I had a question recently about 1 Nephi 11:8, where Nephi sees the tree of life and describes the fruit as being white like “the driven snow.” The inquirer assumed that it does not snow in Jerusalem, where Nephi dwelt, and wondered if the reference made any sense. A truly minor point, but I’ve often heard people make the assumption that Israel must be free of snow. No, there is occasional snow, even right in Jerusalem. Here’s one example: Leiah Elbaum’s page, Jerusalem in Snow, showing the heavy snow that Jerusalem had in a storm in 2000. You can even see a picture of snowman in Jerusalem.
What’s perhaps even more interesting is the absence of snow in the rest of the Book of Mormon. If the Book of Mormon were based on element’s from Joseph’s environment, and if he was describing a people who lived or at least fought major battles in the New York area (around the puny hill where the plates where buried, which many Mormons incorrectly and implausibly associated with the Hill Cumorah of the text), then we would expect the snow and cold of winter to play a key factor. But instead, we have battles in winter, such as the one in Alma 51 at the end of the year, where the Lamanite soldiers were exhausted “by the labors and heat of the day” (Alma 51:33). Having a Jerusalem dweller in the arid Middle East make reference to snow while having no hint of snow in all the rest of the record from the New World seems contrary to what one might expect if Joseph Smith had fabricated the Book of Mormon, relying on his knowledge and experience. But once we explore the text and realize that it best fits in a Mesoamerican context, not in New York, then the tendency to have battles in winter (the off season for agriculture) with heat, not cold, makes plenty of sense. What doesn’t make sense is that Joseph Smith was the author.