- The Lehites chose the name 1 Nephi 17:5.
- It was a pleasant place of refuge from the desert 1 Nephi 17:6.
- Fruit, wild honey and meat from game were abundant 1 Nephi 17:5, 1 Nephi 18:6
- This was an ecological zone, not the result of human husbandry 1 Nephi 17:5.
- Construction grade timber was available 1 Nephi 18:1.
- Bountiful had a seacoast 1 Nephi 17:5.
- Mountains were part of the local topography 1 Nephi 17:7.
- It was at the margin of the Lehite known world. Beyond Bountiful lay terra incognita (and mare incognitum) 1 Nephi 17:13.
- Great revelations from God were received there 1 Nephi 17:8, 1 Nephi 18:3.
- One could build and launch an ocean-going ship there 1 Nephi 18:4, 1 Nephi 18:8.
- The Nephites named the land Bountiful Alma 22:29
- After being forcibly driven from their homes by Lamanite invaders, the Nephites took refuge in Bountiful Helaman 4:6.
- The text describes fruit Helaman 11:17 in Bountiful, the greater land of Zarahemla, and the greater land of Nephi, these three lands constituting "the whole face of the land" Helaman 11:18 both northward and southward Helaman 11:20 of the narrow strip of wilderness from the sea west to the sea east.
- Honey is never mentioned in The Book of Mormon in a New World context. However, the study of Maya exchange patterns has identified honey as a significant commercial commodity in antiquity.
|Principal sources of major Maya trade goods|
Continuing the characteristics of New World Bountiful that correspond with Old World Bountiful:
- Meat from game animals is attested in the text in both Jaredite Ether 10:21 and Nephite Alma 22:31 times.
- Bountiful is explicitly described as wilderness Alma 22:31 implying limited human impact.
- Hagoth's port was in Bountiful Alma 63:5. He built a small fleet of ships Alma 63:7 that carried people, provisions Alma 63:10 and construction grade timber Helaman 3:10 into the land northward.
- Hagoth's port, obviously, was on the seacoast, in this case the west sea Alma 63:5 by the land Desolation. The land Bountiful also had an east seacoast which the text makes explicit through association with Jershon Alma 27:22 and the city of Mulek Alma 52:17, Alma 51:26. (Note that the city of Nephihah mentioned in Alma 51:26 is a known error in the 1981 LDS text. Royal Skousen emends the unsupportable "Nephihah" to read "Moroni". See the blog article "Scribal Error" for additional information about this and other known errors in the 1981 LDS text. Alma 51:32 describes military action in Bountiful on the east seacoast.
- The New World Bountiful was predominantly coastal lowland, but it included or bordered higher elevation territory. We know this because Bountiful which was southward Alma 22:31 bordered the land Desolation which was northward Alma 22:31 and both were by a narrow pass that connected the lands southward and northward. On the Desolation side of this narrow pass, one was already in the land northward so the pass led into the land southward Mormon 3:5. On the Bountiful side of this narrow pass, one was in the land southward so the pass led into the land northward Alma 50:34, Alma 52:9.When the Nephite nation was in its final throes, General Mormon gathered all his people together on the Desolation side of this narrow pass, bordering Bountiful Mormon 3:5. The Lamanites controlled the area southward of the pass Mormon 2:29 which included Bountiful. When the Lamanites were the aggressors, invading Nephite lands, they always came down in elevation Mormon 3:7, Mormon 4:17, Mormon 4:19 to engage the Nephites whose city and land Desolation were near the seacoast Mormon 3:8. On the other hand, when the Nephites went on the offensive contrary to prophetic direction, the text consistently describes them going up in elevation to Lamanite-held territory Mormon 3:10, Mormon 3:14, Mormon 4:1. Therefore, the land Bountiful included or bordered upland territory.
|Elevations along the isthmian continental divide|
Continuing our analysis of the ways New World Bountiful mirrors Old World Bountiful:
- When Mormon described Nephite-held territory in the land southward at apogee ca. 65 B.C., Bountiful was on the northern frontier of Zarahemla's influence. Lands existed beyond Bountiful where Nephites and former Nephites resided, but they were so remote the Nephite record keepers pay them scant attention Alma 22:29, Alma 50:11, Alma 52:9. People left from Bountiful and were never heard from again Alma 63:8.
- The greatest revelation in Book of Mormon lands - the personal appearance of the resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - was received in Bountiful 3 Nephi 11:1-8.
- Many ocean-going ships sailed from Hagoth's port in Bountiful Alma 63:5-10.
New World Bountiful was one of four land southward geographic entities that were continental (sea to sea) in scope. The others were the greater lands of Nephi and Zarahemla and the narrow strip of wilderness. Bountiful had spatial relationships with many other Book of Mormon geographic referents highlighted below in yellow.
Analysis of Alma 22. In this, his principal topographic passage, Mormon describes the Nephite and Lamanite nations as they existed geographically ca. 90 B.C., the time when Ammon was teaching King Lamoni in the land of Ishmael and his brother Aaron was teaching King Lamoni's father in the local land of Nephi. Nephite settlement along the east and west seacoasts of the greater land of Zarahemla had not yet begun in 90 B.C. By ca. 77 B.C. the land of Jershon, associated with the east sea, appears for the first time in the text. That is followed by many other lands and cities in the ensuing years. By 65 B.C., the greater land of Zarahemla extended from coast to coast. See the blog article "Expansion of the Nephite Nation" for a series of maps showing the growth of the Nephite polity in their golden age.
- Alma 22:27 the terms all the land, all his people and all his land refer to the greater land of Nephi, those cities and lands subject to King Lamoni's father who was the Lamanite emperor ca. 90 B.C.
- Alma 22:27 the term all the regions round about also refers to the greater land of Nephi. Round about in the text describes territory wrapping or people moving in a circular fashion. In this case, the regions round about were part of King Lamoni's father's domain encircling the local land of Nephi Alma 22:1, capital of the Lamanite empire.
- Alma 22:27 the greater land of Nephi ran in a fairly straight line from the east sea to the west sea Alma 50:8. The east sea was also called the sea on the east and sea east. The west sea was also called the sea on the west and sea west.
- Alma 22:27 the greater land of Zarahemla was north of the east-west narrow strip of wilderness. The greater land of Nephi was south of the narrow strip of wilderness. The narrow strip of wilderness, like the greater land of Nephi, ran from the east sea to the west sea.
- Alma 22:27 the western edge of the narrow strip of wilderness curved, following the coastline of the west sea. This is the part of the narrow strip of wilderness that lay round about on the borders of the seashore.
- Alma 22:27 In the area where the narrow strip of wilderness curved, there was also some wilderness west of the greater land of Zarahemla. This wilderness was generally north of the narrow strip of wilderness like the greater land of Zarahemla was north of the narrow strip of wilderness.
- Alma 22:27 the narrow strip of wilderness running east-west through the borders of the land of Manti and by the head of river Sidon was the dividing line generally between Nephite held territory on the north and Lamanite lands on the south.
|Proposed Alma 22:27 correlation|
|Greater land of Zarahemla limited to settlements|
mentioned in the text by 81 B.C.
|Geographic distribution of Mormon settlements begun|
during Brigham Young's lifetime
Two schools of thought exist among Book of Mormon students regarding the interpretation of Alma 22:27. Most people think the phrase "running from the east towards the west" refers to the same narrow strip of wilderness that is the principal subject of the verse. Others think it refers to the river Sidon. If the river is what Mormon intended, he is probably describing the great bend of the Chixoy which does in fact flow westward for about 25 air kilometers at this point in its course before turning generally northward.
|Close up of proposed Manti - head of Sidon area|
showing east to west river flow
- Alma 22:28 Culturally benighted Lamanites lived in the wilderness on the west in the land of Nephi. This refers to wilderness by the west seacoast south of the narrow strip of wilderness included as part of the greater land of Nephi.
- Alma 22:28 Lamanites also lived in the wilderness west of the greater land of Zarahemla, by the west seacoast. Note the terminology distinction here. This wilderness was not part of the greater land of Zarahemla. In 90 B.C., the Nephites had not yet begun colonization of their east and west seacoasts.
- Alma 22:28 The wilderness on the west in the land of Nephi was near the land of first inheritance where the Lehites settled immediately after making landfall in the New World. This land of first inheritance was a coastal region, part of the greater land of Nephi.
- Alma 22:27-28 Four geographic referents formed a corridor along the west seacoast: 1) the land of first inheritance which was part of the greater land of Nephi, 2) the wilderness on the west in the greater land of Nephi, 3) the part of the narrow strip of wilderness that curved round about the borders of the west sea, and 4) the wilderness west of the greater land of Zarahemla.
|Proposed Alma 22:27-28 correlation|
- Alma 22:29 By ca. 90 B.C., the Nephites had begun their colonizing push eastward from their traditional homelands along the river Sidon. We know this because the text says they had driven the Lamanites all the way to the east by the seashore.
- Alma 22:29 With Lamanites in the west sea corridor, all through the greater land of Nephi south of the narrow strip of wilderness, and also along the east sea, the Nephites were surrounded on 3 sides by their enemies.
|Nephites in greater Zarahemla nearly surrounded|
by Lamanites ca. 90 B.C.
- Alma 22:29 With Lamanites on much of their perimeter, it is easy to understand why the Nephites were so jealous of all the northern parts of the land. This refers to the greater land of Zarahemla which lay north of the narrow strip of wilderness.
- Alma 22:29 We like V. Garth Norman's suggestion that the head of the river Sidon is the confluence of the Salama with the Chixoy-Negro where they come together to form the Chixoy. The narrow strip of wilderness that runs from the east sea to the west sea is the wilderness at the head of the river Sidon.
- Alma 22:29 the greater land of Zarahemla extended from the east to the west north of the narrow strip of wilderness. Note the precise language employed here. Greater Zarahemla at this time (ca. 90 B.C.) did not extend from the east sea to the west sea, just from the east to the west in keeping with the general directional sweep introduced in Alma 22:27.
- Alma 22:29 There are two possible interpretations of the area round about on the wilderness side on the north. Note that the critical text and the 1981 LDS text have very different punctuation in this phrase. The original Book of Mormon manuscript did not contain punctuation which causes some ambiguity when we connect dependent clauses with their referents. The wilderness side on the north may refer to the boundary between the greater land of Zarahemla and the areas not yet settled by Nephites west, south and east of Nephite territory. If that is correct, Mormon's concept of round about on the wilderness side on the north refers to Nephite territory north of the narrow strip of wilderness.
|One interpretation of greater Zarahemla's wilderness side|
north of the narrow strip of wilderness
|Another interpretation of greater Zarahemla's wilderness side|
north of the inhabited parts of Zarahemla itself
- Alma 22:29 In any event, the Nephites possessed the greater land of Zarahemla from the narrow strip of wilderness on the south to the land Bountiful on the north.
- Alma 22:30 The land Bountiful shared a border with the land Desolation.
- Alma 22:30 In Nephite affairs ca. 90 B.C., the land Bountiful was on the northern frontier of their terra cognita. Beyond Bountiful, even further northward, lay the land Desolation where the once populous Jaredite nation had fallen. Like Bountiful, Desolation was a symbolic idea as well as a bounded extension of territory. The ancient bones Mormon refers to were mentioned in Mosiah 8:8 and Mosiah 21:26. The mention in Omni 1:22 comes from the small plates of Nephi which Mormon had not yet incorporated into his record when he was abridging the book of Alma.
- Alma 22:30 the land which had been peopled and had been destroyed refers to a political entity that vanished rather than enduring terra firma.
- Alma 22:30 The land Desolation where the Jaredite nation met its end was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, commonly known as Mulekites. Mulek and his ocean-going emigrant party made their first landing in Desolation Helaman 6:10.
- Alma 22:31 After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Mulekites made landfall in the land northward but they didn't remain there very long. The land northward was also called the land on the northward, the land which was northward, the land north and simply the north.
- Alma 22:31 The Mulekites, aka the people of Zarahemla, traveled southward from their first landing point up into the south wilderness. The word up means they rose in elevation. Their most likely route into the wilderness was to sail upstream on a large river in the same water craft they had used to cross the ocean.
- Alma 22:31 The south wilderness where the Mulekites settled permanently was the land southward. The land southward was also called the land on the southward, the land south, and simply the south.
- Alma 22:31 The land Desolation, southernmost entity in the land northward, symbolically represented and sometimes eponymously referred to the entire land northward. Another symbolic name for the land northward was Muloch (critical text orthography) Helaman 6:10. The land Bountiful, northernmost entity in the land southward, symbolically represented and sometimes eponymously referred to the entire land southward. Another symbolic name for the land southward was Lehi Helaman 6:10.
- Alma 22:31 The land southward, aka south wilderness, had an abundance of game animals while the land northward in former times had supported large human populations Mosiah 8:8, Ether 10:21.
- Alma 22:32 Along the west seacoast, there was an east-west line between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation. We have previously established that the standard unit of measure for Nephite distance, one day's travel, was approximately 15 straight-line kilometers. See the blog article entitled "Land Southward Travel Times." This line between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation was 1.5 day's travel in length, about 22 - 23 air kilometers.
- Alma 22:32 The line between Bountiful on the south and Desolation on the north began at some unspecified point in the east and terminated at the west sea.
|Proposed east-west lines in the Bountiful - Desolation border area|
|23 kilometer long east-west lines running from the Sierra Madre|
to the Mar Muerto on the west coast
- Alma 22:32 The greater land of Nephi + the greater land of Zarahemla, representing the entire land southward, was largely coastal territory, nearly surrounded by water.
|Land southward nearly surrounded by water|
- Alma 22:32 A small neck of land lay between the land northward and the land southward.