03) CUMORAH: How many cumorahs are there?

Prophetic Statements

First Presidency

In 1990 the office of the First Presidency of the LDS Church stated that Cumorah is in New York:

The Church has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon. 1

Read entire letter here.

Joseph Smith

Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box.

Brigham Young

This book, which contained these things, was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him, Cumorah, which hill is now in the state of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario County.   2

Joseph Fielding Smith

WHERE IS THE HILL CUMORAH?

SPECULATION ABOUT BOOK OF MORMON GEOGRAPHY. Within recent years there has arisen among certain students of the Book of Mormon a theory to the effect that within the period covered by the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were confined almost entirely within the borders of the territory comprising Central America and the southern portion of Mexico—the isthmus of Tehauntepec probably being the “narrow neck” of land spoken of in the Book of Mormon rather than the isthmus of Panama.

This theory is founded upon the assumption that it was impossible for the colony of Lehi’s to multiply and fill the hemisphere within the limits of 1,000 years, or from the coming of Lehi from Jerusalem to the time of the destruction of the Nephites at the Hill Cumorah. Moreover, they claim that the story in the Book of Mormon of the migrations, building of cities, and the wars and contentions, preclude the possibility of the people spreading over great distances such as we find within the borders of North and South America….

LOCALE OF CUMORAH, RAMAH, AND RIPLIANCUM. This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years. Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case. It is known that the Hill Cumorah where the Nephites were destroyed is the hill where the Jaredites were also destroyed. This hill was known to the Jaredites as Rama. It was approximately near to the waters of Ripliancum, which the Book of Ether says, “by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all.” Mormon adds: “And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents round about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites.”

EARLY BRETHREN LOCATE CUMORAH IN WESTERN NEW YORK. It must be conceded that this description fits perfectly the land of Cumorah in New York, as it has been known since the visitation of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith, for the hill is in the proximity of the Great Lakes and also in the land of many rivers and fountains. Moreover, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself is on record, definitely declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon.

Further, the fact that all of his associates from the beginning down have spoken of it as the identical hill where Mormon and Moroni hid the records, must carry some weight. It is difficult for a reasonable person to believe that such men as Oliver Cowdery. Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, David Whitmer, and many others, could speak frequently of the Spot where the Prophet Joseph Smith obtained the plates as the Hill Cumorah, and not be corrected by the Prophet, if that were not the fact. That they did speak of this hill in the days of the Prophet in this definite manner is an established record of history….

NEPHITE AND JAREDITE WARS IN WESTERN NEW YORK. In the face of this evidence coming from the Prophet Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer, we cannot say that the Nephites and Lamanites did not possess the territory of the United States and that the Hill Cumorah is in Central America. Neither can we say that the great struggle which resulted in the destruction of the Nephites took place in Central America. If Zelph, a righteous man, was fighting under a great prophet-general in the last battles between the Nephites and Lamanites; if that great prophet-general was known from the Rocky Mountains to ‘the Hill Cumorah or eastern sea,’ then some of those battles, and evidently the final battles did take place within the borders of what is now the United States….

CUMORAH ONCE SITE OF CARNAGE AND DESTRUCTION. As I stood upon the summit of the Hill Cumorah, in the midst of a vast multitude, only a few of whom belonged to the Church, I tried to picture the scenes of former days. Here were assembled vast armies filled with bitterness and bent on destruction….

IMPORTANCE OF CUMORAH UNKNOWN TO WORLD. . . .”Here it was that Moroni, commanded by the Lord, hid up the sacred records of his people. Here it was. 1,400 years later, that he, then a resurrected being, came to Joseph Smith and committed these same records to the young man’s care. At the time of the Prophet’s first visit to the hill, it was covered with trees; today (1923) it is stripped and bare, save for the grass which grows abundantly. ” 3

Ezra Taft Benson

It was His latter-day purpose to bring forth His gospel in America, not in any other place. It was in America where the Book of Mormon plates were deposited. That was no accident. It was His design. It was in this same America where they were brought to light by angelic ministry. (See Book of Mormon Introduction.) It was here where He organized His modern Church, where He, Himself, made a modern personal appearance (see D&C 20:1; Joseph Smith—History 1:17). 4

Supporting Statements

Bruce R. McConkie

The Book of Mormon shall come forth from American soil, from plates buried in Cumorah, from the soil that supported the people of whom it speaks.   5

LeGrand Richards

God led a branch of the house of Joseph to America and commanded them to keep records of all their doings. He then commanded his prophet, Moroni, to hide this sacred record in the Hill Cumorah in the western part of the state of New York, U.S.A. Centuries later he sent Moroni back to deliver the record to Joseph Smith and gave him power to translate it with the assistance of the Urim and Thummim. 6

Heber C. Kimball

(Speaking of the destruction of the wicked in the last days, as reported by J. Golden Kimball)

Heber C. Kimball said it was revealed to him that the last great destruction of the wicked would be on the lakes near the Hill Cumorah.   7

James E. Talmage

On the occasion of Moroni’s first visit to Joseph Smith, the angelic visitor declared the existence of the record, which, he said, was engraved on plates of gold, at that time lying buried in the side of a hill near Joseph’s home. The hill, which was known by one division of the ancient peoples as Cumorah, by another as Ramah, is situated near Palmyra in the county of Wayne, State of New York. 8

Lucy Mack Smith

Lucy Mack Smith wrote that Joseph Smith referred to the hill near Palmyra as Cumorah immediately after his visit there.

Stop, father, stop, it was the angel of the Lord. As I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel met me and said that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord:… 9

Mark E. Petersen

I do not believe that there were two Hill Cumorahs, one in Central American and the other one up in New York, for the convenience of the Prophet Joseph Smith, so that the poor boy would not have to walk clear to Central America to get the gold plates. 10

Scriptures

D&C 128:20

And again, what do we hear?  Glad tidings from Cumorah!  Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfillment of the prophets–the book to be revealed.

References:

  1.  F. Michael Watson, Secretary to the First Presidency, in a letter dated October 16, 1990
  2. Cheesman, Paul R., 1978, The World of the Book of Mormon, p. 24
  3. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, Bookcraft, 1956, p.232-43
  4. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 571.
  5. Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 150.
  6. Legrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 68
  7. Lundwall, N.B., Inspired Prophetic Warnings to all Inhabitants of the Earth, 1940, p. 52
  8. James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 261
  9. Lucy Mack Smith, History of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 100
  10. Elder Mark E. Petersen, A Work of Conversion, General Conference Address, April 1953

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1 Response

  1. Jeff says:

    When I read Mormon 6:4 and Mormon describes the land of Cumorah as “a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites.” I remember my visits to the area and I could not describe the area any better with the many Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, and rivers in the area. In the same chapter in verse six Mormon states that he “…hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord…” For me this doctrine is simple because the Book of Mormon speaks of only one Cumorah and all the prophets have told us that there is one Cumorah. This hill was the hill that Moroni also points out where the Jaredites were destroyed as explained in Ether 15:11 “And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah; and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred.” Both Moroni and Mormon explain to us the fact that both of the civilizations were destroyed on the one Hill Cumorah which is in New York as the prophets have testified.

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