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Quote by Austin Farrar
The relationship between rational argument (evidence) and belief.
"Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief.
What seems to be proved may not be embraced: but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned.
Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish."
The Answers Expressed on this website do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
If The Book of Mormon is true (and I believe it is) then it is a literal historical record of real people in addition to its primary purpose of testifying of Jesus Christ. Lehi and his family, who came from the Holy Land area, where descendants of Joseph that was sold into Egypt (1 Nephi 5:14). The three primary races of the earth, Asian (Oriental), African (Negroid) and European (Caucasian) are quite easily distinguished from each other through specific DNA markers or 'signatures' that delineate their ancestry. The Book of Mormon tells us that the descendants of Lehi, (including his wife Sariah, Ishmael and his wife, and Zoram) lived and multiplied to a great extent somewhere in the America's. See BoM Helaman 11:20 and 3:8 and also 3 Nephi 1:17. Since it is highly probable that Sariah, Ishmael and Zoram were also of the same genetic stock (not Asian or African), their genetic signatures today would most certainly be classified by present day geneticists as 'European' rather than Asian or African. We do not know the exact make up of Lehi's DNA, but that does not preclude us from being able to make a direct connection to his 'European/Caucasian' heritage.
Preliminary DNA studies, performed on thousands of individual Native Americans from the Aleut's in Alaska, through North, Central and South America, were completed. They were tested, studied and classified into one of 4 primary genetic groups called haplogroups. These four founding groups, designated Haplogroups A, B, C and D are all Asian based groups found in modern populations of Siberia and Asia today, which supports the dominant theory of the peopling of the New World (the America's) by an overland migration across the Bering Straight during an ice age epoch. Initial studies indicated that there were no European type genetic DNA markers, which would lead to the conclusion that no migration or population expansion of an 'Israelite' group occurred anywhere in the America's as is indicated by the Book of Mormon. This lead to some LDS scientists viewing this as the 'final straw' for their belief and some were subsequently excommunicated from the church after writing books contrary to the teachings and doctrine of the gospel, but based on these initial scientific findings.
A small 'Christian ministry' capitalized on this small group of LDS scholars and scientists who left or were excommunicated from the church and documented their feelings and findings, producing a very powerful anti-Mormon video documentary. This DVD has sold tens of thousands of copies since its introduction in early 2003. The revenue produced by this documentary has funded other 'anti-Mormon' videos. While the producers of these videos have offered them on their websites for free, they continue to sell thousands of the 'hard' copies. Who are buying these, as they are available for free, and why? The answer is that other Christian denominations are buying these up by the pallet load for free distribution in neighborhood after neighborhood. Entire cities have been 'blanketed' by different Christian groups in an effort to thwart the evangelical efforts of the LDS Church. Cities from Springville, Utah to Gilbert, Arizona and hundreds of cities in the 'Bible belt' have come under this siege.
Why is this being done? Because for the first time other Christian denominations have something for which we, the members of the church, have provided no conclusive answers, although the subject has been addressed by numberous articles from LDS apologetic organizations. The simple fact is that no DNA findings support the dominant theory of the geography of the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica. Since there is no DNA evidence supporting the claims of the Book of Mormon there, those who believe in this geography must explain why there is no evidence of European lineages there. While some have addressed the issue (including FARMS or Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies) with well reasoned research that is certainly plausible, their explantaions fall short of providing a solid answer that both addresses the DNA issues and validates the claims of The Book of Mormon.
The explanations fall into one of three primary categories.
1. We don't have DNA samples from any of Lehi's party, so we don't even know what types of DNA we are looking to find.
2. Lehi's group was small and as they intermingled with the existing Asian populations, their DNA was diluted to the point that it is no longer traceable.
3. It is possible that a 'genetic bottleneck' occured that extinguished the DNA markers found in the original Book of Mormon peoples.
These explanations are used to excuse the lack of DNA evidence in Central or Mesoamerica, in order to defend these geographical theories. This has lead LDS apologetic groups to claim that DNA research and findings cannot be used either to falsify the claims of the Book of Mormon, nor to provide evidence in it's support. As a classic example of this argument read the Deseret News/Mormontimes article by Roger L. Hardy by Daniel Peterson, a very vocal LDS apologist who is also a strong advocate of the Mesoamerican hypothesis. He mentions all three while promoting a new book on DNA which is actually mostly a collection of previously published articles, some of which are quite old in terms of the current DNA research field they are addressing. While each of these explanations have merit and are justifiably employed in defence of the Book of Mormon's claims, there is another aspect that must be addressed. No less than seven times in the scriptures there are specific claims that in the latter days, there would remain on the Promised Land a "remnant" of the "House of Israel" or Lehi's posterity which came through the lineage of Joseph of Egypt and his son Manasseh. Some LDS apologists have claimed that they 'don't expect to find" any DNA evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon. Why would any member of the church not expect to find evidence of the Book of Mormon's claim that there will be a 'remant seed' still in existence in the latter days? How can there be a 'remnant' if there is no actual genetic (DNA) connection to this lineage? This is the reason that Rod Meldrum did not feel comfortable with the answers being provided by the LDS apologetic community, which caused the beginning of this research. Since the Book of Mormon is true (as previously admitted to as his bias) it stands to reason that it's claims that Lehi's seed would not be utterly destroyed must indicate that their genetics would still be found in order to fulfill the promises made by the Lord. If there is no genetic remnant, how can there be a differentiation between those who are actual descendants, and those who are Gentiles who are 'grafted into' the House of Israel? Why then would the Lord make that distinction?
The problem is two fold. The anti-Mormon documentary producers were premature in their conclusions regarding DNA studies in the America's as the research was not yet complete at the time of the release of their video. The second problem is that in order for DNA to be found relating to Book of Mormon people, we must be sure that we are looking for it in the correct location. What chance is there of finding supportive DNA or any other physical evidence for the truth of The Book of Mormon if we are looking for it in the wrong place?
This DVD, titled 'DNA evidence for Book of Mormon Geography' effectively and powerfully addresses, and provides supporting evidence that answers both of these fundamental questions. In addition, it goes back to the very foundations of the geographical theories to bring to light the knowledge that Joseph Smith had on the subject as well as an in depth study of the internal geographic indications from The Book of Mormon itself. All of this information has now, for the first time, been combined to produce a clear geographical picture that is exciting because of its solid foundation of evidence that supports the validity and truthfulness of this literal ancient record. You are invited to explore the information from this DVD for yourself and ask the source of all truth of its validity.
Since the Book of Mormon record is a true literal historical record, then one would think we should be able to find some evidence in the genetic record to that effect, as the Book itself testifies that...
"7 The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea." (Book of Mormon | Mormon 1:7)
This clearly indicates that this is not some small obscure village tucked neatly away in a remote location unknown to scientists, but rather that they literally covered the face of the land. This being the case, even with admixture from their contemporary Asian civilizations of the time, who also inhabited the America's, it seems logical that there would be some evidence for this great and mighty people.
Wait until you see the scientific evidence that has come forth after the release of their video. It is nothing short of amazing!
What if we found 'European' style DNA in the America's, just not where we thought it would be? Could it lead to a new geographical paradigm that also fits the prophecies found in the Book of Mormon itself as well as validates the prophetic statements of Joseph Smith on the matter at the same time?
The answer is an emphatic, Yes! Genetics could help us discover the true geography of the Book of Mormon, if we follow the evidence, rather than theoretical assumptions. This DVD does just that, follow the scientific evidence that leads to some conclusions about the geography of the Book of Mormon that finally makes sense and is consistent with the Book of Mormon itself and the Prophet Joseph Smith.
This was one of the first questions asked after researching the DNA evidence. No less than three times Joseph claimed to have received inspiration and/or revelation on the matter, and he is completely consistent about where he indicated he knew it occurred. He established this knowledge also by where he sent the first missionaries after having received commandment from God to go and preach the gospel unto the 'Lamanites'. Where did Joseph send the first missionaries, and which tribes did he himself preach the gospel to and declare to be remnants of the Lamanites?
What about claims that the Prophet Joseph Smith stated that Zarahemla was located in Guatemala? This claim has been perpetuated by several Mesoamerican theorists. An example is the following: "Joseph Smith, as editor of the Times and Seasons, directed our attention to this fact in an editorial (Oct. 1, 1842). He stated that “the city of Zarahemla "stood upon this land where explorer John Lloyd Stephens brought the magnificent ancient Maya ruins to the world’s attention in his 1841 publications," “Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan.” Ongoing researches today are confirming Joseph’s inspired insight."
The claim that Joseph Smith made these statements stems from two articles that appeared in the Times and Seasons of Sept. 15th and Oct. 1st , 1842, and have been falsely attributed to Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith did not write either article, he did not sign it (as he testified he would for anything he wrote in the Times and Seasons), he had already given editorial responsibility to the 12 by revelation, and he happened to be in hiding from the law at the time these two articles appeared. This ‘evidence’ for a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon would be thrown out of any court of law for insufficient evidence.
FARMS agree's that claiming this quote to be from Joseph Smith’s is invalid.
See http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=jbms&id=202 quoted below.
“Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon Geography
Exactly what Joseph Smith believed at different times in his life concerning Book of Mormon geography in general is also indeterminable. Only a few clues remain. For example, while the church was headquartered in Nauvoo, Joseph read a best-selling book of his day by John L. Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan,10 which John Bernhisel had sent to him from the East. In a letter dated 16 November 1841, the Prophet thanked Bernhisel and wrote about the book that "of all histories that had been written pertaining to the antiquities of this country it is the most correct" and it "supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon."11 Ten months later, the Times and Seasons printed an enthusiastic review of the Stephens volume. John Taylor was the editor, although Joseph Smith had shortly before announced his own editorial responsibility for the newspaper. The unnamed writer of the review (probably Wilford Woodruff) stated that "we have just learned . . . [that] the city Zarahemla . . . stood upon this land [of Guatemala, whose ruins Stephens was reporting]."
Joseph Smith received a revelation on January 28th, 1842 that the Twelve should be given responsibility for the Times and Seasons and manage the print shop. Joseph recorded, “I received the following revelation to the Twelve concerning the Times and Seasons, given January 28th, 1842. Revelation. Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph, go and say unto the Twelve, that it is my will to have them take in hand the editorial department of the Times and Seasons, …” History of the Church, Vol. 4:50
From the Times and Seasons, Tuesday, March 15th, 1842 Joseph wrote “This paper commences my editorial career, I alone stand for it, and shall do for all papers having my signature henceforward.”Neither of these two editorial commentaries in the Times and Seasons indicating a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon were signed by anybody, including Joseph. He did, however sign other articles that appeared during this same time frame, thereby validating his express statement that he would be responsible for all articles that bore his signature
The proposed letter from Joseph Smith to John Bernhisel of Nov. 16th, 1841 is also being misconstrued to indicate something it doesn’t when read in its entirety. It states “Dear Sir, I received your kind present by the hand of Er [Elder] Woodruff & feel myself under many obligations for this mark of your esteem & friendship which to me is the more interesting as it unfolds & developes (sic) many things that are of great importance to this generation & corresponds with & supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon;I have read the volumes with the greatest of interest & pleasure & must say that of all the histories that have been written pertaining to the antiquities of this country it is the most correct luminous & comprehensive.”
When read in context, Joseph appears to be thanking Bishop Bernhisel for his friendship and support and then mentions that he had read the book set ‘Incidents of travel in Central America’ which he considered to be the most correct and comprehensive of any book written pertaining to ‘this country’. What ‘country’ was Joseph talking about? The book's title specifically indicates it was written about Central America, so it is clear that Joseph was simply stating that this book set is the best information available on Central America. Nowhere does Joseph state that the Book of Mormon history occurred in Central America.
Conversely, Joseph was very clear about where he KNEW the Book of Mormon to have occurred.
1. In the Wentworth letter (which Joseph stated was received by revelation) Joseph wrote “I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments,…”. He went on to write “The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. This book also tells us that our Saviour [Savior] made his appearance upon this continent…”. (Autobiographical and Historical Writings, vol. 1 of The Papers of Joseph Smith, by Dean C. Jessee p 431)
2. In a letter Joseph wrote by commandment from God, and which was subsequently printed in the American Revivalist and Rochester Observer Feb. 2nd, 1833 edition, he writes to the editor in which he described the Book of Mormon as follows: “The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians;…” “By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians, are descendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them.” West to Joseph at this time would have meant Ohio, Illinois, Missouri…further west it was actually Mexico at the time.
3. From a hand-written letter to his wife Emma Smith while on Zion’s camp march of June 4th, 1834 Joseph wrote “The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls and bones, as proof of its divine authenticity..” Signed by Joseph Smith Jr. (The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, by Dean C. Jessee p 324)
4. The Zelph account. On June 3rd, 1834, Joseph Smith Jr. with several brethren (8 of whom wrote in their personal journals as having witnessed this account, and three of these men became future prophets of the church) visited a prominent mound on top of the bluffs overlooking the area around Valley City, Illinois. Joseph procured a shovel and dug down about a foot where he unearthed some bones. He continued until a ribcage could be distinguished wherein they found an arrowhead. Their combined, highly corroborated accounts were recorded as follows. “the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandugus, who was known from the hill Cumorah or eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains… He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs during the last great struggle with the Lamanites and Nephites.” (History of the Church Vol. 2:79-80, 1948 edition)
5. Even more importantly than what Joseph said is what he personally wrote. But even more important than what he wrote is what he DID. When commanded by God to send missionaries to preach the gospel “unto the Lamanites” (see D&C 28:8 Sept. 1830) Joseph immediately dispatched three men. Oliver Cowdrey (D&C 28:8), Peter Whitmer Jr. (D&C 30:5-6) and Parley P. Pratt (D&C 32:1-2). Parley P. Pratt recorded in his autobiography, p 56-61, “Thus ended our first Indian Mission, in which we had preached the Gospel in its fullness and distributed the record of their forefathers among three tribes…” And where did the prophet Joseph send those missionaries? To Buffalo New York, Ohio, and west of Missouri. And isn’t it ironic that he just happened to send these first missionaries to the very tribes that today have Haplogroup X (European) DNA…how did Joseph know that? How many missionaries did Joseph Smith send to Guatemala?
6. Where did Joseph Smith himself go to “preach unto the Lamanites”? From History of the Church, Vol. 4 p 401-402 on Thursday, August 12th, 1841 Joseph wrote “I accordingly went down, and met Keokuk, Kis-ku-kosh, Appenoose, and about one hundred chiefs and braves of those tribes (Sac and Fox tribes), with their families.” He went on to say “I conducted them to the meeting grounds in the grove, and instructed them in many things which the Lord had revealed unto me concerning their fathers, and the promises that were made concerning them in the Book of Mormon.”
7. D&C 54:8 states “And thus you [Newel Knight] shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.” Even if Joseph was confused (which he wasn’t) do you think that GOD is confused about where the remnants of the Lamanites are located?
8. And finally, where did GOD himself place the city of Zarahemla? See D&C 125:3 and see for yourself where he placed it. Remember, God has only named a handful of places through his prophets, so it is likely very important when he does so. You may be very surprised at the answer, and it was not in Mesoamerica.
All this and much, much more is answered in the DVD presentation.
Does the Book of Mormon itself indicate the location of its 'Promised Land'? YES, again the Book of Mormon consistently gives us guidance and direction if we will simply look for it. The DVD presentation develops for the first time a scriptural 'chain maille' (interlinking links rather than long single linked strands) that firmly and conclusively indicates exactly where the 'Promised Land' of the Book of Mormon is to be found. There are 36 specific Prophesies and Promises found in over 200 scriptural passages pertaining to the Promised Land of the latter days. Each of these are fulfilled in only one latter-day nation as defined by scripture. That nation is the United States of America. This is supported by the text of the Book of Mormon, along with the Doctrine and Covenants, both considered holy cannon of the church. The Book of Mormon occured on the Promised Land according to it's record, making the United States of America the principle location of it's geography.
In order for any civilization to qualify to be Nephite, Lamanite, or Jaredite, they would have to be consistent with the internal text of the Book of Mormon, as well as fall in the correct time period of history and have archaeological validation of their existence, including structures, artifacts, and evidence of war.
All of these qualifications can be met with the proposed civilizations outlined in the DVD presentation. Are you ready to do your own research into these cultures?
While the Book of Mormon is not absolutely clear about its climate, it does indicate such weather phenomena as 'tempests', and 'whirlwinds' (3 Nephi 8:12 and 16), along with seasons (Alma 46:40). Twice it mentions frozen water (snow/hail) and only once is 'heat' or hot weather indicated. One particularly fascinating new evidence deals with seasonal migrations of animals indicated within the Book of Mormon.
Several theorists have stated that a North American setting for the Book of Mormon makes no sense because of scriptural references to Lamanites coming to battle in little more than a loin-cloth in the first month of the year. Those who do so are making the assumption the the Nephite civilization used a calendar in the same way as we do today. That does not appear to be the case.
At the time just prior to Christ's crucifixion he went to Jerusalem for passover. Passover is generally related to the spring solstice in April. In 3 Nephi 8:5 it states
"And it came to pass in the thirty and forth year, in the FIRST MONTH, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm,.."
This was the sign of Christ's death. Since he died in April, it would indicate that the Nephite calendar was shifted 4 months (Nephite month 1 was our month 4 or April). This would indicate that the occasion of the Lamanites coming to battle in a loin-cloth would be more plausible as the scripture indicates that they were fatigued because of their labors and the heat of the day. Daily temperature changes are minimal in tropical rainforests which would tend to indicate a more temperate climate where people coming out of winter might fatigue more easily and consider a warm spring day as 'hot'.
In fact, the Nephites seemed somewhat astonished the Lamanites came to battle dressed this way. It would seem that a loincloth was the exception rather than the rule in warfare at that time. Many wars don't mention loinclothes, which would indicate that generally they were well dressed as indicated by the Book of Mormon itself.
"19 And when the armies of the Lamanites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni, had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing— (Book of Mormon | Alma 43:19)"
"6 Now the leaders of the Lamanites had supposed, because of the greatness of their numbers, yea, they supposed that they should be privileged to come upon them as they had hitherto done; yea, and they had also prepared themselves with shields, and with breastplates; and they had also prepared themselves with garments of skins, yea, very thick garments to cover their nakedness." (Book of Mormon | Alma 49:6)
All these indications point to one overwhelming conclusion. The Book of Mormon itself has given us sufficient clues to answer these questions, if we will diligently study its pages...with faith.
Previously it did not really matter much to most members of the church where the Book of Mormon history occurred, as everyone should have based their beliefs on spiritual witnesses and not physical proof. As it is written in the Book of Mormon itself, we must exercise faith first (see BoM Alma 32:27-36), but ultimately we should be seeking 'knowledge' which then replaces faith and it (faith) becomes 'dormant' ("in that thing"). Initial faith in Jesus Christ was replaced by knowledge of him and his literal existence when Joseph Smith walked out of that sacred grove of trees that early spring morning.
The belief that it did not matter where The Book of Mormon took place, is now being challenged because of DNA testing. Because the book is a literal historical record, there should be physical, tangible evidence of the existence of these great civilizations. For the first time in history, knowing the geography of The Book of Mormon is critical to defending the validity of The Book of Mormon itself, for if we are looking in the wrong geographical location, what chance is there of finding this evidence and dispelling the false claims of those who would tear the church and its members down? In contrast, what if the scientific DNA evidence pointed us in a geographical location that was then found to be validated by Joseph Smith, and is internally consistent with The Book of Mormon itself? That is what DNA evidence for Book of Mormon Geography is all about!
The archaeological evidence for the proposed geographical location proposed in this presentation is overwhelming. There have been found at least 15 correlations between the Nephite civilization as described in the Book of Mormon and an ancient civilization that falls in the same time frame . Ancient defensive cities surrounded by deep ditches and structures of heaped soil with evidence of log walls atop are found in abundance, just as described in detail by Moroni in The Book of Mormon. Artifacts have been recovered that match those described in The Book of Mormon itself, including headplates, breastplates, iron, and copper. This ancient civilization also dates to the correct time periods relating to the Nephites. Many other archaeological evidences are shown that are in accord with the historical record of these people from The Book of Mormon.
What ancient civilizations were these and where were they located? Answers to these questions are clearly and powerfully presented by this DVD presentation.
Yes and No. Yes, the index in the Book of Mormon does state that the Sidon River is the "most prominent river in Nephite territory, runs north to sea". However, nowhere does the text of the Book of Mormon definitively state the direction of flow of the Sidon River, therefore it must be deduced from alternative sources of information.
The index was written by Bruce R. McConkie, and is not considered to be holy writ, as evidenced by brother McConkie's introduction to the Book of Mormon recently being changed as mentioned in the DVD. This change corrects the introduction page of The Book of Mormon to indicate the Lamanites are "among" the ancestry of the American Indians, rather than the "principal'" ancestors of them.
What we do know is that the river ran either north or south as it had east and west banks. Alma 2:15, 2:17, 6:7, 16:7, 43:53 and 49.16 specify an east bank or side of the river, and Alma 8:3, 43:27, 43.32, 43.53 indicate a western side or bank. The Book of Mormon also indicates that shipping of lumber was being accomplished (see BoM Helaman 3:10) potentially indicating a navigable river (indicating a river without natural barriers to boat travel such as rapids, falls, etc). The proposed river in this geography model fits beautifully into both of these criterions.
Alma 22:29 does indicate that the head of the Sidon river was in the north as it states "the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, ..." This is completely congruent with the proposed geography outlined in the presentation and DVD. If the place of first landing was the gulf coast of North America and the proposed location for Zarahemla (according to the Heartland Model) is across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo, IL (named by the Lord "Zarahemla" D&C125.3) then certainly the 'head' was in the northern parts of the land.
The Book of Mormon textual references to the River Sidon works very well in this geography, once a more complete understanding of what the 'head' of the river Sidon might mean.
As regarding the Sidon River there is a very simple explanation that lies in the definition of 'head' of a river.
In Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary, the reference dictionary at Joseph Smiths time, the word 'head' as relating to a river is defined thus.
'Head, 18. The principal source of a stream; as the head of the Nile.'
While this is one definition, there is also another definition as relating to rivers which is less well known but very important to a more complete understanding.
Description 23. states 'Conflux'.
To be sure exactly what 'Conflux' means, this same dictionary defines it as;
CONFLUX, n. [L. See Confluence.] http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,conflux
1. A flowing together; a meeting of two or more currents of a fluid.
Again in this same dictionary the word ‘confluence’ is defined as follows:
CONFLUENCE, n. [L., to flow. See Flow.] http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,confluence
1. A flowing together; the meeting or junction of two or more streams of water, or other fluid; also, the place of meeting; as the confluence of the Tigris and the Frat, or of the Ohio and Mississippi.
So the 'head' of the Sidon river of the Book of Mormon has two possible definitions, one at the commencement of a stream or river and one which is defined as the location where two branches or tributaries of a river meet, or their confluence. Which definition did the Book of Mormon authors and translator mean?
Manti is southward from Gideon and Zarahemla. Gideon was located just across the river Sidon within a few hours travel from Zarahemla (Alma 2; 6:7–8 ) and was much closer to Zarahemla than was Manti. It follows then that the general direction from Zarahemla to Manti was 'southward,' the same as it was from 'Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti' (Alma 17:1).
Manti was near the 'head of the river Sidon' (Alma 22:27, 43:22). By using the first definition (the principle source of a stream), if Manti was where the Sidon river began, and it flowed past Zarahemla to the north (Manti was south of Zarahemla), then it stands to reason that the river flowed northward.
However if the second or confluence definition is used, Manti would have been at a junction of two rivers, which means that the river flowed past Zarahemla and then on down to the junction (head) at Manti, which would thereby indicate a southerly flow from Zarahemla (a main branch of the river) down to the confluence.
According to Alma 31:3 the land of Antionum was east of the land of Zarahemla and Jershon was to the north of Antionum, all of which were north of the land of Manti which was to the south (Alma 16:6). In Alma chapter 43 the Lamanites were in the land of Antionum preparing to attack the Nephites who were in the land of Jershon to the north. The Lamanites determine not to fight the Nephites and turn away to the south toward the land of Manti. Alma 43:32 records that the Nephite army under Moroni went 'down into the borders of the land Manti' from their previous position in the land of Jershon and south towards the hill Riplah. If the Lamanites began in Antionum to the north, and they were traveling south as indicated, and they also went 'down' in elevation while doing so, then any river in that location would of necessity have to be flowing southward toward Manti. Rivers flow 'down' in elevation, which clearly indicates that the Sidon River must have been flowing to the south.
To reiterate, the Lamanites withdrew from the Nephite cities around Jershon. Jershon was located on the east side of a sea (Meldrum believes to be Lake Michigan) (see Alma 27:22), which was also north of the land of Antionum (Alma 31:3). This indicates that they left from Jershon (Alma 43:18) in the north and began traveling south through Antionum. Then they 'took their journey round about in the wilderness, away by the head of the river Sidon, that they might come into the land of Manti' (Alma 43:22) which was south and 'down.'
The head of the river Sidon, and also the south border of the land of Manti, were integral parts of the borderline that separated the Nephites and the Lamanites (Alma 22).
The land of Manti was:
a) located by the head of the river Sidon (Alma 22:27);
b) southward from the land of Gideon (Alma 17:1);
c) near the south wilderness which was on the east side of the river Sidon when coming from the city of Zarahemla (Alma 16:7); and
d) on the west side of the river Sidon when approaching from the wilderness to the east (Alma 43:32).
The land of Manti fits well in the area just northwest of the confluence (head) of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers (between two branches of the ancient river Sidon). The city of Manti (not necessarily the Land of Manti) may well have been right there at Huntsville, MO as stated by The Prophet, Joseph while on the Kirtland Camp and as recorded in the Millennial Star, vol. 16, p296 and the Journal of Samuel D. Tyler, Sept. 25, 1838 as filed in the Church Historians office. Huntsville is northwest of St. Louis, near Moberly, MO. Using the confluence definition could also explain the seemingly nonsensical placing of Manti on BOTH sides of the Sidon in the references above. C. could be referring to coming from Zarahemla (on the west of the river Sidon or Mississippi river branch) which was on the east, toward the land of Manti to the west, which was east of the Sidon (Missouri river branch) and going on to the west, to the Missouri river from the east, and D. would refer to crossing the Sidon (Mississippi river branch) from the east into the land of Manti.
Both are branches of the Mississippi river system that was the primary system used by the Hopewell mound building civilization that flourished in the correct archaeological time frame to be the Nephites and most likely designated by them the Sidon River (system). This same civilization built their cities and fortifications in the same manner outlined by Moroni in the Book of Mormon. These same ancient people had DNA lineages (haplogroup X) that are associated with the Druze population in the Levant area (Israel) and the majority of Jewish populations around the world, including the Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Libyan, Tunisian, Moroccan, Iranian and Iraqi Jews. Did you know that Joseph Smith just happened to send the first missionaries 'unto the Lamanites' to tribes that today harbor these same Jewish genetic markers?
Remember that the Mississippi today is much wider and deeper than it was in the days before dams, locks and levies, making it still a large river, but much more shallow. In fact, the river at Nauvoo was actually shallow enough to cross on foot! This area was called the Des Moines rapids and riverboats had to off-load their cargo to pass these rapids prior to the building of locks/dams across the river. The Des Moines Rapids are known historically to have been less than 2.6 feet deep, making this the first location upstream from the Gulf of Mexico where the mighty Mississippi could be crossed on foot! Certainly this would make this area a strategic location for any ancient civilization, as access to both sides of the river was easily attainable. This location also had broad river banks from seasonal floods that would subsequently return back into its channel that would allow mighty battles to be fought on the banks of the river as stated in the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon also indicates that shipping of lumber was being accomplished (see BoM Helaman 3:10) potentially indicating a navigable river or a river without natural barriers to boat (canoe?) travel such as falls.
"10 And it came to pass as timber was exceedingly scarce in the land northward, they did send forth much by the way of shipping. (Book of Mormon | Helaman 3:10)"
It is interesting to note that during construction of the Nauvoo Temple the wooden beams with which the temple structure was built had to be brought down the river from Wisconsin to the North. The Sidon River in this proposed geography model fits beautifully into both of these criterions. How navigable is the Grijalva River in Guatemala for shipping?
We also know that the Sidon river emptied into a 'sea' as indicated by Alma 3:3 and 44:22, which as discussed in the DVD presentation could mean any large body of water (fresh or salt...i.e. "Sea of Galilee" is a small freshwater lake, while the Dead Sea is a small salt water lake, and yet the Mediterranian Sea is a large salt water ocean). Again this fits with this proposed geography. It should be clear that any body of water could have been called a 'sea' by those coming from the Middle East. This includes the Great Lakes, which are orders of magnitude larger than their Middle Eastern counterparts.
To recap: The Sidon River in the Book of Mormon flowed past Zarahemla southward and 'down' toward Manti which was at the head or confluence. From this description, Sidon would have flowed in a southerly direction. The 'headwaters' could refer to the confluence of the present-day Missouri and Mississippi rivers (or another ancient tributary of the present day Mississippi). When you see how this fits beautifully into the geography as proposed by the Heartland Model, it is both logical and powerful evidence in support of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and its possible location in the Heartland of the Promised Land of America.
There has been several printings of the DVD thus far. To identify which version you have, have the DVD and case available and review the following information.
Version #1 has two DVD disks.
Version # 2 has 1 dual layer DVD Disk and the disk case has a printed copyright "2007 Rod Meldrum" on the front graphic near the bottom.
Version # 3 has 1 dual layer DVD Disk and the disk case has a printed copyright "2008 Rod Meldrum" on the front graphic and only 1 UPC bar code on the back.
Version # 4 is the same as version # 3 except that an ISBN number has been added to the back of the case graphic for library and book dealer needs.