OR NEAR THE GULF OF MEXICO
by Joe Andersen 8-9-10
Materials, concepts, maps or conclusions presented at our forums or appearing on this website or
emailed to BMAF members and guests is the sole responsibility of the contribiuting author(s) and does
not necessarily imply that members of the Board of Directors or members of BMAF agree with all or
any part of the subject matter and is not sponsored in any way by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Joseph Allen, PhD, author, educator, and explorer, and his son Blake
propose that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico is the “narrow neck of land” spoken of in the Book of Mormon and that City Desolation was located near the Olmec site of San Lorenzo about 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. He also maintains that the huge mountains about 50 miles southeasterly of San Lorenzo is the Book of Mormon location of the uninhabited wilderness called Hermounts which "was “infested with wild and ravenous beasts”.
F. Richard Hauck, PhD proposes that the City Desolation could not have been located near the Gulf of Mexico but on the Pacific coastal corridor of Southern Mexico and near the southern part of the isthmus where he also believes the “narrow neck of land” was. He believes that city Desolation was located just north of the line between Bountiful and Desolation. He further believes that it was this west sea bountiful that was “… the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food” and that the city “Lib” was built nearby.
I am not sure yet what or where the “narrow neck of land” was, however, I am very confident that, according to the Book of Mormon, the city Desolation could not have been located on or near the Gulf Coast of Mexico. The only place it could have been located was on or very near the Pacific Coast and also near the isthmus.
City Desolation was located very near a “sea”
according to the Book of Mormon
Remember that Mormon and the Nephites, in the year AD 349, had just regained the lands of their inheritance, including Joshua on the west sea coast (Mormon 2:6 states ”…to the land of Joshua, which was in the borders west by the seashore.” They made a treaty in the year AD 350 with the Lamanite/Gadianton robbers giving up all the land southward of the point where the narrow pass began that led into the land southward. For the next 10 years Mormon fortified the area northward of that “treaty line.” His base for protecting that line was the city Desolation, which was located close enough to the “sea” to cast a great number of dead into the sea. Mormon first referenced the city Desolation in the year AD 361 saying at Mormon 3:5, 7-8:
5. …my people should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by [not in] the narrow pass which led into the land southward…The narrow pass leading into the land southward was part of the land southward that the Nephites had given up by the 350 treaty. Therefore, the city and land Desolation was the area just northward of the treaty line between Bountiful on the southward and Desolation on the northward.
7. …the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us; …in that year we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their own lands again.
8. …in the 362nd year they did come down again to battle. And we did beat them again, and did slay a great number of them, and their dead were cast into the sea. The sea must have been close enough to city Desolation for the dead bodies to have been cast into the sea
That sea was the west sea
I believe the Book of Mormon shows this sea to have been the west sea because the line between Desolation and Bountiful started at the west sea. Alma 50:33-34 states that Desolation was located southward from land northward and on the west sea coast:
3. …Moroni sent an army with their camp to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward.
34. …they did not head them until they had come to [not in] the borders of the land Desolation; [this was the line between Desolation and Bountiful] and there they did head them, by [not in] the narrow pass which led by the [west] sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea on the west… This means that they were stopped before they got into the land Desolation and Desolation was located “by the sea on the west.” The city Desolation was located by (but not in) the narrow pass that led into the land southward (see Mormon 3:5 cited above). Desolation was also located southward from the land northward.
To me the only reasonable construction that should be given these scriptures is that there was a narrow pass that began at the line between Desolation and Bountiful and it ran alongside and parallel to the west sea. It was this pass by the west sea that led into the land northward. It was within this pass that led by the west sea into the land northward that city Desolation was located. There was also a narrow pass (or passage) that began at the same treaty line and went southward into the land southward and it was within this pass that Morianton was headed in Bountiful, just before they got to Desolation. These scriptures confirm that the land Desolation bordered upon the west sea and that is why the city Desolation was also located by the west sea. There is never any reference in the Book of Mormon that city Desolation, or the land of Desolation, was located by the “north sea” or the “east sea” or the Gulf of Mexico. Remember the requirement that the narrow pass must have led by the west sea into the land land northward and the city Desolation must have been located near the narrow pass that led into the land southward and also near a “sea” into which the dead bodies were thrown. The west sea is the only sea mentioned in these scriptures. It will become even more apparent that city Desolation was not located near the gulf of Mexico as we read the account of Mormon’ s last battles leading to the final battle at Cumorah.
Setting the stage for the last great battle at Cumorah AD 385
According to Helaman chapter 3 in the year 46 BC there began a huge exodus by the Nephites out of the “land of Zarahemla” into the land northward to “inherit” the land of the Jaredites.
This should not be confused with the large groups of people (5,400 Men plus women and children plus many more) who left 10 years earlier (56 and 55 BC) at the time of Hagoth. Those many thousands of people “took their course northward” and “were never heard of more”. Because they were never heard from again and because the huge exodus from Zarahemla in the year 46 BC specifically located and populated the whole land of the Jaredites, means to me that the first groups of people, including Hagoth, probably were not located in the land of the Jaredites but they settled in lands or countries farther northward.
It is clear that the second group of people who started the huge migration (46 BC) from Zarahemla into the land of the Jaredites included Nephites and Ammonites. By the time that Mormon fled into the land northward (AD350) the entire land of the Jaredites (this included the land of Cumorah) was occupied by Nephites or Nephite sympathizers:
Helaman 3:3 …in the 46th [year] there was much contention and many dissensions; in the which there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth into the land northward to inherit the land.
Helaman 3:8 …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. [I believe that this is referring to the same east and west seas, (east and west of the land of Nephi and Zarahemla) and the North sea would be referring to the sea north of Zarahemla or the Gulf Coast and the south sea would be the sea south of the Gulf coast or the gulf of Tehuantepec.]
Helaman 3:9... And the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up ….that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities and their temples and their synagogues and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings.
Helaman 3:11... And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.
Helaman 3:12. …there were many of the people of Ammon, who were Lamanites by birth did also go forth into this land.
Helaman 3:13... And now there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people which are particular and very large, concerning them.
There must have been some route that so many people could have traveled and traded from the land of Zarahemla into the Jaredite land northward. Ted Stoddard explained this so very well in an Email he sent me August 2, 2010:
For centuries, the only reasonable way to get from Chiapas or Guatemala to Veracruz, Oaxaca, or the Mexico valley was to end up on the Pacific coast and go north through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. About fifty miles into the isthmus, the topography opens up, permitting travelers to continue to Veracruz or to follow trails into the mountains and thence to the Oaxaca or Mexico areas.
In a similar vein, travelers from the east wilderness (lowland jungle area of the Peten and Belize) or from the east sea (Caribbean off the coast of Belize) could not travel due west to go through the top of the isthmus because of (1) the mountainous terrain, especially in the Hermounts region at the top of and east of the isthmus, or (2) the marshy lagoons and rivers of Tabasco that made east-west travel almost impossible until the arrival of modern highways.
This Pacific route was probably the same route that the 11 year old Mormon took with his father about 346 years after the migration of 46 BC, from somewhere in this Jaredite land northward to Zarahemla. They probably would have traveled “the only reasonable route” southward through the small neck of land that was between the land northward and the land southward to the Pacific coast. After traveling some distance southward along the Pacific coast they would have journeyed inland to Zarahemla, the capital of the Nephites. Four years later Mormon witnessed many battles as the Lamanites/Gadianton Robbers began the final campaign to destroy the Nephites.
Thus began the last dramatic saga of the Nephite people as the Nephites from Zarahemla area were forced to flee for their lives to the west coast at Joshua, then northward along the Pacific coast into the land and city Desolation and then northward into the greater land northward where most of the Nephites were then living (remember the Nephites had filled the land Northward from the sea east to sea west and sea north to the sea south) which included the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and Cumorah. In the process they made three valiant stands: One at Joshua on the west coast; one at city Desolation near the treaty line by the west sea; and the last at Jordon at the narrow pass within the isthmus, before going into the Cumorah area.
Corroboration that city Desolation was not located on the
Gulf of Mexico but on the Pacific coast
The best approach to finally resolve the question is to trace the last war of the Nephites as Mormon took them from Zarahemla back the way he had come with his father along the Pacific corridor. As Stoddard suggests any other route would have been unreasonable. I will quote the principle scriptures from Mormon (in black) and add comments (in red). Numerals will be used to emphasize time periods and years:
Mormon 1:6. …I, being eleven years old, was carried by my father into the land southward,even to the land of Zarahemla.
8. …In this year there began to be a war between the Nephites…and the Lamanites...
10... And it came to pass that the war began to be among them in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon. Near the city Zarahemla which was near and to the west of river Sidon.
11. …the Nephites …had 30,000 [men]. They did have in this same year a number of battles in which the Nephites did beat the Lamanites and did slay many of them.
18... And these Gadianton robbers, who were among the Lamanites, did infest the land…
Mormon 2:2. …In that same year [AD 326] the people of Nephi appointed me [Mormon age 16] that I should be their leader, or the leader of their armies.
3. ...In the 327th year the Lamanites …did frighten my armies…and they [Mormon’s armies] began to retreat towards the north countries. [Because they ended up at hill Cumorah 53 years latter it must be assumed that the term “toward the north countries” meant their ultimate destination and that they traveled in the direction of or on the most reasonable and defensible path toward the land northward. Ether 9:35 calls the area of the Jaredites “north countries”.]
4. …we did come to the city of Angola…and we did fortify the city with our might; but notwithstanding all our fortifications the Lamanites did…drive us out of the city.
5... And they did also drive us forth out of the land of David. This means that Angola and David must have been located between the city of Zarahemla and the west sea and could not have been located near the Gulf Coast and could not have been located in the land northward as suggested by Allen at page 395.
6... And we marched forth and came to the land of Joshua, which was in the borders west bythe seashore. Thus Joshua must have been located on the west sea coast (and not on the Gulf of Mexico as suggested by Allen at page 395) and it must have been a good defensible area because the Nephites withstood many battles in the area for 15 years.
8. …the Lamanites had a king and his name was Aaron; and he came against us with an army of 44,000. I withstood him with 42,000…I beat him with my army that he fled before me…and 330 years had passed away. Even though they were fighting and loosing men, Mormon’s army had increased since leaving Zarahemla by 12,000. Apparently Mormon and his army and families, although badly beaten, were still living at or near Joshua, near the west sea, and for a ten year period they had a series of battles in this area. They were certainly not in the land northward yet.
15... I saw thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against God and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land. And thus 340 years had passed away. They were still in the area of the city of Joshua in the west sea area and lived there for 5 more years. Undoubtedly, when they fled Zarahemla, Angola, and David to Joshua they took their families with them. This meant that there could have been no more reinforcements for Mormon there. 5 years later they fled northward along the west sea corridor from Joshua.
16. …in the 345th year the Nephites did begin to flee before the Lamanites; and they were pursued until they came even to the land of Jashon, before it was possible to stop them in their retreat. The term “even to” implies a long distance. Jashon was located near the Hill Shim and was located at least in the borders of the land northward. Dr. Hauck has shown that there was an apparent transliteration error in the printer’s manuscript and in reality the city of Jordon was the same as the city Jashon.
17. …the city of Jashon was near the land where Ammaron had deposited the records unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed. The hill Shim was in the land Antum which was in the land northward and probably within the small neck of land because it was close to Jashon/Jordon. Verse 17 continues: I had gone according to the word of Ammaron and taken the plates of Nephi, and did make a record according to the words of Ammaron. Mormon left the remaining plates etc. in the hill Shim as required by Ammaron.
18. …in this same year [AD 345] the people of Nephi again were hunted and driven. …and we were driven forth until we had come northward to the land which was called Shem.
25. …we did contend with an army of 30,000 against an army of 50,000…and they did flee before us. At this point the Lamanites were inside the land northward where the Nephites were more prominent and the Lamanites were far removed from their resupply areas. Note that Mormon’s army had decreased and the Lamanite army had increased, none-the-less the Nephites prevailed driving the Lamanites back even regaining the lands of their inheritance.
26. …we did pursue them with our armies, and did meet them again, and did beat them;
27. …we did go forth against the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton, until we had again taken possession of the lands of our inheritance. It is not discernable whether this included the city of Zarahemla but certainly that is implied. At least they would have retaken the lands recently lost including Joshua which was on the west sea coast. This resurgence and regaining their lands of inheritance from Shem back to at least Joshua took several years. By the year 349 the Nephites had regained the lands of their inheritance.
28. …in the 350th year we made a treaty with the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton, in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided. Having just repulsed the Lamanites from the frontiers of the land northward back to at least Joshua on the west sea coast by the year 349, why did the Nephites enter into a treaty? And why did they give up so much territory? It appears that this was because both sides had lost so many soldiers and people and also because the Lamanites (the closer they were to Zarahemla) had the better ability to obtain reinforcements than the Nephites. This was probably due to the fact that the main population of the Nephites had shifted to the land northward and Mormon no longer had any support from the areas of Zarahemla, Angola or David. When they fled Joshua five years earlier they probably took all of their families and possession and so there was not much of a chance to resupply there either. Certainly in the dividing up the “lands of our inheritance” the Nephites must have picked a defensible and identifiable line of demarcation. Was that within the `Isthmus? Or was it in the pacific corridor? Or was it in the Gulf coast somewhere? Where ever that line was, the city Desolation was very close and northward thereof.
29. …the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to [not “in”] [This is the “treaty line”] the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward. This line of demarcation was the point or line where the narrow passage began that led into the land southward because it says “even to the narrow passage”. This line was apparently just southerly of the city Desolation. I submit that from this line northward was the narrow pass spoken of in Alma 50:34 that led by the west sea into the land northward.
Mormon 3:1. …The Lamanites did not come to battle again until ten years more had passed away. And behold, I had employed my people, the Nephites in preparing their lands and their arms against the time of battle. It appears that it was during this 10 year period that Mormon built, reestablished from an ancient city, or fortified the city Desolation from which to defend against the Lamanite armies.
4. …360 years from the coming of Christ, the king of the Lamanites sent an epistle unto me, which gave me to know that they were preparing to come again to battle against us. We do not know what was in the treaty but apparently it was not “sacred” or “honored” and there was no guarantee that there would be no more battles because Mormon was preparing for one and the king of the Lamanites warned Mormon of the coming battle. If the original parties to the treaty did not honor it why would any subsequent generation honor it?
5... I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by [but not in] the narrow pass which led into the land southward. Had the city Desolation been in the narrow pass which led into the land southward then the city Desolation would have been south of the treaty line and thus in the land southward. This was the city Desolation that was located “in the borders of the land Desolation”. It was also located by “but not in,” the narrow pass that led into the land southward.” It was also located in the land Desolation which was located in the “narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea by the sea on the west…” This is the first time city Desolation is mentioned. It is hard to believe that the Nephites, having just retaken their lands of inheritance within the Pacific corridor (at least to Joshua on the west coast), would have then given up the entire Pacific corridor, and the entire isthmus of Tehuantepec from the Pacific Ocean to the city Desolation if it was located at San Lorenzo which was located within 30 miles of the Gulf coast and on the Coatzacoalcos River. Such a concession of over 250 miles by Mormon would have been unthinkable and irresponsible. This would have meant that Mormon would have given up more land than he had just retaken from Shem back to Joshua. There is no support for the conclusion that Mormon and his army of men, women, and children left the west coast, at Joshua after having regaining their lands of inheritance in the year AD 349, and moved in mass abandoning many cities and some 250 miles to the Gulf coast. Nor is there any evidence that the Lamanites/robbers likewise followed them 250 miles from the Joshua area to the Gulf of Mexico where the Lamanites had no support at that time. And yet that is precisely what would have had to have happened if the city Desolation was located near the Gulf Coast of Mexico.
6. …there [near city Desolation] we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force. The term “not get possession of any of our lands” must mean any lands northward of the “treaty line” otherwise it would have stated “lands of our inheritance”. If city Desolation was on the Gulf Coast and the Nephites were defending that city then the army of the Lamanites would already have been in the land northward and would already have had possession of Nephite lands in the small neck area and in addition could have had possession of the entire land northward except around the city of Desolation. On the contrary, Mormon was protecting all of their lands given to them by the treaty at every possible position as they were being pushed gradually northward. This fortifying must have started at the “treaty line“, which was located within the Pacific corridor at the point where the pass leading into the land southward began according to the treaty. This “line” was located just southerly of the city Desolation. I personally believe that it was at this same point where the narrow pass began that led by the west sea into the land northward.
7. …in the 361st year the Lamanites did come down to the city Desolation to battle against us; …we did beat them insomuch that they did return to their own lands again. Notice that this time the Lamanites came down to battle. Hereafter the armies always moved up or down when doing battle at or near city Desolation or when the Nephites went up after the Lamanites from Desolation. Also note that the term “to their own lands” must have meant back up from where they came and or south from the treaty line. Where did the Lamanite army come down from if Desolation was located on the Gulf coast? The uninhabited Hermounts over 50 miles away and across the huge Coatzacoalcos River? Not likely because Hermounts was uninhabited jungle “infested by wild and ravenous beasts” and their resupplies would not have been located there. (This was the first of four successful defenses of city Desolation.)
8. …in the 362nd year they did come down again to battle. And we did beat them again and did slay a great number of them and their dead were cast into the sea. The key here is which sea were the dead cast into; The Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Ocean? Clearly city Desolation was on one or the other sea. If City Desolation was on the Gulf Coast when did Mormon and his army cross over the isthmus to Desolation? When the Lamanites came down to battle where did they come down from? Hermounts? If Desolation was on the Gulf coast where did the Lamanites get their replacements and supplies? Hermounts? The Grijalva River? Or did they go back across the Isthmus 250 miles or so to Joshua on the west coast? All of the above would have been unreasonable according to Stoddard’s description of “the only reasonable travel” along the Pacific coastal corridor at that time period. (This was the second successful defense of city Desolation).
10. …and they [Nephites] did swear…by the throne of God, that they would go up to battle against their enemies, and would cut them off from the face of the land.
11. …I Mormon, did utterly refuse …to be their commander and leader of their people.
16. …I utterly refused to go up against mine enemies:
Mormon 4:1. …in the 363rd year the Nephites did go up with their armies to battle against the Lamanites, out of the land of Desolation. This clearly means from the city and area surrounding Desolation and they went up after the Lamanite army. This certainly implies that the land Desolation was not a very large area. If Desolation was on the Gulf Coast, where did the Nephite army go up to? Across the Coatzacoalcos River and then 50 miles to where they would have started to go up to Hermounts and then chased the Lamanites into Hermounts which was uninhabited and infested with ferocious beasts? There was no resupply capability for the Lamanites in the Gulf Coast area let alone from Hermounts.
2. …the armies of the Nephites were driven back again to the land of Desolation….a fresh army of the Lamanites did come upon them;…insomuch that the Lamanites did take possession of the city Desolation, and did slay many of the Nephites, and did take many prisoners. Notice that the term “land Desolation” is used interchangeably with the term “city Desolation” indicating that land Desolation was probably not a huge area but one that surrounded City Desolation and adjacent areas.
3... And the remainder did flee and join the inhabitants of the city Teancum. Now the city Teancum lay in the borders by the seashore; and it was also near the city Desolation. If the city Teancum was located on the “seashore” and if Desolation was on or near the Gulf Coast then Teancum was also on the Gulf coast “seashore” and had to have been northwest of city Desolation towards Cumorah meaning that neither of these cities would have been much use in defending the Cumorah area. This is because the armies of the Lamanites, after coming through the narrow pass within the Isthmus, could easily have destroyed the inhabitants of the remaining land northward without ever confronting Mormon at the city Desolation or the city Teancum.
4... And it was because the armies of the Nephites went up unto the Lamanites…for were it not for that, the Lamanites could have had no power over them.
7. …in the 364th year the Lamanites did come against the city Teancum, that they might take possession of the city Teancum also. Note the Lamanites did not come “down” to Teancum.
8. …they were repulsed and driven back by the Nephites….and they went forth in their own might, and took possession again of the city Desolation. (This is the third successful defense of city Desolation)
9. …and there had been thousands slain on both sides, both the Nephites and the Lamanites. The Nephites were now irreversibly weakened because they did not listen to Mormon.
10. …the 366th year had passed away. And the Lamanites came again upon the Nephites to battle: The Lamanites waited almost three years before they attacked again. Where had they waited? Where did they get reinforcements? From the Grijalva river? From Hermounts? Or did they travel all the way back south 225 miles through the isthmus and then southward into the land southward perhaps even to Zarahemla to get the reinforcements?
11. …it is impossible for the tongue to describe…the description of the horrible scene of blood and carnage which was among the people, both the Nephites and of the Lamanites..
13. …the Lamanites did take possession of the city of Desolation, and this because their number did exceed the number of the Nephites.
14. …they did also march forward against the city Teancum, and did drive the inhabitants forth out of her, and did take many prisoners both women and children, and did offer them up as sacrifices unto their idol gods.
15... In the 367th year the Nephites did beat again the Lamanites, and drive them out of their lands. (This is the fourth of and final successful defenses of city Desolation. When it says “out of their lands” it must mean the lands that were theirs pursuant to the treaty and, therefore, the Lamanites must have been driven back towards Joshua and south of the narrow pass that led by the west sea into the land northward. Ask yourself, if the city of Desolation were located on the Gulf coast, how many times did the Lamanite/Gaddianton robbers have to be defeated at Desolation and driven back through the narrow pass within the isthmus and back to Joshua or Zarahemla before they realized that all they had to do, once they got through that narrow pass within the Isthmus, was to not go to the city Desolation or Teancum on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. They could have gone directly westerly into the land northward and killed the inhabitants in the land northward, including the Cumorah area, because the entire southern and western flank of the land northward would have been open to them.
16. …the Lamanites did not come again against the Nephites until the 375th year. This was 8 years later. Where did the Lamanites R and R? In the land northward? In Hermounts? In the small neck of land? It says the Lamanites were “driven out of Nephite lands” meaning out of the lands north of the treaty line.
17. …in this year they did come down against the Nephites with all their powers; and they were not numbered because of the greatness of their number. Where were they coming down from? From the pass in the Isthmus to the city Desolation on the Gulf coast would have been mostly level for about 60 miles to the area proposed by Allen near San Lorenzo. San Lorenzo or Acayucan are located about 30 miles from the Gulf Coast. However, Mormon 3:8 clearly requires that city Desolation be located on the sea coast because in the year 361 when the Lamanites came down to city Desolation the second time and were defeated their dead bodies were cast into the sea. It was clearly described as “their dead bodies were cast into the sea”, not into the Coatzacoalcos River. Therefore, San Lorenzo and the surrounding area being located about 30 miles from the Gulf and near the Coatzacoalcos River, cannot be a viable candidate for the city Desolation on the Gulf coast area.
19. …the Lamanites did come down against the city Desolation; …they did beat the Nephites. Clearly they did not come down from Hermounts or anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico area but from the mountains east of the Pacific Ocean somewhere just north of the “treaty line”.
20. …they fled again from before them and they came to the city Boaz; …and there they did stand against the Lamanites with exceeding boldness, insomuch that the Lamanites did not beat them until they had come again the second time. This time they did not flee to Teancum on the west coast but inland to Boaz. If Desolation was near the Gulf coast and Teancum was on the gulf coast between Desolation and the Hill Cumorah, why would the Nephites not have stayed in Teancum and then retreated westerly to ward Cumorah? Remember Cumorah was their destination.
21. …the second time, the Nephites were driven and slaughtered with an exceeding great slaughter;
22. …the Nephites did again flee from before them taking all the inhabitants with them, both in towns and villages.
23. …I, Mormon seeing that the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land, therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord. The hill Shim, therefore, seems to have been located close to Jashon/Jordon because this occurred after fleeing from Boaz and before they got to Jashon/Jordon. It appears to me that because this area of Jashon/Jordon was sufficiently defensible and because the Nephites repulsed the Lamanites two times there, that, therefore, Jashon/Jordon was probably located in the area of the narrow pass within the isthmus just before the area where the isthmus opened up into the greater part of the land northward. This was their last stand before capitulating and congregating at Cumorah.
Mormon 8:1…and they gave me command again of the armies…
3. …the Lamanites did come against us as we had fled to the city of Jordan but behold, they were driven back that they did not take the city at that time.
4. …they came against us again, and we did maintain the city. And there were also other cities which were maintained by the Nephites, which strongholds did cut them off that they could not get into the country which lay before us, to destroy the inhabitants of our land. I believe this phrase, “[the Lamanites] could not get into the country which lay before us, to destroy the inhabitants of our land” is the key. If city Desolation was on or near the Gulf coast then every time the Lamanites came through the isthmus to get to the city Desolation, they already would have been in the “land which lay before us”. All they had to do was go west (instead of north to the city of Desolation) into the areas surrounding Cumorah and could have ignored the army of Mormon. The entire southwestern entrance into the land northward was open for the taking. Only if the Nephites made a last stand in the narrow pass within the isthmus at the city of Jashon/Jordon does it make sense. And if this were the case then of necessity the cities of Desolation and Teancum must have been located southerly of the narrow pass in the isthmus and have been located on the west sea side somewhere between the isthmus and the “treaty line”. Only then does it make sense that the Lamanites came down out of the mountains on the east of the Pacific corridor to attack the area north of the “treaty line” near where Desolation and Teancum and other cities were located. From there the Lamanites drove the Nephites northerly first to Boaz and then to their last stand before Cumorah at Jashon/Jordon in the “narrow” (or perhaps “small neck of land”) pass within the isthmus. Two times the Lamanites were repulsed but the third time was too much. Notice also that the Lamanites never came down to Boaz or Jashon/Jordon indicating that they were on basically the same elevation as cities Desolation and Teancum.
5. …whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns and villages, and cities were burned with fire; and thus 379 years passed away.
6. …in the 380th year the Lamanites did come again against us to battle, and we did stand against them boldly; but it was all in vain, for so great were their numbers that they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet. Where were the Lamanites getting their replacements? Not from Hermounts or the Grijalva River or the Usumacinta River. They could only have been getting them from their own lands south of the” treaty line” some 150 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico!
Mormon 6:1. …we did march forth before the Lamanites.
2. …I, Mormon, wrote unto the king of the Lamanites…that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle.
From reading the above it seems so clear to me that it would have been a major military disaster for Mormon to have located his armies to defend Cumorah and the land northward at the city Desolation and Teancum if they were located on or near the Gulf Coast. Since, according to Ted Stoddard, the “only reasonable way” to get from Chiapas or Guatemala to Veracruz, Oaxaca, or the Mexico valley was to end up on the Pacific coast and go north through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, then every time (four times) the Lamanites were repulsed from Desolation, (if Desolation was on the Gulf coast) they would have had to have gone back southward through the narrow pass within the isthmus to their supply line in the land southward. Also it makes no sense that the Lamanites would not have merely, after passing through the narrow pass ( five times) within Tehuantepec, entered the land northward and destroyed the Nephites living in the Cumorah area thus bypassing Mormon with his army located on the Gulf Coast.
The Book of Mormon does not support the city Desolation being located on or near the Gulf coast. On the other hand, the only reasonable location described in the Book of Mormon for the location of the cities of Desolation and Teancum was on the Pacific coast just north of the line described in the treaty; “in the borders by [not in] the narrow pass which led into the land southward.”
The conclusion seems obvious to me that the city Desolation could not have been located on the Gulf coast. It could only have been on the Pacific coast. There is no other location that fits the description in Alma 50:34 that says “…by the narrow pass which led by the [west] sea into the land northward, yea by the sea, on the west…” It did not say “by the sea on the north.”
Sea means sea and not a river
The only way for Allen to justifiably make a claim that city Desolation was at or near San Lorenzo, which is located near the River Coatzacoalcos and about 30 miles from the gulf coast, is to claim that the River Coatzacoalcos was part of the “sea”. I submit that when the Book of Mormon says “sea” it does not mean a river. This is confirmed by the way Mormon used the terms “sea” and “river” when talking about dead bodies being cast into them. For example in Alma 2:34 the Nephites, when fighting the Amlicites, were “throwing the bodies of the Lamanites who had been slain into the waters [river] Sidon”. Again in the year 74 BC when Moroni fell upon Zarahemna near Manti in the narrow strip of mountainous wilderness he slew many and Alma 44:22 says: “…they did cast their dead into the waters [river] of Sidon, and they have gone forth and are buried in the depths of the sea.”
Clearly Mormon distinguished between “river” and the “sea”. Therefore, the city Desolation must be located by a sea and not by a river because when the second battle was over at the city Desolation the dead were cast into the sea. Therefore, San Lorenzo (or Acayucan) located on or near the River Coatzacoalcos and about 30 miles from a sea, (the Gulf coast) is much too great a distance to be casting their “dead into the sea”.
City Desolation must also be located near the “place where the sea divides the land”
I submit that city Desolation and city “Lib” are either the same location or so very close to each other because both are located “near” the entrance into the land southward and both are located near the west sea which is also the “place where the sea divides the land’.
Allen proposes that the River Coatzacoalcos and the Gulf of Mexico together form the “obvious” place where the “sea divides the land”. In Ether 10:20, when Moroni described the place where “the sea divides the land” he did not say the “place where the river divides the land.“ Nor did he say the place where the land divides the seas. If the Coatzacoalcos River can be construed to be part of the Gulf Sea, then he might be justified in claiming that city Desolation might have been located on a river 30 miles inland and throwing dead bodies into the river would be the same as throwing them into the sea. I do not believe the Book of Mormon allows for such a construction. When the dead bodies were thrown into the river Sidon, Alma says that the river carried the bodies out into the sea.
A much better location for the sea dividing the land is the same area near where the city of Desolation was located on the pacific coast near the isthmus and also near the treaty line described above.
The term “sea” in the Book of Mormon is never confused with “river” or “lake” and always refers to a very large body of water implying an ocean or perhaps salt water. When the term “water” is used as when Mormon said “nearly surrounded by water” or “land of many waters” it very well could have included rivers, lakes and seas. Therefore, when Moroni used the term “by the place where the sea divides the land”, he was clearly referring to an ocean dividing the land.
The term “divide”, means to split an entity into two or more parts. Now if one were to say, ‘the place where the land divides the sea’, one would accurately describe an isthmus. This is because the land or isthmus actually splits apart or divides the flanking sea shores. However, using the opposite term, “the place where the sea divides the land,” can only be indicative of two land surfaces split apart or divided by a sea.
Looking at a map of the western coast of Central America there is a series of long “narrow” lagoons and estuaries formed by the Pacific Ocean that separate the mainland of the coastal pacific corridor from a long and narrow land tied to the mainland in a few places. This area where the Pacific Ocean divides the mainland from itself extends (about75 miles) from the southern coast of Tehuantepec to the Tonala, Mexico area. It just happens that this is also the area where there is a great deal of evidence of many pre-classic cities and of a defensive area including a man made wall (also pre-classic). This defensive area extends from the Pacific coast to the Sierra Madres Mountains to the east forming an ancient defensive area about 20 to 30 miles across.
This is the area believed by Dr Richard Hauck and me to be area of the demarcation line of the treaty of AD 350. It then would also be the “line” between Desolation and Bountiful and also the line from whence started the narrow pass leading into the land southward (via Bountiful wherein lived all the “wild animals of every kind a part of which had come from the land northward for food” ). North of this line was where the city of “Lib” was built by the place where the sea divides the land in order to protect and preserve the land southward (Bountiful) where all the animals of every kind were located.
The concurrence of all of these criteria near the area of the Gulf of Tehuantepec and along the Pacific coast is so striking that it is proof to me that the city Desolation could not have been located on the Gulf coast or anywhere on the north of the narrow pass within the Isthmus (perhaps the “small neck of land”). The area of the Pacific corridor (west sea) is where all of the battles occurred that Mormon and the Nephites fought as they were driven back and forth from Joshua to Desolation and then to Jashon/Jordon (AD 330-380). Therefore, City Desolation must have been located near the west sea; near the narrow pass leading into the land southward; within the narrow pass that led by the west sea into the land northward; and by the “place where the sea divides the land” all of which were located near the southern part of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
It appears to me that the city ”Lib” and Desolation share a similar description and could have been the same city of perhaps sister cities.
A final note regarding the “line”, the “treaty line”, and the “line bountiful/desolation”
It is interesting to place all the scriptures dealing with the “line” between Desolation and west sea Bountiful together in the Book of Mormon sequence. To me it makes it very clear that all of the following scriptures are talking about the same “line” and area on or very near the Pacific Coast. There was also an east sea land bountiful where City Bountiful was located but the following scriptures are not talking about the east sea land bountiful because they are always referencing the “line”, or the “line bountiful/desolation, or the west sea.
(About 85 BC) Alma 22:32 states “…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…” Desolation and Bountiful must border the west sea and the line between them must run from the west sea eastward. Also remember that none of the Nephite cities on the east sea coast except perhaps, Antionum, land and city of the Zoramites, had been established yet. Therefore, there had not been designated an east sea bountiful or city bountiful until Moroni chased the Lamanites out of the east sea area in the year 72 BC and then sent Nephites to the east sea to build many new cities.
(About 85 BC} Alma 22:31 states “...the land on the northward [of the line] was called Desolation, and the land on the southward [of the line] was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind a part of which had come from the land northward for food. It was this west sea Bountiful where King Lib hunted for wild animals and not in Hermounts.
(BC Alma 50:34) talking about Teancum heading the people of Morianton, states “…they did not head them until they had come to [not in] the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by [not in] the narrow pass which led by the [west] sea into the land northward, yea by the sea on the west…” They were headed by the west sea within the narrow pass leading into the land southward and very near but south of the “line” between Desolation and Bountiful). They were headed in the west sea land Bountiful.
(About 55 BC) Alma 63:5 states “…Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on [in] the borders of the land Bountiful, by [not in] the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by [not in] the narrow neck [same as pass or passage] which led into the land northward”. He launched the ships from west sea land Bountiful and very close to but south of the “line”.
(About 35 BC) Helaman 4:5-8 talking about when dissident Nephites stirred up the Lamanites and they came down to Zarahemla and “…they succeeded in obtaining possession of the land of Zarahemla; yea, and also all the lands, even unto [notice the term “unto” does not mean” in”] the land which was near the land Bountiful. 6. And the Nephites and the armies of Moronihah [son of Moroni] were driven even into [now they go into] the land Bountiful. 7. And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east (this is not the east sea); it being a day’s journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country. [They stationed their army all across this 20-30 miles line from the east to the west sea] 8. And thus the dissenters of the Nephites, with the help of a numerous army of the Lamanites, had obtained all the possession of the Nephites which was in the land southward….” They clearly located by the west sea Either there was a second “line” that was just southerly from the “Line Desolation/Bountiful” and within the west sea land Bountiful, or this was the same “line” and the army was stationed right on it because the Lamanites now controlled all of the Nephite lands southward. Clearly they were protecting their “new” north country because since about 55 BC many large groups of Nephites had been migrating into the land northward. Certainly from the “line” to the “north” would have been the land northward towards where the hill Cumorah was located.
(About AD 16) 3 Nephi 3; is talking of when the Nephites desired to go up after the Gadianton Robbers who resided in all the mountains and wilderness, however, Lachoneus, instead had them abandon all their cities and places of residence in the areas surrounding Zarahemla. Tens of thousands moved all their food, livestock etc. and moved to the area of the “line” Bountiful/Desolation. “…the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land Zarahemla and the land Bountiful, yea, to [not beyond] the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation. …Lachoneus did cause that they should gather themselves together in the land southward, because of the great curse which was upon the land northward.” Clearly they settled in that part of the greater land of Zarahemla that was called Bountiful from the “Line” and southward as needed because they settled in one place. An excellent candidate for this location is the huge and once heavily populated area called La Perseverancia located just southward from the “line”. (The description of this site and its population is according to Gareth Lowe, Izapa: An introduction to the Ruins and Monuments, 1982).
(About AD 350) Mormon 2:29 states “And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to [not in] the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward” [of the “treaty line” between Desolation and Bountiful including the narrow passage leading into the land southward].
(About AD 360) Mormon 3:5 states “[Mormon caused that they should]…gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city [Desolation] which was in the borders, by [not in] the narrow pass which led into the land southward.” To me the term “at the land Desolation, to the city [Desolation]” means that the land Desolation was not synonymous with the greater land northward but was a small subdivision thereof. Many times the term “Land of” means the land immediately surrounding the named city.
(About 900 BC) Ether10:19-21 states.”…they did go into the land southward, to hunt food for the people of the land…and they built a great city by [not in] the narrow neck of land, [leading into the land southward] by the place where the sea divides the land. …they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game”. City of Lib was located within the narrow pass that led into the land northward and very close to the “line” from whence began the narrow pass that led into the land southward. Lib was also located near the area where the sea (singular) divided the land (as explained above).
In my opinion there is nothing in these scriptures giving any reasonable credibility to the belief that the cities of Desolation and Lib (see my article re city of “Lib”) could have been located anywhere near the Gulf Coast of Mexico. I submit that none of the named Book of Mormon cities, except some of those mentioned in Ether, (excluding Lib and Desolation) could have been located near the Gulf Coast. More on this topic will be discussed in a later article.
Also it seems to me that because the land of Desolation “came into the land which had been peopled and destroyed” (the land northward) that the land Desolation was but a small part of the land Northward. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that the first and last capital of the Jaredites at Moron was not located in Desolation but near it. Where was the place where the land Desolation came into the land northward? I submit that it was the narrow pass in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. See map above.