Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ether 10:24-34

The Jaredites were a prosperous society. In addition to their precious metals, they had silks, linen, and cloth fabrics. “’Silk and fine-twined linen’ are mentioned (e.g., Alma 1:29; Ether 10:24) along with common (cotton?) cloth. The ‘silk’ is unlikely to have been produced from silkworms as in China, but similar fabrics were known, at least in Mesoamerica. For example, in Guatemala fiber from the wild pineapple plant, and among the Aztecs rabbit hair, served to make silklike fabrics. Although flax apparently was not known in America prior to the arrival of the Spaniards (linen was made from flax in the Old World), several vegetable-based fabrics with similar characteristics are well attested in ancient America (Update, Nov. 1988).”[1]

They had tools to till and plow their land. They grew assorted crops. They also used animals as a part of their farming practices.

Moroni explains “they did work all manner of work of exceedingly curious workmanship” (Ether 10:27). “[T]he word curious, which is used to describe various artifacts ten times in the KJV (Exodus 28:8, 27–28; 29:5; 35:32; 39:5, 20–21; Leviticus 8:7; Acts 19:19) and six times in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 16:10; 18:1; Alma 37:39; 63:5; Helaman 6:11; Ether 10:27) should not be understood as ‘strange’ or ‘inquisitive.’ In all of those passages, it means ‘skilled’ and alludes to the craftsmanship that produced the artifact. That the word continued to have this meaning in nineteenth century American English is affirmed by Webster’s 1828 dictionary and its use in describing Mormon’s plates in the Testimony of Eight Witnesses, published near the beginning of the Book of Mormon.”[2]

During this time, the people were a blessed people. After Lib’s death, his son Hearthom became king. Somehow (Moroni does not explain the circumstances), Hearthom lost the kingdom. He lived his days in captivity. For three generations, Hearthom’s descendants lived in captivity. Com was the fourth generation.

Com successfully conquered and ruled half the kingdom. He reigned forty-two years. Eventually he attacked Amgid, who ruled the other half of the kingdom, consolidating it into one kingdom again.

During Com’s rule, the secret combinations reared their ugly heads. They followed the old plans and oaths administered in the past. Their goal was to overthrow the kingdom. Com fought the robbers, but he did not defeat them.

[1] Economy and Technology, Daniel C. Peterson, Maxwell Institute website.
[2] Isaiah in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, John A. Tvedtnes. FARMS Review 16/2 (2004): 170.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ether 10:1-13

Chapter 10

One king succeeds another—Some of the kings are righteous; others are wicked—When righteousness prevails, the people are blessed and prospered by the Lord.

During the famine, king Heth and his household died with one exception, Shez. The record tells us Shez “was a descendant of Heth” (Ether 10:1). This leads us to conclude Shez was not a son of Heth, as Moroni described other kings.

Shez was a righteous king. He wanted to avoid the consequences of sin among his people. “[H]e did walk in the ways of the Lord” (Ether 10:2).

Shez, Jr., the oldest son of king Shez, rebelled. He failed in his efforts. A robber killed him to get his wealth.

During his reign, Shez built many cities. As we’ve seen earlier, the population of the Jaredites alone would not be enough to populate “many cities.” Here is another example of people inhabiting the area where the Jaredites settled.

Riplakish became king after Shez. He was an unrighteous king. He had many wives and concubines. He also heavily taxed the people to build many spacious buildings.

He had an exquisite throne. He built many prisons to hold people who either refused to pay, or were too poor to pay, his burdensome taxes. He forced the people to build his buildings. Those who refused were executed.

“[C]onsider Riplakish, the 10th Jaredite king, an oppressive tyrant who forced slaves to construct buildings and produce fancy goods. Among the items he commissioned about 1200 B.C. was ‘an exceedingly beautiful throne’ (Ether 10:6). The earliest civilization in Mesoamerica is known for its elaborate stone thrones. How did Joseph Smith get this detail right?’[1]

He had prisoners make things of “fine workmanship.”  The people tolerated his rule for forty-two years. Finally, a civil war broke out and spread throughout the land. Riplakish was assassinated and his family members were driven out of the land.

Many years passed. A descendant of Riplakish, Morianton, put together an army composed of those who were among those who were cast out.

He attacked and gained control over many of the Jaredite cities. The war lasted many years, and he gained control of the entire land.

Once he took over as king, he ended the oppressive laws and taxes set by Riplakish. The people were pleased an anointed him king. He was a fair and just king. He himself, however, was a wicked man which resulted in his being cutoff from the Lord.

He built new cities and the people became rich during his reign.

He lived to an old age. Eight years before his death, his son, Kim, became king. He also was a wicked man, like his father.

[1] Archaeology, Relics, and Book of Mormon Belief, John E. Clark, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/2 (2005): 46.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ether 9:21-31

Emer has been made king. He was a righteous king who ruled over the land. Towards the end of his life, he appointed Coriantum to be his successor. “[H]e even saw the Son of Righteousness, and did rejoice and glory in his day; and he died in peace” (Ether 9:21).

Coriantum was a good king, following the example of his father. During his reign, we read he built many cities throughout the land.

“History attests to the military and political significance of royal building projects. Assyrian kings, for instance, ‘constantly founded new cities and peopled them with prisoners of war’ pursuant to a policy of forced urbanization. These building activities pacified and secured regions surrounding the nation ‘by enabling pressure to be exerted upon unstable population elements and by securing the trade routes.’ In Egypt, the Pharaoh commanded the construction of ‘large fortified cities and fortresses in the eastern Delta.’ This effort protected the area from attacks by surrounding enemies who ‘usually attacked the small, unprotected settlements, while avoiding the larger fortified cities.’ Despite their nomadic traditions, Jaredite kings also paused from their expansive military campaigns to engage in building activities.”[1]

City building gives us an insight to the population of the land. The Jaredite party that made the voyage to the new world consisted of twenty-four males, along with the families. The total population might be around eighty people. The population rapidly grew. The size of the population a few generations later was larger than we could expect from a party of eighty people. The people had become “exceeding numerous” (Ether 7:11). A generation later, a war decimated the population, leaving only thirty people (Ether 9:12). Yet two generations later, many cities were build (Ether 9:23). The only explanation for this growth is that the area was populated well before the Jaredites arrived. Some of the existing population must have become integrated with the Jaredites.[2]

He had no children with his first wife. She died, being 102 years old. Coriantum married a younger woman and had children with her. He lived to be 142 years old.
Coriantum’s son, Com, reigned for forty-two years. The population continued to grow. During Com’s reign, wickedness spread through the land.

Com’s son, Heth, wanted the kingdom and began to plot to overthrow his father. Through Heth, secret combinations became present again in the land. Heth assassinated his father and became king.

Once again, prophets began preaching repentance to the people. They warned the people a great famine would come upon the land if they did not repent.

The Jaredites rejected the prophets and forced them to leave the cities. Some were thrown into pits and left to die. All these things were done under Heth’s direction.

The words of the prophets were fulfilled. Famine and drought spread across the land. Many people died.

Poisonous serpents spread across the land. Many people and their flocks were poisoned by the serpents. Many died. To flee them, the people spread land in the south. This land would be known as the land of Zarahemla among the Nephites.

Eventually, the Lord caused the serpents to stop pursuing the people; however, they acted as a barrier, preventing the people from passing through the south part of the land.

The people followed the beasts as they fled. When the beasts died, the people ate the carcasses of the animals to survive. When mass death was the only possibility, the people finally began to repent of their sins. The Lord made this observation in a revelation received by Joseph Smith. “In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me” (D&C 101:8).

When the people had sufficiently humbled themselves, the Lord sent rain and ended the famine and the people were preserved. “Behold, I say unto him, he exalts himself and does not humble himself sufficiently before me; but if he will bow down before me, and humble himself in mighty prayer and faith, in the sincerity of his heart, then will I grant unto him a view of the things which he desires to see” (D&C 5:24).

[1] Ancient Aspects of Nephite Kingship in the Book of Mormon, Todd R. Kerr, Maxwell Institute website.
[2] When Lehi's Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There, John L. Sorenson, Maxwell Institute website.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ether 9:14-20

Emer was born when Omer was born. Before his death, Omer anointed Emer to be king. Two years later, Omer died. Emer became king.

Under Emer, the Jaredites prospered. Over sixty-two years, they became a strong and wealthy people. They had “all manner of fruit, and of grain, and of silks, and of fine linen, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things; [a]nd also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man” (Ether 9:18-19).

In verse 17, we have a reference to silk. We know silk was first introduced around 1619. What is meant by “silk?” The use of the English word “silk” is most likely an example of a word that was not directly translatable to English. An example of a word like that is the German word “schadenfreude.” There is no direct translation to English. The closest translation to English is “pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.”

My junior year in high school, my German teacher gave us German issues of Reader’s Digest. Our assignment was to translate the articles into English. A friend and I had a copy of the German Book of Mormon. We asked him if we could translate that instead of an article. He had no problem. We jokingly told him we would just copy from the English Book of Mormon.

My friend and I quickly learned translating the German Book of Mormon did not give us identical wording found in the English version. I learned when translating from another language, you do not get the exact wording. 

Based on my experience, explains why we find the word “silk” in the Book of Mormon. It is not silk as we know it today.

They also had all manner of cattle, oxen, cows, sheet, swine, goats, and other useful animals. “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” (Ether 6:14).

“The term cattle is used in the Book of Mormon (Enos 1 :21; 3 Nephi 3:22). Generally we tend to think that this term refers only to cows. However, it is not clear from the Book of Mormon exactly what the term cattle has reference to. The Hebrew word bdēmāh, sometimes translated as ‘cattle’ in the Old Testament, can refer to ‘any large quadruped or animal.’ The Hebrew word śeh, also translated as ‘cattle,’ usually refers to smaller domesticates such as sheep or goats). The Book of Mormon term could easily refer to any small or large quadruped. There are, of course, many New World species that could fall within this description.

“The term swine is used only twice, once in the Jaredite period (Ether 9: 18) and once by Jesus during his sermon at the temple (3 Nephi 14:6). The Book of Mormon does not claim that the Nephites ate swine as did the Jaredites. (The Jaredites were not under the law of Moses.) Peccaries were well known in Mesoamerica and look very much like domesticated pigs and could easily fit the Book of Mormon designation of swine.”[1]

They also had horses, asses, elephants, cureloms, and cumoms. Moroni informs us the elephants, cureloms, and cumoms were very useful.

The Book of Mormon mentions horses, yet these animals seem not to have been known to native Americans who greeted the Spaniards upon their arrival in the New World in the sixteenth century. Moreover, archaeological evidence for the presence of the horse in the pre-Columbian Americas is presently scant and inconclusive.”[2]

What is meant by the translated word “horse?”

It is also possible that some Book of Mormon peoples coming from the Old World may have decided to call some New World animal species a ‘horse’ or an ‘ass.’ This practice, known as ‘loanshift’ or ‘loan-extension,’ is well known to historians and anthropologists who study cross-cultural contact. For example, when the Greeks first visited the Nile in Egypt, they encountered a large animal they had never seen before and gave it the name hippopotamus, meaning ‘horse of the river.’ When the Roman armies first encountered the elephant, they called it Lucca bos, a ‘Lucanian cow.’ In the New World the Spanish called Mesoamerican jaguars leones, ‘lions,’ or tigres, ‘tigers. (emphasis in original).’”[3]

This shows, when the people obey the Lord’s commandments, this land would be a choice land for them. “And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him. And the Lord said unto him: I will forgive thee and thy brethren of their sins; but thou shalt not sin any more, for ye shall remember that my Spirit will not always strive with man; wherefore, if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And these are my thoughts upon the land which I shall give you for your inheritance; for it shall be a land choice above all other lands” (Ether 2:15).

Should they reject the Lord and become a wicked people, they will feel “the fulness of [the Lord’s] wrath.

“And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.
“And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.
“For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.
“And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done” (Ether 2:8-11).

[1] Review of Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? (1987), by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Matthew Roper, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 4/1 (1992): 208.
[2] Farms Research Report, Maxwell Institute website.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ether 9:1-13

Chapter 9

The kingdom passes from one to another by descent, intrigue, and murder—Emer saw the Son of Righteousness—Many prophets cry repentance—A famine and poisonous serpents plague the people.

Having finished warning us how secret combinations are destructive to society, he returns to the Jaredite record.

Akish successfully took over Omer’s kingdom. But, they failed to assassinate king Omer.

The Lord warned him about the coup. He took his family and fled.

They arrived at the hill Shim. This is the area where the Nephites were wiped out in the final battle. They decided to continue and came to a place called Ablom, was on the seashore. They settled there.

Meanwhile, Jared was made king and Akish married his daughter.

In an ironic twist, having helped depose Omer, placing Jared on throne, Akish wanted to be king. He had kept his gang together. He went to them and had them make an oath they would assassinate the king. Jared was assassinated on his throne, placing Akish on the throne.

Akish became “jealous of his son” (Ether 9:7). “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones” (Proverbs 14:30).

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men” (1 Corinthians 3:3).

“Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16).

We are not given any reason why he was jealous, yet his concern was so great, he placed his son in prison and starved him to death.

Another son, Nimrah, was angry with his father. He gathered a small group of men and fled to the land where Omer was exiled.

Akish had other sons. These sons “won the hearts of the people.” They ignored the oath they had made “to do all manner of iniquity according to that which he desired” (Ether 9:10).

The people of Akish were committed to the accumulation of wealth. Akish only cared about power. Knowing this, his sons used the people’s desire for wealth to “buy” their support.

A war began between Akish and his sons. It lasted years, eventually leaving only thirty people alive. The survivors fled to join Omer and his people. Omer returned and reestablished his kingdom.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Ether 8:13-26

After having agreed to assassinate his friend, Omer, he gathered his kinfolk and had them swear an oath of faithfulness to him and whatever he desired them to do. We again see the devil’s use of counterfeit oaths made in God’s name to commit sin. Should anyone violate this oath, that person would die. The Gadianton robbers used this same blasphemous oath among their people. “And [Kishkumen] went unto those that sent him, and they all entered into a covenant, yea, swearing by their everlasting Maker, that they would tell no man that Kishkumen had murdered Pahoran” (Helaman 1:11).

It is made clear who was the source of this oath. “And behold, it is he who is the author of all sin. And behold, he doth carry on his works of darkness and secret murder, and doth hand down their plots, and their oaths, and their covenants, and their plans of awful wickedness, from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men” (Helaman 6:30).

Think just how offensive this must be in the eyes of God. By doing this, Satan is openly mocking God, using his name to justify the commission of the vilest of sins.

Akish’s group took to oath to never divulge Akish murdered Jared. If they did, they would die. Hence, they became a secret combination, “which … is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God” (Ether 8:18).

God, Moroni explains, “worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man” (Ether 8:19).

Moroni did not record the oaths and combinations found in the Jaredite record. “[T]hey are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites. And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi” (Ether 8:20-21).

Moroni warns his words apply to any nation on the promised land. If they support secret combinations, they will be destroyed. He will not allow the blood of the righteous to cry to Him.  “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth” (Revelation 6:10).

“For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.” (Revelation 19:2).

“And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness.
“Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?
“Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer” (Mormon 8:27, 40-41).

“That the cry of the saints, and of the blood of the saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies” (D&C 87:7).

“Now undoubtedly Moroni could have pointed out many factors that led to the destruction of the people, but notice how he singled out the secret combinations, just as the Church today could point out many threats to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work, but it has singled out the greatest threat as the godless conspiracy. There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon —it is a conspiracy fact.”[1]

Forty-five years have passed since President Benson spoke these words. They are even more applicable today than when he spoke them in 1972.

The Lord will avenge the blood of the righteous.

“For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people” (Hebrews 10:30).

God has preserved this record so the Gentiles would be shown that they will always have the option to repent and not allow the secret combinations to gain a hold among their people. “And the children of men were numerous upon all the face of the land. And in those days Satan had great dominion among men, and raged in their hearts; and from thenceforth came wars and bloodshed; and a man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power” (Moses 6:15).

Should these secret combinations grow, the works of destruction will come upon them. When we see these secret combinations becoming a part of our society, we need to be aware of how bad things are.

In America today, we see secret combinations in the form of gangs that rule with terror. Examples of these gangs include street gangs, prison gangs, organized crime gangs, and juvenile gangs. Wikipedia tells us there are over 33,000 gangs in America today.[2]

All these gangs have a common source. “And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness” (2 Nephi 9:9).

“Jacob was the first Book of Mormon author to speak of secret combinations … Jacob speaks of secret combinations in terms of evidence of Satan’s degree of depravity. Jacob points out that were it not for Christ, all mankind would be under the rule of the devil, the founder of secret combinations. As Moroni warns latter-day readers of the evils of secret combinations, he echoes Jacob’s phrases. Moroni states that ‘secret combinations’ are ‘built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning” (Ether 8:24–25)” (emphasis in original).[3]

“For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil” (Mosiah 16:3).

They work to destroy our society and take away our freedoms. They are like those, who, in the past, “who hath hardened [their] hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning” (Ether 8:25).
Moroni was commanded to write these words in the hope the day will come when Satan shall no longer have power over us. “Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time. And now, my beloved brethren, I make an end of my sayings” (2 Nephi 30:18).

Moroni hopes we will be persuaded to do good continually, coming “unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved” (Ether 8:26).

“And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal” (2 Nephi 33:4).

[1] Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints, President Ezra Taft Benson, April 1972 General Conference.
[3] Jacob’s Textual Legacy, John Hilton III, Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 22/2 (2013): 61.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ether 8:1-12

Chapter 8

There is strife and contention over the kingdom—Akish forms an oath-bound secret combination to slay the king—Secret combinations are of the devil and result in the destruction of nations—Modern Gentiles are warned against the secret combination that will seek to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries.

Nearly two generations go by with no intrigue in the land. After Shule died, his son Omer reigned. Omer had a son, Jared. Jared had a large family.

This being the Jaredites, it is not surprising to find the son (Jared) worked to take over his father’s (Omer) kingdom. Jared eventually rebelled and lived in the land of Heth. He was a cunning man who was able to sweet-talk the people and took over half the kingdom.

We saw internal dissent begin to significantly harm Nephite society around 50 BC. After the chief judge’s death, his three sons desired to be chief judge. After the people made their selection, one son accepted the choice and supported his brother.

“But behold, Paanchi, and that part of the people that were desirous that he should be their governor, was exceedingly wroth; therefore, he was about to flatter away those people to rise up in rebellion against their brethren” (Helaman 1:7).

The Paanchi and his supporters arranged for the assassination of the chief judge. A new character appears in the Nephite record. “Therefore [Gadianton] did flatter them, and also Kishkumen, that if they would place him in the judgment-seat he would grant unto those who belonged to his band that they should be placed in power and authority among the people; therefore Kishkumen sought to destroy Helaman” (Helaman 2:5).

It is here we could mark the beginning of the ultimate downfall of Nephite society as the secret combinations, such as the Gadianton robbers, would lead to the collapse and destruction of the Nephite society.

The same events in the Jaredite society would ultimately lead to their downfall. “‘Flattering’ and ‘cunning words,’ generally used for evil purposes and with an implication of deceit, are also a recurring concern of the Nephite record.”[1]

After taking over half the kingdom, Jared attacked his father and won the entire kingdom. He forced his father to serve while in captivity.

While in captivity, Omer had more children, Esrom and Coriantumr. They were angry at what their brother had done to their father. They raised an army and attacked Jared.

The army of Jared was defeated. They were about to kill Jared, but he begged them not to kill him. He said he would return the kingdom to his father. His offer was accepted.

Jared was “sorrowful” over the loss of his kingdom. He desired the power and glory of the world which he had lost. He was like the Nephites at the end of their civilization. Mormon wrote the Nephites were saddened, not because of their wickedness, “but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin” (Mormon 2:13).

Jared’s daughter, described as a very beautiful woman, enters the picture. She has a plan which would restore her father’s kingdom. She reminded him of the record brought with Jared’s group when the crossed the sea. “And as I suppose that the first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world, and also of Adam, and an account from that time even to the great tower, and whatsoever things transpired among the children of men until that time, is had among the Jews” (Ether 1:3). Found in that record, she told him, was “an account concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory” (Ether 8:8).

She told him to send for Akish, a friend of his father. She would dance for him. This provocative dance would make him desire her. She told him to say her would give her to him as his wife if he would bring him the head of his father, Jared.

This must have been quite a dance, because it worked. He asked for her to be his wife. Jared said he would do it, if he would bring the head of his father (and Akish’s friend). Akish agreed.

[1] Nephi and His Asherah, Daniel C. Peterson, Maxwell Institute website.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Ether 7:8-27

As Shule grew, he became angry with his brother, Corihor[1], who had imprisoned their father. Shule is described as a strong and powerful man “and he was also mighty in judgment” (Ether 7:8).

Shule was able to gather support among the people. He went to the hill Ephraim and, using molten ore, he made steel swords for his followers.

“Making weapons of ‘steel’ and ‘iron’ is mentioned by the Nephites only during their first few generations (2 Ne. 5:15; Jarom 1:8; iron is mentioned only as a ‘precious’ ornamental metal during the time of Mosiah 11:8). Just what these terms originally meant may not be clear. Jaredite ‘steel’ and ‘iron’ and other metals are mentioned twice but are not described (Ether 7:9; 10:23).”[2]

Shule and his army returned to Nehor and battled Corihor. His army defeated Corihor and restored his father, Kib, to the throne. Kib then “bestowed … the kingdom” upon Shule.

Shule ruled and “execute[d] judgment in righteousness; and he did spread his kingdom upon all the face of the land, for the people had become exceedingly numerous” (Ether 7:11).

“[W]hen Jared's grandsons, Corihor and Kib, were vigorous political leaders, we read of a ‘city’ in a land, ‘Nehor,’ not previously mentioned (see Ether 7:9). This is the earliest ‘city’ in the entire Book of Mormon record, yet no city is ever mentioned in the land of Moron, the capital ‘where the king [in Jared's line] dwelt’ (Ether 7:5). Even if half the descendants from those of the eight barges had inexplicably settled in Nehor, the highest number we can imagine for them at this early date would be, say, a hundred people in the ‘city’ and its land. That number could not have made any ‘city.’ Then one generation later, ‘the people [as a whole] had become exceeding numerous’ (Ether 7:11). The scale of population suggested by these statements calls for ‘other’ groups to have been incorporated under Jaredite rule.”[3]

Eventually, Corihor “repented of the many evils which he had done” (Ether 7:13). He was given power in the kingdom (the power never being identified).

Corihor has a son, named Noah. “Corihor's son rebelled ‘and drew away . . . all his brethren and many of the people’ (Ether 7:15), whereupon he captured Shule and became Number One, until the sons of Shule conspired and murdered him, and Shule became Number One for the third time. Under his rule there came prophets telling the people to repent or be destroyed. The people did repent—and prospered: Second cycle.”[4]

After fighting Shule, Noah obtained the land where they Jaredites landed, becoming king over that part of the land. “And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them” (Ether 6:12).

Shule continued the battle, and took Shule prisoner, holding him in Moron. He was about to execute Shule. Shule’s sons quietly entered into Noah’s residence and killed him. They released their father and “placed him upon the throne in his own kingdom” (Ether 7:18).

Noah’s son took over his father’s kingdom. He failed to defeat Shule and his people. The people under Shule’s rule were prosperous and became a great people. This would lead to the establishment of two kingdoms, The Kingdom of Shule and the kingdom of Cohor, son of Noah.

Cohor wanted to take over the kingdom of Shule. He began a war to obtain the land, but Cohor was killed.

Cohor’s son, Nimrod, gave up Cohor’s kingdom to Shule. He gained the support of Shule. With Shule’s support, he did whatever he desired.

During Shule’s reign, prophets, sent by the Lord, warned the people, because of the wickedness and idolatry, the people would be destroyed lest they repented of their sins.

The people rejected the prophets and their warnings. They were mocked and abused by the people.

Shule put an end to this abuse. Those who mocked and abused the prophets faced his judgement.

This is similar to what king Mosiah had to do when his people, because of the wickedness, also abused the prophets and messengers of God.

“And now it came to pass that the persecutions which were inflicted on the church by the unbelievers became so great that the church began to murmur, and complain to their leaders concerning the matter; and they did complain to Alma. And Alma laid the case before their king, Mosiah. And Mosiah consulted with his priests.
“And it came to pass that king Mosiah sent a proclamation throughout the land round about that there should not any unbeliever persecute any of those who belonged to the church of God” (Mosiah 27:1-3).

Power was given to the Lord’s servants to fulfill them mission to call the people to repentance.

The people repented of their wicked ways. The Lord blessed them and the Jaredites began to prosper as a people. For the remainder of Shule’s reign as king, peace reigned throughout the land.

“I testify of this reaching, rescuing, merciful Jesus, that this is His redeeming Church based on His redeeming love, and that, as those in the Book of Mormon declared, ‘there came prophets among the people, who were sent from the Lord [to speak it] … [Yea,] there came prophets in the land again.’ I testify that President Gordon B. Hinckley is in every way, from head to toe, such a prophet, one whose life and voice we cherish and for whom we have prayed so much. He will now conclude this semiannual gathering. For such a blessing—and all these blessings and so many more. I give personal thanks at general conference time, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”[5]

[1] The name Corihor is an example of Jaredite influence among the Nephites. Alma2 had to deal with an anti-Christ who had influence among the Nephites. His name was Korihor, a Jaredite name.
[2] Economy and Technology, Daniel C. Peterson, Maxwell Institute website.
[3] When Lehi's Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There, John L. Sorenson, Maxwell Institute website.
[4] The Prophetic Book of Mormon, Hugh W. Nibley, Reprinted with permission from The Prophetic Book of Mormon, vol. 8 of The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1989), 435-68.
[5] Prophets in the Land Again, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, October 2006 General Conference.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ether 7:1-6

Chapter 7

Orihah reigns in righteousness—Amid usurpation and strife, the rival kingdoms of Shule and Cohor are set up—Prophets condemn the wickedness and idolatry of the people, who then repent.

Orihah, son of Jared, was a righteous king. We are told his “days were exceedingly many” (Ether 7:1).

This is a good example of a problem with the book of Ether. Our record contains little information about a people who had lived in the Americas for a long period of time. When King Mosiah translated the Jaredite record, we know Ether’s record contained information dating back to the creation of Adam (see Mosiah 28:11-17).

Mormon tells he will abridge the plates at a later date (see Mosiah 28:19). When Moroni abridge the record of Ether, did he have the original record or did he have his father’s abridgement as his source. We don’t know.

Returning to the record, we read Orihah had thirty-one children. One of his sons, Kib, was born while he was old. Again, how old is old, we do not know.  We do have an example in the Old Testament, Abraham and Sariah.

“Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also” (Genesis 18:11-12).

After Orihah’s death, Kib was made king. Kib had a son, named Corihor.

For the first time, we see what will become a pattern among the Jaredites – the son rebelling against his father, the king. “In the New World, Jaredite monarchs endured countless security problems and military campaigns. Jaredite history, in fact, was characterized by one ‘fierce and unrelenting struggle for power’ after another. Beginning with Corihor's rebellion against his king-father Kib (Ether 7:4—5), rivals to the throne often withdrew into the wilderness to gather materials and manpower sufficient to challenge the crown. ‘When the aspirant to the throne finally becomes strong enough to dispose of his rivals by assassination, revolution, or a pitched battle, the former bandit and outlaw becomes king and has to deal in turn with a new crop of rebels and pretenders.’”[1]

Corihor rebelled against his father and left the land to dwell in the land of Nehor.

“In his message to the people, Mosiah noted that ‘he to whom the kingdom doth rightly belong has declined, and will not take upon him the kingdom. And now if there should be another appointed in his stead, behold I fear there would rise contentions among you. And who knoweth but what my son, to whom the kingdom doth belong, should turn to be angry and draw away a part of this people after him, which would cause wars and contentions among you. (Mosiah 29:6-7].

“Such a situation had never occurred among the Nephites, but it was common among the Jaredites for brother to rebel against brother or father and draw away part of the people to wage war (Ether 7:4-5, 15-17; 8:2-3; 9:11-12; 10:3, 8-10, 14, 32; 11:4, 15-18]. Indeed, the idea in Mosiah 29:7 of ‘drawing away’ supporters is known in the Book of Mormon only from the Jaredite record (Ether 7:4, 15; 9:11; 10:32).”[2]

When he gathered an army large enough to attack his father, he attacked him in the land of Moron. His father was taken captive. Moroni reminds of the warning the brother of Jared gave the people when they wanted a king. “And now behold, this was grievous unto them. And the brother of Jared said unto them: Surely this thing leadeth into captivity” (Ether 6:23).

In identifying the location of the land of Moron, Moroni used Nephite geography to give the reader an idea of its location. Moron is near Desolation. Mormon described the land of Desolation as “And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30.

[1] Ancient Aspects of Nephite Kingship in the Book of Mormon, Todd R. Kerr, Maxwell Institute website.
[2] King Mosiah and the Judgeship, John A. Tvedtnes, Maxwell Institute website.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ether 6:12-30

After nearly a year’s journey across the ocean, the Jaredites landed in their promised land. In the book of Alma, Mormon gave us an idea about the promised land of the Jaredites, using references which the Nephites would recognize.

“And also there were many Lamanites on the east by the seashore, whither the Nephites had driven them. And thus the Nephites were nearly surrounded by the Lamanites; nevertheless the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful.
“And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing.
“And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food” (Alma 22:29-31).

Moroni also provided a geographical reference. “Now the land of Moron, where the king dwelt, was near the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites.” (Ether 7:6).

Like any group of settlers arriving in their new land, they began to establish themselves. They no doubt built homes for their families. They also began to farm the land to provide food for the people.

The Jaredite group consisted of about twenty-four adult males. As time went on, their population grew as they had children.  “Figuring the demographic growth of Jared's party requires that we establish how many there were initially. Ether 6:16 indicates that the founding generation consisted of twenty-four males. The brother of Jared sired twenty-two sons and daughters, while Jared had twelve (see Ether 6:20) … Estimating on the basis of these numbers, the original party reasonably could have numbered on the order of eighty adults. Not many decades later, when Jared's grandsons, Corihor and Kib, were vigorous political leaders, we read of a ‘city’ in a land, ‘Nehor,’ not previously mentioned (see Ether 7:9).”[1]

There is little doubt there were indigenous people in the area when the Jaredites settled. There easily could have been interactions between the groups as the Jaredite settlement grew. The Jaredites were a humble people, obeying the Lord’s commandments. Moroni tells us “they were also taught from on high” (Ether 6:17).

Moroni left much about the establishment of the Jaredite society out of his abridgment. After three verses (Ether 6:16-18) outlining the establishment of the Jaredite society, Moroni tells us the brother of Jared is approaching his death. He tells Jared he wants the people gathered together. A census would be conducted at that time. He also wanted to know “what they will desire of us before we go down to our graves” (Ether 6:19).

The people came together. We read the brother of Jared had twenty-two children. Jared had twelve children, eight daughters and four sons. Moroni gives us no more information about the size of the Jaredite group.

The people asked him to appoint one of his sons, or a son of Jared, as their king. The brother of Jared was not pleased with this request. He warned them how dangerous it could be for their society if they have a king.

Before his death, King Mosiah abolished the kingship among the Nephites. He used very powerful words explaining why he was doing this. Reading King Mosiah’s words, one might wonder how much of his concern was based on his knowledge of what happened to the Jaredites.

“Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you.
“For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction.
“Yea, remember king Noah, his wickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bondage…
“And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood.
“For behold, he has his friends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God;
“And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he causeth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous king doth pervert the ways of all righteousness.
“And now behold I say unto you, it is not expedient that such abominations should come upon you” (Mosiah 29:16-18, 21-24).

“Mosiah stressed that the wickedness of King Noah had caused the people to come into bondage (see Mosiah 29:18-19). This is also a common theme in the book of Ether. At the time kingship was first established among the Jaredites, the brother of Jared warned that it would lead to captivity (see Ether 6:22-23). Throughout Jaredite history, a number of kings were conquered by a son or brother and made to serve in captivity (see 7:5, 7, 17; 8:3-4; 10:14-15, 30-31; 11:9, 18-19, 23; 13:23).”[2]

Jared ignored the words of warning from his brother. He was able to convince him to select a king from their sons.

The kingship was offered to the brother of Jared’s firstborn. It turned out he was as wise as his father and refused. The people pleaded to the brother of Jared. Please, they asked, force him to be king. Once again, we see the brother of Jared’s wisdom. He refused. He told them they should not force any man to be kings.

All of the brother of Jared’s sons were asked to be king. They all refused.

They turned to Jared’s sons. Three refused; one, Orihah, accepted to the kingship.

Under Orihah’s leadership, the people prospered. During his reign, his father and his uncle both died.

Orihah was a righteous king. He remembered all the Lord had done for his father and uncle, as well as his people. He was a righteous king, teaching his people how great the Lord had been to them.

[1] When Lehi's Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There? John L. Sorenson, Maxwell Institute website.
[2] King Mosiah and the Judgeship, John A. Tvedtnes, Maxwell Institute website.