Book of Mormon Places (Gazetteer)

Various author’s Internal models of the Book of Mormon

Our Internal Model of the Book of Mormon (based on explanations given below)

Ammonihah, Land of 

-It was 3 days travel on the north of the land/city of Melek (which was west of Sidon by a/the west? wilderness) ,  (Alma 8:6).
-It was on the border of the greater land of Zarahemla (Alma 25:2).  Possibly the northern border?
-It was near, and probably west? of, the city of Sidom (Alma 15:1).
-It was near the city of Noah (Alma 16:2–3). The Lamanite armies destroy “some around the borders of Noah” after sacking Ammonihah. They also go straight to Noah after attempting to sack Ammonihah after its rebuilt (Alma 49:12–14). Noah is mentioned nowhere else in the text.
-It was near the city of Aaron. At least Alma “took a journey toward the city called Aaron” after being cast out of Ammonihah (Alma 8:13).  Which seems likely the same as the East coast city of Aaron between Moroni & Nephihah (Alma 50:14), perhaps by Jershon and named after Aaron the Missionary of Alma 31.
-The or a wilderness abutted Ammonihah on the west (Alma 8:5).
-There were 2 routes into the city (Alma 8:16).
-It was fortified with Moroni’s ditch and mound system (Alma 49:4). But beforehand considered “the weakest part of the land”, and obviously a frontier town. (Alma 49:15)

discussion:   The location of this city depends largely on identifying Melek (since we know they are both west of Sidon, but Ammoniihah is 3 days north of Melek).  Since the people of Jershon flee Jershon and go to Melek to avoid the Zoramite attack… Ammoniahah can’t be all that far from Jershon! This is likely substantiated by the mention of Alma “headed toward the city called Aaron” after being cast out of Ammonihah, since Aaron was also one of the sons of Mosiah and his followers may have founded a city right near Jershon. If Jershon is “near the borders” of the east sea, why are they fleeing somewhere by the WEST wilderness?  Melek and Ammonihah are the most difficult of any cities to place in both internal and external models. Many have speculated there are two Melek’s because of the confusion. Really the only working solution is to have an arm of Sidon that is quite far EAST, so Ammoniahah/Melek can be west of it, AND near some type of “west wilderness”, but also not too far from the East Coast cities of Jershon and Aaron.

Note that Alma 16 is perhaps the best indication of where this city is, as it suggests Ammonihah is a first city in the Nephite lands when an army “come in upon the wilderness side, into the borders of the land” (Alma 16:2). Note is says NOTHING about the West sea here, which seems to go against the common habit/mistake of putting Ammonihah somewhere near the west sea (which makes no sense when the text seems to suggest its not far from the east coast city of Aaron (Alma 8:13). Perhaps more importantly, is the path taken by the Lamanite armies as they head back to the land of Nephi with their prisoners.  Alma tells the Nephite generals to head them off near “the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti” (Alma 16:6). Looking at internal maps or most Mesoamerican models we see how little sense this path of retreat makes given what we know of Manti (see Manti and Sidon, Head of).  Why isn’t the coast mentioned at all? Why would they go through the central part of the land to hightail it home, after purposefully sneaking into the “weakest part of the land?” (Alma 49:15)

model: the Hildalgo area seems the most likely candidate, maybe Xihuingo, but one still has to wonder how the Lamanite army snuck through the defensive line of cities in Alma 16 & 49. Because of this the valley of Mexico seems out, although some parts of the Cuernavaca/Balsas basin could be reasonable, even if unlikely.

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Antionum, Land of 

-Antionum is “the land of the Zoramites” (Alma 31, Alma 43:5), yet it seems to have been in Nephite territory or the border of Nephite territory during Moroni’s time.
-It is “east of the land of Zerahemla, which lay nearly bordering upon the seashore, which was south of the land of Jershon, which also bordered upon the wilderness south” (Alma 31:3)
-After their mission to the Zoramites, Alma and Amulek go rest at Jershon (so its close). Alma 35:2
-Bordering the land of Jershon & the “wilderness” (Alma 43:15, see Alma 43:5,15,22)

discussion: Alma 43, is important as it establishes that Antionum and Jershon are very close to each other, and likely closest to Manti and the “head of Sidon”, more than Zerahemla or other Nephite cities. It also establishes Antionum as the likely southernmost city of the east border/coast cities, since it was the first place the Zoramites reached as they came up the coast for battle. But both it and Jershon are NEARLY bordering the shore, but not ON the shore, and yet BORDERING the south wilderness.  So they seem to be where the coastal plain meets the mountains/wilderness and BORDERING the south wilderness. Its initially In nephite territory, but Zoramite mission is because they fear they might join the Lamanites and thus endanger Nephite lands (Alma 31:4)

model: note this means it has to be SOUTH of Zerahamla & thus Catonia (which Jershon could be), and perhaps as far south as Tehuacan or even La Coyotera (thats probably too far). Probably on the upper or lower border of the coastal mountains. I get the feeling that the entire coastal plain is refered to as the “borders of the seashore”, so the fact that it is only “nearly” bordering the seashore, it is NOT down on the coastal plain.

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Melek, Land of

-Alma 8:3–4 says Melek is “west of the river Sidon, on the west by the borders of the wilderness”.
-Alma 8:6 says it’s three days Journey south of Ammonihah. Alma 31:6 agrees it’s close to Ammonihah (since Amulek and Zeezrom are there). Either way, this chapter gives more support to the idea that Melek is close to Jershon and the Zoramites. (by the east sea)
-West of the Sidon River by the borders (on the edge of) of the wilderness (Alma 8:3).
-The land was large enough to contain the displaced Ammonites from Jerson (Alma 35:13).  Probably very good agriculturally, and secure in order for the Ammonites to be moved there once their land was deemed an unsafe frontier.
-It was 3 days journey to (the south of) the city of Ammonihah (Alma 8:6).
-It was near the city of Noah (Alma 16:2–3). The Lamanite armies destroy “some around the borders of Noah” after sacking Ammonihah. They also go straight to Noah after attempting to sack Ammonihah after its rebuilt (Alma 49:12–14). Noah is mentioned nowhere else in the text.
-It was near the city of Aaron. At least Alma “took a journey toward the city called Aaron” after being cast out of Ammonihah (Alma 8:13).  Which seems likely the same as the East coast city of Aaron between Moroni & Nephihah (Alma 50:14), perhaps by Jershon and named after Aaron the Missionary of Alma 31.

discussion: This is one of the hardest of ANY cities in the book of Mormon to place. (making it fit with Ammonihah, Jershon and Noah) Many have speculated there are two Melek’s because it makes little sense for the people of Ammon to go from the East coast to somewhere near the “west wilderness”, and “west of sidon”. The location of this city is tied to the location of Ammonihah. Alma 8:3 may lead to speculate the Melek was far in the west by the west sea and west wilderness. However, since the Ammonites flee there, it must still be pretty close to the East Sea where Jershon was. Its hard to say exactly what encompasses the “west wilderness” of Alma 8:3  (Alma 27:22 makes it clear Jershon is “on the east by the sea”.)   It could be across the river from Gideon (which is on the east of Sidon),

model:  Perhaps “west of sidon” doesn’t mean by the West Sea, but west of a Sidon tributary, like where Puebla is. (see Jershon).  Of course it’s possible that anything west of Zerahamla/Cholula/Popocatepetl could be considered the “west wilderness”.  I’m guessing somewhere like Chalcatzingo/Ocuituco/Chalco or Cuernavaca or south to Cuetlajuchitlán or even Teopantecuanitlan (but thats a LONG way for a people to fee, although they’d already come from Nephi and may have wanted to move closer to it anyway). Or it could be farther west like Chalcatzingo (but why would the Ammonites flee there if its that far?). How do you get a configuration that is west of the river Sidon, but close to the East sea and Jershon?   I’ll bet its good agricultural land, but quite possibly closer to the “southwest” cities that their 2000 sons were defending. Lower Cuernavaca, lower Chalcantango or even into the Mixtec lands. Likely very hidden.

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Mulek, Land of – (see Bountiful)

-on east borders by seashore, possessed by Amalickiah: Alma 51:25–26 .
-Moroni retakes Mulek: Alma 52:16–26 . ( Alma 53:2, 6 )
-heavily fortified. Not too far from city of Bountiful. (Alma 52:17)  Not too far from the seashore (Alms 52:22). Teancum retreat north along the seashore away from the city (v. 23). Likely less than a few hours south-east of Bountiful. (see discussion)
-there are plains between Mulek and Bountiful that could serve as a battleground. (Alms 52:20)

discussion: The location of this city is tied to city of Bountiful per Alma 52.  Teanucm flees Mulek (east?) to the seashore (v. 20), then flees northward (v. 23) toward the city of Bountiful (v. 27,39)

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Bountiful, City of – (see Mulek)

-Moroni & Teancum force Lamanite prisoners to dig a ditch and dirt brim about the city. It becomes a stronghold “ever after”. (Alma 53:2–5)
-it is near the city of Mulek, (eastward?), and presumably near the east? seashore. (Alms 52:20)

-it is near the pass which leads to the land northward. Likely the most northern of the string of east coast cities (Alma 52:11–15?)

discussion: Alma 52:11 talks about how Moroni is over by the west sea fighting, and sends an epistle to Teancum who is by the east sea cities of Mulek and Bountiful, and tells him to” secure the pass which led into the land northward” (v. 9). This makes no sense unless he’s talking about an EAST SEA PASS. Moroni leaves the west coast and marches to Bountiful and the EAST coast (v. 15).

[Model: So Bountiful could only be somewhere like Tamtoc or ruins in Tampico!]

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South & West Cities.   Zeezroom, Cumeni, Antiparah & Judea. Described as being presumably on the borders of the land on the south by the west sea (Alma 53:8,22)

-They appear to stretch in a line from Manti in the order of Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni, Antiparah, Judea? (Alma 56:14). They are retaken by Helaman’s 2000 warriors in reverse order.
-The cities of were apparently on the south and west border of the Nephite lands and were the first cities captured by the Lamanite invaders (Alma 56:14). Alma 52:11–12 describes Ammaron’s intent to assault the “borders by the west sea”.
-Manti is consistently mentioned in conjunction with the river Sidon (especially it’s ‘head’). But the river Sidon is never mentioned in the war for these cities… so it’s likely near Manti but not between these cities.
-Antiparah was between the city of Judea and an unnamed Nephite city near the seashore (Alma 56:30). We can presume this is the west sea, although it’s strange that Nephihah (which Alma 51:26 says is by the East Sea) is mentioned in conjunction with these cities (Alma 56:25).
-The fact that Zerahemla and Nephihah (which Alma 51:26 says is by the East Sea) is mentioned in conjunction of these cities is another great evidence that these South & West Cities are stretching in a line from the West Sea toward the East Sea. (with the head of Sidon being beyond Manti, yet between these and Nephihah — Alma 56:25)
-The Nephite armies could flee two days northward from Antiparah into the wilderness without reaching the shore or Zarahemla (Alma 56:33–42).
-Cumeni seems to be just west of Manti (Alma 57:22). Cumeni doesn’t appear to have been a fortified city (Alma 57:16–20).
-In battle for Cumeni, defeated Lamanites were driven back to nearby city of Manti (Alma 57:22).
Some or all of these cities were fortified (Alma 56:20–21).
-Zeezrom is likely right next to Manti, because it’s never mentioned again after verse 22. After Cumeni the war goes straight to Manti.
-going from these cities to Nephihah would require crossing “the head of Sidon”.  Nephihah and Zarahamla were the closest options of Lamanite attack from these cities (Alma 56:25). That might be a good evidence that the ‘head’ of Sidon is it’s headwaters which are close to Nephihah and the east sea.
-there are “other cities which were on the northward”, which are not mentioned by name (Alma 56:22). This again suggests that these cities are the southern (or possibly southwestern? – but I think not) frontier.

discussion: The cities defended by Helaman’s 2000 stripling warriors in Alma 56-57 are said to be “southern cities” by the west sea, which Moroni must have been guarding before he went to help Teancum with the Eastern front- Alma 52:11–52. (Moroni left Helaman & Antipus in charge when he left.) Additionally, prisoners from this group are sent down to Zarahemla (suggesting it’s close by & lower).  Helaman says in Alma 56:14 the Lamanites had taken Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni and Antiparah (in that order) when he gets to Judea. The cities are then retaken in the reverse order (with no mention of Zeezrom).

Military maneuvers begin in Judea (Alma 56:9). Helaman then marches past (but within sight of spies) Antiparah as if to go “to a city beyond by the seashore” as a decoy (possibly northward. see v. 36). When the Lamanites take the bait they flee a full day “northward, even to a considerable distance” (v. 36-37). Probably heading somewhat toward the sea still. After the battle prisoners are sent to Zarahamla, not back to Judea, so their march must have put them closer to Zarahamla. After heading back to Judea, the Lamanites abandon Antiparah, so the Nephites march and siege Cumeni— which is surrendered. The next battle is for Manti.

Heleman’s army then decoys the Lamanites out of Manti and then flees “much in the wilderness” toward Zarahemla, so it can’t be that far from Zarahamla (58:23-28). I suspect that Judea might be by the shore near Acapulco (La Sabana), and Manti near Tehuacan, with the other cities strung between. So this is the southwest frontier, and Teancum/Mororni’s battles were the eastern frontier.  

Model: Perhaps Oxtotitlan Cave and Juxtlahuaca Cave were painted during this Lamanite assault? (dates are typical ascribed earlier.)    Possibly, La Sabana, Teopantecuanitlan by the river Sidon, Cuetlajuchitlán and Chalcatzingo or Xochicalco near Cuernavaca (Manti being Cholula near Puebla or Chalcatzingo or Tenongo).

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East Sea Cities. At least four cities (and likely nine) border the East Sea, Moroni, Aaron, Nephihah and Jershon. (Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, Mulek seem near the sea but could be inland a ways)

MORONI, AARON

-It was located on the shore of the east sea and was near the south wilderness of the Lamanites (Alma 50:13).
-The land of Moroni bordered the land of Aaron, and the city of Nephihah was built in between (Alma 50:14).
-Lehi was a nearby city to the north (Alma 50:15; 51:24).
-Moroni was surrounded by a wall (probably the trench-mound-palisade fortifications of Moroni) (Alma 62:36).
-Submerged in the sea. Perhaps still underwater. (3 Ne. 8:9).

NEPHIHAH, LEHI

-It was located between Moroni and Aaron (Alma 50:14–15).
-It was in the borders by the east sea, but apparently not right on the seashore (Alma 51:25–26).
-There was a plain near the city (Alma 62:18).
-The city had walls and an entrance (Alma 61:20–22).
-It was south of the city of Lehi (Alma 51:25).

MORIANTON, OMNER, GID & MULEK,

-They were on the east on the borders by the seashore (Alma 51:26).
-They were built for defense and were probably about a days journey apart (Alma 50:9–11).
-Mulek was less than a day’s journey from the city of Bountiful (Alma Ch. 52).
-Lehi and Morianton were probably built in close proximity to each other-because they have a boundary dispute (Alma 50:25–36)
-These cities were all fortified with a ditch, mound and wooden palisade (Alma 51:27, 55:25-26).
-Heleman’s sons take a missionary journey from Bountiful, to Gid, to Mulek to Zarahemla to the Lamanites in the land Southward (Helaman 5:15–16). Note the direction error in v 16.

discussion: when Amalickiah comes to battle the Nephites in Alma 51, he first takes the city of Moroni and “all of their fortifications”, and then goes on to “take Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid and Mulek, all of which were east on the borders of the seashore” (Alma 51:26), suggesting that those cities were arranged in that order from south to north along the east sea.  They then “march forth… that they might take possession of the land Bountiful and also the land northward” (Alma 51:30). After Teancum kills Amalickiah on the way to Bountiful, they retreat back to Mulek. At that point Moroni sends a letter telling Teancum to secure the narrow pass, because he “cannot come” because he is occupied with a Lamanite attack “on the borders of the west sea”. This suggests the western cities are a long way from these eastern cities and the narrow pass.

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Gideon, Land of 

-It was situated east of the River Sidon and about a days journey from Zarahemla, (Alma 6:7).
-A trail led southward from Gideon to Manti, and also to the land of Nephi (Alma 17:1)
-The Land of Gideon was at a higher elevation than the City of Zarahemla (Alma 62:6–7).
-It was near the hill Amnihu, and “in the course of” or on the way to the land of Nephi (Alma 2:15–20).
-It was located between the city of Zarahemla and the city of Minon (Alma 2:24)..
-The ‘Valley Gideon’ is likely east of the River Sidon (alma 2:35)?  At any rate you must cross sidon to get from the valley of Gideon to the city of Zarahemla

[Model: If Zarahemla is Cuicuilco in the valley of Mexico, Cholula is a fantastic match for Gideon with La Malinche matching the Hill Riplah. (but Amla 2 doesn’t fit with that well?)]

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Jershon, Land of

-It was “east by the sea”, south of the land of Bountiful (joining borders with Bountiful), and bordering on the south wilderness (Alma 27:22). The Lamanites had to be driven out of it, and it became a buffer between Bountiful and the Lamanite Lands.
-It was east of the city of Zarahema (Alma 27:22).
-It was lower in elevation than the south wilderness (Alma 27:26).
-It was north of the land of Antionum, or land of the Zoramites (Alma 31:3).
-It was likely near the eastern coastal cities of Mulek, Gid, Omner, Morianton, Lehi, Nephihah, and Moroni. (ref?)
-It’s just north of the Zoramites of 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 also bordered upon the wilderness south, which wilderness was full of the Lamanites” (Alma 31:3).
-It’s not far from Melek? since the people of Ammon temporarily flee to Melek when the Zoramites prepare to attack (Alma 35:13–14).  But it doesn’t make sense, because Alma 8:3–4 says Melek is “west of the river Sidon, on the west by the borders of the wilderness”. Perhaps this doesn’t mean by the west sea, but west of a Sidon tributary, like where puebla is.
-Alma 8:6 says Melek is three days Journey south of Ammonihah. Alma 31:6 agrees it’s close to Ammonihah (since Amulek and Zeezrom are there). Either way, this chapter gives more support to the idea that Melek is close to Jershon and the Zoramites.

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Helum, Alma, Amulon (cities in Alma’s flight to Zarahemla)

-Helam is 8 days journey into the wilderness from the city of Nephi (Mosiah 23:3).
-Helam is 12 (or 13) days journey from the city of Zarahemla (Mosiah 24:23–25).
-Helam was in an area suitable for agriculture (Mosiah 23:4–5).
-The Valley of Alma was one days journey (probably northward) from Helam (Mosiah 24:20).
-Amulon was suitable for agriculture, but apparently not as good as Helam as they did not return to it (Mosiah 23).
-All these locations were in the south wilderness between Nephi and Zarahemla.
-The land of Amulon should probably be encountered first in traveling toward Nephi from Zarahemla in accordance with the experience of the lost Lamanite army (Mosiah 23:31–36).  (double check this)

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Sidon, River (28 uses) – major or geographically significant river. The only named river in the Book of Mormon. It has east and west banks… but also may flow “from east to west” (Alma 22:27).

-hill Amnihu is on east of Sidon: Alma 2:15 .
-it “ran BY the land of Zarahemla”: Alma 2:15 .
-Lamanites camp on west of Sidon: Alma 2:34 .
-many are baptized in waters of Sidon: Alma 4:4 .
-wilderness at Sidon: Alma 22:29 .
-One must go round about the river’s head when traveling from Jershon/Anionum to Manti (Alma 43:22).
-One must presumably cross from the west to east side of it traveling from Zarahemla to Gideon (Alma 6:7).  The city and valley of Gideon are on the east side of the river. (in the region of Zarahemla and Gideon it flows north-south.
-An army must cross it (presumably on foot) going from Gideon to Zarahemla. (Alma 2:27,34).  It has banks that can serve as battlegrounds.
-It was large enough to carry the bodies of the dead Lamanites out to the sea. (Alma 3:3)
-But it was small enough for an army to easily cross without boats/etc. (Alma 43:35–41, Alma 16:6–7)
-Perhaps “bordering on the wilderness” and going “from east to the west”. Alma 22:29  If the “wilderness” mentioned in Alma 22:29 is the same as the “narrow strip of wilderness” in verse 27 (which seems likely), then the head of Sidon is likely IN the narrow strip of wilderness that divides the Nephite and Lamanite lands.
-It apparently must be crossed as one goes from the Land of Nephi to the Land of Zerahemla (further supporting it being some kind of east-west running barrier like the south wilderness) Alma 16:6, Alma 2, Alma 43 .
-It was west of the hill Amnihu. Suggesting it runs north/south at that point. (Alma 2:15)
-It was west of the Valley of Gideon. (Alma 2:26; 6:7)
-The City of Melek was to the west of the Sidon–again suggesting a north-south flow in this region. (Alma 8:3)
-The City of Manti was at the headwaters of the Sidon near the south wilderness. (Alma 16:6–7; 22:27)
-The head of the River Sidon extended into the south wilderness, and created an obvious crossing point on the way to Nephi. (Alma 43:22).
-Runs between the Valley of Gideon (which is west of Zarahamla), then through “the land of Zarahemla”, but likely not through the city. (Alma 2:15, since the bodies of Alma 2:34 would then float through the city).)
-Likely either too large to safely cross, or down in a canyon or deep valley in most places as the crossing points seem limited & predictable (Alma 16:6, Alma 2)

discussion: Alma 22:27 ambiguously gives several geographic descriptions ending with the words “through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west”. One way to read this is that saying that the river Sidon “runs from east to west”.   This verbiage isn’t unique as Alma 2:15, also uses the words “running” to show directionally of the river by the land of Zarahemla. However, it is also possible this verse is for some reason simply restating the clause earlier in the verse where the “narrow strip of wilderness… runs from sea east even to sea west”. The idea that a region might also “run” like a river is also used in Alma 50:8 where the land of Nephi is said to “run in a straight course from the east sea to the west”.  I actually believe it is both, as the author is trying to explain that Sidon, just like the lands of Bountiful and Nephi and the south wilderness “runs” from east to west nearly all the way across the land.  (thats why its repeated twice in v.27). This idea is further supported by Alma 16:6, where Alma prophecies that the Lamanites as they flee home will “cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land Manti”. As if Sidon was some kind of border which Zoram ‘expected’ the Lamanites would have to cross (and there were only so many places to cross it, so as to know where Alma was talking about). This also accords with other places in the text where the river Sidon appears to be the best place to meet Lamanite armies as they head toward the Land of Zerahemla (Alma 2, Alma 43).
It can’t be proven, but seems likely this clause IS INDEED talking about the river sidon running from east to west, just as did the “land of Nephi” in Alma 50:8, and the “narrow strip of wilderness” in Alma 22:27 and the “line Bountiful” of Alma 22:32 .   This suggests to me also, that Sidon formed some kind of “east to west” barrier between the Nephite and Lamanite lands, much like the narrow stip of wilderness of v.27.    This also makes sense given the discussion for “Sidon, Head of” where it is shown that the head of sidon, or headwaters of sidon are almost certainly near the EAST SEA! (And then flowing toward the land Gideon and Zerahemla). This also helps explain why no mention of crossing Sidon’s mouth/delta is ever mentioned in conjunction with the east coast defensive cities, OR with the final retreat of the Nephites to Desolation along the west coast.  HOWEVER, a contrary point is the fact that the only ‘banks’ ever mentioned in relation to the river are east-west ones (Alma 16:6, Alma 43:27,53), suggesting that at least in the places where it is most often crossed, it flows north-south.  [Note that my model seems to satisfy all these requirements quite well].

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Sidon, Head of (Head of Sidon. 5 uses)

“Head” is defined in websters 1828 dictionary as “To originate; to spring; to have its source, as a river.”  Also “30. The part most remote from the mouth or opening into the sea; as the head of a bay, gulf or creek.”  Also “18. The principal source of a stream; as the head of the Nile.” Aside from twisting the meaning of the word, attempting to make the “head of Sidon”, mean the mouth or delta of the river run into possible problems in explaining a setup where the Lamanite armies leave coastal Jerson/Antionum and go “round about in the wilderness…by the head of Sidon” to get to Manti (Alma 43:22–27) which is known to be “up” and on the way to Nephi (which is also always “up”).

-Perhaps “running from the east toward the west”. Alma 22:27. See discussion on Sidon, River.
-Exists as an obstacle between Manti/Zeezrom and Nephihah, when going “round about in the wilderness”. Alma 56:25
-Exists as an obstacle between Jershon and Manti, when going “round about in the wilderness”. Alma 43:22
-It’s in the south-east, being between Lamanite armies (of the south & west cities) and the city of Nephihah (on the east sea). Alma 56:25
-Perhaps “bordering on the wilderness” and going “from east to the west”. Alma 22:29  If the “wilderness” mentioned in Alma 22:29 is the same as the “narrow strip of wilderness” in verse 27 (which seems likely), then the head of Sidon is likely IN the narrow strip of wilderness that divides the Nephite and Lamanite lands.
-“From the west sea, running by the head of Sidon” Alma 50:8,11  See discussion.

discussion: Seems likely that “the head of sidon” is a geographical term paralleling the modern term of “headwaters of a river”. Such as modern use of “the headwaters of the Mississippi or Ohio or Colorado or Snake rivers”. All of these terms would actually be talking about a highland or mountainous ridge area. Thus, the “head of sidon” may not be talking about the river so much, as the ridge of mountains. (In my model, that which runs from Popocatépetl & Tlaloc or even Pico de Orizaba in the east to Nevado de Toluca & Morelia or even Tancitaro in the west). For an army to “cross the head of Sidon” would not only mean crossing the river’s small early tributaries, but more importantly crossing the mountain passes which lie at the head of them. Alma 43:22, Alma 56:25 .

Alma 50:11, almost seems to suggest the ‘head of sidon’ is near the west sea (which supports the atypical head=mouth argument). However, Alma 56:25 says the Nephites would have had to cross the head of Sidon to get to Nephihah, which is by the East Sea. Therefore, Alma 50 is likely contrasting the head of Sidon with the west sea (suggesting it is opposite the west sea, and near the East sea).  See a great discussion on this in this link, search for “Thus, we seem to have established, as clearly as the text will allow, that the head of the river Sidon was east of Manti, not far from Nephihah, south of Antionum, and near the east sea. All of these bits of information are consistent with each other, and therefore, increase the probability of our conclusion.”

[Model: However, an argument can be made that the Head is the mouth of Rio Balsas on the West Sea. Since the “south and west cities” appear to stretch in a line from Manti in the order of Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni, Antiparah, Judea (Alma 56:14), one could argue that Manti is somewhere near the mouth of Sidon and those cities stretch north toward Cuernavaca or Guadalajara.]

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Manti, Land & City of

-The Lamanite crossing of Sidon was up beyond the borders of the land Manti (Alma 16:6). Also, the army ambush of Alma 43:32 occurs up from Manti “and so down into the borders of Manti”. (Alma 43:32)
-It was on the southern borders of the land of Zarahemla, at the head of the River Sidon, near the narrow strip of wilderness (Alma 22:27).
-A trail from Gideon led southward to Manti (Alma 17:1).
-To the south of the land of Manti, there was another valley along the course of the upper Sidon, with the hill Riplah on its east side. (Alma 43:31–32)
-The cities of Zeezrom, Cumeni, Antiparah, Judea? (Alma 56:14) stretch out in a line from it. It has a “wilderness side” (likely up against rugged terrain, a mountain or dense forest (Alma 58:13), with places to hide an army (56:17). Judea is near the west seashore.
-Heleman’s army decoys the Lamanites out of Manti and then flees “much in the wilderness” toward Zarahemla, so it can’t be that far from Zarahamla (Alma 58:23–28).
-After Nehor slays Gideon in Alma 1:9,15 he’s hung on the “hill Manti”. It seems likely that the “hill Manti” was in the land Manti (perhaps it’s defining feature), and that the land of Gideon is named after Gideon and thus is close to Manti (or at least the hill).  Alma 17:1 might support this, saying that Manti is “southward” from Gideon.
-Alma 16:6–7 says after Ammonihah and Noah are attacked, the Lamanites head home and “cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti.” Verse 6 suggests that the borders of Manti are by the “south wilderness, which was on the east side of the river Sidon.” Note it doesn’t say “south side of Sidon,” it says east side.

[Model: Could it be talking about the Cuernavaca tributary of Sidon or is Manti east of Puebla?]

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Nephi, City of

-everything is ALWAYS up to the city of Nephi (down out of the city of Nephi when leaving). In my model this is not necessarily because of the cities high elevation (although it is high at 6,300 ft), but because it is up on a tall defensive hill.  The Land does have hills higher than it which over look it (Mosiah 7:6). See Omni 1:27; WOM 1:13; Mosiah 7:2–6; 19:5; 20:2,7; 24:20; 26:3; 28:5; 29:3,14; Alma 27:5, 47:1;
-It was a twenty days journey from Nephi to Zarahemla (with families apparently on foot) (Mosiah 23:1–4; 24:25). This would have been about 150-250 miles.
-It was an area of dryer climate grassland or Savannah (not a forested area or jungle) where they could raise grain and grazed flocks and had to fight for water resources (2 Nephi 5:11; Mosiah 21:16).
-It was “Many days journey” west of the Land of First Inheritance (with families apparently on foot) (2 Nephi 5:7).
-Nephi built a temple there (2 Nephi 2:16).
-The city of Nephi had a wall (Mosiah 22:6).
-Abundant mineral deposits (2 Nephi 5:15).
-Land of Mormon, and waters of Mormon were close by (no further than a days journey) (Mosiah 18).
-Adjacent to the lands of Shemlon and Shilom (Mosiah 19:6; 22:8).
-Near the south wilderness (Mosiah 22:12).

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Zarahemla, Land & City of –   In most Book of Mormon verses, things tend to be always down to Zarahemla. In our model this is not necessarily because it is in a coastal lowland, but because it is in a deep valley surrounded by such unparalleled huge mountains, it tends to feel like a very low valley. And may have had a hieroglyphic marker denoting down or low in it’s name.

-complaints come up to the land of Zarahemla (3 Ne 6:25). On the other hand, this reference might have nothing to do with altitude, but of importance… such as “up to capitol hill, Washington”.
-must head westward and cross the river Sidon to get to Gideon (Alma 6:7)
-“the river Sidon, which ran by the land Zarahemla” (Alma 2:15). River runs by the land Zarahemla, not necessarily the city.
-many in the “land of Zarahemla”, join the church and are baptized in the “waters of Sidon” (Alma 4:1–4). This infers the river sidon is near or in the land of Zarahemla. However, because it says “waters of Sidon” instead of river Sidon we must guess as to whether this is the river or perhaps a sacred lake with the same name (somehow associated with the river? part of its headwaters?)
-war begins with the Lamanites in the “borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon”.  Whether this is the river Sidon or a lake with the same name is unknown. Also unknown if this is the land or city of Zarahemla. Presumably a war is not going to begin on the outskirts of the capitol city… so likely the land of Zarahemla.

Discussion: There is never any mention of the river Sidon flowing through the city Zarahemla but Alma 2:15 says it flows through the land Zarahamla, and the narrative definitely suggests it’s within a day of the city. Sidon most often seems to be associated with the barriers between Nephite & Lamanite lands. Two verses mention the “waters of Sidon” in association with the land of Zarahemla (not city).

-It was divided from the Land of Nephi to the south by a narrow strip of east-west wilderness. (Alma 22:27)
-It was in a central part of the Nephite lands which were south of the narrow neck of land (Hel. 1:27).
-It had a mixed (and probably segregated) population of Nephites and Mulekites which probably resulted in separate barrios or twinned cities (Omni 1:16–19; Mosiah 25:4).

-The City of Zarahemla had a wall (it does not specify whether it was of stone or timber) (Hel. 1:21).
-It was located at a distance of 20 days travel from the City of Nephi (apparently in a northward direction) (Mosiah 23:3; Mosiah 24:25).
-It was occupied by the Nephite faction from about 200 B.C. (The “Mulekites” having arrived earlier.)
-The Land Zarahemla was roughly bordered on all sides by areas of wilderness (Alma 22), including a west wilderness, past Mekek somewhere west of the river Sidon (Alma 8:3), the Wilderness of Hermounts northwest from Zarahemla (Alma 2:37), and the east wilderness (Alma 25:5).
-South of Zarahemla and the narrow strip of wilderness, lay the expansive south wilderness of the Lamanite domains (Alma 22:27).
-It was burned at the time of the crucifixion (3 Ne. 9:3).
-The city of Gideon and river Sidon lay a short distance to the east (Alma 6:7).
-It was an area where tropical diseases (i.e. fevers) and their remedies were present (Alma 46:40).

discussionAlma 2 may be one of the best descriptions of Zarahemla and its relationship to the River Sidon, Gideon and Nephi. It first tells us there is a strategic hill (Amnihu), “east of the River Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla” that the Amlicites use to start a war with the people of Zarahemla (perhaps a Guerilla base on the hill- Alma 2:14–16). These verses seem to purposely point out that the River Sidon goes through the land Zarahemla, but NOT the city of Zerahemla. The Amlicites flee from the hill to the Valley of Gideon, so the Hill is likely between Zarahemla and Gideon. But there is no mention of crossing Sidon yet. (So Gideon Valley must still be East of the River Sidon). Gideon is also “in the course of” (on the way to) the land of Nephi (Alma 2:24). The Amlicites circumvent Gideon to head back to Zarahemla by way of Minon which is “above” Zarahemla. But as the Nephites go to head off the Amlicites in Minon and get ready to cross Sidon (from East to West?, on the way to Zarahemla) they get attacked and must “clear the bank on the west of Sidon” (Alma 2:34) to fight off the Amlicite army which then flees “towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land…until they had reached the wilderness, which was called Hermounts; and it was that part of the wilderness which was infested by wild and ravenous beasts” (Alma 2:36–38).  This is a tricky configuration that tells us a number of things…

-River Sidon runs “by the land of Zarahemla”, and NOT likely through the city of Zarahemla (Alma 2:15, since the bodies of Alma 2:34 would then float through the city)
-There is a prominent “hill Amnihu, which was east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla”
-It is likely about a day from Zarahemla to the valley of Gideon (Alma 2:20), which is “in the course of” (on the way to) the land of Nephi (Alma 2:24). But at the same time Gideon can be easily circumvented to get back to Zerahamla another way (see v.25-26).
-There is a land of Minion above (higher than) the land of Zarahamla (Alma 2:24).
-For some reason you don’t seem to cross Sidon to get from Zarahemla to Gideon, but you do cross it if you want to head back to Zarahemla through Minon which is (in a pass)  ‘above’ Zarahemla..
-From that Sidon Crossing near Minon above Zarahamla, you would flee to the North and West Wilderness (Hermounts), which is infested with beasts from the Land Northward. (compare Alma 2:36–38 to Alma 22:31).
-You can throw a bunch of bodies into Sidon from near Minon above Zarahemla, Alma 2:34 (presumably without polluting the water source of any respected city like Zarahemla– which makes the idea that Sidon flows north from Gideon and Minon through Zarahemla seem unlikely).
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Wilderness  – a (1) : a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings (2) : an area essentially undisturbed by human activity together with its naturally developed life community  b : an empty or pathless area or region.

When the Book of Mormon speaks of wildernesses, I believe it is using the moden definition. It is talking about unsettled, unclaimed, undeveloped area. That is, one without cities, roads or easy access.

Wilderness, Narrow Strip

-Area dividing the Nephite and Lamanite lands running from Sea East to Sea West. (Alma 22:27)

Problems with this model.

The narrow neck. The up and down of Nephi & Zarahemla.

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Travels of the Nephites from Zarahemla to the Final Battle.

-Moroni gets instructions to go to hill Shim in the Land Antum to get records. (Mormon 1:3)
-Moroni “carried by his father into the land southward, even to the land of Zarahemla”. (Mormon 1:6)
-War begins “in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon”.  (First Battle – Mormon 1:10)
-A number of battles fought, then a truce for four to seven years.
-Lamanites attack again, Nephites “retreat towards the northcountries”. (Mormon 2:3)
-Moroni’s army take and fortify Angola “with their might”, but “notwithstanding their fortifications”, the city is taken. (Mormon 2:4)
-They are “also” driven out of the land David. (unsure if Angola was in the land David or if its the next province to the north) (Mormon 2:5)
-They gather to Joshua which is “west by the seashore”. (Mormon 2:6–8) A battle with a force of 40,000 each is fought here… Lamanites retreat.
-345AD. Lamanites attack again, Nephites retreat to city of Jashon, “near the land [Antum] where Ammaron had deposited the records unto the Lord” (Mormon 2:17).  Moroni gets just the plates of Nephi, and leaves the remainder where they are. (see Mormon 1:3)
-Nephites driven “northward to the land which was called Shem”. (Mormon 2:20) Nephites fortify the city and are attacked in 346AD, but win a battle with 30k to 50k. (Mormon 2:25)
-In 350AD a treaty is made. Lamanites “ give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward.” (Mormon 2:29)
-For 10 years, Nephites fortify and prepare. In 360AD Mormon causes his “people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward. 6 And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force. 7 And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and first year the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us”. Nephites beat them. They come again the next year. They beat them a third time. “and their dead were cast into the sea.” (Mormon 3:8)
Desolation is by the sea or a river that flows into sea
-in 363AD, the Nephites go on the offensive, up out of desolation, but are driven back to “the land of Desolation” (not city). Then Lamanites attack, and take the city of desolation “slaying many and taking many prisoners”. (Mormon 4:2)
-”And the remainder did flee and join the inhabitants of the city Teancum. Now the city Teancum lay in the borders by the seashore; and it was also near the city Desolation.”  (Mormon 4:3)
Teancum is also somewhat near the sea.
-364AD, Lamanites come against Teancum, and are repulsed, so Nephites follow them and retake Desolation.  (Mormon 4:8)
Desolation and Teancum are close to each other
-In 366AD Lamanites attack and take Desolation, and then Teancum (and sacrifice the inhabitants both women and children.) Nephites are so angry about the loss of their families they retake the cities and drive the Lamanites out of the land. Then another 10 year pause in fighting (Mormon 4:16)
-In 375AD, the Lamanites come down to desolation with a numberless host.
-Nephites flea to Boaz and fight two battles. On second attack they flea and women and children are sacrificed again. Nephites flea and “all the inhabitants with them, both in towns and villages” (Mormon 4:20–22)
-Mormon goes to the hill Shim and takes up ALL the records (Mormon 4:23).
Boaz is still relatively close to all the preceding cities (Antum, Jashon, Desolation)
-in 379AD Nephites flee to Jordan, and repulse a Lamanite attack. (Mormon 5:4) They maintain a line of stronghold cities “that they could not get into the country which lay before us, to destroy the inhabitants of our land.” (Mormon 5:4)
Jordan is likely in the Southwest, one of a line of cities defending the land northward.
-in 384AD Mormon sends a letter to Lamanites requesting to gather to the land of Cumoruh “in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains;” (Mormon 6:4)

Jordan (line of cities)
Boaz (gets rest of records)
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Teancum (by seashore & desolation)
Desolation (dead cast into sea)
Shem (fortified)
Jashon (gets records)
Joshua (west by seashore)

David
Angola
Zarahemla