Book of Mormon Lands Testify of Jesus Christ
A Scriptural Approach to the Lands of the Book of Mormon
View from the top of Hill Cumorah looking west
Are there clues in the Book of Morman that help to identify where the locations of the Book of Morman Lands are to be found?
Where did the Jaredites come from before they arrived at Hill Ramah ?
Waters of Ripliancum to Hill Ramah
The Jaredites traveled from the waters of Ripliancum southward (Ether 15:10-11) to the hill Ramah area, which became the scene of their last battles . In the map above, there is a narrow strip of land south of Lake Ontario and north of hill Ramah. This land has many streams, rivers, lakes, etc. The term "waters" aptly describes this area, and is a likely spot for the waters of Ripliacum.
Plains of Agosh to Waters of Ripliancum- Before they reached the waters of Ripliancum, the Jaredites were at the plains of Agosh. The Jaredite record mentions the people traveled east (Ether 14:26) from the plains of Agosh until they arrived at the waters of Ripliancum. According to the writers’ description, the land of Agosh needs to have a seashore on both the east (Ether 14:26) and west (Ether 14:13) sides. Moving westward from hill Ramah and the waters of Ripliancum, the Jaredite record places the land of Agosh in what is now Ontario, Canada on the map above, and that land does include seas on the east and west.
Why are the Plains of Agosh Significant?
Millions of Jaredites died there. The land of Agosh had been a scene "of bloodshed and carnage, that the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead." [Ether 14:21] The record continues in verses 22 and 23:
22 And so swift and speedy was the war that there was none left to bury the dead, but they did march forth from the shedding of blood to the shedding of blood, leaving the bodies of both men, women, and children strewed upon the face of the land, to become a prey to the worms of the flesh.
23 And the scent thereof went forth upon the face of the land, even upon all the face of the land; wherefore the people became troubled by day and by night, because of the scent thereof.
This information about the plains of Agosh is extremely important as we discuss the Nephites’ travel through the area, and the correlating descriptions of the Nephite record-keepers.
Nephite Lands Described
Instead of using the Jaredite name “Ramah” for the large hill in western New York, the Nephites called it “Cumorah.” [Ether 15:11] But their descriptions of the area are remarkably similar. The Nephites identified Cumorah as "the land of many waters", and the Jaredites termed the area north of Ramah as “the waters of Ripliacum.” Land of many waters. Waters of Ripliancum.
Both phrases are plural. Mormon 6:4, 8:8. If the waters of Ripliancum are northward of Ramah/Cumorah, it makes sense that Ripliancum would be in the land of many waters. It seems as if Nephites and Jaredites are describing the same place.
How many common areas are there between the Nephites and the Jaredites? As the prophet Mormon led his Nephites in battle before their destruction, the Nephite armies located at Jordan before traveling to Cumorah.
The Nephites went from Jordan to Cumorah [Mormon 6:2, 4]. It is possible Jordan in the Book of Mormon is named after the Biblical city, Jordan, located beside the River Jordan. In Cumorah/Ramah (land of many waters and the waters of Ripliancum), there is a modern city, Rochester, northwest of the hill Cumorah, through which the Genesee River flows in New York. The Genesee River matches all the descriptions in the Book of Mormon as the river Sidon. Because the river Sidon is so long and prevalent in the Nephite lands, it makes sense that the Nephites would use the name “Jordan” for an important city located in their land of many waters.
The Land of Desolation
According to the Nephites, the land of Desolation is in the land northward of Zarahemla, and is nearly surrounded by water—water is found on the north, south, east, and west, as described in Helaman. Helaman 3:8 The land of Desolation is divided from the land southward by a narrow neck of land. Alma 22:32
The land of Desolation was the initial landing place of the “Mulekites” (the people of Zarahemla). Alma 22:30 There were bones all over this land when they arrived, as described by the people of Zarahemla to the Nephites. The land of Desolation was desolate because the area lacked trees, not because it lacked people. The land north of the narrow neck of land is desolate of trees even today, especially compared to the innumerable trees in western New York, a few miles away.
Review the preceding map, a general guide to the layout of Nephite lands, as described in the Book of Mormon. The land southward has trees everywhere. It is significant that Captain Moroni called the land south of the narrow neck "the land of liberty." The term “land of liberty” still describes well this area, as the land south of the narrow neck of land lies within boundaries of the present-day United States, while the area north (and west) lies within the boundaries of Canada. Alma 46:17
There appears to be nothing contradictory in the Nephite descriptions of this land, and ones provided by the Jaredite record. There is a narrow neck of land, west of the waters of Ripliancum, that is part of the land of Desolation and divides the land northward and the land southward.
Hill Ramah and Cumorah are the same hill. The land of many waters, the waters of Ripliancum, and the city Jordan have similar descriptions, and identify a common ground between the Jaredites and the Nephites. The Nephites’ description of the land of Desolation positions it in the same location as Agosh and what is now Canada, which agrees with the Jaredite record. The land southward is described as the land of liberty and named the land of Bountiful. The lands of Bountiful, Zarahemla and the narrow neck of land all meet. 3 Nephi 3:23 After positioning these areas on the map according to Book of Mormon scripture, all other places fit together.