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.

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