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.