Can the Mississippi River be the River Sidon?
Can the Mississippi River Be the River Sidon?
by Joe V. Andersen
1. There was a narrow strip of wilderness that was mountainous and went from the east sea to the west sea.
3. The land of Zarahemla also extended from the east sea to the west sea but was lower in elevation and to the north of the narrow strip of mountainous wilderness.
4. Manti and the head of river Sidon were located up in the narrow strip of mountainous wilderness.
5. River Sidon flowed northward down from the narrow strip of mountainous wilderness flowing through the land of Manti and on down past the east side of the city of Zarahemla.
Alma 22:27 … [The land of Nephi] was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west,…through the borders of Manti, by the head of river Sidon, running from the east towards the west—and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided..
Alma 50:11…[Captain Moroni],…fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon—the Nephites possessing all the land northward.
Alma 50:8…And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west [sea].
Alma 2:15…the hill Amnihu, which was east of the river Sidon, which [river] ran by the land of Zarahemla… [this means that the river Sidon ran northward from its head in the narrow strip of wilderness past Zarahemla]
The following are additional scriptures from the Book of Mormon that show:
(1) That the narrow strip of wilderness that went from the east sea to the west sea was mountainous
(2) that Zarahemla was down from Manti and the head of Sidon
(3) that the river Sidon flowed northward
1. When Mosiah fled out of the land of Nephi, about 200 BC, Omni 1:12-13 states:
12...Mosiah...should flee out of the land of Nephi...and depart...into the wilderness [this could only have been the narrow strip of wilderness]...led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness UNTIL THEY CAME DOWN into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla.
2. In 90 BC Alma 17:7-9 states that when the sons of Mosiah returned to the land of Nephi:
"...they departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and took their swords...[etc]...that they might provide food for themselves while in the wilderness...and thus they departed into the wilderness [narrow strip of wilderness]...TO GO UP TO THE LAND OF NEPHI to preach the word of God unto the Lamanites."
3. In 81 BC Alma told captain Zoram where to find the Nephite captives taken from the city of Noah:
Alma 16:6… Alma returned and said unto them: Behold the Lamanites WILL CROSS THE RIVER SIDON IN THE SOUTH WILDERNESS [southern part of the narrow strip of wilderness], AWAY UP BEYOND THE BORDERS OF THE LAND OF MANTI. And behold there shall ye meet them, on THE EAST OF THE RIVER SIDON...
4. About 77 BC the Ammonites, camping near Manti, received word they would be going down to Jershon:
Alma 27: 22....Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which IS ON THE EAST BY THE SEA,
25....Ammon returned to the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, and also Alma with him, into the wilderness [the narrow strip of mountainous wilderness], where they had pitched their tents [near Manti], and made known unto them...
26...and it did cause great joy among them AND THEY WENT DOWN INTO THE LAND OF JERSHON”.
5. About 65 BC the Lamanites had captured Manti “up” in the narrow strip of wilderness. Helaman and his 2000 warriors were planning to retake Manti. Alma 56:24-25 states:
25. Neither durst they [Lamanites] march DOWN AGAINST THE CITY OF ZARAHEMLA; NEITHER DURST THEY CROSS THE HEAD OF SIDON, over to the city of Nephihah. [Nephihah was inland but near the east sea]
6. About 63 BC Helaman described the precarious conditions up in the western part of the narrow strip of wilderness. Helaman and his 2,000 sons had just retaken Antiparah and Cumeni and had too many prisoners:
Alma 57:16 : And now, in those critical circumstances, it became a very serious matter to determine concerning these prisoners of war; nevertheless, we did resolve to send them down to the land of Zarahemla; therefore we selected a part of our men, and gave them charge over our prisoners to go down to the land of Zarahemla.
7. In case there is any doubt that the narrow strip of wilderness that went from the east sea to the west sea was mountainous, the following is submitted. In the 18th year AD the Gadianton robbers were threatening the Lamanites in the land of Nephi and also the people in the land of Zarahemla. 3 Nephi 4:1 states:
And it came to pass that in the latter end of the eighteenth year those armies of robbers had prepared for battle, and began to come down and to sally forth from the hills, and out of the mountains, and the wilderness, and their strongholds, and their secret places, and began to take possession of the lands, both which were in the land south [land of Nephi] and which were in the land north [land of Zarahemla] [north and south of the narrow strip of wilderness] and began to take possession of all the lands which had been deserted by the Nephites, and the cities which had been left desolate.
There are many more scriptures that prove that the narrow strip of wilderness was mountainous: Helaman 11:31; 3 Ne.3:17; Omni 1:28; Alma 22:33-34 among others. If the narrow strip of wilderness was mountainous and went from the sea east to the sea west as described in the Book of Mormon, then of necessity the Sidon river flowed down from Manti northward past Zarahemla. There is not one piece of information in the Book of Mormon that indicates that the river Sidon flowed south from Zarahemla or that it flowed past the land of Nephi. Rod Meldrum disagrees saying: “to recap: The Sidon River in the Book of Mormon flowed past Zarahemla southward and ‘down’ toward Manti which was at the head or confluence…The ‘headwaters’ could refer to the confluence of present day Missouri and Mississippi rivers (www.bookofmormonevidence.org)”. In order to come to this flawed conclusion one must misconstrue what the Book of Mormon actually says and means.
MORE MISUNDERSTANDING OF SCRIPTURE
(The following is in response to Rod Meldrum’s answer to question No. 11 cited in www.BookofMormonEvidence.org. There are no page numbers or reference points that can be cited).
Alma 27:22-26 says "...Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which IS ON THE EAST BY THE SEA. 26...and it did cause great joy among them, AND THEY WENT DOWN INTO THE LAND OF JERSHON”.
The scripture does not say "on the east side of a sea." It says "on the east by the sea." This is a very important difference. “The sea” in this scripture clearly refers to the east sea . It is the same east sea where the narrow strip of mountainous wilderness ended. It is also where all those cities that Moroni had established were captured by Amalickiah when Moroni was diverted to Zarahemla to help restore the government to Pahoran. Alma 51:26 states:
“And thus he [Amalickiah, after he had captured the city of Moroni] went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah, 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.”
Jershon was south of the city of Moroni and just north of Antionum. Antionum was located next to the Lamanites near the east end of the narrow strip of wilderness. ALL OF THESE CITIES WERE ON OR NEAR THE EAST SEA, and not north of Manti.
Alma 30:3 states: ”Now the Zoramites had gathered themselves together in a land which they called Antionum, which was east of the land of Zarahemla, which lay nearly bordering upon the seashore, which was south of the land of Jershon, which bordered upon the wilderness south [south side of the narrow strip of wilderness near the east sea], which wilderness was full of the Lamanites. [This area was full of Lamanites because this is where Moroni had chased them out from the land of Zarahemla. Alma 50:7 says “Moroni…went forth and drove all the Lamanites who were in the east wilderness into their own lands, which were south of the land of Zarahemla].
Therefore, Jershon was not located on the “east side of a sea.” It was located on the west side of the east sea, or in other words, east of the land of Zarahemla bordering upon the east sea and north of the land of Antionum. Manti was located west of Antionum and Jershon. Manti was up in the narrow strip of wilderness. Manti was not located south of Antionum or anywhere near any sea.
B….Meldrum erroneously claims Jershon and Antionum were “north of the land of Manti which was to the south.” He cites Alma 16:6 which does not support his conclusion:
Alma 16:6 says…Behold, the Lamanites will cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti. And behold there shall ye meet them, on the east of the river Sidon.
Remember that Manti was located up in the narrow strip of wilderness and was south of Zarahemla. Jershon and Antionum were east of Zarahemla, east of the narrow strip of wilderness and on the east sea coast. How then could Manti have been south of Jershon and Antionum? If Manti was south of Antionum and if Antionum was on the east seashore and next to the east end of the narrow strip of wilderness which was full of Lamanites, then Meldrum’s construction of this scripture would place Manti in the land of Nephi instead of up in the narrow strip of wilderness, in direct contradiction to what the Book of Mormon says.
C…Meldrum states that the “Lamanites in Antionum turned away to the south toward the land of Manti.” He cites Alma 43. The Book of Mormon does not say this.
Alma 43:25 says …” [Moroni] took the remaining part of his army and marched over into the land of Manti.” (Where does Meldrum get “turned away to the south toward the land of Manti)?”
If Meldrum's logic were correct and Jershon and Antionum were north of Manti and both of these cities were on the east sea, then the placing of Manti south from there would have meant that Manti would have been located on the east seashore. Manti would, therefore, have been located in the area that was full of Lamanites in the Land of Nephi. Such a construction of Alma 43 is a contradiction to what the Book of Mormon says.
D…Meldrum misstates the Book of Mormon when he says that “Moroni…went down into Manti from their previous position in the land of Jershon.”
in my opinion, the conclusion that Manti is lower than Zarahemla, and that Alma 43:32 “the Nephite army under Moroni went ‘down into the borders of the land of Manti’ from their previous position in the land of Jershon and south towards the hill Riplah, into the land of Manti which was south and down.” and since Manti is south and lower than Zarahemla, therefore, the river Sidon flowed south past the land of Nephi is totally inaccurate and, to use Meldrum’s word, “nonsensical.”
Recall that the land of Jershon was on the east sea. How does one go down from the seashore? If the Nephite armies went “from their previous position in the land of Jershon and south” they would have bumped into the Lamanite army which was stationed in Antionum just south of Jershon. The truth is that Manti was located west of Antionum. Manti was also north of, and down from, the head of the River Sidon because the river Sidon was “a way up beyond the land of Manti in the narrow strip of wilderness.” Meldrum’s “nonsensical” manipulation of the scripture here is so important that I am going to quote the actual scripture so the reader can decide if this event that the scriptures are talking about could have happened anywhere on the Mississippi River. Alma 43:25-53 states:
25. Moroni, leaving a part of his army at Jershon [near the east sea], lest by any means a part of the Lamanites should come into the land and take possession of the city, took the remaining part of this army and marched over [westward] into the land of Manti [Had he gone south he would have encountered the Lamanite army at Antionum].
27. …Moroni caused that his army should be secreted in the valley which was near the bank of the river Sidon, which was on the west of the river Sidon in the wilderness [the narrow strip of wilderness].
31. He divided his army and brought a part over into the valley, and concealed them on the east, [east side of the river Sidon] and on the south of the hill Riplah;
32. And the remainder he concealed in the west valley, on the west of the river Sidon, and so down into the borders of the land Manti [the head of river Sidon is “a way up beyond the borders of Manti.]”
35. And as the Lamanites had passed the hill Riplah, and came into the valley, and began to cross the river Sidon, …[Lehi] led his army forth and encircled the Lamanites about on the east in their rear.
36. …when they saw the Nephites coming upon them in their rear, turned them about and began to contend with the army of Lehi.
39. …..The Lamanites became frightened,…even until they began to flee [back west] towards the river Sidon.
40. And they were pursued by Lehi…and were driven by Lehi into the waters of Sidon, and they crossed the waters of Sidon. And Lehi retained his armies upon the bank of the river Sidon that they should not cross.
41. Moroni and his army met the Lamanites in the valley, on the other side [west] of the river Sidon, and began to fall upon them and to slay them.
42. The Lamanites did flee again before them, [down] towards the land of Manti; and they were met again by the armies of Moroni (Manti was down from head of Sidon; Zarahemla was north of Manti therefore Sidon flowed north past Zarahemla).
51. The Lamanites were more numerous, yea by more than double the number of the Nephites; nevertheless, they were driven insomuch that they were gathered together in one body in the valley, upon the bank by the river Sidon.
52. …the armies of Moroni encircled them about, yea, even on both sides of the river, for behold, on the east were the men of Lehi.
53. Therefore when Zerahemnah saw the men of Lehi on the east of the river Sidon, and the armies of Moroni on the west of the river Sidon, that they were encircled about by the Nephites, they were struck with terror.
How could this battle have occurred anywhere on the Mississippi? How could Zerahemnah have seen Lehi on the east side of the Mississippi? Clearly the river Sidon flowed, from the area of the battle scene mentioned above, either north to Zarahemla or south to Nephi. It did not go through both lands and, therefore, the Mississippi River cannot be the river Sidon. Of course Sidon flowed north because Zarahemla was north of the head of Sidon.
Meldrum further reasons that the Mississippi flowed south to its confluence with Missouri and this became the head of Sidon (150 miles south of his proposed Zarahemla in Iowa). On his DVDS Meldrum changes the head of Sidon to the confluence of Ohio and Mississippi rivers 300 miles south of Iowa. How could the Lamanites in Manti, (located in the narrow strip of mountainous wilderness) even have thought to “march down against the city of Zarahemla 300 miles upstream on the Mississippi? It would be an even more contortuous manipulation of scripture to say, (assuming Manti was at the confluence of the Ohio River, 300 miles downstream from Zarahemla in Iowa) that the Lamanites “durst not march upstream against the city of Zarahemla.”
Either way, this misunderstanding of scriptures fails to recognize what the Book of Mormon clearly states that the head of Sidon was up from Zarahemla; that it was up from Jershon and Antionum; and that it was above “away up beyond” Manti in the narrow strip of wilderness. How could the confluence of any river on the Mississippi be the head of river Sidon when the head of river Sidon had to have been in the middle of a narrow strip of mountainous wilderness that ran from the east sea to the west sea according to the Book of Mormon?
Meldrum recognizes that the Book of Mormon “seems” to say that the land of Manti was on both sides of the river Sidon but he claims that that is “nonsensical.’ He says the “seemingly nonsensical placing of Manti on BOTH sides of the Sidon.” and reasons that Manti was east of Sidon when coming from Zarahemla but west of Sidon when approaching from the east wilderness, apparently proving that Manti was not on both sides of Sidon. Or he might have been reasoning that Manti was east of the Mississippi and west of the Ohio (or Missouri) at the confluence thus placing Manti in the middle?
This misunderstanding of scriptural facts completely violates the plain wording of the Book of Mormon. Remember that the Ammonites went down from Manti east to Jershon. And remember that Alma later said “the Lamanites will cross the river Sidon…away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti. These are the Lord’s choice of words. The river Sidon clearly began in the narrow strip of wilderness and flowed by Zarahemla. The river Sidon did not flow through the narrow strip of mountainous wilderness flowing past both Zarahemla and Nephi. To claim the Mississippi is the river Sidon is to deny what the Book of Mormon says with “definiteness, direction, and distance within the text.”
At page 30 of Prophecies, the authors (Meldrum and Porter) state;
…the words used within the text are not Joseph’s, but the Lord’s choice of words and the Lord’s translation for us……a study of “textual geography” should also look at the language and grammatical context especially of the words of direction and specificity. In other words, the “demonstratives” that give “definiteness”, “direction,” and “distance within the text.”
Not only do the authors not follow their own guidelines by not believing the Lord when he said that the head of river Sidon was ”away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti” but Meldrum construes the Lord’s choice of words of direction and specificity. When the Lord said that the land of Manti was on both sides of Sidon, Meldrum calls it “nonsensical”. The only thing nonsensical about all this is why Mosiah wandered so many days in the wilderness instead of simply taking a boat on the Mississippi and sailing directly “up” to Zarahemla. And why and how Limhi’s 43 scouts, instead of sailing from Nephi “up” to Zarahemla on the Mississippi, got lost and wandered all the way to Michigan (Jaredite lands?). Now that is “demonstratively” and with “definiteness,” “direction,” “distance” and “specificity” plainly “nonsensical.”
On page two of Prophecies, Joseph Fielding Smith is quoted: “Anything that Church authorities, -including Joseph Smith—have said about ‘Book of Mormon geography’ is irrelevant if it conflicts with what is in the Book of Mormon itself…” Joseph Smith stated “the Book of Mormon says what it means and means what it says.”
The “Lord’s words” in the Book of Mormon clearly say and mean that:
1. There was a narrow strip of mountainous wildness that ran from the east sea to the west sea.
2. Zarahemla was to the north and Nephi was to the south of that narrow strip of mountainous wilderness. Both of these lands went from the east sea to the west sea.
3. Manti was up in the narrow strip of wilderness. The head of Sidon was “away up and beyond Manti.”
4. The Lamanites in Manti “durst not march down against Zarahemla; neither durst they cross the head of Sidon. (Zarahemla cannot be up from Manti or up from the head of Sidon).,
5. The river Sidon flowed north from the narrow strip of mountainous wilderness down past Manti and on down past the east side of Zarahemla, Therefore, the Mississippi River cannot be the river Sidon of the Book of Mormon.
The Heartland Theory and the book, Prophecies and Promises, claim the Mississippi River is the river Sidon. The Mississippi river flows south. This theory directly “conflicts with what is in the Book of Mormon itself” Therefore, this claim is irrelevant and the Heartland Theory is fatally flawed.
Three websites that give accurate and helpful information are: BMAF.org, Maxwellinstitute.byu.edu, fairlds.org.
The above article is the sole responsibility of the author. The above organizations have nothing to do with this article.