Jaredite/Nephite Shared Lands
Book of Ether
Book of Mormon
Introduction to Chapter 1
Jaredites and the Nephites Common Ground
Section one explores and compares the descriptions of areas common to both the Jaredites and the Nephites in the land of Bountiful and Desolation.
Following years of study, we discovered that Book of Mormon writers described Jaredite and Nephite lands in similar ways, and those common descriptions link both civilizations to the northern part of western New York and a section of Ontario, Canada. First, starting at hill Ramah/Cumorah:
The highlighted area shows the Hill Cumorah on a New York map. The Jaredites called this area Ramah and a close city, Ogath. The Nephites called it Cumorah. Ramah/Cumorah is where final battles occurred for Jaredites and Nephites, and where Moroni retrieved the plates hidden there by his father.
The last Nephite prophet, Moroni, abridged the book of Ether and points out in Ether 15:11 that Hill Ramah and Hill Cumorah are different names for the same place. Both the Jaredites and Nephites ended their civilizations with wars at this hill, so Moroni makes a vital link and a direct correlation between the groups. Over the years, Church leaders agreed the placement of Hill Cumorah is in upstate New York. How did the Jaredites and the Nephites get to the Hill Ramah/Cumorah?
The area surrounding the Hill Cumorah is called the “land of many waters” in the Book of Mormon. That description contains vital information for the placement of the next area. The areas north and west of the Hill Cumorah are full of waters, rivers, and fountains, as declared in Mormon 6:4, circa A.D. 385, Nephite record.
Mormon 6:4 A.D. 385
4 And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains...[emphasis added]
Five hundred years before, Limhi’s group (circa 121 BC) offered a similar description of the land of many waters.
Mosiah 8:8 121 B.C.- Limhi’s group
And they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel. [emphasis added]
Despite many centuries between the two accounts, the Nephites in Mormon and Mosiah both called this section a land of many waters, although Limhi’s group found it around 121 B.C. (before destruction occurred in the Americas at the Savior’s death) and Mormon and Moroni traveled there in A.D. 385 (after destruction followed Christ’s crucifixion). Limhi’s group found themselves at Cumorah, and there discovered the records of the Jaredites, left there after the final battles of the Jaredites. The cross-reference for Mosiah 8:8 links this scripture to Mormon 6:4.
In summary, since Mosiah 8:8 preceded Christ’s crucifixion, and Mormon 6:4 succeeded it, “The Land of Many Waters” should still be there today.
The area from Hill Cumorah and west to the Genesee river is full of water, rivers, and fountains. The Jaredites came from the waters of Ripliancum to Cumorah. Ether 15:8 mentions the Jaredites were at the waters of Ripliancum. In verse 10, Shiz and his army fled southward to the land of Ogath; in verse 11, Coriantumr went to hill Ramah.
Ether 15:8,10-11 121 B.C.
8 And it came to pass that he came to the waters of Ripliancum…,
10 And it came to pass that the armies of Coriantumr did press upon the armies of Shiz that they beat them, that they caused them to flee before them; and they did flee southward, and did pitch their tents in a place which was called Ogath.
11 And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah; and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred. [emphasis added]
Verse 10 of Ether 15 indicates that Ogath was next to Hill Ramah because the Jaredite leader, Shiz, was at Ogath and the opposing leader, Coriantumr, was at Hill Ramah (Verse 11). During the next four years, they gathered all the people for Shiz and Coriantumr, and then battled to the end. (See Ether 15:12-34; thousands died at Hill Ramah.)
Waters of Ripliancum, Jordan
The Jaredite description of the waters of Ripliancum “large, or to exceed all” and the Nephite description of the Cumorah area being “the land of many waters” sound very similar in the detail. Notice the word “waters”; this implies that Ripliancum is not just one place. By examining verses in Ether 15, we can ascertain the path of the Jaredites before they arrived at Ramah for the final battles.
Ether 15:8,10 121 B.C.
8 And it came to pass that he came to the waters of Ripliancum…,
10 And it came to pass that the armies of Coriantumr did press upon the armies of Shiz that they beat them, that they caused them to flee before them; and they did flee southward, and did pitch their tents in a place which was called Ogath. [emphasis added]
Verse 8 specifies that Jaredites were at the waters of Ripliancum and verse 10 records that Shiz’ group retreated southward to the Hill Ramah-Ogath area. Moroni states that Shiz’ people went “southward” or the way of the south, but not “directly” south. What is northward of the Hill Ramah and Ogath today? Ramah/Cumorah is southeast of modern-day Rochester, New York, and incidentally, there are many rivers and streams which come together at the Bay of Irondequoit and exit to Lake Ontario.
Remember “The Waters of Ripliancum” refers to waters, plural. We believe the area between the Bay of Irondequoit and Cumorah is the Waters of Ripliancum area. On the map above, Irondequoit Bay forms a “leg” of light blue that appears at the top left of the map and hangs down. This area is northwest of Hill Cumorah, pinned in red at the lower right.
And it came to pass that he came to the waters of Ripliancum, which, by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all; wherefore, when they came to these waters they pitched their tents; and Shiz also pitched his tents near unto them; and therefore on the morrow they did come to battle.
Look at the many waters, rivers, and lakes displayed on these maps. Jaredites and Nephites may have traveled this area found northward and close to Ramah/Cumorah.
River Sidon actually goes through the city Jordan (Rochester)
Example of the many waters in this area
A primary waterway of western New York is the Genesee River, which flows northward through Rochester and exits at Lake Ontario. Perhaps the Nephite city of Jordan was near present-day Rochester and included waters from the Genesee.
Mormon 5:3-5, A.D. 400-421
3 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did come against us as we had fled to the city of Jordan; but behold, they were driven back that they did not take the city at that time.
4 And it came to pass that they came against us again, and we did maintain the city. And there were also other cities which were maintained by the Nephites, which strongholds did cut them off that they could not get into the country which lay before us, to destroy the inhabitants of our land.
5 But it came to pass that whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns, and villages, and cities were burned with fire; and thus three hundred and seventy and nine years passed away. [emphasis added]
According to Mormon 5, the Nephites gathered to the city of Jordan before going to the Hill Cumorah. The verses above describe Nephite lands north of Cumorah and near Cumorah about A.D. 400-421. Consider that all the destruction that occurred in the Americas at the time of Christ’s crucifixion happened at least 350 years before the last battles of the Nephites. The physical layout of the land from A.D. 34 to 400 could be similar to what one sees, today, since Nephite record keepers did not detail other changes to this land.
The Bible Dictionary (BD) has no entry for a city named Jordan but provides details of the River Jordan. Following are notes from the Bible Dictionary about the Jordan River, and a mention of Sidon, the main river of the Nephites, according to the Book of Mormon Index.
BD= Jordan River- The most important river of Palestine, formed by the union of several springs rising in Mount Hermon. It passes through the Huleh Valley (the waters of Merom), then descends to the Sea of Galilee. The total length of the river is well over 100 miles.
Book of Mormon Index- Sidon, River—most prominent river in Nephite territory.
It is plausible that the area described as “the land of many waters” was also connected to the most prominent river of the Nephites. The Genesee River is next to the Bay of Irondequoit, the probable location for the waters of Ripliancum. Note similarities between three rivers, the Jordan River, the River Sidon, and the Genesee River. Perhaps Nephites called an area in New York “Jordan” because it signified an important waterway to them. The Nephites called the area near Cumorah “the land of many waters,” and it appears their city Jordan was close to this area. The Rivers Jordan, Sidon, and Genesee have several things in common:
The Jordan River is the most important river in Palestine. The River Sidon is the most prominent river in Nephite territory. According to Nephite writers, Sidon flows through the lands of Zarahemla and Bountiful, as the Genesee flows through western New York.
The Jordan River is a union of several springs in Mount Hermon. The Genesee River is a union of several springs from the mountains of Pennsylvania.
The total length of Jordan River is over 100 miles. The Genesee River winds through approximately 158 miles of Pennsylvania and New York until it flows into Lake Ontario.
The Jordan River in Palestine runs south. The River Sidon in the Book of Mormon runs north, and so does the Genesee River.
The Jordan River descends to the Sea of Galilee. The River Sidon/Genesee River descends to the sea of Lake Ontario.
The Jordan River passes through the Heleh Valley (the waters of Merom). The River Sidon flows through the land of Mormon, and possibly by the waters of Mormon. The Genesee runs through western New York, in areas once inhabited by Jaredites and Nephites.
The Genesee River flows through the city of Rochester, the probable location for the Nephite city of Jordan.
There are Book of Mormon scholars that believe the main Jaredite and Nephite civilizations were centered in Missouri, while other scholars believe Jaredites and Nephites lived in Central or South America. But traveling from any of those three places—central United States, Central or South America—the Jaredites and Nephites would have to move north or northwards to Cumorah in New York. Record keepers in the Book of Mormon make it clear that Jaredites & Nephites traveled southward to Cumorah, not northward.
Jaredite authors describe the Rochester/Palmyra area in New York in ways similar to the Nephites: “there were many waters, rivers, and fountains.” Descriptions of significant water sources by Cumorah are common to Jaredite and Nephite writers. These facts match the topography, directions, and waters of New York, close to the Hill Cumorah. With a significant sea to the north of Cumorah (Lake Ontario), Jaredites traveled from the west to the east to get to land close to the waters of Ripliancum.
Land of Agosh
Having placed the Hill Ramah/Cumorah, the waters of Ripliancum and the city Jordan in the eastern region of Book of Mormon lands, in this section we highlight scriptures that pertain to the final migration of the Jaredite civilation from west to east, as they approached Ramah.
According to the record in Ether 14, Jaredite leaders Coriantumr and Lib battled back and forth with their armies between the land of Moron and the wilderness of Akish. Ether 14:11-12 states that this fight went from the land of Moron to a seashore.
11 And it came to pass that in the first year of Lib, Coriantumr came up unto the land of Moron, and gave battle unto Lib.
12 And it came to pass that he fought with Lib, in which Lib did smite upon his arm that he was wounded; nevertheless, the army of Coriantumr did press forward upon Lib, that he fled to the borders upon the seashore. [emphasis added]
To provide clarity, the seashore mentioned in verse 12 will be identified as the first seashore. Three scriptures later (Ether 14:15), Coriantumr and Lib went to the land of Agosh and then to another seashore (Ether 14:26) or the second seashore.
15 And it came to pass that Lib did pursue him until he came to the plains of Agosh. And Coriantumr had taken all the people with him as he fled before Lib in that quarter of the land whither he fled.
26 And it came to pass that Shiz did pursue Coriantumr eastward, even to the borders by the seashore, and there he gave battle unto Shiz for the space of three days. [emphasis added]
Analyzing those two verses above, it appears that Lib and Corintumr went to the first seashore and to the plains of Agosh, then arrived at a second seashore. The land of Agosh is between the two seas, evidently. Twelve verses later, Jaredites reached the waters of Ripliancum.
And it came to pass that he came to the waters of Ripliancum, [emphasis added]
Summarizing the directions and lands mentioned in Ether 14 and 15, Coriantumr and Lib went to the first seashore then to Agosh. From the land of Agosh, they traveled eastward to the second seashore, and eventually to the waters of Ripliancum. At Ripliancum, they turned southward. The following chart displays places named by Jaredites in light blue (with verses from Ether noted), and comparable places named by Nephites in Black (with verses from Mormon noted). A short purple line seperates corresponding Jaredite and Nephite lands.
The following map shows the probable migration of the Jaredite armies eastward, shown on a modern map of this Great Lakes area:
According to our scriptural model, west of the waters of Ripliancum and Cumorah there should be two seashores, and land between them, that Jaredites passed. On this map, we can see two lakes, Lake Ontario (“2nd Sea,” below Toronto and above Rochester) and Lake Huron (“1st Sea,” between Michigan on the west and Ontario, Canada on the east). There is land between these so-called seas. The two seas and land between them fit the description in Ether 14. When we look at other scriptures, we see a similar connection between the Jaredites and the Nephite lands in this area also.
Let’s look again at the description of the land of Agosh in Ether 14:17-25:
17 Now the name of the brother of Lib was called Shiz. And it came to pass that Shiz pursued after Coriantumr, and he did overthrow many cities, and he did slay both women and children, and he did burn the cities.
18 And there went a fear of Shiz throughout all the land; yea, a cry went forth throughout the land—Who can stand before the army of Shiz? Behold, he sweepeth the earth before him!
19 And it came to pass that the people began to flock together in armies, throughout all the face of the land.
20 And they were divided; and a part of them fled to the army of Shiz, and a part of them fled to the army of Coriantumr.
21 And so great and lasting had been the war, and so long had been the scene of bloodshed and carnage, that the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead.
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.
24 Nevertheless, Shiz did not cease to pursue Coriantumr; for he had sworn to avenge himself upon Coriantumr of the blood of his brother, who had been slain, and the word of the Lord which came to Ether that Coriantumr should not fall by the sword.
25 And thus we see that the Lord did visit them in the fulness of his wrath, and their wickedness and abominations had prepared a way for their everlasting destruction. [emphasis added]
Jaredites - Agosh
…the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead.
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.
Nephites - Land of Desolation/ Narrow Neck
And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones
we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing.
The graphic above directly correlates verses 21-22 from Ether 14 describing the land of Agosh (left side, Jaredites) with a description of this same area from Alma 22:30, provided by the Nephites, describing their land of Desolation, initially discovered by the people of Zarahemla. Notice the similarities in these verses that Nephites used to describe Desolation (Alma 22:30), and also “the land northward, ”from the Jaredite record (Omni 1:22):
Alma 22:30 90-77 B.C.
And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing. [emphasis added]
Omni 1:22 232-130 B.C.
It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people; and the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward. [emphasis added]
The Jaredites called the area between the two seas the land of Agosh; the Nephites called the area west of the narrow strip of land, the land of Desolation. The verses seem to explain and identify the same geographical area. Just west of the area we believe to be the waters of Ripliancum is a narrow neck of land and the land of Desolation. Since Jaredites traveled east from Agosh to the waters of Ripliancum (see Ether 14:26), then we need to go west to find the area of Agosh or the land of Desolation. There will be a little strip of land called the “small neck” (narrow neck) close to the area:
32 And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward. [emphasis added]
The land of Desolation is in the land northward, and the division of the land northward and the land southward is a narrow neck of land between the two. This identifies the land of Desolation as being west of the narrow neck of land.
The Jaredites’ placement of Agosh and the Nephites’ placement of Desolation seem to define the same place. The book of Helaman provides more detail for the land northward or the lands of Agosh/Desolation.
Helaman 3:8 49-39 B.C.
And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east. [emphasis added]
The land of Agosh/Desolation needs to have water on each side, according to Helaman 3:8. On the map above, there is a sea on the north, south, east, and west. Even the seas fit this designated area.
Alma 22:31 90-77 B.C.
31 And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food. [emphasis added]
“Northward” is the land of Desolation and “southward” is the land of Bountiful, according to Alma 22, and the narrow neck of land (i.e., the narrow strip of land between these two areas) connects the two so Nephites could walk the distance from Desolation to Bountiful in only a day and a half. Google Maps show the distance from the city of Niagara Falls, New York to Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) to be nearly 48 miles, which would take almost 15 hours and 59 minutes to walk, according to Google maps.
Again, in our opinion, the land of Desolation (Nephites) and the land of Agosh (Jaredites) identify the same area. The people of Zarahemla (Mulekites) landed there first and found bones laid all over the ground. Although covered in bones and no inhabitants, the people called it “Desolation,” because there was no timber. There is a strip of land west of Buffalo, New York and east of Hamilton, Canada; this small segment fits the description of the narrow neck, falling in the middle part of the land between the city of Niagara Falls/Bountiful and the land of Desolation.
Mormon 3:5 A.D. 360
5 And it came to pass that I did cause my 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. [emphasis added]
The land of Desolation includes that narrow strip of land, as noted in Mormon 3:5, and contains a city located by the narrow neck and the land southward. Nephites named the city found at this juncture, the city of Desolation, according to Mormon 3:7. The placement of Desolation correlates well with the city of Buffalo, New York on modern maps.
And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and the first year the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us, and it came to pass that in that year we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their lands again. [emphasis added]
What does the word “down” mean in Nephite terminology regarding travel? In the twenty-first century, we use the term “down” to identify traveling south, or in a southward direction, and often use “up” to identify traveling north or northward. In the Book of Mormon, however, the terms up and down seem to refer to a change of elevation or topography, rather than the directions “north” or “south.” In Mormon 3:7, Nephites traveled to the city of Desolation and came down in elevation; the city was right on the seashore.
Dividing Line Between Countries
Alma 46:17 makes a connection between the lands and the concept of liberty:
17 And it came to pass that when he had poured out his soul to God, he named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south a chosen land, and the land of liberty. [emphasis added]
Look at the black line that divides boundaries between Canada and the United States. Alma 46:17 states that Captain Moroni named all the land which was south of the land Desolation [the land of Desolation includes the narrow neck] “the land of liberty.” Then Captain Moroni clarifies that all the land, both on the north and the south is “a chosen land and the land of liberty.” Remember that sometimes the Nephites called the land Bountiful “north” and the land of Zarahemla “south”; sometimes the Nephites called the areas of Zarahemla and Bountiful the land “north” and the Land of Nephi “south.” Captain Moroni does not clarify, here, whether “north” refers to Bountiful or Zarahemla, but we do know he is naming the land south of the land of Desolation “a chosen land, and the land of liberty.” How precise is that description? The scriptures split the land of Desolation in one country (Canada) and the land of promise in another country (USA). The scriptures fit, amazingly, with the boundaries of the United States.
Politically speaking, it would not make sense to place the narrow neck of land in South or Central America because the description in Alma would eliminate the United States, with its freedoms and rights, as being the land of promise. Placing the narrow neck in Missouri or the heartland of the United States also fits ill with boundaries, for then it puts the Hill Cumorah outside the description of the land of promise. No, setting the narrow neck and land of Desolation in Ontario, Canada creates a much better fit—politically and geographically—with descriptions from Book of Mormon authors. We do not have to imagine the “narrow Neck”; it is real, and it exists today. The Book of Mormon perfectly lays out this position. The positioning of the land of Desolation, then, is north and then west of the Hill Cumorah.
And it came to pass that Shiz did pursue Coriantumr eastward, even to the borders by the seashore, and there he gave battle unto Shiz for the space of three days. [emphasis added]
To reiterate, the Jaredites traveled east from Agosh to the waters of Ripliancum. Then they turned south to Hill Ramah/Cumorah.
Land of Corihor, Valley of Shurr, Hill Comnor, Hill Shim
26 And it came to pass that Shiz did pursue Coriantumr eastward, even to the borders by the seashore, and there he gave battle unto Shiz for the space of three days.
27 And so terrible was the destruction among the armies of Shiz that the people began to be frightened, and began to flee before the armies of Coriantumr; and they fled to the land of Corihor, and swept off the inhabitants before them, all them that would not join them.
28 And they pitched their tents in the valley of Corihor; and Coriantumr pitched his tents in the valley of Shurr. Now the valley of Shurr was near the hill Comnor; wherefore, Coriantumr did gather his armies together upon the hill Comnor, and did sound a trumpet unto the armies of Shiz to invite them forth to battle. [emphasis added]
Ether 14:26-28 states that between the plains of Agosh and the waters of Ripliancum was the land of Corihor, the valley of Shurr and the hill Comner. As we think about the area it covers, we realize the area of the Book of Mormon is becoming “dialed down” to a smaller than expected area. We have cell phones and internet to communicate today, and therefore we can rapidly discover what is happening in South America and to talk with friends or family there—but for the Jaredites in their day, such communication between continents would be impossible. There is no plausible way for record keepers in Jaredite or Nephite days near the hill Ramah/Cumorah to correspond with record keepers around Central of South America; historians and prophets, whose writings form the Book of Mormon, would be confined to a much smaller space.
The Jaredite leaders Shiz and Coriantumr battled as they traveled east. Shiz went to the land of Corihor (Ether 14:26-27), then Coriantumr chased Shiz to the valley of Shurr, where Coriantumr stopped (Ether 14:28). The valley of Shurr was close to the hill Comnor. These three areas were close together, we presume, because when Coriantumr blew the trumpet to call Jaredites to battle, both armies responded. One internet source mentioned that a trumpet's blast might be heard up to 20 miles away. Rochester, New York (or waters of Ripliancum) to Buffalo, New York (near the narrow neck of land) is a distance of 56 miles. If the land of Corihor, the valley of Shurr and the hill Comnor are part-way between Rochester and Buffalo, New York, the area fits well the distances and the descriptions in Ether, since half of that distance is 28 miles, and a trumpeter might be heard for 20 miles. The Nephite authors also mention a hill in this same area, but we will address that in Section Two, about the lands of Zarahemla and the final battle for the Nephites.
In the Genesee County, New York area around Batavia, there are more than 200 sites identified as Hopewell culture sites. I have a friend, Dave Woodworth, who lived in upstate New York while he was young. He remembered seeing many Native American burial mounds in the 1960s and 1970s. It appears that many have been torn apart and dismantled. Farmlands replaced mounds. One burial site preserved is the Lewiston Mound in Lewiston, New York, just north of the city of Niagara Falls [photos below].
Near the Lewiston Mound, identified by scholars as a Hopewell burial ground, is a hill known as Oak Hill. The date on this mound is well within the range of the Nephites' timeline, and the area, with Oak Hill, could easily be the area known as Hill Comnor to the Jaredites. This area lies between the plains of Agosh (land of Desolation) and waters of Ripliancum (Jordan-Rochester), as we have identified them, in New York.
A verse in 3 Nephi chapter 3 mentions other lands the Nephites named that are close in proximity to the land Corihor, the valley of Shurr, and hill Comnor: the land of Bountiful, land of Zarahemla, and the “narrow neck of land.” The land of Corihor, the valley of Shurr, and hill Comnor are inside Bountiful. The land of Zarahemla is south of the land of Bountiful. In this section, we discussed the land of Bountiful and the land of Desolation (including that narrow neck), shown below on the map. Both areas are common to the Jaredites and the Nephites.
3 Nephi 3:23
And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land Zarahemla and the land Bountiful, yea, to the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation. [emphasis added]
This scripture indicates that the land of Bountiful and the land of Zarahemla touch the boundaries of the land Desolation.
Laying out the lands, according to the description in 3 Nephi 3:23, south of Bountiful is the land of Zarahemla. The lands Bountiful and Zarahemla border the narrow neck of land. The verse in 3 Nephi 3:23 indicates that on a map, the latitude range of Bountiful on its west side is close to the latitude range of the narrow neck of land. Although the latitudinal range of each may not match exactly, there is a point in that area where the lands of Bountiful and Zarahemla “touch” the narrow strip of land, and all meet. Since the three points meet, it is reasonable to assume that Zarahemla is in New York, also.
Alma 22: 33
And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward. [emphasis added]
The land Bountiful ran from the east to the west sea. This scripture clarifies that there is no boundary Nephites mention as east of the land Bountiful, but on the west, it identifies the west sea as the boundary. East of the narrow neck of land is the land Bountiful, and therefore the previous areas described—the land of Corihor, the valley of Shurr, hill Comnor, the waters of Ripliancum (Jordan), and hill Ramah (Cumorah)—are all located in the land Bountiful. Bountiful is on a higher ground than Zarahemla.
And the king said unto him: Being grieved for the afflictions of my people, I caused that forty and three of my people should take a journey into the wilderness, that thereby they might find the land of Zarahemla, that we might appeal unto our brethren to deliver us out of bondage.
8 And they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel.
9 And for a testimony that the things that they had said are true they have brought twenty-four plates which are filled with engravings, and they are of pure gold.
10 And behold, also, they have brought breastplates, which are large, and they are of brass and of copper, and are perfectly sound.
11 And again, they have brought swords, the hilts thereof have perished, and the blades thereof were cankered with rust; and there is no one in the land that can interpret the language or the engravings that are on the plates. Therefore I said unto thee: Canst thou translate? [emphasis added]
King Limhi sent forty-three people to the land of Zarahemla to get help. They traveled many days through a wilderness, and then came to a land of many waters. In this area, they found 24 gold plates before they returned to the land of Nephi. Remember that the Jaredite war ended at hill Ramah (Cumorah) and that the records would have been placed there at Ramah. Mormon 6:4 describes the land around Cumorah as the land of many waters. Many people think the Jaredite record was found near Desolation because they think the term “desolate” may refer to the presence of many bones, but that is not what the Book of Mormon declares in Mosiah 8. The Jaredite record states that 2,230,000 people died in the final battles near the waters of Ripliancum, and the hill Ramah. Ultimately, this means that Limhi’s group discovered the writings of the Jaredite civilization at the same place that Joseph Smith later found the Nephite record: the hill Ramah/Cumorah.
Mosiah 8 also states that the search party traveled through the wilderness. There is a wilderness area in New York, today, south of Cumorah, that matches the description found in Mosiah 8. Likely the search party went northward from the land of Nephi, to reach the wilderness by Ramah/Cumorah.
It is evident they traveled in the east wilderness to the Cumorah area, finding water, rivers, and lakes aplenty. The land of Desolation is not known as a land of many waters, but Cumorah is.
According to our research, the Land of Nephi was likely located in modern-day central or western Pennsylvania. There are only a few natural passageways between mountains that would allow Nephite explorers on foot to travel between the Land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla (on today’s map, to walk from Pennsylvania northward to New York). One route, currently following highways US 15 to I-99 into New York, would bring Nephites close to present-day Corning, New York. In this place, they came upon a fork in the road. Taking the left side, Nephites would go in a northwest direction and arrive in the land of Zarahemla, even reaching the city of Zarahemla. (See Section Two, City of Zarahemla). If Nephites went right, however, the trail would lead north, and they would travel several days in a wilderness before they eventually arrived near the hill Ramah/Cumorah where 2,230,000 people died in the Jaredite wars. Due to the mountainous topography of northern Pennsylvania and south-central New York, there are only a few routes possible, and it is not difficult to imagine that Nephite search parties might take a wrong turn, and wind up in by the Hill Cumorah, rather than the city of Zarahemla.
The next focus is the furthest east point discussed by the Jaredites. Ether 9:3 describes the placement of the place called Ablom.
Ether 9:3 400 B.C.
3 And the Lord warned Omer in a dream that he should depart out of the land; wherefore Omer departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent, and also his sons and his daughters, and all his household, save it were Jared and his family. [emphasis added]
Omer passed hill Shim and then Cumorah, traveling east to a seashore before settling at Ablom. In Section Two we clarify the position of the east sea, with evidence supporting that placement. Here I will state that the Finger Lakes in New York are likely the remnant of the Nephites’ east sea; the Jaredites’ Ablom was found on the west side of the Finger Lakes.
Summation of the Areas Placed
Both the Jaredites’ and the Nephites’ last battles had a connection to the Hill Ramah/Cumorah and the areas surrounding it, northward to Lake Ontario, and west to Lake Erie. Jaredite and Nephite descriptions of the plains of Agosh and the land of Desolation are remarkably similar. The Jaredite battles ended around the year 400 B.C. (before the destruction in the land at the time of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion), and the Nephite final battles were about A.D. 400 (after the destruction). The land did experience change at Christ’s crucifixion, but not so much in these areas, as outlined by Book of Mormon writers nearly 800 years apart; destruction occurred, but it did not destroy or change these places beyond recognition.
Here are the areas we have laid out so far in western New York: the hill Ramah/Cumorah; the waters of Ripliancum/city of Jordan; hill Comner, valley of Shurr, and valley of Comnor; the narrow neck of land and the land of Desolation. The area south of the land of Desolation/narrow neck is the land Bountiful, and the land of Zarahemla. Zarahemla is south of
Bountiful. The land of Bountiful runs east and west.
Intense Book of Mormon study of each verse that offers descriptions of the land, combined with years of prayer, have led us to these conclusions, and we believe them to be true. Book of Mormon scriptures, themselves, indicate and identify western New York and surrounding areas as the place many Book of Mormon events occurred.