Consistencies in Book of Mormon Geography (Part 1)

The Book of Mormon is a work that has strong internal consistency with regards to geography. I have decided to examine the geography of the Book of Mormon to see if any of the geographical locations can serve as evidence supporting the argument that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record translated by the power of God. Here is a random sampling of some of the consistencies that I have found upon examining the ancient American geography described in the Book of Mormon. I have used the 1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon for this examination (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah)

  1. “Go up” to the land of Zarahemla, “go down” to the land of Nephi: It is well established in the Book of Mormon that the Land of Zarahemla (Nephites) is in the northern regions of the land, and that the Land of Nephi (Lamanites) is in the southern region (Alma 22:27-34). I believe that it is a common notion that when describing a land that is northward, the words “up” or “above” the southern land would be used to describe its location. However, the Book of Mormon does not use this language, but rather always refers to traveling to the Land of Nephi as “going up” to the land of Nephi, and the land of Zarahemla as “going down” to the land of Zarahemla. This may suggest that the Land of Nephi was a higher elevation than the land of Zarahemla (though the elevation of Zarahemla and Nephi is never mentioned), or it may have some significance since it was the place where they first landed. This phrasing is consistently used throughout the Book of Mormon, suggesting that using phrases such as “went up to the land south” was intentional, yet it is a highly unusual style for most in the modern western world.

Land of Zarahemla:

a)    Alma 27:5 “Let us gather together this people of the Lord, and let us go down to the land of Zarahemla to our brethren the Nephites, and flee out of the hands of our enemies, that we be not destroyed.

b)    Alma 56:25 “Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla.”

c)     Alma 51:11 “Amalickiah had gathered together a wonderfully great army, insomuch that he feared not to come down to the land of Zarahemla.

d)    Alma 53:10 “they had been converted unto the Lord; and they had been brought down into the land of Zarahemla…

e)    Alma 53:12 “And for this cause they were brought down into the land of Zarahemla…”

f)     Alma 56:25 “Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla; neither durst they cross the head of Sidon, over to the city of Nephihah.”

g)    Alma 57:16 “we did resolve to send them down to the land of Zarahemla…

h)    Alma 57:28 “they had started to go down to the land of Zarahemla with.”

i)     Alma 57:29 “Behold, we did start to go down to the land of Zarahemla.

j)     Helaman 6:4 “And it came to pass that many of the Lamanites did come down into the land of Zarahemla…

Land of Nephi:

a)     Mosiah 28:1 “and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard…”

b)     Alma 22:30-31 “And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful”

c)    Alma 29:14 “because of the success of my brethren, who have been up to the land of Nephi.”

d)     Alma 47:1 “he had taken those who went with him, and went up in the land of Nephi among the Lamanites…”

e)    Alma 56:3 “two thousand of the sons of those men whom Ammon brought down out of the land of Nephi…

  1. The Destruction of Ammonihah:

The City of Ammonihah is destroyed by the Lamanites in 81 B.C. (Alma 16:11/p. 249). Those who are killed are buried in shallow graves. It states in verse 11 “And now so great was the scent thereof that the people did not go in to possess the land for many years.”

In Alma 49:1-2 (p. 330) it states “Lamanites were seen approaching towards the land of Ammonihah. And behold, the city had been rebuilt…” by Moroni, and this occurred in 72 B.C., 9 years after the destruction of those in Ammonihah. The rebuilding of Ammonihah is consistent with the fact that it was uninhabitable for a number of years because of the scent of the dead. This is a consistency that is 83 pages apart.

  1. The City of Moroni sinks into the ocean.

The city of Moroni is built by the seashore, as it states in Alma 62:32 “And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city; and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites” (p. 365/Alma 62:32).

The city of Moroni, which is by the east seashore, sinks into the ocean when Christ is killed in 33 A.D. as it states in 3 Nephi 8:9 (p. 422) “And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea…” The destruction of the city of Moroni in 33 A.D. is consistent with its geographical location.

  1. The City of Noah is close to Ammonihah.

After the Lamanites destroy the people of Ammonihah, they also attack some of the people “around the borders of Noah” (Alma 16:3/p. 248).

Alma 49:11-12 references the fact that these cities are located close together and that the Lamanites had attacked them previously. In Alma 49:11, when the Lamanites decide again to attack the city of Ammonihah nearly ten years after they had so easily destroyed it, they find that it has been rebuilt by the Nephites to be a stronghold. The Lamanites then flee from the city of Ammonihah because it has been fortified, and decide to attack the city of Noah, which they had also easily attacked in the past (Alma 49:11/p. 331). When the Lamanites arrive in the land of Noah, they are surprised to see that is has also been fortified (Alma 49:14/p. 331). This is an internal consistency in that the city of Noah and the city of Ammonihah are in close proximity, and in the past were relatively easy targets for the Lamanites.

  1. Zarahemla was destroyed by fire

In Helaman 13:13 (p. 398), Samuel the Lamanite declares that the voice of the Lord told him “I would cause that fire should come down out of heaven and destroy it [Zarahemla]. But behold, it is for the righteous’ sake that it is spared.”

In 3 Nephi 8:8 (p. 422), after the death of the Savior and as a sign of his death, it states: “And the city of Zarahemla did take fire.” The word of the Lord is fulfilled when there are no more righteous in the land.

  1. City of Nephihah/Lehi/Morianton/Gid/Mulek/Moroni

There is geographical consistency in the chapters beginning in Alma 50:13 to Helaman 5:15. The cities mentioned in Alma 51:26 are on the eastern seashore, and the armies of the Lamanites take control of them one at a time, suggesting they may have followed a highway.

The following are scriptures showing how the cities mentioned above are in close proximity to each other and are along the eastern seashore:

  1. “And they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea” (Alma 50:13)
  2. “began a foundation for a city between the city of Moroni and the city of Aaron…called the name of the city, or land, Nephihah.” (Alma 50:14)
  3. “And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore” (Alma 50:15)
  4. “The city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore.” (Alma 51:26)
  5. “The people of Nephihah, who were gathered together from the city of Moroni and the city of Lehi and the city of Morianton, were attacked by the Lamanites.” (Alma 59:5-6)

Those who live in Moroni, Lehi, Morianton, and Melek, are compelled to flea to Nephihah (Alma 59:5-6/Alma 51:24). Nephihah is then attacked. The prisoners of the Nephites are kept in the city of Gid, and Moroni gets the prisoners back by strategem (Alma 55:7) In Alma 62:30, Moroni regains the land of Nephihah and goes on to regain the land of Lehi. Afterwards, they then attack the Lamanites, who were one great army, in the land of Moroni (Alma 62:32). Moroni, Lehi, and Teancum destroy the Lamanites and chase them out of the land (Alma 62:38). After the wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites, the prophets Nephi and Lehi preach to those in Bountiful, then go to Gid, and then go to Mulek, both of which were on the line of cities on the east seashore mentioned in Alma 51:26 (Helaman 5:15). These consistencies suggest that the Book of Mormon follows a strict geographical structure that could not be made up from one’s head as one went along dictating the book. A detailed map would have been required to maintain the consistency.

An Argument in Favor of the Divinity of the Book of Mormon Translation (Part II)

In part II of this work I will focus on the Book of Ether and how it exists as evidence that the Book of Mormon was not made up while it was dictated, and its complexity suggests that more than a simple genealogical outline would be necessary to accomplish the task of dictating the Book of Ether. I will be using the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon in this examination (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA 1994). The evidence from the Book of Ether, as well as evidence analyzed in Part I and in future installments of this series, will help support the likelihood that Joseph Smith did in fact translate the Book of Mormon from an ancient record.

1. THE GENEALOGY OF ETHER: The Book of Ether follows the history of a people (known as the Jaredites) who left for the Americas soon after the corrupting of languages at the Tower of Babel. Moroni abridges this book from 24 plates hidden by the prophet Ether, found by King Limhi, the son of King Noah. In Ether 1:6-32, Moroni gives the genealogy of Ether, the last Prophet among the Jaredites, all the way back to Jared, the first to arrive to the Americas after the Tower of Babel. Moroni gives 30 names for the genealogy, stating simply:

He that wrote this record was Ether, and he was a descendant of Coriantor. Coriantor was the son of Moron. And Moron was the son of Ethem. And Ethem was the son of Ahah. And Ahah was the son of Seth. And Seth was the son of Shiblon. And Shiblon was the son of Com. And Com was the son of Coriantum. And Coriantum was the son of Amnigaddah. And Amnigaddah was the son of Aaron. And Aaron was a descendant of Heth, who was the son of Hearthom. And Hearthom was the son of Lib. And Lib was the son of Kish. And Kish was the son of Corom. And Corom was the son of Levi. And Levi was the son of Kim. And Kim was the son of Moriatnon. And Morianton was a descendant of Riplakish. And Riplakish was the son of Shez. And Shez was the son of Heth. And Heth was the son of Com. And Com was the son of Coriantum. And Coriantum was the son of Emer. And Emer was the son of Omer. And Omer was the son of Shule. And Shule was the son of Kib. And Kib was the son of Orihah, who was the son of Jared.” (Ether 1:6-32).

The Book of Ether then goes on to describe the history and wars of the Jaredites, and it follows this exact genealogy in reverse order, starting with Jared and then ending with Ether.

Ether 6:14 “And Jared had four sons; and they were called Jacom, and Gilgah, and Mahah, and Orihah.”

Ether 7:3 “And it came to pass that he also begat Kib in his old age. And it came to pass that Kib reigned in his stead; and Kib begat Corihor.”

Ether 7:7 “nevertheless, Kib begat Shule in his old age, while he was yet in captivity.”

Ether 8:1 “And it came to pass that he begat Omer, and Omer reigned in his stead. And Omer begat Jared; and Jared begat sons and daughters.

Ether 9:14 “And it came to pass that Omer began to be old; nevertheless, in his old age he begat Emer; and he appointed Emer to be king to reign in his stead.”

Ether 9:21 “And Emer did execute judgment in righteousness all his days, and he begat many sons and daughters; and he begat Coriantum, and he anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead.”

Ether 9:25 “And it came to pass that he begat Com, and Com reigned in his stead; and he reigned forty and nine years, and he begat Heth; and he also begat other sons and daughters.

Ether 10:1 “And it came to pass that Shez, who was a descendant of Heth-for Heth had perished by the famine and all his household save it were Shez…

Ether 10:4 “And Shez did live to an exceedingly old age; and he begat Riplakish.”

Ether 10:9 “And it came to pass after the space of many years, Morianton (he being a descendant of Riplakish)…”

Ether 10:13 “And Morianton did live to an exceedingly great age, and then he begat Kim; and Kim did reign in the stead of his father.”

Ether 10:14 “And he begat sons and daughters in captivity, and in his old age he begat Levi

Ether 10:16 “and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Corom, whom he anointed king in his stead.

Ether 10:17 “and after he had seen many days he did pass away, even like unto the rest of the earth; and Kish reigned in his stead.

Ether 10:18 “And it came to pass that Kish passed away also, and Lib reigned in his stead.

Ether 10:29 “And it came to pass that Lib did live many years, and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Hearthom.

Ether 10:31 “And he begat Heth, and Heth lived in captivity all his days. And Heth begat Aaron, and Aaron dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Amnigaddah, and Amnigaddah also dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Coriantum, and Coriantum dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Com.

Ether 11:4 “And he lived to a good old age, and begat Shiblom” (there seems to be an error here, as the genealogy in Ether 1 says “Shiblon.” This is most likely an error made in the original writing or the printer’s manuscript. This error was not corrected in the 1981 edition.

Ether 11:9 “And it came to pass that Shiblom was slain, and Seth was brought into captivity…”

Ether 11:10 “And it came to pass that Ahah, his son, did obtain the kingdom…”

Ether 11:11 “And Ethem, being a descendant of Ahah, did obtain the kingdom.”

Ether 11:14 “And it came to pass that Ethem did execute judgment in wickedness all his days; and he begat Moron.”

Ether 11:18 “Moron dwelt in captivity all the remainder of his days; and he begat Coriantor.”

Ether 11:23 “And it came to pass that Coriantor begat Ether, and he died, having dwelt in captivity all his days.

In addition to following the genealogy given in Ether 1, the Book of Ether speaks of many other sons and descendants of that are not found in the genealogy of Ether 1. This only adds to the complexity of an already complex family line. Not only does it write the history of a list of 30 people in reverse chronology, but he also includes the descendants and sons/daughters of these individuals as well. For example, after Orihah begat Kib, Kib begat Corihor (Ether 7:3). Corihor is not mentioned in the original genealogy, but he plays a significant part in the chapter as he overthrows his father, who then has a son named Shule (part of the genealogy of Ether 1) while in captivity (Ether7:7). The writer then goes on to describe the genealogy of Corihor, who is overthrown by Shule (Ether 7:9), but has a son named Noah who rebels with his brother Cohor (Ether 7:15). Noah is killed and then the son of Noah, whose name is Cohor, takes over part of the kingdom (Ether 7:20). Cohor is slain, and his son Nimrod gives up the kingdom to Shule (Ether 7:21-22).

These multiple story-lines  continue in Ether 8 when Shule begat Omer (part of Ether’s genealogy) and Omer begat Jared (not part of the genealogy) (Ether 8:1). Omer has two sons named Esrom and Coriantumr, who take back the kingdom (Ether 8:4-6). Akish, the son of Kimnor, then plots with Jared to killer Omer (Ether 8:10-14). Omer escapes, then Akish kills Jared and takes over the kingdom (Ether 9:3-5). Then Akish kills his son, and his brother flees with others to Omer, and Akish gives battle to his sons (Ether 9:7-13). Omer is restored to the throne, and then he has a son named Emer, finally reaching the next in the line of Ether’s ancestors (Ether 9:14). Adding in these story-lines and additional descendants and families not mentioned in Ether 1:6-32 would have confused someone who was making it up as they went along, and would require an extremely detailed and lengthy outline to account for all of the events and the accuracy with which the genealogy is followed in the Book of Ether.

The Book of Ether goes on for roughly 30 pages, and includes the writings of Moroni, the visions of the Brother of Jared, the method used to travel to the Americas, the rise and fall of kings, and the battles that took place in ancient America. In addition, the story of the Book of Ether is referenced in other portions of the Book of Mormon (see Omni 1:21-22/Mosiah 8:7-11/Alma 37:21-32). It would require superhuman ability to recount the genealogy provided in Ether 1:6-32 in reverse order and include separate genealogies, interjections by the narrator, and other story arcs in the manner of translation often mocked by critics. The incredible amount of detail suggests that a complex outline would be required in order to have dictated such a history, in addition to the overall narrative outline found in part I of this series, and the complex writings of Alma 36 and Jacob 5, which I will review in future installments. Since no witnesses saw Joseph with an outline (and if he had the whole story of the Book of Mormon previously written on pages and pages of guiding outlines, why did he need scribes to write his dictation?), it is unlikely that Joseph had such an all-encompassing outline at his disposal while dictating the translation.

An Argument in Favor of the Divinity of the Book of Mormon Translation (Part I)

The following is an examination of the hypothesis that Joseph Smith was able to produce the Book of Mormon by dictating it to his scribes by either making it up as he went along, or by using an outline (which all witnesses say Joseph never had). It is hypothesized that if he were able to use a story outline to produce the Book of Mormon (while hiding it from his translators), then the production of the Book of Mormon would be a plausible undertaking. In this post and in subsequent posts, I will attempt to prove this hypothesis false, and in turn giving greater support for the veracity of the Book of Mormon as a divine translation of an ancient record. For Part 1 of this examination, I will look at how the complex meta-narrative makes it unlikely that Joseph dictated the Book of Mormon from his memory, beginning his dictation with the Book of Mosiah after having lost the 116 original first pages of the manuscript (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705384845/Scholars-Corner-The-stolen-chapters-of-Mosiah.html?pg=all). In future posts, I will add upon this first post by suggesting that additional outlines needed for individual books and chapters of the Book of Mormon suggest a level of complexity that is not characteristic of a fraudulent record dictated to scribes without the use of manuscripts.

1. The use of a meta-outline: After Joseph Smith and Martin Harris had the first 116 pages of the original manuscript stolen from them, it is believed by both members of the LDS faith and most critics alike that Joseph Smith resumed his translation from the Book of Mosiah, rather than going back and translating the story from the beginning with 1 Nephi (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705384845/Scholars-Corner-The-stolen-chapters-of-Mosiah.html?pg=all). No doubt it would have been easier for Joseph to go back and rewrite the story from the beginning, especially since the events of the Book of Lehi would have been fresh in his mind. However, it seems that if Joseph did invent the Book of Mormon, then he performed the translation in the most difficult fashion possible by writing the rest of the Book of Mormon from the Book of Mosiah and back-referencing specific events that happened earlier in the narrative. Here are several examples of references from the latter half of the Book of Mormon (Mosiah-Moroni), referencing events in the first half of the Book of Mormon (1st Nephi-Words of Mormon) that had not yet been written. The number and detail of the references suggest that Joseph did not use his memory from what he translated of the 116 pages to reference in the latter half of the Book of Mormon, and providing detailed enough outlines would have been difficult to both produce and hide from his scribes.

a) THE VISION OF LEHI AND ALMA: Since Alma 36 was written by Joseph and Oliver before 1 Nephi 1, it would be unusual to have Joseph have Alma reference an exact quote from the prophet Lehi found in 1 Nephi 1 had Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon. Alma, however, in telling the story of his repentance, makes a specific reference to 1 Nephi 1.

Alma states: “Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul to long to be there” (Alma 36:22).

Nephi, in abridging the account of his father Lehi, states: “And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God” (1 Nephi 1:8).

These two quotes are found nearly 234 pages apart if compared chronologically to the times they were translated.

b) THE PROPHECY OF THE BRASS PLATES: The content of the brass plates, as well as the prophecies surrounding their purpose are consistently found throughout the Book of Mormon. The prophet Alma references the prophecies made surrounding the purpose and the preservation of the brass plates found in material that was not translated by Joseph until after he had already referenced it:

Nephi states: “And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers” (1 Nephi 5:14)

And these plates of brass, which contain these engravings, which have the records of the holy scriptures upon them, which have the genealogy of our forefathers, even from the beginning” (Alma 37:3).

And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed-That these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed”  (1 Nephi 5:17-18)

Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon” (Alma 37:4)

Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time” (1 Nephi 5:19)

And now behold, if they are kept they must retain their brightness; yea, and also shall all the plates which do contain that which is holy writ” (Alma 37:35)

c) THE LIAHONA: Here is sacred object that was used by Lehi and his family to navigate the more fertile parts of the wilderness while they traveled from Jerusalem to the promised land. It is also interesting to note that the term “Liahona” is never used to name the “ball, or director” until Alma 37:38. The passage suggests that the word Liahona means compass. The language by this time may have been significantly altered by the Nephites, so Alma needs to clarify that the word “compass” was different to Lehi (between 600 B.C. and 580 B.C.) than it was to the people during Alma’s time (73 B.C.)

And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness” (1 Nephi 16:10)

And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness” (Alma 37:39)

And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director-or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it” (Alma 37:38)

And it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work” (1 Nephi 18:12)

And the ball or director, which led our fathers through the wilderness, which was prepared by he hand of the Lord that thereby they might be led, every one according to the heed and diligence which they gave unto him” (Mosiah 1:16)

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them” (1 Nephi 16:28)

d) CORIANTUMR AND THE BOOK OF ETHER:

The following are references to characters, events and prophecies found in the first half of the Book of Mormon (The Book of Omni) that were mentioned in the latter-half of the Book of Mormon (the Book of Ether).

And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God. 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. It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people; and the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward” (Omni 1:20-22)

Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr” (Ether 13:21)

e) ZORAM (AND ZORAMITES, JACOBITES, JOSEPHITES): References to the origin of Zoram as well as the use of the name “Zoramites,” “Josephites”, etc.

I am Ammoron, and a descendant of Zoram, whom your fathers pressed and brought out of Jerusalem” (Alma 54:23)

And it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake. Now Zoram was the name of the servant; and he promised that he would go down into the wilderness unto our father. Yea, and he also made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth” (1 Nephi 4:35)

Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three disciples of Jesus who should tarry) were called Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites” (4 Nephi 1:37)

And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites…” (4 Nephi 1:39)

Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites” (Jacob 1:13)

f) THE SWORD OF LAMAN: Another object that is mentioned briefly in the latter half of the Book of Mormon, but then has its origin revealed in the first half, which was translated last.

And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us” (2 Nephi 5:14)

and also the plates of Nephi: and also, the sword of Laban, and the ball or director…” (Mosiah 1:16)

g) ZARAHEMLA AND THE MULEKITES: There is a lot of significant material found in the following passages. First, the people of Mosiah, upon fleeing from the land of Nephi, find the people of Zarahemla, who were descendants of Mulek, a son of King Zedekiah. These people lived northward of the original landing of Lehi. There is remarkable consistency found throughout the Book of Mormon of the identity of the people of Zarahemla, the identity of Mulek, and the location of which they landed.

and they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla. And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla…Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon” (Omni 1:13-15)

My son, I would that ye should make a proclamation throughout all this land among all this people, or the people of Zarahemla, and the people of Mosiah who dwell in the land, that thereby they may be gathered together…” (Mosiah 1:10)

Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those that were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness” (Mosiah 25:2)

And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of who bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30)

Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was callled Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah, for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10)

And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem?” (Helaman 8:21)

h) GEOGRAPHY: It is remarkable that the geography of the Book of Mormon is so well-established, especially since the initial translation of the latter half of the Book of Mormon (Book of Mosiah) begins after the Nephites have already left the land of Nephi and merged with those of the land of Zarahemla, which was northward. In Mosiah 7 the people decide to travel back to the land of Nephi to see what happened to those who traveled there under the command of Zeniff.

Land of Nephi:

And my people would that we should call the name of the place Nephi; wherefore, we did call it Nephi” (2 Nephi 5:8, after separating from the Lamanites)

“Mosiah, who was made king over the land of Zarahemla; for behold, he being warned of the Lord that he should flee out of the land of Nephi, and as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord…“(Omni 1:12)

And Ammon took three of his brethren, and their names were Amaleki, Helem, and Hem, and they went down into the land of Nephi” (Mosiah 7:6)

Land of Zarahemla/Land Northward:

And they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla” (Omni 1:14)

And the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward” (Omni 1:22)

And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30)

Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10) This may also suggest that the original place of landing by the Nephites was called the Land of Lehi, then after the death of Lehi and the separation of the Nephites and the Lamanites, the people named the land Nephi, after Nephi, their current leader (see Alma 8:7)

i) SEED OF JOSEPH: 

Behold, we are a remnant of the seed of Jacob, yea, we are a remnant of the seed of Joseph, whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces” (Alma 46:23)

And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt…” (1 Nephi 5:14)

These are just a few examples of the narrative consistency between the latter portion of the Book of Mormon (Mosiah-Moroni) and the first portion (1 Nephi-Words of Mormon). These suggest a detailed and well-thought narrative was made in order to write the Book of Mormon half-way into the narrative and then back-reference events and quotes that had not yet been written. Of course, I believe that this provides evidence that the Book of Mormon was a divine translation of an ancient record.

“Thus Saith The Lord:” Calling into Question Beliefs of How Revelation Should Be Received.

I have decided to examine some examples of prophets recording the word of the Lord in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Many critics argue that modern-day LDS revelations, some of which have gone through grammatical and textual changes, are false revelations. They argue that because the revelations are not perfect or went through revisions, then they are not the words of the Lord. Essentially, critics demand that revelations be written in perfect form, without revision, and in one sitting. As far as I know, the assumption that revelations from the Lord must be written in one sitting without change or revision is not based on any Biblical or historical evidence. I will argue that there is absolutely no reason to suggest that when a prophet says “Thus saith the Lord” that every word that comes out of his mouth is what exactly what the Lord said, down to the last exclamation point. The Bible and Book of Mormon are shrouded in mystery on the subject of how revelations are recorded, so I do not claim to know for a surety how revelation is received and recorded in ancient scripture. What I do hope to do is help the reader understand the possibility that when we are criticizing modern-day revelations that we are doing so based on our own assumptions of what revelation should be and not what it actually is as presented in ancient scripture. All of the points I make and questions I ask are pure speculation and are not meant to provide conclusive evidence of how revelation is received. I ask these rhetorical questions because I want to show that the nature of recording prophetic revelations are seldom brought to light in ancient scripture, and unfortunately our own assumptions tend to fill the void. (I will be citing from the King James Version of the Bible and the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon)

Before I begin, I would like to ask some rhetorical questions to help set the stage to challenge assumptions about ancient and modern day revelation:

  1. Do prophets in the Bible and Book of Mormon, when quoting the Lord, literally quote him word for word?
  2. What happens when the voice of the Lord comes to a prophet when they do not have a quill and parchment on hand? Do they  write what they heard the Lord say according to their memory?
  3. Did the prophets wait for the Lord to speak to them, and then literally write down every single word that the Lord spoke in real time?
  4. If prophets write the words of the Lord according to their memory, does that mean that there would be human errors in the revelation? Does the Holy Ghost prevent errors from being made?

I will begin by examining some examples of the Lord commanding his prophets to write his words as found in the Book of Mormon. The following examples have helped strengthen my testimony in the revelations from the Lord through Joseph Smith because it has helped me break down my own assumptions about the nature of recording prophetic revelation.

EXAMPLE #1: The first example is of the Brother of Jared in the Book of Ether.The Brother of Jared has a miraculous vision of the Spiritual Lord Jesus Christ when the Lord touches clear stones in order to provide light in the Jaredite barges. The Brother of Jared quotes the Lord in Ether 3:7,9,11,13-16,21-24. According to Moroni, who abridged the Book of Ether, these writings are much longer, but he is forbidden to write them down (v. 17).

The Brother of Jared quotes the Lord for many verses, and yet he had the vision while he was at the top of a mountain without means to write down what he heard. It is after he has the marvelous vision that the Lord commands him to descend and write down what he saw and heard (Ether 4:1). We do not know by what means he wrote down this miraculous and lengthy vision. It is possible that he wrote it all according to his memory or was guided by the Holy Ghost. It is possible that he wrote it in one sitting without revision, or he wrote it, and revised it several times before being satisfied with it. All of these options are pure speculation.

The prophet Moroni, in Ether 4, then goes on to say that the Lord spoke to him and commanded him to write the words of the Brother of Jared, and he quotes the Lord’s commandment in verses 6-19. In Ether 5:1, Moroni may give us a clue as to what actually happens (on at least this one occasion) when a prophet writes down the words of the Lord. He states: “And now I, Moroni, have written the words which were commanded me, according to my memory; and I have told you the things which I have sealed up…” If Moroni is referring to the words of the Lord in verses 6-19, then the words that are spoken by the Lord may not be word for word what was spoken to Moroni, but rather the words of the Lord as he remembered to the best of his ability.

EXAMPLE #2: The second example I will offer from the Book of Mormon comes from the writings of 1 Nephi. Nephi is commanded to write a record on two separate sets of metal plates (1 Nephi 19:1) after he and his family arrive in the Americas, about 11 years (589 B.C.) after they left Jerusalem. Previous to writing on the plates of ore, Nephi experiences miraculous visions of angels and of the Spirit of the Lord. Specifically, Nephi has the vision of the tree of life and his interactions with the Spirit of the Lord and an angel are found in 1 Nephi 11-14. This vision comprises 12 pages of dialogue between Nephi, the Spirit of the Lord, an angel, as well as physical descriptions of what Nephi saw. While it is possible that, shortly after having them, Nephi wrote down his visions on another source, such as parchment. However, Nephi does not begin to write down his experiences on the plates of ore until nearly 11 years after his experiences. It is possible that Nephi is writing according to his memory, and thus the words of the Lord are not the exact words spoken, but nevertheless they are the doctrines and events that the Lord commanded to be written. Other examples of Nephi receiving the word of the Lord prior to making the small and large plates include 1 Nephi 2:19-24 and 1 Nephi 17:53.

EXAMPLE #3: The third example I will give of prophets writing the words of the Lord well after receiving them comes from Helaman 10. Nephi has decided to return home after validating a prophecy he made about the murder of the Chief Judge. Helaman 10:2-3 states: “And it came to pass that Nephi went his way towards his own house, pondering upon the things which the Lord had shown unto him… And it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him…” The Lord then speaks for 8 verses or 289 words. What happens after he hears the voice of the Lord is important to consider when understanding the nature of recorded revelations. It states in verse 12: “when the Lord had spoken these words unto Nephi, he did stop and did not go unto his own house, but did return unto the multitudes…to declare unto them the word of the Lord which had been spoken unto him.” In verse 12, we find that Nephi did not receive this revelation in his home, at his desk, with a parchment, quill, and ink to write down the exact words of the Lord. He instead turned around and returned to the city to preach the words of the Lord, and then he or someone else wrote the words afterwards. Just how he went about writing the words of the Lord—whether by memory, the Holy Ghost, or some other means—we are not sure.

EXAMPLE #4: The revelations of Isaiah and the words of Moses in Exodus are hardly put through as much scrutiny by Christians as are the revelations of Joseph Smith. Yet the words of Isaiah and Moses are similar to that of Joseph Smith’s revelations in that they claim to quote the Lord (“saith the Lord”) and they do so uninterrupted for many pages. Unlike the revelations of Joseph Smith, some of which were received and recorded in the presence of witnesses, we know very little about when or how the revelations of Isaiah and Moses were written. In Isaiah 1, Isaiah writes claiming that what he writes are the words of the Lord himself (“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” Isaiah 1:18). This chapter is two pages long in the KJV Bible. What we don’t know about this chapter, as well as other verses in Isaiah quoting the Lord (see Isaiah 7:3-9, Isaiah 6:1,3-10,12), is how this revelation was recorded. Did Isaiah make several revisions of his account? Did he receive the revelation and simultaneously write it down, or did he record it hours, days, or years after the fact? Did the Holy Spirit give him power to remember the exact words spoken to him, or did he record it to the best of his knowledge? Those who criticize the revelations of Joseph Smith do so without understanding that prophets such as Isaiah may have used the exact same methods to produce their writings, such as recording from their memories or making multiple revisions. If it were somehow proven that Isaiah made multiple revisions of his writings and wrote the words of the Lord according to his memory then critics would not have ammunition to criticize LDS revelations. What we do know about ancient prophecies, however, is that we don’t know much about them.

The writings of Moses are also very similar to the revelations given by Joseph Smith because he also claims to quote the Lord God and often records the words of the Lord after he has heard them. In Exodus 19, the Lord is quoted on several occasions. We know he is quoting the Lord because in verse 3 it reads “And the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob” and in verse 9 it reads “And the Lord said unto Moses…” and he goes on to quote the Lord. (see Exodus 19:3-6, 9-13,20-22,24). Most of Exodus 20 also quotes the Lord, as well as all of chapters 21-23. In Exodus 24 it is suggested that Moses came down out of the mountain, after receiving chapters 20-23 from the Lord, spoke these commandments to Israel, and then wrote them down after he had spoken them to the people. It would be a superhuman feat for Moses to have copied the exact words of the Lord (nearly 7 pages in the KJV) without divine help after having spoken them to the House of Israel. Seldom do Christians question this accomplishment, some of whom believe the Bible to be the perfect word of God. We do not know exactly how this revelation was received or recorded. Similar to the questions asked previously about the revelations of Isaiah, I would like to ask again: did Moses write down the exact words of God? Did he bring a quill and parchment to write word for word the commandments of the Lord on the mountain? Did he write according to his memory, or did the Holy Spirit expand his memory to perfection? Did he make multiple revisions to these revelations, or did he write them perfectly, in one draft and in one sitting?

Once again, the point I am making is that we know very little about how ancient prophets recorded the words of the Lord. How much do we put our perceptions of what revelation “should be” on what revelation actually is? Since we know very little about how the word of the Lord was received in ancient times, it is unreasonable for us to challenge modern-day revelations according to our unfounded beliefs of how revelation from the Lord should be received.

Further Arguments Against View of the Hebrews as Source Material for the Book of Mormon

Most of what is used as evidence in “View of the Hebrews” (VOTH) is not new material. Ethan Smith bases almost all of his assertions off of previously published materials. A list of cited authors can be found just after the table of contents on page 6. There are at least 48 authors who are cited thoughout VOTH, and many more not included in the table of contents. The point of listing all of these outside sources cited by Ethan Smith is to show that it is extremely difficult to suggest that Joseph Smith used VOTH as a source of inspiration for writing the Book of Mormon (BOM). If VOTH never existed, it could still be argued that Joseph Smith borrowed ideas from any of the other 40+ sources cited in VOTH. Once multiple source materials show that the same ideas and information have been circulated for decades, then the argument that any one document served as inspiration for another work of literature falls apart. I will be referring to the VOTH found in http://www.thechristianidentityforum.net/downloads/View-America.pdf

Below is a list of authors cited in VOTH. This list is found after the table of contents. Many of these authors argue that the Native Americans are the lost ten tribes of Israel, and many of these authors provide evidence of Hebrew origins found in Native American traditions:

“Adair, 80,84,88,89,92,95,98.

Archaelogia Americana, page

Bartram, 113,123-125.

Beatty, 96,98,116,119.

Boudinot, 87,91,93,96,98,100.

Buttrick , 130.

Carver, 123,154.

Casas, 176.

Chapman, 123,157.

Charlevoix, 85,174.

Clavigero, 116.

Colden, 94,109.

Columbus, 132.

Commissioners, 137.

Cushman, 105,174.

Dodge & Blight, 104. 174, 175.

Don Alonzo de Erici lla, 158.

Edwards, 86,89,162.

Esdras, 74.

Frey , 118.

Giddings, 88,102.

Gook in, 107.

Hebard, 101. 154.

Heckewelder, 107. Some of his

arguments, 147-

Herman, 140. 112,116,121,123.

Humboldt, 177.

Hunter, 162 188.

Hutchinson, 93,174.

Immanuel de M oraez, 97.

Jarvis, 79,116,120,123-125,133,134.

Lewis & Clark, 106,124.

Long, 141,160.

M’ Kenzie, 97,114,115, 138.

Mather, 127.

Melverda & Acasta, 162.

Morse, 91,126,142.

Occum, 106.

Pedro de Cicca, 88.

Penn, 107,174.

Pixley, 111,113,130.

Pratz, 87,175.

Robertson, 153.

Sauard, 92.

Schoolcraft, 145.

Smith, (C ol.) 117,126,134,136.

Ulloa, 83.

Williams, (Roger) 107

Williams, 88,101,110,114”

To gain a better understanding of just how heavily Ethan Smith relies on previously published works, here are just a few examples of how he cites other works in VOTH:

“Manasses Ben Israel, in a work entitled “The Hope of Israel,” has written to show that the American Indians are the ten tribes of Israel.” (p. 33) [p. 81]

“The main pillar of his evidence is James Adair, Esq. Mr. Adair was a man of established character, as appears from good authority. He lived a trader among the Indians, in the south of North America, for forty years. He left them and returned to England in 1774, and there published his “History of the American Indians;” and his reason for being persuaded that they are the ten tribes of Israel.” (p. 33)

“Mr. Adair gives his opinion that the ten tribes, soon after their banishment from the land of Israel, left Media, and reached this continent from the north-west, probably before the carrying away of the Jews of Babylon.” (p. 33) [p. 81]

“In the “Star in the West,” published by the Hon. Elias Boudinot, LL. D. upon this subject, that venerable man says; “The writer of these sheets has made a free use of Mr. Adair’s history of the Indians; which renders it necessary that something further should be said of him. Sometime about the year 1774, Mr. Adair came to Elizabethtown, (where the writer lived,) with his manuscript…” (P. 34) [p. 84]

“Mr. Adair expresses the same opinion; and the Indians have their tradition, that in the nation from which they originally came, all were one colour” (p. 36) [p. 88]

“Du Pratz says, in his history of Louisiania [sic], “The nations of North America derived their origin from the same country, since at bottom they all have the same manners and usages, and the same manner of speaking and thinking.” (p. 36) [p. 88]

“In the course of their remarks they add; ‘To the testimonies here adduced by Doctor Jarvis, (i.e. that the Indians are the ten tribes of Israel,) might have been added several of our New England historians, from the first settlement of the country.’ Some they proceed to mention; and then add, that the Rev. Messrs. Samuel Sewall, fellow of Harvard College, and Samuel Willard, vice president of the same, were of opinion, that “the Indians are the descendants of Israel.” Doct. Jarvis notes this as an hypothesis, which has been a favorite topic with European writers; and as a subject, to which it is hoped the Americans may be said to be waking up at last.” (p. 32) [p. 80-81]

“Doctor Williams, in his history of Vermont says; ‘In whatever manner this part of the earth was peopled, the Indians appear to have been the most ancient, or the original men of America. They had spread over the whole continent, from the fiftieth degree of north latitude, to the southern extremity of Cape Horn. And these men every w here appeared to be the same race or kind of people. In every part of the continent, the Indians marked with a similarity of colour, features, and every circumstance of external appearance. Pedro de Cicca de Leon, one of the conquerors of Peru, and who had travelled [sic] through many provinces of America, says of the Indians; ‘The people, men and women, although there are such a multitude of tribes or nations, in such diversities of climates, appear nevertheless like the children of one father and mother.’” (p. 36) [p. 88-89]

“Their language appears clearly to be Hebrew. In this, Doctor Edwards, Mr. Adair, and others were agreed. Doctor Edwards, after having a good acquaintance with their language, gave his reasons for believing it to have been originally Hebrew. Both, he remarks, are found without prepositions, and are formed with prefixes and suffixes; a thing probably known to no other language” (p. 36) [p. 89]

“Mr. Faber remarks; “They (the Indians) call the lightning and thunder, Eloha; and its rumbling, Rowah, which may not improperly be deduced from the Hebrew word Ruach, a name of the third person of the Holy Trinity, originally signifying, the air in motion , or a rushing wind.” Who can doubt but their name of thunder, Eloha, is derived from a Hebrew name of God, Elohim?” (p. 38) [p. 93]

“Bartram informs; ‘We arrived at the Apalachnela town, in the Creek nation. This is esteemed the mother town sacred to peace. No captives are put to death, nor human blood spilt here.’” (p. 46) [p. 113]

“In the Archaeologia Americana, containing Transaction s and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society,’ published at Worcester, Mass. in 1820; are found antiquities of the people who formerly inhabited the western part of the United States.’ Of some of these I shall give a concise view, as additional arguments in favour of my theory…” (p. 76) [p. 188-189]

“The celebrated William Penn gives accounts of the natives of Pennsylvania, which go to corroborate the same point. Mr. Penn saw the Indians of Pennsylvania, before they had been affected with the rude treatment of the white people. And in a letter to a friend in England he thus writes of those natives; ‘I found them with like countenances with the Hebrew race; and their children of so lively a resemblance to them, that a man would think himself in Duke’s place, or Barry street in London, when he sees them.’” (p. 44) [p. 108]

There are many more authors and citations that I could list, but a brief perusal of VOTH by the reader would provide evidence enough that VOTH is hardly the first nor the last publication to provide information that is vaguely similar to the BOM. This is important information for believers of the Book of Mormon because it shows that broad parallels can be drawn between many different works of literature, and yet two works with somewhat similar (and contradictory) assertions can exist together coincidentally.

Exaggerated Similarities between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon (Part V)

SIMILARITY #6:  A SACRED BOOK LOST OR BURIED BY THE NATIVE AMERICANS

This similarity, like the others, fails to account for the complexity of the Book of Mormon and the contradictions between the two works. VOTH claims that the Native American tradition about a sacred book that was taken from them is similar to the Lost Tribes of Israel being exiled and fulfilling the prophecy of Amos 8:11-12. The BOM claims that the Nephites had brass plates that contained the writings of the prophets up until the reign of Zedekiah and were used to preserve the commandments of God and preserve the language of the people while in the Americas. I will now give a more in-depth analysis of the differences between the two works to show that Joseph Smith did not copy Ethan Smith’s work.

VOTH states:“Doctor Boudinot gives it as from good authority, that the Indians have a tradition ‘that the book which the white people have was once theirs. That while they had this book things went well with them; they prospered exceedingly; but that other people got it from them; that the Indians lost their credit; offended the Great Spirit, and suffered exceedingly from the neighboring nations; and that the Great Spirit then took pity on them, and directed them to this country” (Smith,1825, http://www.thechristianidentityforum.net/downloads/View-America.pdf, p. 47 [p. 115]). This tradition, according to VOTH, is no doubt proof that the Native Americans have a memory of their time in ancient Israel and their being exiled. Because of their wickedness, they lost the word of God and were attacked by the surrounding nations, but God had mercy on them and directed them to the Americas.

This quote comes as an isolated paragraph in a long list of “evidence” proving that Native American traditions have their origin in ancient Israel. He continues by stating that the Native Americans have traditions of the “longevity of the ancients” (p. 47) [p. 115] such as Adam and Methuselah, that there was a great flood and those who survived built “a great canoe” (p. 48) [p. 116], that they built a high place and “lost their language” (p. 48) [p. 116], that their ancestors “had a common father” with “twelve sons”, like the Biblical Jacob (p. 48) [p.116], that they had a “sanctified rod, which budded in one night’s time” like the rod of Moses (p. 48) [p. 116], they have feasts similar to pentecostal feasts (p. 48) [p.116-117], they never eat the “hollow of the thigh” of what they kill (p. 48) [p. 117], they give the first of their harvests to the Great Spirit (p. 49) [p. 119], they offer burnt sacrifices (p. 49) [p. 119-120], they have traditions of Abel being murdered by Cain (p. 49) [p. 120-121], they have a high priest who wears sacred ornaments and is anointed with bear’s oil (p. 49) [p. 121], the high priest makes a yearly atonement for sin (p. 50) [p. 121], they fast, abstain from sex and purify themselves before going to war (p. 50) [p. 122], they bury their dead with their fine belongings (p. 51) [p. 125], etc. Based on these descriptions from VOTH, it seems that Ethan Smith is using a shot-gun approach to find every single Native American tradition that bears any similarity to the traditions of ancient Israel. It is no wonder, then, that the Book of Mormon and VOTH would deal with such similar subject matter, even though they are completely separate and unique works.

Ethan Smith argues that the Native American traditions of a sacred book that was taken from them is in fulfillment of Amos 8:11 about the Lost Tribes of Israel having a famine of “hearing the words of the Lord.” He never argues that the Natives had the Old Testament with them in the Americas, but that these traditions refer to their time spent in ancient Israel (p. 47) [p. 115].

Ethan Smith gives more details about this Native American tradition:

It has been stated that the Indians have a tradition that as they once, away in another country, had the old divine speech, the book of God; they shall at some time have it again, and shall then be happy” (p. 53) [p. 130]. Once again, VOTH argues that the Native Americans believed they had a sacred book in their homeland, and not in the Americas.

Not only does VOTH argue that the Natives are referring to the Bible that was taken away from the Ten Tribes of Israel when they became exiled, but he also argues that the Native Americans may have had Jewish Phylacteries that were worn on the forehead in ancient Israel. He states:

An old Indian informed him that his fathers in this country had not long since had a book which they had for a long time preserved. But having lost the knowledge of reading it, they concluded it would be of no further use to them; and they buried it with an Indian chief” (p. 90) [p. 223]. Ethan Smith goes on to argue that this preserved book may have been Phylacteries, or pieces of parchment that were worn on the forehead which contained select verses from the books of Moses. Ethan Smith then goes on to argue that such a phylactery may have been found in his present day, but they somehow were misplaced by those who found it.

Ethan Smith describes the phylacteries further: “The writer conversed with Rev. Mr. Frey (the celebrated Jewish preacher in this country) upon this subject; who could give no account of the incident from any Jewish custom. He in formed that the Jew s have a custom of burying their leaves of phylacteries when  worn out and illegible; as they had also any old leaf of a Hebrew bible. They would
roll it up in some paper, and put it under ground from respect. But these leaves were w hole and good, and w ere sewed up (as has been stated) in thick raw hide, and with the sinews of some animal; a thing which no Jew in Christendom would have done.” (p. 90) [p. 222]. The description bears no resemblance to the origin of the Book of Mormon or the Brass Plates, nor any of the other records mentioned in the Book of Mormon or LDS history.

We conclude then the wearing of these phylacteries was a noted custom in Israel at the time of their final expulsion from Canaan. And it is natural to believe that Israel, being in exilement, would preserve these fragments of their better days with the utmost care. Wherever they went then, they would have these phylacteries with them. If they brought them to this country, they would keep them with diligence. They would most naturally become some of the most precious contents in their holy ark…old Indian in Stockbridge to Dr. West, that his fathers had buried, not long ago, a book which they could not read. And it may give a striking view of the vigilant care of the Watchman of Israel, who never slumbers…to bring to light that outcast people, who were to be exhibited to the world in the last days” (p. 90-91) [p. 223-225]. The fact that the Lost Tribes of Israel had the writings of Moses before being exiled, and that the Native Americans may have had Jewish Phylacteries shows that this similarity is nothing like the sacred records spoken of in the Book of Mormon.

The Brass Plates most resemble the supposed ancient Native American traditions, but the similarities are very broad and do not suggest that ideas had to have been stolen from VOTH in order to write the BOM. The Brass Plates found in the BOM are a complicated record different from anything described by VOTH. The two accounts of sacred books differ significantly in time, location, content, and purpose.

Lehi was commanded to get the Brass Plates from Jerusalem. “For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.” (1 Nephi 3:3). This occurred around 600 B.C. which was after the expulsion of the Ten Tribes.

Plates of Brass contain (1 Nephi 5:10-16):

  1. The “five books of Moses,” gave an account of creation, Adam, and is a record of the Jews to the reign of Zedekiah
  2. The prophecies of Jeremiah
  3. A genealogy of Lehi’s and Laban’s fathers
  4. Lehi prophesies that the Brass Plates will go to all the nations of his seed: “These plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindred, tongues, and people who were of his seed. Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time…insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children.” (1 Nephi 5)
  5. The Brass Plates are similar to the Bible but the Brass Plates have more records. (1 Nephi 13:23) “The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews…and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many
  6. Nephi took the sacred records with him when his people fled from the Lamanites: (2 Nephi 5:12)= “And I, Nephi, had also brought the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass; and also the ball, or compass…
  7. The Brass Plates were important in preserving the language of the people. (Omni 1:14)= “And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla. Now, there was great rejoicing among the people of Zarahemla; and also Zarahemla did rejoice exceedingly, because the Lord had sent the people of Mosiah with the plates of brass which contained the record of the Jews.
  8. They were written in the language of the Egyptians. (Mosiah 1:4)= “For he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings…

The Brass Plates refers to many scriptures and prophets that are not found in Bible: (1 Nephi 19)

  1. Prophecies of Joseph: There will be a remnant of his seed that will be preserved. A seer will be raised with the same name.
  2. 3 Nephi 10:17= “Behold, our father Jacob also testified concerning a remnant of the seed of Joseph. And behold, are not we a remnant of the seed of Joseph? And these things which testify of us, are they not written upon the plates of brass which our father Lehi brought out of Jerusalem?
  3. Prophecies of Jacob: Saw a ripped portion of Joseph’s coat, which had been preserved, and prophesied that a righteous branch would be preserved while the rest would be destroyed.
  4. Prophecies of Zenos: Christ will be buried in a sepulcher/three days of darkness which would be a sign of his death to those on the Isles of the sea. (Alma 33:13) “Ye must believe what Zenos said; for, behold he said: Thou has turned away they judgments because of they Son.”
  5. (Alma 33:3-11) Prophecies of Zenock: God will come to earth and will be killed by wicked and will be raised up/ (Alma 33:16) “For behold, he said: Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou has bestowed upon them because of thy Son…and because the people would not understand his words they stoned him to death.
  6. Prophecies of Neum: Jesus will be crucified.
  7. Ezias: Prophesied of Christ, along with Zenos, Zenock, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.

In Summary:

VOTH lost book:

  1. Identified as possibly referring to the Phylacteries used by ancient Israelites.
  2. Identified as the Bible, but it was lost after the expulsion of the Ten Tribes from Canaan because of their wickedness.
  3. The ten tribes may have brought phylacteries to the new world.
  4. They forgot how to read them and then sealed them up in leather bags and buried them.
  5. They were written in Hebrew.
  6. They were most likely carried in small sacks, which is similar to the Ark of the Covenant.
  7. They were possibly written on old dark yellow parchment similar to Arab parchment (p. 91).

BOM Plates of Brass:

  1. 5 books of Moses
  2. Prophecies from Moses to Jeremiah and reign of King Zedekiah
  3. Genealogy of Lehi’s fathers
  4. Written on brass plates
  5. Written in Egyptian
  6. Additional prophecies from unknown prophets Zenos, Zenock, Neum, Ezias, and unknown prophecies from Joseph and Jacob.
  7. Prophets prophesied of Jesus Christ, his death, and his Resurrection.
  8. Brought from Jerusalem to the Americas.