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The River of Laman and the Valley


volgadon

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And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.

And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water.

And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.

And it came to pass that he called the name of the river, Laman, and it emptied into the Red Sea; and the valley was in the borders near the mouth thereof.

And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying:

O that thou mightest be like unto this river,

continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!

And he also spake unto Lemuel:

O that thou mightest be like unto this valley,

firm and steadfast,

and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!

Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.

And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.

- 1 Nephi 2:5-12.

Hugh Nibley famously declared that Lehi followed a Bedouin practice of naming bodies of water after the one who discovered them. I am not going to go here into why I find that claim problematic.

Instead, I would like to present an alternative proposal.

The people of the Ancient Near East were (and still are) of a very poetic mindset. Not only were words extremely important, but so were their meaning, their relation to other words and events, their placing, their rhythm, their cadence, their sound. This is one of the reasons for the very baroque formulations found in the Bible.

Jacob, when complaining, complained in verse. When in grief, also.

As Robert Alter in his Genesis phrased it, "it is noteworthy that his cry of grief takes the form of a line of formal verse, a kind of compact elegy that jibes with the mourning rituals which follow it. All this language of mourning and grieving suggests a certain extravagance, perhaps something histrionic."

And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son

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The people of the Ancient Near East were (and still are) of a very poetic mindset. Not only were words extremely important, but so were their meaning, their relation to other words and events, their placing, their rhythm, their cadence, their sound. This is one of the reasons for the very baroque formulations found in the Bible.

I may be branching off here and sorry for such, but when you are saying Ancient Near East people are you including Arabic? If I understand former professors of Islamic talks. The importance of words can be changed by a mere misplaced of such a "dot" over a specific word. Changing the whole meaning. E.G. the Oldest Koran found in Yemen. That actually has no punctuation at all.

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And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam. And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water.

This river is reached three days after attaining the Gulf of Aqaba. Traveling on foot with a family and livestock, you can make at best 15 miles per day. This river therefore, must be within fifty miles of the twin cities of Eilat, Israel and Aqaba, Jordan. So scarce is water in this hot, arid region that Eilat relies on desalination. Even the valley where Eilat and Aqaba lie, the chief population center of this region, is a wadi, a dry gulch that only carries water on the very rare occasion that it rains, and only for a matter of days, if not hours. A river that continually ran into the Red Sea, so near the ancient trade routes between east and west, would have been a prize, a true gem, and the site of a great city. There's nothing in history, outside of the book of Mormon, that says such a river ever existed. And a look at Google Earth shows that there's no valley.

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This river is reached three days after attaining the Gulf of Aqaba. Traveling on foot with a family and livestock, you can make at best 15 miles per day. This river therefore, must be within fifty miles of the twin cities of Eilat, Israel and Aqaba, Jordan. So scarce is water in this hot, arid region that Eilat relies on desalination. Even the valley where Eilat and Aqaba lie, the chief population center of this region, is a wadi, a dry gulch that only carries water on the very rare occasion that it rains, and only for a matter of days, if not hours. A river that continually ran into the Red Sea, so near the ancient trade routes between east and west, would have been a prize, a true gem, and the site of a great city. There's nothing in history, outside of the book of Mormon, that says such a river ever existed. And a look at Google Earth shows that there's no valley.

Well that's it; the Book of Mormon can't possibly be true.

In the meantime, George Potter reports that he has seen the wadi Tayyib al-Ism himself, in person, on the ground, and that it has a perennial stream in its bed.

And I can see it on Google Earth.

Regards,

Pahoran

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1) Volgadon is not going in that direction. He's branching off from this thread

http://www.mormonapologetics.org/topic/49285-lehi-naming-valleys-and-streams-after-his-sons/

2) We already know where the River of Laban and Valley of Lemuel are found and established. Hilton, Potter, and Sedor have already established the trail and sited/detailed from Nephi 1 From Gulf of Aqaba to Bountiful. Only Bountiful is open to disagreement between Khor Kharfout and Khor Rori which is in the same region and not far apart.

Volg has already run the gamut of this discussion.

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Volg has already run the gamut of this discussion.

That's kind of what sucks about running an apologetics webforum with constant turnover. Picture something like Catholic Answers, and someone new comes in there and asks "Why do Catholics elevate Mary to the level of God?" and there are three possible responses.

1. 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

2. "Read the FAQ."

3. "Rosary Warrior already addressed that in 2007. We're not going there."

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Why can't you and Nibley both be right? It seems reasonable to me that Lehi picked the names based both on Bedouin naming practice and Semitic bardcraft.

BTW, your description of Semitic bardcraft sounds virtually identical to Celtic bardcraft, except that Celtic satires could have an effect on the physical health of the subject, usually boils. Hmm...Nah, probably just convergent evolution.

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That's kind of what sucks about running an apologetics webforum with constant turnover. Picture something like Catholic Answers, and someone new comes in there and asks "Why do Catholics elevate Mary to the level of God?" and there are three possible responses.

1. 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

2. "Read the FAQ."

3. "Rosary Warrior already addressed that in 2007. We're not going there."

Meh, just start a discussion topic on the Valley of Lemuel existence. In fact Bountiful opens a whole can of worms. You'll probably get a boat load of discussion. Now back to the Lakers/Suns game.

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Why can't you and Nibley both be right?

I'll resist the Highlander quote...

It seems reasonable to me that Lehi picked the names based both on Bedouin naming practice and Semitic bardcraft.

See the thread Handy linked to. I think it is the first time I find myself in agreement with Doug the Hutt over an apologetic issue. Not only was Lehi not a Bedouin, but the text doesn't function well with Nibley's quote.

BTW, your description of Semitic bardcraft sounds virtually identical to Celtic bardcraft, except that Celtic satires could have an effect on the physical health of the subject, usually boils. Hmm...Nah, probably just convergent evolution.

I suspect that bards were bards the world over. Going off topic, you might be interested in reading about Slavic bards, such as the fabled Boyan. It is worth noting that the Celts were displaced from their homelands by the Slavs, and as a result migrated westwards.

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I may be branching off here and sorry for such, but when you are saying Ancient Near East people are you including Arabic? If I understand former professors of Islamic talks. The importance of words can be changed by a mere misplaced of such a "dot" over a specific word. Changing the whole meaning. E.G. the Oldest Koran found in Yemen. That actually has no punctuation at all.

I am including Arabs, yes. Certain words can be changed by dots, I'm not sure how many or how badly it is. There is an account of Caliph Hakim bi Amr Allah who conquered Palestine in the early 11th century. A scribe misplaced a dot and as a result his soldiers castrated dozens of captive Christian monks. They died from their wounds.

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A river that continually ran into the Red Sea, so near the ancient trade routes between east and west, would have been a prize, a true gem, and the site of a great city. There's nothing in history, outside of the book of Mormon, that says such a river ever existed. And a look at Google Earth shows that there's no valley.

When God tells people to giddyup and motorvate, he wants to see their butts in gear and he doesn't want to hear them murmurring about maybe there's not enough water or food where they're going. Six hundred thousand children of Israel left Egypt for the Sinai desert. They ate food from heaven, and their water came pouring out of a rock. This spring is not visible on Google Earth because when the people crossed the Jordan over into Canaan they didn't need the water anymore. Does that mean you don't believe in the Torah?

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When God tells people to giddyup and motorvate, he wants to see their butts in gear and he doesn't want to hear them murmurring about maybe there's not enough water or food where they're going. Six hundred thousand children of Israel left Egypt for the Sinai desert. They ate food from heaven, and their water came pouring out of a rock. This spring is not visible on Google Earth because when the people crossed the Jordan over into Canaan they didn't need the water anymore. Does that mean you don't believe in the Torah?

I'd like to know the answer to that question too. Frankly I'm not certain what LinuxGal believes. Looking at her blog, I get the impression that she believes we are all a bunch of inbred rube breeders from flyover country who are too dumb to navigate any Internet links, and aren't even smart enough to realise we're supposed to wish we could be as good as the folks on the left coast.

But that's just an impression.

As for how accurate it is -- I'll have to let LinuxGal speak for herself.

Regards,

Pahoran

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I'd like to know the answer to that question too. Frankly I'm not certain what LinuxGal believes. Looking at her blog, I get the impression that she believes we are all a bunch of inbred rube breeders from flyover country who are too dumb to navigate any Internet links, and aren't even smart enough to realise we're supposed to wish we could be as good as the folks on the left coast.

But that's just an impression.

Impressions, of course, are a two-way street.

I have the advantage in that while I may be "snarky" and critical of a piece of scripture in my own blogspace, I am fundamentally a gentle person who never resorts to personal attacks.

I have set myself a task. I am blogging the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Book of Mormon.

Blogging them means reading the text and putting what it says in my own words to sort of lock it down in my head what's happening. Then I write commentary. In the case of the Old Testament I am interested in tracking how God as depicted in the text changes as the Israelites moved from henotheism to monotheism, ie from someone who walked with Abraham and wrestled Jacob, to appearing as a column of fire, and eventually disappearing altogether, only whispering to prophets. In the case of the New Testament I am interested in comparing the actual text to the doctrines of many different denominations. In the case of the Book of Mormon I am investigating whether it is another instance of the Word of God, or if it is purely fiction.

And because I don't want to operate in a total vacuum, I came here to see what members of the CoJCoLDS say about it.

I have started exactly one topic, and it was about the identity of the man Zarahemla, and the feasibility that he was a king, considering that Mosiah took over the kingship of his people soon after they met. Some members of this board came forward with good information. Others assumed that I was going after Joseph Smith in a back-handed way. But like I said, impressions are a two-way street.

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This river is reached three days after attaining the Gulf of Aqaba. Traveling on foot with a family and livestock, you can make at best 15 miles per day. This river therefore, must be within fifty miles of the twin cities of Eilat, Israel and Aqaba, Jordan. So scarce is water in this hot, arid region that Eilat relies on desalination. Even the valley where Eilat and Aqaba lie, the chief population center of this region, is a wadi, a dry gulch that only carries water on the very rare occasion that it rains, and only for a matter of days, if not hours. A river that continually ran into the Red Sea, so near the ancient trade routes between east and west, would have been a prize, a true gem, and the site of a great city. There's nothing in history, outside of the book of Mormon, that says such a river ever existed. And a look at Google Earth shows that there's no valley.

You are making some assumptions that are not evident from the text. The text does not indicate that the group traveled by foot. It is more likely that the group used camels as beasts of burden and for personal transport. This is not indicated by the text either, but is a much more plausible scenario than walking and carrying the provisions and tents that the group took with them. A camel can carry a 1000 pound load around thirty miles per day. It can carry a rider around 100 miles per day.

Also you are making some assumptions about the point where they traveled in the wilderness for three days. That point is not known, just guessed at. But using more plausible theories concerning the mode of transportation changes the range that the group could have covered considerably.

Glenn

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Impressions, of course, are a two-way street.

I have the advantage in that while I may be "snarky" and critical of a piece of scripture in my own blogspace, I am fundamentally a gentle person who never resorts to personal attacks.

That's nice to know.

BTW, over whom do you suppose you have an advantage? I hope you don't think you were being subjected to a personal attack, do you?

Because I was simply commenting upon your blog.

But anyone who does passive-aggressive as skilfully as you do clearly wouldn't need to resort to personal attacks.

I have set myself a task. I am blogging the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Book of Mormon.

Blogging them means reading the text and putting what it says in my own words to sort of lock it down in my head what's happening. Then I write commentary. In the case of the Old Testament I am interested in tracking how God as depicted in the text changes as the Israelites moved from henotheism to monotheism, ie from someone who walked with Abraham and wrestled Jacob, to appearing as a column of fire, and eventually disappearing altogether, only whispering to prophets. In the case of the New Testament I am interested in comparing the actual text to the doctrines of many different denominations. In the case of the Book of Mormon I am investigating whether it is another instance of the Word of God, or if it is purely fiction.

Well here's the thing, LG: your commentary on the Book of Mormon is heavily laced with sarcastic editorialising.

For example, let's look at your treatment of 3 Nephi 11-15, which chapters are regarded by believing Latter-day Saints as the most inspiring and sacred portions of the book, and that's saying something.

The gospel in the Book of Mormon differs from the four gospels in the New Testament on many points. There was no infancy narrative or account of Jesus when he was a child of twelve. There was no traveling ministry. Instead of Jesus going with his disciples from town to town, everyone came to him in the land of Bountiful (named after the Bountiful in Yemen), as though it were a super-duper Sermon on the Mount. They were prepared for this by the Nephite prophets.

Well of course there are no infancy or childhood accounts; the infancy and childhood of Jesus took place on the other side of the earth. Hello? BTW, I love that glib little "super-duper" touch. It's so redolent of a real attempt to take the Book of Mormon seriously. The kind of thing we expect from Time-Life journalists finding an easy way to demonstrate their superiority over their targets. I mean subjects.

Third Nephi is a post-resurrection situation; as such, comparing it to any part of Jesus's mortal ministry is a bit irrelevant. Actually, serious (not glib) students of ancient scripture have compared it to other post-resurrection accounts, and come out impressed, sometimes reluctantly; which is even better. Krister Stendahl, former dean of Harvard Divinity School and Lutheran Bishop of Stockholm, was one of them.

Your next paragraph simply reports what the text says, without much comment. But you make up for it in the following two:

Even though everyone in the crowd believed he was the Son of God who was prophesied from old and fell to the ground, Jesus bade them to arise, come forth, and put their hands into the holes left in his body from the crucifixion, as though everyone there was a Doubting Thomas. But even Doubting Thomas didn't need to put his hands into Jesus, instead, humbled, he fell to the ground in worship and said, "My Lord and My God". Nevertheless, every single member of the crowd did come forward and verify the marks of Christ's execution as they were commanded.

Then Jesus said, "Nephi come forth!" which would be like standing in a crowd of a million Americans and saying "John Smith come forth!" But the correct Nephi came forward, kissed Jesus' feet, and Jesus gave him the power to baptize. And then Jesus called an unspecified number of others to be certified for performing baptisms as well.

Actually the number is specified. I have bolded your heavy-handed editorialising to show what your blog looks like to someone who values the Book of Mormon.

Now I could multiply examples at length, but I will pick one other: your hatchet job on the preceding three chapters. Volgadon has already commented on your comments about this, so I will pick just one small portion:

"Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning."

Must be a different Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible, aka the Prince of Peace, called some people vipers and white-washed sepulchres, and maybe turned over some tables and threw some moneychangers out of the temple with his whip, but that was the extent of his violence.

Tell us, please, by what logic you manage to disassociate "The Jesus of the Bible" (there is no comparable descriptor to be found anywhere in the Bible) aka the God of Israel, from the extirpation of the Philistines, or the apocalyptic destructions prophesied to accompany the Parousia?

The Jesus of the Bible was also a great storyteller. The Jesus of the Book of Mormon sounded like a broken record sometimes:

Pop quiz here, LG: how many great stories does John record Jesus as telling?

And if you want an example of someone sounding like a broken record, how about Matthew Chapter 23? It looks like someone's needle got stuck on: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!"

Now who was that, again?

That's right; it was "The Jesus of the Bible."

Then we contrast this with your commentary on 2 Timothy. Most of that is a fairly straightforward and respectful description of what is there; except when you work in a little swipe at EV Protestants. I didn't find that the least bit distressing, not being a "conservative bibliolater," but I note that your disrespect is saved for your contemporaries and does not apply to the scripture itself.

And because I don't want to operate in a total vacuum, I came here to see what members of the CoJCoLDS say about it.

I'm glad you did. I hope you learn something.

A little humility would be a good start.

I have started exactly one topic, and it was about the identity of the man Zarahemla, and the feasibility that he was a king, considering that Mosiah took over the kingship of his people soon after they met. Some members of this board came forward with good information. Others assumed that I was going after Joseph Smith in a back-handed way. But like I said, impressions are a two-way street.

So they are.

Regards,

Pahoran

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BTW, over whom do you suppose you have an advantage? I hope you don't think you were being subjected to a personal attack, do you?

I do, and your post right here is also a personal attack. It is also the last post of that nature from anyone that I will respond to. I'm only replying to this one to serve notice. If every post on this forum becomes a personal attack like this one, then I will withdraw.

Well of course there are no infancy or childhood accounts; the infancy and childhood of Jesus took place on the other side of the earth. Hello?

I realize that, and I expect that from the setting. It's not a criticism, its a pure observation.

All of the attacks in your post have to do with content that is elsewhere on my personal blog, not on any post or comment I have made in this forum. By making the attack, you transfer pieces of the sarcastic or "glib" stuff here when I never did.

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I do, and your post right here is also a personal attack.

Well I'm sorry you feel attacked, LG; but it really isn't about you.

It is also the last post of that nature from anyone that I will respond to. I'm only replying to this one to serve notice. If every post on this forum becomes a personal attack like this one, then I will withdraw.

I realize that, and I expect that from the setting. It's not a criticism, its a pure observation.

An observation like, "All of those bananas are curved?"

All of the attacks in your post have to do with content that is elsewhere on my personal blog, not on any post or comment I have made in this forum. By making the attack, you transfer pieces of the sarcastic or "glib" stuff here when I never did.

But LG, you gave us the link to your blog. Did you expect none of us to click it?

Regards,

Pahoran

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I found some later, circumstantial evidence.

Kings are anointed only near a spring, that their kingship may run long and smooth, as it is said (1 Kings 1:33): 'And the king said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord... and bring him down to Gihon.'
- The Babylonian Talmud, Horayot 12a.
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