Ether 7


A Confirming Covenant Witness

      Mormon 8 -- Moroni



Ether 7:1 [Orihah's] Days Were Exceeding Many:


     Moroni notes that Orihah reigned "in righteousness all his days, whose days were exceeding many" (Ether 7:1). According to Glenn Scott, since Orihah was of the first generation following the flight from the great tower, a contemporary of biblical patriarchs who lived hundreds of years (see Genesis 11:18-21), it is no surprise that Orihah's days were termed "exceeding many." [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 45]


Ether 7:1 [Orihah's] days were exceeding many (Illustration): A Projected Chronology of Jaredite History. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 46]


Ether 7:3 Kib:


     According to Bruce Warren, "Kib" (Ether 7:3) is a familiar Mesoamerican name. It is the name of the sixth month in the Yucatec Maya calendar. [Bruce W. Warren, Blaine M. Yorgason, Harold Brown, New Evidences of Christ in Mesoamerica, Unpublished Manuscript]


Geographical Theory Map: Ether 7:4 - 7:13 Corihor Reigns in the Land of Nehor (Chronology):


Ether 7:4 Corihor . . . Went over and Dwelt in the Land of Nehor:


     The record states that Kib "begat Corihor." For some unmentioned reason, when Corihor was 32 years old, he "rebelled against his father, and went over and dwelt in the land of Nehor (Ether 7:4). Thus, geographically speaking, we might assume that the land of Nehor was "over" from the land of Moron. Furthermore, the land of Nehor was probably at a lower elevation because it says that after Corihor had begat many sons and daughters, and "drew away many people after him," that he "came up unto the land of Moron where the king dwelt" (Ether 7:5). Thus the land of Moron seems not only close to the land of Nehor, but it seems to be located in hills or mountains.

     The reader might note that whoever the original writer of this information was (Ether or Moroni), they are using directional terms ("went" and "came") which might imply a reference point. But what is the reference point? Is it from where Moroni was writing? Is it from where Ether was writing? If Ether "hid himself in the cavity of a rock by day, and by night he went forth viewing the things which should come upon the people" (Ether 13:13), and if the final battle location of the Jaredites was near the hill Ramah (Ether 15:11), and if the hill Ramah "was the same hill where [Moroni's] father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord" (Ether 15:11), and if Moroni returned to the hill Cumorah (hill Ramah) in order to record the contents of the book of Ether on his plates (see Mormon 8:3-5; Ether 1:1-2), then the geographical reference terms ("came" and "went") for both Ether and Moroni not only might be the same, but they might offer some degree of geographical orientation. On the other hand, words such as "came" and "went" might not have been intended to imply any directional information at all other than conveying a general sense of going from one place to another. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 7:6 The Land of Moron . . . Was near the Land Which Is Called Desolation by the Nephites:


     Moroni writes that "the land of Moron, where the king dwelt, was near the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites" (Ether 7:6). In Alma 22, Mormon gives a description of Lamanite and Nephite lands. (The reader is referred to the commentary on those verses.) Suffice it to say that,

           the land which they [the Nephites] called Bountiful . . . 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 [the land of the Jaredites], 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. (Alma 22:29-31)


     The question then becomes, How "near" was the land of Moron to the land of Desolation?


     Readers should use caution in using these verses to prove, beyond any doubt, that only one "land of Desolation," existed. According to Richard Hauck, Near Eastern scholars have stated that the ancient Semites denoted any scene of defeat with the name Hormah, which translates as "Destruction" or "Desolation" (Nibley 1976:195) [F. Richard Hauck, Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, p. 104]


Ether 7:6, 16-17 [The City of Moron]:


     It is interesting to note that no "city of Moron" is ever mentioned as part of the land of Moron or within the Jaredite "land of their first inheritance." (Ether 7:5, 16-17) This lack of a "city of Moron" certainly can't be due to inadequate population or cultural abilities because the land of Moron is mentioned from the beginning of the Jaredite civilization unto the end (Ether 14:11).

     One might ask, Why then is no city of Moron mentioned? Could it be that Ether (or Moroni) did not want the reader to feel that the land of Moron was always ruled from the city of Moron? In other words, was it possible that as the land of Moron grew through the years, that various kings ruled it from various locations? If so, then when Ether (or Moroni) mentioned anything concerning the "throne," he might have felt he was confusing the issue of location if he originally had the throne established in the city of Moron.


Ether 7:7 Kib Dwelt in Captivity:


     Kib, who was king over the land of Moron, was taken captive by his son Corihor, who at the time was the leader over the people in land of Nehor, and thus Kib "dwelt in captivity, and his people under Corihor" (Ether 7:7). According to Verneil Simmons, holding kings in captivity rather than killing them appears to have been a trait brought from ancient Sumer, the apparent homeland of Jared. There are many records and legends of this practice in regard to deposed kings throughout the Fertile Crescent and Asia, even down to the days of Genghis Khan, who also was taken, locked in stocks, and carried in the retinue of a rival ruler, as a royal captive.109 While this practice might seem strange to people of other times and cultures, it fits the Jaredite culture very well. One example from the Bible is that of Jehoiachin, King of Judah, taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and kept a prisoner for 36 years (Jeremiah 52:31-34). [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 37]


Ether 7:7 Kib Dwelt in Captivity, and His People:


     In Ether 7:7 we find that "Kib dwelt in captivity, and his people under Corihor his son." According to Warren and Palmer, in the probable time of the Jaredite departure to the New World, a population of at least ten thousand may have been found in at least four or five Sumerian cities. These people were divided into groups of nobles, commoners, clients, and slaves. The practice of trying to develop a slave class became common in the New World (Ether 7:7,17; 8:3; 10:14; 10:30). The practice of slavery is also evident in the archaeological remains of the Olmec culture of Mesoamerica. [Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, ch. 4, unpublished]


Ether 7:7 Shule:


     According to Matthew Brown, inasmuch as the Jaredites supposedly came from the tower of Babel, and one of their kings was named "Shule" (Ether 7:7), it is interesting to note that Shulgi is attested as the name of a king who reigned in Sumeria from 2094-2045 B.C. (see E. Jan Wilson, "Inside a Sumerian Temple: The Ekishnugal at Ur," in Donald W. Parry and Stephen D. Ricks, eds., The Temple in Time and Eternity [Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1999], 319. [Matthew B. Brown, All Things Restored: Confirming the Authenticity of LDS Beliefs, p. 213]


Ether 7:7 Shule:


     According to Bruce Warren, we see some evidence for the name "Shule" (Ether 7:7) in Mesoamerica. The name Xul (pronounced "Shule") was an important name in the Mesoamerican calendar. It is the name of the sixteenth day of the 260-day calendar of the Yucatec Maya. [Bruce W. Warren, Blaine M. Yorgason, Harold Brown, New Evidences of Christ in Mesoamerica, Unpublished Manuscript]


Ether 7:9 [Shule] Returned to the City Nehor:


     We are told that "Kib begat Shule in his old age, while he was yet in captivity" (Ether 7:7). For some reason that is not recorded, Shule was allowed to "become mighty." Ether 7:9 states that Shule,

           came to the hill Ephraim, and . . . made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and . . . returned to the city Nehor and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib.


     If Shule "returned to the city of Nehor" from "the hill Ephraim," then the hill Ephraim was probably near the city of Nehor. And if Shule "did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of "steel," then the city (and the land of Nehor) were apparently located near an area of iron ore deposits. Whether the hill Ephraim was located in the land of Moron (Kib's original throne location), or whether the hill was located in the land of Nehor is not mentioned. However, one should remember that the land of Moron was "up" from the land of Nehor. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 7:9 [Shule] Made Swords out of Steel:


     In Ether 7:9 we find the statement that Shule "made swords out of steel." According to Hugh Nibley, a few years ago much objection was made to the careless references in Jaredite history to iron and steel in an age when iron and steel were supposedly undreamed of. Today the protest must be rather feeble. . . A Mesopotamian knife blade "not of meteoric origin" and set in a handle has been dated with certainty to the twenty-eighth century B.C.; iron from the Great Pyramid goes back to 2900 B.C. and "might have been smelted from an ore." . . .

     If we move farther east, into the region in which the Jaredites took their rise, we find the manufacture of iron so far advanced by the Amarna period that the local monarch can send to the king of Egypt two splendid daggers "whose blade is of khabalkinu," the word being usually translated as "steel." [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, p. 215]


     According to William Hamblin and Brent Merrill, in light of contemporary conditions in Mesoamerica, one can understand [the mention of "swords . . . of steel"] in a number of ways. Although the blades of most macuahuitls in Mesoamerica were made from obsidian, the Aztecs are known to have had war clubs studded with iron instead of the usual obsidian. . . . Various types of material, including iron, replaced the usual obsidian of the macuahuitl, and such a weapon could thus be described as a sword with a metal "blade." Another possibility is to equate this Jaredite steel with the "steel" of the King James translation of the Old Testament, which actually refers to the Hebrew word for "bronze." [William J. Hamblin and A. Brent Merrill, "Swords in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, pp. 346-347]


     According to John Sorenson, steel in the Book of Mormon is a complex problem. Hugh Nibley has discussed how uncertain we remain about what might be meant by "steel" in ancient Old World texts. In Mexico we face similar obscurity. The native chronicler Tezozomoc reported that the Tarascans (Mesoamerica's most noted metallurgists at the time of the Spanish conquest) wore "steel" helmets. Was he telling the "truth"? Should we favor historical accounts over archaeological finds? Caley and Easby address this argument, but in regards to pre-Columbian tin in Mexico. After demonstrating that specimens of metal were there all the time despite the doubts of archaeologists, who had failed to examine the evidence, they end by observing, "The results also show that it is not prudent always to discount or ignore historical accounts as possible sources of technical information; some of the 16th century chroniclers apparently were wiser and more observant in such matters than many of their critics." Perhaps the Jaredite historian who talked of steel (Ether 7:9) and Tezozomoc with his steel helmets on the Tarascans both knew something that archaeologists will yet document. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 287]  


Ether 7:9 [Shule] Obtained the Kingdom and Restored It unto His Father Kib:


     Once Shule "obtained the kingdom" from his brother Corihor, he "restored it unto his father Kib" (Ether 7:9). Kib probably returned to his throne in the land of Moron to reign. We can come to that conclusion because it says in Ether 7:5-7 that Corihor "took" Kib captive and that Kib "dwelt in captivity," which probably means that Kib was taken away from the land of Moron to the land of Nehor? A precedent for the removal of a king from his own land to that of his conqueror is found in the Bible, where both Jehoiachin and Zedekiah were taken captive into Babylon (2 Kings 25:27). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 7:13 Shule Gave [Corihor] Power in His Kingdom:


     In Ether 7:9 it states that Shule "gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib." Kib then turned around and "bestowed upon [Shule] the kingdom" (Ether 7:10). Nothing is said of whether Corihor was taken captive, just that apparently after a number of years (see v. 12), "Corihor repented" and Shule "gave him power in his kingdom" (Ether 7:13). Thus, we might surmise that Corihor once again "reigned" (under Shule) over the people in the land of Nehor. We might also conclude that the land of Nehor, at this time, was considered a province of an "expanded" land of Moron. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Geographical Theory Maps]


Geographical Theory Map: Ether 7:13 - 7:19 Shule Restored to Power (Chronology)


Ether 7:14 Noah:


     We are told that Corihor had a son named "Noah" (Ether 7:14). According to Hugh Nibley, the name "Noah" may be authentic Jaredite, for aside from the original Biblical character "Noah," the name "does not recur elsewhere in Hebrew either alone or as a component part of a name," according to C.L. Woolley, but is "Harrian," coming form the country north of Babylonia, i.e., the original Jaredite home. [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, p. 245]

     The Book of Mormon student would be wise to keep the apparent Jaredite heritage of the name "Noah" in mind when trying to understand the cultural background relative to other mentions in the Book of Mormon story of the same name. For example: Noah, the son of Zeniff (see Mosiah 10-19); and the land of Noah, which was associated with the wicked people of Ammonihah (see Alma 8-16). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 7:16 The Land of Their First Inheritance:


     We are told that Noah rebelled against Shule, and drew away all his brethren and many of the people (Ether 7:15). "He gave battle unto Shule in the which he did obtain the land of their first inheritance, and he became a king over that part of the land" (Ether 7:16). If the term "their" in the phrase "the land of their first inheritance" refers to Noah and Cohor his brother, and if they were born in the land of Nehor where their father Corihor reigned, then "the land of their first inheritance" might be interpreted to mean the land of Nehor. Thus we can understand that if Noah became "king over that part of the land" he probably took over total control of the land of Nehor. The phrase "land of their first inheritance" here in Ether 7:16 probably has no reference to the first Jaredite landing site. However, "the land of their first inheritance" might have some connection with the land of Moron. The reader should notice that the land of Nehor had apparently been assimilated into the land of Moron before it was battled for and retaken by Noah. One might wonder if this apparent practice of assimilation of lands might be part of the Jaredite history? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 7:17 [Noah] Gave Battle Again unto Shule:


     It is interesting that in Ether 7:17, we find that Noah "gave battle again unto Shule." We might assume that when Noah "gave" battle "again" unto Shule, he was trying to establish power over the entire land of Moron. Apparently, from the site of the battle, Noah "carried [Shule] away captive into Moron" (Ether 7:17) with an apparent desire to not only put him to death in front of his own people (see Ether 7:18), but to put all the people in submission to his power. The sons of Shule, however, killed Noah "by night," and then placed Shule "upon his throne in his own kingdom." Given the textual clues, Shule apparently had been reigning from the land of Moron and Noah had been reigning from the land of Nehor. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Geographical Theory Map: Ether 7:19 - 8:1 Two Kingdoms (Moron & Nehor) Are United (Chronology)


Ether 7:19 The Son of Noah Did Build Up His Kingdom in His Stead:


     Because "the son of Noah did build up his [Noah's] kingdom in his stead" (Ether 7:19), we can probably say that Cohor (the son of Noah) continued living in, and reigning from the land of Nehor. We are told that "the country was divided; and there were two kingdoms, the kingdom of Shule, and the kingdom of Cohor, the son of Noah" (Ether 7:20). The reader can deduce by this statement that the land of Moron and the land of Nehor had previously been united into one "country" (an expanded land of Moron). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 7:22 Nimrod Gave Up the Kingdom of Cohor unto Shule:


     With the death of Cohor, his son Nimrod "gave up the kingdom of Cohor unto Shule" (Ether 7:22). This might have been just a transfer of political power. Nimrod probably continued to reside in the land of Nehor. We are told that Shule "did bestow great favors on him [Nimrod]" (Ether 7:22), and that Nimrod did "according to his [Shule's] desires." Thus Nimrod probably became somewhat like a vassal king and still "ruled" somewhat over the land of Nehor.

     Note* The land of Nehor is never mentioned after this. It was probably forever absorbed into a general land of Moron. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 7:23 There Came Prophets among the People:


     It seems that moral and spiritual conditions in the kingdom had so declined (perhaps as a result of war), that,

           "there came prophets among the people, who were sent from the Lord, prophesying that the wickedness and idolatry of the people was bringing a curse upon the land, and they should be destroyed if they did not repent. And . . . the people did revile against the prophets, and did mock them. (Ether 7:23-24)


     It is not specified here just exactly what the term "idolatry" implies, but Moroni writes that "the Lord did spare them, and they began to prosper again in the land" (Ether 7:26) which is covenant language related to the promised land covenant given to the brother of Jared:

           And [the Lord] 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. (Ether 2:8)


     Thus, apparently the Jaredites were worshiping other gods than the Lord Jehovah. However, unlike some other times in history, King Shule passed judgment on those who abused the prophets and issued a decree allowing the prophets to go wherever they wished, unharmed and unhindered. Once the prophets were protected by law, people listened and were brought to repentance. The apparent result of these actions was that,

           there were no more wars in the days of Shule; and he remembered the great things that the Lord had done for his fathers in bringing them across the great deep into the promised land; wherefore he did execute judgment in righteousness all his days. (Ether 7:27)

[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Geographical Theory Map: Ether 8:2 - 8:6 Jared Comes to the Land of Heth (Chronology)