Tag Archives: Book of Mormon

What We Know . . . So Far

As far as we can tell, no one has yet been able to prove that something does not, or did not exist. Yet, that is often an argument used by anti-Mormons in their attempt to disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Years ago the idea that there are elephants mentioned in the Book of Mormon was proof the book was a fabrication. But now it’s becoming more and more accepted that there were elephants roaming the promised land. Skeptics have had to shift their attention to the mention of horses in the Book of Mormon. And now the argument that horses were not in North America before the Spanish arrived is springing leaks.

When the Winter Olympic games were held in Salt Lake City in 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley was asked by a reporter if he had a comment about DNA research that seemed to disprove the Book of Mormon. He simply responded that all the information wasn’t in yet. Today DNA is proving a connection between the Middle East and Native Americans.

For decades the big bang theory has been the accepted origin of our universe. Now physicists in Egypt and Canada have made a strong argument that there was no beginning to the universe. It has always existed. This is just another example of a faith-based belief that has been scoffed at by science, and is now becoming self-evident.

More and more, theories placing Book of Mormon events in Mesoamerica and South America are giving way to the heartland of America as Book of Mormon lands. Geographic evidences that have become overgrown by forests, or deliberately destroyed, are coming to light and are being connected to people and places of the Book of Mormon.

Although, as President Hinckley said, not all of the evidence is in yet, a lot of evidence is in, and that evidence is confirming what early church leaders knew, the Heartland of America is the land of the Book of Mormon.

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The Lost Ten Tribes in America

Joseph-Knew---Esdras
Esdras Preacheth the Law

After the Neo-Assyrian Empire conquered the Kingdom of Israel (c. 720 BC), ten of the twelve tribes were deported. They have become known as the Lost Ten Tribes because their whereabouts was unknown.

In the apocryphal book 2 Esdras
 we have a small clue about where they might have gone.

“Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea the king, whom Salmanasar the king of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land.

“But they took this counsel among themselves, 
that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt, . . .” (2 Esdras 13:40-41)

According to these verses, the ten tribes were taken over waters, then they decided to go to a land that was even further away, a land where “never mankind dwelt”. What we can assume from this is that they went a far distance to a land that, as far as they knew, was uninhabited. That would pretty much rule out the Middle East, Africa and Europe because they would have known that those lands were inhabited. They also wanted a fresh start. They were looking for a land away from “the heathen”.

This record from Esdras has similarities to Book of Mormon records. The  Mulekites, the Jaredites, and Lehi’s family all left the Middle East under tumultuous circumstances.

Although many of the early European settlers saw the Native Americans as savages and treated them accordingly, others believed them to be the lost ten tribes and respected them accordingly. William Penn, for whom the US Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is named, was one who believed them to be Israelites. He was well known for his good relationships and successful treaties with the natives. In a 1683 letter to the Committee of the Free Society of Traders in London, England he wrote:

Joseph-Knew---William-Penn-in-Armor
William Penn

“I am ready to believe them of the Jewish race — I mean of the stock of the Ten Tribes—and that for the following reasons: First, they were to go to a land not planted or known, which, to be sure, Asia and Africa were, if not Europe, and he that intended that extraordinary judgment upon them might make the passage not uneasy to them, as it is not impossible in itself, from the eastermost parts of Asia to the westermost parts of America. In the next place, I find them of the like countenance, and their children of so lively resemblance that a man would think himself in Duke’s Place, or Berry Street, London, when he seeth them. But this is not all; they agree in wrights, they reckon by moons, they offer their first fruits, they have a kind of feast of tabernacles, they are said to lay their altar upon twelve stones . . “

Joseph-Knew---Feast-of-tabernacles---wikimedia-commons---matanya
Feast of Tabernacles

Penn points out that the Native Americans had “a kind of feast of tabernacles.”  A few things that happened anciently at a Sukkoth or Feast of Tabernacles are:

  • People Gather at the temple (at the temple courtyard, or around the temple)
  • The people live in sukkah (booths or tents) for seven days with the sukkah opening facing the temple (Leviticus 23:42-43)
  • The king or religious leader addresses the people
  • The people are encouraged to love and serve God
  • Scripture (the law) is read (Deuteronomy 31:10-13)
  • Sometimes a new king is coronated
  • It is said to be the festival of the future, looking forward to the coming of the Messiah

When we read the first 6 chapters of Mosiah, the gathering of the people at the temple to hear King Benjamin sounds very much like a Sukkot.

  • The people gathered at the temple (Mosiah 2:1)
  • They lived in tents which faced the temple (Mosiah 2:5)
  • The King, Benjamin, addressed them (Mosiah 2:8)
  • The law was read
  • The people were exhorted to love and serve God
  • A new king, Mosiah, was named
  • King Benjamin (about 124 BC) told of the coming of the Messiah

The Nephites observed the Sukkot or Feast of Tabernacles, as did their Native American ancestors.

We also know that the Nephites reckoned time by the moon.

“And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons.” (Omni 1:21)

Unlike our calendar which is based on the solar year, the Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycle.

Many events associated with the restoration occurred on major Jewish holy days.

  • Moroni’s first visit to Joseph Smith on September 21, 1823 happened during Sukkot.
  • Joseph received the plates on Rosh Hashanah which is often called the Feast of the Trumpets, or the day of shouting.

Why would Moroni present his record to Joseph Smith on the Jewish Feast of the Trumpets? Because he was an Israelite announcing the restoration. It’s appropriate that today he is depicted blowing a trumpet.

 

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CastleGate-Nedia---Geography-of-the-Book-of-MormonREPUBLISHED — Some of the earliest research into the lands of the Book of Mormon

“Geography of the Book of Mormon”

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Land of Many Waters

The Land of Many Waters
Watkins Glen, NY

And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites. — (Book of Mormon, Mormon 6:4)

When Mormon leads his people to the Hill Cumorah, he makes a point of recording that it was located in the “land of many waters.” This would indicate that the number of lakes, rivers, streams and springs was unusual. The Hill Cumorah near Palmyra, NY, which we at Joseph Knew believe to be the Hill Cumorah spoken of by Mormon, is located in the Finger Lakes region of Western New York.

The early native people considered this area sacred and blessed by God. Native legend says that after He created the earth, God blessed it by placing his hand on this area, and this left the Finger Lakes. Lakes Cayuga and Seneca are among the deepest lakes in the United States. This area is a central part of the Iroquois homeland. The lakes sit below Lake Ontario and are a central feature in what Willard Bean called Cumorahland.

Land of Many Waters -- NASA Photo
Land of Many Waters — NASA Photo

This area is certainly “a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains.” In New York there are over 1,600 fresh lakes, ponds and reservoirs. There are over 70,000 miles of rivers. The Finger Lakes are a group of eleven long, finger-like lakes.

The Finger Lakes area is a good candidate for The Land of Many Waters for several reasons.

From a military standpoint the terrain is good defensively.

The great number of lakes, rivers and streams would have slowed down the enemies from the south pursuing the Nephites northward. The Book of Mormon emphasizes the fact that the land of many waters was “an exceeding great distance” from the land of Zarahemla and that there were more streams, rivers, lakes, and fountains in that area than were to be found in any lands where these early people had dwelt.

Evidence of great battles in Cumorahland can be found all along the Great Lakes region.

New York Governor DeWitt Clinton, who was the driving force behind the Erie Canal in the early 1800s, lectured about ancient discoveries in the Great Lakes area.

In a lecture before the New York Historical Society in 1831, he spoke about the great number of fortresses found all along the Great Lakes area. He said:

“I have seen several of these works in the western part of this state. There is a large one in the town of Onondaga, one in Pompey, and another in Manlius; one in Camillus, eight miles from Auburn: one in Scipio, six miles, another one mile, and one about half a mile from that village. Between the Seneca and Cayuga Lakes there are several—three within a few miles of each other. Near the village of Canandaigua there are three. In a word, they are scattered all over that county.”

The Hill Cumorah is the largest hill in the area and would have served as a good look-out post. (Mormon 6:11)

Archeological evidence suggests two great nations perished in the Finger Lakes area.

Arrowheads from the Hill Cumorah
Arrowheads from the Hill Cumorah

In 1925 a farmer in Palmyra was digging a well and uncovered several large skeletons. The age of the skeletons was determined to be approximately 3,000 years old. This would fit in the time frame of the Jaradite Nation.

The Rochester Herald reported that, “In this pit were found an axe of peculiar shape, wide bit and other implements that bore signs of ancient warfare. There are dozens of similar ruins near Rochester. Upon these steep heights invading armies may have pressed a desperate assault, while all along the brow of the hills behind the rude fortifications of the great forest, stood the defenders of camp and home.”

Implements of war such as arrowheads, spearheads, axes and clubs have been found throughout the area which indicate great battles took place there around 600 – 300 B.C. and another 300 – 500 AD.

Remains of a giant race of people have been found in the area.

In his 1888 book Pioneers of the Western Reserve, Harvey Rice recorded the recovery of human remains in the Finger Lakes area. He wrote:

“Human bones of gigantic proportions were discovered in such a state of preservation as to be accurately described and measured. The cavities of the skulls were large enough in their dimensions to receive the entire head of a man of modern times, and could be put on one’s head with as much ease as a hat or cap. The jaw-bones were sufficiently large to admit of being placed so as to match or fit the outside of a modern man’s face.”

Many church leaders believed the Finger Lakes area was the land of Cumorah.

Moroni Monument at Cumorah
Moroni Monument at Cumorah

Oliver Cowdery taught that the final battle of both the Jaredites and the Nephites took place in the valley west of the Hill Cumorah.

In 1935 Gordon B. Hinckley attended the dedication of the Moroni monument atop the Hill. He recognized the fields around the hill as a great battlefield. He wrote: “. . . the canvas shroud fell from the monument and the figure of Moroni looked out across the quiet fields, which is his day of life, had been scenes of carnage and sorrow.”

In a 1975 General Conference address, Marion G. Romney said: “In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “Hill Cumorah.” On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation.”

Orson Pratt said: “[Moroni’s] nation was destroyed in what we term the State of New York, around about a hill, called by that people the Hill of Cumorah, when many hundreds of thousands of the Nephites — men, women and children, fell, during the greatest battle that they had had with the Lamanites.” (Journal of Discourses Vol. 20, pg. 62)

Joseph-Knew-old-Book-of-MormonIn their book Geography of the Book of Mormon, Willard Bean and Cecil McGavin wrote:

“In the light of this evidence it would be useless to argue with these reputable historians that a war of extermination had not been fought in Cumorahland and that a great nation had not been exterminated.

“The imperishable inscriptions of metal plates have told us the history of that mysterious people who fought their final battles in the land of many waters.

“Furthermore, the Book of Mormon emphasizes the fact that the land of many waters was ‘an exceeding great distance’ from the land of Zarahemla; that there were more streams, rivers, lakes, and fountains in that area than were to be found in any lands where these early people had dwelt.

“Middle America is not a land of many waters. Its ancient hills are not marked with tokens of fortifications; its skeletal remains do not tell of a bitter war of extermination, comparable at all to the evidence in western New York. If we are to find that historic land where the drums of war called forth the warriors until the land was covered with the bodies of the dead, we must go northward ‘an exceeding great distance,’ as the Jaredites and Nephites did many centuries ago.

“These aboriginal monuments, the tell-tale tokens of ancient warfare by highly civilized nations, are not to be flung aside as one ‘fights against the pricks’ to confine these ancient people to the narrow and restricted domain of Middle America. Inscriptions on metal have told us the story, which is otherwise a great mystery. These mysteries vanish as ancient historians speak from the dust.”

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Hear what Gordon B. Hinckley had to say about the Hill Cumorah in this short video clip. (1:27)

 

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Hill of Ancient Seers and Prophets

In September 1827, the Book of Mormon Prophet Moroni visited Joseph Smith. During that first visit from Moroni, Joseph saw in a vision the hill in which the plates were buried. After that, Joseph began referring to that hill outside Palmyra, NY  as Cumorah. This was not a name he received from the Book of Mormon. It was the name he received from Moroni.

Other early leaders, who were close to Joseph Smith, called the hill Cumorah as well. Orson Pratt believed that the hill was not only the place where Moroni buried the Book of Mormon record, but was also the hill in which Moroni’s father Mormon deposited hundreds of other records. In the church publication, Millennial Star, Pratt wrote:

Joseph Knew - Young Orson Pratt
Orson Pratt

“And all the ancient plates, Mormon deposited in Cumorah, about three hundred and eighty-four years after Christ. When Moroni, about thirty-six years after, made the deposit of the book entrusted to him, he was, without doubt, inspired to select a department of the hill separate from the great sacred depository of the numerous volumes hid up by his father. The particular place in the hill, where Moroni secreted the book, was revealed, by the angel, to the Prophet Joseph Smith, to whom the volume was delivered in September, A.D. 1827. But the grand repository of all the numerous records of the ancient nations of the western continent, was located in another department of the hill, and its contents under the charge of holy angels, until the day should come for them to be transferred to the sacred temple of Zion.

“There is no spot on this wide world of ours, which is calculated to excite more vivid reflections, than the wonderful hill of Cumorah. There the history of one-half of our globe, reposed, for fourteen centuries, in profound unbroken silence: there, ‘the everlasting Gospel,’ engraved, not on tablets of stone, but on plates of gold, awaited the voice of the heavenly angel to reveal the priceless treasure: there, buried in the holy archives of Cumorah’s sacred hill, are plates of brass, plates of gold, undimmed by time; sacredly guarded as the temple of heaven: there shines the Urim and Thummim, the stones of light, the gems of immortality: there, reposes in words of light, the hidden knowledge of ages past, the prophetic history of ages to come: there wisdom has selected her palace, and understanding her dwelling place, until ‘the spirit is poured out from on high’ and ‘the skies pour down righteousness;’ then, ‘the earth opens and brings forth salvation.’

Joseph-Knew-Two-Cumorahs-533
The Hill Cumorah c. 1920

“All the wealth of ages is valueless, compared with the records of eternal wisdom, the inexhaustible fountain of understanding, hidden in the secret recesses of the wonderful—the beautiful—the lovely hill Cumorah! O, Cumorah! The hill of ancient Seers and Prophets! The hill
of God! Sanctified by holy angels’ feet! From thy bowels is heard a voice, low, sweet, mild, of heavenly tones! Yet it thrills through every fiber of the heart! It speaks of man—of God— of earth—of heaven—of hell! It speaks of the past—of the future—of the destiny of nations— the reign of Messiah—the resurrection—the final judgment! O holy, lovely mount! The sacred resting place of Zion’s law! In thy chambers dwell eternal riches! In thy lovely bosom are fountains that never dry! Speak! O speak again! Let Zion hear thy voice! For thy voice is not the voice of feeble helpless man! But the voice of the Eternal One, speaking from the ground.” (Millennial Star, 1866)

In 1835, Oliver Cowdery wrote a number of letters he called The Rise of the Church. These appeared in the church publication, The Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. They were also reprinted in the Times and Seasons. In letter VII he wrote about the hill and described the area around it. It was his belief that the great and final battle in Cumorahland took place west of the hill, between the Hill Cumorah and a smaller hill about a mile west. Cowdery, like Orson Pratt, believed that the hill was not important only to the Nephite prophets, but to the Jaredites as well.

Joseph-Knew-Oliver-Cowdery
Oliver Cowdery

“You are acquainted with the mail road from Palmyra, Wayne Co. to Canandaigua, Ontario Co. N.Y. and also, as you pass from the former to the latter place, before arriving at the little village of Manchester, say from three to four,
 or about four miles from Palmyra, you pass a large hill on the east side of the road. Why I say large, is, because it is as large perhaps, as any in that country. To a person acquainted with this road, a description would be unnecessary, as it is the largest and rises the highest of any on that route. The north end rises quite sudden until it assumes a level with the more southerly extremity, and I think I may say an elevation higher than at the south a short distance, say half or three fourths of a mile. As you pass toward Canandaigua it lessens gradually until the surface assumes its common level, or is broken by other smaller hills or ridges, water courses and ravines. I think I am justified in saying that this is the highest hill for some distance round. . . .

“At about one mile west rises another ridge 
of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.” (Oliver Cowdery,The Rise of the Church, letter VII)

Both of these men were close to the Prophet Joseph Smith. We can assume that much of the information they gained about Book of Mormon lands came from him. They were also both prophets themselves and would be entitled to their own personal insights.

Many leaders have shared their beliefs that the hill outside Palmyra, NY is the Hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon.

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When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

If you have comments or questions, we would like to hear them. Just click on leave a comment below.

Hear what Gordon B. Hinckley had to say about the Hill Cumorah in this short video clip. (1:27)

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Image credits: All images in the public domain. The painting of Moroni appearing to Joseph Smith is by the artist C.A.A. Christiansen

Battles in Cumorahland

The Book of Mormon tells of many battles, but none fiercer than those fought in Cumorahland. The Jaredite nation was destroyed near the hill Ramah and approximately 1,000 years later the Nephites were slaughtered near that same hill, then called Cumorah.

We have already established in earlier articles that the hill at Palmyra, NY that we call Cumorah is that same hill from the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Knew Great Lakes Area map - Covens & Mortimier 1757
Cumorahland — Western New York

Is There Evidence of Great Battles Near the Hill Cumorah?

The Great Lakes area of the United States is covered in ruins that match the cities and fortresses of Cumorahland described in the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately many of those ruins have been destroyed or covered over in the last 200 years

In a lecture before the New York Historical Society in 1831, Governor DeWitt Clinton said:

Joseph-Knew---DeWitt_Clinton_by_Rembrandt_Peale
NY Governor DeWitt Clinton

“I have seen several of these works in the western part of this state. There is a large one in the town of Onondaga, one in Pompey, and another in Manlius; one in Camillus, eight miles from Auburn: one in Scipio, six miles, another one mile, and one about half a mile from that village. Between the Seneca and Cayuga Lakes there are several—three within a few miles of each other. Near the village of Canandaigua there are three. In a word, they are scattered all over that county.”

As we have discussed in an earlier post, common attitudes of the 18th and 19th centuries labeled Native Americans as backward, savages and therefore not the descendants of the people who had created such great civilizations. One of the things Joseph Smith knew was that the Native Americans were not savages and they were the descendants of that great society.

The descriptions of fortresses in the book of Alma bear striking similarities to those found in the Great Lakes area.

Governor Clinton described:

Joseph Knew -- Alma 48 8“These forts were, generally speaking, erected on the most commanding ground. The walls or breastworks were earthen. The ditches were on the exterior of works. [ ] The trenches were in some cases deep and wide, and in others shallow and narrow; and the breastworks varied in altitude from three to eight feet. They sometimes had one, and sometimes two entrances, as was to be inferred from there being no ditch at those places. When the works were protected by a deep ravine or a large stream of water no ditch was to be seen. The areas of these forts varied from two to six acres; and the form was generally an irregular elipsis; and in some of them fragments of earthenware and pulverized substances, supposed to have been originally human bones, were to be found. [ ]

“These numerous works could never have been supplied with provisions without the aid of agriculture. Nor could they have been constructed without the use of iron or copper, and without perseverance, labour, and design which demonstrate considerable progress in the arts of civilized life.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, pages 20-21)

It’s interesting that even though the idea that an ancient Mediterranean people inhabited the great lakes area was a common school of thought in the 1800s, when Joseph Smith presented a reasonable and logical explanation in the Book of Mormon, he was labeled a liar and a fraud. Ten years after the publication of the Book of Mormon, long after Joseph and the other saints had left New York, a newspaper, the New York Star, scolded people for scoffing.

Joseph Knew Mormon Media Network Final Battle near Buffalo NY
Battlefield Near Buffalo, NY

“We must, as a nation, relinquish our believing propensities, our uniform practices of doubting everything which we cannot exactly comprehend, and believing everything to be a hoax or a humbug, and prepare ourselves by a proper study and discipline of mind to know and to believe that this New World, [ ] was settled by the descendants of Peleg . . .

“Let our people know that the red men spread over this continent are the descendants of what was called the lost tribes, who bear, at this day, the proofs in their religion, language and ceremonies, of their early origin. So far, all is conjecture; but these discoveries will in time ripen into fixed and positive evidence.”  (The New York Star, July 11, 1840)

In his 1850 book, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York, Orsamus Turner  wrote extensively about the ancient people that preceded the 19th century Europeans living in America.

“We are surrounded by evidences that a race preceded them [the Europeans], farther advanced in civilization and the arts, and far more numerous. Here and there upon the brows of our hills, at the head of our ravines, are their fortifications; their locations selected with skill, adapted to refuge, subsistence and defense.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, page 18)

JosephKnew-Land-of-Many-Waters-with-red-dot
The Finger Lakes — Upstate New York

The area we call Cumorahland is a land full of evidence of fortresses, great battles and mass destruction. Again for his book, Turner records:

“Although not peculiar to this region, there is perhaps no portion of the United States where ancient relics are more numerous. Commencing principally near the Oswego River, they extend westwardly over all the western counties of our State.” (Ibid, page 19)

“We are prone to speak of ourselves as the inhabitants of a new world; and yet we are confronted with such evidences of antiquity! We clear away the forests and speak familiarly of subduing a ‘virgin soil’;—and yet the plough up-turns the skulls of those whose history is lost ! We say that Columbus discovered a new world. Why not that he helped to make two old ones acquainted with each other.” (Ibid, pages 18 and 19)

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The Promised Land

Where is the Promised Land?

If you were to ask 100 Mormons, “Where is the Promised land?” It’s a pretty safe bet that at least 95 of them would say America is the Promised Land. But it’s interesting that if you asked those same 100 people, “Where did the events in the Book of Mormon take place?” the majority would probably say it all happened in Central America . . . and maybe South America.

It’s not possible for America to be the Promised Land and yet NOT be the land of the Book of Mormon. When writers of the Book of Mormon wrote about the Promised Land, they were talking about the land they were living in at the time. Therefore, if we believe America is the Promised Land, then those writers were living in America.

Joseph-Knew-Book-of-EtherArriving in the Promised Land

“And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.” (Ether 6:12 italics added)

Looking at this scripture in the book of Ether, it is clear that the Jaredites landed in the Promised Land. If we accept America as the Promised Land, then we accept that they landed in America. Now, if one believes that the events described later in Ether took place in Central America, the only logical explanation is that the Jaredites landed in America, bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, shed tears of joy for the Lord’s mercies in bringing them there, and packed up and moved to another land.

The same logic must also be applied to the events involving the Nephites and the Lamanites.

“And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.” (1 Nephi 18:23 italics added)

If Central America is the land of the Nephites and Lamanites, then they landed, pitched their tents, called it the Promised Land, packed up their tents and moved to Central America.

Either America is the Promised Land spoken of in the Book of Mormon or it isn’t.

Joseph-Knew-3-NephiChrist in the Promised Land

When the resurrected Christ visited the Nephites it was in this land. It was in North America that he reaffirmed the covenant he made with their father Jacob. He miraculously provided bread and wine to the multitude and said:

“And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.” (3 Nephi 20:22 italics added)

Those 100 Mormons will confirm that the New Jerusalem will be in this land of America. In the above scripture Christ says that the New Jerusalem with be in “this land”, the land in which he is standing at the time. He wasn’t standing in Central America and talking about this land up north. He was standing in America and talking to the Nephites about their land, North America.

In January 2012, Elder L. Tom Perry delivered a devotional address at Brigham Young University-Idaho. The address, The Tradition of Light and Testimony, was reprinted in the December 2012 edition of the Ensign magazine. In that address, Elder Perry said:

“The United States is the promised land foretold in the Book of Mormon—a place where divine guidance directed inspired men to create the conditions necessary for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the birth of the United States of America that ushered out the Great Apostasy, when the earth was darkened by the absence of prophets and revealed light. It was no coincidence that the lovely morning of the First Vision occurred just a few decades after the establishment of the United States.”

Elder Perry is reaffirming what Christ said about this land.

Joseph-Knew-Moroni-Monument-AutumnProphets troughout history have known what Elder Perry knew. When Moroni was finishing his record concerning the destruction of his people, he said:

“Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.

“And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come—after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel—

“And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.” (Ether 13:4-6 italics added)

When we consider statements from ancient prophets, modern-day prophets, and the Lord himself, it’s clear that America, the land of the restoration, is the Promised Land.

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No Nephite Books?

There is a fairly popular paper floating around the Internet. It is attributed to Dr. John L. Sorenson *. The paper is titled ”A Whole Bunch of Reasons Why Book of Mormon Geography could not Have Included North America.” It lists 37 things that, in the opinion of the author, prove that North America is not the land of the Book of Mormon.

Now and then we will take one of these 37 points and discuss it here on Joseph Knew. In this article we will discuss point number 15 which says there is no evidence of Nephite “books” in North America. It reads:

  • At least the Nephites are said to have possessed “many” books covering many subjects. No ancient North American books at all are evidenced.

Joseph-Knew-old-Book-of-MormonWe at Joseph Knew can think of at least one Nephite book found in North America. It’s a fairly well know chronicle called the Book of Mormon. It has a companion book, which is not yet in print; it  goes by the working title the Sealed Two Thirds. This Nephite record, or “book” was deposited by Moroni in the Hill Cumorah in New York, North America.

We understand that there are those who believe that there were two Cumorahs, one in Mexico where Moroni hid the plates and a hill in New York where Moroni re-hid them after retrieving them from the Mexico hill and carrying them to New York. We at Joseph Knew believe there was only one Cumorah, and it was in New York. For information on why we support the one hill theory,  please see this article.

Cumorah was not the only hill in Book of Mormon times to contain Nephite records.

“And now I, Mormon, make a record of the things which I have both seen and heard, and call it the Book of Mormon.

“And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age, and I began to be learned somewhat after the manner of the learning of my people) and Ammaron said unto me: I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe;

“Therefore, when ye are about twenty and four years old I would that ye should remember the things that ye have observed concerning this people; and when ye are of that age go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim; and there have I deposited unto the Lord all the sacred engravings concerning this people.” (Mormon 1:1-3)

“And now I, Mormon, seeing that the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land, therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord.” (Mormon 4:23)

The book we have today known as the Book of Mormon is an abridgment of many records like those Ammaron compiled and hid. The Book of Ether is also an ancient record which was hidden and then became part of the Book of Mormon.

Joseph-Knew-Oliver-CowderyThere are many accounts recorded of the Hill Cumorah containing many Nephite records. Not only did the hill contain records in the days of Moroni, but in the 1800s as well. Oliver Cowdery, who is mentioned in several accounts, said of the Hill Cumorah:

“In my estimation, certain places are dearer to me for what they now contain than for what they have contained.” (Latter-day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, October 1835, 2:196; emphasis in the original)

Oliver was with Joseph Smith when the plates were returned to the hill after the translation was completed.

Brigham Young recorded:

“Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates . . . When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large spacious room . . . They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under the table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 19:37-39)

Joseph-Knew---Heber-C-Kimball-from-LDS-Church-ArchivesHeber C. Kimball, speaking of Joseph Smith and others inside a cave in the hill Cumorah, said:

“There were books piled up on tables, books upon books. Those records this people will yet have, if they accept of the Book of Mormon and observe its precepts, and keep the commandments. . . . Joseph Smith said the cave contained tons of choice treasures and records.” (Hebrew C. Kimball, Journal of Discourse 4:105)

Brigham Young recorded hearing Heber C. Kimball talk about Joseph, Joseph Smith Sr., and Oliver Cowdery “walking into the hill Cumorah and seeing records upon records piled upon table[s,] they walked from cell to cell and saw records that were piled up . . .” (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 5 May, 1867, Family and Church History Department Archives)

If one uses the argument that no Nephite records have been found in North America and therefore, the Book of Mormon did not take place in North America, one must apply that same logic to Central and South America. Where are the Nephite records that have been found there? We have the Book of Mormon which came from a Nephite book in North America and that is one more record than has been found in Guatemala.

Joseph-Knew-Hill-Cumorah-about-1830We have the testimony of many people that there were Nephite books in North America. It’s true that first hand accounts are the best and most trusted accounts. However, second hand accounts from trusted sources such as Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and many others can be valuable as well.

Because such records were hid up by prophets of the Lord, it stands to reason that such records have not been found. Such records will remain hidden until the Lord wants them revealed. In an interview in 1877, David Whitmer  said that even if science proved the records were there in the hill, no one would be able to obtain them until the Lord desired it. **

We have witnesses testifying that there were many Nephite books in Cumorah and we have the definitive Nephite book, the Book of Mormon, found in North America.

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* Dr. Sorenson is an emeritus professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University. He has done great research in Central America and proposes that area as the land of the Book of Mormon.

** The 1877 interview with David Whitmer was for a book called Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet, and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon by Edward Stevenson.

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Additional Information:

For more on Cumorah’s Cave we recommended Cameron Packer’s article.

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Does it Matter Where Book of Mormon Events Took Place?

In nearly any conversation about Book of Mormon geography, the discussion turns to events happening in Central and South America verses North America. Inevitably, this statement comes up:

“It doesn’t matter where it happened. It only matters that it happened.”

The sentiment is understood. It means physical proof of the Book of Mormon is not necessary; it’s a spiritual witness that is important. However, it is important where Book of Mormon events took place. North America is the promised land. Lehi knew it. Nephi knew it. Ether knew it. Joseph Smith knew it and the founders of the United States of America knew it.

Joseph-Knew-George-WashingtonOn April 6, 1789 , in the first joint session of congress, George Washington was declared the elected President of the United States of America. On April 30, on the second floor balcony  of Federal Hall in New York City, Washington took the presidential oath of office. A bible was retrieved upon which he could place his hand and swear to defend the constitution of the United States. Rather than simply placing his hand on the bible, Washington opened the book to Genesis, chapter 49 and placed his hand on that passage. This was not happenstance. In this chapter of Genesis, Jacob blesses his sons and their descendants. Joseph is described as a fruitful bough near a well. His branches (the Nephites and the Lamanites) will run over the wall (the Atlantic Ocean)and the Shepherd (Jesus Christ)  will bless the children of Joseph temporally and spirituaully.

Others that came to this country, such as the ancestors of the founders of America, were also descendents of Joseph, that bough which had run over that wall.

Joseph-Knew-Benjamin-Franklin's-Great-SealWashington knew that America was the promised land to which the children of Joseph had come and would continue to come. Others understood this as well. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin each proposed designs for the Great Seal of the United States. Franklin’s design depicted the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea during their escape from bondage. The seal depicted the pillar of fire sent by the Lord which gave them light, protection and direction. (See Exodus 13:21-22)

Joseph-Knew-Thomas-Jefferson's-Great-SealJefferson’s design also depicted the Israelites fleeing into the wilderness. In his depiction the cloud from the Lord stands before them. (Exodus 13:21-22)

It’s true that these two seal designs stood as metaphors for the American colonies escaping the bondage of English rule, but the symbolism went beyond that. The founders of America understood that America was a covenant land. They understood the covenant the Lord made with the Hebrew nation. There are several accounts of this covenant in the Old Testament, and this one in Leviticus clarifies it well.

“For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.

“And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” (Leviticus 26:9, 12)

The Hebrew nation with which the Lord made this covenant included those that came to the promised land about 2,200 BC (Jaredites) and those who arrived in 600 BC. (Lehi)

As early as 2,200 years before Christ the North American continent was recognized as the promised land, the Lord’s covenant land. From the Book of Ether, the record of the Jaredites:

“Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.

“And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.

“And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel.” (Ether 13:4, 6, 10, emphasis added)

“Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.” (Doctrine and Covenants 57:2, emphasis added)

George Washington may not have known about the coming of the Jaredites, or the Nephites and Lamanites, but he understood the Lord’s covenant with the people of the promised land. He understood that the covenant promised temporal and spiritual blessings to those in the promised land if they would keep the Lord’s commandments. Throughout the revolutionary war he continually called upon his officers, soldiers, and the citizens to repent and keep the commandments of God in order to receive the covenant blessings promised.

Joseph-Knew-Golden_Plates_by-David-A-Baird-Historical-Arts-and-CastingsIf we dismiss America as the land of the Book of Mormon, and place those events anywhere other than North America, we dismiss the importance of the covenant God made with the house of Israel.

Passage after passage use the term “this land” when referring to the promised land. It is indisputable that “this land” was referring to the land in which Nephi, Jacob, Ether and others were living when they wrote those passages.

In 2 Nephi the Lord confirms his covenant with the House of Israel. He tells Jacob:

“But behold, this land, said God, shall be a land of thine inheritance, and the Gentiles shall be blessed upon the land.

“And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles.

“And I will fortify this land against all other nations.” (2 Nephi 10:10-12, emphasis added)

When the resurrected Christ visited the Nephites it was in this land. It was in North America that he reaffirmed his covenant he made with their father Jacob. He miraculously provided bread and wine to the multitude and said:

“And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.” (3 Nephi 20:22 emphasis added)

When we talk about the Book of Mormon and the events recorded, it is important that it happened, but it is also important where it happened. It happened in this land, the promised land, a covenant land, the heartland of America.

Copyright © 2015 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

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Additional Information:

“The Founding Fathers of the United States believed that religious faith was fundamental to the establishment of strong government . . .

“This position was set forth by the first U.S. President, George Washington, in his farewell address . .

“The United States is the promised land foretold in the Book of Mormon — a divine place where divine guidance directed inspired men to create the conditions necessary for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the birth of the United Sates of America that ushered out the Great Apostasy, when the earth was darkened by the absence of prophets and revealed light. It was no coincidence that the lovely morning of the First Vision occurred just a few decades after the establishment of the United States.” — Elder L. Tom Perry, devotional address delivered January 24, 2012 at Brigham Young University-Idaho 

Download a complete transcript of George Washington’s Farewell Address.

For more information on this subject, we recommend the book, “The American Covenant” by Timothy Ballard. — Kindle version available here.

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Image credits:

World Map in the public domain

Portrait of George Washington by: Rembrandt Peale (1778 – 1860)

Franklin and Jefferson seals in the public domain

Golden Plates and Breast Plate by: David A. Baird, Historical Arts and Castings

 

The Adena Culture — Were They the Jaredites of the Book of Mormon?

Joseph-Knew---Adena-Mound---by-Morguefile-cochiseIn a previous article we discussed the Hopewell Culture. The time frame for this people is believed to run from 300 B.C. to 400 A.D., the same time period as the Nephites.

In and around many Hopewell sites there is evidence of another group that existed much earlier. The Adena culture thrived from 1000 to 200 B.C. Many archeologists date the culture even further back to 3000 B.C. and extend the end of the Adena period to 100 A.D. However, most agree they were prominent from 1000 to 200 B.C.

Where did they live?

The greatest evidence of the Adena can be found in the Ohio Valley area, but they were spread eastward through Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvanian, and Virginia.

“The evidences of the presence of this ancient people are found almost everywhere upon the North American Continent, except, perhaps, upon the Atlantic coast. They consist of mounds sometimes of imposing size and other earthworks, so numerous that in Ohio alone there are, or were till quite recently, estimated to be not less than ten thousand of the Mounds, and fifteen hundred enclosures of earth and stone all evidently the work of the same people. In other parts of the country they were found in such numbers that no attempt has ever been made to count them all.” (William Cullen Bryant, Sidney Howard Gay and Noah Brooks, Scriber’s Popular History of the United States Volume 1, 1896, page 20)

Mound builders

Josephg-Knew-Effigy-MoundsLike the Hopewell, the Adena were mound builders. One difference between Hopewell mounds and Adena mounds is Adena mounds were cone shaped and Hopewell were either rounded or plateaued. Another striking difference is the Adena built large effigy mounds. These mounds varied in size, shape, design and purpose. The Adena built some in the shape of birds, some animals or reptiles and some in the shape of people. Some mounds are even built to represent inanimate objects such as tools or weapons.

Joseph-Knew-Great-Serpent-Mound-photo-by-Eric-EwingOne of the most famous of these mounds or earthworks is the Great Serpent Mound along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio. It is a 5 foot high, 1,348 foot long serpent effigy that winds like a snake through the bushes and trees.

Joseph-Knew-Elephant-Effigy-Mound” . . . the figures are varied enough and distinct enough, to show that they were meant to be the effigies of perhaps every quadruped then known in the country, of birds with outstretched wings, of fishes with fins extended, of reptiles, of man; and of inanimate things, the war-club, the bow and arrow, the pipe, the cross, the crescent, the circle, and other mathematical forms. They rise above the surface two, four, sometimes six feet in height ; the animal figures vary from ninety to one hundred and twenty feet in length. but there are rectangular embankments, only a few feet in height and width, that stretch out to a length of several hundred feet. Among all these representations of animals there is no one more remarkable than that recently described, called the Big Elephant Mound, found in Wisconsin a few miles below the mouth of the Wisconsin River. Its name indicates its form; its length is one hundred and thirty-five feet, and its other proportions are in accordance with that measurement. It does not seem probable that the people who piled up these mysterious earthworks could represent a mastodon or elephant if it were not a living creature with which they were familiar.” (William Cullen Bryant, Sidney Howard Gay and Noah Brooks, Scriber’s Popular History of the United States Volume 1, 1896, page 22)

Many critics of the Book of Mormon site the ninth chapter of Ether as proof of Joseph Smith’s lack of understanding of ancient North American history. In the nineteenth verse of that chapter it reads:

“And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.” (Book of Mormon, Ether 9:19, emphasis added)

Critics scoff at the idea that there were elephants in North America. However, when we look at such ancient effigies as those reported above, it appears there are two possibilities. Joseph Smith had an exceptional  understanding of ancient North America, greater than any other scholar in his day, or the Book of Mormon is an authentic ancient American text which he translated . . . or both.

 Who were the Adena?

As mentioned earlier, scholars place the Adena time frame at 1000 to 200 B.C.  (Some scholars put it as early as 3000 B.C.)

The Jaredites of the Book of Mormon left the old world at or around the time of the tower of Babel. Although we don’t know exactly when that was, it is generally agreed that it was around 2200 – 1900 B.C. This makes the Jaredites strong contenders to be the Adena.

What happened to the Adena?

Many historians believe the Adena culture died out as a culture, but not as a people. It’s believed that the Adena are the same people who we have named the Hopewell. The culture changed in the type of structures they built and the art they created, but they were genetically the same group of people.

What we do know about the Adena is that they, like the Hopewell, were a highly advanced, civilized people. They were a religious people. They planted crops, hunted game and traded with others. They had great respect for their dead and many of their mounds were burial sites for the dead.

There are a lot of things that suggest the Adena were the Jaredites, but the biggest obstacle to making such an emphatic statement is the fact that we don’t have definite dates on when the Jaredites arrived in North America or when that final battle took place that wiped them out. If they were the Jaredites of the Book of Mormon, then they died out not only as a culture, but also as a people. (see Ether chapter 15)

Whether the Adena were the Jadeites or not, the things they left behind give us great insight into the lives of Book of Mormon people in North America before the birth of Christ.

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Read more about ancient burial sites in these two articles; Giants in the Land and Ancient Burial Sites of New York.

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Image credits:

Various effigy mounds and elephant effigy mound from Scriber’s Popular History of the United States Volume 1

Serpent Mound by: Eric Ewing, wikimedia commons.

 

Ancient Burial Sites of New York

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-E-G-SquireAntiquities of New York

In earlier articles we have discussed the skillful and precise construction of great cities, large temple mounds and military defenses. The information in these articles has come from a variety of sources, including personal visits to the sites. Some of the best information on the ancient civilizations of North America has been provided by Ephraim George Squier (1821 – 1888). Along with his research and publishing partner Edwin Hamilton Davis (1811 – 1888), he unknowingly provided us with great insight into the lives, religions, cities and social networks of the people of the Book of Mormon.

In his book, Antiquities of the State of New York, Squier chronicles something much different than is found in his previous publications, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley and Aboriginal Monuments of the State of New York. Instead of descriptions of beautifully aligned cities, or carefully laid out military forts, he reports of works “constructed in haste for temporary purposes”. He details evidence of “indiscriminate massacres” and “bone-pits”.

Connections to the Book of Mormon

Joseph Knew Mormon Media Network Final Battle near Buffalo NYIn the Book of Mormon, in the 6th chapter of Mormon, the Nephites gather to the land Cumorah for the final battles with the Lamanites. If, as we have proposed in a previous article, the land Cumorah was in upstate New York near the Hill Cumorah, Rochester, and Buffalo, then the following passage from Squier’s chapter Ancient Work near Buffalo takes on significant meaning.

“Tradition fixes upon this spot as the scene of the final and most bloody conflict between the Iroquois and the ‘Gah-kwas’ or Erie — a tradition which has been supposed to derive some sanction from the number of fragments of decayed human bones which are scattered over the area.” (Antiquities of the State of New York, E. G. Squire, M. A., 1851, page 74)

Tens of Thousands Killed

“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.” (Mormon 6:14)

The number of people slaughtered at Cumorah seems incomprehensible. Many non-believers cite these passages as evidence of Joseph Smith’s great imagination. Surely there would be evidence today of such large numbers of dead people. While excavating along the banks of the Erie Canal the following was recorded:

“In excavating the canal through the bank bordering the flats, perhaps thirty rods south of the fort, another burial-place was disclosed, evidently more ancient, for the bones crumbled to pieces almost immediately upon exposure to the air, and the deposits were far more numerous than in that near the river. The number of skeletons are represented to have been countless, and the dead had been buried in a sitting posture.” (Antiquities of the State of New York, E. G. Squier, M. A., 1851, page 144)

“One of these pits discovered some years ago, in the town of Cambria, Niagara County, was estimated to contain the bones of several thousand individuals.” (Ibid, page 99)

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-Arrow-HeadSavage Warfare

Squier uncovered evidence of savage warfare, which left “bone-heaps” and “bone-pits” throughout the Finger Lakes region of New York (Cumorahland).

“Besides the various earth-works [ ], there are a number of other interesting objects of antiquarian interest in this county. Among them may be mentioned the ‘bone-pits’ or deposits of human bones. One is found near the village of Brownsville, on Black River. It is described as a pit, ten or twelve feet square, by perhaps four feet deep, in which are promiscuously heaped together a large number of human skeletons.” (Ibid, page 29 – italics in the original)

“Near the town of Fulton, on the west side of Oswego River, is an eminence called ‘Bone Hill’ in which have been found great numbers of human bones promiscuously heaped together. They are much decayed. Intermixed with them were discovered a number of flint arrow-heads.” (Ibid, page 31 – italics in the original)

In Genesee County the ruins of a large enclosure were discovered.

“It was called the ‘Bone Fort’ from the circumstance that the early settlers found within it a mound, six feet in height by thirty at the base, which was entirely made up of human bones slightly covered with earth. A few fragments of these bones, scattered over the surface, alone mark the site of the aboriginal sepulcher. The popular opinion concerning this accumulation is, that it contained the bones of the slain, thus heaped together after some severe battle.”

“There have also been discovered some heaps of small stones; which have been supposed to be the missiles of the ancient occupants of the hill, thus got together to be used in case of attack.” (Ibid, pages 66 and 69)

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-Ancient-burial-sites-in-VIctor-New-YorkThe “bone-pits” found in New York differ in one important way from burial grounds in the Mississippi Valley. Unlike those in Mississippi, the Cumorahland pits and mounds appear to be created in great haste. A mound near Greene Township, NY, near the Chenango River was discovered and excavated.

“Great numbers of human bones were found ; and beneath them, at a greater depth, others were found which had evidently been burned. No conjecture could be formed of the number of bodies deposited here. The skeletons were found lying without order, and so much decayed as to crumble on exposure. At one point in the mound a large number, perhaps two hundred, arrowheads were discovered, collected in a heap. They were of the usual form, and of yellow or black flint.” (ibid, pages 47 and 48)

The End of Two Great Nations

The Book of Mormon tells of two great battles of genocide that took place in Cumorahland, the Jaradites and centuries later the Nephites. Could the two layers of burials described above be evidence of the end of these great civilizations?

In a previous article, we discussed the bones, arrowheads, and weapons that continue to be found in the Finger Lakes region of New York. There are many contemporary firsthand accounts of massive graves throughout the area known as Cumorahland. Students of the Book of Mormon looking for evidence of the great battles of the Jaradites and the Nephites can look in the Land of Many Waters in Upstate New York.

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Image Credits:

Antiquities of the State of New York, E. G. Squire, M. A., 1851