Ether 13

 

A Confirming Covenant Witness

      Mormon 8 -- Moroni


 

 

Ether 13:2-3 This Land Became a Choice Land . . . It Was the Place of the New Jerusalem:

 

     In Ether 13:2-3, Moroni refers to a prophecy by Ether to the effect that,

           he told them all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof. And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord. Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.

 

     In the prophecy of Ether, the phrase "this land" apparently refers to the site where the New Jerusalem would be built. Some have taken this phrase ("this land") in a narrow ("literal") sense, meaning that it must have been the specific area where the Nephites and the Jaredites of the record actually lived. However, the context of Ether's words do not seem to imply a specific area, but refer to the time of the creation, when all the earth was covered with water and then the waters receded from off the land:

           And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:10)

 

Thus Ether was probably speaking in general terms of this part of the whole "earth." This general view seems to better accommodate the prophecies of Joseph Smith. In other words, according to Joseph Smith, while the "city of Zion" (New Jerusalem) is to be built in Jackson County, Missouri (D&C 57:1-5; 84:2-5), the "land of Zion" comprises all of North and South America (see Teachings, p. 362). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Ether 13:3 The New Jerusalem, Which Should Come down out of Heaven:

 

     According to McConkie, Millet, and Top, the establishment of Zion and the New Jerusalem will come "down out of heaven" (Ether 13:3) in both a literal and a symbolic way. In the symbolic way, the New Jerusalem will be built upon heavenly principles and under the influence of revelation to the Lord's chosen officers. . . . There is, however, an additional meaning--a very literal meaning--to this phrase. Enoch's city--the city of Holiness that was taken up into heaven (see Moses 7:13-21) will come down from heaven and be united with the earthly New Jerusalem (see Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary 3:581; see also Millennial Messiah, pp. 302-9) [Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet, Brent L. Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. IV, p. 307]

 

Ether 13:5 And (Ether) Spake concerning the House of Israel:

 

     In the thirteenth chapter of the book of Ether, Moroni records a prophecy of Ether concerning the Jerusalems in both the Old World and the New World. This prophecy covers from verse 4 to verse 12, and among other things, tells the reader that "a New Jerusalem should be built upon this land [of the New World], unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type" (Ether 13:6).

     According to Verneil Simmons, this prophetic message is especially interesting, for Ether was not of the house of Israel and had no part in the heritage received through Abraham, father of the Hebrews. His priesthood lineage stemmed from an earlier time than Abraham's. It is apparent that Ether had access to a record brought from the Old World by his ancestor, Jared. Is it possible to identify this record? And does possession of this record have any relation to the house of Israel?

     In the Inspired Version of the Bible we find this story:

     And then began these men [Adam, Seth, Enos] to call upon the name of the Lord; and the Lord blessed them; and a book of remembrance was kept in the which was recorded in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God, to write by the Spirit of inspiration; and by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled . . . . And a genealogy was kept of the children of God (Genesis 6:5-9,see also Genesis 6;47, I.V.)

     What these men received by inspiration was to be written and taught to their children and we find Enoch, then Noah, prophesying, preaching the gospel, and teaching all things from the beginning. This period of time from Adam to Noah, covered at least ten generations, and we know that keeping a record was a necessity. Presumably the record passed from Noah into Shem's line. From there we can only guess who took charge of it. Usually, the birthright of the eldest son entitled him to keep the "family tree" or genealogical records; however, the Bible gives us a genealogy line from Noah to Abraham through Shem's fourth son, Arphaxad (see illustration).

     It is interesting to note that the original book of remembrance had apparently disappeared before the day of Moses, for the Lord instructed Moses to make another account, beginning with Adam on down, from the revelations which He gave him.

     Some record containing information very similar to what we would expect to find in the original book of remembrance came with Jared's colony (Ether 1:3). Due to the age of this record, we would expect it to have been inscribed on metal plates. If Jared's people were really the last to keep their language "undefiled" at the time of the "great tower," then they alone could continue to read the record. Did the original book of remembrance come with the brother of Jared to the New World? [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, pp. 48, 51-52] [See the commentary on Ether 1:3; 2:1]

 

Ether 13:5 Ether spake concerning the house of Israel (Illustration): Chart #2: The Genealogy of Shem. [Verneil Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 51]

 

Ether 13:5 After Jerusalem should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city (Illustration): Jerusalem. Ether prophesied that after Jerusalem would be destroyed it would "be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord." Artist: Robert T. Barrett. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 639]

 

Ether 13:11 The Fulfilling of the Covenant Which God Made with Their Father, Abraham:

 

     [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 15:18, 22:9; Helaman 8:18; 3 Nephi 20:25, 20:27; Mormon 5:20]

 

Ether 13:13-14 [Ether] Hid Himself in the Cavity of a Rock by Day, and by Night He Went Forth . . . Viewing the Destructions Which Came upon the People:

 

     Ether finishes his record and views the end of his people from a cave during the last of at least 13 years. (Ether 13:18,24,31; Ether 14:7,11; Ether 15:14) During this time Shared will place himself on the throne of Coriantumr in "the land of Moron" (Ether 14:6). The text of the Book of Mormon states that the land of Moron "was near the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites" (Ether 7:6), and the land Desolation was "by the narrow pass which led into the land southward" (Mormon 3:5). The final battles of the Jaredites will take place at the hill Ramah. If "by night [Ether] went forth . . . viewing the destructions which came upon the people" (Ether 13:13-14), then could the hill Ramah (Cumorah -- see Ether 15:11) be very far away from the land of Moron, or the land Desolation, or the narrow pass which led into the land southward? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Mormon 6:6]

 

Ether 13:14 [Ether] dwelt in the cavity of a rock (Illustration): Ether Hiding in the Cave. "As [Ether] dwelt in the cavity of a rock he made the remainder of this record, viewing the destructions which came upon the people, by night." Artist: Gary Smith. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 641]

 

Ether 13:14 [Ether] Made . . . This Record (Written Records):

 

     In Ether 13:14, Moroni states that Ether "made . . . this record." According to Warren and Palmer, it would not be surprising to find evidence for writing in the New World, as it was certainly known in Sumer, the proposed homeland of Jared. However, the Jaredites experienced many catastrophes during the 1200 years before they really developed a distinctive culture. That period quite possibly destroyed all knowledge of the cuneiform practiced in the Old World. Nevertheless, the importance of writing was certainly known.

     One evidence for writing during the Olmec period consists of a script on a cylinder seal found in the Valley of Mexico at Tlatilco. Kelley concludes that the unique script (see illustration) is an early form of Olmec writing (Kelly, D.H., 1966:744) [Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, p. 8-8,10]      Carl Jones has written an article comparing the writing on these cylinder seals to the writing on the Anthon transcript (see illustration). [Carl H. Jones, "The 'Anthon Transcript' and Two Mesoamerican Cylinder Seals," Newsletter and Proceedings of the S.E.H.A., Number 122, September 1970] [See the commentary on Ether 3:22]

 

Ether 13:14 [Ether] made . . . this record (Written Records) [Illustration]: Markings on the inscribed roller stamp ("cylinder seal") found at La Venta, Tabasco, and Anthon Transcript equivalents. [Carl H. Jones, "The 'Anthon Transcript' and Two Mesoamerican Cylinder Seals," Newsletter and Proceedings of the S.E.H.A., Number 122, September 1970]

 

Ether 13:17 There Were None . . . upon the Face of the Whole Earth:

 

     According to Hugh Nibley, the reader should notice that the common phrase "whole earth" (Ether 13:17) does not always mean the entire globe. That is quite evident here in Ether 13:17 where, speaking only of the Jaredites, it is noted that "there were none of the fair sons and daughters upon the face of the whole earth who repented of their sins." In addition, the same limitations might apply to the phrase "all the land." [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, p. 173]

 

Ether 13:20-21 [Coriantumr] Should Only Live to See the Fulfilling of the Prophecies:

 

     In Ether 13:20-22 we find a prophecy given by Ether to Coriantumr that, if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people--Otherwise, they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr.

 

     In the next verse it says that "it came to pass that Coriantumr repented not." Alma 22:30 tells us that the land 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, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing.

 

     Thus, the "people of Zarahemla" apparently discovered the area of the final battles. The Book of Mormon students should note that the term "people of Zarahemla" could refer to the group that Mosiah discovered (around 200 B.C.) or it might refer to the ancestors of the people of Zarahemla (the "Mulekites" -- Helaman 6:10; 8:21). Whatever the case, they apparently found Coriantumr and buried him, thus fulfilling the promise to Coriantumr.

     One might wonder, Did Coriantumr (as the surviving king, and also as a representative of the brother of Jared) communicate with Ether after the final battles? And if so, did Coriantumr know the location of all the Jaredite royal records, and also those handled by Ether? And if so, was that knowledge delivered to King Mosiah1 through the translation of the record of the "large stone brought unto him with engravings on it" which he "did interpret . . . by the gift and power of God (see Omni 1:20-22)? Unfortunately, the text does not specifically tell us. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [But see the Commentary on Mosiah 8:7,11,12,13,15; Mosiah 28:20]

 

Ether 13:21 [Without Repentance] They Should Be Destroyed:

 

     In the prophecy of Ether to Coriantumr, he said that without repentance the people would be destroyed (see Ether 13:21). According to Joseph Allen, Ixtlilxochitl wrote about the destruction of the first settlers of ancient Mesoamerica:

           "In this land called New Spain [Mexico], there were giants, as demonstrated by their bones that have been discovered in many areas. The ancient Tulteca record keepers called them Quinametzin. . . They [the Quinametzin] were destroyed, and their civilization came to an end as a result of great calamities and punishments from heaven for some grave sins that they had committed. (Ixtlilxochitl:25)

[Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 64-65]

 

Ether 13:21 [The People] Should Be Destroyed, and All [Coriantumr's] Household Save It Were [Coriantumr]:

 

     Ether prophesied to Coriantumr that "if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people. Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself" (Ether 13:20-21).

     According to Verneil Simmons, the popular belief that the record requires a complete destruction of the Jaredite nation down to the last man, woman, and child should be reviewed. It is a common occurrence in Old Testament history to use all-inclusive terms when less than the total is actually meant. For example, in Jeremiah 39:6 we read that the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. Yet but a short time later one Ishmael "of the seed royal," accompanied by the "princes of the king," murdered Gedaliah who had been left as governor in the land. Obviously, not all the nobles had been slain -- only those who had been with King Zedekiah when he was captured. In I Chronicles 10:6 we read that Saul "and all his house died together;" yet a younger son of Saul ruled for several years in Israel after Saul's death. In this case "all his house" meant those three sons captured with Saul. The all-inclusiveness appears to refer, in most instances, to those engaged in the immediate action. So when we read in Ether's account how every soul should be destroyed with the exception of Coriantumr, we should not insist that no one else survived out of a nation of several million people. [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 101]

     That not "all" were destroyed is confirmed by the fact that Ether survived to make a record. We are not told whether it was Coriantumr himself who carved the "large stone" which was found and brought to King Mosiah1 and which contained the story of "one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people" (Omni 1:20-21).

 

Ether 13:21 And Every Soul Should Be Destroyed Save It Were Coriantumr:

 

     In Ether 13:21 we find Ether prophesying to Coriantumr that if we would not repent, and all his household, that they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr.

 

Moroni notes that "Coriantumr repented not, neither his household, neither the people and the wars ceased not" (Ether 13:22).

     Anthony W. Ivins, who would later become an apostle and counselor to President Heber J. Grant, in 1902 came up with an idea that may have been unique [for his time]. He asked the question, "Are the Jaredites an extinct people" to which most readers of the Book of Mormon would quickly respond, of course, long since extinct. But on the basis of his research, Ivins, who was a native of the Mexican LDS colonies, felt that the answer might not be so definite. He reported that in the national archives in Mexico City he had recently found an account by Francisco Munoz de la Vega, a former Catholic bishop in the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico, in which the cleric reported on an ancient manuscript that was in his possession. It stated that "the father and founder of their nation was named Te-po-na-hu-ale, which signified, 'Lord of the Hollow Piece of Wood'" The document further reported that this ancestor was "present at the building of the great tower, and beheld with his own eyes the confusion of languages." After that event, God commanded him to come "to these extensive regions [of Mesoamerica] and divide them among mankind."

     Ivins posed the question, "Was the writer of this manuscript a Jaredite?" Jared was present at the building of "the great tower at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people" (Ether 1:33). Then the Lord had him build barges ("hollow pieces of wood"?) to cross the ocean to the New World. But how might a record of these matters have been preserved, since the book of Ether seems to say that all Jaredites were destroyed? Ivin's suggested solution to the puzzle was that Coriantumr could have had descendants. Before his death, that final Jaredite king lived for the space of nine moons among the people of Zarahemla before the latter people came to a knowledge of the Nephites (see Omni 1:21-22). "During this period he may have begotten children." This seems even more likely, Ivins thought, given "the high estimate placed upon posterity by the ancients." It is logical that he would desire that his name be preserved, so he "would take [Mulekite] wives and beget children." Those descendants "would undoubtedly teach their children the story of the origin of their fathers" and of the great tower, hence the tradition recorded in the document held by de la Vega. [Author not listed, "Did the 'Last Jaredite,' Coriantumr, Leave Descendants," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, FARMS, Vol 8, Num 2, 1999, p. 82]

 

Geographical Theory Map: Ether 13:23 - 13:31 Shared Battles Coriantumr (Chronology)

 

Ether 13:23 [Shared] Did Bring [Coriantumr] into Captivity:

 

     In Ether 13:23 it says that Shared "did bring [Coriantumr] into captivity." But where did Shared "bring" him to? Where did Shared reign from? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Ether 13:25 There Began to Be a War upon All the Face of the Land:

 

     In Ether 13:25 we find that "there began to be a war upon all the face of the land, every man with his band fighting for that which he desired." According to Hugh Nibley, the combing of the land for recruits did not include the entire continent, for it completely overlooked the Nephites, Lamanites, and Mulekites living on it. And who is to say that given thousands of years to wander in, plus a great tradition of hunting and nomadism, no Jaredites could have gone to the outermost limits of the continent (avoiding the war)? Ether is writing the history of one nation only, and Moroni presenting less than one percent of that history (Ether 15:33)-- a few renegades are no concern of theirs. [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, Vol. 5, F.A.R.M.S., p. 249]

 

Geographical Theory Map: Ether 14:3 - 14:11 Brother of Shared Claims Land of Moron (Chronology)

 

Coriantumr Fights with Lib (Illustration)