An error in the Book of Mormon

An error in the Book of Mormon


II Nephi 19:1 –
Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations.

Isaiah 9:1
Nevertheless the dimness [shall] not [be] such as [was] in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict [her by] the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.

The Book of Mormon qualifies the reference to “way of the sea” in Isaiah, and makes it the Red Sea. This is, however, quite impossible.

During the Kingdom Age (about 1000 BC and onwards), the land of Naphtali bordered the Sea of Galilee to the West. The land of Zabulun bordered Naphtali to the West and South. It is within this region that we find many names from Jesus’ ministry – Capernaum, Cana, Genneserat, Bethsaida and, of couse, Galilee. The quotation from Isaiah thus neatly pinpoints the area of the Messiah’s future ministry.

The Red Sea, however, is over 250 miles to the South of Galilee, near the Egyptian border. There is no way that Isaiah could at any stage have contained the geographical qualifier “Red”.

There is further proof of this assertion. Firstly, the quotation also mentions that “the sea” is beyond Jordan, in Galilee. The Jordan River, of course, empties into the Dead Sea, and never reaches the Red Sea at all. Further, the Red Sea is definitely nowhere near Galilee.

Secondly, this verse from Isaiah was quoted by Matthew in Matthew 4:12-16, specifically with reference to Galilee and Capernaum. The quotation in Matthew is also missing the reference to the Red Sea.

There is thus ample proof that the word “Red” was never a part of Isaiah 9:1. How then, did it get into the Book of Mormon? Could it be that the verse was altered by an imaginative, but woefully geographically challenged New York farmboy, as he was copying parts of Isaiah into the Book of Mormon?

Curt van den Heuvel

The above message was challenged on the old bulletin board by a couple of Mormons who basically stated that ‘way of the sea’ as used by Isaiah could have been a reference to the ‘Red Sea’.

Curt responds as follows:
Most commentators seem to agree that the phrase “way of the sea” in Isaiah 9:1 is a reference to the Via Maris, the ancient trade route from Egypt to Mesopotamia. Since Galilee, and Capernaum in particular, were on this route, this interpretation seems plausible.

The real issue is whether Isaiah 9:1 could ever have contained the phrase “way of the red sea”. The answer is no, quite simply because the phrase is inaccurate. The Via Maris was called the “way of the sea” because it followed the Palestinian coastline, not because it originated in the Red Sea. In fact, if the Via Maris can be said to originate anywhere, it would be the Egyptian city of On, located close to the Nile delta. (The map that I have before me shows the Via Maris heading North from On along the Nile, and then following the Palestinian coast from Zoan. It never touches Aqaba at all, much less the Red Sea).

The bottom line is that “way of the sea” is probably the name of the ancient trade route later known to the Romans as the Via Maris. “Way of the Red Sea” is not even close to being an accurate name for the Via Maris, and it is extremely unlikely that Isaiah would have used it.

Another response from a Mormon apologist