Ether 4

 

A Confirming Covenant Witness

      Mormon 8 -- Moroni


 

 

Ether 4:1 For This Cause Did King Mosiah [Benjamin] Keep Them:

 

     It is intriguing that in the Printers Manuscript and in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, the words that now make up Ether 4:1 read as follows: "and for this cause did king Benjamin keep them [that is, the words of the brother of Jared concerning what transpired on the mount] that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his people." Was this a mistake in the translation process? It is hard to explain how Joseph Smith could make such a mistake. Perhaps it wasn't a mistake, especially if what king Benjamin possessed amounted to the record of the brother of Jared and not the twenty four gold plates of Ether. Ether after all was a descendant of Jared (Ether 1:6-33), and not a descendant of the brother of Jared. It was the brother of Jared who was entrusted with making a record of his experiences (Ether 4:1).

     There is another recorded passage in the Printers Manuscript and the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon where the name "Benjamin" is found instead of what now reads "Mosiah." In the book of Mosiah is found an account of the rescue of the people of Limhi by Ammon and his brethren. Upon the arrival of Ammon, king Limhi informed him of the discovery of the twenty four gold plates and asked him, "knowest thou of any one that can translate? for I am desirous that these records should be translated into our language" (Mosiah 8:12) Ammon replied, "I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all the records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish . . . and behold, the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla is the man that is commanded to do these things." (Mosiah 8:13-14) "And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Benjamin had a gift from God." (Mosiah 21:28).

     According to the textual references in the book of Mosiah, when Ammon and his group departed from the land of Zarahemla to the land of Lehi-Nephi:

     (1) Mosiah had been anointed king in the stead of king Benjamin (Mosiah 6:3),

     (2) Mosiah had reigned in peace for three years (Mosiah 7:1), and

     (3) king Benjamin lived three years and he died (Mosiah 6:5).

 

     Thus, it is still possible to render a chronological interpretation such that Ammon and his brethren departed towards Lehi-Nephi just a little before Benjamin's death, and therefore Ammon could have assumed that "king" Benjamin was still living.

     We also should note that king Limhi mentions nothing about any interpreters, which the Lord commanded to be sealed up with the record of the brother of Jared (Ether 3:28). Rather, it was Ammon who seemingly had to explain the existence of such interpreters to king Limhi (Mosiah 8:13-14). Furthermore, it should be noted that in Ether 3:28, as part of the commandment to seal up these stones possessed by the brother of Jared, there is also a promise that these words (and stones) would NOT come forth to the children of men "until the Lord should show them." (Ether 3:28) It does not seem to me that the Lord showed either the stones or the record of the brother of Jared to king Limhi or any of his people. Otherwise it would have probably been noted by Mormon in his abridgment. However, Mormon did note that Ammon considered the possession of "interpreters" a "gift from God." (Mosiah 8:13)

     Thus, in view of the evidence presented, the record of Ether as recorded on the twenty four gold plates was primarily a record of his family and their right to kingship, and probably did not contain the detailed vision of the brother of Jared, nor did it have with it the "stones."

 

     According to Randall Spackman, whether the two stones (interpreters?) were kept with the brother of Jared's writings, as the Lord commanded (Ether 3:23) is not disclosed; the Book of Mormon does not reflect that the stones were found by the Nephites with the record of Ether. A set of stones called "interpreters" are noted as being used by Mosiah2 to translate the record of Ether into the language of the Nephites (Mosiah 28:11-13), but the link between these interpreters and the Jaredite stones is not mentioned in the Book of Mormon. However, Joseph Smith later described the interpreters as the stones "which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount" (D&C 17:1).

     Mosiah1 , the grandfather of Mosiah2 , is recorded as uniting his Nephite followers with "the people of Zarahemla" (Omni 1:19). The people of Zarahemla had discovered Coriantumr, the last Jaredite king, and Coriantumr had dwelt with the people of Zarahemla for the space of nine moons" (Omni 1:21). Mosiah1 interpreted, "by the gift and power of God," Jaredite engravings found on a large stone, which gave an account of this Coriantumr (Omni 1:20). Thus, the interpreters may have been delivered by the last Jaredite king (Coriantumr) to the people of Zarahemla, who passed them on to Mosiah1 when they united with the Nephites. Or perhaps the sacred stones or interpreters were found at the same time as the large engraved stone. [Randall P. Spackman, The Jaredite Journey To America, p. 123, unpublished]

 

     Another possible explanation is given by John Welch. He writes that it is possible that Ammon made the statement recorded in Mosiah 21:28 at a time when he did not know for sure that the new king Mosiah2 would exercise the same gift as had his father. This would explain why Ammon might have spoken to the people of Limhi only of the known powers which Benjamin had had. According to Welch, the earliest readings we have of Ether 4:1 make the statement (referring to the writings of the brother of Jared) that "for this cause did king Benjamin keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his people." Welch interprets this phrase to mean that Benjamin held back certain matters about the premortal Christ from the people (which is to say that the word "them" refers not to the record of the brother of Jared, but to an apparently similar experience had by Benjamin -- see Mosiah 3). [John W. Welch, "Preliminary Comments on the Sources behind the Book of Ether," F.A.R.M.S., p. 10] [See the commentary on Mosiah 8:13; Mosiah 21:28; Mosiah 28:20; see also Appendix B of this volume]

 

Ether 4:4 I Have Written upon These Plates:

 

     Jerry Ainsworth notes that in Ether 4:4, Moroni says "I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw" (emphasis added). In other words, he has written the brother of Jared's vision on the identical plates upon which he's continuing to write, not on later plates. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 217]

 

Ether 4:4 The Very Things Which the Brother of Jared Saw:

 

     According to Jerry Ainsworth, it appears that the language (or the symbols) that the brother of Jared and the prophet Ether used for writing upon plates actually caused events to be "shown" to the reader. A person using the Urim and Thummim in order to obtain the information would therefore see the events inscribed on the plates. Perhaps that is why people who have the ability to access the events of ancient records are called "seers." Using an abbreviated form of writing--a set of codes--a seer writing upon plates would in that case not be required to write a description of each event. He would simply write the symbols that caused the Urim and Thummim to show their user the events themselves. That might explain why Moroni wrote what he did "according to my memory" (Ether 5:1), not according to a verbatim account. Moroni himself saw the events, both those in the past and in the future. In other words, Moroni wrote down "the very things which the brother of Jared saw" (Ether 4:4), not necessarily the things the brother of Jared had written. Moroni saw what the brother of Jared had seen. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 215] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 27:7; Ether 1:4]

 

Ether 4:4 There Never Were Greater Things Made Manifest Than Those Which Were Made Manifest unto the Brother of Jared:

 

     Moroni said of the writings of the brother of Jared that "there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared " (Ether 4:4). After receiving a similar vision, Nephi said of these manifestations, "They reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof" (2 Nephi 27:20). An angel told Nephi that "also others who have been, to them hath [the Lord] shown all things and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity" (1 Nephi 14:26). Thus, according to Donl Peterson, the vision revealed to the prophets appears to be one that encompasses the ends of the world from the beginning until the end. The following references are representative:

     Adam: "Adam . . . being full of the Holy Ghost, predicted whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation" (D&C 107:56).

     Enoch: "And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face; and he said unto me: Look, and I will show unto thee the world for the space of many generations. . . . And the Lord showed Enoch all things, even unto the end of the world" (Moses 7:4, 67).

     The Brother of Jared: "He showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth" (Ether 3:25)

     Abraham: He saw the creation of the world (see Abraham 4:1); the spirit children of God in the pre-earth life (see Abraham 3:22-26).

     Moses: "Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof" (Moses 1:8).

     Isaiah: "He spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel" (3 Nephi 23:2).

     Nephi: Nephi saw the events from his day until the second coming of the Lord (see 1 Nephi 11-14).

     Ezekiel: Ezekiel saw events that spanned from his day to the second coming of the Savior, including the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the resurrection, and so forth (see Ezekiel 37).

     Jesus: "And he did expound [to the Nephites] all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory" (3 Nephi 26:3).

     John the Revelator: "Behold, he shall see and write the remainder of these things; yea and also many things which have been. And he shall also write concerning the end of the world" (see 1 Nephi 14:20-27).

     Additional unnamed prophets: "And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity . . . in the own due time of the Lord" (1 Nephi 14;26).

[H. Donl Peterson, Moroni: Ancient Prophet Modern Messenger, pp. 50-53] [See the commentary on Ether 4:12; 4:16]

 

Ether 4:5 He Commanded Me That I Should Seal Them Up:

 

     Moroni wrote his account of the vision of the brother of Jared on the abridgment plates of Mormon, but he was commanded by the Lord to "seal up" this account (Ether 4:4-5). Joseph Smith was commanded not to translate this sealed portion. It is not absolutely clear what portion of the plates of Mormon was sealed. Joseph Smith simply said: "The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed" (History of the Church, Vol 4., p. 537). George Q. Cannon said that "about one-third" was sealed (Young Peoples' History of Joseph Smith, p. 25), whereas Orson Pratt maintained that the sealed portion comprised "about two-thirds" of the plates (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p. 347). Neither of these two brethren indicate where they obtained their information.

 

Ether 4:12 I Am the Father, I Am the Light, and the Life, and the Truth of the World:

 

     In the fourth chapter of the book of Ether, after recording on the plates "the very things which the brother of Jared saw" (Ether 4:4), Moroni writes the words that the Lord "commanded" him related to this vision. In the middle of Christ's words to Moroni, He makes a most interesting declaration: "For behold, I am the Father, I am the light, and the life, and the truth of the world" (Ether 4:12). It is intriguing here that Christ applies to himself four connected titles: the title "Father" (of the world) [or Creator of the World], the title "the Light . . . of the World," the title "the Life . . . of the World and the title "the Truth of the World." The association of these four titles here is unique in the Book of Mormon. One might ask, Why? The answer might be found in the writings of Richard Ingebretsen, a noted researcher in Physics and Biophysics.

     According to Ingebretsen, the actual nature of light and its interactions with the universe has challenged scientific geniuses through the centuries. One of the first of these was Isaac Newton. He pictured light as a virtually infinite multitude of small particles traveling through space. This was the accepted idea for many years following Newton. However, through the years, this concept of light hit many obstacles and was met with disfavor.

     In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many experiments demonstrated that light also had the properties of waves. It was determined that light is one form of wave-like radiation called "electromagnetic radiation" because it is associated with changing electric and magnetic fields that travel through space and transfer energy from one place to another. But just as scientists began thinking of light in terms of waves, along came Albert Einstein in the early part of the 20th century, and showed that light actually is both. In other words, light has a dual character and is both particle and wave-like in its composition. This is the current scientific view. These light particles have been given the name "photons." So now, we think of light as little particles (called photons) traveling through space in waves.

     Apart from providing the ability to see, it has long been known that light transfers energy as well. This amazing fact is evidenced by the warmth we feel when out in the sun and the ability of solar cells to convert light energy into electric energy. Life on earth continues to be dependent on the energy in sun light for photosynthesis. In fact, all biologic activities are dependent on the energy-transfer capabilities of light. It was not until James Clerk Maxwell in the late 1800's and Albert Einstein in the early 1900's that we understood how light was able to transmit energy. It is the individual photon that is responsible for the energy transfer capabilities of light. These small particulate bundles are like a packet of energy, whose strength is directly proportional to its frequency. As we shall see, the ability of light to transfer energy was essential in the formation of the universe.

     Initially, the universe was a flood of energetic light. The formation and release of photons was essential, for it provided the power and energy necessary for the formation of matter. The creation of matter from light happens in a special way that involves both matter and a curious type of substance called anti-matter, which is the exact opposite of matter. If you take antimatter and matter and bring them together they cancel each other out and their annihilation releases their energy as photons. In reverse, if two photons collide with enough energy they form matter and antimatter. This business of forming matter from energy was one of the startling conclusions of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. This states that mass and energy are equivalent according to the famous equation E = mc2. This equation states that matter and energy are the same, but exist in two different forms. Thus when matter is seen after photons collide, it represents nothing more than the transformation of energy into another form--matter.

     So the production of matter from light plays a key role in the very young universe. When the universe was in a very hot state, photons indeed had enough energy in their collisions to form protons and antiprotons. As the newborn universe began to cool, other types of matter were formed such as electrons and a particle called a positron, which is the "anti-matter" particle to an electron. For reasons that are unclear, in time, most of the antimatter was annihilated, leaving only "matter" made up of protons, electrons and neutrons, which are the building blocks of atoms and matter.

     By the time the universe was three minutes old, it had cooled to a point where protons and neutrons could form deuterium, which is the nucleus of "heavy" hydrogen. Then when the universe was about 30 minutes old, it had cooled sufficiently that the particle formation from photons stopped. At that time, about 25 percent of all matter that was formed was helium, and the remainder was the all important hydrogen atom.

     For the next million or so years, the universe was dominated by this particle radiation and gasses. These gasses and radiation continued to cool and began to form neutral atoms which scientists call "matter." With the universe cool enough, the long reaching force of gravity took over and matter collected into clouds of dust and eventually gave birth to galaxies, stars, and planets. Thus, the universe was believed to have come about first with the formation of light, then with energetic photons of light colliding, using their energy to form matter. Clearly, the role that light played in the formation of the universe can not be understated.

     Now the fact that light can manifest in different contexts is a well known phenomena. Of the whole electromagnetic spectrum, only a small part is perceptible to the human eye. The vast majority of the spectrum, including radio waves, ultraviolet light and infrared light, is perceived by other mechanisms. In this perspective, it is not difficult to imagine that a so-called spiritual side of light is also manifest every day in the modern world. This "light of Christ" brings men to the truth.

     Science tells us that light was the power of the creation, that it fills the void of an expanding universe, and that it is necessary for life as we know it. Still, science has yet to explore the spiritual nature of light. Thus, the absolute nature of light remains a mystery. But we have in front of us scriptures that allow us to further our knowledge of what is one of the most intriguing of all of God's creations. [Richard Ingebretsen, Joseph Smith and Modern Astronomy, pp. 18-19, 24-26, 33-34] [See the commentary (Ingebretsen) on 1 Nephi 1:3]

     Note* If Ingebretsen is right, then the insertion of these titles for Christ into the setting of the brother of Jared's vision might imply that the brother of Jared was allowed to see the creation of the earth among other things. In other words, he was able to witness what Abraham and Moses saw as recorded in the Pearl of Great Price. The fact that Moroni records that "there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared" (Ether 4:4) seems to bolster that proposition. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Ether 4:4]

 

Ether 4:16 And Then Shall My Revelations Which I Have Caused to Be Written By My Servant John Be Unfolded in the Eyes of All the People:

 

     When the people of the last days humble themselves before God, then, according to Moroni, the Lord will unfold before the eyes of the people the revelations written by John (Ether 4:16). Donl Peterson notes a statement by Oliver Cowdery to the effect that the sealed portion of the plates given to Joseph Smith "contains the same revelation which was given to John upon the isle of Patmos, and when the people of the Lord are prepared, and found worthy, then it will be unfolded unto them" (Messenger and Advocate, February 1835, p. 80) [H. Donl Peterson, Moroni: Ancient Prophet Modern Messenger, p. 43]

     Note* Then Nephi's vision and Lehi's vision either approximated, or were the same as that of John. In 1 Nephi 14 the angel says to Nephi,

     "But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them. And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel. And I, Nephi, heard, and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel. And behold, I, Nephi, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw. And I bear record that I saw the things which my father saw, and the angel of the Lord did make them known unto me. (1 Nephi 14:25-29; emphasis added)

 

[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Ether 4:4]

 

Ether 4:17 When Ye Shall Receive This Record Ye May Know That the Work of the Father Has Commenced:

 

     By commandment of the Lord, Moroni quotes some prophetic words of the Lord about the process and content of the revelations contained in the account of the brother of Jared (Ether 4:4-19). These words are intended to come forth in the latter days to the Gentiles and the remnant of the house of Israel. However, in Ether 4:17 the Lord says, "when ye shall receive this record ye may know that the work of the Father has commenced upon all the face of the land." The reader might wonder just exactly what "record" the Lord is referring to. In view of the fact that our present Book of Mormon only represents a part of those plates given to Joseph Smith (the part containing the full account of the brother of Jared being sealed), the Lord must have been referring, in general, to the whole set of plates. It is noteworthy that a full understanding of what is contained on just the part that was translated by Joseph Smith is still being sought in an ongoing process. Hopefully, our understanding will someday merit the revelation of what is contained on the sealed portion of the plates. The reader should note that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon was also prophetically given as a significant sign of the last days by Jesus Christ himself to the people on the American continent after the Lord's resurrection. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on 3 Nephi 21:1-7; and 29:1-2]

 

Ether 4:17 When Ye Shall Receive This Record Ye May Know That the Work of the Father Has Commenced upon all the Face of the Land:

 

     In Ether 4:17, Moroni notes in speaking to future generations: "When ye shall receive this record ye may know that the work of the Father has commenced upon all the face of the land." The context here of the term "this record" clearly implicates the sealed portion of the plates. But does the term "this record" imply the unsealed portion also? We know that the "work of the Father" has commenced, but has it commenced upon all the face of the land"? Is this the same promise as found in 3 Nephi 21;1-11, 26-29? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on 3 Nephi 20:10--23:1 (Jesus' Covenant People Discourse--Chiastic Outline)]

 

Ether 4:18 He That Believeth and is Baptized Shall Be Saved:

 

     [See the Commentary on Mormon 9:22-24]