Additional Truth and the Proof: River Sidon Ran North, Not South

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Additional Truth and the Proof: River Sidon Ran North, Not South


Copyright © 2015 by Joe V. Andersen

Jonathan Neville correctly states the following:

The disagreement between the Mesoamerican and Heartland advocates revolves largely around the meaning of the phrase “head of the Sidon,” which is mentioned in connection with both Manti and Nephihah. If “head of the river Sidon” means the source of the river, then the river would have to flow north: i.e., from Manti north past Zarahemla. This interpretation also means the river could not flow through the land of Nephi.1


In addition to the fact that the narrow strip of wilderness was mountainous and that the “head of river Sidon” is described in the Book of Mormon as the beginning of the Sidon up in the narrow strip of wilderness— rather than the confluence of major rivers as suggested by Rod Meldrum and Jonathan Neville—the following scenario from the Book of Mormon forecloses any possibility that the Mississippi River could have been the river Sidon.

In 74 BC, Moroni was appointed chief captain of the Nephite armies. He was stationed on the east seacoast preparing for war with the Nephite dissenters and the Lamanites—including the Zoramites who had become Lamanites in the east-sea area. Because the mostly naked Lamanites feared the armaments, breastplates, etc. of the Nephites, the Lamanites feared to go against them in the land of Antionum, and their leader Zerahemnah decided to go into the narrow strip of wilderness and “up” (see Alma 43:34) to the area of the head of river Sidon and then to proceed down to the land of Manti to attack the weaker Nephites in that area.

Moroni, with the help of spies and prophetic advice from Alma, arrived in the area first and secreted his armies in a valley in which the river Sidon flowed. Readers should remember that the directional relationship was from Zarahemla south to Minon, then south to Manti, then south to the head of Sidon, and then south to the land of Nephi. It is the elevation relationship that must be deciphered from the Book of Mormon. Readers should also ponder and ask how the following events could have occurred along the Mississippi in the area of Neville and Meldrum’s proposed “head of Sidon” being the confluence of the Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers:

22. Behold, now it came to pass that they durst not come against the Nephites in the borders of Jershon; therefore they departed out of the land of Antionum into the [narrow strip of] wilderness, and took their journey round about in the [narrow strip of] wilderness, away by the head of the river Sidon, that they might come into the land of Manti and take possession of the land; for they did not suppose that the armies of Moroni would know whither they had gone.

24. And it came to pass that the word of the Lord came unto Alma, and Alma informed the messengers of Moroni, that the armies of the Lamanites were marching round about in the wilderness, that they might come over [the head of river Sidon (see Alma 56:25)] into the land of Manti, that they might commence an attack upon the weaker part of the people.

27. And it came to pass that 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.

28 And Moroni placed spies round about, that he might know when the camp of the Lamanites should come.

31. Therefore, he divided his army and brought a part over [river Sidon] into the valley, and concealed them on the east [of Sidon], and on the south of the hill Riplah; [the valley of Manti was located in the narrow strip of wilderness and near 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 [therefore, not only was Manti located on the west of Sidon but also it was lower in elevation than the head of Sidon].

34. And it came to pass that the Lamanites came up on the north of the hill, where a part of the army of Moroni was concealed.

35. And as the Lamanites had passed the hill Riplah, and came [down] into the valley, and began to cross the river Sidon, the army which was concealed on the south of the hill, which was led by a man whose name was Lehi, and he led his army forth and encircled the Lamanites about on the east in their rear.

36. And it came to pass that the Lamanites, when they saw the Nephites coming upon them in their rear, turned them about and began to contend with the army of  Lehi.

37. And the work of death commenced on both sides, but it was more dreadful on the part of the Lamanites, for their nakedness was exposed to the heavy blows of the Nephites with their swords and their cimeters, which brought death almost at every stroke.

39. And it came to pass that the Lamanites became frightened, because of the great destruction among them, even until they began to flee [west] towards the river Sidon.

40. And they were pursued by Lehi and his men; and they were driven by Lehi into the waters of Sidon, and they crossed the waters of Sidon. And Lehi retained his armies upon the [east] bank of the river Sidon that they should not cross.

41 And it came to pass that 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. And the Lamanites did flee again before them, [down, see verse 32] towards the land of Manti; and they were met again by the armies of Moroni. [Manti was clearly lower than the head of Sidon.]

50 And they began to stand against the Lamanites with power; and in that selfsame hour that they cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began to flee before them; and they fled [east] even to [not in] the waters of Sidon.

51 Now, 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 [west] bank by the river Sidon.

52 Therefore 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.

54 t135 678 . Now Moroni, when he saw their terror, commanded his men that they should stop shedding their blood. (Alma 43:20–54; emphasis added)

The truth as contained in the Book of Mormon is that the river Sidon in the area of this battle in the year 74 BC was a small river that the armies could cross easily on foot. Zerahemnah would have crossed it with his army twice in one day but for Lehi and his army on the east bank of Sidon. Zerahemnah could see them from the west bank.

In one day, Zerahemnah had come down with his army from the head of Sidon into the valley and fought Lehi on the east bank of Sidon. He crossed the river and fought Moroni on the west bank of Sidon and then fled down north toward Manti in the valley of Manti where they were engaged the third time—where he was “met again by the armies of Moroni.” The fighting stopped for a while, and Moroni tried to negotiate a peace with Zerahemnah. This failed, and the battle continued until Zerahemnah finally gave up.

How could all of these events have happened anywhere on the Mississippi—especially at or near the confluence of the Ohio and/or Missouri and Mississippi Rivers? How could the events have happened in one day unless the river Sidon was very small and shallow as it was near its beginning?

The following comments seem repetitious but necessary. One route between Zarahemla and Nephi went up (above Zarahemla) northerly to Minon, then up northerly to Manti, then northerly up to the head of Sidon within the narrow strip of wilderness, and then down to Nephi. The other route went from Zarahemla east across the river Sidon, then northerly up to Gideon, then northerly up to Manti, and then up to the head of river Sidon.2

The distance between Gideon and Minon was less than a half night’s march at night—four or five miles—and the river Sidon ran right between them. The tired remnant Amlicite army crossed the Sidon from Gideon to Minon, joining the Lamanites about midnight. Moroni’s scouts following the Amlicites crossed the river Sidon twice at night within twelve hours in that area between Gideon and Minon (Alma 2:22–27).The river Sidon was still relatively small and shallow at that area; therefore, it could not have been at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. There is no possible way that the Amlicite army and Moroni’s scouts could have crossed the Mississippi River south of Zarahemla—Montrose/Nauvoo area—let alone that Moroni’s scouts crossed it twice in one night!

There is not one piece of information in the Book of Mormon to indicate that the river Sidon flowed south from Zarahemla or that Manti was located lower in elevation than Zarahemla. Rod Meldrum disagrees, without citing a single scripture in support, 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.3

To come to this flawed conclusion, Meldrum must misconstrue or misstate what the Book of Mormon actually says and means as stated above. Neither Meldrum nor Neville cites any scriptures supporting their erroneous conclusions that Sidon flowed south or that it flowed down from Zarahemla toward Manti. In fact, nowhere in the central United States area can all the Book of Mormon requirements as cited above be met. Therefore, the Heartland Model is fatally flawed.

The truth and the proof are that the Mississippi is not, was not, and could not have been the river Sidon.



1. Jonathan Neville, The Lost City of Zarahemla: From Iowa to Guatemala—and Back Again (Cottonwood Heights, UT: Legends Library, 2015), 314.

2. See my article, “FootPrint of Zarahemla, Article One,”

3. See (accessed August 11, 2015); emphasis added.


Andersen, Joe V.