The Lord Redeems His Covenant Children
Alma 1 -- Alma 44
Alma 21:1,2 The Land of Jerusalem . . . Away Joining the Borders of Mormon:
In order to evaluate the geographical location of the "land of Jerusalem" (Alma 21:1,2), the Book of Mormon student should keep a number of scriptural references in mind:
(1) According to Alma 21:1-2, the land of Jerusalem was "away joining the borders of Mormon."
(2) According to Mosiah 18:4 and Alma 5:3, the land of Mormon was "in the borders of the land of Nephi."
(3) According to 3 Nephi 9:7, at the time of Christ's death, a city of Jerusalem was destroyed "and waters have I [the Lord] caused to come up in the stead thereof, to hide their wickedness."
Assuming a Mesoamerican setting and in accordance with the geographical theory of Joseph Allen, the waters of Mormon correlate with the beautiful, fresh-water resort of Lake Atitlan (see the commentary on Mosiah 18:4,5,8). A breach in the lake is obvious to the visitor. This is the area that is proposed as the city of Jerusalem. In their book, The Messiah in Ancient America, Warren and Ferguson wrote that during a period of low water in the 1930's, ruins [Chuitnamit and Chukumuk] were detected in the water and ceramics were recovered that had the same style and pattern as the ruins of Kaminaljuyu (Pre Classic) in Guatemala city (the proposed local land of Nephi). Lake Atitlan is flanked by three large volcanoes that today are called San Pedro, Atitlan, and Toliman. The submerged archaelogical ruins of Chuitnamit and Chukumuk are located near the town of Santiago Atitlan, which lies at the base of the volcano Atitlan. The volcanic peak of San Pedro demonstrates a past blow-out, indicating the possibility of water's covering an inland city. The three large volcanoes tend to separate different villages so that the phrases "he departed [from the city of Jerusalem] and came over to a village which was called Ani-Anti" and "they departed [from the village of Ani-Anti] and came over into the land of Middoni" (see Alma 21:11-12) are appropriate when talking about travel between the villages.
If the destroyed city of Jerusalem was the same as the city of Jerusalem mentioned in Alma 21:1-2, then it must meet the following requirements:
1. It should be located near the borders of the Lamanites and near the borders of the land of Mormon.
2. It should be by an inland lake not too far removed from the city of Nephi.
3. It should have evidence of settlements dating to 100 B.C.
4. It should reflect geological evidence of water covering the area.
All four requirements are met with the townsite of Santiago Atitlan. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 249,325] [See the commentary on Mosiah 18:4 and 3 Nephi 9:7]
Alma 21:2 The Amalekites and the Amulonites:
The involvement of "the Amalekites" and "the Amulonites" in building the city of Jerusalem (Alma 21:2) possibly links Jerusalem's cultural and geographical position to the lands of Helam and Amulon. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Mosiah 23:25-35, and on Mosiah 24:1-2]
Alma 21:3 Amalekites:
According to Verneil Simmons, the name Amalekite is interesting. It is known from the Bible, being the name of a group of people from the desert south of Jerusalem who were always at war with the people of Judah. They shared the same territory as the Ishmaelites and were eventually absorbed by the tribes around them. Did the sons of Ishmael have ties to the Amalekites and bring that lineage with them? [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 84]
Alma 21:4-5 Synagogues:
What are synagogues? According to John Sorenson they are mentioned among both Nephites and the Lamanites under dissident Nephite influence (Alma 21:4-5; 32:1-12; Helaman 3:9, 14; Moroni 7:1). Many historians have maintained that synagogues were not known among the Jews until well after Lehi had left Palestine. Another group of experts, however, now argue that the synagogue predated Lehi's departure. They propose that when King Josiah carried out his sweeping reforms of Jewish worship in order to clean out pagan intrusions, he closed the old sanctuaries (2 Kings 23). The centralization of worship in Jerusalem from 621 B.C. onward, with many Jews thereby denied a share in temple worship, must inevitably have led to the establishment of non-sacrificial places of assembly. However, whatever distinguished a synagogue from a local church by Nephite standards was so subtle that we would be unable to tell them apart on the basis of their remains. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 235] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 26:26; Alma 16:13; 31:12]
Alma 21:7 Believest Thou That the Son of God Shall Come to Redeem Mankind from Their sins?:
Brant Gardner notes that in response to an Amalekite's heckling, Aaron begins with a question: "Believest thou that the Son of God shall come to redeem mankind from their sins?" One might wonder why such a question, but it has to do with the order of Nehor culture. Aaron's question probes exactly where the Nehorite error lies. One of the first alterations that the order of the Nehors makes in Nephite doctrine is the removal of the Atoning Messiah. The response of the Amalekite will be to first deny this doctrine of an Atoning Messiah ("we do not believe"), and second to deny there is any evidence for that doctrine ("thou knowest [not] of things to come"), and third to impugn the tradition that would lead one to believe that way ("thy fathers and also . . . our fathers did [not] know concerning the things which they spake"). The Amalekite is not only dismissing the belief in the Atoning Messiah, but also in the principle of revelation. [Brant Gardner, Book of Mormon Commentary, http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Alma/ Alma21.htm, p. 6]
Alma 21:11 The Village of Ani-Anti:
In Alma 21:11, we find mention of a village "called Ani-Anti." According to the geographical theory of Joseph Allen, there are twelve villages bordering beautiful Lake Atitlan (the proposed waters and borders of Mormon). "On our trips we stay at the town of Panajachel. The only reason we suggest that the village of San Lucas could be the town of Ani-Anti is that it is in the direction of Antigua" (the proposed land of Middoni). Alma 21:11 is the only reference in the Book of Mormon to the village of Ani-Anti. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 365-366]
Once again, if the modifiers up, down, out, and over mentioned in Alma 21:11,12 and Alma 22:3 can be used as keys of elevation, we might have some help in correlating the geography of the travels of the sons of Mosiah. Let us review the verses:
Alma 21:11: "he [Aaron] departed out of (Jerusalem) . . . and came over to . . . Ani-Anti
Assumption: The city of Jerusalem might be on the same plane as the village of Ani-Anti.
Assumption: The city of Jerusalem and the village of Ani-Anti might be in hilly country.
The city of Jerusalem (Santiago Atitlan) = Elev. 1592 m.
The village of Ani-Anti (San Lucas) = Elev. 1591 m.
Alma 21:12: they departed (from Ani-Anti) and came over into the land of Middoni
Assumption: Ani-Anti might be on the same plane as Middoni (Ani-Anti and Middoni might be in hilly country).
Ani-Anti (San Lucas) = Elev. 1591 m.
Middoni (Antigua) = Elev. 1530 m.