusalem may have been the farthest south, and therefore, the closest to Mormon. But it is doubtful that Mormon and Jerusalem could have been as near to each other as Sorenson indicates.
Jerusalem figures in a later account concerning the four sons of Mosiah II, who decided to labor as missionaries among the Lamanites. Accordingly, they left Zarahemla and "journeyed many days in the wilderness," until they "arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites" (Alma 17:9, 13). They then separated and went to different cities. Ammon went to Ishmael, where he had great success in converting king Lamoni. His brethren, however, were not so fortunate. Aaron went to Jerusalem, but since the people would not listen to him, he left that city and went to Ani-Anti, where he found Muloki and Ammah. Since they also were meeting with resistance, all three departed and went to Middoni, but there they were thrown in prison. After their release had been obtained by Ammon and Lamoni, Aaron set out from Middoni and came to the city of Nephi, where he was received by the king.
Sorenson places both Jerusalem and Ani-Anti on the south shore of Lake Atitlan, Jerusalem lying to the west and Ani-Anti to the east. They are, therefore, south of Mormon, which Sorenson places north of the lake. East of Ani-Anti is Ishmael, and Middoni lies to the south of Ishmael; further east of Ishmael is Nephi. However, the text indicates a different arrangement. King Lamoni intended to take Ammon from Ishmael to the city of Nephi to meet his father, who was king over the whole land of Nephi. But, "the voice of the Lord came to Ammon, saying: Thou shalt not go up to the land of Nephi . . . but thou shalt go to the land of Middoni." Lamoni then said to Ammon, "Come, I will go with thee down to the land of Middoni" (Alma 20:2, 7). These references indicate that Nephi was "up" or south of Ishmael, while Middoni was "down" or north of Ishmael. Again, after Ammon and Lamoni freed Aaron from the prison in Middoni, they returned to Ishmael, while Aaron went on to Nephi. The king questioned Aaron about Ammon: "I desire to know the cause why he has not come up out of Middoni with thee" (Alma 22:3). This too indicates that Nephi was "up" or south of Middoni.
When Aaron left Jerusalem, he "came over" to Ani-Anti, and after leaving Ani-Anti, he "came over" to Middoni (Alma 21:11-12). This suggests that Jerusalem, Ani-Anti, and Middoni formed a horizontal line. And since Middoni was north of both Ishmael and Nephi, Ani-Anti must also be north of those cities, rather than west. But Sorenson has reversed the positions of Ishmael and Middoni, placing Middoni south of Ishmael, instead of north, while he locates Nephi east of Ishmael and Middoni, instead of south.
In the city of Nephi, Aaron succeeded in converting the king who ruled over the whole land of Nephi. The Book of Mormon describes the territory over which the king ruled: "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 . . . through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon" (Alma 22:27). Here at last we are back on familiar territory. The text also indicates that the lands occupied by the Lamanites consisted of three zones: "Now, the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and 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). Thus the three zones were west of the land of Zarahemla, west of the land of Nephi, and an area on the west coast which included "the place of their fathers' first inheritance." The cities of Lehi-Nephi, Shilom and Shemlon, appear to have been located in the third zone, and therefore, Lehi-Nephi cannot be identified with the city of Nephi.
Another discrepancy between the Book of Mormon and Sorenson's account is the placement of Onidah. Amalickiah, who went to the land of Nephi, persuaded the king to direct his people to prepare to go to battle against the Nephites. However, many of the Lamanites were afraid to fight the Nephites and fled. Amalickiah followed after them: "he went forward to the place which was called Onidah, for thither had all the Lamanites fled; . . . therefore they fled to Onidah, to the place of arms" (Alma 47:5). Near Onidah there was a mountain called Antipas, where all of the Lamanites gathered. Sorenson says that "Onidah clearly was in broken country no great distance from the capital city of Lehi-Nephi" (Sorenson 1985, 252). However, after Amalickiah gained control of the Lamanites at Onidah, he "marched with his armies . . . to the land of Nephi, to the city of Nephi, which was the chief city" (Alma 47:20). If Onidah was no great distance from Nephi, it would be considered to be in the land of Nephi, whereas the text says that Amalickiah marched back from Onidah to the land of Nephi. The implication is that the Lamanites had fled all the way to the land of Zarahemla. Onidah, therefore, must have been some distance from the city of Nephi.
We have found that Sorenson's map of the land of Nephi does not stand up under analysis any better than his model of the land of Zarahemla. He identifies Lehi-Nephi with the city of Nephi, when, in fact, they seem to be distinct places, remote from each other. And his placement of cities relative to each other does not follow directional indicators in the text. We must now consider some features of lands northward.
North of Zarahemla was the city of Bountiful, which was also north of Jershon (Alma 27:22). We can assume from Alma 52 that Bountiful was west of Mulek, which was itself near the east sea (Alma 51:26). Between the two cities were some plains (Alma 52:20). But the name Bountiful was also given to a region of land which stretched from the city of Bountiful to the west sea. North of the land of Bountiful was a land called Desolation: "Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful . . . . And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus 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 the land southward" (Alma 22:31-32).
In addition, there was a narrow pass between the land southward and the land northward: "they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east" (Alma 50:34). This reference seems to indicate that the narrow pass was bordered by the sea on both the east and the west.
Toward the end of the Book of Mormon, the Nephites are forced to abandon their cities to the south and are pushed northward by the Lamanites. They arrive first at the city of Angola, but are driven from there to the land of David. From David they "marched forth and came to the land of Joshua, which was in the borders west by the seashore" (Mormon 2:6). They remained there for about fifteen years, but again the Lamanites forced them out and pursued them to the land of Jashon. Mormon tells us that "the city of Jashon was near the land where Ammaron had deposited the records" (Mormon 2:17). Ammaron had hidden the records in the hill Shim in the land of Antum (Mormon 1:3). The Nephites were soon driven out of Jashon "until we had come northward to the land which was called Shem" (Mormon 2:20). Shem was apparently in the land of Desolation, for the Nephites waged a successful battle against the Lamanites "until we had again taken possession of the lands of our inheritance" (Mormon 2:27). Several years later, however, the Nephites made a treaty with the Lamanites: "And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward" (Mormon 2:29).
After remaining in Shem for about fifteen years, the Nephites received word that the Lamanites were again preparing for battle. They therefore gathered "at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward" (Mormon 3:5). Three years later, the Lamanites succeeded in taking the city of Desolation, and the Nephites fled to Teancum which "lay in the borders by the seashore; and it was also near the city Desolation" (Mormon 4:3). For about twelve years the Nephites and Lamanites fought around the cities of Desolation and Teancum, but finally the Nephites were defeated and forced to flee to Boaz. At this time, Mormon went back to the hill Shim to get the records which Ammaron had hidden. Driven out of Boaz, the Nephites came to the city of Jordan, which they held for about five years, but they were again put to flight. Finally, Mormon wrote to the king of the Lamanites, asking him to allow the Nephites to gather to the hill Cumorah, which "was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains" (Mormon 6:4).
Let us review what we have learned. We know that the Nephites fled westward to Joshua near the sea. The hill Shim was somewhere between Jashon and Shem. Shem was north of Jashon and seems to have been actually in the land northward and close to the city of Desolation, which was itself near the narrow pass. The narrow pass led from the land northward into the land southward. The south entrance to the pass was through the land Bountiful, while the city of Desolation must have been near the northern approach to the pass by the west sea. The hill Shim seems also to have been on the west, because the Book of Ether tells us that a Jaredite king named Omer passed by the hill and "came over" to the place where the Nephites were destroyed (Cumorah), "and from thence eastward" to the sea (Ether 9:3). Teancum was near Desolation, but also by the sea - presumably the west sea. Boaz must also have been on the west, for Mormon went back from there to the hill Shim. Thus, all of the sites from Joshua to Boaz appear to have been on the west. The hill Cumorah, however, seems to have been on a line with the hill Shim, but in the direction of the east sea.
Sorenson places Joshua on the west coast, but he says that from there the Nephites "fled headlong across the narrow neck and into the land northward all the way to the land of Jashon" (Sorenson 1985, 343). His map makes clear that by this he means that the Nephites fled all the way to the east coast and then journeyed through the narrow pass to Jashon. However, there is nothing in the text which suggests that the Nephites traveled across the neck of land to the east coast, or that Jashon was approached by means of the narrow pass. Nevertheless, Sorenson places Jashon, the hill Shim, Shem, Desolation, and Teancum all on the east coast.
In addition, Sorenson positions the city of Desolation near the south end of the narrow pass, while Shem is to the north.. East of Shem is the hill Shim, which is therefore also north of Desolation, and further north of Shim is the hill Cumorah. Teancum is east of Desolation, by the sea and south of Shim. None of this appears to correspond with the text. We would expect Desolation and Teancum to be north of Shem and the hill Shim, and Desolation should be near the north end of the narrow pass. All of the sites from Jashon to Teancum should be on the west coast rather than the east, and Cumorah should be east of Shim, rather than north.
The hill Cumorah was the scene of the final battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites, but Moroni tells us that it was also known as the hill Ramah, where the Jaredites perished (Ether 15:11). The Jaredites had occupied the land northward, where they built their principal city called Moron. We are given several indications of the relationship between Moron and Nephite territory. Ether 7:6 says: "Now the land of Moron, where the king dwelt, was near the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites." Ether 9:3 states further that Omer, a Jaredite king, "departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore." Another passage says: "their flocks began to flee before the poisonous serpents, towards the land southward, which was called by the Nephites Zarahemla" (Ether 9:31). Therefore, Moron was north of Desolation and the hill Shim, but the land of the Jaredites was close enough for their flocks to wander into the land southward.
The Book of Ether refers to a few other sites and geographical features, although the information given is very sketchy. It says that a man named Corihor "went over and dwelt in the land of Nehor," but it also says that "he came up unto the land of Moron where the king dwelt" (Ether 7:4-5). The words "went over" would seem to indicate either east or west, but "came up" would mean that Moron was south of Nehor. Nehor may therefore have been either northeast or northwest of Moron. The text also tells us that Noah, the son of Corihor, "did obtain the land of their first inheritance; and he became a king over that part of the land" (Ether 7:16). But we are not given any indication where this land was. Somewhere near both Moron and Nehor was the hill Ephraim. (Ether 7:9).
A battle between Coriantumr and Shared took place in the valley of Gilgal. From there, Coriantumr pursued Shared to the plains of Heshlon, but he was driven back to the valley of Gilgal. The text does not give us any directional indicators, but these areas must have been near Moron.
Ether 8:2 says that Jared, the son of Omer, "came and dwelt in the land of Heth." Since the story of Jared includes a character named Akish, the land of Heth may have been near another region called the wilderness of Akish. This wilderness was apparently north of Moron, for Coriantumr, who had been hiding there with his army, "came up unto the land of Moron, and gave battle unto Lib" (Ether 14:11). Moron could not have been too far from the coast, because "Coriantumr did press forward upon Lib, that he fled to the borders upon the seashore" (Ether 14:12). However, Lib routed the army of Coriantumr, and "they fled again to the wilderness of Akish. And it came to pass that Lib did pursue him until he came to the plains of Agosh" (Ether 14:14-15). All of this suggests that the seacoast, Moron, and the wilderness of Akish were in fairly close proximity to each other. The plains of Agosh, however, may have been beyond the wilderness of Akish.
From the plains of Agosh, Coriantumr fled from Shiz, the brother of Lib: "Shiz pursued after Coriantumr, and he did overthrow many cities . . . . the people began to flock together in armies, throughout all the face of the land" (Ether 14:17-19). Coriantumr fled "eastward, even to the borders by the seashore." However, Coriantumr routed the armies of Shiz and pursued them to the land of Corihor: "And they pitched their tents in the valley of Corihor; and Coriantumr pitched his tents in the valley of Shurr. Now the valley of Shurr was near the hill Comnor" (Ether 14:26-28). Some tremendous battles occurred in this region. Then Coriantumr fled to the waters of Ripliancum, which the text explains, means "large" or "to exceed all." Finally, the armies of Coriantumr "did flee southward, and did pitch their tents in a place which was called Ogath. And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah" (Ether 15:10-11). The final Jaredite battle took place here.
Sorenson says that the region of the two valleys and the hill Comnor were near Cumorah. However, this does not seem possible. The plains of Agosh were evidently beyond the wilderness of Akish, which was itself north of Moron, and Moron was north of Cumorah. From the plains of Agosh, Shiz pursued Coriantumr through "many cities" to the east sea, and from the east sea, Shiz fled to the valley of Corihor. The text does not tell us in which direction the valley of Corihor lay, but it appears to have been north of and some distance from Cumorah.
Sorenson points out that most of the events in the Book of Mormon take place within a relatively small area. He also concludes that the hill Cumorah (or Ramah), where the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place, could not have been located in New York: "The Book of Mormon makes clear that the demise of both Jaredites and Nephites took place near the narrow neck of land. Yet New York is thousands of miles away from any plausible configuration that could be described as this narrow neck. Thus the scripture itself rules out the idea that the Nephites perished near Palmyra" (Sorenson 1985, 44). This is certainly one point upon which we can agree.
The Book of Mormon gives us a bit more information about lands which were further north. Alma 63 says that about 55 B.C. a group of 5,400 men with their families departed from Zarahemla and went into the land northward. In the same year, a man named Hagoth built a 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" (Alma 63:5). Hagoth built other ships, which carried people and supplies into the land northward.
About ten years later, there was another large migration of people from Zarahemla to the land northward: "And they did travel to an exceedingly great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water and many rivers. . . . And it came to pass 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 3:4, 8).
Sorenson does not allow any movement of people farther north than the Valley of Mexico, where Mexico City is located, or perhaps the state of Nayarit on the west coast of Mexico. However, this seems hardly credible. Many people journeyed by ship, and the last large migration traveled "an exceedingly great distance." The people spread out even to the north sea, and of course there is no sea in northern Mexico.
Sorenson and his colleagues obviously placed a great deal of hope in his book. It was meant to be an answer to critics, who have pointed out for many years that Mormons have not been able to identify the site of even one city mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Sorenson eliminated all rival interpretations by saying that they all contain "fatal flaws." However, Sorenson's map, which is the very best effort that Mormons have made to plot the lands of the Book of Mormon, utterly fails to correspond to the text.
A number of people have thought that the setting of the Book of Mormon is in the Great Lakes region of North America. Vernal Holley attempted to work out geographical correspondences, but the actual map sketched by Holley does not correspond with the Book of Mormon. Holley identifies the river Sidon with the Genesee River in New York State, accepting the assumption that the river Sidon flowed from south to north, although there is not a single passage in the Book of Mormon that states this. As we have seen, there is abundant evidence that the head of the Sidon was south of Antionum and near Nephihah, both of which were near the east sea. Holley claims that the east sea is Lake Ontario and the west sea is Lake Erie, while the city of Zarahemla was just south of Lake Ontario and west of the Genesee River. Holley also identifies the hill Onidah in the land of Antionum with Oneida Castle, but Oneida is not bordering on Lake Ontario, as Antionum bordered on the east sea. According to Holley, the "narrow strip of wilderness" which separated the land of Zarahemla from the land of Nephi corresponds to a ridge of land running from the mouth of the Genesee River westward to the Niagara River, but the Book of Mormon clearly states that the strip of wilderness "ran from the sea east even to the sea west," passing by the head of the river Sidon and that "the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west . . . . from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon" (Alma 22:27; 50:8, 11). Holley's strip of wilderness would have to run east from Lake Erie to the head of the Genesee River and then turn sharply north to Lake Ontario. Holley places Morianton north of his sea west, but the Book of Mormon declares that it was "on the east borders by the seashore" (Alma 51:26). Holley indicates that Lehi landed on the Atlantic coast and that the land of Lehi-Nephi was also on the east coast, but the Book of Mormon states that the Lamanites lived in "the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and 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). "The place of their fathers' first inheritance" must refer to Lehi's landing site, which was therefore on the west coast. Holley's geographical model does not fit well with the Book of Mormon.
Let us place ourselves in the position of someone living in the early 1800s. We might have a map showing the general outlines of Central America, but many regions on our map would be still unexplored and mysterious. If we were unable to obtain accurate information about the geography of Central America, we might decide to construct our own map, substituting a well-known area of the world. And if we were also writing a Nephite scripture, we might turn to the Bible, so that our New World promised land would parallel the biblical promised land. Indeed, there are many aspects of the Book of Mormon which suggest that its setting is patterned after Palestine.
The land southward was divided by a strip of wilderness which separated the land of Nephi to the south from the land of Zarahemla to the north. Similarly, the empire of David and Solomon was later divided into the southern kingdom of Judah, comprising the territories of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the northern kingdom of Israel, which included the lands allotted to the other ten tribes. The Lamanites occupied wilderness areas along the west coast and also to the east and north of Zarahemla; Judah was bordered on the west by the lands of the Philistines along the Mediterranean coast, while Ammonites lived to the east of Israel, and Phoenicians dwelled farther north on the west coast. North of Zarahemla was a narrow neck of land; Israel also narrows in the north between the Mediterranean and the Sea of Chinnereth (Galilee).
Our analysis of the text revealed that the head of the river Sidon was in the east and that the river then flowed north, west, and south, and from there into the sea. This exactly describes the course of the Jabbok river, which originates east of the Jordan Valley, then runs north and west, until its waters flow into the Jordan River and continue southward to empty into the Dead Sea.
The city of Zarahemla, which was in the central portion of the land, corresponds quite well with Shechem, in the center of Israel. The neighboring cities of Noah, Ammonihah, and Aaron were north of the river Sidon and east of Zarahemla; Succoth , Penuel, and Mahanaim were north of the Jabbok River and east of Shechem. Nephihah was on the east coast near the head of the Sidon and corresponds with Rabbah near the head of the Jabbok River. Moroni might represent Heshbon, but placed further north.
Melek, which was west of the river Sidon, corresponds with Shiloh, which was west of the juncture of the Jabbok and Jordan rivers. The wilderness of Hermounts represents Mt. Gerizim, which is northwest of Shiloh, near Shechem. Gideon, east of the river Sidon, may be Jazer, east of the Jordan. The city of Manti, west of the Sidon and south of Gideon, corresponds with Gilgal, west of the Jordan and south of Jazer. South of Manti in the land of Nephi was Minon, which represents Jericho, south of Gilgal. To the west of Manti lay the cities of Zeezrom, Cumeni, and Antiparah, stretching east to west. These cities correspond with Michmash, Mizpah, and Beth-Horon, which form almost a straight line westward from Gilgal. Beyond Antiparah was an unnamed city by the west sea, which might be Jabneel, near the Mediterranean Sea. North of these cities was Judea, representing Bethel.
Antionum was east of Zarahemla and south of Jershon, corresponding to Tishbe, northeast of Shechem and south of Jabesh-gilead. The city of Lehi was in the northeast and might be Abel-meholah. Other cities in the north but near the east sea included Morianton, Omner, Gid and Mulek; these cities might correspond respectively to Ramoth-gilead, Edrei, Ashtaroth, and Golan.
An obvious difficulty here is the fact that there is no east sea in Palestine, although the Arabian peninsula is surrounded on three sides by water. However, Judah was bordered on the east by the Dead Sea, and I believe that the author of the Book of Mormon simply continued the coastline east and north, cutting off the lands east of Palestine. This alteration was necessary in order to make Palestine more closely resemble Central America.
I have argued that Lehi-Nephi was not the city of Nephi, but was in a remote part of the land, along with the cities of Shilom and Shemlon. The fact that Ammon's group, sent by Mosiah to find Lehi-Nephi, wandered in the wilderness for forty days seems to be a very large clue. It recalls the forty years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. Shemlon, where the Lamanite king lived, could be Ramses. The hill north of Shilom, which was "a resort for the children of Nephi at the time they fled out of the land," corresponds to Pihahiroth, where the Israelites encamped while fleeing from Egypt. Near Pihahiroth were Migdol and Baalzephon, represented by Lehi-Nephi and Shilom.
Alma, we recall, fled from Lehi-Nephi to Mormon, which was "in the borders of the land." It corresponds to Beer-sheba, which marked the southern boundary of the lands of the Israelites. From Mormon, Alma made an eight-day journey to Helam, which might be Ashdod in Philistine territory on the west coast. Helam was near Amulon and Jerusalem, which represent two other Philistine cities near Ashdod, Ekron to the northeast and Ashkelon to the south. When Alma's people left Helam, they came after a day's journey to the valley of Alma, which corresponds with the Valley of Elah, east of Ashdod.
We have seen that Jerusalem, Ani-Anti, and Middoni seem to have formed a line east and west. South of Middoni was Ishmael, and further south was the city of Nephi. Joshua 10 suggests a configuration of cities which matches this arrangement. When the Israelites invaded Canaan, they quickly captured the cities of Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, and Hebron. Ani-Anti corresponds with Libnah, and Middoni with Makkedah, both of which were "over" from Ashkelon. Ishmael represents Lachish, and Nephi corresponds to Hebron. Midian, a city near Ishmael, could be Eglon.
Onidah and the mountain called Antipas, north of the land of Nephi, correspond with Jezreel and Mt. Gilboa in northern Israel. North of Zarahemla was the city of Bountiful, corresponding with Beth-shan at the east end of the Valley of Jezreel.
When the Nephites started their retreat northward from Zarahemla, they were driven first to Angola and then to David. These two places might represent Dothan and Taanach, north of Shechem. From David, the Nephites fled to Joshua near the west sea, corresponding with Dor on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Nephites then retreated to Jashon, which was near the hill Shim. Jashon represents Megiddo, and the hill Shim is Mt. Carmel. Shem was north of Jashon and might be Shimron, north of the Kishon River. The Nephites gathered next at the city of Desolation, representing Aphek, northwest of Shimron. Teancum was near Desolation and by the sea, corresponding with Acco, north of Aphek on the west coast. From Teancum, the Nephites fled first to Boaz and then to Jordan, which represent the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon.
We should also note the exchange of names here. The river Sidon includes part of the Jordan River, while the city of Jordan corresponds with the city of Sidon.
The hill Cumorah, which was east of the hill Shim, corresponds with Mt. Tabor, east of Mt. Carmel. Cumorah was in "a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains," and north of Mt. Tabor is the Sea of Galilee and the Waters of Merom. Cumorah was also the hill Ramah, where the final Jaredite battle took place.
The principal Jaredite city of Moron was north of Desolation and corresponds with Damascus in Syria. The land of Nehor might be Gebal (Byblos) northwest of Damascus on the coast. The land of Heth could be the city of Laish (Dan) southwest of Damascus. The hill Ephraim corresponds with Mt. Hermon between Laish and Damascus. The wilderness of Akish might be the mountain range called Anti-Lebanon, while the valley of Gilgal and the plains of Heshlon would lie between Mount Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon. The plains of Agosh would correspond to the area northeast of Damascus in the direction of Tadmor. Tadmor would mark the point on the east sea to which Shiz pursued Coriantumr. If the region of the two valleys was westward from Tadmor, it would correspond to Hamath on the Orontes River. The waters of Ripliancum represent the Mediterranean Sea. Ogath might be En-dor near Mt. Tabor, which would be the hill Ramah.
The land northward, which was settled by migrations of people traveling by ship and on foot, would correspond to northern Syria and Asia Minor and probably Armenia as well. The missions of Nephi and Lehi to the land northward would have parallels in the journeys of Paul to such cities as Antioch, Tarsus, Miletus, Ephesus, and Smyrna.
The large bodies of water encountered by one group which traveled "an exceedingly great distance" northward may refer to lakes Van and Urmia in Armenia south of Mt. Ararat. The north sea would correspond to the Black Sea.
The text requires that the land between Bountiful and Desolation narrow to a relatively small area, since Alma 22:32 and Helaman 4:7 state that it required no more than a day or a day and a half to cross the neck of land. Apparently the sea cut in a short distance on the west coast, because the text says that when the Nephites battled the Lamanites at the city of Desolation, they "did slay a great number of them, and their dead were cast into the sea" (Mormon 3:8). They could not have cast the bodies into the sea unless Desolation was near the coast. But the west sea could not have run inland very far, since Omer passed by the hill Shim before continuing eastward, which he could not have done if he was completely separated from the hill Shim by a channel of water. The Nephites also retreated northward to Shem from Joshua and Jashon on the west coast, and Mormon went back to the hill Shim from Boaz. However, the sea must have extended inland a considerable distance on the east, for the Book of Ether says: "Wherefore they did go into the land southward, to hunt food for the people . . . . And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land" (Ether 10:19-20). This passage indicates that a channel of the sea separated the land southward from the land northward. This is a geographical feature which Sorenson does not mention or indicate on his map. Another passage suggests the existence of this barrier of water. A group of people from Morianton decided to flee into the land northward. They passed through the land of Bountiful, but Moroni, who set out to stop them, did not overtake them "until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east" (Alma 50:34). Since Morianton was on the east coast and the people passed through Bountiful, they must have been heading west to cross over the narrow neck of land. Therefore, they must have been blocked from going northward by the sea channel, and the channel must have run for a fairly long distance westward.
There is one aspect of the geography of the Middle East which suggests this channel of the sea. The Red Sea cuts inland, dividing Egypt from the Sinai Peninsula, and there is only a narrow neck of land between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. I have identified the hill Cumorah with Mt. Tabor, but this channel gives Cumorah another connotation; it also represents Mt. Sinai. It was on Mt. Sinai that Moses received the stone tablets with the law written on them, and it was in the hill Cumorah that Mormon buried the records which he had taken out of the hill Shim.
The sea channel would also correspond with the southern boundaries of the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun, which separated them from the tribe of Manasseh.
If my map is compared to a map of Central America, certain resemblances will be found. The peninsula where the cities of Mulek, Gid, Omner, and Morianton are located represents the Yucatan peninsula. Correspondingly, the river Sidon would flow through Nicaragua and Honduras, and the city of Zarahemla would be located in Honduras. The land of Zarahemla would therefore include the Yucatan, Guatemala, Honduras, and part of Nicaragua. The land of Nephi would extend through Costa Rica and Panama, but would also include El Salvador and the west coast of Nicaragua. The region where Lehi-Nephi was located would be the west coast of Colombia.
The sea channel would extend from Campeche across Chiapas. The hill Cumorah would be "south" of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, perhaps in Tabasco. Moron would correspond with Mexico City, while the region of the two valleys would be in the area of Guadalajara. The land northward, which was settled by migrations of people, would correspond to the United States, and the large bodies of water in the far north would be the Great Lakes.
There is, of course, no channel of the sea which extends through southern Mexico, although the land does narrow considerably between Panama and Colombia. However, the Book of Mormon says that at the time of the death of Jesus, the New World was shaken by great geological convulsions which lasted for three hours: "And there was a great and terrible destruction in the land southward. But behold, there was a more great and terrible destruction in the land northward; for behold, the whole face of the land was changed" (3 Nephi 8:11-12). A number of cities, including Moroni and Jerusalem, sank into the sea, while other cities were buried in the earth. We know from another passage that great changes occurred in the area of Bountiful: "there were a great multitude gathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place" (3 Nephi 11:1). It seems, therefore, that according to the Book of Mormon, Central America assumed its present shape at this time. The channel of the sea may have been filled in by land, while in other areas, land sank into the sea. Two later passages - Mormon 2:29 and 3:5 - refer to the narrow pass which led from the land southward to the land northward, without mentioning the sea.
The cataclysm which struck the New World may have been suggested by Plato's description of the destruction of Atlantis: "But afterward there occurred violent earthquakes and floods, and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea" (Plato 1961, Timaeus 25d).
We may also note that the Book of Mormon shows a surprising interest in geology. About 6 B.C., Samuel interrupted a prophecy to deliver a brief discourse on earth science: "and the earth shall shake and tremble; and the rocks which are upon the face of this earth, which are both above the earth and beneath, which ye know at this time are solid, or the more part of it is one solid mass, shall be broken up; yea, they shall be rent in twain, and shall ever after be found in seams and in cracks, and in broken fragments upon the face of the whole earth, yea, both above the earth and beneath" (Helaman 14:21-22).
We have determined from our map that Lehi landed on the northwest coast of Colombia and that the city of Zarahemla was located in Honduras. Other cities were located on the Yucatan peninsula, while the city of Desolation was near the west coast of central Mexico. The Times and Seasons had asserted in 1842 that Lehi landed just south of the Isthmus of Darien and that the city of Zarahemla was located in Central America, perhaps in Guatemala. In 1843, Orson Pratt said that the Nephites had inhabited the cities of Yucatan and that the city of Desolation was in or near Yucatan. It is surprising how close these statements are to our conclusions; they seem to confirm the map which we have constructed. However, Mormons did not endorse this interpretation of Book of Mormon geography until after John Lloyd Stephens published his book. Joseph Smith's letter to John Bernhisel indicates that he accepted Stephens's book instantly and wholeheartedly, although he had previously identified Nephite sites in Illinois and Missouri. The enthusiasm with which the Times and Seasons received Stephens's book leads us to suspect that Mormons did know at least a few details about the geographical scheme.
However, Oliver Cowdery, W. W. Phelps, and Orson Pratt had all firmly placed the hill Cumorah in the state of New York, and Phelps referred to the prairies of the Midwest as the land of Desolation. Both before and after 1842, Orson Pratt had developed his own scheme, which placed Lehi's landing in Chile and Zarahemla in northern Colombia. The fact that Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders felt no loyalty to the geographic model of the Book of Mormon suggests that it was not the product of either Joseph or of anyone close to him, and that Mormons did not realize how vital the correct model is to understanding the text. This is a strong indication that the Book of Mormon was not written by Joseph Smith. While he was living, Joseph allowed others to make statements which conflicted with the text. But, if Joseph had written the book, he would not have permitted any variation from the correspondences which exist between the geographic model, Palestine, and Central America. The scheme was carefully worked out and is locked together so firmly that it can not be altered. This has important implications in the dispute over whether the Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith or Solomon Spalding.
After Lehi's family journeyed for three days in the wilderness, they camped in a valley by the side of a river. This river, which Lehi named Laman, "emptied into the Red Sea" (1 Nephi 2:8). However, the text provides many indications that Lehi's camp in the wilderness was north of Jerusalem. For example, Lehi tells Nephi that he and his brothers must go back to Jerusalem: "go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness" (1 Nephi 3:4). They set out "to go up to the land of Jerusalem" (1 Nephi 3:9). Since Lehi's camp was "down" and Jerusalem was "up," the camp must have been north of Jerusalem. Furthermore, according to the text, Lehi possessed land north of Jerusalem. After Nephi and his brothers failed in their first attempt to obtain the plates form Laban in Jerusalem, Nephi said, "we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us. . . . therefore let us go down to the land of our father's inheritance, for behold he left gold and silver, and all manner of riches" (1 Nephi 3:15-16). Thus both the camp in the wilderness and the land of Lehi's inheritance were "down" or north of Jerusalem.
There are many other passages which indicate that Lehi's camp was "down" or north and that Jerusalem was "up" or south, including: 1 Nephi 3:22-23; 4:1, 4, 33-35; 5:1, 5-6; and 7:2-5.
How can we reconcile the directions given in he text with the fact that the Red Sea is south of Jerusalem? First, we should note that the Dead Sea was not always known by that name; originally it was called the Salt Sea (Gen. 14:3; Num. 34:3, 12; Josh. 15:5). This suggests that it might have been known by other names. An incident in 2 Kings might have provided a basis for referring to the Dead Sea as the Red Sea. When Jehoram and Jehoshaphat were traveling through Edom to put down the rebellion of the king of Moab, Elisha told them to remain in a valley: "And it came to pass in the morning . . . that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water. . . . and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood" (2 King 3:20, 22). Moab was, of course, east of the Dead Sea. Furthermore, the name of Edom means "red" and is derived from the name of Esau, who was covered with red hair (Gen. 25:25, 30).
In addition, the Book of Mormon gives us an explicit indication that "Red Sea" does not always mean what it appears to mean. The text quotes Isaiah 9:1, but with an important difference: "and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations" (2 Nephi 19:1). The Book of Mormon is unique in its reading of "Red Sea"; the term does not appear in any other version of the Bible. Thus the Book of Mormon seems to give "Red Sea" its own peculiar meaning.
Other Mormon scriptures suggest that there may be a deeper meaning to the term "Red Sea." We have already seen that the Book of Mormon records great geologic changes in the New World, and we might assume that similar convulsions have transformed the earth in other parts of the world. According to the Book of Moses, which Joseph Smith wrote after finishing the Book of Mormon, Enos, the son of Seth, led a group of people out of the land of Shulon to a land of promise, which was named after his son, Cainan (Moses 6:17). Enoch, the son of Jared, was born in the land of Cainan and became a seer. It is not clear where the land of Cainan was, but it was near a body of water, for Enoch says, "I journeyed from the land of Cainan, by the sea east" (Moses 6:42). If Cainan was bounded by a sea on the east, it may be that this body of water was the Red Sea, which at that time may have connected with what is now the Dead Sea. The Book of Moses says further that at the word of Enoch, "the earth trembled, and the mountains fled . . . and the rivers of water were turned out of their course . . . . There also came up a land out of the depth of the sea, and so great was the fear of the enemies of the people of God, that they fled and stood afar off and went upon the land which came up out of the depth of the sea" (Moses 7:13-14). The enemies which the text refers to are identified as the people of Canaan; therefore, it seems probable that these geologic changes either occurred near the biblical land of Canaan or actually created it out of the sea. A later work written by Joseph Smith, called the Book of Abraham, says that Egypt was discovered by the daughter of Ham and "when this woman discovered the land it was under water" (Abraham 1:24).
These passages reveal a world very different from the one that we know, one in which the Red Sea may have covered a much vaster area than it does at present. It is probable that this picture is derived from Herodotus. Herodotus reports that Egyptian priests told him that "the first man to rule Egypt was Min, in whose time the whole country, except the district around Thebes, was marsh, none of the land below Lake Moeris - seven days' voyage up river from the sea - then showing above the water" (Herodotus 1972, 131). He says further:
In Arabia not far from Egypt there is a very long narrow gulf running up from the Red Sea (as it is called) . . . . Now it is my belief that Egypt itself was originally some such arm of the sea - there were two gulfs, that is, one running from the Mediterranean southwards towards Ethiopia, and the other northwards from the Indian Ocean towards Syria, and the two almost met at their extreme ends, leaving only a small stretch of country between them. Suppose, now, that the Nile should change its course and flow into this gulf - the Red Sea - what is to prevent it from being silted up by the stream within, say, twenty thousand years? Personally I think even ten thousand would be enough. That being so, surely in the vast stretch of time which has passed before I was born, a much bigger gulf than this could have been turned into dry land by the silt brought down by the Nile . . . . (Herodotus 1972, 132-33)
Herodotus's theory fits very well with both the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham. It accounts for the fact that Egypt was originally under water when it was discovered by the daughter of Ham, and it explains the "sea east" referred to by Enoch and the sea from whose depths new land arose.
It seems evident therefore that the reason the Book of Mormon uses the term "Red Sea" in the way that it does is due to the fact that the sea once extended from the Indian Ocean northward toward Syria. Both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea would be the remnants of this gulf.
The Book of Mormon may also intentionally use "Red Sea" in order to relate Lehi's exodus with Moses' exodus. The Israelites under the leadership of Joshua, entered the land of Canaan north of the Dead Sea, and there are indications in the text that Lehi was traveling in the reverse direction. As already noted, Lehi's family traveled three days before setting up camp near a river, where Lehi "built an altar of stones" (1 Nephi 2:7). He then sent his sons back to Jerusalem to get the plates of Laban. After their second attempt, Nephi and his brothers were pursued by the servants of Laban: "we fled into the wilderness, and the servants of Laban did not overtake us, and we hid ourselves in the cavity of a rock" (1 Nephi 3:27). Similarly, Joshua stopped on the east side of the Jordan River and sent two spies to Jericho. They were discovered and pursued and remained hidden in the hills for three days, before returning to Joshua. The Israelites crossed the Jordan and encamped at Gilgal, where Joshua set up twelve stones. Thus, it appears that Lehi traveled north from Jerusalem to the Gilgal-Jericho area near the Jordan River.
As we have seen, Lehi left "gold and silver, and all manner of riches" in the land of his inheritance, which appears to have been north of Jerusalem. We are reminded of the fact that Jeremiah tried to leave Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin, which was north of Jerusalem. In addition, after the Israelites had destroyed Jericho, a man named Achan took some things which had been dedicated to the treasury of the Lord. He explained to Joshua: "When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it" (Josh. 7:21). This suggests Lehi's gold and silver.
When Lehi's group left their camp, they crossed the river and traveled for four days in a south-southeast direction, until they came to a place called Shazer. This would correspond to Mount Nebo or Pisgah east of the Jordan, where Moses stopped. From Shazer, they traveled in the same direction, "keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which were in the borders near the Red Sea" (1Nephi 16:14). After traveling many days, they came to a place called Nahom, where Ishmael died. If Lehi's group was journeying down the east side of the Dead Sea, Nahom may have been a point east of Mount Hor, where Aaron died.
From Nahom, Lehi's group turned eastward, and after an eight-year sojourn in the wilderness, they came to a land called Bountiful near a sea, which they named Irreantum. If Lehi traveled no further south than Mount Hor before turning east, his eight-year journey across Arabia would bring him approximately to the mouth of the Euphrates River on the Persian Gulf, southeast of the city of Ur. It was from Ur that Abraham set out on his journey along the Euphrates to Haran and then to Canaan. A famine drove him from Canaan to Egypt. When Lehi's group set sail for the promised land, therefore, they would have departed from a point near Ur, sailing down the Persian Gulf and across the Indian and Pacific oceans to Colombia, which we have discovered corresponds in Book of Mormon geography to Egypt. Nephi moved northward from their landing site to establish the city of Nephi, which corresponds to Hebron, just as Abraham left Egypt to return to Canaan and settled near Hebron. (See also the discussion in Recent Defenses of the Book of Mormon.)
Once again, it appears that we have a demonstration that the geography of the Book of Mormon was not worked out by either Joseph Smith or by any other Mormon leader. The route which I have described would carry Lehi across Arabia at about the thirtieth or thirty-first degree of north latitude. But, as we have seen, the statement copied by both Frederick G. Williams and John Bernhisel places Lehi's trek along the nineteenth degree of north latitude, which would bring him to about the middle of the coast of Oman along the Arabian Sea. This route may follow what appears to be the surface meaning of the text, but it makes no sense for Lehi to travel so far down the coast of the Red Sea and then turn inland, cutting all the way across the Arabian peninsula to the coast of Oman. The course across northern Arabia to the Persian Gulf would be more direct and a good deal shorter.
Although Joseph Smith did not publish the description of Lehi's journey, he obviously did not reject it, since it was kept among his papers. However, he certainly would not have even entertained the idea, if he understood the meaning of the text. I have already suggested that this statement actually came from Orson Pratt, and we have seen that Orson's interpretation of the text does not agree with the correct model. It appears that either Joseph Smith and the men around him did not have any insight into the Book of Mormon, or they simply tried to change the geography without seeing that there were contrary indications in the text. In either case, Joseph Smith could not have been the author.
I believe that we have discovered the actual route traveled by Lehi's group through the wilderness and across the ocean to the New World. I also believe that the true geographical model of the Book of Mormon is a map of Palestine altered to resemble Central America. I feel certain that this is the only map which is consistent with the text.
In the Old Testament there is no consistency in the use of "up" and "down." Some passages apparently retain the usual "north" and "south" meanings, while others, beginning with 1 Samuel, reverse these meanings. The New Testament, however, is more consistent in using the terms with the reversed meanings. Listed below are examples of the use of "up" and "down" with reversed meanings from the Old and New Testaments.
1 Sam. 15: And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.  Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.
1 Sam. 27: And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt.
2 Sam. 19: And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem? [Barzillai was crossing the Jordan river with King David.]
1 Kings 12: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.  Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
1 Kings 15: And Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.
1 Kings 20: And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it.
2 Kings 16: Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him
2 Kings 17: Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
2 Kings 18: And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it.  Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.  And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rab-shakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem.
2 Kings 24: At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.
2 Chron. 25: So Joash the king of Israel went up; and they saw one another in the face, both he and Amaziah king of Judah, at Beth-shemesh, which belongeth to Judah.
2 Chron. 36: Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.
Ezra 1: All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.
Ezra 7: This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.  And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.  For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.  I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.
Isa. 7: Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil against thee, saying,  Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal.
Isa. 36: Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them.
Jer. 35: But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem.
1 Sam. 13: Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made suppllication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. [The Philistines were encamped at Michmash, southwest of Gilgal.]
1 Sam. 15: And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal. [Carmel, not to be confused with Mt. Carmel, was south of Hebron.]
1 Sam. 29: And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? should it not be with the heads of these men? [The Philistines had gathered at Aphek, while the Israelites were encamped at Jezreel. Aphek was south of Jezreel.]
1 Kings 22: And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel.
2 Kings 2: And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. [They were departing from Gilgal, southeast of Bethel.]
2 Kings 9 So Jehu rode in a chariot, and went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there. And Ahaziah king of Judah was come down to see Joram.
2 Kings 10: And he arose and departed, and came to Samaria. And as he was at the shearing house in the way,  Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, Who are ye? And they answered, We are the brethren of Ahaziah; and we go down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen.
2 Chr. 18: Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab. And after certain years he went down to Ahab to Samaria.
Mark 10: And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him,  Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:
Luke 2: And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
John 2: And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, [Jesus was at Capernaum.]
John 11: And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. [Jesus had retreated to the town of Ephraim, northwest of Jericho.]
Acts 11: And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, [Peter had been with Cornelius in Caesarea.]
Acts 13: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.
Acts 15: When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. [Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch.]
Acts 21: And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. [Paul was in Tyre.]  And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. [Paul was in Caesarea.]  And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.
Acts 25: But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? [Paul was in Caesarea.]
Gal. 1: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.  Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
Gal. 2: Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
Mark 3: And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. [The scribes were in Galilee.]
Luke 2: And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. [Jesus and his parents were in Jerusalem.]
Luke 4: And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. [Jesus was in Nazareth.]
John 2: After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. [Jesus was in Cana, southwest of Capernaum.]
John 4: When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. [Jesus was in Cana, and the official lived in Capernaum.]
Acts 9: Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. [Paul was in Jerusalem.]
Acts 12: And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
Acts 15: And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. [This was in Antioch.]
Acts 18: And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. [Antioch was north of Caesarea.]
Acts 21: And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. [This was in Tyre.]
Acts 25: And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought. [Festus had been in Jerusalem.]  And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.
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