Book of Mormon Covenant Lands According to the Best Sources

Questions & Answers

Questions and Answers

Accompanying Scripture

Vast Indian and Pacific Oceans or Atlantic Crossing?

Q: Can we conclude from 1 Nephi 17:1 and Alma 22:28 that Lehi crossed the Indian and Pacific Oceans, landing somewhere on the western coast of the Americas?
A: No! Nephi's reference to traveling "nearly eastward" applies to the Arabian wilderness, not his family's sea voyage. There are North American channels and waterways that lead from the Atlantic to places only a few miles east of Lake Erie (the general region of scriptural Cumorah). Lake Erie is a likely candidate for the Book of Mormon's "west sea, south". (Alma 53:8


  "And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth..." (1 Nephi 17:1)

"...the Lamanites lived ...on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore." (Alma 22:28)  


Which Small Neck?

Q: Can we conclude from references to the "small" or "narrow neck of land" (Alma 22:32), that it has to be a Central American Isthmus?
A: No! There are isthmuses and ancient moraines near the Great Lakes .

"...thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward." (Alma 22:32)  

Oceans or Seas?

Q: Does "isle of the sea" have to mean that the seas bordering the lands of Zarahelma and Nephi were all oceanic bodies of water?
A: No! An "isle" can simply mean a coast or a region, a habitable land. It is possible to discern this from the King James Bible. See for instance Isaiah 20:5-6; 23:2, 6; 42:15, and יָם
and אִי in a Hebrew - Aramaic Lexicon; or use the LDS Scriptures CD-ROM Resource Edition, Advanced, Transliterated Hebrew / English, Dictionary. A scriptural "isle of the sea" is simply a coast, region or habitable land accessible from the sea. In Hebrew, "sea" = "yam" = יָם, can also mean a "lake", or a large inland body of water. An obvious example from scripture is the sea of Galilee.


Lake Ontario (Waters of Ripliancum)

"...we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.

"But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren." (2 Nephi 10:20-21)

"...the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people...and from the isles of the sea (i.e. from the coasts, regions, borders, habitable lands of the sea = "oo-me-iyey ha-yam" = הַיָם וּמֵאִיֵי)". (Isaiah 11:11, 2 Nephi 21:11) "Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea (in the coasts, regions, borders, habitable lands of the sea = be-iyey ha-yam = בְּאִיֵי הַיָם)." (Isaiah 24:15, KJV)

"Sing unto LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea and all that is therein; the isles (coasts, regions, borders, habitable lands = iyim = אִיִים), and the inhabitants thereof." (Isaiah 42:10, KJV) 


Tropical Jungles or Temperate Forests?

Q: Must we conclude from the references to "fevers" and "nature of the climate" that Book of Mormon lands are tropical? Does "...some seasons of the year" mean all seasons of the year, that is, the two tropical seasons - the wet and dry season? 
No! Temperate climates are subject to a variety of seasonal illnesses involving fevers. It is clear that "by times or at seasons" (Mosiah 18:4) does not mean all the time. The Nephite year consisted of more than two seasons. The word "jungle" occurs no where in the Book of Mormon.

"And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land - but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate-" (Alma 46:40)  

Springtime HEAT INDEX!

Q: Must we conclude based on the reference to "heat of the day", that Book of Mormon lands are located in the tropics?
No! "heat of the day" is also a biblical expression referring to the warmest part of the day in a Mediterranean temperate climate. (Matthew 20:12, ST John 10:22, see also Genesis 18:1 and 2 Samuel 4:5) Following the Law of Moses, the Nephite year would have begun in the spring with the first new moon following a critical stage of barley growth, called "the aviv". The first month is therefore called the month of the "aviv" (אָבִיב) in Hebrew scripture. (Exodus 13:4) Evidence of barley cultivation by ancient Native Americans, has been found as far north as Illinois. The Nephites definitely raised barley. (Mosiah 9:9) There is presently no evidence that barley was cultivated by the ancient peoples of Central America. ("Barley and Wheat in the Book of Mormon" by Robert R. Bennett, Published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship)

People living in mid-latitudes can occasionally experience heat indices in the 80 - 90 F range in the spring and early summer, prior to barley harvest. Prolonged activity, while exposed to these heat indices, can cause fatigue.

Evidence indicates that winters were milder in western New York for much of the Book of Mormon period. (William A Ritchie, Indian History of New York State, Ed Leaflet, No. 6) Even in modern times, western New York occasionally sees a warm humid spring day with a heat index above 80 F. The scripture says "heat of the day", not heat of the season! There is no scriptural indication that the first of the year was always hot.

"...and behold, sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue, which was caused by the labors and heat of the day...thus ended the twenty and fifth year..." (Alma 51:33, 37)


Humid western New York can occasionally experience a spring heat index above 80 F


Driven Snow!

Q: Must we conclude that Nephi's expression, "whiteness of the driven snow" is merely a quote from Isaiah?
A: No! Isaiah actually reads, "...though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow..." (Isaiah 1:18) Nephi's exact translated expression is not found in the Bible.

"...and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow." (1 Nephi 11:8)  

Leopards or Lions in the Promised Land?

Q: Is Nephi's reference to "the leopard" proof that jaguars inhabited the land of Nephi?
A: No! Unlike "the leopard", which only appears in direct quotations from Isaiah, "lions" (likely cougars) are mentioned more than once in Nephite history. (Mosiah 20:10, Alma 14:29) The Savior related the prophecy of Micah to descendents of Lehi: " shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest..." (3 Nephi 20:16) The word translated "forest" in Micah 5:8 (KJV) can also mean woodland or thicket.  

"And then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." (2 Nephi 30:12; 21:6 same as Isaiah 11:6)  

 Mountain Lion 

Zarahemla Highway!

Q: Does Helaman 7:10 necessarily allude to an ancient Mesoamerican or South American highway?
A: No! There is evidence that mound builder cultures of northern America also made extensive highways. The Great Hopewell Road, is estimated to have been 60 miles long and 192 feet wide, and is believed to have connected present day Newark and Chillicothe, Ohio, in a straight line. Once far more impressive to the eye, the earth and timber works of some mound builder societies are older than the stone works of the Maya, Aztecs and Incas. ("Searching for the Great Hopewell Road" produced by Pangea Productions Ltd. in collaboration with Algonquin Archaeological Consultants, Inc.)  

" was upon a tower, which was in the garden of Nephi , which was by the highway which led to the chief market, which was in the city of Zarahemla..." (Helaman 7:10)


An Example of Mound Builder Earth Works  (Newark, Ohio)


Q: Must "cement" mean the cement made by ancient Mesoamericans?
A: No! Mound builder societies also manufactured a kind of cement. Samples have been found that were used to plaster wooden frames. Given the definition of "cement", at the time of the publication of the Book of Mormon, the plastered houses made by ancient northern American people, definitely qualify as "houses of cement". (Who Were the "Mound Builders"? by George Stuart, National Geographic, Vol. 142, No. 6, December 1972, pg 789)

"And the people...did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring ...that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings." (Helaman 3:9)

"...there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breast plate...The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement..." (JSH 1:52)  

Wood and Metal Works!

Q: Can we conclude that Nephi constructed a temple of hewn stone in fashion like the one Solomon built?
A: No! There is no explicit mention in the Book of Mormon  of any Jaredite, Nephite or Lamanite building made of hewn stone. Timber, earth and metal working are repeatedly mentioned. Mound builder societies had highly skilled wood and metal workers. They wrought intricate work on sheets and plates of metal. They made impressive structures of earth and timber. Many of their houses were rectangular in shape. (The Emergence of the Moundbuilders - The Archaeology of Tribal Societies in Southeastern Ohio, Edited by Elliot M. Adams and Ann Corinne Freter, Ohio University Press, 2005, pp 131, 137)

Mound Builder Copper Breastplate

"And I did teach my people to build buildings and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel..."

"And I Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon..." (2 Nephi 5:15-16)


 An Example of Mound Builder Metal Work

Hagoth's Lost Ships!

Q:  Does the Book of Mormon say that Hagoth's ships sailed out into the Pacific Ocean?
A: No, it does not! Some ancient waterways from western New York communicated with the Atlantic Ocean. Nephite vessels may have also sailed down the Mississippi River and out into the Gulf of Mexico. In time, descendents of Book of Mormon peoples, including Hagoth’s people (the Nephites) could have migrated by land and boat to many places in the Americas and beyond. This does not mean that Hagoth personally accompanied these migrations. It is important to pay attention to what the 63rd chapter of Alma actually says, and does not say about Hagoth and the ships he built. Let's examine verses 4 through 8 closely:

Verse 4 tells us that exploration and occupation of “the land northward” started before Hagoth built his ships. The Book of Mormon does not say that the main purpose of the ships was to voyage to uncharted lands.

Verse 5 describes Hagoth as an “exceedingly curious man”. The English word “curious” comes from the Latin words “curiosus” and “cura” meaning “careful” and “care”. This word is commonly taken to mean “interesting” or “inquisitive”, “singular” or “odd”.  An old use of the word, however, means “accomplished with skill and ingenuity”. This is closer to the meaning translated from ancient scripture. (Psalm 139:15, Exodus 35:32) The Hebrew terms in “curious work” and “curiously wrought” relate to words for “weave” and “embroider”. The processes of “thinking”, “contriving”, “planning”, and “fabricating”, are implied. Interpreting “curious” to mean “accomplished with skill and ingenuity” is consistent with how it is used throughout the Book of Mormon. (1 Nephi 16:10; 18:1, Alma 37:39, Helaman 6:11, and Ether 10:27)

Being “an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship…” describes Hagoth’s engineering genius. He, like Nephi, must have worked “timbers of curious workmanship”. (1 Nephi 18:1, see also Helaman 6:11) The Book of Mormon nowhere says that Hagoth was an explorer of strange new lands or the leader of a group of immigrants. Verse 5 of Alma 63 tells us where Hagoth launched, and perhaps first tested his curious creation. We should not presume that this was the identical location from which families embarked for the land northward. Most importantly, we are not told that the “west sea” is an ocean.

Verse 6 does not say that Hagoth captained or was even onboard the vessel that sailed northward.

Verse 7 can be interpreted to mean that Hagoth, the entrepreneur ship builder, stayed ashore designing and building more ships. It is also possible that he traveled to other locations and built ships there. Perhaps the Nephites could sail aboard a ship to the land northward, commute over land and take another ship (also built by Hagoth) out to the Ocean. The verse does not say.

Verse 8 does not say that the first ship which was boarded was the same ship which presumably sank. The occupants may have boarded yet another vessel once they arrived in the land northward before presumably drowning “in the depths of the sea.”

The expression "depths of the sea" doesn't necessarily mean ocean deep. The expression implies a sea deep enough to drown in. Nephi tells us that his brothers intended to "throw him into the depths of the sea", but that was from the shore. (1 Nephi 17:48) The Book of Mormon also tells of coastal cities that were "sunk in the depths of the sea". (3 Nephi 8:9) While on "the lake of Gennesaret" (the Sea of Galilee), the Savior said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep..." (Luke 5:1, 4) We know that the sea of Galilee is not an ocean.

In summary: The Book of Mormon does not equate the “west sea” with the Pacific Ocean. The Book of Mormon does not tell us that Hagoth was onboard any of the ships that were lost. Scripture does not say that he captained a vessel or that he was an explorer or an adventurer, or that he led people. The skilled Hagoth’s main objective may have been to profit from the shipping industry.

It is conceivable that peoples in various places could be related to Hagoth’s people (the Nephites) without Hagoth personally making an ocean voyage. Parties from colonies, once associated with Nephite shipping, could have built more vessels and traveled very far in time.

4  And it came to pass that in the thirty and seventh year of the reign of the judges, there was a large company of men, even to the amount of five thousand and four hundred men, with their wives and their children, departed out of the land of Zarahemla into the land which was northward.

5  And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward.

6  And behold, there were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took their course northward.  And thus ended the thirty and seventh year.

7  And in the thirty and eighth year, this man [Hagoth] built other ships.  And the first ship did also return, and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward.

8  And it came to pass that they were never heard of more.  And we suppose that they were drowned in the depths of the sea.  And it came to pass that one other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go we know not. (Alma 63:4-8)



Gilsemans 1642

Island Hopping
From Island to Island

Click here for a map depicting the most probable Book of Mormon setting. Note the "west sea" near scriptural Cumorah!


Q: Must we attribute the great destruction and darkness that befell Book of Mormon lands, to a hurricane and local volcanism?
A: No! Volcanoes are not specifically mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Inferred are firestorms, caused at least in part by lightning. The LORD said, speaking of wicked cities burned in the great destruction, "...I did send down fire and destroy them..." (3 Nephi 9:11)

A meteor or comet airburst (similar to the Tunguska Event of 1908) could have unleashed the diverse modes of destruction described in 3 Nephi: fire from the sky, bright flashes and lightning, claps of thunder and rumbling, seismic shocks and after shocks, strong gusts, "tempest" and "whirlwinds" (tornados), destructive waves, forest fires, clouds of smoke and water vapor. Much smaller (600 ton TNT equivalent) airburst have occurred over the Great Lakes region in recent history. ("Tunguska Event", Wikipedia)

Certainly smoke contributed to the cover of darkness experienced by Book of Mormon peoples. Persistent banks of water vapor may have also been present. This could explain references to both "vapor of smoke" and "vapor" or "mists of darkness"? (3 Nephi 8:22; 10:13; 1 Nephi 19:11) Dry wood taken out into a steamy atmosphere may not kindle even if the heavy mist is laden with enough oxygen to support human respiration. (3 Nephi 8:21)

The LORD said, "...O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee." (Isaiah 44:21-22 3 Nephi 10:5) The "three days of darkness" was a sign "more especially" given to the house of Israel inhabiting the "isles" (coasts) of the sea. (1 Nephi 19:10) It is also worth considering extraordinary local events described in scripture involving obscuring clouds, which do not seem to be tied to volcanism: Helaman 5:23-49 Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19-20, 24; 19:9, 16, Numbers 9:15-22, Psalm 105:39, Matthew 17:5, Acts 1:9, Mosiah 27:11, 3 Nephi 18:38, Ether 2:4-5, 14.

Tempests, tornadoes and earthquakes all potentially threaten the northeastern United States. ("Why Does the Earth Quake in New England? The Science of Unexpected Earthquakes", by Alan L. Kafka, Ph.D., Weston Observatory, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Boston College, Revised, January 3, 2004.)

Of course nature and the Almighty are quite able to subject western New York to three hours of destruction by air, land and sea, followed by three days of profound darkness. People commonly recognize in volcanoes and volcanic ash the potential for great destruction and darkness, but there are other threatening and sky darkening potentials in nature. For instance, there are large deposits of Methane on the floor of the North Atlantic Ocean , which if released by earthquake or cosmic impact, could form an explosive cloud over sea and woodland of horrific potential. The detonation of such a cloud could easily lead to all of the modes of destruction described in 3 Nephi 8. What ever the cause or causes of the "great and terrible day" and darkness, there are historical precedents for such things in places where there does not appear to be any active volcanism. Author Phyllis Carol Olive is perhaps the first authority on Book of Mormon lands to call attention to the article titled "THE DARK DAYS AND EARTHQUAKES IN CANADA" (published in The Historical Magazine and Notes and Queries Concerning the Antiquities, History and Biography of America, editor John G. Shea, New York, Vol. VIII, 1864, pp. 60-65).

It is a historical fact that the regions of Canada, just to the north of New York, have experienced not only very violent earthquakes but also enigmatic episodes of daytime darkness so profound and extensive that observes, right or wrong, have attributed the phenomenon to volcanism. The Historical Magazine of 1864, cites several well documented examples and presents the opinions of notable witnesses of the phenomenon. ("New England's Dark Day", Wikipedia)

" the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm.."

"And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth..."

"And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land."

"And the city of Zarahemla did take fire."

"But behold, there was a more great and terrible destruction in the land northward; for behold, the whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds, and the thunderings and the lightnings..."

"And the highways were broken up, and the level roads were spoiled..."

"And many great and notable cities were sunk, and many were burned..."

"And...when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did was darkness upon the face of the land..." (3 Nephi 8:5-8, 12-14, 19)  

"And now, whoso readeth, let him understand...let him search them [the scriptures], and see... if all these deaths and destructions by fire, and by smoke, and by tempests, and by whirlwinds, and by the opening of the earth...are not unto the fulfilling of the prophesies of many of the holy prophets." (3 Nephi 10:14)  






   Smoke from a wildfire starting to obscure the sun

A meteor or comet airburst near Lake Ontario, offers a unified explanation of "the great destruction" and "darkness" that befell Book of Mormon lands. Author Phyllis Carol Olive has found reference to a Native American legend telling of a "blazing star" that "fell ...on the banks of the St. Lawrence, and destroyed the people." (Henry R. Schoolcraft, Notes on the Iroquois, New York (1846) pp. 39-40) See EARTHQUAKES and DARK DAYS.

  Quetzalcoatl Legends!

Q: Based on Central American legends and LDS scripture, can we say conclusively that Lehi's covenant land of liberty is in Mexico and Central America?
A: No! Native legends describing Quetzalcoatl's visit to Mexico and Central America do not correspond well with the Book of Mormon account of Jesus Christ visiting the Nephites. Legends tell how Quetzalcoatl arrived from the north, by sea in the company of other bearded men. His arrival occurred many years (as many as thirty years) after a terrible earthquake struck Central America concurrent with a solar eclipse. Legend reports that surprisingly, no human casualties resulted from the earthquake, and during the eclipse, stars could be seen in the sky. (Ancient America Rediscovered, accounts recorded by Veytia, pp 152, 158, 164, parallel the history of Ixtlilxochitl.)

Beyond Quetzalcoatl legends, there are amazing stories of "Chee-Zoos, the Dawn God" visiting ancient peoples of northern America. (He walked the Americas, L. Taylor Hansen, pp 48-49) 

"...and behold they saw a Man descending out of heaven..."

"And...he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:"
"Behold I am Jesus Christ..."
(3 Nephi 11:8, 9-10)  

Man among the Gentiles

Q: Based on Nephi's vision, must we conclude that Lehi's Promised Land is one of the lands visited by Columbus in the Western Hemisphere?
A: The "man among the Gentiles" is not named in the Book of Mormon and there is no LDS Church edition footnote referring to Christopher Columbus. Still, many LDS have presumed, without a second thought, that Nephi must have seen Columbus in vision. The "Jew" that Nephi saw in vision, out of whose mouth proceeded  "a record of the Jews" is also not named in scripture. This "Jew" apparently represents "the Jews" who preserved scripture in purity. (1 Nephi 13:23-25) The unnamed "man of Macedonia" whom Paul the Apostle beheld in vision, seems to have represented the Macedonian people to whom Paul was called to preach. (Acts 16:9-10) Must Nephi's "man among the Gentiles" represent a single individual?

Legends of the 6th century sea faring monk, Saint Brendan, the Navigator may be based on fact. According to the old accounts, Saint Brendan and fellow Irish monks sailed the North Atlantic in search of the "Promised Land of the Saints". Brendan may have actually succeeded in reaching the shores of America and in contacting native peoples. In 1976, explorer Tim Severin constructed a boat similar to that described in the legends of the Navigator saint. Severin successfully sailed his vessel to North America along the route believed to have been taken by Saint Brendan and his crew. Legendary accounts of Brendan the Navigator became well known in Europe. 

The Norse (Christian Leif Ericsson and others) visited North America centuries before the birth of Columbus. Norse voyages and encounters with Native Americans became the stuff of inspiring sagas.

John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) sailed across the Atlantic to North America in 1497 (1494, according to some sources), planting the banners of England, Ireland and France in the New World, and opening the way to European colonization. Truly a man among the nations, Cabot's first attempt to cross the Atlantic may have occurred as early as 1491, before Columbus voyaged to the Bahamas. Columbus was not the first to discover the American mainland, nor were his discoveries more significant than Cabot's. John Cabot has been less popularized than Columbus, but he is no less known to God. Cabot ultimately made contact with natives of the New World. (Rodney Broome, Terra Incognita - The True Story of How America Got Its Name, 2001)

"And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles...and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land." (1 Nephi 13:12)


  Saint Brendan and the Whale


John Cabot is credited with the discovery of the North American continent - not Christopher Columbus!

An Exceedingly Great Distance........!

Q: Is it possible for Zarahemla to be in Guatemala given the scriptural location of Cumorah at the Finger Lakes?
A: No! King Limhi's search party went in search of Zarahemla. They got lost in the wilderness and ended up near the land Cumorah. They mistook the land they arrived at for Zarahemla, therefore Zarahemla cannot be thousands of miles away from Cumorah.

An "exceeding great distance" for old and young afoot, does not have to mean thousands of miles?

The generic hourglass model of Book of Mormon lands runs into difficulty with the accounts of journey's to regions near Cumorah. Many assume that all seas surrounding Book of Mormon lands are Oceans. If this is true then how could the search party sent out by Limhi have traveled to a place near Cumorah without passing through the narrow neck of land north of Zarahemla? If they had passed through the "small neck of land" wouldn't they have known they were too far north of Zarahemla? For those traveling northward and eastward from Zarahemla, the land of Cumorah is less than a hundred miles. A land of "large bodies of water and many rivers" (in Ontario Canada) on the other hand, was esteemed "an exceedingly great distance" (hundreds of miles) from Zarahemla. (Helaman 3:3-4)

If Book of Mormon lands were almost but not entirely surrounded by inland seas (Alma 22:32), then there may have been more than one way to get from Limhi's colony in the land of Nephi (south of Zarahemla) to a location near the Finger Lakes (land of many waters) without having to traverse the narrow neck. Traveling this other route in a land of among many waters may have allowed Limhi's search party to mistakenly think they had found Zarahemla destroyed, when in fact they had come upon the desolation of the Jaredites near Ramah (the hill Cumorah, Ether 15:11).

See Doctrine and Covenants 128:20 , and maps 1, 2, and 3 at the end of the Doctrine and Covenants (recent edition). Consistent with scripture, how far away from Cumorah can the land of Zarahemla reasonably be ?

"I [Limhi] caused that forty and three of my people should take a journey...that thereby they might find the land of Zarahemla..."

           "And they were lost in the wilderness...having traveled in a land among many waters...having discovered a land which had been peopled..." 
(Mosiah 8:7-8)

            "...and they, having supposed it to be the land of Zarahemla , returned to the land of Nephi..." (Mosiah 21:26)

                        "...the land of Cumorah it was in a land of many waters..."          

            "...I, Mormon...hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records..." (Mormon 6:4-6)  

Native American Writing

Q: Does the fact that writing existed among ancient Mesoamerican cultures prove Book of Mormon lands are in Central America                                    A: No! Characters copied from the Book of Mormon plates resemble North American Mi'kmaq script much more closely than Mayan glyphs. According to Mi'kmac oral tradition, the Mi'kmac characters were used anciently.                                  

Moroni's comments in Mormon 9:32-34 give us to understand that the plates were inscribed with the peculiar written language of the Nephite people: " the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech."

Elsewhere Moroni explains that the Nephites "could write but little" because of the awkwardness of their hands. (Ether 12:23-25) and Mormon tells us that "...there are many things which, according to our language, we are not able to write."  (3 Nephi 5:18, see also 1 Nephi 3:19) Aside from perishable documents (including proclamations, banners, and missives) and sacred and historical literary treasuries, there may not have been a great deal of writing in Nephite society. Jacob son of Lehi regarded engraving on metal plates (not stone) as the only means of ultimately preserving his people's writing. (Jacob 4:1-2)

A recommended source of Mi'kmaq characters (also spelled Micmac): Mi'kmaq Hieroglyphic Prayers, Readings in North America's First Indigenous Script, edited and translated by David L. Schmidt and Murdena Marshall, Nimbus Publishing, Copyright 2006.


"And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech."

"And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew...and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.

"But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written...and because that none other people knoweth our language...he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof."   (Mormon 9:32-34)  








 The above Nephite symbols come from the "Charactors" transcript (early Mormon transcript of characters copied from the Book of Mormon plates). Though the spoken language of the Mi'kmaq people of northern America is certainly not the same as Nephite, the style of Nephite writing resembles Mi'kmaq hieroglyphs. In both Nephite and Mi'kmaq, symbols represent entire words. This explains why Nephite writing is even more compressed than Hebrew. 

See Beware of Mark Hofmann’s Anthon Transcript Forgery!


American Land of Israel  

   Copyright © 2008 by W. Vincent Coon


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