“Timber Was Exceedingly Scarce and They Did Send Forth Much by the Way of Shipping”

Alan C. Miner

According to Helaman 3:9-10, "the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement . . . and it came to pass as timber was exceedingly scarce in the land northward, they did send forth much by the way of shipping." One might wonder if the economics of shipping might limit the proposed distances here. Where did the shipping originate? Was it from somewhere in the land northward to another place in the land northward? Was it from the land Bountiful to the far north? Was it from the general land of Zarahemla? If it was from the general land of Zarahemla, we have to ask, how much of a task would it have been to load and carry timber possibly hundreds of miles (by boat?) and then transport this timber possibly many miles inland? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

According to the Mesoamerican model of David Palmer, if the wood was being shipped to southern Veracruz, it may have come from along the coast of Tabasco, otherwise known as the Chontalpa region. That region served as an important source of building wood just after the Spanish conquest of the area. Sisson reported, "Logwood became an important natural resource, attracting English logwood cutters and pirates." [David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, p. 186] [For the view of Joseph Allen, see the commentary on Alma 63:4-5]

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