As always, use the Official Gospel Doctrine Manual in your preparation, these ideas are supplemental.
Moroni continues his abridgment of the Book of Ether. Chapters 7-15 move rapidly through the generations between the Brother of Jared and Ether. The last generation of Jaredites is emphasized in Ether 13-15.
7 – “Kib dwelt in captivity” We encounter some rather strange customs in the Book of Ether, where kings battle for the throne, but rather than destroy their adversaries, they simply put other kings “in captivity.” Hugh Nibley explained:
Such is the practice … of keeping a king prisoner throughout his entire lifetime, allowing him to beget and raise a family in captivity, even though the sons thus brought up would be almost sure to seek vengeance for their parent and power for themselves upon coming of age….It seems to us a perfectly ridiculous system, yet it is in accordance with the immemorial Asiatic usage – Hugh Nibley, Collected Works, 5:207.
Anyone who has played chess might notice that the king is not killed, only put in “check.” This game has the same ancient roots as the practice of the Jaredites. Hugh Nibley wrote:
The insane wars of the Jaredite chiefs ended in the complete annihilation of both sides, with the kings the last to go. The same thing had almost happened earlier in the days of Akish, when a civil war between him and his sons reduced the population to thirty. (Ether 9:12) This all seems improbable to us, but two circumstances peculiar to Asiatic warfare explain why the phenomenon is by no means without parallel: (1) Since every war is strictly a personal contest between kings, the battle must continue until one of the kings falls or is taken. (2) And yet things are so arranged that the king must be very last to fall, the whole army existing for the sole purpose of defending his person. This is clearly seen in the game of chess, in which all pieces are expendable except the king, who can never be taken. “The shah in chess,” writes M. E. Moghadem, “is not killed and does not die. The game is terminated when the shah is pressed into a position from which he cannot escape. This is in line with all good traditions of chess playing, and back of it the tradition of capturing the king in war rather than slaying him whenever that could be accomplished.” You will recall the many instances in the book of Ether in which kings were kept in prison for many years but not killed. In the code of medieval chivalry, taken over from central Asia, the person of the king is sacred, and all others must perish in his defense. (Lehi in the Deseret and the World of the Jaredites, 234).
20 – “And the country was divided” Just like Nephites and Lamanites, the Jaredites at this point were divided into two kingdoms, namely Shule and Cohor.
23 – “There came prophets among the people” While many view God in Old Testament times as angry and vengeful, only a merciful God would continually send prophets who invite the people to repent and be forgiven of their sins.
27 – “He remembered the great things that the Lord had done for his fathers” We recall from an earlier lesson that President Spencer W. Kimball suggested that the most important word in the dictionary could be “remember.” The Book of Ether describes an ongoing cycle of remembering and forgetting. When they remember God they prosper, when the forget, the Lord sends prophets.
The story line of these chapters moves rapidly – so rapidly, that I had to pause and write down the narrative so that I could grasp what was happening. Here’s what happened in condensed form as I understand it:
Omer begats Jared
Jared rebels against Omer (his father), and puts Omer in captivity
Jared’s brothers attack Jared and restore their father Omer to the throne
Jared’s daughter suggests that if she will dance before Akish, Akish will want to marry her, and suggests that Jared should allow the marriage if Akish will kill Omer.
Akish agrees, and administers secret oaths
Omer is warned in a dream and departs
Jared is made king “by the hand of wickedness”
Akish kills Jared (his wife’s father) and makes himself king
Akish is jealous of his son, (unnamed), and puts him in prison until he dies
Akish’s other son Nimrah rebels and takes many with him to the land of Omer
Akish’s other sons gather followers and make war with their father
Omer is restored to the land of his inheritance
Omer begats Emer, Emer is righteous and the kingdom prospers
Emer begats Coriantum, Emer sees the “Son of Righteousness”
Coriantum begats Com, Com begats Heth
Heth kills his father and reigns in his stead
Heth embraces secret plans, and the Lord send prophets
The people cast out the prophets, so the Lord sends a famine and poison serpents, the people face starvation and repent.
3 – “carry away his father … and did make him serve in captivity” He made his own father a slave. Strange in our time, not as strange in an ancient context.
7 – “he had set his heart upon the kingdom and upon the glory of the world” The scriptures constantly encourage us to set our hearts or build our foundation on Christ, because where our treasure is, there will our heart be also (see Matthew 6:21).
14 – “sware … by the God of heaven” It seems very strange to swear to do an evil thing in God’s name, who is pure and holy. And yet, this is consistent with secret combinations from the beginning. When Satan agreed with Cain to slay Abel, they also swore secrecy in God’s name:
And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands. And Satan sware unto Cain that he would do according to his commands. And all these things were done in secret. And Cain said: Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness. (Moses 5:28-30).
18 – “most abominable and wicked above all” Secret combinations are called “wicked above all” because they involve secret murders on a national or international scale.
24 – “when ye shall see these things come among you” Moroni speaks to the latter-days about secret combinations in this sober warning. He seems to be saying, “Secret combinations destroyed the Nephites. They destroyed the Jaredites, and they will destroy you too…”
25 – “seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands” President Ezra Taft Benson gave a talk in October 1988 in which he began nearly every paragraph with these words, “I testify.’
I testify that wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. (See D&C 1:14-16; 84:49-53.) It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (See Ether 8:18-25.) — Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, November 1988, p. 87.
19 – “elephants and cureloms and cumoms” We don’t know what these animals were! In this regard, Hugh Nibley commented on one of the reports of explorer Marco Polo.
“They have plenty of iron, accarum, and andanicum,” says Marco Polo of the people of Kobian. “Here they make mirrors of highly polished steel, of large size and very handsome.” The thing to note here is not primarily the advanced state of steelworking in Central Asia, though that as we have seen is significant, but the fact that no one knows for sure what accarum and andanicum are. Marco knew, of course, but since the things didn’t exist in Europe, there was no western word for them, and so all he could do was to call them by their only names. It is just so with the cureloms and cumoms of Ether 9:19. These animals were unknown to the Nephites, and so Moroni leaves the words untranslated, or else though known to the Nephites they are out of our experience so that our language has no name to call them by.(The World of the Jaredites, Improvement Era, 1952, Vol. Lv. March, 1952. No. 3. .)
28 – “there came prophets in the land again” In verse 26, “great wickedness” returns, and only two verses later, prophets come into the land.”
31 – “there came forth poisonous serpents” When people don’t listen to prophets, the Lord has other ways to persuade them to repent.
34 – “when the people saw that they must perish they began to repent” Prophets often speak of spiritual death and are ignored – famines threaten with physical death, as do poisonous serpents. When the crisis is really on, and there is no where else to turn but to God, watch people get religious!
35 – “The Lord … did send rain” The Lord is eager to bless his people, if they will repent. Helaman 12:3 reminds us:
And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.
When I teach Ether 10, I like to start by reading the synopsis since it basically summarizes the main narrative of most of the Book of Ether:
One king succeeds another—Some of the kings are righteous; others are wicked—When righteousness prevails, the people are blessed and prospered by the Lord.
2 – “Shez did remember” Remembering the Lord’s blessings brings righteousness.
5-6 – “Riplakish did not do that which was right” Here is another example of where the book of Ether is like a mini Book of Mormon. Riplakish is similar in many ways to the wicked King Noah in the book of Mosiah:
19 – “Lib also did that which was good in the sight of the Lord” Prosperity under Lib is described in some detail in verses 19-29. They were prospered “by the hand of the Lord” (verse 28).
33 – “Com … administered oaths after the manner of the ancients” What does the Lord do when wickedness reaches a certain point? See Ether 11:1
1 – “there came also in the days of Com many prophets” Notice the pattern again. The Lord in his mercy, sends prophets to invite repentance. If there is no repentance, expect consequences.
7 – “Many famines and pestilences” the people did not repent, and the consequence was wars, contentions, famines and pestilences. When the voice of the Lord is not heard through prophets, or the testimonies of his servants, the Lord has other “voices:”
And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand. And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds. (D&C 88:88-90).
8 – “The people began to repent” This verse ends as beautifully as it begins, “and inasmuch as they did the Lord did have mercy on them.” A similar testimony of the Lord’s mercy is expressed in Mosiah 26:30: “Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.”
11 – “Ethem … did do that which was wicked” Now the cycle turns to wickedness. Guess what’s next?
12 – “In the days of Ethem there came many prophets” Yet another witness of the Lord’s mercy and willingness to extend repentance, again and again and again, which is one of the most hopeful messages of the Book of Ether. However, there comes a point when the invitations to repent cease, because the “day of grace is passed” (see Mormon 2:15).
21 – “the Lord God would send or bring forth another people to possess the land” The Jaredites are about to be “swept off” as prophesied.
Moroni pauses at this point in his abridgment and gives us a his own commentary on the situation of the Jaredites, his respect for the prophet Ether, and his own treatise on faith in Christ.
4 – “hope for a better world” Here is Moroni, who has lost everything, including his father, his friends and “all his kinfolk” and he speaks to future believers about having faith and hoping for a better world. Moroni couldn’t fix his current world, but he could hope for a better one. Moroni had lost nearly everything, but hadn’t lost hope. Elder John H. Groberg taught:
A person without hope is like a person without a heart; there is nothing to keep him going. As the heart gives life to the body, so it seems that hope is an enlivening influence to the spirit—which is the real us. No matter what people try to say, it’s always there—that hope is within us. But how brightly will we allow it to shine in our lives? The degree of “shining” (or the strength) of this hope that is in all of us is in direct proportion to our faith in God and particularly to our faith in (belief in, love of, hope in) Jesus Christ. Specifically, then, the basis of all righteous hope is the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Him all hope has its existence. Without Him there is no hope. But because He was and is and ever will be, there was, is, and ever will be hope—hope in all areas. He is hope. – Hope, [Deseret Book, 1988], p.48.
5 – “They did not believe, because they saw them not” The “seeing is believing” mentality is not new. It is as old as the “believing is seeing” or “faith precedes the miracle” mentality we call faith.
6-27 – “I would show unto the world that faith…” The first principle of the gospel is faith in Christ, and Moroni wants to tell all the world about that kind of faith.
6 – “Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen…” This is one of the finest, most succinct definitions of faith in the standard works. Another is in Alma 32:21, “ And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” One more scriptural definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1 “ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (the JST changes “substance” to “assurance”).
Hebrews 11 is a terrific chapter on faith from the Apostle Paul, which is similar in many ways to Ether 12. If you look at the footnotes accompanying Ether 12, you will notice four different references to Hebrews 11 (footnotes 3d, 4c, 5a and 6a).
In Ether 12, Moroni reminds us of great examples of faith including, Moses, Alma and Amulek, Nephi and Lehi, Ammon, the three Nephite disciples and the Brother of Jared.
In Hebrews 11, Paul reminds us of great examples of faith including Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses.
27 – “I give unto men weakness” This verse is often misquoted as, “ I give unto men weaknesses.” What is the difference between weakness and weaknesses? Some might argue that there is little difference, and any misquotation is of little importance. But I suggest that “weaknesses” might refer to little quirks or habits, while “weakness” is a more general statement which describes our overall fallen nature. Having weaknesses, like having a “short-fuse” or being late all the time is one thing. Recognizing our overall fallen nature which must be changed by the atonement of Christ is another. Jacob 4:7 says:
Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.
Aren’t we glad that the word “weakness” is countered in both of these verses by the grace of Christ?
30 – “Remove – and it was removed” We don’t have any more details about this mountain moving experience, although we wish we did! Have you ever heard of the mount “Zerin?” Me neither. You know why? Because it was removed.
37 – “Because thou hast seen thy weakness” Thus we see that humility opens the door to blessings of the Lord. What would prevent us from seeing our weakness?
41 – “seek this Jesus” The Lord himself said, “ Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.” (D&C 19:23). President David O. McKay taught:
What you sincerely think in your heart of Christ will determine what you are, will largely determine what your acts will be. No person can study his divine personality, can accept his teachings without becoming conscious of an uplifting and refining influence within himself. – Gospel Ideals, p. 34.
4 – “he spake concerning a New Jerusalem” President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
“The prevailing notion in the world is that this [the New Jerusalem] is the city of Jerusalem, the ancient city of the Jews which in the day of regeneration will be renewed, but this is not the case. We read in the Book of Ether that the Lord revealed to him many of the same things which were seen by John. Ether, as members of the Church will know, was the last of the prophets among the Jaredites, and the Lord had revealed to him much concerning the history of the Jews and their city of Jerusalem which stood in the days of the ministry of our Savior. In his vision, in many respects similar to that given to John, Ether saw the old city of Jerusalem and also the new city which has not yet been built, and he wrote of them as follows as reported in the writings of Moroni: “[Ether 13:2–11.] . . . “In the day of regeneration, when all things are made new, there will be three great cities that will be holy. One will be the Jerusalem of old which shall be rebuilt according to the prophecy of Ezekiel. One will be the city of Zion, or of Enoch, which was taken from the earth when Enoch was translated and which will be restored; and the city Zion, or New Jerusalem, which is to be built by the seed of Joseph on this the American continent” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:103–4).
20 – “Go and prophesy” The Lord gives the people another chance through repentance, but adds the call to repent with a chilling prophecy: If Coriantumr doesn’t repent, all his people would be destroyed, another people would receive the land, and Coriantumr would survive the final battle but be buried by them.
1 – “upon the morrow, he could not find it” A strange curse, but one befitting those who had set their hearts upon their riches instead of upon Christ – their riches, their tools, their swords would disappear. The same curse plagued the Nephites, where anything they tried to hold onto became “slippery” (see Helaman 13:33).
23 – “the scent thereof when forth upon the face of the land” Once again (sorry to be repetitive), the Book of Ether is a second witness of the rest of the Book of Mormon – most importantly a second witness of Christ, but even in seemingly smaller details, like this one. We remember in Alma 16:11 the smell of death described as the “desolation of Nehors” caused by the heaps of dead bodies after an army of the Lamanites wiped out Ammonihah in one day.
18 – “Behold, he sweepeth the earth before him” Here comes the “divine broom” mentioned in the lesson 45. It is interesting that the Jaredites were told to serve the God of the land or be “swept off” (Ether 2:8-10). Sometimes God uses the wicked to punish the wicked, and to fulfill his purposes. Mormon testified: “It is by the wicked that the wicked are punished” (Mormon 4:5).
25 – “Thus we see…” Notice that it wasn’t the wars or their enemies that caused their destruction, but their own wickedness. Had they been righteous, the Lord would have prospered them and even fought their battles.
1 – “He began to remember the words which Ether had spoken” Yes, he remembered, but too late. Perhaps he thought Ether to be crazy or mad at the time, but suddenly, the words of this humble prophet who hid in the cavity of a rock became real to Coriantumr.
2 – “Nearly two millions” This is a huge number. In the United States, we have been fortunate not to see these kinds of numbers in the various wars, though any loss of life is tragic. US casualties in recent conflicts are listed below:
However, casualties of war from all nations are staggering and sobering as listed in this wikipedia article.
15 – “both men, women and children being armed” One can only imagine such a horrifying sight, of men, women and children of all ages being armed and preparing for war. Can you imagine trying to prepare little children for battle? What do you tell them?
22 – “they were drunken with anger” The details of these final battles make little sense. With so much land available, why not leave your weapons and find a new start? Especially when there are only 32 of them and 27 of you! (Verse 25). Being drunken with anger is a perfect description of their emotional and spiritual state, because if you’re drunk, it means you don’t know what you’re doing – you’re not rational, you’re not in control, you do things you wouldn’t do in your right mind.
31 – “Shiz raised up on his hands” This is a strange physical reaction, a “headless push-up” you might say, but plausible nonetheless. LDS Neuropathologist Dr. M. Gary Hadfield posted a fascinating article here.
33 – “It mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved” Ether’s last words are similar to Moroni’s statement, “whither I go it mattereth not” in Mormon 8:4.
Once again, here is the list of lessons from the Book of Ether posted earlier. As explained in Lesson 45, Over the years of teaching the Book of Ether, my students and I have compiled a list of how the Book of Mormon as a whole and the Book of Ether individually are similar witnesses:
The Book of Ether is another witness of Jesus Christ:
- Numerous Book of Mormon prophets saw the Savior
- The Brother of Jared saw the Savior
The Book of Ether is a second witness for how nations fall as a result of rejecting Christ:
- Jaredites and Nephites both experienced the pride cycle
- Jaredites were told to serve God or be “swept off;” Nephites were told to keep the commandments and “prosper in the land”
- Secret combinations destroyed both civilizations
- Wicked kings eventually lead to captivity in both civilizations
- The Lord in His mercy sent prophets to the wicked in both civilizations
- The Lord also used famines to bring repentance in both civilizations
- The land was cursed in both civilizations when people set their hearts on their possessions
- Both Moroni and Ether say in the end, “It mattereth not” what happens to me.