strtoupper('“A')fter They Had Been in the Wilderness Twelve Days”

According to John Sorenson, in Guatemala it takes drovers eight days to herd pigs 90 miles through mountainous terrain to market -- an average of a little more than 11 miles a day. If we assume that Alma’s people and animals went at ordinary speeds, they could plausibly have traveled about 11 miles a day. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, pp. 8-9]

Thus, Sorenson might be assuming that Alma’s group traveled for about 13 days covering 11 miles each day, or about 143 miles, from Malacatancito (his proposed land of Helam) to the area of Santa Rosa (his local land of Zarahemla).

“After They Had Been in the Wilderness Twelve Days”

According to Joseph Allen, from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala [his proposed valley of Alma] if one is traveling toward the Chiapas Depression, Mexico [his proposed general land of Zarahemla], they travel north for 77 kilometers, stopping at Huehuetenango, an area that people refer to as “no-man’s land.” The traveler descends through a gorge for another 50 miles (82 kilometers) until they come to the border of La Mesilla, Guatemala and Ciudad Cuahtemoc, Mexico [the proposed border of the general land of Zarahemla]. At the rate of 10 miles a day, this distance is in the neighborhood of the 12-day journey as recorded by Alma. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 354]

“They Arrived in the Land of Zarahemla for Twenty-One Total Days of Travel from Mormon to Zarahemla”

According to David Lamb, Hebrew people attached special significance to individual numbers. Knowing the significance of the numbers serves as an emphasis for points which might otherwise go unnoticed. The total number of days traveled from the land of Mormon to Zarahemla was 21 days. It is interesting to note that 21 is a number of “divine completion” (Bullinger 1894:262). This helps to emphasize the fact that it was by divine means that Alma’s people were delivered from bondage in order to travel to Zarahemla, the designated land of promise. The arrival of Alma‘s people in Zarahemla not only marked the completion of their journey but it also marked the completion of the ingathering of God’s people to Zarahemla. [David Lamb, “What’s in a Number?,” in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 41]

Mosiah 25:1-6, 14, 19-20, 23 All the People of Nephi Were Assembled Together … There Were So Many People That They Could Not … All Hear the Word of God in One Assembly:

At the beginning of Mosiah 25:1-23, the reader assumes that “all the people of Nephi were assembled together” (Mosiah 25:1) in one body at one meeting. However, in Mosiah 25:20 we realize that the assembly consisted of multiple meetings, that “there were so many people that they could not all … hear the word of God in one assembly.” [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

“They Arrived in the Land of Zarahemla - Travel Time to Zarahemla”

The story of the flight of Alma and his people gives us the best clue in the Book of Mormon to the distance between the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla. Alma first fled to the land of Mormon, a place at most a few days away from Lehi-Nephi. It took Alma and his group eight days to travel from the waters of Mormon (in the borders of the land of Nephi--Mosiah 18:4) to the land of Helam (Mosiah 23:3). When they finally left the land of Helam, they traveled one day to the valley of Alma (Mosiah 24:20) and then an additional twelve days to the land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 24:25). Alma and his group spent a little over twenty-one days in travel, going from the borders of the land of Nephi to the land of Zarahemla.

Let‘s suppose that Alma’s total trip represented the quickest and most direct way to get to the land of Zarahemla. Let’s also be overly generous and allow Alma 5 days to reach the place of Mormon when he originally fled from king Noah in Lehi-Nephi. Let‘s also suppose that Alma’s group averaged ten miles a day, which for Alma’s group of at least 450 souls (Mosiah 18:35) and their "flocks and herds” (Mosiah 22:8) might include stops for sickness, exhaustion, mountains, rivers, swamps, jungle, hostile people, going off course, getting lost, injuries, accidents, and stops for food, game and supplies. The total distance would have been 260 miles from Lehi-Nephi to the land of Zarahemla.

Geographical [Theory Map]: Mosiah 24:1--25:13 Amulon Oppresses Alma--Alma Escapes to Zarahemla (Year 481)

Geographical [Theory Map]: Mosiah 24:1--25:13 Amulon Oppresses Alma--Alma[ Escapes to Zarahemla] 2 (Year 481) Nephi to Zarahemla

Geographical [Theory Map]: Mosiah 24:1--25:13 Amulon Oppresses Alma--Alma Escapes to Zarahemla (Year 481)

Alan C. Miner -

Alan C. Miner

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary