The Limited New York Setting

New York’s Hill Cumorah

What is most impressive about the western New York landscape and its similarities to Nephite territory is its size- a limited territory which stretched between Lake Erie on the west, the Genesee River on the east, Lake Ontario on the North, and Pennsylvania on the north. The scriptures themselves validate the fact that the land southward was not very big. Although the horse and chariot were mentioned in the text, the advancing of an army or the gathering of a people was usually accomplished on foot. Now this is still another indication that the overall territory was rather limited, for the scriptures clearly indicate that the people of that day managed to travel between lands and cities on a regular basis, whether they were helping to defend one another’s territory, helping to build or rebuild cities, shipping supplies back and forth, or simply gathering for the great conferences held by the rulers of their lands.

The constant interaction between cities and lands clearly indicates that most Book of Mormon towns and cities were closely linked to one another with only relatively short distances between.. Therefore, we should not be surprised when we read that it only took three days to travel from Melek to Ammonihah or a day and a half to traverse the distance across Bountiful. Armies tramped all over the territory and then home again. They captured cities and then lost them again on a regular basis, for they were in very close proximity to one another. The people in neighboring cities argued over borders and lands and many gathered themselves together for protection from warring factions. They moved across the land from Zarahemla to the eastern borders and then on to Bountiful without concern.

Obviously the Nephites and Lamanites spread out into neighboring territory over their millennial-long stay in the  land, but it would have been absolutely impossible for those prophets and scribes who lived and died in the limited regions of Zarahemla to record the happenings of the various residential cluster found throughout the entire northeast on a regular basis. In fact it may just be that the records of Zarahemla were chosen out of all the others to come forth in our day, because the area was not only isolated from other regions by vast forests and waterways, but compact enough to allow the various scribes to present a fairly complete picture of the life and times of those who occupied that region.

The records they kept were not only vital to those of their day, but ours as well. Thus, the Lord chose a limited region; a region where the comings and goings of the prophets could be easily tracked, where the wars and contentions of the various factions within the land could be monitored and recorded, and where the movement of the people as lands and cities were taken by the enemy, and then retaken with the aid of the Almighty, could be easily documented. Consequently, only the activities of those who lived in the limited territory known as the land southward, with only a mere mention of those who migrated into the land northward, were abridged on the golden plates by Moroni for those of our day.

Sadly, there are those who claim that New York is far too small to be Book of Mormon territory, supposing that hundreds of miles separated the various lands mentioned in the Book of Mormon and took in the entire eastern third of America.  The mere fact that   one of New York’s southern counties is bigger than some European countries should dispel that notion however, for from north to south  western New York is of ample size to be home to the lineal descendants of Lehi throughout the generations, regardless of the fact that some move out into outlying areas from the Atlantic  to the Rocky Mountains.

Watch the following video and judge for yourself.