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Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Deseret, Which, by Interpretation, Is A Honey Bee"

Critics of the Book of Mormon often point out the mention of bees as an anachronism. Here's the verse, Ether 2:3,
And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.
This is allegedly an anachronism because the honey bee was not known in America until they were brought by the Spanish.

This argument is almost as silly as the Adieu Argument. The biggest problem with the argument that the Book of Mormon claims that honey bees were in America is the fact that the Book of Mormon does not make that claim.

The verse above takes place before they left the Old World and they are never mentioned again. A few chapters later, in Ether 6:4, we are told what they brought with them overseas.
And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them—and it came to pass that when they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.
Bees are not mentioned here. It could be that they were brought, but were just not mentioned specifically, but there are two very good reasons to think that the Jaredites did not bring them to the New World.

First is that nobody in their right mind would enclose themselves on a barge in the middle of the ocean with a bunch of livestock and swarms of bees.

Second, and more convincing, is this: The Jaredites journey across the sea took 344 days. This we are told in Ether 6:11. No hive of bees would last that long without being able to gather pollen to produce honey and feed the hive. They couldn't bring bees to the New World if they tried. This was much easier centuries later for Spanish sailing ships because the trip was only about two to three months.

So the Book of Mormon does not claim that the honey bee was known in America before they were brought by the Spanish. In fact, it implies the opposite.


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