Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2010, December 22

“Book of Mormon: What Do John Sorenson’s ‘War and Seasons’ Establish?” by grego

“Book of Mormon: What Do John Sorenson’s ‘War and Seasons’ Establish?”

grego
(c)2010

About Sorenson and his warfare seasons… OK, lots of Lamanites lived in the wilderness and ate meat that they hunted. Well, ok, we only know that from the beginning, not after they took over the Nephite cities (in the time of Mosiah I). So at least some of them—the more ferocious part, and more likely the ones who would be involved in fighting wars—are not tied to harvesting–at least not as much as the Nephites seemed to be.

The Nephites cultivate and raise meat.

Any suggestions? That part just doesn’t make sense to me. Now, if you’re talking about lowland and highland, and rain and soggy land and tents, that might be something different…

Before going further, here’s a summary of the issue, found at:
http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Warfare.
Seasonality of Warfare
A fascinating issue on climate is the seasons of war described in the Book of Mormon, mostly between Alma 9 and Alma 47. Several examples provide specific months and days of the battle (e.g., Alma 16:1). Many others indicate the general time of year (e.g., Alma 44:22–24). In over 30 places, war action is described as taking place near the end or beginning of the year. Sorenson has compiled information from the text about the month of the year various military skirmishes are mentioned. Almost all occur between the 11th and 3rd months, with a small number reported in the 4th, 5th, and 10th months, and none mentioned in the 6th through 9th months.[1] Why this pattern?

Interestingly, the text also makes reference to cultivation of food a number of times in the 4th through 9th months. The problem of getting food to the troops is mentioned as a concern mainly in the twelfth through second months. Thus it seems that the harvest may have been in months 10 through 12. The Nephite “agricultural year” seems, then, to proceed like this:
* Cultivation of fields: months 4-9
* Main harvest: months 10-12
* Time of warfare: mainly months 11-3.

Warfare Insights from the Text
This leads to several insights:
* since the armies were largely made of ordinary citizens (like reservists) who were largely farmers, they were not available for warfare except after the harvest (see Alma 53:7);
* since an army moves on its stomach, fighting is most easily carried out when food supplies are most available, which would be after the harvest;
* the Book of Mormon shows remarkable accuracy (and internal consistency) in dealing with the ancient relationship between agriculture and warfare.

But how do Nephite months correspond to ours? In Mesoamerica, May though September is the best time for growing crops (heat and moisture are most available). October through April is fairly dry.
We also know that before Columbus, military campaigns in Central America occurred mainly between late October and February (again, farmers were then free of agricultural duties and food could be gathered—or seized as plunder).
Likewise, soggy land from heavy rains would be drier and more passable (and made living in tents easier).
These considerations lead Sorenson and others to conclude that the Nephite year may have begun in late December, perhaps with the winter solstice (Dec. 21/22), as did many other ancient peoples.[2]

-=-=-=

Note that all wars were, of course, started by the Lamanites, and always consisted of the Lamanites attacking the Nephites in Nephite lands. So all the Nephite side of the equation in all this can be pretty much eliminated (unless the Lamanites had a strong desire to take the food as war spoils).

Strategy session–If you wanted to conquer a people, would you do it when they had food, or not?

Have food: attack during the “off” season, when the Nephites are loaded with just-harvested crops and supplies, and have nothing to do (except defend against the Lamanites); take the food as war spoils.
OR
Don’t have food: attack sometime between plants coming up and before harvest—trample the fields, starve the Nephites and their families, lower morale, fight fewer and famished Nephites, make them weaker for further attack or leaving their lands (as in Mosiah 1). Then, when you conquer them, you take their food as war spoils—not once, but as long as they are under your servitude.

Hmmm…

Anything in the text support either side of this argument?

In the story of Zeniff,the Lamanite king takes food spoils. Whoops—but that’s after the people are conquered).
The Lamanites trample much of the Nephite food (Alma 4:2).

When would the Lamanies hunt: spring and summer, fall, winter? During “main harvest” and “time of warfare” seasons.

Of course, this is all based on the big assumption of Mesoamerica being the Book of Mormon/ Nephite lands.

Conclusion? Inconclusive evidence.

2010, October 16

“Book of Mormon: Internal Consistency: The Bow and the Arrow as Separate Weapons” by grego

“Book of Mormon: Internal Consistency: The Bow and the Arrow as Separate Weapons”

grego
(c) 2010

(While the consistency is always there, to do a proper research report on this topic in the areas I go would require a considerable amount of time, if not more, which I don’t have right now; so remember, this is not hard data and necessary results here, eh?)

All throughout the Book of Mormon, the bow and the arrow—which we in the USA today know as “bow and arrow”, “bow and arrows”, or “bows and arrows”—are written as “the bow, and the arrow”—listed as if they were separate weapons! Yes, if they are both listed they are paired, but always separate. Outlandish! How else do you use an arrow, especially in war?

In addition, stones and the sling are paired if both are listed, but they are also listed as separate weapons, too.

Here are all the references: “All forms of the word ARROW in the Text of the Book of Mormon.”:

1 Ne. 16:14 And it came to pass that we did take *our bows and our arrows*…
15 And it came to pass that we did travel for the space of many days, slaying food by the way, with *our bows and our arrows* and our *stones and our slings*.
23 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with *a bow and an arrow*, with *a sling and with stones*. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?

Jarom 1:8 …weapons of war—yea, the sharp pointed *arrow*, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war.

Mosiah 9:16 And it came to pass that I did arm them *with bows, and with arrows*, with swords, and with cimeters, and with clubs, and with slings, and with all manner of weapons which we could invent…

Mosiah 10:8 And it came to pass that they came up upon the north of the land of Shilom, with their numerous hosts, men armed *with bows, and with arrows*, and with swords, and with cimeters, and *with stones, and with slings*…

Alma 2:12 … they did arm themselves with swords, and with cimeters, and *with bows, and with arrows*, and *with stones, and with slings*, and with all manner of weapons of war, of every kind.

Alma 3:5 Now the heads of the Lamanites were shorn; and they were naked, save it were skin which was girded about their loins, and also their armor, which was girded about them, and *their bows, and their arrows*, and *their stones, and their slings*, and so forth.

Alma 17:7 Nevertheless they departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and took their swords, and their spears, and *their bows, and their arrows*, and *their slings*; and this they did that they might provide food for themselves while in the wilderness.

Alma 43:20 Now the army of Zerahemnah was not prepared with any such thing; they had only their swords and their cimeters, *their bows and their arrows*, *their stones and their slings*…

Alma 49:2 And behold, the city had been rebuilt, and Moroni had stationed an army by the borders of the city, and they had cast up dirt round about to shield them from *the arrows* and *the stones* of the Lamanites; for behold, they fought *with stones* and *with arrows*.
4 But behold, how great was their disappointment; for behold, the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take effect, neither could they come upon them save it was by their place of entrance.
19 And thus were the Nephites prepared to destroy all such as should attempt to climb up to enter the fort by any other way, by casting over stones and arrows at them.
22 Now when they found that they could not obtain power over the Nephites by the pass, they began to dig down their banks of earth that they might obtain a pass to their armies, that they might have an equal chance to fight; but behold, in these attempts they were swept off by the stones and arrows which were thrown at them; and instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies.
24 There were about fifty who were wounded, who had been exposed to the arrows of the Lamanites through the pass, but they were shielded by their shields, and their breastplates, and their head-plates, insomuch that their wounds were upon their legs, many of which were very severe.

Alma 50:4 And he caused towers to be erected that overlooked those works of pickets, and he caused places of security to be built upon those towers, that *the stones and the arrows* of the Lamanites could not hurt them.

Helaman 1:14 … the Lamanites had gathered together an innumerable army of men, and armed them with swords, and with cimeters and *with bows, and with arrows*, and with head-plates, and with breastplates, and with all manner of shields of every kind.

Helaman 16:2 But as many as there were who did not believe in the words of Samuel were angry with him; and they *cast stones* at him upon the wall, and also many *shot arrows* at him as he stood upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows.

Mormon 6:9 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.

(2 Nephi 15:28 Whose *arrows shall be sharp, and all their bows bent*, and their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind, their roaring like a lion.
2 Nephi 17:24 *With arrows and with bows* shall men come thither, because all the land shall become briers and thorns.)

Notice the different relationships:
1 Ne. 16:14 And it came to pass that we did take *our bows and our arrows*…
15 And it came to pass that we did travel for the space of many days, slaying food by the way, with *our bows and our arrows* and our *stones and our slings*.
23 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with *a bow and an arrow*, with *a sling and with stones*. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?

Jarom 1:8 …weapons of war—yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war.

Mosiah 9:16 And it came to pass that I did arm them *with bows, and with arrows*, with swords, and with cimeters, and with clubs, and with *slings*, and with all manner of weapons which we could invent…

Mosiah 10:8 men armed *with bows, and with arrows*, and with swords, and with cimeters, and *with stones, and with slings*…

Alma 2:12 … they did arm themselves with swords, and with cimeters, and *with bows, and with arrows*, and *with stones, and with slings*, and with all manner of weapons of war, of every kind.

Alma 3:5 and *their bows, and their arrows*, and *their stones, and their slings*, and so forth.

Alma 17:7 their swords, and their spears, and *their bows, and their arrows*, and *their slings*; and this they did that they might provide food for themselves while in the wilderness.

Alma 43:20 *their bows and their arrows*, *their stones and their slings*…

Alma 49:2 …they had cast up dirt round about to shield them from *the arrows* and *the stones* of the Lamanites; for behold, they fought *with stones* and *with arrows*.
4 the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not *cast their stones and their arrows* at them that they might take effect…
19 And thus were the Nephites prepared to destroy all such as should attempt to climb up to enter the fort by any other way, by casting over stones and arrows at them.
22 *the stones and arrows which were thrown at them*; and instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies.
24 There were about fifty who were wounded, who had been exposed to the arrows of the Lamanites through the pass, but they were shielded by their shields, and their breastplates, and their head-plates, insomuch that their wounds were upon their legs, many of which were very severe.

Helaman 16:2 *cast stones* *shot arrows*

Here are the weapons and delivery methods:
sharp pointed arrow, quiver, dart, javelin.
spears.
cast their stones and their arrows (no mention of bows, slings).
casting over stones and arrows at them; stones and arrows thrown at them.
cast stones, shot arrows.

What is to “cast”? From Webster’s 1828 dictionary:
1. To throw, fling or send; that is, to drive from, by force, as from the hand, or from an engine. (and there are more, but most definitions don’t fit anything that would have to do with arrows).
So, casting arrows would not be with a bow, but perhaps by hand, string, some kind of sling or method to propel it, etc. It’s possible that definitions changed over time; that has happened before. It’s possible that Hebrew for “to cast” means “to shoot [an arrow]. No doubt linguistic dancing could make “to cast” fit “to shoot [as from a bow]”. Because, we all know arrows are shot from a bow!–right? But as we accept all those possibilities, let’s stop, look, and think.

Reading through the text, I see references to arrows being thrown. But of course that’s stupid—throwing arrows in war?? You throw spears (maybe, usually not), and you throw javelins. But arrows?

Whoops.

Quimsically, a search for “arrow throwing”—something I had never heard of, especially growing up on American Indian shows where a bow was always used— is/ was part of many ancient places/ cultures, including Yemen, Korea, Rome, etc.

Here’s something about arrow throwing in England. From “The Crossbow”, found at http://www.crossbowbook.com/page_243.html (probably 1903 or so):
“The ordinary thrower will cast the arrow from 240 to 250 yards, a very skilful thrower will send it from 280 to 300 yards, the record throw being 372 yards.”

Ok, that’s not much information, and that’s still a long way to throw an arrow…

Anything else that matches the text better?

From http://www.thudscave.com/npaa/designs/baton.htm, is a relation of some experiements :
-=
“Ever seen an arrow thrown with a leather thong? Well its like a piece of string with a knot in the end. You wrap that knot on the arrow around the balance point or something like that and then rotate the string around once or so I forget. Then wrap the other end around your finger and you throw arrows.”

“I brought the same 2.3 ounce dart…
With distance I’m getting *50-55 yards*. I found that *if I try to angle it much higher than a little, from parallel with the ground then not much energy is transferred to the dart and it doesent go more than 30 yards. If its parallel or angled down slightly it just flies!* heh”

“In the book it said for light darts 3/4th a turn of the string around the shaft. For heavier ones, 1 full turn. Well trying that out, I found that 3/4th and 1 full turn caused the dart to fly upwards on release and fly quite a bit higher and arc more like a distance throw. I started wrapping the string about 3 or 4 times around the dart and found that the (trajectory? is that what it’s called?) to be somewhat flat, it didnt have much an arc to it.”

“More experiementing and then I found that the best way to throw was like a throwing spear, but as I’m moving my arm and body forward to lift the dart up and then do a fast downward motion as it’s about to leave. *That makes the dart fly parellel to the ground, with no sideways movement, it flies straight as an arrow!* Usually when I’m throwing like that with a dart, close to the end of the flight, the darts gonna curve a bit.”

“Oh yea sorry forgot to mention that this dart has NO FLETCHING. So it flew like it had fletching, if I did that up/down thing right it would fly flat, straight and direct…”

“After that I started throwing 25 yards from my target. I actually hit the rabbit sized wood/bark 3 times! I hit the lump of snow quite a bit too. One time I threw it so hard, it zoomed hit the iced front part of the lump directly. I went up to pull the dart out. The lump was solid ice….. and the dart was in past the binding of the point. Went in 6 inches…”

“*Oh yea I forgot to mention, try throwing downhill. That’s when this thing REALLY shines I dont want to be on the recieving end! haha*”
-=

So, to sum up:
–great distance, great accuracy, great penetration.
–level launching works; the higher up the target, the less effective.
–throwing downhill really makes it zing.

I think those parts are interesting with regards to the Lamanite attack on Noah. Look one more time at this:
4 the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not *cast their stones and their arrows* at them that they might take effect…
19 And thus were the Nephites prepared to destroy all such as should attempt to climb up to enter the fort by any other way, by casting over stones and arrows at them.
22 …*the stones and arrows which were thrown at them*; and instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies.
24 There were about fifty who were wounded, who had been exposed to the arrows of the Lamanites through the pass, but they were shielded by their shields, and their breastplates, and their head-plates, insomuch that their wounds were upon their legs, many of which were very severe.

If we’re imagining a ridge of earth that is really high, I think we’re mistaken; a good bow could still hit high, too (though I don’t know about 600BC bows. It has been researched that some flight bows could hit 750 yards with a light arrow, 350 yards with a heavy war arrow; see http://www.atarn.org/islamic/Performance/Performance_of_Turkish_bows.htm ). I believe the “ridge of earth” being too “high” has to do with the angle of delivery for thrown or string-thrown arrows—as the commenter was getting at, that when the target is high above the horizon, there’s not enough arc for good delivery, and the arrows don’t fly well at all, especially if they are heavy war arrows.

However, throwing from above, at a target below horizon, is the opposite story.

Given a choice, the bow would not doubt be the excellent delivery method. So, what might be the advantages of throwing arrows instead of using bows to shoot them?
–not having to carry a bow (especially a long one).
–less equipment (size, weight).
–faster travel (especially if through dense forest or jungle terrain), less tired, less cumbersome, one less weapon to maintain.
–more arrows/ other weapons can be carried instead.
–no need to worry about bows, bow strings breaking or becoming useless.
–if there is lots of humidity, or if there are great changes in humidity (which affect bows), there would be fewer problems.
–possibly much faster to attack (more arrows/ minute), less concentration required—but perhaps only if hand-thrown instead of string-thrown.
–no fletching needed.

So, the internal consistency throughout the Book of Mormon about bows and arrows is amazing, and the possibly bizarre-seeming intended meanings of the text actually support war data from other times and places in more similar conditions than what we imagine. If Joseph Smith were making it up, that would be one more brilliant plume in his con hat.

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