The Narrow Passage was also referred to as the Narrow Neck. It is a unique geographical feature that connects several important Book of Mormon areas that feature prominently in Book of Mormon geography:
Sea that divides the land.
34 And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation (3); and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea (5) into the land northward (1), yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east. (Alma 50: 34)
5 And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful (4), by the land Desolation (3), and launched it forth into the west sea (5), by the narrow neck which led into the land northward (1). (Alma 63:5)
29 And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward (1), yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward (2). And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward (2). (Mormon 2:29)
20 And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land (6). (Ether 10: 20)
The Land Northward was a highly prized piece of land. The Nephites protected it at all costs. The Jaredites lived there exclusively.
The reason it was called the Narrow Passage was because of an inland body of water called the Sea that Divides the Land, as referenced above. We know that the passage ran along the West Sea, (Hagoth traveled north from where he put his boat in.) connecting the Land Southward with the Land Northward. In other words the passage ran north to south, not east to west as some have assumed. [Note that Alma 50:34 above says the narrow pass was narrow enough to head off an army; it was not miles wide.]
NOT MILES WIDE NOR MILES LONG
Most Geographers have been parroting the same line – “The Narrow Neck is a day and a half wide.” They have done this to justify their models. In truth, a Narrow Neck of land should be the last thing one would identify in a model, not the first.
“Narrow” from EYE LEVEL would not even show up on a map.
Let’s read the verse with our enhancements and see if that is what it says:
Thus the land on the Northward was called Desolation and the land on the Southward was called Bountiful
And now it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation from the East to the West Sea
And thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water there being a SMALL NECK OF LAND between the land northward and the land southward. (Alma 22:31-32)
We can see that the distance was referring to the width of the lands Bountiful and Desolation – not the neck of land. Furthermore, we can deduce that the ENTIRE WIDTH of ALL Book of Mormon lands – whether in the north or south – were a day and a half wide.
This is confirmed by the Earliest Text Book of Mormon released by Royal Skousen on 9-9-9. Note the line breaks and semicolon placement:
And now it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite
on the line between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation,
from the east* to the west sea;
and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla
was nearly surrounded by water,
there being a small neck of land
between the land northward and the land southward.
The placing of the semicolon makes it clear that the distance applies to the entire width of the land, not just the Narrow Neck.
*The phrase “from the east to the west sea” has been misinterpreted by some to infer there was no “east sea.” Skousen said “sea” was purposely “ellipted” or removed in all cases (Alma 22:27, Alma 22:32-33, Alma 50:8, Alma 50:34, Helaman 4:7) but its meaning is clear, there was a “sea.” (Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, Part Four, FARMS, 2007, p. 2069)
ALONG THE WEST COAST – NOT THE EAST!
“And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful by the land Desolation and launched it forth into the WEST SEA by the NARROW NECK which led into the land northward.” (Alma 63:5)
Note, Hagoth sailed “northward,” which means the land was not an hour glass shape:
And behold, there were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they TOOK THEIR COURSE NORTHWARD. (Alma 63:6)