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Ether 6


A Confirming Covenant Witness

      Mormon 8 -- Moroni



Ether 6:2 [The Stones] Did Give Light unto the Vessels:


     In Ether 6:2 we find that,

           after the Lord had prepared the stones which the brother of Jared had carried up into the mount, the brother of Jared came down out of the mount, and he did put forth the stones into the vessels which were prepared, one in each end thereof; and behold they did give light unto the vessels.


     According to a F.A.R.M.S. Update, some critics have completely dismissed the Book of Mormon because they could not believe that a light source such as the brother of Jared's stones was physically feasible. For example, some have said, "the story of Ether's stone candles overtaxes the marvelous," while others have said "the words 'patently ridiculous' seem too kind."

     However, Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico has recently developed radioluminescent lights that invite some interesting comparisons with the Jaredite stones. The radioluminescent lights are made from a highly porous silica matrix --"aerogel" -- in which a phosphor such as zinc sulfide is dispersed. The radioactive source of the lights is tritium gas, which when incorporated in the aerogel, actually becomes chemically bonded to the aerogel matrix. The radioactivity of tritium results in beta particles (electrons) striking the phosphor particles and causing them to emit light while not escaping the matrix. Their life expectancy is about 20 years and their light is described as being "bright" and very "intense." Even the possibility that the Jaredite stones were created according to similar physical laws should be enough to quiet the critics. [Based on research by Nicholas Read, Jae R. Ballif, John W. Welch, Bill Evenson, Kathleen Reynolds, and Matt Roper, "New Light on the Shining Stones of the Jaredites," in F.A.R.M.S. Update Number 83, July 1992]


Ether 6:2 [The Stones] Did Give Light unto the Vessels:


     According to John Heinerman, the problem with the F.A.R.M.S. article is that it looks at a spiritually generated procedure from an entirely secular point of view. No one has ever considered the priesthood virtue emanating from our Lord constantly as being the TRUE SOURCE for the stones' continuous illumination. Now this virtue is an interesting thing to explore, for it sheds a great deal of understanding on how light came to be in otherwise dull rocks. The Prophet Joseph Smith, who felt this light or power often in his own life, referred to this peculiar virtue of the priesthood as "the spirit of life." It would leave while blessing little children sometimes; and a small portion of it certainly left our Lord when the woman with the blood issue touched the hem of Jesus' garment and was promptly made whole again (Matthew 9:20).87

     The virtue of the holy priesthood has been described in different ways by those who've felt it surging through their own bodily systems on various occasions. In his autobiography,88 Apostle Orson F. Whitney mentioned it "ran like liquid flame to the very tips of my fingers," while in the act of administering to a sick sister, who was instantly healed the moment it surged into her own body from his.

     Consider what happened in ancient times with the Old Testament prophet Elisha. He was a man obviously filled with a great deal of this eternal priesthood element in life, as evidenced by the many great miracles he performed for others. Upon his death, as written in 2 Kings 13:20-21, his body was entombed in the usual sepulcher reserved for such purposes. In time, the elements of nature claimed the flesh of his corpse, leaving only the skeletal remains behind. Now a band of marauding Moabites had invaded the land "at the coming in of [a certain] year." One of their number was slain and in making a hasty retreat "they cast the [dead] man into the sepulcher of Elisha; and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet" on account of the priesthood virtue which still remained in the prophet's weathered bones. [John Heinerman, Hidden Treasures of Ancient American Cultures, pp. 136-137142]


Ether 6:2 [The Stones] Did Give Light unto the Vessels:


     According to Randall Spackman, the Babylonian deluge story has been preserved in three similar stories . . . all of which appear to have been known in Mesopotamia by the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C. The Babylonian "Noah" was called Utnapishtim. In his boat were carried "stone things" which protected it. These miraculous stones also may have had special light-giving functions. The Babylonian story of Utnapishtim related his boat to the moon, a crescent-shaped vessel which sailed safely through the dark heavens illuminated by a miraculous source of light.

     The deluge of the Bible came when "there were giants in the earth" and "God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth" (Genesis 6:4-5). Warned by God of the impending flood, Noah, his sons, and their wives built an ark, loaded various creatures into it, and survived the great flood in safety. The biblical story refers to a special light source, tsohar, which is translated "window" in the King James Version of Genesis 6:16. Von Rad acknowledged that the meaning of tsohar was not certain, but he accepted the word "roof" as the "best translation." Speiser's translation attempted to reach a middle ground; he read the word as "sky light." Despite this confusion, Nibley has noted that hundreds of years ago, a number of rabbis concluded that tsohar was a light-giving stone.89 [Randall P. Spackman, The Jaredite Journey to America, pp. 101-104, unpublished]


Ether 6:3 The Lord Caused Stones to Shine in Darkness . . . That They Might Not Cross the Great Waters in Darkness:


     According to Robert Clark, the story of the Brother of Jared, as a type, lies at the extremity of human experience, at that place where the veil is rent and we are taken back into the presence of the Lord. Or at least the brother of Jared is taken back, as he acts as intercessor for his people upon Mount Shelem (Ether 3). Shelem is the Hebrew singular term for the "peace offering" of the Mosaic sacrificial rite. In going to this mountain, the brother of Jared is making a sacrifice for the sake of his people, in order that they might cross the great waters in safety. The waters stand between two worlds. Which two worlds? The nature of types doesn't allow us to say for sure. They may be any two worlds, and the waters could be any kind of catastrophic transition, including birth and death. The peculiarity of the Jaredite voyage, however, is that they do not forget. Language and light remain their inheritance thanks to the intercession of their high priest. At least until the wicked one comes to them in the new world and takes away their light as they choose themselves a king. [Robert E. Clark, "The Type at the Border: An Inquiry into Book of Mormon Typology," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 2, Num. 2 (Fall 1993), pp. 74-75] [See the commentary on Ether 3:1]


Ether 6:4 When They Had Prepared All Manner of Good, That Thereby They Might Subsist upon the Water:


     In Ether 6:4 we find that when the Jaredites had prepared "all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them . . . they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea."

     According to Richard Gudmundsen, the biggest problem in a year's journey is fresh water for the humans and animals. For example, one cow would consume many gallons of water each day. Rain water is the solution to this problem. The top is designed to catch rain water. If it was not contaminated with too much ocean spray, the port on the side of the pump column would be opened so that a water vessel held inside the pump through the port, could be filled with rain water plunging from the roof catch basin through the top valve, (which would open due to the weight of the water). Fish and grain would be the staple diet of the humans. Uncooked, the fish would provide the necessary vitamins to prevent scurvy.

     There were eight barges built each with the "length of a tree," (perhaps 40 to 50 feet). It is doubtful that more than one family could be housed in such a vessel along with their livestock. This would suggest that there were no more than 80 to 100 people in the entire group, i.e. perhaps 10 to 12 in each barge. The types of cattle/animals taken on the trip are unknown. Certainly they would be far different from the highly bred domesticated animals we know today. However, the following table is a coarse estimate of the required stores for a year's voyage. (see illustration below)

     The milk output of each cow is hard to estimate. While modern cows produce about 80 pounds of milk per day, ancient cattle would probably not produce more than 30 or 40 pounds per day. However, for 12 people, there would still be perhaps 2.5 pints of milk per person available for both drinking and butter/cheese production. Twelve laying hens should easily produce enough eggs for 12 people. Hatching chickens would be able to keep the population at least constant, as would the natural increase of the cattle and sheep.

     The period 90 days is an estimate of the maximum time between rain showers which would allow replenishment of the water stores. The total weight of cargo is thus about 36 tons, or a ship sea displacement of 1056 cubic feet. For a ship length of 50 feet, and a beam average of 25 feet, the required cargo displacement depth, (the depth the hull would sink into the water to just carry the cargo), would be 0.8 feet. The craft itself might weigh another 30 tongs or so which would yield a total (hull+cargo) ship displacement of only about 18 inches. The total food/water cargo volume of 1,331 cubic feet and a deck area of 1000 square feet would require a deck-space-height of only a few feet including crawl space.

     Such a craft with no keel would be blown easily over the sea by the wind. For a voyage duration of 8256 hours, and a total distance of 15,000 miles, the average wind driven ship speed would have to be 1.82 mph. This would easily be achieved by wind speeds of the order of 20 mph blowing against the "peaked" side of the structure.

     The human living quarters area would be about 625 square feet in size. This is only 50 square feet per person, but under the circumstances should be adequate. The animals would require pens and cages to keep them under control. Regular exercise could be provided the large animals by providing an animal-powered grinding mill for grinding the grain on board so that it could be mixed with milk and honey for human consumption. The small animals might be allowed to roam free part of the time. Refuse would have to be collected daily and heaved overboard from time to time through a special hatch. Drop-line fishing through the pump would be done continuously so as to catch whatever fish they might encounter while traveling through fishing grounds.

     Again it should be emphasized to the reader, that the construction and design shown is pure speculation by the author, as no scriptural information is known to exist. The reason that the speculative study was performed, however, is to show that such a vessel as described, and that such a voyage with no fire cooked meals, is indeed feasible. It should be pointed out that essential vitamins are decomposed by heat. By having the people eat the food without cooking it, the Lord prevented beri-beri from afflicting them. [Richard A. Gudmundsen, Scientific Inquiry Applied to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, pp. 99-103]


Ether 6:4 When they had prepared all manner of good, that thereby they might subsist upon the water (Illustration): Chart: A Coarse Estimate of the Required Stores for a Year's Voyage. [Richard A. Gudmundsen, Scientific Inquiry Applied to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, p. 101]


Ether 6:5 They were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind (Illustration): Map VIII presents a simplified view of the ocean currents of the North Pacific. Map IX shows the course of the Tai Ki and how seriously it was affected by the storms encountered in the western North Pacific. As can be seen, the ocean currents provided only the barest of outlines for the course of a small boat across the Pacific. The severe North Pacific storms drive a small craft at their whim and have a dramatic effect on the ultimate course. However, Map X shows the typical wind patterns and storm tracks for the North Pacific that would be expected during a year-long voyage beginning in the East China Sea in autumn. . . . As can be seen from comparing Maps VIII and X, these storm tracks virtually parallel the North Pacific currents that wend their way from China to America. [Randall P. Spackman, The Jaredite Journey to America, pp. 155-158, unpublished]


Ether 6:6 They Were Many Times Buried in the Depths of the Sea:


     The Moroni's telling of the Jaredite crossing of the ocean, he writes that "they were many times buried in the depths of the sea" (Ether 6:6). According to Hugh Nibley, these experiences at sea sound very reminiscent of Noah's ark. In the Babylonian versions of the Great Flood, Ut-Nepishtim (Noah) built a magur boat to survive the flood. A magur boat was written ideographically MA-TU, literally "a deluge boat," not because it was a sailing boat driven by the wind or rather the hurricane (abubu, shubtu), but because it possessed certain qualities which rendered its use especially effective during the deluge, when its exclusive purpose was to carry the remains of life and to protect men and beasts against the waters from below and the pouring rains from above. . . . "It shall be a house-boat carrying what is saved of life," says the Nippur version, its purpose being to reserve life and offer full protection "against the waves washing overboard." [Hugh Nibley, There Were Jaredites, pp. 361-363]


Ether 6:6 They Were . . . Buried in the Depths of the Sea:


     According to Richard Rust, essentially every event or person in the Book of Mormon may well remind us of another event or person; the book is like a beautifully composed symphony with repeated themes and motifs. . . . Most significantly, all God-given events or God directed persons in the Book of Mormon are reminders of Jesus Christ or his gospel. This is Nephi's point in saying, "Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him" (2 Nephi 11:4). . . .

     Directed or lighted by objects requiring faith for their operation, Nephi's ship and the Jaredite barges are connected with Noah's ark in being types of rebirth and baptism (1 Peter 3:20-21); further, the Jaredite vessels "were tight like unto the ark of Noah" (Ether 6:7). They all bring the occupants through the water into a new life, representing in the process the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Colossians 2:12). Or reminiscent of Jonah, the Jaredites in their vessels, like "a whale in the midst of the sea," are "buried in the depths of the sea" (Ether 2:24; Ether 6:6). [Richard D. Rust, Feasting on the Word, pp. 196, 206]


Ether 6:6 Great and Terrible Tempests:


     According to Randall Spackman, when the Lord described the conditions to be faced, the word "floods" was used (Ether 2:24), but when the actual conditions were described, the words used were "great and terrible tempests" (Ether 6:6). The Jaredites, who may have viewed their voyage in a sense as a re-creation of Noah's voyage, knew of the great flood as a violent downpour of rain which resulted in the inundation. Similarly, the word tempest refers to a windstorm that is usually accompanied by rain, hail, snow, or thunder. In Hebrew, a Semitic language like Akkadian, the word zerem means a gush of water, a flood, or a tempest; indeed, in Isaiah 28:2, zerem appears in both senses as a tempest and a flood. Hence, it is not surprising that the storm conditions are referred to both as tempests and floods.

     Heyerdahl described this mixture of sea, wind, and rain: "The crests blew away as they broke, and the spray stood like salt rain over the sea. When the tropical rain poured over us in horizontal squalls and whipped the surface of the sea, making invisible all around us, . . . we crawled about the deck, naked and frozen, seeing that all the gear was in order to weather the storm." Knoble wrote: "the storm is mixing salt and water, water and air into a new element that makes breathing difficult." [Randall P. Spackman, The Jaredite Journey to America, pp. 136,139, unpublished]


Ether 6:6 Tempests Which Were Caused by the Fierceness of the Wind:


     In describing the sea voyage of the Jaredites, mention is made of "tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind" (Ether 6:6). According to Randall Spackman, despite the tremendous destruction that wind and rain can cause on land, the principal danger of heavy weather at sea is normally from the seas produced by the wind. . . . Captain Harding, U.S.N., emphasized that a wind increases its force upon a solid object in proportion to the square of the wind velocity. "A wind that doubles its speed increases its force four times. A 60-mph wind exerts 15 pounds per square foot pressure; a 125-mph wind exerts 78 pounds. . . . [Randall P. Spackman, The Jaredite Journey to America, pp. 138-139, unpublished]


Ether 6:7 They Were Tight Like unto the Ark of Noah:


     In Ether 6:7 it says that the vessels of the Jaredites:

           "were tight like unto the ark of Noah. Therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters."


     According to Hugh Nibley this aspect of the ark is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, and has led to great confusion among Bible illustrators, ancient medieval, and modern.90 The only peculiarities mentioned in the brief three verses of Genesis (6:14-16) are the window and the door; but they, combined with persistent traditions about the ark, were enough to perplex the learned for generation. They lead us directly to the most puzzling problem of all--that of the illumination of the ark, for while the window is called as zohar (more properly tsohar), i.e., shiner or illuminator, in the Hebrew versions, the Babylonian word for it is nappashi, meaning breather or ventilator. Of course all windows have the double function of lighting (hence the common fenester--"Light giver"), and ventilation ("Window"), but in a boat equipped to go under water other sources for both would have to be found, and it is in the lighting department that the Jewish sources are most specific. For the Rabbis do not settle for the zohar--the lighter of the Ark--as being simply a window: for some of them it was rather a miraculous light-giving stone. Its purpose, however, was not to furnish illumination as such, but to provide Noah with a means of distinguishing night from day. It is in that connection that the Rabbis come to mention the stone, for a very important point in the observation of the Law is to determine the exact moment at which night ends and day begins, and vice versa. The Rabbis, according to the Midrash Rabbah, "could not explain the meaning of zohar," but they did know that it had something to do with light in the ark.91 Rabbi Akiba ben Kahmana, for example, says it was a skylight, while Rabbi Levi said it was a precious stone. He quotes R Phineas as saying that "during the whole twelve months that Noah was in the ark he did not require the light of the sun by day or the moon by night, but he had a polished gem which he hung up; when it was dim he knew that it was day, and when it shone he knew it was night." . . . But all such stories seem to go back to a single source, a brief notice in the Jerushalmi or Palestinian Talmud, which reports that Noah was able to distinguish day from night by certain precious stones he possessed, which became dim by day and shone forth by night.

     Plainly we have here statements which could have given Joseph Smith some hints in writing about the shining stones . . . unfortunately the Palestine Talmud remains a rare and difficult book. Only the most eminent Rabbis ever read or cite it. [Hugh Nibley, "Strange and Shining Stones," in A Book of Mormon Treasury, pp. 140-142] [See the commentary on Ether 6:2]


Ether 6:7 They Were Tight Like unto the Ark of Noah:


     Randall Spackman notes that Hugh Nibley wrote at some length about the features of the Jaredite barges, comparing them to the description of Noah's ark as found in the Sumerian version of the Deluge story from Nippur in lower Mesopotamia, dated to before 3000 B.C. Nibley's analysis, however, relied in part on a questionable reading of a phrase in the Jaredite record describing the watertight nature of the barges at sea as "tight like unto the ark of Noah" (Ether 6:7). Nibley read this as referring to "the submarine nature of Jared's ships" and he concluded that "Jared's boats were built on the same pattern as Noah's ark."

     According to Spackman, such a reading is much too broad. The Jaredite barges could have been watertight like Noah's ark, without ever being the same pattern or design, without ever using the same construction methods, and certainly without ever being classified as submarines! Nevertheless, Nibley's review of twelve items of correspondence between the book of Ether and the ancient Sumerian Deluge story does indicate, as Nibley concluded, that Joseph Smith hardly could have invented the story.

     The Jaredites would have been familiar with the Deluge story and its similarities to their own situation; so, their earliest records of the barges and the sea voyage may have played upon such similarities. Nonetheless, in order to evaluate the description of the barges in the book of Ether, it might be better to compare the boatbuilding techniques of the ancient Mesopotamians and Chinese with what the Jaredite record actually says about the shape, displacement, size, and tightness of the hull. [Randall P. Spackman, The Jaredite Journey to America, pp. 63-64, unpublished]


Ether 6:7 They Were Tight Like unto the Ark of Noah:


     According to Warren and Palmer, the Holy Bible describes God's command to Noah concerning the ark, "Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch." (Genesis 6:14) This description tends to imply that this second set of Jaredite barges might have been caulked with pitch, for "they were tight like unto the ark of Noah" (Ether 6:7). The Sumerians at the time of Jared were acquainted with the use of asphalt for caulking. [Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, ch. 5, unpublished]


Ether 6:7 [Their Vessels] Were Tight Like unto the Ark of Noah:


     According to John Heinerman, the archaeological evidence from Sumer suggests, among other marvelous inventions, the use of asphalt. In the time of the Great Tower, asphalt was in common use for things such as road making, roofing and waterproofing. According to Henry Frederick Lutz's translation of Sumerian Temple Records of The Late Ur Dynasty,92 asphalt was a frequent part of temple inventories at the time. And The Septuagint Version of The Old Testament and Apocrypha93 informs us that "the brick was to them for stone, and their mortar was bitumen," during the construction of the Tower itself. Perhaps that's why one third of it burned so well when the Lord struck it with lightning, while a great earthquake took down another third of it, leaving just a mere third standing in ruble (see Jasher 9:38).

     It isn't unreasonable to assume that Jared and his brother Mahonri Moriancumer and those who went with them across the inland seas of Asia to the coasts of China, took along some of this same bitumen with them to use in their own barges that God inspired them to make with which to cross the mighty oceans. We know for sure that Noah used it extensively when he built the ark. In a rare, out-of-print archaeological magazine called Records of The Past,94 George Smith presented some new data about Noah that had come from several cuneiform tablets found in the ancient palace library of King Assurbanipal of Nineveh around 660 B.C.

     We learn from these clay documents that the ark was at least as tall as a six-story building. Noah divided "it into seven compartments; [and] its floors [were] divided into nine chambers each." It also contained a short mast and rudder pole with which to give the huge vessel better steering capabilities. Noah gave the ship a trial launch but soon discovered it leaking like a sieve in a number of places. So he, his sons and their assorted servant laborers took buckets of bitumen and coated everything inside and out with several layers of this black gooey stuff; they followed it up with a hard shellac covering for good measure. [John Heinerman, Hidden Treasures of Ancient American Cultures, pp. 110-111]


Ether 6:7 Like the ark of Noah (Illustration): Building the Ark. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Art, #102]


Ether 6:7 The ark of Noah (Illustration): The Lord Fulfilleth All His Words. Artist: Clark Kelley Price. [Donald W. Parry, "The Flood and the Tower of Babel," in The Ensign, January 1998, p. 36]


Ether 6:8 The Wind Did Never Cease to Blow toward the Promised Land:


     According to Hugh Nibley, in relationship to what direction the Jaredites traveled, one thing that is most revealing is the report that "the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land, while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind" (Ether 6:8). Although weather has changed through the ages, and freak storms do occur; the extreme steadiness of the wind strongly suggests prevailing westerlies and a North Pacific crossing. [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, p. 182]


     According to Verneil Simmons, this statement that "the wind did never cease to blow" (Ether 6:8) lends some credence to a legend recorded by the historian Josephus that the great tower was destroyed by mighty winds when the world was experiencing a period of violent weather. (Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 4) [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 30]


     Glenn Scott notes that in speaking of these "mighty winds" which destroyed the tower, Josephus quoted the Sibyl, a prophetess who was also quoted by Heraclitus as early as 500 B.C. and whose verses were accepted by most Christian writers down to the fourth century A.D. Josephus says the following:

           When all men were of one language some of them built a high tower, but the gods sent storms of wind and overthrew the tower and gave everyone his peculiar language. After this, they were dispersed abroad on account of their languages, and went out by colonies everywhere; each colony took possession of that land which they did light upon and unto which God led them. There were some who passed over the sea in ships.95


     This description of "storms of wind" fits very well into the Jaredite account that "the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land and thus they were driven forth before the wind" (Ether 6:8). Furthermore Scott raises some very interesting questions about the Josephus quote: How do you suppose they knew about "some who passed over the sea in ships"? and Why would they mention migrations by sea? [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, pp. 21-22] [See the commentary on Ether 1:33]


Ether 6:8 They Were Driven Forth before the Wind:


     Randall Spackman notes that on the question of wind propulsion, Hugh Nibley stated his opinion that the Jaredites "apparently did not use sails: the almost perpetual hurricane conditions would have made sails impossible even if they had them." (The World of the Jaredites, p. 176) John Sorenson seems to have assumed from the length of time the crossing took that the barges merely drifted and were "sailless." (An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 111) Nonetheless, according to Spackman, the Book of Mormon does not support the idea of a completely sailless barge. The Lord commanded that the barges be built in the manner "hitherto built" (Ether 2:16); so, it may be assumed that the Jaredites, at a minimum, attempted to make use of common propulsion technology in the new barges. Such technology included sails. Furthermore, the Book of Mormon records the travels of Lehi and his family, who came to America in the 6th century B.C. They are said to have "put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind toward the promised land" (1 Nephi 18:8). These are identical phrases to those used to describe the voyage of the Jaredites. Ether 6:8 similarly states that "they were driven before the wind." The Book of Mormon also notes that after some difficulties, Lehi's family "sailed again towards the promised land" (1 Nephi 18:22). Hence, the phrase "driven forth before the wind" (Ether 6:8) has a textual connection with Lehi's sailing vessel and cannot be cited without question to refer merely to drifting with the wind. [Randall P. Spackman, The Jaredite Journey to America, pp. 89-91, unpublished]


Ether 6:8 Driven Forth before the Wind:


     According to Randall Spackman, so long as there is sufficient sea room to avoid being driven onto a shore, drifting with the storm may be the safest tactic for surviving extreme weather conditions, particularly for a vessel built in the manner of the Jaredite barges. Drifting or "hulling" or "lying a-hull," as the tactic may be referred to in different nautical works, is a desirable storm tactic when "the boat has a high range of stability, . . . is light but strongly built," and "the keel is of such shape and depth that it permits ample leeway when the boat has no headway."96 In other words, a wide, low, barge-like hull, which is light and watertight, with no keel to resist the drift of the barge with the wind, is the best form of vessel for drifting safely through a storm at sea. [Randall P. Spackman, The Jaredite Journey to America, p. 144, unpublished]


Geographical Theory Map: Ether 6:8-12 Driven before the Wind 344 Days to the Promised Land (Year )


Ether 6:10 No Monster of the Sea Could Break Them, Neither Whale That Could Mar Them:


     In Ether 6:10 it states that in the Jaredite travels across the great sea, "no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them" (Ether 6:10). According to Randall Spackman, this brief statement when combined with what is known about storms at sea, suggests that there were times when the Jaredites could remain on deck and view the sea life that surrounded them. The Jaredite record points to the most frightening meetings between men and these huge creatures, when vessels and leviathans encounter each other close up and occasionally collide. Heyerdahl reported that one day on the Kon Tiki, while the crew ate by the side of the raft, "we started when suddenly something behind us blew hard like a swimming horse and a big whale came up and stared at us." Knoble described an incident when the whale disappeared momentarily, then "the deck began to tremble, and a scraping sound rose up from below the ship. The whale was scratching its back . . ."

     Heyerdahl also found monsters in the sea at night when the stars twinkled in the dark sky and the sea was phosphorescent with glowing plankton. The visitors were big squids which came to the surface and floated near the raft, their "two round shining eyes" a "devilish green" color like phosphorus. On several occasions, "the black water round the raft was suddenly full of round heads two or three feet in diameter, lying motionless and staring at us with great glowing eyes. On other nights balls of light three feet and more in diameter would be visible down in the water, flashing at irregular intervals like electric lights turned on for a moment." [Randall P. Spackman, The Jaredite Journey to America, pp. 146-150, unpublished]


     According to Joseph Allen, from a monument discovered at the Olmec site of La Venta in the state of Tabasco, Mexico, we have a hint of the first settlers crossing the ocean. The monument is labeled Monument No. 12, and is located today at the outdoor La Venta Museum in the city of Villahermosa, Tabasco. According to a resident archaeologist there at the park, the lines flowing from the back of the individual's head represented sun rays -- suggesting that the first settlers came from the west where the sun sets. He noted that the footprints suggest that the people traveled great distances to arrive at their destination. And he pointed out that the sculpture's giant sea monster with jaws opened together with the main character's warding off of the sea monster suggests that the people crossed the ocean in their journeys. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 55]


Ether 6:10 And no monster of the sea could break them (Illustration): Monument No. 12 at La Venta Museum, Villahermosa, Tabasco.] [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 57]


Ether 6:10 No monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them (Illustration): Jaredite Barges [Gary E. Smith, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 3]


Ether 6:10 No monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them (Illustration): Jaredite Barges. Eight barges carried the Jaredites to the promised land. Artist: Gary E. Smith. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 621]


Ether 6:11 They Were Driven Forth Three Hundred and Forty and Four Days upon the Water:


     Ether 6:11 records the fact that the Jaredites "were driven forth three hundred and forty and four days upon the water." According to Hugh Nibley, the fact that the party spent almost a year on the water even with the winds behind them certainly suggests the Pacific, and recalls many tales of Chinese junks that through the centuries have been driven helplessly before the wind to end up after a year or so at sea stranded on the beaches of our West Coast. [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, p. 182]


     According to Warren and Palmer, there is an account of Japanese fishermen being caught in a storm taking them across the North Pacific and arriving as far south as Ecuador (Evans, 1966:63-67). In this case they were upon the waters 377 days, some 33 days longer than the time stated in the Book of Ether. [Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, ch. 7, unpublished]

     In an unpublished manuscript, Bruce Warren cites Edwin Doran, Jr., who while investigating early trans-Pacific voyages cited the following:

           Of the sixty cases of inadvertent drifts of Japanese junks into the Pacific, at least a half dozen reached the coast of America between Sitka and the Columbia River and another half dozen were wrecked on the Mexican coast or encountered just offshore. Survivors of such drift voyages were not uncommon, and Japanese slaves were held by Salmon Indians of the northwest coast of America when they first were visited by Whites. . . .

[Bruce W. Warren, unpublished Manuscript]


     According to Joseph Allen, the fact that the book of Ether reports that the Jaredites took 344 days to travel from their point of departure to the Promised Land implies a Pacific crossing. Thor Heyerdahl made an Atlantic crossing on a raft from Morocco to the Caribbean in two months. Thus if the Jaredites had departed from the Atlantic side, they would have been forced to travel in circles for 8 or 9 months in order to spend 344 days at sea. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 260]


Ether 6:11 Three hundred and forty four days upon the water (Illustration): Map #5, Voyage of the Ra] [Verneil Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 98]


Ether 6:11 They Were Driven Three Hundred and Forty and Four Days upon the Water:


     Edwin Doran Jr., investigating transpacific voyages, mentions the following:

           Of sixty cases of inadvertent drifts of Japanese junks into the Pacific, at least a half dozen reached the coast of America between Sitka and the Columbia River and another half dozen were wrecked on the Mexican coast or encountered just offshore. . . . Drift voyages between Asia and America not only are clearly possible but actually have occurred repeatedly in historic time. . . . There appears to be no question that rafts could have crossed the Pacific, repeatedly and in appreciable numbers (Doran 1974, 133-35) [Bruce W. Warren, Blaine M. Yorgason, Harold Brown, New Evidences of Christ in Mesoamerica, Unpublished Manuscript]


Ether 6:11-12 They were Driven Forth . . . upon the Water . . . and They Did Land upon the Shore of the Promised Land:


     According to Joy Osborn, while some scholars have sought to prove that America was settled by peoples who came from Asia, across the Bering Strait, into Alaska and southward--evidence is to the contrary. While a few groups probably came that way, and intermarried into some of the northwestern Indian tribes--the major civilizations on the American continents were established in south and Central America--then moved northward. According to the Book of Mormon, all three of the great civilizations that developed in the Americas were established by people who crossed the seas. Modern-day scholars verify this fact.

     Bradford, in American Antiquities, states:

           There is one circumstance, which, as respects the civilized nations of Mexico and Central America, seems to be decisive of the question. In the maps of the migrations of these nations, the first journey is generally represented as having been made over some body of water; and indeed there does not appear to be a single well-authenticated tradition among any aboriginal tribes, civilized or barbarous, of a passage by land, while many have preserved a clear account of a prior event, the great deluge, which, in Mexico and Peru at least, is manifestly the same as recorded by Moses. (pp. 227-228)


[Joy M. Osborn, The Book of Mormon -- The Stick of Joseph, pp. 164-165]


Ether 6:11-12 They were Driven Forth . . . upon the Water . . . and They Did Land upon the Shore of the Promised Land:


     According to Richardson, Richardson and Bentley, Book of Mormon critics often refer to a few scientists who have held to the theory that all migrations to America originated from Asia via the Bering Strait. However, these critics are facing increasing difficulty in finding support for their weakening position. Such a position is rapidly losing credibility in light of the mountain of evidence to the contrary.97 [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 174]


Ether 6:12 They Did Land upon the Shore of the Promised Land:


     John Sorenson has accumulated a collection of scientific articles which advocate, with increasing substantiation, that there were trans-Pacific journeys from East Asia to Mesoamerica during the times of the Book of Mormon. [See John L. Sorenson and Martin H. Raish, editors, Pre-Columbian Contacts with the Americas across the Oceans: An Annotated Bibliography, F.A.R.M.S., second edition, revised]


Ether 6:12 And They Did Land upon the Shore of the Promised Land:


     Vine Deloria Jr. is an outspoken Native American activist. He is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota, a former executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, and a professor of history at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In a 1992 paper in the academic journal American Antiquity, Deloria chastised the archaeological and anthropological establishment for embracing the monocultural implications of the Bering Strait hypothesis. "This migration from Siberia," he wrote, "is regarded as doctrine, but basically it is a fictional doctrine that places American Indians outside the realm of planetary human experiences." . . . "There's no effort to ask the tribes what they remember of things that happened." . . . "Numerous tribes do say that strange people doing this or that came through our land, visited us, and so on. Or they remember that we came across the Atlantic as refugees from some struggle . . . and so forth. There's a great reluctance among archaeologists and anthropologists to break centuries-old doctrine and to take a look at something new." . . . "There's the Stephen Jay Gould attitude out there . . . that believes science can do whatever it wants unless it comforts religion--because religion is considered a mere superstition. But if you look at it, most things that they're calling religious are not really religious. They're oral traditions; they're ancient memory." If mainstream archaeologists and anthropologists are unwilling or unable to consider evidence of this type, Deloria suggests, perhaps they're not the right ones for the job. . . ."As for the history of this hemisphere from, say, five thousand B.C. forward to our time, the mainstream scholars just don't want to deal with that at all." [Marc K. Stengel, "The Diffusionists Have Landed" in Atlantic Monthly, January 2000, 35-48. Reprinted with permission by FARMS]


Ether 6:12 And They Did Land upon the Shore of the Promised Land:


     According to Andrew Skinner, even those modern-day skeptics who most disbelieve maritime theories concerning the ancient peopling of the Americas admit that some early transoceanic voyages are probable due to oceanic currents and prevailing winds. From the work of one writer we read:

           The winds and current of the North Pacific trend eastward. Any craft caught helpless in their embrace can easily be carried across the ocean; in fact, there are records to show that, for example, between 1775 and 1875 about twenty Japanese junks were blown, against their will, to the west coast of America and deposited at various points between Alaska and Mexico. If Japanese vessels in the last century, why not Chinese or Indian or Malaysian during all the long centuries that preceded the arrival of Columbus? There must have been a certain number that ended a storm-tossed journey on this side of the Pacific. Perhaps a few of the hardier spirits among their crews risked the long sail back home, but most must have chosen to live on where they landed. Eventually they either died out or became wholly absorbed, leaving behind only tantalizing indirect reminiscences of their presence such as art motifs, pottery shapes, and the like. (Jamake Highwater, Native Land, Sagas of the Indian Americas. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1986, p. 16.)


[Andrew C. Skinner, "Promises Fulfilled," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 2, p. 264]


Geographical Theory Map: Ether 6:12 Jared Lands upon the Shore of the Promised Land (Year )


Ether 6:12 They Did Land upon the Shore of the Promised Land:


     According to Randall Spackman, when Jared, his brother, and their families and friends "did land upon the shore of the promised land" (Ether 6:12), they had come to the end of a journey of immense hardship and length. They had trekked and barged more than 5,000 miles across Asia. And then from their temporary home on the East Asian seashore, they had voyaged over 8,000 miles at sea, across an ocean infamous for its typhoons, freezing winter storms, and hurricanes. Finally, they arrived in America, their promised land, full of faith in the goodness of the Lord. [Randall P. Spackman, The Jaredite Journey to America, p. 163, unpublished]


     According to Glenn Scott, we do not know what part of the long Pacific coast of the American continent that the Jaredites first sighted, but after 344 days at sea, they must have been desperate to stand on dry ground again.

     Charles and Ellen Brush found the earliest evidence (so far) of Mesoamerican civilization in middens (refuse heaps) at Puerto Marques, near Acapulco in the state of Guerrero, on the Pacific coast of Mexico. The evidence is an early type of fiber-tempered ceramic, called Pox pottery.98 Richard Adams says, "A date on material from the shell midden has been read as about 2900 B.C."99 . . . Thus, evidence indicates that perhaps the Jaredites "did land upon the shore of the promised land" (Ether 6:12) in the vicinity of Puerto Marques at the southeastern corner of the Bay of Acapulco, a natural bay, one of the few on the west coast of Mexico. In fact this very bay was used as a harbor for Spanish galleons sailing to and from the Far East from A.D. 1531 and for more than 200 years. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust, p. 43]


Ether 6:12 They Did Land upon the Shore of the Promised Land:


     According to Warren and Palmer, the ancient Mexican historian Ixtlilxochitl states that his distant ancestors traveled a great distance, living in caves, suffering many hardships, and going through the "Great Tartary" (the steppes of central Asia). Then they crossed the Great Ocean and arrived in America in the area of present day Mexico (Ixtlilxochitl I:16). Most of the early Jaredite history involves either the highlands, now thought to be the valley of Oaxaca, or the lowland Gulf Coast. Ixtlilxochitl appears to state that 104 years after landing, his ancient ancestors were led by their great king, Chichimecatl, to settle by the Gulf of Mexico. That was an area they called "Huehuetlapallan" (Ibid. 41). We know from various documents from ancient Mesoamerica that Huehuetlapallan is located in the area of Central and Southern Veracruz. In time the area was expanded to include the Gulf Coast states of Tabasco and Campeche. [Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, ch. 6, 7, unpublished]


Ether 6:12 They Did Land upon the Shore of the Promised Land (Chronology):


     Moroni writes that the Jaredites "did land upon the shore of the promised land" (Ether 6:12), but what was the date of that momentous event? According to Glenn Scott, there is substantial evidence that the date was August 13, 3114 B.C. Why August 13, 3114 B.C.? This was the zero date of the Olmec/Maya Long-count calendar. Pottery has been found in the very area in which the Jaredites must have landed (near Acapulco in the state of Guerrero, Mexico). This pottery is the earliest evidence of Mesomamerican civilization found so far, dated within 200+ years of that zero date. It closely fits the chronology table (see illustration). What could have been more appropriate than for them to commemorate the first day of a new life, in a new land, than by making it the first day of a new calendar? Michael Coe has written:

           The Long-count calendar was a refinement, by the Maya, of a much older Calendar Round of 52 years, used by all Mesoamerican peoples and undeniably of very great age. It is generally agreed that the Long-count calendar was developed after the inception of the Calendar Round, but by how many centuries of millennia archaeologists are not sure. Since the oldest Long-count dates appear on monuments outside the Maya area it can be concluded that it had reached its final form by the first century B.C., among people who were under powerful Olmec influence . . . probably not the Maya.100


[Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, pp. 43-44]


Ether 6:12 They did land upon the shore of the promised land (Chronology) [Illustration]: Projected Schedule of Dates from the Flood to the New World. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 14]


Geographical Theory Map: Ether 6:13 Jared Goes Forth Upon the Face of the Land (Year )


Ether 6:13 They Went Forth upon the Face of the Land, and Began to Till the Earth:


     Moroni writes that the Jaredites "went forth upon the face of the land, and began to till the earth" (Ether 6:13). According to John Thompson, tilling the ground seems like such an ordinary thing to do. Why, then, would one waste time and space writing about such things? Such an apparently superfluous piece of information becomes more meaningful when we realize that tilling the earth had symbolic significance among various ancient societies. Mircea Eliade has noticed in his studies of ancient cultures and religions that "when possession is taken of a territory, . . . rites are performed that symbolically repeat the act of Creation: the uncultivated zone is first 'cosmicized,' then inhabited." . . . Thus, tilling the ground may symbolize the act of creation to the author/editor of the Jaredite record and therefore warrants inclusion. [John S. Thompson, "The Jaredite Exodus: A Literary Perspective of a Historical Narrative," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Spring 1994, pp. 106-107]

     The reader might wonder how far the Jaredites "went forth" into the territory of the New World. All the text mentions is that by the time of Ether 7:5 the king dwelt in the land of Moron, which was "up," apparently from the landing site.


Ether 6:13 They Went Forth upon the Face of the Land, and Began to Till the Earth:


     According to John Sorenson, Ether's account does not make logical or anthropological sense unless we suppose that his Jaredite line lived among other groups, both other lineages from the original barges101 and different groups, too. There is no doubt whatever that many--perhaps most--aspects of culture in both the First [Olmec-age] and Second [Nephite-age] Traditions clearly did not come from the Old World. A unique configuration of distinctive, ancient patterns or life and thought characterizes this area of Mesoamerica at a fundamental level; no later introductions by diffusion (as those brought by Jaredites, Mulekites, or Lehites) would have changed those much.102 Rather than exactly equating the Jaredites with the Olmecs, the Jaredites can be seen as one social element in a complex situation that included cultural, ethnic and linguistic variety--some immigrant and some "native."

     The Olmecs were bearers of an especially interesting early culture centered in tropical lowlands near the Gulf of Mexico. But the Jaredite lineage inhabited an area in the highlands (Moron, their continuing ruling seat, was "up" from the coasts). As far as the brevity of the record allows us to judge, Ether's lineage dwelt in Moron all along. My judgment was that this place was located in the state of Oaxaca (alternatively, I would now say that portions of Guerrero, Puebla or Veracruz might qualify). In those areas there were cultures related to but earlier than the coastal Olmec development, although scholars do not have a convenient cover term comparable to "Olmec" for the highland group(s). I have used the term "Olmec Tradition" to encompass the whole Early and Middle Pre-classic development, lowland and highland, which culminated in the classic gulf Coast Olmec manifestation.103 Eventually Jaredite rulers and their rivals were also active in the east sea lowlands, where their extinction finally occurred. I suppose that Ether's lineage, originating with Jared, held a significant measure of rulership while "involved in" groups bearing Olmec-period cultures. [John L. Sorenson, "Viva Zapato! Hurray for the Shoe! in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, Num. 1, p. 356]


Ether 6:13 They Went Forth upon the Face of the Land and Began to Till the Earth:


     John Sorenson notes that new physical and statistical procedures have expanded the possibilities of C-14 dating, but they also necessitate correcting the "radiocarbon years" in order to fit our normal calendar. Calibrated dates can be expressed only as statistical ranges, not as single years; this means that there is a 95% chance that the real age falls within the indicated range. A few of the dates that apply to early Mesoamerican pottery-users, and presumably to agriculture-based villages, are listed below.104 These are sufficient to show that village life and ceramics were widespread in Mesoamerica during the period that John Sorenson assigns to the early Jaredites:

     Puerto Marquez, Guerrero (Brush): 3765-3000 B.C.,+ 140 years.

     Zohapilco, D.F. (Niederberger): 4085-3645 B.C. + 110.

     Cuicuilco, D.F. (Heizer and Benyhoff): 3160-2635 B.C. + 120

     Teopantecuantitlan, Guerrero (an "Olmec city") (Martinez Donjuan): 2115-1640 B.C. + 110

     San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan, Veracruz (Coe and Diehl): 1910-1435 B.C. + 120

[John L. Sorenson, "Viva Zapato! Hurray for the Shoe! in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, Num. 1, pp. 317-318]


Ether 6:13 They went forth upon the face of the land (Illustration): San Jose Mogote and the northern valley of Oaxaca, the best candidate to have been the Jaredite Moron. (Courtesy Richard Jones)] [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 185]


Ether 6:13 They went forth upon the face of the land (Illustration): The valley of Oaxaca seen from Monte Alban [F.A.R.M.S. Staff, "Lands of the Book of Mormon," Slide #86]


Ether 6:13 They Went Forth upon the Face of the Land (First Jaredite Settlement):


     Jerry Ainsworth notes that Sahagun reported that the wooden boats the Quinamis used landed at the Panuco River by the city of Tampico, which is in the state of Tamaulipas on the east coast of Mexico.105 In the ancient Nahuatl language, tam means "roots," while pico means "point." Tampico therefore means "Point of our Roots."

     Upon landing at the Panuco River, these early settlers moved quickly to a land in the mountains of Mexico. Sahagun relates:

           The old men used to tell, in a certain time which nobody can count anymore, "By water in their boats, they did come, in many groups. And they arrived at the water's edge, on the north coast, and where they left their boast is called Panutla. It means, "over where one crosses over the water." Right away they followed along the coast of the sea and they went looking for mountains, some for white mountains and the smoking mountains."106


     This account appears to describe a contingent of Jaredites moving to the valleys of Puebla and Tlaxcala, in south central Mexico. These valleys are surrounded by four volcanoes that are perpetually capped with snow and intermittently emit smoke. It is the only place in Mexico--or in Central America--where there exist "smoking mountains" capped with snow (see illustrations).

     Ruins in the state of Puebla themselves go back to the time of the Quinamis, who were contemporary with the Olmec. The pyramid of Cholula in that area, which is the largest structure in the world, consists of many built-over pyramids. When archaeologists dug tunnels into this structure to document the number of superimpositions, they concluded that the original pyramid in the very center was built by people who lived at the time of the Olmec (Jaredites), around 2500 B.C. Archaeologists now make distinction between the Olmec, the ancient people of the Caribbean side of Mexico, and the people of the central highlands of Mexico (valleys of Puebla and Tlaxcala, and those of the west coast of Mexico. It appears that although these people shared similar cultural traits and habits, they were considered distinct and separate "countries."107

     Graham Hancock reports in Fingerprints of the Gods, "Though it was not known who had been the first builders here, as far as it had been possible to establish the earliest major edifice on the site consisted of a tall conical pyramid, shaped like an upturned bucket, flattened at the summit where a temple had stood."108 Although this pyramid is inaccessible to the public--being covered by the many others built over it--another round spiral pyramid nearby is not. One of three pyramids at the site of Xochitecatl, just seven miles from Cholula, stands clearly visible as a round, spiral type (see illustration). [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, pp. 48-53] [See the commentary on Alma 22:30]


Ether 6:13 They went forth upon the face of the land (Illustration): Map 2. (Ainsworth Geographical Theory). The landing site of the Jaredites and first landing site of Mulekites. Final landing site of Mulekites. Landing site of Lehi. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 49]


Ether 6:13 They went forth upon the face of the land (Illustration): (22) the "land of the white caps"--snow covered volcanoes in Puebla, Mexico (Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl). (23) The "land of the smoking mountains"--smoking volcano in Puebla, Mexico (Popocatepetl). [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 50]


Ether 6:13 They went forth upon the face of the land (Illustration): (26) A round, spiral pyramid at Xochitecatl, seven miles from Cholula. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 52]


Ether 6:14 Mahah, and Orihah:


     The four sons of Jared were called "Jacom, and Gilgah, and Mahah, and Orihah" (Ether 6:14). Jerry Ainsworth notes that the last two names end in hah, which in Maya means "by, or connected to water." These two sons, in other words, may have been born while traveling on or living by the ocean. A search of Book of Mormon names from Lehi to Mosiah yields no names ending in hah. Once King Mosiah's group united with Zarahemla's people, however, the term hah came into use. The fact that the Nephites and Mulekites incorporated the term hah into their vocabulary signifies the influence of Jaredite culture. Even today, any Mayan city whose name ends in ha or hah is situated by or connected to water. Altun-Ha, for example, is the site of an ancient Mayan city by a river on the coast of Belize. Xel-Ha is an ancient site on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula that is used as a water resort today. Misol-Ha is the site of a waterfall and ancient ruins by a river south of Palenque, in the state of Chiapas, southern Mexico. It's therefore a safe assumption that the names of the Nephites cities of Moronihah and Nephihah refer to their proximity to water. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, pp. 63-64]


Geographical Theory Map: Ether 6:14-7:3 Kingship Begins in the Land of Moron (Chronology)


Ether 6:16 The Friends of Jared and His Brother Were in Number about Twenty and Two Souls:


     We are not told how many "friends" (see Ether 1:41) left the great tower with Jared and his brother, but after arriving in the New World, Moroni writes that, "the friends of Jared and his brother were in number about twenty and two souls" (Ether 6:16). These twenty two "friends" of Jared and his brother had already "begat sons and daughters before they came to the promised land; and therefore they began to be many."

     According to Verneil Simmons, since only males beget, we know that the 22 friends represent heads of households, in the patriarchal sense. Women had no civil status in the social structure of the times and would not have been included in the census, nor included in the genealogy lists. They were considered as property of their husbands. [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 27]

     According to Glenn Scott, the number "twenty and two" must mean the number of families that had made the sea voyage together. If the average number of children per family was somewhere between those of Jared and his brother (see Ether 6:20), the total would have been about 456 persons (17 children + 2 parents x 24 families averaging nineteen person each, totaling about 57 per vessel plus animals and fowls, which was probably about the practical maximum for such an extended voyage. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, pp. 41, 44]


Ether 6:19 The Brother of Jared Began to Be Old (Chronology):


     Soon after the Jaredites arrived in the promised land, "the brother of Jared began to be old, and saw that he must soon go down to the grave" (Ether 6:19). According to Glenn Scott, the brother of Jared was contemporary with the biblical patriarchs Peleg and Reu, who lived 239 years (see KJV Genesis 11:18-19) or 339 years (see Septuagint Genesis 11:18-21). The years that the Jaredites had spent in the wilderness, must have been "many" indeed (see Ether 3:3). [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 45]


Ether 6:23 Surely This Thing [Kingship] Leadeth into Captivity:


     When the Jaredites wanted a king, the brother of Jared warned them: "surely this thing leadeth into captivity" (Ether 6:23). This warning is not alone in the Book of Mormon. King Mosiah also commented on the potential dangers of kings (see Mosiah 29:16-24). A similar situation is also found in the Bible. The people of Israel, like the people of Jared, suddenly wanted to change to a monarchial form of government. The prophet Samuel, who was the judge or ruler over Israel, was saddened by his people's request. But the Lord revealed the real problem when he told Samuel, "they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them" (1 Samuel 8:7). Then the Lord told Samuel to give in to their request after warning them of the consequences of their wishes (see 1 Samuel 8:11-18). Sadly, the Israelites, just like the Jaredites, refused to obey the voice of their prophet and seer.

     In the case of the Jaredites, the prediction of kingship leading to captivity proved true. Kib, and later his son Shule, were taken captive by rivals. From the illustration below, the reader should notice how short the time was between the brother of Jared's prophecy and its fulfillment. [CES, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 139] [See the commentary on Mosiah 29:5]


Ether 6:23 Surely this thing [Kingship] leadeth into captivity (Illustration): The following genealogical chart illustrates the early part of Jaredite history. Notice how short the time was between the brother of Jared's prophecy and its fulfillment. [CES, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 139]


Ether 6:24 Choose Ye out from among Our Sons a King:


     Jared and his brother, knowing that they were soon to die, did number their people; and after that they had numbered them, they did desire of them the things which they would that they should do before they went down to their graves. And the people desired of them that they should anoint one of their sons to be a king over them. And now, behold, this was grievous unto them. And the brother of Jared said unto them: Surely this thing leadeth into captivity. But Jared said unto his brother: Suffer them that they may have a king. And therefore he said unto them: Choose ye out from among our sons a king, even whom ye will. (Ether 6:21-24)


     The fact that the people of Jared and the brother of Jared were "numbered" is reminiscent of the kingship covenant discourse of King Benjamin wherein he thought it was expedient that "he should take the names of all those who had entered into a covenant with God to keep his commandments" (Mosiah 6:1). This Benjamin did even though at the onset of the gathering "there were a great number, even so many that they did not number them" (Mosiah 2:2).

     It is somewhat puzzling how the people of Jared and his brother, who had come out from under the wicked power of Nimrod, would now desire a king. It is also interesting that when given the choice to "choose ye out from among our sons a king" (Ether 6:24), the people first "chose all the brothers of Pagag" (who were sons of the brother of Jared) "and they would not" (Ether 6:25-26). One might ask, Why were the sons of the brother of Jared asked to be king first? Was he higher in authority than Jared? Unfortunately, we are not told. However, it is interesting that it was the brother of Jared (and not Jared) who went to speak with the Lord about lighting the ships (Ether 3). It is also noteworthy that while the brother of Jared had warned the people about kingship ("surely this thing [kingship] leadeth into captivity"), it was Jared who accquiesed to the people's wishes. Not one of the sons of the brother of Jared would accept the kingship, but Orihah, one of the sons of Jared accepted the offer (Ether 6:27). One might wonder, Would this be a point of contention between the two families in the future? Had the people disobeyed their prophet? Did the descendants of the brother of Jared record their own history from a different perspective?


     Glenn Scott notes that the choosing of Orihah, the youngest son of Jared (see Ether 6:14) might have started a trend--that of the youngest son being chosen as king. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 45]


Ether 6:25 He Commanded Them That They Should [Not] Constrain No Man to Be Their King:


     According to Barbara Fowler, to most English-speaking people, the use of a double negative, such as, "You cannot have no candy," grates against the ears and conjures up images of a stern English teacher reproaching students with the axiom, "Two negatives equal a positive!"

     However, that rule of language has not always existed. In Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar it is stated that "Two negatives in the same sentence do not neutralize each other but make the negation the more emphatic" (Kautzch 1909:483).

     There are several instances in the Book of Mormon where a negative word which existed in the original or printer's manuscript has been deleted or changed to a positive word. These examples would point to the Hebrew authorship of the book, as well as enrich meaning of these passages. One such instance is found in Ether 6:25. The second negative (in brackets) was removed and has never been in print:

           "And the people would that his father should constrain him, but his father would not; and he commanded them that they should [not] constrain no man to be their king."

[Barbara Fowler, "Double Negatives in the Book of Mormon? Yes! Yes!, in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 57]


Ether 6:28 The People . . . Became Exceedingly Rich:


     Moroni writes that during the reign of Orihah, "the people began to prosper; and they became exceedingly rich" (Ether 6:28). Glenn Scott notes that although Moroni did not define "rich" in that early time period, it probably meant that their crops prospered, they reaped bountiful harvests, and their homesteads expanded. A food surplus would have allowed time for such pursuits as weaving, leather work, carving wood and stone, music, trade and such. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 45]