The word series "north, south, east, west" was formulaic among the Nephites to mean omni directional 2 Nephi 29:11, Mosiah 27:6, Helaman 1:31. The terms "east" and "west" as a duo are coupled 13 times in the text. The order is always east to west from Alma 22:27 through Alma 50:11. Then from Alma 50:34 to 3 Nephi 1:17 the order reverses and is always expressed west to east. To wit:
Alma 22:27 ca. 90 B.C. sea on the east and on the west
Alma 22:27 ca. 90 B.C. sea east even to the sea west
Alma 22:27 ca. 90 B.C. from the east towards the west
Alma 22:29 ca. 90 B.C. from the east to the west
Alma 22:32 ca. 90 B.C. from the east to the west sea
Alma 22:33 ca. 90 B.C. from the east unto the west sea
Alma 50:8 ca. 72 B.C. from the east sea to the west
Alma 50:11 ca. 72 B.C. in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west
-- Textual turning point --
Alma 50:34 ca. 68 B.C. on the west and on the east
Helaman 3:8 ca. 46 B.C. from the sea west to the sea east
Helaman 4:7 ca. 35 B.C. from the west sea, even unto the east
Helaman 11:20 ca. 16 B.C. from the sea west to the sea east
3 Nephi 1:17 ca. A.D. 1 from the west to the east
What is going on here? The text is telling us that in the ca. 72 B.C. time frame, the Nephite nation, having settled lands from the river all the way to the east coast, changed its focus from an eastward orientation to a westward outlook as the land northward assumed a much greater role in Nephite affairs. We are seeing the first manifestation of a 1) Sidon 2) east then 3) west pattern.
This semantic shift is even more impressive when you realize that 5 of the 13 east, west couplets are describing features that are probably clustered within 30 kilometers of each other in the area along the west coast where the Sierra Madre reaches almost to the Pacific. Click to enlarge.
|Cluster of proposed Nephite geographic referents along the west coast|
near the modern boundary between Oaxaca and Chiapas
|Narrow strip of wilderness (green) ran from the east sea to|
the west sea with the head of Sidon roughly at its midpoint
|Eastern portion of the narrow strip of wilderness running|
in a straight course from the east sea to the west
- Nephite military forces for the first time drove Lamanites out of the wilderness west of the central Sidon corridor
- The Nephites began fortifying the east west dividing line - the northern part of the narrow strip of wilderness that separated the Nephites on the north from the Lamanites on the south
- for the first time, the narrow strip of wilderness was characterized as running from the west sea eastward to the head of Sidon rather than from the east sea westward
- the Nephites for the first time had now begun to inhabit not only the land Bountiful but also the land northward beyond Bountiful. Alma 46:17 ca. 73 B.C. confirms that the Nephites by this time had settled the land Bountiful.
- While the greater land of Nephi extended westward to the west sea, the greater land of Zarahemla did not. The west wilderness, full of idle Lamanites living in tents, was explicitly west of the greater land of Zarahemla Alma 22:28. The land of Melek was in the central Sidon corridor west of the river with nothing but wilderness west of Melek Alma 8:3.
- While the Lamanites in the west wilderness were exploiting a Nephite settlement vacuum, the Lamanites in the east wilderness had been explicitly driven there by the Nephites' eastward expansion Alma 22:29.
- With the exception of their defensive garrison on the west coast Alma 22:33 the Nephites had not yet inhabited the land Bountiful Alma 22:29.
In the greater land of Zarahemla, the Nephites settled:
- first, the river Sidon corridor beginning ca. 200 B.C.
- second, the east with settlement well underway by ca. 90 B.C. The second wave of eastern expansion near the east sea was going strong with the establishment of the land of Jershon by ca. 77 B.C. By ca. 72 - 67 B.C. there were many cities up and down the east coast.
- third, the west, beginning ca. 72 B.C.
This map shows the first Nephite settlements in the river Sidon corridor, a single defensive outpost in the land Bountiful beside the west sea, and the beginnings of eastward expansion along the San Pedro river as per point #1 above.
|Nephite lands (in white) ca. 90 B.C. either |
explicitly attested or inferred in the text
|Nephite lands (in white) ca. 67 B.C.|
explicitly attested in the text
|Nephite lands (in white) ca. 66 B.C. attested in the text|
We can corroborate the Nephite settlement pattern outlined above by plotting the long string of Lamanite invasions and other military actions in and near the greater land of Zarahemla. These hostilities are organized in ascending chronological order from the time period ca. 200 B.C. when Mosiah1 first entered the local land of Zarahemla through the time period ca. 31 B.C. when the Lamanites permanently occupied the south half of the greater land of Zarahemla. In the Book of Mormon Model dated August 21, 2012 or later, these 35 military actions are in the battles folder labelled Z1 through Z35, the "Z" designation meaning the greater land of Zarahemla.
- King Benjamin, local land of Zarahemla & probably land of Minon, ca. 150 B.C. Omni 1:24, Words of Mormon 1:13-14
- Amlicites, hill Amnihu in land of Gideon, ca. 87 B.C. Alma 2:15-19
- Lamanites + Amlicites, local land of Zarahemla via land of Minon, ca. 87 B.C. Alma 2:27-28
- Lamanites, land of Minon, ca. 87 B.C. Alma 3:20-23
- Lamanites + Amulonites, land of Ammonihah, ca. 81 B.C. Alma 16:2, Alma 25:2
- Lamanites + Amulonites, land of Noah, ca. 81 B.C. Alma 16:3
- Captain Zoram & Sons, wilderness south of land of Manti & east of Sidon, ca. 81 B.C. Alma 16:7-8
- Captain Zoram & Sons, wilderness south of land of Manti & east of Sidon, ca. 81 B.C. Alma 25:3
- Lamanites, location not specified, ca. 78 B.C. Alma 16:12
- Lamanites, east wilderness south of newly settled land of Jershon, ca. 77 B.C. Alma 28:1-3
- Zerahemnah (Lamanites + Zoramites + Amlicites (critical text emendation for "Amalekites"), southern border of Jershon & northern border of Antionum, ca. 74 B.C. Alma 43:18
- Zerahemnah, east of Sidon, south of land of Manti, ca. 74 B.C. Alma 43:36-38
- Zerahemnah, west of Sidon, south of land of Manti, ca. 74 B.C. Alma 43:41
- Amalickiah, wilderness south of the land of Manti, ca. 73 B.C. Alma 46:32
- Lamanites + Zoramites, city of Ammonihah, ca. 72 B.C. Alma 49:11
- Lamanites + Zoramites, city of Noah, ca. 72 B.C. Alma 49:21-23
- Morianton, narrow pass near the west sea Bountiful/Desolation border, ca. 68 B.C. Alma 50:33-35
- Amalickiah, cities of Moroni, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid & Mulek along the east seacoast, ca. 67 B.C., Alma 51:22-26. Note: the term "Nephihah" in Alma 51:26 is a known error in the text. Royal Skousen's critical text correctly emends this word to read "Moroni."
- Teancum, southern border of the land Bountiful near the east seacoast, ca. 67 B.C. Alma 51:28-31
- Ammoron, cities of Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni & Antiparah, ca. 66 B.C. Alma 56:13-14
- Helaman & Antipus, west sea area north of Antiparah, ca. 65 B.C. Alma 56:49-54
- Jacob, northwest of the city of Mulek near the east coast, ca. 64 B.C. Alma 52:31-36
- Helaman & Gid, Cumeni on the south western border of the greater land of Zarahemla, ca. 63 B.C. Alma 57:17-22
- Moroni, city of Gid on the east coast, ca. 63 B.C. Alma 55:20-23
- Helaman, Gid & Teomner, city of Manti on the extreme southern border of the greater land of Zarahemla, ca. 63 B.C. Alma 58:27-29
- Lamanites, city of Nephihah in the south eastern quarter of the greater land of Zarahemla, ca. 62 B.C. Alma 59:7-8
- Moroni & Parhoran (critical text emendation of "Pahoran"), north of the city of Nephihah, ca. 61 B.C. Alma 62:14-15
- Moroni & Parhoran, city of Nephihah, ca. 61 B.C. Alma 62:23-26
- Moroni, Lehi & Teancum, city of Moroni, ca. 61 B.C. Alma 62:38
- Moronihah, location not specified, ca. 53 B.C. Alma 63:15
- Coriantumr, city of Zarahemla, ca. 51 B.C. Helaman 1:19-20
- Moronihah & Lehi, north of the local land of Zarahemla, south of land Bountiful, ca. 51 B.C. Helaman 1:28-30
- Lamanites, all of the greater land of Zarahemla, Nephites driven into land of Bountiful, ca. 34 B.C. Helaman 4:5-6
- Moronihah, west sea to the east along a fortification line 1 day's journey in length, ca. 33 B.C. Helaman 4:7
- Moronihah, northern half of the former Nephite homelands in the greater land of Zarahemla, ca. 31 B.C. Helaman 4:9-10
|Military actions through ca. 78 B.C. Nephite victories|
are shown as red icons, Lamanite victories as blue
|Military actions through ca. 67 B.C. - central Sidon corridor,|
points east, and a single defensive outpost by the west sea
|Military actions through ca. 51 B.C. Nephite victories in red|
Lamanite victories in blue
|Military actions through ca. 33 B.C. when the Lamanites|
had conquered the entire greater land of Zarahemla
|Military actions through ca. 31 B.C. when the Nephites|
had regained one half of their former territory