The Narrow Strip of Wilderness Was Mountainous
The Narrow Strip of Wilderness Was Mountainous
Copyright © 2015 by Joe V. Andersen
Following is a sampling, in chronological order, of the many scriptures (1) requiring that the narrow strip of wilderness was mountainous—meaning that Gideon, Minon, Manti, the head of river Sidon, and city/land of Nephi were all higher in elevation than Zarahemla, (2) conclusively proving that the river Sidon had to have flowed to the north and not to the south, and (3) also proving that the areas where the Lamanites and Nephites lived were very close to and within mountains (all scriptures are shown in italics; emphasis is added where appropriate):
· Ca. 200 BC, Omni and Mosiah state: “He [Mosiah] did according as the Lord had commanded him. And they departed out of the land [of Nephi] into the wilderness (Omni 1:13) . . . [up to] the hill north of the land of Shilom, which had been a place of resort for the children of Nephi at the time they fled out of the land (Mosiah 11:13) . . . [and then Omni 1:13 continues] through the [narrow strip of] wilderness until they came down into the land which is called the land [or city] of Zarahemla.” [The area south of Zarahemla was higher in elevation than Zarahemla. Until ca. 124 BC, the land of Zarahemla—to which Mosiah1 came down to—could not have encompassed an area greater that about the size of Salt Lake Valley.1
· Ca. 200 BC: King Noah “caused a great tower to be built on the hill north of the land Shilom, which had been a resort [gathering place] for the children of Nephi at the time they fled out of the land [of Nephi]” (Mosiah 11:13). [The area north of the land of Nephi was higher in elevation than Nephi.]
· 87 BC: “[The spies of Alma said,] we followed the camp of the Lamanites and to our great astonishment, in the land of Minon, above the land of Zarahemla, in the course of [southward toward] the land of Nephi . . . the Amlicites have joined them [Lamanites]” (Alma 2:24). [Therefore, because Nephi was higher in elevation than Zarahemla, because Minon was also higher than Zarahemla, because Minon was in the pathway to Nephi, and because Manti was also in that pathway and was located south of Minon and within the narrow strip of wilderness, then Manti also must have been higher in elevation than Zarahemla.]
· About 85 BC: “The king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, . . . [including] through the borders of Manti by the head [beginning or principal source2 of the river Sidon” (Alma 22:27).
· In 81 BC: Alma told Captain Zoram where to find the Nephite captives taken from the city of Noah. “Alma returned and said unto them: behold the Lamanites will cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness [southern part of the narrow strip of 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). [Therefore, where they crossed the Sidon south of Manti was higher than Manti. Thus, the river Sidon must flow north.]
· About 77 BC: The Ammonites, camping near Manti, received word they would be going eastward down to Jershon: “Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea. . . . And . . . it did cause great joy among them. And they went down into the land of Jershon” (Alma 27: 22, 26). [The east part of the narrow strip of wilderness was higher than the land of Jershon.]
· 74 BC: [Moroni] concealed [the remainder of his army] in the west valley, on the west of the river Sidon, and so down into the borders of the land Manti” (Alma 43:32). [Therefore, the valley of Manti was lower in elevation than the head of river Sidon.]
· 72 BC: “[Mormon ‘returns’ to the account of] Amalickiah and those who had fled with him into the [narrow strip of] wilderness; for, behold, he had taken those who went with him, and went up [south] in the land of Nephi among the Lamanites (Alma 47:1). [The area south of Zarahemla, including Minon, Manti, and the land of Lehi, were all higher in elevation than Zarahemla3
· 64 BC: The Lamanites had captured Manti and were considering their next city to conquer from Manti. However, “neither durst they march down [north] against the city of Zarahemla; neither durst they cross the head of Sidon, over [east of and down] to the city of Nephihah [located eastward near the city of Moroni, which was located near the east sea]” (Alma 56:25). [From Huntsville, Missouri (Rod Meldrum’s Manti), across the Mississippi south of Nauvoo (being the head of Sidon), and then over eight hundred miles to near the Atlantic coast (Jonathan Neville’s east sea) to attack Nephihah? I don’t think so! Manti was located higher in elevation that Zarahemla.]
· 63 BC: Helaman and his sons had taken many prisoners near the west sea and from the city of Cumeni, located within the narrow strip of wilderness, and had decided to “guard them, sword in hand, down to the land of Zarahemla. . . . And . . . we did resolve to send them down to the land of Zarahemla; therefore, we selected a part of our men, and gave them charge over our prisoners to go down to the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 57:15–16). [The area of the narrow strip of wilderness near the west sea was also higher in elevation than Zarahemla.]
· 61 BC: “Moroni and Pahoran went down with their armies [from Gideon] into the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 62:7). [Because both Minon and Gideon were higher in elevation than Zarahemla, because they were only about five miles apart, and because the river Sidon ran between them, then it must have flowed down to the north past Zarahemla.]
· 12 BC: Nephite and Lamanite dissenters converted to Gadianton robbers. “And they did commit murder and plunder; and then they would retreat back into the mountains, and into the wilderness and secret places, hiding themselves that they could not be discovered, receiving daily an addition to their numbers, inasmuch as there were dissenters that went forth unto them” (Helaman 11:25; see also 3 Nephi 1:27). [Therefore the mountains were located in close proximity to the population areas of the Nephites and the Lamanites.]
· 12 BC: “And the robbers did still increase and wax strong, insomuch that they did defy the whole armies of the Nephites and also of the Lamanites, and they did cause great fear to come unto the people upon all the face of the land” (Helaman 11:32). [The dissident Nephite and Lamanite robbers were hiding within the narrow strip of wilderness because they were countering the military actions against them and proselytizing among both the Lamanites and the Nephites.]
· 11 BC: “[The] robbers did make great havoc, yea, even great destruction among the people of Nephi and also among the people of the Lamanites. . . . They [the Nephites] sent an army . . . into the wilderness and upon the mountains to search out this band of robbers. . . . [The Nephites and Lamanites were] obliged to return out of the wilderness and out of the mountains unto their own lands, because of the exceeding greatness of the numbers of those robbers who infested the mountains and the wilderness” (Helaman 11:27–28, 31). [Because the robbers were bothering both the Lamanites and the Nephites and because the closest mountains to both of these lands were located within the narrow strip of wilderness between these two lands, then the narrow strip of wilderness must have been mountainous.]
· AD 3: “And it came to pass that the ninety and third year did also pass away in peace, save it were for the Gadianton robbers, who dwelt upon the mountains, who did infest the land; for so strong were their holds and their secret places that the people could not overpower them; therefore they did commit many murders, and did do much slaughter among the people” (3 Nephi 1:27).
· AD 13: “And it came to pass in the thirteenth year there began to be wars and contentions throughout all the land; for the Gadianton robbers had become so numerous, and did slay so many of the people, and did lay waste so many cities, and did spread so much death and carnage throughout the land, that it became expedient that all the people, both the Nephites and the Lamanites, should take up arms against them” (3 Nephi 2:11).
· AD 14: “And it came to pass in the commencement of the fourteenth year, the war between the robbers and the people of Nephi did continue and did become exceedingly sore; nevertheless, the people of Nephi did gain some advantage of the robbers, insomuch that they did drive them back out of their lands into the mountains [in the narrow strip of wilderness between the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla] and into their secret places” (3 Nephi 2:17).
· AD 17: [“Lachoneus prepared against the time when] the robbers should come down out of the [narrow strip of] wilderness against them” (3 Nephi 3:17).
· AD 17: “The people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands” (3 Nephi 3:20). [Lachoneus advised against the people’s request that they go on the offensive against the robbers in their own lands up in the mountains instead of down in the city/land of Zarahemla.]
· AD 18: “[The] robbers had prepared for battle, and began to come down and sally forth, from the hills, and out of the mountains . . . and began to take possession of the lands, both which were in the land south [of the narrow strip of wilderness] and which were in the land north [of the narrow strip of wilderness], and began to take possession of all the lands which had been deserted by the Nephites [including the Lamanites], and the cities which had been left desolate” (3 Nephi 4:1). [This account gives clear evidence that the narrow strip of wilderness was mountainous.]
Clearly, the Gadianton robbers were infesting the mountains between the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla within the narrow strip of wilderness. (For further confirmation, see 3 Nephi 2:11–17; 4:1; 3:17–20.)
Bottom line: Not a single scripture in the Book of Mormon indicates that the river Sidon flowed south from Zarahemla or that Manti was located lower in elevation than Zarahemla. Rod Meldrum disagrees, saying:
To recap: The Sidon River in the Book of Mormon flowed past Zarahemla southward and “down” toward Manti which was at the head or confluence. . . . The “headwaters” could refer to the confluence of present day Missouri and Mississippi rivers.4
To come to this flawed conclusion, Meldrum must misconstrue or misstate what the Book of Mormon actually says and means about the narrow strip of wilderness being higher in elevation than Zarahemla from the east sea to the west sea. Actually, the scriptures state that it was not only higher but also mountainous. Neither Meldrum nor Neville cite any scriptures supporting their erroneous conclusions that the narrow strip of wilderness was not mountainous or that the Sidon flowed south or that it flowed down from Zarahemla toward Manti. Nowhere in the central United States territory can all of the Book of Mormon requirements as cited above be met. The truth is that the Heartland Model is fatally flawed.
1. See my article, “Zarahemla: Its Size and Its Rise and Fall,” http://www.bmaf.org/zarahemla_rise_fall—andersen.
2. One definition of “head” in Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary is the following: “The principal source of a stream; as the head of the Nile” (Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language [New York: S. Converse, 1828], s.v. “head”).
3. See Alma 43:20–54. Also, see my article, “The Truth and the Proof: Sidon River Flowed North, Not South,” www.bmaf.org.
4. www.bookofmormonevidence.org (accessed August 12, 2015).