Ether, Chapter 1

Where did the book of Ether come from?

In the beginning of the Book of Mormon, there is a page titled “A Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon” which reads,”The Plates of Ether, which present a history of the Jaredites. This record was abridged by Moroni, who inserted comments of his own and incorporated the record with the general history under the title “Book of Ether.”

We read in Mosiah 8 about king Limhi.  He had sent 43 of his people to find the land of Zarahemla, but they got lost and found a land covered in bones and ruins.  They brought back 24 gold plates, which no one could translate (Mosiah 8:7-12).  They were taken to king Mosiah.  We read later that king Mosiah was a seer, and translated the records on the gold plates with use of the Urim and Thummim.  He had the things written down, because the people wanted to know about the people who had been destroyed (Mosiah 28:10-16). “Now after Mosiah had finished translating these records, behold, it gave an account of the people who were destroyed, from the time that they were destroyed back to the building of the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people and they were scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth, yea, and even from that time back until the creation of Adam (Mosiah 28:17).”  These were written for us because “it is expedient that all people should know the things which are written in this account (Mosiah 28:19).

In Genesis we read of the time when the world only had one language.  The people of Shinar, built a tower to try to reach heaven.  Because they built this tower, the Lord confounded their language and the people were scattered.  Now we know this tower as the tower of Babel (Genisis 11:1-9).  The book of Ether tells about one group of people who were there, the Jaredites.

“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 (v. 1).”  Moroni thought that he was done with the records, but was inspired to add these records to the end of the abridged records his father had made.

“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 (v. 2).  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 (v. 3)—”.  Moroni assumed that the records of the Jews, which we know as the Bible, would include the time leading up to the tower of Babel, so he did not include those things in the Book of Mormon.

“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 accounts (v. 4).  But behold, I give not the full account, but a part of the account I give, from the tower down until they were destroyed (v. 5).  And on this wise do I give the account. He that wrote this record was Ether (v. 6). . .”

So, the record of Ether, was a record of the Jaredites from the time of the tower of Babel until they were destroyed.  This record was found by the lost people of Limhi and then translated by Mosiah.  It continued to be handed down among the Nephites until it was hidden with all of the other records, by Mormon.  After Mormon died, his son, Moroni, was inspired to add an abridgment of the records of Ether to the Book of Mormon.

The importance of family histories

A Family Tree

I know the names of some of my ancestors because of recently working on family history.  I know that I could not name my ancestors going back 25 generations or more, but I wish that I could.  Ether records his family history going back many generations.  He was the son of Coriantor, who was the son of Moron, and so on.  The lists goes back about 29 generations or so to Jared, who lived at the time of the tower.  It is clear that the Jaredites understood the importance of family history.

In working on family history, I am finding that the further back I go, the less information I have about people.  I know that family history is important because with the information, we can perform ordinances in the temple that allow our families to be blessed in the eternities.  I am also finding that knowing more about family members from years past, helps me in my own life.  When I know stories of their lives, I learn from them in so many ways.  I am grateful for my ancestors and the lives they led.  They are the reason that I am where I am today and that I have some of the most wonderful blessings in my life.

What happened to Jared, his brother, and their families and friends at the tower?

There are a few people that I really enjoy talking to when I need spiritual guidance and help.  I trust their judgment and I know they care for me and share my beliefs.  I care for them as well.  Jared and his families and friends all lived at the time of the tower of Babel.  The brother of Jared was also with them.  When the Jared found that he was in need of help or guidance, he continually turned to his brother.  He was “highly favored of the Lord” (v. 34).  The Lord told the brother of Jared that he blessed him because he had prayed to the Lord for long time (v. 43).  The Jaredites were blessed in many ways for praying to the Lord.  They did not have their language confounded like all other people did at that time and neither did their friends (v. 35-37).  They were able to talk to one another and remain together.  They were told that the Lord would lead them to a choice land and be greatly blessed there (v. 42-43).  We will also be blessed, if we remember to pray to the Lord often and rely on Him.

Who was the brother of Jared?

“And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words (v. 34).  And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon Jared; therefore he did not confound the language of Jared; and Jared and his brother were not confounded (v. 35).”

The Lord blessed the Jaredites when the brother of Jared went to Him in prayer.  In the Book of Mormon, he is always known as the brother of Jared.  I just read the following paragraph and was touched by the spirit to know that it is true.  I don’t know that it is entirely important to know what his name was, but I am sure that this was it.  “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.” (George Reynolds, “The Jaredites,” Juvenile Instructor, 1 May 1892, p. 282.)

In Ether 2:13 we read, “. . . And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years.”  I don’t know why his name was never mentioned in the scriptures or if there even was a reason for it.  Perhaps Ether never knew it because of how the family history had been handed down to him.  Maybe the Lord did not want his name known until this dispensation for a particular reason.  Whatever the case may be, I think it is more important to know the things that the brother of Jared did.  He was a man of faith, who relied on the Lord, prayed to the Lord, and followed what the Lord told him to do.  He is a great example of faith and obedience.

Faith is a Sunrise

As a side-note, I think that Jared was also a great example of faith.  The brother of Jared was one who was blessed to know, where Jared was one who was blessed to have faith and believe on the words of another.  He knew to turn to the Lord in prayer and he knew that their prayers would be answered.  “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 (v. 38 ).

What was the land “choice above all the lands of the earth”?

“And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord according to that which had been spoken by the mouth of Jared (v. 39).  And it came to pass that the Lord did hear the brother of Jared, and had compassion upon him, and said unto him (v. 40):  Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind; and thy families; and also Jared thy brother and his family; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families (v. 41).  And when thou hast done this thou shalt go at the head of them down into the valley which is northward. And there will I meet thee, and I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth (v. 42).  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. And thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me (v. 43).”

The Lord wanted the brother of Jared to leave where they were and go to a valley North of them, where he would lead them to “a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth”.  The brother of Jared was told to bring his family, Jared and his family, and Jared’s friends and their families, as well as animals and seeds of every kind.  We have learned several times in the scriptures, that the land that is choice above all others, is America.  That is where the Lord also led Lehi and his family, with the promise of a land of their inheritance which was also choice above all other lands.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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