The Mulekites And The Phonecian Connection
The Mulekites And The Phoenician Connection
by Douglas K. Christensen
In 1829, the Book of Mormon refuted this theory (for which it received immense scorn and ridicule) by describing three separate groups who had made transoceanic crossings to the “new world” (accepted by most LDS scholars as Mesoamerica or Central America) many centuries before Columbus. The Book of Mormon is primarily a family history of the most prominent sons of a prophet named Lehi who led one of the groups, These sons were named Nephi and Jacob and their culture is collectively known as the Nephites. Their history spans over one thousand years, from 600 BC to 450+ AD and occupies most of the Book of Mormon text. Today, the theory of transoceanic crossings to America is a hotly debated topic, and while the majority opinion still resides with the Beringia theory alone, more and more evidence points to transoceanic crossings.
The Book of Mormon also introduces us to a much earlier culture known as the Jaredites who left Babylonia sometime between the 19th and 20th centuries BC from the Tower of Babel. Because of the brevity of the Book of Mormon text regarding these people, little has been written about them in comparison to the Nephites. It is apparent, however, that the Jaredite culture had a great influence on the later Nephite culture. Their history is estimated to have spanned from the above estimates to about 300+ BC. Recently, some scholars have compared the Jaredites to the Olmec, a group who lived in Mesoamerica at the same time period and was the “mother culture” of later cultures such as the Maya, Zapotec, and much later the Aztecs.
Even more brief is the account of a surviving son of King Zedekiah, puppet King of Judah, set up by the conquering Babylonians. History tells us that Zedekiah had all his sons murdered in front of him and then blinded. The Book of Mormon account tells us that he had one son who escaped. He was named Mulek and was probably an infant (or perhaps in the womb) when, with some kind of entourage, left Jerusalem and arrived in Mesoamerica at approximately the same time as Lehi’s group (600 BC). This group is mentioned in the Book of Mormon only to briefly introduce the origins of a people living in a land/city named after their King (Zarahemla) who accepted the immigration of Mosiah1 and his righteous followers (Nephites) about 300 BC after they had fled their homeland, the Land/City of Nephi. Volumes have been written about the prophet Lehi and his descendants who arrived from Jerusalem sometime after 600 BC.
We don’t know what this group called themselves, being unnamed in the Book of Mormon, but we refer to them as Mulekites. This people had also been led by the hand of the Lord on their trans-oceanic crossing (Omni16), though they eventually denied their religion, had many wars between themselves and much of their language became corrupted. Later, a group of Nephites under the leadership of Mosiah(1) joined with, and culturally dominated them, though they were fewer in number. (Mosiah 25:2) Given that only direct descendants of Nephi could ascend to the throne of the combined peoples shows their cultural domination. (Mosiah 25:13)
Interestingly, there are several things that would seem to suggest that many of the Mulekites were Canaanitic Phoenicians. We are not the first to suggest a Phoenician connection to the Mulekites. Robert F. Smith suggested that the Mulekites got to America with Phoenician help.1 Hugh Nibley did also, noting that there are names in the Book of Mormon that may have Phoenician ties.2 We read in the Bible that early on, the Kings of Israel had political and friendship ties with the Kings of Sidon (Tsydon) and Tyre. Solomon made an alliance with King Hiram of Tyre, who supplied materials for Solomon's temple, as well as Hiram Abi (Abiff), the metal worker, who is at the core of the Freemasonic ritual. Hiram Abi's father was a Phonecian, and his mother was an Israelite. Why is this significant? Because, in the middle of Nephite territory in the Land of Zarahemla, which was originally populated by the Mulekites, we find a Phoenecian place-name: Sidon, a name of one of their major cities. Why would Jews come to name the principal river in their Territory after a Phoenecian capital unless they had Phoenecian influence among them? Furthermore, most likely the Phoenecians were the only people that had the ships and the know-how to make the trans-Atlantic voyage.
Who were these people, the Phoenicians? The Bible's Old Testament refers to "Canaanites" generically in referring to the early Phoenicians who inhabited the eastern Mediterranean coast of what is now Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and part of Syria. Today, their primary descendants include the Lebanese, Palestinians, many Syrians and some Egyptians. They left little in the way of written records. Much of what we know of them from ancient times was recorded by Greek and Roman historians who mentioned their seamanship and shrewd business acumen. Phoenicians dominated Mediterranean sea travel, trade and commerce for over two thousand years. Masters of the art of navigation, Phoenician ships made of cedar ruled the seas. They were the first people to sail past the 'Pillars of Hercules' (Gibraltar) and discover the Atlantic. They discovered the North Star which the Greeks were to name the Phoenician Star in their honor. The Phoenicians made important contributions to the marine sciences, having been credited with the division of a circle into 360 degrees and having reliable celestial reference points. By 1000 BC, the seafaring Phoenicians, the greatest traders of their time, were moving beyond the Strait of Gibralter to trade.
|“Their explorations, it seems, extended in every direction, their sails whitening the Indian Ocean, as well as the Norwegian fiords....A large portion of the African territory is asserted to have been peopled by the races expelled by Joshua and the children of Israel. At the time when Procopius wrote, columns stood in Mauritania Tingitana, which bore the inscription, in Phoenician characters, ‘We are those who fled before the brigand Joshua, the son of Nun or Nave.’ " (Isis Unveiled, I, 545) Rick Gore|
Items the Phoenicians exported were cedar, pine, fine linen, embroideries, metalwork, glass, wine, salt and dried fish. They imported papyrus for paper, ivory, ebony, silk, amber, ostrich eggs, spices, incense, horses, gold, silver, copper, iron, tin and jewels. The craft of glass making was raised to a fine art by Phoenician artisans, and they may have been the first to develop blown glass. Cedar was very important in the ancient Middle East, which had little wood. The fragrant cedar was much prized. The Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen had furniture in his tomb made of Phoenician cedar. Ancient Phoenicia also produced the rare purple dye that came from a special snail. Purple became the color of royalty.
The master craftsman Hiram of Tyre was commissioned to build and embellish the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Phoenicia provided the cedar wood and its craftsmen ( known as the "Free Masons" as they were not the "property" of any King ) did the actual construction. They were also called on to decorate many palaces throughout Mesopotamia. Needing some way to keep track of their commerce, the Phoenicians developed an alphabet, which the Greeks later adapted for their language and which in some ways shaped the English alphabet. Phoenicia ended with the fall of Tyre to the Babylonian king Nebuchandnezzar in 573 B.C.3
In summary, we propose that a few aristocratic and elite Jews whisked away the son of Zedekiah, the lone survivor of the royal family. And they took him, fleeing to Phoenicia, and they made their way to America with Phoenicians on Phoenician ships. It appears likely that a good number of the Mulekites where Phoenicians by blood. And what better reason for the Mulekite language to have been corrupted so much, when many of the people weren't Jews, but were Canaanites from Phoenicia, and spoke other Canaanitic dialects? As far as we know, in the ancient Levant only the Phoenicians had knowledge of the Americas , and they kept the knowledge secret to themselves for a place where they could flee, as shown from the ancient records of Diodurus outlined below. And who else was fleeing from the Babylonians besides the Phoenicians? Their allies the Jewish aristocracy and elites.
Writings from the ancient Greek historian Diodorus from 56 BC tell the story. Diodorus relates that there are “islands” which are in the “ocean.” And one in particular of “considerable size” lies quite a distance from “Libya” (i.e. Africa), and it is a long voyage of “a number of days to the west.” He says the land is fruitful and beautiful. Much of it is “mountainous” and it has “navigable rivers which are used for irrigation.” It has “private villas of costly construction” and “banqueting houses” and the “inhabitants.” And he goes on and on and on in his description of this land to the west of Africa. He seems to have quite a bit of knowledge about it. And there is no doubt that he is describing America, long before Columbus. This historical record suggests to us that the Phoenicians may have had contact with the Book of Mormon peoples in America. He relates that it remained “undiscovered because of its distance from the entire inhabited world,” but that the Phoenicians discovered it accidentally. He mentions the fact that they “planted many colonies throughout Libya and not a few as well in the western parts of Europe.” And that they ventured out “beyond the Pillars of Heracles into the sea.” Then, as they were in the Atlantic, they were “driven by strong winds a great distance out into the ocean” and were “storm-tossed for many days.” Finally, they arrived ashore to this “island” and “had observed its felicity.” He claims that the Tyrrhenians were intent on colonizing it, but the Phoenicians from Carthage kept them from doing it. This was because they didn't want all the people of Carthage to leave. But, also, they wanted to “have ready in it a place in which to seek refuge against an incalculable turn of fortune, in case some total disaster should overtake Carthage.” Because they figured that they would be able to move quickly to a place that was “unknown to their Conquerors.”4
It is precisely this logic that ties the Phoenicians to Mulek, because it was they alone who could provide precisely what Mulek and the fleeing Jews needed: a place to go that was unknown to those who were seeking after them.
1. New Information about Mulek, Son of the King, Reexploring the Book of Mormon, http://farms.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=71&chapid=806
2. http://www.nephiproject.com/Newsletter/Do%20the%20Mulekites%20Help %20Solve%20an%20Historic%20Mystery.pdf
3. Transatlantic crossing: Did Phoenicians beat Columbus by 2000 years? By Sheena McKenzie, for CNN http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/28/world/americas/phoenician-christopher-columbus-america-sailboat/index.html?iref=allsearch)
4. http://web.archive.org/web/20080209224134/http://users.cyberone.com.au/ myers/before-columbus.html
Robert Starling contributed the following:
Early this century, a Brazilian rubber-tapper called Bernardo da Silva Ramos was working in the Amazon jungle when he noted that on many of the rocks there could be found ancient scripts carved deep into the stone. Intrigued, he spent the later part of his life copying and recording these inscriptions. He found that the greater part of them resembled, often in detail, the ancient writings of the Old World and compiled a catalog of nearly 2000 such scripts.
An inscription found near Rio and located three thousand feet up on a vertical wall of rock contains the following words: 'Tyre, Phoenicia, Badezir, Firstborn of Jethbaal ..... '. It has been dated to the middle of the ninth century B.C.
Other jungle graffiti has indeed been linked to that already recorded as belonging to the Semitic, Indus, Phoenician, Punic, Brahmi and other peoples. The Parahyba inscription, also discovered in Brazil, was later translated from the Phoenician over 25 years ago and here is what this remarkable record has to say:
We are sons of Canaan from Sidon, the city of the king. Commerce has cast us on this distant shore, a land of mountains. We set [sacrificed] a youth for the exalted gods and goddesses in the nineteenth year of Hiram, our mighty king. We embarked from Ezion-Geber into the Red Sea and voyaged with ten ships. We were at sea together for two years around the land belonging to Ham [Africa] but were separated by a storm [lit. 'from the hand of Baal'], and we were no longer with our companions. So we have come here, twelve men and three women, on a ..... shore which I, the Admiral, control. But auspiciously may the gods and goddesses favor us!