Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2011, April 7

Book of Mormon | “Jacob’s ‘Isle of the Sea’ and Book of Mormon Geography: Mesoamerica or New York?” by grego

Book of Mormon: Jacob’s “Isle of the Sea” and Book of Mormon Geography: Mesoamerica or New York?


(NOTE: This is more of a summary of others’ work than mine, thought the experience in the last paragraph might be a little eye-opening to those investigating Book of Mormon geography.)

Jacob says:
2 Nephi 10:20 And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but *we have been led to a better land*, for the Lord has made *the sea our path*, and *we are upon an isle of the sea*.

This verse seems to connect “sea” = “ocean”, and so is usually understood that the Nephites were upon an “isle of the sea” = “being upon an island of the ocean”. (Or at least, that’s what it appeared to Jacob as.)

Are there another interpretations?

One is that that’s what it appeared to Jacob as:
Alma 22:32 …from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water…

Or, Jacob, having been young at the time, might not have known or remembered the Lehite “landing” situation/ process, and that’s what he “recalled” or observed in his place/ land.

Still, I have a hard time picturing Jacob making this comment while in Guatemala. Had he said this during wet season, possibly; but this was much later, after he had lived through many dry seasons, too. (Was Guatemala ever under much more water, especially in the dry season?)

Mexico, maybe (anciently much more under water). (Though Book of Mormon geography don’t seem to fit Mexico.)

What about New York?

Currently, no.

However, like Mexico, New York has changed a lot over the years. Using older archeology, it fits. Take a look here:

“Nearly surrounded by water”? Looks that way to me. And multiple times! With large bodies of water right nearby, on two sides. Jacob could likely see just one body of water in Guatemala, and there were two directions of land that likely didn’t end; in New York, he could likely see at least two, and easily know of many more nearby.

At least to me, New York is a much better fit than anywhere in Mesoamerica.

Interestingly, I was sitting by a Great Lakes lifeguard on a plane (Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, I think), and she told me that she had had many conversations with tourists at the beach (she called it that!) in which they were either amazed or didn’t believe that the waters they were at were actually lakes and not oceans. (And this was in AD 2009, not 550 BC. ;) ) “Seashore”? No problem.

So does Jacob’s phrase “isle of the sea” fit—especially if “isle” doesn’t mean “small island surrounded by ocean” like we would ethnocentrically interpret it, but “coast” or such as translated in the Bible; and “sea” means “lake” or “sea” (as in “Dead Sea”, “Sea of Galilee”) and not “ocean”? Pretty good fit.


  1. I want to give you something more to think about.

    • When Jacob told his fellow countrymen in the mid-sixth century B.C. that they had sailed across the sea and landed on an “isle of the sea,” Joseph Smith could not have known, nor did anyone else in the world at the time, that the western lands of South America were once an island and that the land to the east of what is now the Andes Mountains was under water.

    • When Samuel the Lamanite told the Nephites that at the time of the crucifixion, mountains would fall, and level ground would rise up into mountains “whose height is great,” Joseph Smith could not have known that the Andes Mountains were the last to rise in the Western Hemisphere and that the tectonic plates moving in collision in South America would cause the entire Andes mountain chain to rise up to heights over 20,000 feet, by far the highest mountain range in all of the Western Hemisphere.

    • When Nephi tells us, along with other Nephite prophets, that copper, gold and silver were in abundance in the Land of Promise, Joseph Smith could not have known, nor did anyone else in the U.S. at that time that Peru and Chile would be among the top producers of all three of these ores in the world, with Chile the leading producer in the world in Copper, producing 1/3 of the world total, and Peru third; and Peru sixth in world gold production; and Peru the leading world producer of silver, Bolivia sixth and Chile seventh. In the 1830s, Mexico was the country people in the U.S. knew was the big producer in the Western Hemisphere, but Mexico falls short of either Peru or Chile in all three areas: Mexico 18th in copper, far behind , 11th with only about half the gold production of Peru; Mexico 2nd in silver behind Peru.

    • Other areas that match Peru are the buildings, temples, and palaces; north-south directions; ancient metalworking, coinage, mines; ancient fine-twined linen and textile work; matching climate for Jerusalem seeds to grow in abundance; building of stone walls, fortresses and resorts; land northward containing many waters, rivers and fountains; use of thin sheets of gold around 600 B.C.; slings used as weapons; ancient steel works, and many other matches.

    In all, the connection between Peru and the Book of Mormon Land of Promise is startling.

    Comment by MrNirom — 2013, March 8 @ 10:54 pm

  2. Thanks for sharing.

    That would be an extremely long island, unless it were also more like NY and “…from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water…”

    “…the connection between Peru and the Book of Mormon Land of Promise is startling.”
    As is the connection between the Book of Mormon and many other places. But I do put my foot down at Malaysia!

    Comment by grego — 2013, March 11 @ 7:26 am

  3. Hagoth built ships. And the direction they sailed was northward from the “small neck of land”. What is north of Peru? What civilization resembles that of the pre Inca’s? If 5000 men traveled north in these ships Hagoth built.. you would expect to find cities and buildings similar to that which they left behind. And that is exactly what you get when you compare those of Peru with those of MesoAmerica.

    Lehi never saw MesoAmerica.

    Now.. I add one other point of interest. In the Book of Mormon you will find that people keep going north. From the point they land.. they spread out north. In the land South (which is south of the “narrow neck of land”).. there is the land Northward and the land Southward. And then there is the land North.. which is the land north of the “small neck of land”.

    When Mormon was carrying on his last battle.. he had gone to the land North. And had traveled as far as he could go and made his last stand with all of his people.. including women and children. If he could have kept running north.. there would have been no reason to make a last stand. But he was trapped. He was as far north as he could go and you will notice that those who escaped where known to have gone south.. not further north. Read in Mormon 6

    7 And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them.

    8 And it came to pass that they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers.

    9 And it came to pass that they did fall upon my people with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war.

    10 And it came to pass that my men were hewn down, yea, even my ten thousand who were with me, and I fell wounded in the midst; and they passed by me that they did not put an end to my life.

    11 And when they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah, the ten thousand of my people who were hewn down, being led in the front by me.

    12 And we also beheld the ten thousand of my people who were led by my son Moroni.

    13 And behold, the ten thousand of Gidgiddonah had fallen, and he also in the midst.

    14 And Lamah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Gilgal had fallen with his ten thousand; and Limhah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Jeneum had fallen with his ten thousand; and Cumenihah, and Moronihah, and Antionum, and Shiblom, and Shem, and Josh, had fallen with their ten thousand each.

    15 And it came to pass that there were ten more who did fall by the sword, with their ten thousand each; yea, even all my people, save it were those twenty and four who were with me, and also a few who had ESCAPED INTO THE SOUTH COUNTRIES, and a few who had deserted over unto the Lamanites, had fallen; and their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth.

    Why would they “with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them” if they could continue to run north? They were indeed upon an island.

    If you would like consider the true Book of Mormon lands.. do some research from the author who wrote the book.. Lehi never saw MesoAmerica. Read the 1000’s of posts he has made over the last three years explaining why South America is the Book of Mormon lands.. yet the land of promise is both North and South America.

    Comment by MrNirom — 2013, March 31 @ 12:57 pm

  4. Those are possible interpretations, yes.

    Comment by grego — 2013, April 2 @ 12:37 am

  5. Just wondering if you have given any further consideration to my posts concerning.. “Lehi never saw MesoAmerica”?

    Comment by mrnirom1 — 2017, August 10 @ 4:25 pm

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