Distances

in the Book of Mormon’s American Setting

Near Cumorah Setting - Travel Times

The above map is adapted from a map created by author Phyllis Carol Olive. Note that the Book of Mormon “east sea” is simply a lake - analogous to the “east sea” (הַיׇם הַקַדְמוׄנׅי) of the biblical setting. (Numbers 34:3, Joel 2:20, there is no capitalization in Hebrew) The Book of Mormon “west sea” is Lake Erie. Ancient lake Tonawanda is one of a number of “large bodies of water” in “the land which was northward”. (Alma 50:29) Note “the narrow pass” (Batavia Moraine) that bridged the diminished water of Lake Tonawanda in Nephite times (Woodland period; Alma 50:33-34). The “large bodies of water” in “the land northward” include the exceedingly large “waters of Ripliancum” (Ancient Lake Iroquois, Ether 15:8).

Center of the Land

Expressions like “land northward” and “land southward” are relative and not proper nouns. In general, “the land northward”, called “the north countries”, are vast compared to the relatively small principal lands of the Book of Mormon. (Helaman 3:3-8, Mormon 2:3) Likewise, the wide open Book of Mormon “south countries”, south of Lake Erie (Mormon 6:15, 8:2, LDS Doctrine and Covenants 75:8, 17) are vast compared to the principal lands (Nephi, Zarahemla, Bountiful, Desolation) featured on the map.

THE LAND IS REAL

(1) One and a half day journey along the Desolation – Bountiful Line (Alma 22:32); possibly along an easily traveled trail that ran parallel to the Onondaga Limestone Escarpment.

(2) One day journey on the southern, fortified Bountiful line (Helaman 4:5-7) running from the west sea (Lake Erie) to the east, possibly to an ancient body of water in the vicinity of what is now Tonawanda Creek.

(3) One night march from the Land Bountiful to the city of Mulek (in the Land of Nephi, Alma 53:6). The city of Mulek was one of the fortified cities near the east sea. A string of these cities situated eastward from Manti and the headwaters of the river Sidon - Buffalo Creek/River. (Alma 50:8-14; 51:24-26; 56:25; 59:5-6) Note that at least one fenced city by the east sea was directly across the headwaters of Sidon from Manti. The distance from Bountiful to the city of Mulek is comparable to the distance from Mulek to Bountiful marched by Teancum in a day - along ancient shoreline in the Tonawanda Creek region. (Alma 52:18-19, 22-34, 39) The distance from the valley of Gideon (east of the river Sidon, east of the city of Zarahemla; Alma 6:7) to the course of the land of Nephi, was likewise covered in a day, with a return trip the next day. (Alma 2:20-24)

(4) Four to five day journey between the City of Nephi and Zarahemla. The people of Limhi, who departed the city of Nephi, did not travel a direct course to Zarahemla. They traveled a circuitous route, misdirecting pursuing Lamanites! (Mosiah 22:8-16) Alma’s people (old and young, with flocks) traveled 8 days from the environs of the city of Nephi to the land of Helam (probably not in the direction of Zarahemla). From the land of Helam, Alma’s people later traveled 12 to 13 days on foot to Zarahemla. This gives a minimum travel time between the cities of Nephi and Zarahemla of 12 - 8 = 4 days. Add a day in consideration of the possibility that the 12 day journey in the wilderness started from the valley of Alma. (Mosiah 23:1-3, 19; 24:20-25)

A day’s march in the wilderness is described as “a considerable distance”. (Alma 56:36-38)

 

Vincent Coon  וִינְסֶנט כּוּן Copyright 2018

 

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