Hurricanes in the Book of Mormon
By Garth Norman
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The hurricane season is in the news again. A Book of Mormon record dating to the second century B.C. may contain the earliest recorded reference to hurricanes, which speaks of the historic record’s environmental geography.
The giant hurricane Dean struck the Yucatan Peninsula, August 21, 2007, with a category 5 force of more than a hundred and fifty mile-an-hour winds. Thousands of tourists evacuated vacation resorts along the Carribean coast by plane, bus, and auto. Many could not find transportation before the storm hit. The destructive impact has been widespread across Mexico.
It is interesting that the name “hurricane” is from the Maya name Huraca!n, who was a highland Maya storm god in Guatemala, according to the Popol Vuh.
Seventy years after the Conquest of Mexico, Aguilar wrote that the Maya in their books “painted in colors the count of their years, the wars, epidemics, hurricanes inundations, famines and other events” (The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, page 5). A Maya scribe wrote: “On this 18th day of August, 1766, occurred a hurricane. I have made a record of it in order that it may be seen how many years it will be before another one will occur” (ibid. page 143).
The Book of Mormon may contain the first known historic reference to hurricanes in America, interestingly in the land of Nephi, believed to be Guatemala.
In past times, some destructive storms were considered to be judgments of God when people needed to repent. King Limhi while preaching repentance to his people in the land of Nephi referred to the prophet Abinadi teaching the Lord’s word: “if my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the east wind, which bringeth immediate destruction” (Mosiah 7:31).
Abinadi also said: “they shall also be smitten by the east wind” (Mosiah 12:6).
Wind directions of hurricanes shift as the giant wheel moves across the land. So the “east wind” has reference to the origin of these destructive storms from the east sea across Central America. Hurricane paths shift, and Dean was predicted to possibly hit Texas, where it would have been a south wind. So, the destructive “east wind” was a distinctive climate reference in Mosiah to Central America as the land of the Book of Mormon in the second century B.C.
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