“They Did Travel to an Exceedingly Great Distance”

Alan C. Miner

It is hard to judge how far "an exceedingly great distance" (Helaman 3:3-4) was. Some have found in this verse a reason to believe that people traveled up to the Great Lakes area (Notice the reference to "large bodies of water and many rivers") However, a reference to a "land which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water" is also found in Alma 50:29 and describes the land northward to which Morianton was fleeing to. The reader should note that "they did spread forth into all parts of the land, into whatever parts it had NOT been rendered desolate and without timber, because of the many inhabitants who had before inherited the land" (Helaman 3:5). Mormon notes, however, that "NO part of the land was desolate, save it were for timber; but because of the greatness of the destruction of the people who had before inhabited the land it was called desolate" (Helaman 3:6). The reader is thus left to ponder the parallels of this "land northward" with (1) part or all of the Jaredite lands, (2) part or all of the land the Nephites called Desolation, or (3) part or all of some other anciently inhabited lands on the American continent which are not specifically mentioned in the Book of Mormon narrative. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

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