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Ether 1


A Confirming Covenant Witness

      Mormon 8 -- Moroni










Ether 1:1 And Now:


     E. Cecil McGavin makes note in his book An Apology for the Book of Mormon, p. 161, that there are 810,697 words in the King James Version of the Bible, while in the Book of Mormon there are 350,100 words. The word "and" is found (as transition) 19,000 times in the Bible. Sixty percent of the verses in the Bible are connected by "and." In the Book of Mormon, 53 percent of the 6,712 verses are thus connected, or 3,557 times. [Roy E. Weldon, Book of Mormon Deeps, Vol. III, p. 259]


Ether 1:1 And Now I Moroni Proceed to Give an Account of Those Ancient Inhabitants Who Were Destroyed:


     As part of his abridgment responsibilities, Moroni states that he is going to "give an account of those ancient inhabitants who were destroyed by the hand of the Lord upon the face of this north country" (Ether 1:1). According to Millet and McConkie, in adding the book of Ether to the Book of Mormon, Moroni was probably following instructions from his father Mormon. In the book of Mosiah, as Mormon was giving an account of the discovery and translation of the twenty-four gold plates upon which this record was engraved, he had inserted this comment: "And this account shall be written hereafter; for behold, it is expedient that all people should know the things which are written in this account" (Mosiah 28:19). Since this abridgment was made by Moroni, we can assume that Mormon was unable to work on the Jaredite record and had directed his son to do so. . . . the book of Ether is intended to serve as a second witness of yet another society whose experience parallels that of the Nephites. [Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet, and Brent L. Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. IV, p. 259]


Ether 1:1 And now I Moroni proceed to give an account of those ancient inhabitants who were destroyed Illustration): Six Tragic Cycles in the Book of Ether. [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. 76]


Ether 1:1 And Now I Moroni Proceed to Give an Account of Those Ancient Inhabitants Who Were Destroyed:


     According to Donl Peterson, as one analyzes Mormon's writing style it is apparent that he often chose to finish a particular thought before expanding upon a new theme that he had introduced into the story. That is, Mormon usually chose to inform his readers that he was not ignoring the new topic, but that he would develop it in due time. Some examples of this style are: Mosiah 21:35 (Mormon promises to discuss baptism)---Mosiah 25:17-18 (Mormon discusses baptism); Alma 35:13 (Mormon promises to discuss the war)---Alma 43 and 44 (Mormon discusses the war); Helaman 2:12 (Mormon promises to discuss Gadianton)---Helaman 6 (Mormon discusses Gadianton).

     Now of all these promised future explanations, Mormon only failed to expand on one (possibly two) important themes: (1) the Jaredite record (see Mosiah 28:17-19), and (2) perhaps the Savior's authorization to his Twelve to bestow the Holy Ghost (see 3 Nephi 18:36-37). One might ask, Why?

     Since Mormon's Book of Mormon was written to warn and instruct this dispensation, it seems illogical that Mormon would sidestep the responsibility of writing a brief synopsis of that great Jaredite civilization. After all, this additional witness further substantiated several of his great teachings. However, the following explanation may be feasible.

     It is hypothesized that after Moroni wrote Mormon 8:14-41 and chapter 9, and bade his future readers farewell, he had occasion to carefully study his father's writings. Recall that the Book of Mormon was written between A.D. 380 and 384, just prior to that last great Nephite-Lamanite war. Both Mormon and Moroni were heavily involved in preparations for the final military encounter. It seems doubtful that Moroni, prior to the battle, would have had the opportunity to make a detailed study of his father's abridgment. Now after A.D. 401, when his days were long and lonely, he carefully studied his father's record. He perceived that two (or one) of Mormon's promised explanations were missing. He prayed to the Lord, and he was then commanded to abridge the Jaredite record (the book of Ether) and to include the Savior's authorization to the Twelve (see Moroni 2).

     The preceding explanation appears logical but it is still conjectural. In answer to the question "Why did Moroni abridge the Jaredite record?" the only sure answer is that the Lord commanded him to. [H. Donl Peterson, Moroni: Ancient Prophet Modern Messenger, p. 34]

     Note* It is also possible that Mormon's primary responsibility was to tell the "sad tale of destruction of [his] people" (see Mormon 8:1-4). Thus it was left up to Moroni to write the tale of the Jaredites. [See the commentary by Jerry Ainsworth on Moroni 7:2]


Ether 1:1 And Now I Moroni Proceed to Give an Account:


     The Book of Mormon is a composite work, compiled from several archaic records that were abridged ultimately by Mormon and his son Moroni. . . . According to the analytical work of Roger Keller, Mormon and Moroni each display their own unique and distinctive editorial styles. When Mormon is acting as an abridger, he interacts extensively with the underlying documents he is abridging. It is not always immediately possible to distinguish Mormon's own words and comments from the words that he draws from the materials he is condensing. As one reads along in many sections abridged by Mormon, one often senses that a subtle shift has taken place as a smooth, almost imperceptible transition has occurred from the underlying historical narrative to Mormon's commentary on that narrative. By carefully backtracking, one can discern, however, where the transition was made.

     Moroni, on the other hand, interacts far less extensively with the text he is abridging. Moroni is usually careful about marking the beginning and ending of the comments that he has inserted into the abridged record. For example, his comments in Ether 3:17-20, 4:1-6, 8:18-26, and 12:6-13:1 are readily distinguishable from the abridged portions in the book of Ether. His frequent use of the phrase "I, Moroni" in Ether 1;1, 3:17, 5:1, 6:1, 8:20, 8:26, 9:1, 12:6, 12:29, 12:38, and 13:1 makes it easy to tell what Moroni has written and what he has abridged. [Roger P. Keller, "Mormon and Moroni As Authors and Abridgers" in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 269-270]


Ether 1:1 Those Ancient Inhabitants Who Were Destroyed by the Hand of the Lord:


     In Ether 1:1, Moroni states that he is going to "give an account of those ancient inhabitants who were destroyed by the hand of the Lord." According to Hugh Nibley, to destroy is to wreck the structure not to annihilate the parts. Thus in 1 Nephi 17:31 we read of Israel in Moses' day that, "according to his word he did destroy them; and according to his word he did lead them," bringing them together after they had been "destroyed," (i.e., scattered, and in need of a leader). "As one generation hath been destroyed among the Jews," according to 2 Nephi 25:9, "even so they have been destroyed from generation to generation according to their iniquities." A complete slaughter of any one generation would of course be the end of their history altogether, but that is not what "destroyed" means. . . .

     So when we read that the Jaredites "were destroyed by the hand of the Lord upon the face of this north country" in the very first verse of Ether, we are to understand that the nation was smashed and dispersed, but not that the catastrophic final battle was necessarily the whole story. The first thing that occurs to king Limhi on relating the discovery of the twenty-four gold plates to Ammon was, "perhaps they will give us a knowledge of a remnant of the people who have been destroyed, from whence this record came" (Mosiah 8:12), showing that to king Limhi at least it was perfectly possible for a remnant of a people to exist after that people had been "destroyed." [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, pp. 239-240]


Ether 1:1 This North Country:


     Apparently by using the phrase, "this north country" (Ether 1:1), Moroni seems to imply that he was writing from a location somewhere in the north country, or in other words, from the land northward (the place where both the Nephites and the Jaredites were destroyed). Just how far "this north country" extended and whether it encompassed all the lands of the Jaredites is not told here in the book of Ether. However, one key geographical correlation that we are told elsewhere in the Book of Mormon is that the final battle site of the Jaredites (the hill Ramah) and the final battle site of the Nephites (the hill Cumorah) were the same (Mormon 8:1-4). We are also told that Mormon "hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records" which had been entrusted to him except apparently the abridgement (Mormon 6:6). Therefore, the fact that Moroni is making this record of the Jaredites seems to imply that he has returned to the hill Cumorah, located in "this north country." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

     According to Joseph Allen, Ixtlilxochitl, who wrote the native history of Mexico in the 16th Century, told us that the first settlers, who came from the Tower, "populated the major part of the land, and more particularly the northern part." (Ixtlilxochitl:21)

     The "north country" of Moroni and the "northern part" mentioned by Ixtlilxochitl are in all probability the Gulf of Mexico area that today is called the "faja de oro," or Golden Lane, because of the abundance of oil that has been discovered there. This area is where archaeology bears testimony of the most ancient civilization of Mesoamerica. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 257]


Geographical Theory Map: Ether 1:1-4 Moroni Writes from This North Country (401 A.S.--421 A.S.)


Ether 1:1 This north country (Illustration): The area referred to by Ixtlilxochitl as the "northern parts of the land." This area is the heartland of the ancient Olmecs. Moroni referred to the Jaredite heartland as "this north country." [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 56]


Ether 1:1 This north country (Illustration): Olmec (Jaredite) archaeological sites along Mexico's Gulf Coast. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 63]


Ether 1:2 I Take My Account from the Twenty and Four Plates Which Were Found by the People of Limhi:


     Moroni states, in Ether 1:2, that he is taking his account of the Jaredites "from the twenty and four plates which were found by the people of Limhi." However, according to Daniel Ludlow, it is not made absolutely clear in the Book of Mormon whether Moroni made his abridgment of the record of Ether from Mosiah's earlier translation (see Mosiah 28:1-20) or whether Moroni took his account directly from the plates of Ether--in which case he would have needed to translate the record as well as abridge it. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 178]

      Sidney B. Sperry states that from Ether 1:2 one naturally assumes that Moroni made his abridgment directly from the plates themselves. If he did so, we are driven to the conclusion that it was necessary for him to find his way into the hill Cumorah, where his father had hidden them. Inasmuch as the language of the plates was that of the Jaredite people, it would have been incumbent upon Moroni to translate them by means of the holy "interpreters" or Urim and Thummim before he could abridge them. This would have been a tremendous task, because Moroni says that he had not written "the hundredth part" of the record (Ether 15:33), and as it is we have fifteen chapters or about thirty-one and one-half printed pages in our current edition. It seems much more reasonable--for the writer at least--to believe that Moroni abridged the translation of the Book of Ether which had been made many hundreds of years before by king Mosiah2 (Mosiah 28:1-20). This translation would also have been available to Moroni in the hill. [Sidney B. Sperry, The Book of Mormon Testifies, pp. 346-347]


Ether 1:2 I [Moroni] take my account from the twenty and four plates . . . which is called the Book of Ether (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]


Ether 1:2 The Twenty and Four Plates:


     The Book of Mormon student might wonder, What was the true length of "the twenty and four plates" (Ether 1:2)? Were they 24 individual plates or 24 sets of plates? Did Moroni have access to other Jaredite records? In trying to arrive at an answer to these questions we might consider the following:

     1. In Ether 15:33 Moroni writes, "And the Lord spake unto Ether, and said unto him: Go forth. And he went forth, and beheld that the words of the Lord had all been fulfilled; and he finished his record; (and the hundredth part I have not written) and he hid them in a manner that the people of Limhi did find them. (emphasis added)

           a. If Moroni only recorded the "one hundredth part" of the history recorded on the 24 plates      (Ether 15:33), and if the phrase "one hundredth part" is meant to denote the thirty one and one-half      printed pages of our current edition, then the total text on 24 individual plates of Ether would be      equivalent to somewhere near 3,150 pages of our current written text. This does not seem feasible,      so perhaps in making the comment about the "one hundredth part," Moroni had more records at his      disposal than 24 individual plates.

           b. Moroni says that Ether "finished his record," but that he hid "them." Perhaps there were      24 parts to his record and perhaps these parts were not all bound together into one unit.


     2. In Ether 13:13 Moroni says, "I was about to write more, but I am forbidden; but great and marvelous were the prophecies of Ether . . ." Thus, Moroni apparently had before him a complete record of those prophecies.


     3. Ether 3:21-28 refers to the vision of the brother of Jared. This vision was included--although sealed--with the plates given to Joseph Smith. Moroni notes that he wrote his account of the vision of the brother of Jared on the plates containing Mormon's abridgment, but that he was commanded by the Lord to "seal up" this account: "Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them [the very things which the brother of Jared saw]; and I have written them. And he commanded me that I should seal them up . . . (Ether 4:4-5). Joseph Smith was commanded not to translate this sealed portion. If this sealed portion comprised two-thirds of the plates delivered to Joseph, then the written text produced by the sealed portion alone could possibly total over a thousand printed pages (double the length of our present Book of Mormon). Such volume of text seems too great to be extracted from just 24 plates. Is there an explanation?

     First of all, it is not absolutely clear what portion of the plates containing Mormon's abridgment 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 the last two brethren indicate where they obtained their information. Nevertheless, even if the estimate of "one-third" were correct, it would require a translation output of over 250 printed pages. Perhaps Moroni had access to a complete set (or all) of the Jaredite records.


     4. In Ether 1:3 Moroni makes a reference to "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." According to John Welch, this record had apparently been "brought across the great deep" from Mesopotamia by Jared and his people (Ether 8:9). It contained a creation account down to the time of "the great tower" (Ether 1:3) and also set forth the "secret plans" of evil men aimed at obtaining kingdoms and glory (8:9). None of this early scriptural information, however, is found in our book of Ether, for it was supposed by Moroni that it would be had among the Jews (Ether 1:3). If this was part of the 24 plates, then the printed record might be at least equivalent to that which is found in the Bible. That record spans from the first chapter of Genesis to the eleventh chapter, or roughly 15 pages. [John W. Welch, "Preliminary Comments on the Sources behind the Book of Ether," F.A.R.M.S., 1986, p. 5]


Ether 1:2 The twenty and four plates (Illustration): A representation of the set of plates which Moroni gave to Joseph Smith. The metal bands represent the portion which was sealed. [Cover, The Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual, 1991]


Ether 1:2 I [Moroni] take mine account from the twenty and four plates (Illustration): Chart: Sources Behind the Book of Ether. [John W. Welch and Morgan A. Ashton, "Charting the Book of Mormon," Packet 1, F.A.R.M.S.]


Ether 1:2 And I take mine account from the twenty and four plates (Illustration): Chart: "Sources behind the Book of Ether." Source: John W. Welch, "Sources behind the Book of Ether" (FARMS, 1986). [John W. & J. Gregory Welch, Charting the Book of Mormon: Visual Aids for Personal Study and Teaching, F.A.R.M.S., chart #15]


Ether 1:2 Twenty and Four:


     According to John Welch, the number twenty-four, being a multiple of twelve, was associated with heavenly government, especially priestly judgment and temple service. . . Particular mention is made of the number of the gold plates of Ether, probably because their number was twenty-four (see Mosiah 8:9; Alma 37:21; Ether 1:2). These plates were seen as a record of the "judgment of God" upon those people (Alma 37:30), and their contents were brought "to light" by the use of two seer stones (Mosiah 28:13-16; Alma 37:21-25). [John W. Welch, "Number 24," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 272-273]

     The great prophet Moroni writes the following:

           And the Lord would not suffer that they [the Jaredites] should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people. 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. . . . 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. Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. (Ether 2:8-12)


     Alma the younger confirms the judgments of God upon the Jaredites to his son Helaman:

           For behold, the Lord saw that his people [the Jaredites] began to work in darkness, yea, work secret murders and abominations; therefore the Lord said, if they did not repent they should be destroyed from off the face of the earth. And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover . . . their secret works and their abomination; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; . . . And now, my son, we see that they did not repent; therefore they have been destroyed, and thus far the word of God has been fulfilled; . . . (Alma 37:22-26)

[See the commentary on Ether 2:8-18]


Ether 1:3 (Note*** Concerning the Chronology from "the Creation of the World . . . Even to the Great Tower"):


     Many different theories have been put forward by LDS authors relative to the chronological timetable "concerning the creation of the world . . . even to the great tower" (Ether 1:3). As with all chronological theories or geographical theories related to the Book of Mormon setting, it is not my purpose to decide the "winner," nor is it my purpose to expose the "loser." Rather it is my purpose to elucidate those ideas and factors which are at the heart of their chronological theories. The Book of Mormon is true; time will ultimately validate the chronological and geographical verses. In the meantime, for a more comprehensive charting of the various theories, the Book of Mormon student is referred to Appendix A (Chronology) of this volume. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 1:3 The First Part of This Record, Which Speaks concerning the Creation . . . to the Great Tower . . . Is Had among the Jews:


     According to Roy Weldon and Edward Butterworth, the Nephite record mentions Adam 29 times; Eve, 3 times; Garden of Eden, 5 times; flood of Noah, 4 times; Tower of Babel, 6 times; Moses, 86 times; and numerous references to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A bright golden thread runs through all Book of Mormon references to the book of Genesis. In every reference, the book of Genesis is treated as historical and not allegorical or traditional. The following quotation clearly and graphically illustrates this fact:

           And now I, Moroni, proceed to give an account of those ancient inhabitants who were destroyed by the hand of the Lord upon the face of this north country. And I take mine account from the twenty and four plates which were found by the people of Limhi, which is called the book of Ether. 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, Therefore I do not write those things which transpired from the days of Adam until that time; but they are had upon the plates; and whoso findeth them, the same will have power that he may get the full account. But behold I give not the full account, but a part of the account I give, from the tower down until they were destroyed. And on this wise do I give the account. (Ether 1:1-5)


     Jesus, himself, endorsed Genesis. Was He ignorant of the facts, or a pretender? If so, He must be discredited as the Son of God, whom He claimed to be.

     In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus said, "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female . . . What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder." Here we have a clear endorsement of Genesis 1:27 and 2:23. Jesus obviously believed the events recorded in the very first chapter of the Bible. He did not refer to the creation as a legend as many clergy-men do today.

     In Matthew 23:35, Jesus referred to the "blood of Abel the righteous" demonstrating His belief in the account of Cain and Abel recorded in the fourth chapter of Genesis, verses 8-16.

     In the same chapter (verses 37-39) He alluded to the Flood of Noah, indicating that He believed the entire account as recorded in the sixth to ninth chapters of Genesis.

     In Matthew 11;24 He refers to the destruction of Sodom, substantiating His acceptance of Genesis nineteen in which that event is recorded.

     There are numerous other evidences of His confidence in Genesis, although we cannot take time for them today. Suffice to say, Jesus treated that Book as factual throughout. He did not consider it unhistorical or mythical.

     At this point I would refer you to something Dr. R.A. Torrey wrote bearing on this matter. Said he:

           If we accept the teaching of Jesus Christ, we must of course accept everything upon which He sets His stamp of endorsement. To say that you accept the authority of Jesus Christ, and then throw overboard that upon which He sets His stamp of endorsement is to be utterly irrational.


[Roy E. Weldon and F. Edward Butterworth, Book of Mormon Claims and Evidences, Vol. 3, pp. 121-123]


Ether 1:3 The First Part of This Record, Which Speaks concerning the Creation . . . to the Great Tower . . . Is Had among the Jews:


     Walter Kaiser writes that if we assume that the book of Genesis was written in the days of Moses, then Old Testament came to us over a period of a millennium-from somewhere around 1400 to 400 B.C. But if God spoke to the prophets through visions, dreams and their hearing the word of God, what was the first thing that God ever revealed to mortals?

     In Genesis 5:1 the text specifically claimed that it was dependant on a "scroll" (Hebrew, sepher) as the basis for its construction of Adam's lineage. Moreover, six times in the first eleven chapters the writer appealed to some named sources that he used for the construction of these chapters. He called these sources the "accounts" "generation" or "histories" of each of the events or individuals named. The Hebrew word was toledot, a noun associated with the verb yalad, "to give birth to, to bear," and the like. The six notices were titled as follows:

     1. "The account of the heavens and the earth when they were created" (Genesis 2:4)

     2. "The written account of Adam's line" (Genesis 5:1)

     3. "The account of Noah" (Genesis 6:9)

     4. "The account of Shem, Ham and Japheth" (Genesis 10:1)

     5. "The account of Shem" (Genesis 11:10)

     6. "The account of Terah" (Genesis 11:27)


     The words "account of" (or "the histories of") are clearly rubrics, headings for the material that followed and which seem to point to where the writer derived his material. Much more important is the fact that the writer does point to sources and that one of them is explicitly called a written source taken from a scroll or written source of some kind. That certainly allows us to assume that one or more of the other five rubrics or colophons may also have been derived from written sources if no convincing evidence exists either in the texts or outside them to point to an oral tradition.

     These "accounts" represent the earliest record of source materials, which God was pleased to have his writer use as he wrote the book of Genesis. This would be a case of God guiding his writer to gather the materials together as the sources from which he then developed the history of these times that had preceded his own times by a wide margin. Therefore, as the writer was led to incorporate those parts from his sources into his inspired writings, with the parts being woven into a complete tapestry of divine revelation in that book, the resulting total composition was exactly what God had intended and wanted preserved for posterity as well as that day.

     Such use of sources is no more startling to us than the similar case in the Gospel of Luke, where Luke made a careful investigation of all that had been handed down from the beginning of the story (Luke 1:1-4). [Water C. Kaiser Jr., The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant?, pp. 16-17, 57-58] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 5:11-13]

     Note* This is the same process by which Mormon and Moroni made their abridgments. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 1:3 The First Part of This Record, Which Speaks concerning the Creation of the World . . . Even to the Great Tower (Chronology):


     Cleon Skousen asks the question, When did human chronology begin? The well-known Irish archbishop, James Usher (or Ussher) who was born in Dublin in 1581 and died in 1656, devoted a great deal of his life attempting to correlate existing chronological data so that the events described in ancient times could be fixed with comparative accuracy. This work was complicated by the fact that genealogical tables, which he considered to be the most scientific method of fixing dates, were sometimes inaccurately recorded, and very often historians were not in agreement as to the date when a particular event of importance occurred. As a result, the archbishop found it necessary on occasion arbitrarily to choose the date which he personally felt was most likely to be correct.

     As Archbishop Usher projected his chronology back into the patriarchal period, he found his dates adding up to 4,004 B.C. for the genesis of Adam. This date became widely accepted as the beginning of the chronology of the Old Testament. Just why Archbishop Usher added four years to the previously accepted date of 4,000 B.C. is not entirely clear from his writings. There are so many places where arbitrary factors entered into his compilation that the extra four years which he finally had as a surplus could have been easily accounted for in a number of places so as to leave the "beginning" date at the more logical period of 4,000 B.C. . . .

     It appears from a study of the scriptures that God designed his program in connection with human history "a thousand years" at a time. John the Revelator saw that human history was divided into seven periods of a thousand years each (Revelations 5:1-3; D&C 77:6-7). This is further verified in modern revelation where the Lord declares that the great judgment at the beginning of the millennium will be accompanied by a revelation of what occurred in "the first thousand years," "the second thousand years" and so forth. (See D&C Section 88) These scriptures illustrate the inclination of the Lord to do things in thousand year periods and to divide his work accordingly. Therefore, with all due respect to the good work of Archbishop Usher, it is believed that the actual date for the beginning of human chronology was at the commencement of a thousand year period, i.e. 4,000 B.C., and that the birth of Christ was precisely four millenniums later. [W. Cleon Skousen, The First 2,000 Years, pp. 346-347]


Ether 1:3 The first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world . . . even to the great tower (Chronology) [Illustration]: Chronological Time Table Covering the Period of the Early Patriarchs (According to Scriptural Sources) [W. Cleon Skousen, The First 2,000 Years, p. xi]


Ether 1:3 The First Part of This Record, Which Speaks concerning the Creation of the World . . . Even to the Great Tower (Chronology):


     Glenn Scott notes that in the course of nearly every Book of Mormon class, the question arises, "What was the date of the earliest event recorded in the Book of Mormon?" Almost invariably someone will answer, "2200 B.C., at the Tower of Babel." Now it is perfectly true that Moroni notes, in reference to the record of Ether (the Jaredite prophet and historian) that "the first part of this record . . . speaks concerning the creation of the world . . . even to the great tower" (Ether 1:3) It is also true that Ether, and subsequently Moroni, wrote that, "Jared came forth with his brother and their families . . . from the great tower when the Lord confounded the language of the people" (Ether 1:33). It is also true that for a long time, many [latter-day saints] have assume that this event took place in 2200 B.C. But where did this easy assumption come from?

     The usual response is, "Well, isn't it in the [Book of Mormon] itself?"

     The confusing answer is yes and no.

     The no part of the answer means that although the authors of the Book of Mormon did give some dates in the text, at no time did any of them say that the date of the great tower was 2200 B.C.!

     The yes part is more complex. As early as 1888, LDS publishers began adding estimated dates in the margins of their editions of the Book of Mormon. Some of those dates were modified in 1906 and again in 1920. (Stanley Larson 1984, "I Have a Question," FARMS paper ENS-84). [The present edition does not contain the footnote date of 2200 B.C.]

     Our question is: Where did the publisher get those dates---especially the 2200 B.C. date? Very few Book of Mormon readers know, so let's dig in and see what the facts reveal.

     Those dates are based on the calculations of James Ussher, an Archbishop from Armagh, Ireland, who in 1654 published a two-volume work, Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti (Annals of the Ancient and New Testaments). In this work, Archbishop Ussher claimed that the Creation took place in 4004 B.C. . . .

     One might wonder how Ussher could presume to be so precise because determining exact dates of ancient events from the Bible alone is virtually impossible. Let us review just two of the reasons why this is so:

     (1) The accuracy of biblical genealogies are dependent on the skill and judgment of the translator, e.g., in the original Hebrew, both son and descendant were written by the same word, BN (vowels were not introduced until the sixth century A.D.). Thus, in translating from the ancient Hebrew, there is no way to be sure whether the relationship expressed as BN originally meant son or descendant. To further confuse the situation, even if the term descendant is known to be correct, there is no way to know how many generations (nor their length) passed between the ancestor and that descendant.

     (2) Another situation which baffles attempts to set definite dates is where various scriptural sources disagree with one another. For example, Genesis (7:85 IV) indicates that Shem was born 108 years before the Flood, but Genesis (11:7 IV; 11:10 KJV) indicates it was 98 years. Also the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 10:15 IV; 10:24 KJV) shows Salah as Arphaxad's son, but the Greek Version (Genesis 10:2) shows he was his grandson. Now, it would be easy to dismiss the Greek version, except for the fact that an ancient Hebrew midrash, The Book of Jubilees (codified in the third century B.C.), also lists the name of this extra generation, as does the Testimony of St. Luke (3:43 IV; 3:36 KJV). Since is would be easier for any of a series of scribes to lose a name, than for three separate records to invent and insert the same name (Cainan), we accept this additional generation. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, pp. 8-9]


Ether 1:3 The first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world . . . even to the great tower (Chronology) [Illustration]: Archbishop James Ussher (1561-1656) [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 10]


Ether 1:3 The First Part of This Record, Which Speaks concerning the Creation of the World . . . Even to the Great Tower (Chronology):


     According to Glenn Scott, a striking example of how new developments can require us to scrap old assumptions regarding dates was the excavation of the ancient city Ur (home of the biblical patriarch Abraham) by British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley in 1929.

     After six years of digging down through many layers of Ur (each representing hundreds of years of occupation), Woolley found under the lowest level of that city, a deep bed of silt which he assumed represented the earliest occupation at that site. However, curiosity impelled him to dig into that mysterious deposit, which proved to be more than ten feet deep. Such a thick layer of silt could only have been deposited by a stupendous flood! To his astonishment, he found under the silt not the virgin soil he had expected, but rubble with thousands of sherds of handmade pottery and implements of flint from the (preflood) stone age. Clearly this deep bed of silt separated two distinctly different epochs of human culture and represented "a sudden and drastic break in the continuity of history."19

     To confirm that this flood was no local phenomenon, Woolley sank a series of shafts at intervals approximately 1,000 feet apart with the same results, (a) city pavement, (b) silt bed, and (c) Stone Age rubble.

     Other archaeologists found similar beds of silt under the ancient cities of Kish, Erech, Shuruppak, Lagash, and Nineveh far to the north in Assyria. The layer of silt was thinner as it approached the mountains around Nineveh, being eight-feet-deep there.20

     Halley's Bible Handbook tells us that the Armenian mountain region is like an island, with the Black Sea and Caspian Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, the Red Sea and Persian Gulf to the south. Therefore, a cataclysmic subsidence (sinking) of this region would have caused the waters of the surrounding seas to pour in at the same time that the forty-day rain poured down from above. This may be what Genesis (8:36 IV; 7:11 KJV) means, "the same day were all the fountains of the deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." Subsidence is the only logical answer to how the forty-day Flood could have covered those 5,640-foot mountaintops.21

     Werner Keller summarized it, "a vast, catastrophic inundation (assumed by skeptics to be a fairy tale or legend), an event within the compass of history . . . it happened about 4000 B.C."22

     We know that toward the end of the fourth millennium B.C. several bona fide civilizations arose in widely scattered areas of the world: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Crete, India, China and two separate areas of the New World. In the first two of these have been found continuous lists of kings--dating to c. 3100 B.C.23

     Thus, it is the opinion of Scott Glenn that we now have not only solid physical evidence in support of the biblical narrative of the Flood, but a date which enables us to establish a more realistic chronology of biblical events, and discard the naive guesstimates of Archbishop Ussher. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 11]


Ether 1:3 The first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world . . . even to the great tower (Chronology) [Illustration]: Projected Schedule of Dates from the Flood to the News World [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 10]


Ether 1:3 The First Part of This Record, Which Speaks concerning the Creation of the World . . . Even to the Great Tower (Chronology):


     According to the Jaredite chronological theory of Warren and Palmer, there is a link between New World and Old World accounts of a great flood. The KJV translation of the Holy Bible was based on the Jewish Masoretic text produced around A.D. 100. The apostles of Jesus actually used a different version, the Greek Septuagint. It appears to be chronologically more accurate than the Jewish version. . . . The Greek Septuagint account places the Flood of Noah's time at roughly 3100 B.C.

     Histories of the Mesopotamian kings are fairly specific in time sequence and describe a great flood consistent with the chronology from the Septuagint. There is archaeological evidence for a flood at the ancient cities of Kish, Shuruppak, Uruk, and Lagash (Parrot, 1955:55). Those cities are in the very area where Noah has been placed by biblical scholars. This area was later called "Sumer." This kingdom of the Sumerians lasted from the Flood, in perhaps 3114 B.C., down to about 1750 B.C

     The natives of Mesoamerica also had traditions concerning the destruction of the world by a flood. An excellent study of the Maya Codex Dresden, plus geological information, has given Nancy K. Owen a better understanding of this flood and its dating. According to her report: "Thompson believes that (page 74 of the Maya codex Dresden) represents destruction of the world by flood. According to him 'the painting depicts floods of water pouring earthward from the open mouth of a celestial dragon with subsidiary streams flowing from sun and moon cartouches suspended from the underside of the creature's body'" (1972:88-9).

     The Maya used a "Long Count" calendar which kept track of every day from a specific base date. Many people have tried to correlate just what day that base date would have been. Perhaps the primary correlation was accomplished by Goodman-Martinez-Thompson (GMT), and was apparently confirmed by the use of calibrated radiocarbon dating. They came up with a base date of 3114 B.C. (Gregorian calendar system). It seems likely that this base date refers to the time of the great destruction of the world by water. [Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, ch. 2-3, unpublished]


Ether 1:3 The first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world . . . even to the great tower (Illustration): The Maya Codex Flood Scene] [Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, ch. 2-3, unpublished]


Ether 1:3 The First Part of This Record, Which Speaks concerning the Creation of the World . . . Even to the Great Tower (Geography):


     According to Glenn Scott, apparently Noah and his family disembarked from the Ark after the Flood waters began to recede down the sides of the Ararat mountain range. The Book of Jubilees states that the specific peak was Mount Lubar near the headwaters of the Euphrates River,24 although Josephus says that it was Mount Baris,25 and the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, calls it Mount Nisir.26

     Events between the Flood and the great tower are summarized in the Bible (IV) in only fifty verses, so to fill in the spaces from Noah to Jared we will refer to other ancient sources such as The Torah (Hebrew Old Testament) possibly dating to 457 B.C. when Ezra is thought to have codified the Scriptures; The Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) dating to at least 285 B.C.; The Book of Jubilees (an ancient Hebrew midrash) dated third century B.C.; The Book of Jasher (mentioned in Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18 IV; KJV); Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews; etc.

     Jubilees 7:1 tells us that Noah "planted vines on the mountain on which the Ark rested, named Lubar, part of the Ararat range, and they produced fruit in the fourth year." Genesis 9:27 IV; 9:20 KJV) says "And Noah . . . planted a vineyard, and he drank of the wine and was drunken; and was uncovered within his tent," which led to the tragic incident of Noah cursing his son, Ham, causing Ham's youngest child, Canaan, to be born with a skin "of darkness" (Genesis 9:30 IV).

     Josephus 4:1 tells us that after the death of Noah, Japheth, Shem, and Ham "descended to the plains, which they called Shinar, and fixed their habitation there." They persuaded others to follow them though many were reluctant fearing another great flood.

     Jubilees 8:6 provides more detail by relating that Salah (the great-grandson of Shem) had a son named Eber (Heber), and Eber had a son named Peleg. Yes, this is the famous and controversial Peleg, of whom Genesis 10:16 IV; 10:25 KJV says, "in his days was the earth divided." (A commentary on this "division" of the earth will follow, but not immediately.) [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, pp. 13-15]


Ether 1:3 The first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world . . . even to the great tower [Illustration]: Conceptions of Noah's Ark [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 12]


Ether 1:3 The First Part of This Record, Which Speaks concerning the Creation of the World . . . Even to the Great Tower (Geography):


     According to Warren and Palmer, it is clear from the book of Ether's reference to "the great tower" (Ether 1:3) that the initial geographical setting for the Jaredites was in Mesopotamia. The fertile area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers was the heartland of great early cultures. The first settlers developed city-states and evolved the concept of the stepped-pyramid which we call today the ziggurat. In the Holy Bible and apparently in the Book of Mormon these pyramids were just called "towers." Those that created these pyramids, after the Flood, were called Sumerians. The Hebrews considered themselves to be descendants of the Sumerians. Shem, the son of Noah, may well have been the founder of the Sumerian race at the end of the great Flood. The great Mesopotamian scholar S.N. Kramer (1963:288-9) presents linguistic arguments that would satisfactorily equate the name of Shem with Sumer (pronounced Shumer). The biblical word for Sumer is "Shinar." [Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, ch. 4, unpublished]


Ether 1:3 The First Part of This Record, Which Speaks concerning the Creation of the World . . . Even to the Great Tower (Geography):


     According to Glenn Scott, there has been, in the church, the assumption that the continents were physically torn apart in the days of Peleg (see previous commentary and illustration). Let's see why that assumption doesn't fit the facts.

     Most scientists agree that the surface of the earth is made up of tectonic (rocky) plates, miles thick, that float on the earth's molten core and that at some time in the remote past all of these plates were clustered together in one super-continent, which they call "Pangea." Tectonic geologists R.D. Nance, T. Worsley, and J. Moody have written that these plates "will move back together eventually, reforming the super-continent."27 Thus, scientific evidence supports the Doctrine and Covenants 133:24 which says, "He shall command the great deep and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands shall become one land . . . and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided."

     So far so good--all of the above is true. However, the problem arises when one makes the easy assumption that the above truth, and the truth recorded in Genesis 10:25 KJV, refer to the same event. In other words, making the unjustified assumption that the division referred to in the Doctrine and Covenants is the same division mentioned in Genesis 10:25, which reads:

           And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.


     If the serious student looks to science for support, he should realize that the division of the continents has been going on for a very, very long time. In fact, they are still being divided today, at the rate of about four inches a year.

     An excellent example of how unrealistic a vast wrenching apart of the continents would be was the great Alaskan earthquake of March 27, 1964, which registered 8.3 on the Richter scale and has been classed as "one of the most violent ever recorded in North America."28

     That tremendous quake was cased by the Pacific plate shifting a mere ten feet to the northwest as it bumped along the western edge of the North American plate. Now if entire coastal communities were wiped out by a shift of a mere ten feet, try to conceive the immeasurable destruction that would result if the continents were suddenly torn apart by thousands of miles! Life on earth could not survive such a sudden and catastrophic division!

     However, such a drastic explanation is not required. If the serious student will read on to Genesis 10:32, he will find the real explanation, "These were the families of the sons of Noah . . . and by these were the nations divided on the earth, after the flood."

     If that is not clear enough, Jubilees 8:8 is more explicit, "For in the days when he [Peleg] was born, the children of Noah began to divide the earth among themselves; for this reason he called his name Peleg." Josephus says that Heber's son Phaleg (Peleg) was so named because "Phaleg among the Hebrews signifies division."29

     Hugh Nibley wrote, "It is legitimate to think of the days of Peleg as the time when as the old Jewish writers describe it, the children of Noah began to divide the earth among themselves, without the least authority to visualize the rending apart of the terrestrial globe" (Nibley 1988, World of the Jaredites, 173)

     Jubilees 8:10 continues, "And it came to pass . . . they divided the earth into three parts, for Shem and Ham and Japheth, according to the inheritance of each." Jubilees 8:12-20 tells more:

           To Shem . . . the whole land of the Red Sea, and the whole land of the east and India . . . all the land of Lebanon . . . and the mountains of Ararat" [obviously the Middle East].

           And for Ham came forth the second portion beyond the Gihon [Nile] towards the south . . . and toward the west to the Sea of Atel [the Atlantic], towards the north to . . . the Great Sea [the Mediterranean] of God [Sythia] and to all of the country east thereof . . . This is the land which came forth for Japheth and his sons . . . for their generations forever . . . a great land in the north but it is cold [obviously Asia].

[Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, pp. 17-18]


     According to Hugh Nibley, Ether has the support of the latest conclusions, based on Genesis 10, that when the tower was built, the people had already been "spread abroad in the earth after the deluge" for some time.30 [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, p. 160]

     Thus symbolically, the idea of a "division" of the earth into lands of inheritance might have some connection with covenants related to "a promised land." The reader should remember that a very similar scenario was being played out in the time of Lehi. While the House of Israel was being "scattered" from their "lands of inheritance" by the Assyrians and the Babylonians, Lehi's family (with Ishmael's family) was being guided through a wilderness to a new "land of inheritance" or a "promised land" where all his people would be able to speak the same language (the language of the true gospel) and take upon them a name (the name of their God--Christ). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 1:3 The first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world . . . even to the great tower [Illustration]: Related Species from a Single Source [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 16]


Ether 1:3 The first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world . . . even to the great tower (Geography) [Illustration]: Map I--Ancient Mesopotamia & Armenia [Randall Spackman, The Jaredite Journey to America, p. 19]


Ether 1:3 The First Part of This Record, Which Speaks concerning the Creation of the World . . . Even to the Great Tower:


     According to Glenn Scott, Josephus (4:2) indicated that the original purpose of the tower of Babel was to unite the people in a vast project of constructing a refuge in case of another flood.31 That was to them a real and terrifying prospect in view of their recent past. The construction of such an artificial mountain on the flat alluvial plain, was an understandable response by those former hill people. However, through the years, the emphasis shifted to a "Mountain of God" or "Hill of Heaven" concept, perhaps from placing a temple on its summit, which permitted them to worship their God (or gods) on high places . . . The translator of the Book of Jasher, in a footnote, suggested that Nimrod's desire to teach idolatry and to raise the tower was a means of uniting all peoples under his standard. . . . [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, pp. 19-21]


Ether 1:3 The great tower (Illustration): Conceptions of the Great Tower. A conceptional concept of the Great Tower named Babel (per Maurano). Also, the great ziggurat at Ur, a more likely design. Note the similarity to Mesoamerican pyramids. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an American Record, p. 20]


Ether 1:3 The First Part of This Record which Speaks concerning the Creation of the World . . . Even to the Great Tower:


     John Tvedtnes notes that according to Jewish tradition, Nimrod's rebellion consisted in the building of the city and tower of Babel.32 Genesis 11:1-9 says that the tower was designed to reach unto heaven. This may explain the name by which the city was known to its local inhabitants, Bab-ilu, generally understood to mean "gate of the gods." That Nimrod built Babel is confirmed in Genesis 10:9-10, though the Bible never ties him to the tower itself.33

     According to Chronicles of Jerahmeel 31:20, Nimrod forced the people to acknowledge him as a god and counseled them to erect the city and tower of Babel to rebel against God. Thereafter, everyone who revelled against the Lord was compared to Nimrod.34 Chronicles of Jerahmeel 30:6 indicates that those who built the tower of Babel did so to reach and break open the firmament of heaven, preempting another flood from God.35 They sought to "wage war with those in heaven and establish themselves as gods." This was also Satan's intention.36 The thought of ascending to heaven attributed to Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13 is the same one that brought about the fall of the tower of Babel (the origin of Babylon) in Genesis 11:1-9. Indeed, according to Helaman 6:28, it was Satan who inspired the building of the tower.

     If the early Jewish traditions have a basis in fact, then Nimrod seems to have been inspired by Satan to build the city and tower of Babel, in direct disobedience to the Lord's instructions that the people should disperse and fill the earth (Genesis 9:1).37 It is significant that some early stories indicate that Nimrod named his son Bel, which is a title of Marduk, and that Bel's son Ninus is said to have erected an idol of his father (Chronicles of Jerahmeel 32:2-5).38 The story is evidently intended to explain how the worship of Bel or Marduk began in Babylon. In Book of Jasher 7:47-48 and 11:7, Nimrod's son is Mardon, a name that derives from the same root as Nimrod and means "rebel."39

     It is interesting to note that while the devil is expelled from the mountain of God in Isaiah 14:13 and Ezekiel 28:14 and 16, in Ezekiel 28:13 he is said to have been in Eden, the garden of God. In early Jewish tradition, the garden was situated atop a mountain. Some early traditions indicate that the tower of Babel (built by Nimrod, inspired by Satan, in an attempt to ascend to heaven) was an imitation of the holy mountain of Eden.40 [John A. Tvedtnes, "Lucifer, Son of the Morning," in The Most Correct Book, pp. 145-147, 159]


Ether 1:4 They Are Had upon the Plates:


     Moroni tells us there were parts of the twenty-four plates of Ether he didn't abridge. He says, "I do not write those things which transpired from the days of Adam until that time, but they are had upon the plates" (Ether 1:4); emphasis added). According to Jerry Ainsworth, it is interesting that Moroni does not say that the things he left out are written upon the plates of Ether, as, for example, the Book of Mormon says about other plates (see 1 Nephi 19:21; Alma 44:24; Ether 4:4). Instead, Moroni says that they are had upon the plates. That may be a key to understanding how the Creation story, plus the history of humanity from the fall of Adam to the celestialization of this world, as well as the history of the Jaredites could be contained on just twenty-four plates--the plates of Ether. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 215] [See the commentary on Ether 4:4]


Ether 1:4 Whoso Findeth Them, the Same Will Have Power That He May Get the Full Account:


     Monte Nyman notes that Moroni abridged the record of the Jaredites from 24 plates of gold found by the people of Limhi (see Mosiah 8:8-9; Ether 1:2). The events of more than 30 generations of the Jaredites (see Ether 1:6-32) are abridged into just 31 pages in our present book of Ether in the Book of Mormon, and about 8 of those 31 are editorial comments by Moroni (see Ether 1:1-5; 2:9-12; 3:17; 5:6; 8:20-26; 12:6-40; 14:25). The full account of these 24 plates will be available when they are obtained. Moroni states that "whoso findeth them, the same will have power that he may get the full account" (Ether 1:4).

     To have "power" to get the full account implies having the power of the Lord. Joseph Smith was given "power from on high, by the means which were before prepared, to translate the Book of Mormon" (D&C 20:8; see D&C 113:3-4). Since the 24 plates are in an unknown language, the translator must have the power of God to get the full account.

     Another implication, although unstated, is that the translator will be led to find the plates. Moroni definitely led Joseph Smith to "find" the Book of Mormon plates (JS-H 1:42-54). Limhi's people found the gold plates of the Jaredites (see Ether 1:2; Mosiah 21:27; 28:11) that Ether had hidden in a manner that they might be found (see Ether 15:33). Wasn't the Lord involved in their finding those plates? We can expect that the Lord, in his own due time, will lead someone of his choosing to find the 24 plates. [Monte S. Nyman, "Other Ancient American Records Yet to Come Forth," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 10, num. 1, 2001, p. 58]


Ether 1:5 I Give not the Full Account, But a Part of the Account I Give[,] from the Tower down until They Were Destroyed:


     Ether 1:5 reads as follows: "For behold, I give not the full account, but a part of the account I give, from the tower down until they were destroyed."

     With the removal of the third comma, this verse reads differently. With the comma in place, the verse tends to emphasize or imply that the "part" Moroni gives is what is left after not including the other part concerning the creation to the tower see Ether 1:3-4). By removing the comma, the verse now emphasizes the fact that the "part" Moroni was referring to was the information "from the tower down until they were destroyed" which Moroni greatly abridged or "gave not a full account of." Thus, the book of Ether as written by Moroni is truly "an abridgment taken from the Book of Ether" (see Title Page). Moroni confirms this by saying that Ether "finished his record and the hundredth part I [Moroni] have not written" (Ether 15:33). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 1:6 Ether:


     According to Hugh Nibley, the name "Ether" (Ether 1:6), athira, means "the one who left a trace, the one who left his mark or left a record." In all Semitic languages it's the same, and it means "to leave a track, to trail somebody." [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 243]


Ether 1:6-33 Ether . . . Was a Descendant of . . . Jared (Jaredite Names):


     According to John Tvedtnes in an article written as a graduate student in Semitic linguistics and archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, there are many linguistic as well as scriptural indications that the principal tongue of the Lehite-Mulekite peoples of the Book of Mormon was essentially Hebrew, and that the names of persons and places recorded therein concerning these peoples are therefore mostly in that language.

     The proper names of the Jaredites, however appear to have a different origin. After a thorough phonemic analysis of Nephite and Jaredite proper names from the perspective of Near Eastern linguistics, Tvedtnes proposes that the proper names of the Jaredites as recorded in the Book of Mormon were drawn from the Akkadian and Sumerian languages, confirming the Mesopotamian origin of that earlier people. He found that there was a different phonological structure for Jaredite names than for Nephite names, at least in the lack of certain sounds in one and their existence in the other.

     There is good reason to believe that the prophet Joseph Smith attempted to transliterate directly the proper names in Mormon's record. David Whitmer and Emma Smith gave testimony to the effect that whenever Joseph came to proper names he spelled them out for his scribe (Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, 1952, p. 32).41 Thus, for the benefit of the reader, Tvedtnes illustrates both the Nephite and the Jaredite phonemes (see illustration below).

     Tvedtnes notes that Joseph Smith, the professed discoverer and translator of the Nephite record in the 1820s, could not possibly have had knowledge of those extinct Mesopotamian languages, for they did not become known to scholars until after the decipherment of the ancient cuneiform writing of Mesopotamia in the mid-nineteenth century. [John A. Tvedtnes, "A Phonemic Analysis of Nephite and Jaredite Proper Names," S.E.H.A. Newsletter, Dec. 1977, pp. 1-7] [For the name lists used in the analysis, see Volume 6, Appendix D]


Ether 1:6-33 Ether . . . was a descendant of . . . Jared (Jaredite Names) [Illustration]:




STOPS:            p      t      k

                 b      d      g

FRICATIVES:            s      s' h


RESONANTS:      m      n      r      l

VOWELS:            i            u

                       e       o





STOPS:            p      t      k      c(q)

                 b      d      g

FRICATIVES:      s      s'      x(ch) h


RESONANTS:      m      n      r      l

VOWELS:            i            u

                        e       o



[John A. Tvedtnes, "A Phonemic Analysis of Nephite and Jaredite Proper Names," S.E.H.A. Newsletter, Dec. 1977, p. 4, 6]


Ether 1:6-33 Ether . . . Was a Descendant of . . . Jared (Kingship List):


     According to John Welch, no explicit indication is given that the Jaredite king list was written down before Ether wrote his record, but it is likely that to some extent it was. King lists similar to the one in Ether 1:6-33 appear among the earliest written records in ancient Mesopotamia.42 In addition, many Mesoamerican monuments have now been shown to contain historical information about royal lines, the short accounts of each king's reign in Ether being not dissimilar in scale.43 [John W. Welch, "Preliminary Comments on the Sources behind the Book of Ether," F.A.R.M.S., 1986, p. 4]


Ether 1:6-33 (Jaredite Kingship Lineage) [Illustration]: Chart: "Jaredite Kings." [John W. & J. Gregory Welch, Charting the Book of Mormon: Visual Aids for Personal Study and Teaching, F.A.R.M.S., Chart #31]


Ether 1:6-33 Ether . . . Was a Descendant of . . . Jared (Chronology):


     According to Verneil Simmons, many ancient languages, including Hebrew, have only one word for both "son" and "descendant." In Hebrew the word "ben" can be read either to mean "son" or "descendant," and a scribe copying from an ancient text might not know which was intended. We find such discrepancies in the genealogies as given in the Bible (Matthew 1:1-16, Luke 3:23-31). Such discrepancy is also found in the "king-lists" of the Old Babylonian period and in other ancient records. It also occurs in the Book of Ether. Moroni began his abridgment of Ether's record with the genealogy of the prophet. Three times in that list of 30 names the word descendant is used in place of son (Ether--Ether 1:6; Aaron--Ether 1:16; Morianton--Ether 1:23), but in the actual text, two of those men are mentioned as being "begat," and not as being a descendant (Aaron--Ether 10:31; Ether--Ether 11:23). Conversely, the genealogy list in Ether 1 refers to two men as a son when the text uses the word descendant (Shez--Ether 1:25; 10:1; Ethem--Ether 1:9; 11:11). [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 24]

     According to Hugh Nibley, a person confined to a written text would have no means of knowing when ben should be taken to mean "son" in a literal sense and when it means merely "descendant." The ancient Hebrews knew perfectly well when to make the distinction: like the Arabs and Maoris they kept their records in their heads, and in mentioning a particular patriarch, it was assumed that the hearer was familiar with his line down to his next important descendant, the written lists being a mere outline to establish connections between particular lines -- the name of a patriarch was enough to indicate his line, which did not have to be written out in full. [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, p. 159]

        Because of this varied interpretation of "descendant" and "son," and because there is still one instance where there is only a descendancy relationship mentioned--that of Morianton and Riplakish (Ether 1:23 and Ether 10:9)--chronological theories involving the Jaredite history tend to be split along three main approaches:

     Theory #1: One chronological approach is to take the position that there might have been some time between Morianton and Riplakish. Among those who have proposed chronologies along this line of reasoning are John L. Sorenson ("The Years of the Jaredites", 1969, F.A.R.M.S.); Robert F. Smith ("Jaredite Development & Chronology", F.A.R.M.S.); and Bruce W. Warren (The Jaredite Saga). [See Appendix A]

     Theory #2: Another chronological approach is taken by Randall Spackman. According to him, even though Morianton is listed as a "descendant" of Riplakish both times (Ether 1:23 and 10:9), there might not be a break in the father-son relationship. Riplakish reigned in wickedness forty-two years before being killed in a rebellion, during which his descendants were driven out of the land (Ether 10:5-8). After "the space of many years," Morianton raised an army and made war against the usurpers for "the space of many years (10:9)," and gained the throne. The phrase "many years" is used here at least in one instance to refer to an amount of time within Morianton's lifetime. The phrase "many years" is also used to denote time within a man's lifetime in Ether 3;3; 9:12; 10:29-32; and 11:15. Thus, by interpreting the phrase "many years" in conformity with its usage elsewhere in the Book of Ether, the "many years" between Riplakish and Morianton could be read reasonably to present an unbroken lineage of father to son; and therefore the genealogy list in Ether 1:6-33 could reasonably present an unbroken lineage of thirty fathers and sons.

     Additionally, according to Randall Spackman, we should refer to the ancient king lists of ancient Mesopotamia for clues in establishing the length of years for the average generation and hence for the time frame for the Jaredite genealogy. Gurney found that the average generation in Mesopotamia ranged between 21 and 31 years. The overall average generation for all the king lists Gurney studied was about 28 years. Thus, if a Jaredite generation averaged 28 or 31 years for each of the 30 generations listed, Jared's birthdate and Ether's birthdate (representing the beginning and the end of the Jaredite lineage) could be estimated at about 1530 B.C. and about 630 B.C. respectively. Allowing 55-60 years for generations where the son was born in his father's "old age" might push Jared's birthdate back to about 1640 B.C. Based on these assumptions set forth, it appears logical to look for a Mesopotamian setting related to the beginning of the Jaredite journey sometime between 1600 B.C. and 1400 B.C. [Randall P. Spackman, "The Jaredite Journey to America, pp. 5-7, 15-18, unpublished] [See Appendix A]

     Theory #3: This isn't so much a theory as a cautionary comment. According to Verneil Simmons, the kingship list in the record of Ether may be an approximation. The ancient library found in the city of Nineveh contained much of the literature of the earlier Sumerians. One item of great interest was a Sumerian king list. The scribe who penned this early tablet divided his list into an antediluvian and a postdiluvian period and named eight kings who had ruled before the flood. A much later form of the same record, written in the third century B.C., lists ten names, the names themselves being quite different. In both accounts, the years of the reign of each king are given in such greatly exaggerated numbers that they cannot be taken seriously. Adding to the confusion, the Bible names nine antediluvian patriarchs. [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 235]


Ether 1:6-33 He That Wrote This Record Was Ether, and He Was a Descendant of . . . Jared:


     According to Hugh Nibley, the genealogy in Ether, chapter one, may explain why the brother of Jared is not named. It is, of course, because "he that wrote this" (Ether) is a direct descendant of Jared. [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, p. 159] [Daniel Ludlow cites some other possibilities -- see the commentary on Ether 1:34]

     If Ether's record truly was a kinship record, then we have to wonder if those things pertaining to the brother of Jared (his vision of the Lord--Ether 3) were contained in a separate record other than that of Ether's twenty four gold plates. After all, Moroni records that the vision of the brother of Jared was written and sealed up by him on commandment of the Lord (Ether 3:27-28; 4:1). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 1:18 Kish:


     "Kish" is the name given to one of the old Jaredite kings (Ether 1:18-19). But according to John Heinerman, it goes back even further into antiquity than this: "Kish was the seat of the first Sumerian dynasty after the Flood" (located not far from the later Babylon, just a little to the southeast), not to mention the name given to the first dynasty of Sumerian kings. 44 [John Heinerman, Hidden Treasures of Ancient American Cultures, p. 3]


Ether 1:33 The Great Tower (Chronology):


     According to Warren and Palmer, it is extremely important to know the starting point of the culture of the Jaredites in order to correlate with the cultures known from historical and archaeological studies. The time of the departure from the Old World by Jared, his relatives, and friends, was the time of the "great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth; . . ." (Ether 1:33). However, there has been considerable disagreement over the time of that event.

     According to Warren and Palmer, it is interesting to note that the text of the Book of Mormon does not mention the word "Babel." As pointed out by Andre Parrot (1955b:16) although the writer of the account in the Book of Genesis called the city "Babel," this probably comes from the Akkadian bab-ilu. That means "gate of god." It certainly does not come from the city that was constructed many centuries later. Nevertheless, one of the early Sumerian cities was probably the scene of that biblical story. So what is the significance of the term "Babel" and what does it have to do with the "great tower" as mentioned in the Book of Mormon? Parrot very carefully points out that the "tower" was no doubt a Mesopotamian ziggurat. There were 34 known ziggurats in Mesopotamia at the time of his book in 1955, and more have no doubt been discovered since that time. According to Parrot these structures represented the temples of antiquity. They were in his words, ladders up to heaven, with the temple on the top representing the "gate of God."

     The Sumerian city of Nippur was the center of political influence for some important centuries. The Ziggurat of Enlil at Nippur could possibly have been the tower of the dispersion, or the biblical "tower of Babel" (3rd millennium B.C.). Enlil was the patron god of all of Sumer. His temple was the "most Sumerian of all Sumerian temples." The mound of Nippur rises more than five stories high and spreads nearly a mile across. This possibility was suggested in a book review by M. Wells Jakeman (1959).

     The King James translation of the Holy Bible places this tower at about 2200 B.C. with Noah's flood at about 2300-2400 B.C. However, the Holy Bible translation used by Christ's first apostles was the Greek Septuagint which has a much earlier chronology. It would place the Great Flood between 3100 B.C. and 3200 B.C. From Mesoamerican data, mentioned later, it would appear that the actual date was August 13, 3114 B.C. (Gregorian calendar system). These dates are consistent with historical and archaeological data from Egypt, Ebla, India, and Mesopotamia. These include flood levels at four Mesopotamian cities that date to about 3100 B.C. In addition, the Septuagint dating is confirmed by Mesopotamian king lists, and the biblical connection to Nimrod. Thus, a date of 3114 B.C. appears reasonable.

     Working from that date, using the Greek Septuagint account of the Old Testament, it would appear that the great tower episode occurred at close to 2700 B. C. Chinese sources and the works of the native American prince Ixtlilxochitl both appear to agree on an exact date of 2697 B.C. for the time of the dispersion. [Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, ch. 4, Conclusions, unpublished] [See Appendix A]


Ether 1:33 The great tower (Illustration): Isometric drawing of the restored temple-tower of the mmon-god Nanna, built by King Ur-Nammu of Ur. [The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, p. 155]


Ether 1:33 The great tower (Illustration): Ziggurat of Enlil. A. General View, Looking Southwest [Warren and Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, ch. 5, unpublished]


Ether 1:33 Jared Came Forth . . . from the Great Tower (Chronology):


     According to Randall Spackman, there were numerous Mesopotamian towers, built and destroyed one by one over thousands of years, that could have been Jared's "great tower." In Mesopotamia, such a tower was called a ziqqurat, the word being derived form an Akkadian verb zaqaru meaning "to rise up high." As Sarna stated, the word was used "specifically for the great towers constructed at the holy places."

     It is interesting that in the writings on the Title Page of the Book of Mormon, a reference to the tower says that it was "a tower to get to heaven." The builders of the towers did not expect to create a tower for their troops to storm heaven by force. Rather, the ziqqurat was the material and symbolic "mountain of God: where God could come down and his worshippers could climb up to make contact with each other. Indeed, the Akkadian name for Babylon was babilum, meaning "the gate of God" referring to the role of Babylon as the religious center of lower Mesopotamia. Consequently, Moroni's comment on the Title Page complements both the Biblical version and the ancient Mesopotamian view of the ziqqurats as binding places of heaven and earth. [Randall P. Spackman, "The Jaredite Journey to America, pp. 7-11, unpublished] [See Appendix A]


Ether 1:33 Jared came forth . . . from the great tower (Illustration): Sites of Mesopotamian ziggurat towers. [The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, p. 156]


Ether 1:33 The Great Tower:


     According to Moroni's record of the Jaredites, "Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others and their families, from the great tower at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth" (Ether 1:33). According to Thomas Valletta, the tower of Babel, described further in Genesis 11, is considered by many scholars to be a Babylonian temple (Jacobsen 334). This false temple was an attempt by an ambitious and wicked people to imitate true temple worship (Nibley, Lehi in the Desert/The World of the Jaredites 154-68; Thomas45 388-98). . . . The focus of these beguiled followers was to "reach unto heaven . . . [and] make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4). But what kind of a name might an apostate covet, hoping to avoid being scattered abroad? The biblical meaning of "making a name" is to give a reputation, fame, or monument (see Genesis 12:2). . . .

     In "Babylonian or Akkadian the meaning of the name Babel was 'gate of God" (Donaldson 60). This name was traditionally thought to be inspired by Nimrod, whose "name is for the Jews at all times the very symbol of rebellion against God and of usurped authority" (Nibley, Lehi 165). . . .

     In contrast centuries later, a prophet-king, speaking from a true temple, declared "that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent" (Mosiah 3:17). . . .

     Elder Dallin H. Oaks has noted the connection between holy temples and receiving "the name of Jesus Christ.":

           All of these references to ancient and modern temples as houses for "the name" of the Lord obviously involve something far more significant than a mere inscription of his sacred name on the structure. The scriptures speak of the Lord's putting his name in a temple because he gave authority for his name to be used in the sacred ordinances of that house. That is the meaning of the Prophet's reference to the Lord's putting his name upon his people in that holy house. (Oaks 81)46

[Thomas R. Valletta, "Jared and His Brother," in The Book of Mormon: Fourth Nephi through Moroni, From Zion to Destruction, pp. 305-306]


Ether 1:33 Jared Came Forth . . . from the Great Tower:


     According to Jerry Ainsworth, Friar Bernardino de Sahagun (1499-1590) in his book History of the Things of New Spain quotes Ixtlilxochitl on the arrival of the Quinamis in the New World. The oral tradition of the Quinamis describes them as living in "caves" while coming to this land, traveling over and under the water (see illustration). Today, in the state of Puebla, Mexico, there exists a town called Zacualpan whose name in the language of the Nahuatls, early inhabitants of Mexico, means "City of the People from the Great Tower." [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 46]


Ether 1:33 [The Quinamis] came forth . . . from the great tower (Illustration): A representation of the heads of seven families of the Quinamis (Jaredites) traveling to this land through the sea in "caves." From Codex Vaticano A, p. 66v. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 47]


Ether 1:33 Jared Came Forth . . . from the Great Tower:


     The Book of Mormon reader should remember that when king Limhi's 43 men were sent to find the land of Zarahemla, they found instead the destroyed Jaredite civilization. When they tried on the rusted breastplates which they found, they said they were "large" (Mosiah 8:10). Readers should also recall that there was a large stone which was brought to king Mosiah, with engravings on it: "And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people . . . It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people; and the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward. (Omni 1:20-22). This passage undoubtedly has reference to the Jaredites, for in Ether 1:33 we find that "Jared came forth . . . from the great tower."

     According to Joseph Allen, it is interesting that the first settlers in Mesoamerica, whom archaeologists call Olmecs, also came from a tower. A history of Mexico was written in 1568 by Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl. He wrote that after the flood, the people: "built a Zaucalli very high and strong, which means 'The Very High Tower,' to protect themselves against a second destruction of the world. As time elapsed, their language became confounded, such that they did not understand one another; and they were scattered to all parts of the earth." (Ixtlilxochitl:6-8)

     The Spanish Chronicles, and archaeologists all bear witness that the first civilization of Mesoamerica was also a large people. The 16th-Century Spanish writers who recorded the Olmec's history called them "giants." The archaeological record sculptured them as large people. Ixtlilxochitl wrote the following about these people who lived along the Gulf Coast of Mexico:

     "In this land called New Spain there were giants, as demonstrated by their bones that have been discovered in many areas. the ancient Tulteca record keepers referred to the giants as Quinametzin; and as they had a record of the history of the Quinametzin, they learned that they had many wars and dissensions among themselves in this land that is now called New Spain. They were destroyed and their civilization came to an end as a result of great calamities and as a punishment from the heavens for grave sins they had committed." (Ixtlilxochitl:25).

[Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 62-63] [See the commentary on Ether 13:21]


Ether 1:33 Jared came forth . . . from the great tower (Illustration): Olmec (Jaredite) archaeological sites along Mexico's Gulf Coast [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 63]


Geographical Theory Map: Ether 1:33 Jared Comes Forth from the Great Tower (Year )


Ether 1:33 Jared came forth . . . from the great tower (Illustration): Map 7. Early and Middle Preclassic Ruins in Mesoamerica. 2300 B.C. to 600 B.C. (Jaredite Period). [David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, p. 260]


Ether 1:33 Jared came forth . . . from the great tower (Illustration): Olmec archaeological sites. [Charles R. Wicke, Olmec, inside cover]


Ether 1:33 Jared came forth . . . from the great tower (Illustration): 22-ton Olmec stone head--possibly representing Ixtlilxochitl's "first parents" who "came out from the tower" and who he referred to as "giants." Also possibly representing the "large" people (Jaredites) who's remains were found by Limhi's expedition (Mosiah 8:10). [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 64]


Ether 1:33 Jared came forth . . . from the great tower (Illustration): Twenty-four-ton basalt head discovered at the ancient site of La Venta, Mexico. To date, twenty-three of these giant heads have been found, all from the Olmec period. [Scot and Maurine Proctor, Light from the Dust, p. 201]


Ether 1:33 The Great Tower:


     John Heinerman writes that on August 13, 1521, the last Aztec ruler of Tenochtitlan surrendered to the "bloody butcher" Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes at Tlatelolco in the northern part of the Aztec capital in Mexico. Soon thereafter a determination was made that these heathen Aztecs needed Christianizing in order to save their own poor pagan souls from the devil idolatry in which they were heavily steeped. Between 1524 and 1533, three Catholic orders of friars--the Franciscans, the Dominicans, and the Augustinians--came from Spain to the New World for this very purpose. No slack was cut for any Aztecs who wished to stick with their old heathen beliefs and ways--they were summarily executed on orders from the friars.

     There came also from Spain to Mexico, with one of these missionary groups, a young child, Diego Duran, with his family. His father held a position of some importance in the Spanish colonial government. The boy witnessed numerous Aztec slaves being branded in the homes of his relatives; this event played a great role in his decision to become a priest when he grew up so that he might help alleviate some of the suffering and terrible injustices then being regularly imposed on the subdued natives by their cruel conquerors. In his late teens he entered the Dominican Order as a novice, later to become a deacon in the convent there.

     Awhile after this he was dispatched to the convento at Oaxtepec, where he was influenced by "a most honest priest," who is thought to have been Fray Francisco de Aguilar. Aguilar had been a soldier under Cortes before entering the Dominican Order and had much to tell young Duran about the conquest. Duran speaks frequently of him in his History of the Indies of New Spain.47 Aguilar himself had experienced a gradual change of heart while still a conquistador and felt sympathetic toward the Aztecs; by entering the Catholic priesthood he hoped it might, in part, atone for some of his previous sins committed against the oppressed people while still a soldier. It was Aguilar, in fact, who helped to greatly expand in young Fray Duran the kindly feelings and respect for the Aztecs which he had felt as a child. Aguilar wisely counseled him to seek out those elderly informants who knew something of the history of these people and interview them with the idea of keeping a written record of what they knew before it became permanently lost upon their deaths.

     Some time later, Fray Duran received an appointment from his superiors in Mexico City to become the vicar in Hueyapan, a town high on the southern slopes of the volcano Popocatepetl; the Dominican convento there dates from 1563 and is still in use today. In that Nahuatl-speaking region Duran found numerous informants for his eventual History. His fluency in the native tongue of the Aztecs was learned as a child and served him well while stationed there. One of the important characteristics of his research is that he ventured into rural areas, questioning the old and young in their own language, observing their customs, and always searching for ancient documents, which he felt could parallel some of the more ancient history of mankind that is found in Genesis of the Old Testament. In his search for such evidence and in concert with his daily missionary work among the native people, he discovered pictorial manuscripts that he incorporated into his history; unfortunately these and old native maps also acquired were not preserved as they should have been. No other friar of the time, not even the more famous Franciscan Father Bernardino de Sahagun, whose own encyclopedic account of Aztec culture is without compare, could match so fully this priest's wide access to the natives or their readily-gained trust.

     One of the traditions that Diego Duran became particularly interested in was the very old Aztec legends having to do with the great Tower. Fray Duran came across one elderly Aztec gentleman who was able to recall with vivid clarity the traditions about the Tower which had been handed down among his people over many successive generations. Here in Duran's own words is a narrative of that amazing account:

           An aged man from Cholula, about one hundred years old, began to describe their [Aztec origins to me. He began thus:

           In the beginning, before light or sun had been created, this world lay in darkness and shadows and was void of every living thing. It was all flat, without a hill or ravine, surrounded on all sides by water, without even a tree or any other created thing. And then, when the light and sun were born in the east, men of monstrous stature appeared and took possession of this country. These giants, desirous of seeking the birth of the sun and its setting, decided to seek [dawn and dusk], and they separated into two groups. One band walked toward the west and the other toward the east. The latter walked until the sea cut off their route; from here they decided to return to the place from which they had set out, called Iztac Zolin Inemian which means 'Where white quails dwell'].

           Not having found a way to reach the sun but enamored of its light and beauty, they decided to build a tower so high that its summit would reach unto heaven. And gathering materials for this building, the giants found clay for bricks and an excellent mortar with which they began to build the tower very swiftly. When they had raised it as high as they could--and it seemed to reach to heaven--the Lord of the Heights became angry and said to the inhabitants of the heavens, 'Have you seen that the men of the earth have built a proud and lofty tower in order to come up here, enamored as they are of the light of the sun and its beauty? Come, let us confound them, for it is not right that these earthlings, made of flesh, mingle with us.' Then swift as lightning those who dwell in the heavens came out from the four regions of the world and tore down the tower that had been constructed. And the giants, bewildered and filled with terror, separated and fled in all directions.

           That is how [this] Indian related[d] the creation of the world with giants and the tower of Babel. Therefore, I am convinced and wish to convince others that those who tell this account heard it from their ancestors; and these natives belong, in my opinion, to the lineage of the chosen people of God for whom He worked great marvels. And so [a] knowledge of the things told in the Bible and its mysteries have passed from hand to hand, from father to son [over many long generations].


     Similar legends exist about the great Tower in other parts of Mexico. Edward King Kingsborough, a British lord and man of some considerable means, spent his entire fortune in publishing over a period of 17 years (1831-1848) a massive nine-volume folio set entitled, Antiquities of Mexico. Unfortunately, Lord Kingsborough died penniless in debtor's prison. The end result of all his efforts was a printing and binding bill exceeding one million dollars and a giant repository of facsimiles of many ancient Aztec scrolls, maps, paintings, and parchments filled with hieroglyphics that were locked away in storage in a number of the world's great museums and private libraries, which the general public and most scholars were denied access to.

     Yet from this huge work (8:25;27) comes the following legend about the great Tower:

           An ancient manuscript of the primitive Indians of that province [the Mexican state of Chiapas], who had learned the art of writing, had retained the constant tradition that the father and founder of their nation was Teponahuale, which signifies, 'Lord of the hollow piece of wood [or barge].' And that he was present at the building of the Great Wall, for so they named the Tower of Babel. And beheld with his own eyes the confusion of tongues. After which event, God, the Creator, commanded him to come to these extensive regions, and to divide them among mankind. They affirm that at the time of the confusion of tongues, there were seven families who spoke the same language, which was Nahuatl, that which is still spoken by the Aztec Mexicans. And since they understood each other, they united and, forming a single company, proceeded on their journey through diverse lands and countries as chance directed them, and without any particular destination in search of a convenient habitation. And having traveled during a century, passing in the interval mountains, rivers and arms of the sea, which they noted down in their paintings, they arrived at the place which they named their first settlement. [It was] in the Northern part of this kingdom, which they named Tlapaln, which signifies red country, on account of the soil being of that color.


     These are but two examples which are typical of the many different Native American legends concerning the great Tower. [John Heinerman, Hidden Treasures of Ancient American Cultures, pp. 95-99]


Ether 1:33 The Great Tower:


     According to Tom Cryer, the truncated pyramids of Mexico and Guatemala were patterned after the ziggurats of Palestine, Mesopotamia, and early Egypt; not merely in design but in purpose and meaning as well (Ferguson:98) The stepped structure served as a "giant stairway which the god could go down and the devotee go up, to meet each other." (De Vaux:282) Such are the incremental steps of Jacob's ladder and the Mayan stairs of inscriptions. The different levels represented the different glories of God's house. Different levels of glory are depicted in an ancient Mesopotamian boundary stone. The glories of the sun, moon, and stars are shown above a turtle, which represents the earth, below which are animalistic symbols representing the underworld. (see illustration) [Tom Cryer, Visual Sermons, p. 171, unpublished]


Ether 1:33 Jared came forth . . . from the great tower (Illustration): Examples of ziggurats from Biblical lands compared with the pyramids of Mesoamerica. [Tom Cryer, Visual Sermons, p. 171, unpublished]


Ether 1:33 The great tower (Illustration): The Tower of Babel. Artist: Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Courtesy of Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. [Donald W. Parry, "The Flood and the Tower of Babel," in The Ensign, January 1998, p. 39]


Ether 1:33 The Great Tower:


     According to John Heinerman, President Brigham Young claimed that,

           "the City of Enoch was caught up a little ways from the earth, and that the city was within the first sphere above the earth. And [Nimrod and his people imagined] that if they could get a tower high enough, they might get to heaven, where the City of Enoch and the inhabitants thereof were located. So they went to work and built a tower.48


     But, notes Heinerman, Brigham Young got his ideas from that great earthly fountainhead of eternal knowledge, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself. According to the Nauvoo Journal of George Laub,49 Joseph gave a discourse on April 13, 1843 in which he stated: "Now I will tell [you] the designs of building the tower of Babel. It was designed to go to the city of Enoch, for the veil was not so thick that it hid it from their sight. So they concluded to go to the city of Enoch, for God gave him place above this impure earth."

     Apostle Orson F. Whitney rightly called the construction of this Great Tower to that suspended city in the atmosphere, "the mightiest engineering feat" ever accomplished, involving very "cunning skills."50

     It is also noteworthy that according to the apocryphal Book of Jasher (9:38) it took a man "three days' walk" to completely go around the Tower, obviously showing its enormous circumference. [John Heinerman, Hidden Treasures of Ancient American Cultures, pp. 121, 123]


Ether 1:33-37 The Lord Confounded the Language of the People:


     Did the Jaredites speak and write the "Adamic tongue"? According to Daniel Ludlow, the key word in the verses which pertain directly to the problem (Ether 1:33-37) is confound. What does it mean when the record states that the Lord "did not confound the language of Jared"? Does it mean the same as saying that the Lord did not change the language of Jared? If so, Jared and his people apparently spoke and wrote the language of Adam because so far as we know there was only one language before the "great tower" of Babel.


     Thomas Valletta notes that there is likely more to the account of the retaining of "the language of Jared" (Ether 1:35) than what initially meets the eye. According to Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, "they carried with them the speech of their fathers, the Adamic language, which was powerful even in its written form, so that the things [the brother of Jared] wrote 'were mighty even unto the overpowering of man to read them.' That was the kind of language Adam had; that was the language with which Enoch was able to accomplish his mighty work" (The Way to Perfection 60).

     The book of Moses described the language of Adam as "pure and undefiled" (Moses 6:5-6). More importantly, this language was intimately connected with the "priesthood, which was in the beginning, [and] shall be in the end of the world also" (Moses 6:7; see also Zephaniah 3:9). . . . An example of the relationship between language and power (or priesthood) is contained in the book of Moses which describes Enoch's faith as causing him to be feared among men because "so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him" (Moses 7:13; emphasis added). [Thomas R. Valletta, "Jared and His Brother," in The Book of Mormon: Fourth Nephi through Moroni, From Zion to Destruction, p. 309] [See the commentary on Melchizedek in Alma 13]


     Hugh Nibley, has a viewpoint based on Ether 1:34 which says, "Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words." According to Hugh Nibley, how can it possibly be said that "we may not understand our words"? Words we cannot understand may be nonsense syllables or may be in some foreign language, but in either case they are not our words. The only way we can fail to understand our own words is to have words that are actually ours change their meaning among us. That is exactly what happens when people, and hence languages, are either "confounded," that is, mixed up, or scattered. In Ether's account, the confounding of people is not to be separated from the confounding of their languages; they are, and have always been, one and the same process. . . . That "confound" as used in the book of Ether is meant to have its true and proper meaning of "to pour together," "to mix up together," is clear from the prophecy in Ether 13:8, that "the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; . . . and they shall no more be confounded," the word here meaning mixed up with other people, culturally, linguistically, or otherwise. [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, p. 173]


Ether 1:33 The Lord Confounded the Language of the People, and Swore in His Wrath That They Should Be Scattered upon All the Face of the Earth:


     In Ether 1:33 it says that, "the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth." According to Verneil Simmons, Genesis 11:1 reads, "And the whole earth (eretz) was of one language, and of one speech." In Hebrew the word "eretz" can be read to mean either "earth" or "land," and only the writer knows which is meant. Thus the phrase "the whole earth was of one language" (Genesis 11:1) could have referred to the people of one land, whereas here in Ether 1:33 we find evidence, at least with the group led by Jared and his brother, that the scattering could have been to another part of the "earth." There is other evidence of this in the Book of Mormon where writers use the phrase "the whole earth" when a limited area is intended (for example Ether 13:17; 3 Nephi 8:18). In view of our present knowledge of early peoples with differing tongues, it would seem wiser to limit the "whole earth" of Genesis 11:1 to the land of Shinar, thereby implying that the people who came from the east and started to build a city and a tower were of one tongue, a homogeneous group. The Inspired Version of the Bible is helpful at this point. Genesis 11:5 states, "So I, the Lord, will scatter them abroad from thence, upon all the face of the land, and unto every quarter of the earth." [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, pp. 25-26] [See the commentary on Ether 1:2]


Ether 1:34 The Brother of Jared:


     According to Daniel Ludlow, it is not clear why the name of the brother of Jared does not appear in the Book of Mormon. However, the following are possible reasons:

     (1) The brother of Jared may have omitted his name out of modesty (John the Beloved did essentially this same thing in the Gospel of John which he wrote).

     (2) The Book of Ether is clearly a family record of Jared, not the brother of Jared; Ether--the final writer and perhaps the abridger of the record--was a descendant of Jared and might naturally have emphasized the achievements of his direct ancestor rather than the brother of his ancestor.

     (3) Moroni may have omitted the name in his abridgment because of difficulty in translating (or "transliterating") the name into the Nephite language. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 310] [See the commentary on Ether 2:13]


     The name of the brother of Jared was revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith. Elder George Reynolds recounted: "While residing in Kirtland Elder Reynolds Cahoon had a son born to him. One day when President Joseph Smith was passing his door he called the Prophet in and asked him to bless and name the baby. Joseph did so and gave the boy the name of Mahonri Moriancumer. When he had finished the blessing he laid the child on the bed, and turning to Elder Cahoon he said, the name I have given your son is the name of the brother of Jared; the Lord has just shown [or revealed] it to me. Elder William F. Cahoon, who was standing near, heard the Prophet make this statement to his father; and this was the first time the name of the brother of Jared was known in the Church in this dispensation." ("Jaredites," Juvenile Instructor 27:282) [Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet, and Brent L. Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. IV, p. 263]


     According to Thomas Valletta, Jared, whose name in Hebrew means "to go down," was one of those sent forth when the tower fell. Like Adam and many before and many after, Jared embarked on a new beginning. He was not alone in his journey. Jared had a special though unnamed brother. Although the Prophet Joseph Smith apparently revealed this great prophet's name to be Mahonri Moriancumer, the text of Ether does not record his name. Commentators have suggested many possible reasons for this phenomenon (see Ludlow 310), but it just may be that the book of Ether employs the phrase "the brother of Jared" as a type for Jesus Christ. The exclusion of the name draws attention to the fact that Jared was not left alone, but had a very special brother who intervened in his and his family's behalf. . . . It should not be surprising that the brother of Jared could be a type of Jesus Christ, as all of God's prophets typify Jesus Christ (J. McConkie, Gospel Symbolism 146-72). In the case of the brother of Jared, there are many similarities between the recorded facts of his life and events in the life of Jesus Christ (see illustration). [Thomas R. Valletta, "Jared and His Brother," in The Book of Mormon: Fourth Nephi through Moroni, From Zion to Destruction, pp. 307-308]


Ether 1:34 The brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord (Illustrated): The Brother of Jared. Artist: Del Parson. [Henry B. Eyring, "The Brother of Jared--An Expert at Learning," The Ensign, July 1978, p. 63]


Ether 1:34 The Brother of Jared (Illustration): The Brother of Jared. Artist: Del Parson. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 613]


Ether 1:34 The brother of Jared (Illustration): The Brother of Jared as a Type of Jesus Christ [Thomas R. Valletta, "Jared and His Brother," in The Book of Mormon: Fourth Nephi through Moroni, From Zion to Destruction, pp. 307-308]


Ether 1:34 The Brother of Jared:


     According to Kent Jackson, there is no suggestion in Moroni's abridgment as to why "the brother of Jared" is known by this descriptive name rather than a proper name. Perhaps his name was not recorded on Ether's twenty-four plates, or perhaps he was actually called "the brother of Jared." [Kent P. Jackson, "Christ and the Jaredites," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 2, p. 247]


Ether 1:34 A Large and Mighty Man:


     The book of Ether describes the brother of Jared as "a large and mighty man" (Ether 1:34). According to Jerry Ainsworth, the Old Testament records that giants lived before the Flood and begot "mighty men" (Genesis 6:4). According to the book of Moses, giants dwelt in the land in Enoch's day (see Moses 7:15). Giants also lived after the Flood (see Numbers 13:33). There is a similarity between these scriptural accounts and an ancient fragmentary account concerning the first pyramid at Cholula Mexico. This account now appears in a plaque on the wall of the mayor's palace in that city.

     The account at Cholula mentions "seven brothers" who were saved from the waters "in the caves of the mountain." Their leader was "Xelhua the giant," whose name, in the ancient Nahuatl language, means "vomited out of the water." He built the pyramid in Cholula in commemoration of their deliverance. This account appears to combine traditions dating back to the Flood with later ones about the Tower of Babel and the migration to this land. Four distinct strands of tradition are apparent: (1) "At the time of the Flood, giants lived upon the earth, and many of them perished, drowned in the waters"' (2) A pyramid was built that "threatened to reach the clouds," at which the "father of all the gods" sent down a "celestial fire" that "killed many of the builders," the rest "dispersing so that the work was not continued"' (3) "Seven brothers were saved in the caves of the mountain"' and (4) "Xelhua the giant went to the site that was later called Cholollan [Cholula]" and there "started to build the pyramid in memory of the mountain in which he was saved."

     The Genesis account records how people wanted to build a tower "whose top may reach unto heaven" (Genesis 11;4). The Book of Mormon says their purpose was "to build a tower sufficiently high that they might get to heaven" (Helaman 6:28). As noted, the spiral architecture of the first pyramid at Cholula was likely influenced by the Tower of Babel. Spiral buildings and pyramids are also found on the west coast of Mexico in the states of Colima and Jalisco.

     In Central America today, the ruins of pyramids are generally crowned with temples or sacred sanctuaries for worships. Evidence of sacrifices made at such sites abounds, even though later corruptions became mistaken for the sites' original purpose. A similar trend appears in the Old Testament. At first, Israel's "high places" were used for offering acceptable sacrifices to God (see 1 Samuel 9:10-19; 1 Kings 3:2-4). Later, at the corruption of the people's religion, the "high places" became sites for idolatrous practices (see 1 Kings 12:28-33). [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, pp. 53-55]


Ether 1:34 A large and mighty man (Illustration): A plaque on the wall of the mayor's palace at Cholula containing fragments of the earliest history of its people. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 53]


Ether 1:35 And It Came to Pass:


     According to Roy Weldon, the expression "it came to pass" is used 117 times in the book of Ether, which covers 40 pages; yet it is not used once in the book of Moroni, which covers 13 pages. The reason for this is that the phrase "and it came to pass" is a device to show that something was left out of the original record in the abridgment. This is why there are so very many of them in the Book of Mormon. Franklin S. Harris, in Book of Mormon Message and Evidences notes that the biblical prophet Ezra freely used the words "it came to pass" in his abridgment, but not once in his own writing (p. 116).

     In view of the above comments, it is amusing that critics have made many comments about the frequent use of this Hebraic idiom in the Book of Mormon. Mark Twain in Roughin It, 1872, declared: "If you took all the 'it came to passes' out of it [the Book of Mormon], there wouldn't be anything left to come to pass."

     It is also interesting that the native Mesoamerican Maya author of the Book of Chilam Balam makes frequent use of the same term as noted on pages 46, 154, etc. (two in one sentence, p. 120). [Roy E. Weldon, Book of Mormon Deeps, Vol. III, pp. 257, 236]


Ether 1:35 And it came to pass (Illustration): And It Came to Pass . . . Various tenses of this phrase as found in the Maya glyphs. . . . In 1981, linguist David Stuart identified a Mayan glyph meaning "and it came to pass," showing that it was in common use among the ancient Maya.51 Later, other Maya glyphs were identified as variations of that phrase: e.g., "It had come to pass" or "It would come to pass."52 [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust, pp. 222-223]


Ether 1:38 Inquire of the Lord Whether He Will Drive Us out of the Land:


     According to Thomas Valletta, Jared's phrase "drive us out of the land" (Ether 1:38), is like the language used to describe Adam and Eve's being driven from the Garden of Eden (Ether 1:38; Genesis 3:24; Moses 4:31). . . . The same words are used when the Israelites are expelled from Egypt (Exodus 11:1; 12:31) . . . In the same pattern, the brother of Jared is told that God would go before them "into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth" (Ether 1:42); a land that Jared hoped his people, if faithful, might receive "for [their] inheritance" (Ether 1:38). Further, the Lord promised that he would bless them and their seed that they would become "a great nation," and "that there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed" (Ether 1:43), a promise similar to that made to Abraham and Israel.

     These promises (along with the promise to not confound their language-see the commentary on Ether 1:35) contain the essential elements of the everlasting covenant detailed later to Father Abraham and to every covenant people. These elements include priesthood, posterity, and a land of inheritance (see Abraham 2:11; B. McConkie, A New Witness 505). Modern revelation makes it clear that these covenants, often referred to as the Abrahamic covenant, were previously and subsequently made with Adam and the other patriarchs (see Moses 6:65-68; 7:51; 8:2; also see Old Testament Student Manual 70-72). This covenant is the new and everlasting covenant that God established in this dispensation (see D&C 49:9; 66:2; 132:2-7). According to Elder Bruce R. McConkie, "the covenant made with the fathers was that their seed after them should receive the same gospel, the same priesthood, the same promise of salvation, that blessed the lives of those with whom the covenant was first made" (A New Witness 524). [Thomas R. Valletta, "Jared and His Brother," in The Book of Mormon: Fourth Nephi through Moroni, From Zion to Destruction, pp. 309-310]


Ether 1:38 He Will Drive Us out of the Land:


     Hugh Nibley reports that Eusebius in his Chronicon, which has surprisingly proved one of the most reliable sources of early oriental history, cites the Sibyl to the effect that "when all men were of one tongue, some of them built a high tower so as to mount up to heaven, but God destroyed the tower by mighty winds.". . . The Book of Jubilees (second century B.C.) tells how "the Lord sent a mighty wind against the tower and overthrew it upon the earth, and behold it was between Asshur and Babylon in the land of Shinar, and they called its name 'Overthrow.'". . . These are interesting statements in view of the fact that in Ether 6:8, in referring to the Jaredite journey, it says that "the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters" (Ether 6:8) and "also there were terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind" (Ether 6:5-6). . . .

     In so many words, the book of Ether tells us that at the time of the dispersion (from the tower) the world was swept by winds of colossal violence. . . . The weather of Asia is the great central driving mechanism of world history. The blowing sands of Asia have brought mighty empires to ruin, and buried great cities almost overnight, and have scattered the tribes in all directions. [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, pp. 175-180] [See the commentary on Ether 6:8]

     According to the chronological theory of Warren and Palmer, written documents from the ancient Near East tell us that there were high winds and great drought at the time of the great tower episode. These forced the people to leave the great tower and settle in other parts of the ancient Near East. . . . After the Flood, in 2811 B.C., a king by the name of Lugal-Banda (Nimrod) ruled in 2805 B.C. Lugal-Banda was succeeded at Uruk by Dumuzi. Dumuzi reigned from 2797 to 2697 B.C. At that time Gilgamesh, the son of Lugal-Banda succeeded Dumuzi. It is postulated that the Dispersion took place at the time of the turnover in power to Gilgamesh, in 2697 B.C.

     A recent book called "The Discovery of Genesis" by C.H. Kang and E.R. Nelson (1979:Chapter 10) talks about the tower after the Flood and the migration of people from the tower into north China:

     "It is likely, since their historical date of origin corresponds closely with this point in time (the tower of Babel), that the ancestors of the Chinese people left the valley of Shinar (Mesopotamia) in the great migration and journeyed eastward, and soon settled in the fertile land of China (1979:109) The date of this apparent migration into China was placed at 2697 B.C. (Chanag, The Archaeology of Ancient China, 3rd edition, 1977:215; Fagan, 1986:429; Recent Book of Mormon Developments, 1984:34-40, 49-50; Simmons, 1986:29, Map #2).

     From the writings of the ancient Mexican historian Ixtlilxochitl, he states that his distant ancestors traveled a great distance, living in caves, suffering many hardships, and going through the "Great Tartary." That is a name for the steppes of central Asia. (Ixtlilxochitl I:16) The writings of Ixtlilxochitl also speak of the date of the Flood being about 3113 B.C. (Julian) and that 416 years later was the confusion of languages. This date from Ixtlilxochitl would be 2697 B.C., a remarkable coincidence and correspondence. [Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, ch. 6, 2, unpublished]

     According to Joseph Allen, the Aztec calendar, depicts four major destructive periods of the world--periods that are also mentioned by Ixtlilxochitl. The four largest squares surrounding the Sun God refer to the four destructive periods, as follows:

     Period I: Sun of Water, (The earth was destroyed by the flood)

     Period II: Sun of Air (The earth was destroyed by a hurricane)

     Period III: Sun of Earth (The earth was destroyed by an earthquake)

     Period IV: Sun of Fire (The earth will be destroyed by fire)

[Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 63-64] [See the commentary on Ether 6:8]


Ether 1:38 He will drive us out of the land (Illustration): Four destructive periods as illustrated in the Aztec Calendar Stone [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 65]


Ether 1:38 He Will Drive Us [Jared & the Brother of Jared] out of the Land:


     According to Hugh Nibley, there is a tradition that refers to two brothers who led a group of people from a great tower, eastward, and were never heard of again. These two brothers were known as Ram and Rud. This tradition is from the Mandaean Christians living in Mesopotamia and Iran. It is not difficult to see, as Dr. Nibley points out, that "Rud" is a shortened form of "Jared" and that this Mandaean tradition could very well be referring to the Jaredite migration. [Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 1964, p. 296]


Ether 1:41 Go To and Gather Together . . . Seed of the Earth of Every Kind:


     John Heinerman reports that above anything else the Sumerians were great agriculturists. It was they who gave us the world's first "Farmer's Almanac" before anyone else did. An American archaeological expedition digging in Iraq in 1949-50, found a three by four inch clay tablet covered with cuneiform inscriptions. After the artifact was baked, cleaned, and mended in a university museum laboratory in Philadelphia, practically its entire text became legible enough to be read and deciphered. Samuel Noah Kramer states in his History Begins At Sumer53 that the restored document, 108 lines in length, consists of a series of instructions addressed by a farmer to his son for the purpose of guiding him throughout his yearly agricultural activities, beginning with the inundation of the fields in May-June and ending with the cleaning and winnowing of the freshly harvested crops in the following April-May.

     Other inscribed clay tablets of the same period (about 3,500 years ago) speak of planting vegetable gardens and how they should be arranged and laid out. Natural insect and weed control measures ware given, too. Kramer also noted that "one of the more significant horticultural techniques practiced in Sumer from the earliest days was shade-tree gardening-that is, the planting of broad shade trees to protect the garden plants from sun and wind. [John Heinerman, Hidden Treasures of Ancient American Cultures, pp. 107-108]


Ether 1:41 And Also Thy Friends and Their Families, and the Friends of Jared and Their Families:


     According to Hugh Nibley, here in Ether 1:41 is another striking contrast between the Jaredite story and the Lehi story. Unlike Lehi's people of the sands, these ancients in the Jaredite story do not form their societies on the basis of blood relationship. The friends of Jared and the friends of his brother are two separate groups, as they would not be if they were relatives. Apparently whoever is a friend is a supporter and member of the tribe, and this rule, significantly enough, has been a basic law of Asiatic society from the earliest recorded times. [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, p. 185]


Ether 1:41 And Also Thy Friends:


     According to David Lamb, though the scriptures abound with numerous covenant terms and statements, one of the most beautiful is the usage of the word "friend." In its covenant context, the word "friend" means more than just an acquaintance or one who is known, liked and trusted; it signifies that a covenant has been made between two individuals (see Genesis 17:2; Isaiah 41:8; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Zechariah 13:6).

     The mention of the "friends" of the brother of Jared and the "friends" of Jared (Ether 1:41) might be more than just an expression of fondness between people; it might be a recognition that the people have entered into the same type of binding covenant.

     Recognizing and understanding covenant terms can greatly increase our comprehension of the scriptures and the meaning of covenants. This in turn will increase our understanding of the call to enter into covenants with Jesus Christ: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:13-14). [David Lamb, "Friend: A Covenant Term," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 51] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 1:30; Mosiah 4:4]


Ether 1:42 A Land Which Is Choice above All the Lands of the Earth:


     The phrase "a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth" (Ether 1:42) is covenant related. For example, we also find evidence of this same covenant phraseology in the following verses:


     And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands. (1 Nephi 2:20, italics added)


     Nevertheless, thou beholdest that the Gentiles who have gone forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations, upon the face of the land which is choice above all other lands, which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance; wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which are among thy brethren. (1 Nephi 13:30, italics added)


     But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord. (2 Nephi 1:5, italics added)


     And it came to pass that Jared spake again unto his brother, saying: Go and inquire of the Lord whether he will drive us out of the land, and if he will drive us out of the land, cry unto him whither we shall go. And who knoweth but the Lord will carry us forth into a land which is choice above all the earth? And if it so be, let us be faithful unto the Lord, that we may receive it for our inheritance. (Ether 1:38)


     And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people. (Ether 2:7, italics added)


     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. (Ether 2:10, italics added)

[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Ether 1:43 There Will I . . . Raise Up unto Me of Thy Seed . . . a Great Nation:


     In Ether 1:42-43 we find that the Lord promised the brother of Jared that,

           I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth. And there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed, and of the seed of thy brother, and they who shall go with thee, a great nation. And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth.


     While a "great nation" implies a righteous nation, it also implies a prosperous nation. According to John Heinerman, the people who followed Jared and his brother truly had access to that cultural knowledge to make themselves into such a "great nation."

     Heinerman notes that Arthur C. Custance was correct when he declared in his book Genesis and Early Man54 that the technology of the ancient Sumerians "had achieved a level of technical proficiency greater than that to be found in many parts of Europe just prior to the Industrial Revolution." Hans E. Wulff mentioned in Technology and Culture Science55 that stone and metal tumbler locks are "of great antiquity . . . dating back to about 2000 B.C.," being found even "in the ruins of ancient Nineveh."

     One need look no further than the Sumerian culture itself to find not only an advanced technology but also an equally high social order in place at the time that the Great Tower was under construction. In his book, The Sumerians56 historian Samuel Noah Kramer discussed the some 360,000 inhabitants of Ur (the capital of Sumer) enjoying "the potter's wheel, the wheeled vehicle, the sailboat," highly developed metallurgy, amazing "architectural techniques" that included 'stone foundations and platforms, niched cells, painted walls, mosaic-covered columns, and impressive facades," not to mention a decimal system of mathematics and a flourishing literary output to rival that of the Greeks at least 1,500 years later. Furthermore, illiteracy was virtually non-existent, as even the most common citizens had easy and ready access to free education from the many libraries, academies and vocational schools that dominated the intellectual and industrial landscapes then.

     The archaeological evidence from Sumer also suggests superb metalworks of gold, silver, copper, and bronze, some iron machinery and tools.57

     In an early work by Kramer, History Begins At Sumer58 are listed "39 firsts in recorded history" accomplished by these people. Kramer described these very gifted, highly talented, and definitely practical people as being the "first true geniuses" upon whose works all later Old World civilizations were built. [John Heinerman, Hidden Treasures of Ancient American Cultures, pp. 102-103, 110]