Ether 5

 

A Confirming Covenant Witness

      Mormon 8 -- Moroni


 

 

Ether 5:1 I, Moroni, Have Written the Words Which Were Commanded Me, according to My Memory:

 

     According to Raymond Treat, the principle, "What is in the Book of Mormon is There for a Purpose," is a very important principle to understand about the Book of Mormon. The dictionary tells us that a principle is a general truth on which other truths depend. The recognition of the "purpose principle" is the recognition of a general truth about the book of Mormon which in turn will lead to other truths. If we ask the question, "Why has this particular information been included?" every time we study a portion of the Book of Mormon we should receive insights that otherwise might be missed.

     How do we know that what is in the book of Mormon is there for a purpose? Because major writers of the Book of Mormon tell us they were directed by God as to what to put in the Book of Mormon and what to leave out. For example, in Ether 5:1, Moroni states, "And now I, Moroni, have written the words which were commanded me, according to my memory . . ."

     The chart "The Contents of the Book of Mormon Were Divinely Controlled" (see illustration) is designed to illustrate this point. The chart gives us information about three major Book of Mormon writers--Nephi, Mormon and Moroni. In each case these writers were told both what to put in the Book of Mormon and what to leave out.

     For all practical purposes two of these three writers, Mormon and Moroni, controlled the contents of the entire Book of Mormon. Mormon was directed to add the entire contents of the small plates of Nephi to the Book of Mormon. . . . Nephi was responsible for about 82 percent of the contents of the small plates of Nephi, which strengthens the case even further that the contents of the Book of Mormon were indeed divinely controlled. They also give validity to the principle that what is in the Book of Mormon is there for a purpose. [Raymond C. Treat, "What is in the Book of Mormon is There for a Purpose," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, pp. 172-173]

 

Ether 5:1 I, Moroni, have written the words which were commanded me, according to my memory (Illustration): Chart: "The Contents of the Book of Mormon Were Divinely Controlled." [Raymond C. Treat, "What is in the Book of Mormon is There for a Purpose," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 172]

 

Ether 5:1 I, Moroni, Have Written . . . according to My Memory:

 

     [See the commentary on Ether 4:4]

 

Ether 5:1 Touch Them Not in Order That Ye May Translate:

 

     In reference to that which was sealed by Moroni, his charge to "touch them not in order that ye may translate" (Ether 5:1) appears to be a specific directive to Joseph Smith, the modern seer and translator, to not touch or translate the sealed portion of the plates. In speaking prophetically through Nephi1, the Savior said, presumably to that same seer, "Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work: (2 Nephi 27:21). [Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet, Brent L. Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. IV, p. 284]

     Note* Moroni possessed "the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim" (D&C 27:5). Addressing the prophet Joseph Smith nearly sixteen centuries in the future implies the power of those keys. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Ether 5:4 In the Mouths of Three Witnesses Shall These Things Be Established:

 

     According to Lee Donaldson, the ancient covenantal pattern of having something done three times or three ways is fulfilled in multiple ways in the Book of Mormon. Moroni, in the middle of his abridgment of the Jaredite record, prophesies that,

           "in the mouth of three witnesses shall these things be established; and the testimony of three, and this work, in the which shall be shown forth the power of God and also his word of which the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost bear record--and all this shall stand as a testimony against the world at the last day." (Ether 5:4)

 

     The "new covenant, even the Book of Mormon "(D&C 84:57) has been established like other covenants by having three witnesses. Traditionally, we think of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon as Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer. Certainly, they do stand as latter-day witnesses to the divine origin of the Book of Mormon. However, there are additional sets of three witnesses to this sacred record. Moroni declared that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost bear record" (Ether 5:4). Also, three branches of the House of Israel, the Jews, the Nephites, and the lost tribes, each kept a record, and each branch will eventually receive the other's records (2 Nephi 29:12-14). However, another set of three witnesses, the three sets of plates that make up the Book of Mormon, is in the forefront in establishing the Book of Mormon. The plates of Nephi, the plates of Mormon, and those of Ether stand as vital components in establishing the Book of Mormon covenant. Each of these plates contains each of the six elements of the ancient covenant and also serves to illustrate the ramifications of the covenant to a different nation. [Lee L. Donaldson, "The Plates of Ether and the Covenant of the Book of Mormon," in The Book of Mormon: Fourth Nephi through Moroni, From Zion to Destruction, p. 74]