Ether 1


 



MDC Contents

 

 

 Ether 1:1

1  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.

 

As Moroni writes, he is in the north countries. He specifically notes that the book of Ether concerns the ancient inhabitants who were “upon the face of this north country.” Moroni has implied that his father was among those who had gone into the land southward hoping (but not finding) escape from the Lamanite/Gadiantons (Mormon 8:2-3). It would be surprising if Moroni had not gone with his father. It would be a logical assumption that the event that took his father’s life was the impetus for Moroni to move from the land southward back to the land northward where he is currently writing.

 

Redaction: The introductory statement that Moroni makes at the beginning of Ether is unusual. As a general rule, the beginnings of chapters in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon have no different form than structural breaks inside of the chapters. The majority of the chapter breaks begin with “And now it came to pass” or simply “And now,” which are the typical markers of a conceptual break in the text. An interesting exception to this great category of structural markers is a set that begin with “behold,” or “Now behold.”

 

We find the “behold” beginning in the 1830 edition’s 2 Nephi 4 (current 2 Nephi 5:1). This is a transitional shift between an inserted discourse by Lehi, and the beginning of Nephi’s personal narrative of the history of the separation of the family. The next two times we find the “behold” beginning are in Enos 1:1 and Omni 1:1, with Jarom 1:1 having the slight variant, “now behold.” In each of these cases, the “behold beginning indicates a major shift in the text, and in the last three cases, a shift in author. For Nephi, the author was the same, but it marks a shift from reporting Lehi’s record to giving Nephi’s record.

 

When we have the beginning of the holographic record of Zeniff, it does not begin with a “behold,” but rather with “I, Zeniff” (current chapter Mosiah 9:1). This parallels the beginning of Nephi’s holographic record in 1 Nephi 1:1 which begins with the well known “I, Nephi.”

 

The “behold” beginning occurs in several chapters in Alma, but not at the beginning of the book of Alma. In the 1830 chapter 5 (current chapter Alma 7:1), the “behold” marks the beginning of an inserted sermon, and is therefore attached to the sermon, not Mormon’s description. The “behold” beginning next comes in the 1830 chapter 14 (current chapter Alma 23:1) where it marks the beginning of a new story line after a small narrative interruption by Mormon The ending of chapter 13 (current chapter Alma 22) indicates: “And no I , after having said this, return again to the account of Ammon, and Aaron, Omner and Himni, and their brethren.” In the 1830 chapter 16, the “behold” beginning marks the introduction of a new section of the story of the people of Ammon after the end of an inserted citation of Alma.

 

In the 1830 edition’s chapter 21 (current chapter Alma 45:1) we have an interesting transition. We have the end of the words of Alma in the book of Alma, and the beginning of the portion of the book of Alma written by his son, Helaman. As Helaman begins his section in the book of Alma, we have the introductory statement: “Behold, now it came to pass….” As a new writer in the same book, Mormon notes the transition with the “behold” beginning.

 

Other “behold” beginnings marking shifts in the text come at the 1830 edition’s chapters Alma 28 (current Alma 61), Helaman 3 (current Helaman 7), and 3 Nephi 8 (current 3 Nephi 17). Interestingly, however, we do not find Mormon beginning books with “behold.” For Mormon, his writing is a continuous set, and his abridgment beginnings are the more typical “and now it came to pass.” Extrapolating from the available data, we have the “behold” beginning for new sections that mark some distinct transition from one chapter or book to the next. Typically, these come either because of inserted copied texts where the “behold” beginning is associated with the original author, or we have them as introductions to new hands on the source plates. When Mormon is simply stringing together his narrative, he does not use that transition, but uses the same structural transitions that are apparent inside the chapters as well.

 

All of this information now brings us back to Moroni, our most recent hand on the plates. As a new writer, it is appropriate that he should have a “behold” beginning, and indeed we have that beginning when he writes on his father’s record, in the 1830 chapter Mormon 4:1 (current Mormon 8:1). This is a direct parallel to Helaman’s introduction of his section of his father Alma’s book.

 

So far, Moroni the writer has behaved in the expected manner. Of course we have only the one chapter of his writing, but he has introduced himself both my name and with the “new beginning” marker behold. His next writing that we have is this book of Ether. Although it follows Moroni’s conclusion to his father’s text, that does not necessarily mean that Moroni wrote Ether after he finished his father’s work. We expect that he did, but there is no overt textual indication of order, such as we have between the ending of the book of Ether and the beginning of the book of Moroni where he very clearly notes:

 

Moroni 1:1

…after having made an end of abridging the account of the people of Jared…

 

Even though he does not explicitly state the order, there are still textual clues that will assure us that Ether followed the conclusion of his father’s record.

 

The first clue is that there is no “behold’ beginning for the book of Ether. This is a completely new record written from a different source document, and completely outside of his father’s intended narrative. While Mormon likely intended Ether to be included, the structural evidence from the text suggests that it was to be included as an appendix, rather like the 1 Nephi to Omni material was also inserted as an addition to Mormon’s text, not as an integral part of the text. Thus we have an essentially new piece being added to the plates, but no structural marker of a beginning. There is no “behold” to clearly instruct us that this is new text.

 

In addition to the absence of the “behold,” we have the presence of yet another odd structural feature. Moroni tells us that: “…I, Moroni, proceed to give an account…” The structural function of the phrase “proceed to give an account” is to return to an interrupted narrative.

 

We have the first occurrence of this phrase in the 1 Nephi 10:1 after Nephi took a break in his narrative to explain the plates in our chapter 9, and then returns to his original theme. As he returns from this narrative interruption, he tells us: “And now I, Nephi, proceed to give an account…”  A short interrupted narrative aside in 1 Nephi 19:2-5 (an aside occasioned by the historical setting of the command to create the plates in 1 Nephi 19:1) is followed with:

 

1 Nephi 19:5

5 And an account of my making these plates shall be given hereafter; and then, behold, I proceed according to that which I have spoken; and this I do that the more sacred things may be kept for the knowledge of my people.

 

Mormon uses this method or returning to an interrupted narrative in 3 Nephi:

 

3 Nephi 5:19

19 And now I make an end of my saying, which is of myself, and proceed to give my account of the things which have been before me.

 

This structural marker is used in situations where there is an interruption in the narrative, and the author is now picking up again on the intended thread. This makes the presence of this phrase at the very beginning of Ether 1 an interesting anomaly. There is not narrative thread of Ether to interrupt. It is a completely new source, topic, and book. However, there was apparently an interruption, but it is an interruption from Moroni’s perspective, not the text’s perspective.

 

If we use this textual information to reconstruct certain events, we can fill in some of the story of Moroni’s addition to Mormon’s record, and the book of Ether. Mormon had commanded his son to do certain things:

 

Mormon 8:1

1 Behold I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father, Mormon. Behold, I have but few things to write, which things I have been commanded by my father. (italics added)

 

Mormon commanded Moroni to write. The very first thing that would have been on Mormon’s mind was the conclusion to his message to the future generations. Therefore we can surmise that the first command was to finish the record, and we have Moroni’s addition to his father’s text as witness that he did that. Certainly we may expect that he finished his father’s work before he began any of his own after that point.

 

This would seem to suggest that Ether was written after, but there is still the possibility that Moroni could have been writing on Ether prior to receiving these commands to write from his father. The transition at the beginning of Ether tells us that Ether was written afterward, however. Moroni begins Ether with a structural element indicating the resumption of an interrupted narrative. Since the narrative was not interrupted, the interruption must have come from Moroni’s life. Therefore, we may presume that Mormon’s command to write included the abridgment of the book of Ether, and that events in Moroni’s life prevented him from picking up the task of writing Ether until some time had passed from the first task of concluding his father’s record.

 

Ether 1:2

2  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.

 

Redaction: The first thing to which we should pay attention is “I take mine account….” What we have in the book of Ether is not the book of Ether, but rather Moroni’s redaction of the book of Ether. Moroni will treat Ether is a somewhat similar way as did his father for all of the original sources that were available to him. He will cite them at times, and simply describe them at others.

 

Secondly, we should understand the nature of the source material that Moroni is using. We may begin by noting what he was not using. As part of the information available in Zarahemla was a large stone with engravings on it that dealt with the last king of the Jaredites, Coriantumr:

 

Omni 1:20-22

20 And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God.

21 And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons.

22 It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people; and the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward.

 

See the discussion following Omni 1:20-22 for more information on the archaeological discovery of the La Mojarra stela that may have some relevance to the type of stela and text that was brought to Mosiah for translation. That stone was a king stela related to Coriantumr, the last king of the Jaredites. The book of Ether will tell the story of Coriantumr, but not from the standpoint of the more official king stela.

 

The text that is being used is the set of twenty four plates that were found by Limhi’s people during an expedition to gain assistance from Zarahemla, but which missed Zarahemla and discovered the land northward.

 

Mosiah 8:7-9

7 And the king said unto him: Being grieved for the afflictions of my people, I caused that forty and three of my people should take a journey into the wilderness, that thereby they might find the land of Zarahemla, that we might appeal unto our brethren to deliver us out of bondage.

8 And they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel.

9 And for a testimony that the things that they had said are true they have brought twenty-four plates which are filled with engravings, and they are of pure gold.

 

Limhi knew that there was information on the plates, but he was unable to read them. He asked Ammon if he knew who could translate them, and Ammon responded that Mosiah would be able to translate them, as he was a seer (Mosiah 8:12-17). The plates were eventually brought to Mosiah, and we have the following account of their translation:

 

Mosiah 28:11-17

11 Therefore he took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, and also the plates of Nephi, and all the things which he had kept and preserved according to the commandments of God, after having translated and caused to be written the records which were on the plates of gold which had been found by the people of Limhi, which were delivered to him by the hand of Limhi;

12 And this he did because of the great anxiety of his people; for they were desirous beyond measure to know concerning those people who had been destroyed.

13 And now he translated them by the means of those two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow.

14 Now these things were prepared from the beginning, and were handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages;

15 And they have been kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he should discover to every creature who should possess the land the iniquities and abominations of his people;

16 And whosoever has these things is called seer, after the manner of old times.

17 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.

 

We therefore have the original plates of Ether that were found by Limhi’s people, and we have a translation of that record by Mosiah. Our question now is whether Moroni made a fresh translation, or if he used the translation that was already available from Mosiah. That translation was available, as Mormon appears to reference it in Alma 37:21. There Mormon has Alma referencing the record of the twenty four plates without any indication that they should be translated again, or that Helaman would have any trouble reading them. The issue has nothing to do with understanding them, but rather with keeping information in them from the general populace. This suggests that there was a translation of the plates as well as the originals in the archives of the Nephites.

 

Which did Moroni use? Mosiah used the urim and thummim to make his translation (Mosiah 28:13) and we know that Moroni had the interpreters (urim and thummim) that he included specifically so that a future generation could read the part of vision of the brother of Jared to which he had sealed up the interpretation (Ether 4:5). It is therefore possible that Moroni made a fresh translation of the plates of Ether. However, it would appear redundant for him to translate what a prophet had already translated, and to do it for the purpose of making an abridgment of it. The better probability is that Moroni is using the translation of the twenty four plates made my Mosiah, and is abridging that record.

 

Ether 1:3

3  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—

Ether 1:4

4  Therefore I do not write those things which transpired from the days of Adam until that time; but they are had upon the plates; and whoso findeth them, the same will have power that he may get the full account.

Ether 1:5

5  But behold, I give not the full account, but a part of the account I give, from the tower down until they were destroyed.

 

Redaction: The first part of the record of Ether contains some account of events from the time of Adam to the time where the story begins in earnest. Moroni’s statement corroborates the only other information we have about the content of the plates, given as part of the description of Mosiah’s translation of the record:

 

Mosiah 28:17

17 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.

 

It is interesting that this is also a part of the record on the Coriantumr stela:

 

Omni 1:22

22 It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people; and the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward.

 

The Coriantumr stela does not have the history returning to Adam, but it does corroborate the description of the “first parents” coming from the tower, something that is important in both accounts. Some tie to the ancestors or founders is a common function of Mesoamerican records. The record tied the current king/people to their illustrious progenitors to establish the legitimacy of rule. Thus it is not surprising that two different records on different material forms and written for different purposes, might both have a connection to the ancestral past. Indeed, it would be almost required of such a document in a Mesoamerican context.

 

Moroni indicates that the record of Ether shows such similarities to the record of the Nephites, or the brass plates, that he does not feel compelled to include the duplicated material. The parts that Moroni leaves out are parts that come from Mosiah’s translation, and Mosiah shared with Moroni the identical set of brass plates against which any similarity might be measured. Based on what we know of the way Joseph Smith translated the plates of Nephi, we may expect that a similar method was used by Mosiah. Thus when Mosiah saw a similarity of content, he used the specifics from the brass plates, just as Joseph Smith did for Isaiah and the 3 Nephi Sermon on the Mount material. Thus when Moroni sees the text, it really is nearly the same, because the text Moroni has and the one Mosiah would have used as a model would be the same. It would be a dangerous assumption to posit that Mosiah used a better or more accurate or literal translation method than did Joseph Smith under similar circumstances of translating a document from an unknown language through the medium of the same urim and thummim.

 

Ether 1:6

6  And on this wise do I give the account.  He that wrote this record was Ether, and he was a descendant of Coriantor.

 

While Moroni is quite willing to leave out an account of Genesis that might be interesting to modern scholars, he intentionally includes a very long genealogy. This is part of the verification of the record. When Nephi begins his record, he does so with “I Nephi…” (Nephi 1:1). Moroni begins this record of Ether with the indication that the writer is “I, Moroni…” (Ether 1:1). Part of what gives meaning to a record is the witness of the one who writes it. In this case, it is Ether, who is a descendant of Coriantor. Tying Ether into this lineage links Ether to the original progenitor, Jared.

 

Nibley tells us that we should be cautious about being too dogmatic about the chronology implicit in the genealogical list. (Hugh Nibley. Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites. Bookcraft, 1952, p. 148). While most of the list has “son of” links, the link from Ether to Coriantor is “descendant of,” a phrase that also appears in verses 16 and 23). Nevertheless, as the textual explanation of the genealogy continues, we find Ether as the “son of” Coriantor (Ehter 11:23) and Aaron as the “son of” Heth (Ether 10:31). The relationship of Morianton and Riplakish, however, remains as one of descendant (Ether 1:23 and Ether 10:9).

 

It is therefore impossible to tell whether this switching of terms is significant or simply given for variety with no intended meaning. The most generous reading would be that this really is a strict genealogy and that the variation is simply give to break up the repetition of “son of.” However, in the Mesoamerican context we must consider another alternative.

 

In Mesoamerica, it is not uncommon for rulers to attempt to establish their own dynasty by reference to a connection to early progenitors. There are genealogies typing current rulers to the distant past, and there are long specific king lists. Both of these types show evidence of some invention in their recording. In Naranjo:

 

“The first enthronement recorded… was not that of a mortal king, but of the kingdom’s founding god, a character dubbed (a little inelegantly) the ‘Square-nosed Beastie.’ Our two sources for this event disagree on exactly how long ago this took place 9one offers a date some 22,000 years in the past, the other surpasses 896,000!) but in both the intention was to place it deep in mythological time, perhaps as a part of a cyclical history.” (Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube. Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens. Thames & Hudson, 2000, p. 70).

 

An example of the problematic nature of genealogies in Mesoamerica comes from Calakmul:

 

“We do have a lengthy king list that traces it s royal line back to a ‘founder,’ but in many ways this document poses more questions than it answers. No fewer than 11 painted vases carry varying lengths of the same sequence, the longest charting the inaugurations of 19 kings, beginning with ‘Skyraiser’. Unfortunately, their Calendar Round dates have no anchor in the Long Count and cannot be fixed in time. More problematically, while several names are familiar from monumental inscriptions, they do not follow the same order and their accession dates differ from their carved counterparts in all cases. Several important early kings are also missing from the list. Whether fact or fabrication, we seem to have a line reaching deep into an ancestral past.” (Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube. Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens. Thames & Hudson, 2000, p. 102).

 

The nebulous connection between Ether and this genealogical line suggests that we may be seeing the same kind of link between the modern person of importance and the revered past. In spite of what the real history might have been, it was certainly accepted by Ether, and very clearly this list serves as the skeleton under his historical narrative. However, we must remember that our original author is Ether, not Jared or the brother of Jared. Therefore it is to be expected that if this is the extant chronology, it is the one that Ether would use to develop his narrative history.

 

Ether 1:7

7  Coriantor was the son of Moron.

Ether 1:8

8  And Moron was the son of Ethem.

Ether 1:9

9  And Ethem was the son of Ahah.

Ether 1:10

10  And Ahah was the son of Seth.

Ether 1:11

11  And Seth was the son of Shiblon.

Ether 1:12

12  And Shiblon was the son of Com.

Ether 1:13

13  And Com was the son of Coriantum.

Ether 1:14

14  And Coriantum was the son of Amnigaddah.

Ether 1:15

15  And Amnigaddah was the son of Aaron.

Ether 1:16

16  And Aaron was a descendant of Heth, who was the son of Hearthom.

Ether 1:17

17  And Hearthom was the son of Lib.

Ether 1:18

18  And Lib was the son of Kish.

Ether 1:19

19  And Kish was the son of Corom.

Ether 1:20

20  And Corom was the son of Levi.

Ether 1:21

21  And Levi was the son of Kim.

Ether 1:22

22  And Kim was the son of Morianton.

Ether 1:23

23  And Morianton was a descendant of Riplakish.

Ether 1:24

24  And Riplakish was the son of Shez.

Ether 1:25

25  And Shez was the son of Heth.

Ether 1:26

26  And Heth was the son of Com.

Ether 1:27

27  And Com was the son of Coriantum.

Ether 1:28

28  And Coriantum was the son of Emer.

Ether 1:29

29  And Emer was the son of Omer.

Ether 1:30

30  And Omer was the son of Shule.

Ether 1:31

31  And Shule was the son of Kib.

Ether 1:32

32  And Kib was the son of Orihah, who was the son of Jared;

 

Social: There is an obvious parallel between this genealogy and the rather well-known genealogies of the Bible. In spite of that gross similarity, however, there is also a significant difference. In the Bible, genealogical lists are given in order of descendance. The tale is being told from oldest to newest, so the generational linkages go from father to son. These are the Biblical “begats.” In Ether, we have a generational linkage, but it moves from son to father. It is the precise reverse of the Biblical model. The reason for the difference is the difference in the intent of the written text. In the Bible, the text tells the story “from the beginning.” In Ether, the essential person is the recorder, or the person who is writing the document. In this case, Ether. Ether’s authority is established through the connection to the past, but the focus is still on Ether and his times. Therefore, the genealogy moves in a different direction. It is interesting that as a model, Ether’s genealogy is a much more direct parallel to the general Mesoamerican model than the Biblical one.

 

Chronological: Including Ether from verse 6, we have a total of 30 names listed in this genealogy, and they are all listed indicating a generational line of descent (although there is room for some sloppiness in the list, as noted above). If we assume an average generous lifespan of between 60 and 70 years per person, we have a length of time from between 1800 and 2100 years (giving Ether a full 60 or 70 years of life). This gives us a potential method of assigning a gross chronology to the Jaredites, except that we do not have a useful starting point for the chronology. The only hope we have of locating this gross chronology to that of the Nephites is knowning that Ether and Coriantumr are contemporaries (Ether 14-15), and that Coriantumr spent nine months with the people of Zarahmela prior to the arrival of the Nephites (Omni 1:21). While this gives us a range of time, it is not a very specific one. We know that the Mosiah I arrives in Zarahemla somewhere around 200 BC, and we know that the Mulekite arrive in the New World somewhere around the time that the Lehites do, say 580 BC. This gives us a starting point for the chronology that has a wide range, from 580 BC to 200 BC.

 

Sorenson places the event early in the Mulekite heritage in order to coincide with the archaeological evidence of the ending of the Olmec period in Mesoamerica:

 

“The final destruction of the Jared ruling line could have been as early as 580 B.C. or as late as 400 B.C. The Book of Mormon does not tell us enough to allow a more precise determination, although I believe a date toward the earlier end of that span is preferable. The archaeological record is now quite settled on about 550 B.C. for the end of the First Tradition.

 

Taking together the geographical setting, the cultural patterns, the agreement in dates, and many specific facts we cannot go into at this point, identifying the culture in which the Jaredites were involved with the First or Olmec Tradition is very reasonable.” (John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1985], 119.)

 

This reasoning works well if we assume that the Jaredites were the Olmec. However, that contention is quite unlikely. It is much better to indicate that the Jaredites were participants in the Olmec culture. This would place the ending of the Jaredites in the epi-Olmec phase rather than the Olmec proper. The ending of the Jaredites would then be parallel to the way that we see the ending of the Nephites in this commentary, as an ending of a particular polity, not a culture.

 

Arguing for a perhaps later demise of the Jaredite polity is the notice that we have of Coriantumr’s stay with the people of Zarahemla. There are two aspects of this connection that are important. Note that we learn that Coriantumr stays with the people of Zarahemla, and that the stone is brought to Mosiah:

 

Omni 1:19-22

19 And it came to pass that the people of Zarahemla, and of Mosiah, did unite together; and Mosiah was appointed to be their king.

20 And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God.

21 And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons.

22 It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people; and the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward.

 

The first piece of information is that Coriantumr stays with the people of Zarahemla. The early history of the people of Zarahemla suggests that they had participated in the Olmec culture after their landing, and therefore lost their language and their god (Omni 1:17). It would appear that some smaller group broke away and moved up the Grijalva valley to the location of Zarahemla. While it is possible that it was coincidental that the city and ruler at the time of Mosiah I’s arrival are both named Zarahemla, it is also much more probable that this is a fairly recent relocation, and that the city was named for the leader who brought them there. This would require that Coriantumr have lived with the people of Zarahemla perhaps less than 50 years prior to the arrival of Mosiah.

 

The bringing of the stone to Mosiah also suggests that this stone continued to have some interest to the people. While they might have been interested in a nearly three hundred year old stone, it is more likely that this was brought to Mosiah because it was a record of relatively recent history. Therefore, this commentary will use 250 BC as a probable time death of Ether, and therefore a plausible anchor for the generational chronology. (The chronology in Palmer follows Sorenson’s basic outline, using 600 BC as the time of Ether, and moves backwards in 70 year generational markers. This gives Palmer a 2700 BC departure date for Jared. This commentary would suggest that the timing of Ether would be later, and that the 70 year generation is the most generous probable, with a shorter time being more likely. See David A. Palmer. In Search of Cumorah. Horizon Publishers and Distributors. 1981, p. 128).

 

Our next chronological issue is the dating of the Tower of Babel. Reynolds and Sjodahl provide the following estimates for the timing of the Tower of Babel:

 

“According to the chronology of Bishop Usher, which appears in English versions of the Bible, the building of the Tower was undertaken about B.C. 2,200. Dr. Joseph Angus, in his Bible Handbook, suggests 2,247. According to Babylonian traditions, the City of Babel was founded about the year B.C. 2,230. But as early as B.C. 2,000, there were clay tablets in the Babylonian Library, now preserved in the British Museum, which contained the story of the Tower-building. It must have been ancient history already at that time. Everything considered, the great dispersion can hardly have taken place much later than B.C. 2,500. (George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, edited and arranged by Philip C. Reynolds, 7 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955-1961], 6: 29.)

 

Concerning these basic sources, Sorenson cautions:

 

“Historical texts and archaeological research on Mesopotamia, their homeland, tell us that big pyramid-shaped temple platforms called ziggurats were being erected well before 3000 B.C. fn Nothing but one of them qualifies as "the great tower" referred to in Ether 1:33. If the departure of the Jaredite party from their original home had been many centuries later than 3000 B.C. or earlier than about 3300 B.C., their account about "the great tower" would sound odd in terms of Near Eastern history. (Incidentally, the zero date from which the Mesoamerican calendars were calculated was 3113 B.C., which might or might not be a coincidence.) We have already seen that the earliest evidences of some of the basic indicators of civilization—stable agriculture, village life, and ceramic—date in Mesoamerica to about 3000 B.C.

 

There is no sound evidence, by the way, to support the idea from outmoded biblical commentaries that the great tower ("of Babel") dated to near 2200 B.C., as some Latter-day Saints continue to believe. Indeed, contrary data abound.” (John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1985], 116.)

 

Palmer attempts to create a date for the Tower using Mesoamerican sources correlated with a Biblical reconstruction, arriving at a departure date of 2700 BC. (David A. Palmer. In Search of Cumorah. Horizon Publishers and Distributors. 1981, p. 224-5). In doing so he uses a different zero date than does Sorenson, and he also accepts year intervals listed in Ixtlilxochitl and the in the Codex Rios (Palmer uses the less typical designation of the “Vatican Codex.”). Unfortunately, Palmer uses both Ixtlilxochitl and the Codex Rios rather indiscriminately. For instance, he assumes that the final destruction by earthquakes in the Rios is associated with the destruction at the time of Christ in 34 AD (David A. Palmer. In Search of Cumorah. Horizon Publishers and Distributors. 1981, p. 224). However, he doesn’t account for the fact that Ixtlilxochitl makes the Earthquake Sun the second destruction instead of the fifth, as in the Rios. Palmer is apparently unaware that both the order of the Suns and the duration assigned to them are hardly fixed parts of the Mesoamerican legend (see Brant Gardner. “Reconstructing the Ethnohistory of Myth: A Structural Study of the Aztec ‘Legend of the Suns.” Symbol and Meaning Beyond the Closed Community: Essays in Mesoamerican Ideas. Ed. Gary H. Gossen. Institute for Mesoamerican Studies, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1986, pp. 19-34). Unfortunately, Palmer’s reconstruction of dates, while appearing impressive, is built upon simplistic readings of texts that are simply selected because they fit his preconceived notion of the timing.

 

Combining all of this information, we have Sorenson’s archaeological dating to place the Tower somewhere around 3000 BC. We have a chronological correlation in this commentary that would place Jared around 1870-1930 BC. That gives us a gap of over a thousand years where we cannot easily match the Jaredite chronology to the plausible real world events. What kind of problem does that give us?

 

There are two types of problems. One, of course, could be the reconstruction of the chronology itself. Dating with any precision that far in prehistory is hardly a precise science. Palmer, for instance, is able to make all of his dating work to match the Jaredite king list with a Tower of Babel date of 2700 BC. (David A. Palmer. In Search of Cumorah. Horizon Publishers and Distributors. 1981, p. 128). Sorenson would argue that Palmer’s date for the Tower is not early enough, and I would argue that his dating of Ether is too early.

 

The second problem we could have lies in the king-list itself. There is the one location where there is agreement both in the list and the description that Morianton is a descendant of Riplakish (see Ether 1:23 and Ether 10:11). Assuming that every other part of the genealogy were absolutely accurate, we have this location where there is a plausible collapsing of generations. The other locations of descendance in the original list (Ether 1:6 and 16) suggest that there might be other gaps, even though the parallel descriptive text uses a more direct father-son description of the relationship. In other words, the genealogy could be wrong. The history of such genealogies in the world suggest that this is at least a possibility, particularly for a lineage that covers two thousand years.

 

Ether 1:33

33  Which Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others and their families, from the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth; and according to the word of the Lord the people were scattered.

 

Tying our story to the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel presumes that there is an historical basis for the Tower of Babel. There is a difference between the historical basis and the theological elaboration of that historical understanding. When Hugh Nibley was explaining this contrast to a correspondent, he noted:

 

“In reply to my sustained blast of the 17th of this month, you tax me with a "naive and gullible acceptance of the Tower of Babel story." I knew you would. Most people believe quite naively that Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address, but their totally uncritical acceptance of the fact does not prevent it from being true. You may accept any story naively or you may take it critically...

 

Think back, my good man, to the first act of recorded history. What meets our gaze as the curtain rises? People everywhere building towers. And why are they building towers? To get to heaven. The tower was, to use the Babylonian formula, the markas shame u irsitim, the "binding-place of heaven and earth," where alone one could establish contact with the upper and lower worlds. That goes not only for Babylonia but also for the whole ancient world, as I have pointed out at merciless length in my recent study on the "Hierocentric State." The towers were artificial mountains, as any textbook will tell you, and no temple-complex could be without one.” (Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert/The World of the Jaredites/There Were Jaredites. Bookcraft, 1952, p. 154-5.)

 

What we have as the historical core of this narrative is the very real construction of man-made temple-mountains in the ancient world. There was one that engendered the story we find in the Bible. Of course the building of the temple is not the controversial aspect of the story. From a modern linguistic perspective, the problem with the story of the Tower of Babel is not the construction of the tower itself, but rather the assignment of the division of languages to that point in time. Historical linguistics cannot trace the history of languages with absolute precision, but there are tools for general time depth and for the comparison of languages among language families. None of the known history of languages can account for a single language splitting into the multitudes of world languages around 2000 BC. Again, Nibley suggests that we need to such simplistic reading of scriptural text:

 

“The book of Ether, depicting the uprooting and scattering from the tower of a numerous population, shows them going forth not individually but in groups, and not merely family groups but groups of friends and associates: "thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families" (Ether 1:41). There was no point in having Jared's language unconfounded if there was to be no one he could talk to, and his brother cried to the Lord that his friends might also retain the language. The same, however, would apply to any other language: If every individual were to speak a tongue all of his own and so go off entirely by himself, the races would have been not merely scattered but quite annihilated. fn We must not fall into the old vice of reading into the scripture things that are not there. There is nothing said in our text about every man suddenly speaking a new language. We are told in the book of Ether that languages were confounded with and by the "confounding" of the people: "Cry unto the Lord," says Jared (Ether 1:34), "that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words" (italics added). The statement is significant for more than one thing. How can it possibly be said that "we may not understand our words"? Words we cannot understand may be nonsense syllables or may be in some foreign language, but in either case they are not our words. The only way we can fail to understand our own words is to have words that are actually ours change their meaning among us. That is exactly what happens when people, and hence languages, are either "confounded," that is, mixed up, or scattered. In Ether's account, the confounding of people is not to be separated from the confounding of their languages; they are, and have always been, one and the same process: the Lord, we are told (Ether 1:35-37), "did not confound the language of Jared; and Jared and his brother were not confounded . . . and the Lord had compassion upon their friends and their families also, that they were not confounded." That "confound" as used in the book of Ether is meant to have its true and proper meaning of "to pour together," "to mix up together," is clear from the prophecy in Ether 13:8, that "the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; . . . and they shall no more be confounded," the word here meaning mixed up with other people, culturally, linguistically, or otherwise.” (Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert/The World of the Jaredites/There Were Jaredites, Bookcraft, 1952, p. 165-6.)

 

In this reading of the text, the confounding of languages is related to the mixing (confounding) of different populations in the creation of this great tower in Babylon. From such a mixing of people who were attempting to build a temple to the heavens in the worship of false gods, the Lord removed some of his people for his own purposes.

 

The more historical/scientific understanding of the history of the world requires that we reconsider some of the popular ascriptions made to the language of the Jaredites. For instance, Thomas R. Valetta suggests:

 

“In the opening scenes of the book of Ether, the reader is presented with a people being driven out of a land, but promised that the Adamic language would not be taken from them.” (Thomas R. Valetta, “Jared and his Brother.” (Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Fourth Nephi through Moroni: From Zion to Destruction [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1995], 310.)

 

The ascription of Adamic language to the Jaredites is based on multiple assumptions that cannot even be demonstrated conclusively with the most generous reading of the scriptures. As Nibley has suggested, we must be careful not to read into the scriptures what is not there. First, the idea that the Jaredites spoke Adamic is predicated upon the idea that there was only a single language in the entire world until about 2000 BC. That assumption flies in the face of the best understanding of languages. Secondly, it also absolutely depends upon a particular reading of the story of Ether. When Ether 1:35 says that the Lord did not confound the language of Jared and his brother, this hypothesis makes the assumption that they previously spoke Adamic, and that not confounding the language means that they continued to speak Adamic. The logic of that cannot be demonstrated. Even were we to accept that there was a single instance in which languages were change, the only thing we could say for certain is that Jared and his brother (and their friends) all spoke a language they continued to understand. Since it would have to be true that anyone else whose language changed could also understand themselves and someone else, how would they know that a language had changed? As long as Jared and his brother spoke any language that they could both understand fluently, they would not be confounded.

 

As a last consideration of Ether, why is it that a record coming from the historical tower would still be couched in terms that make it so similar to the Biblical record? That answer can be found in the multiple translations of Ether, as well as the time-depth from Jared to Ether. We have Ether telling Jared’s story without any indication of original records, and then we have the minimum dual translation of Mosiah and Joseph Smith, both of whom had the Biblical text as a model. Certainly we know that the Biblical model influenced Joseph Smith, and there is no reason to assume that it would not have equally influenced Mosiah’s translation.

 

History: Since the publication of Hunter and Ferguson’s Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, it has become quite popular to cite the native historian Ixtilixochitl in support of the Book of Mormon accounts. The reason for such popularity is evident in the following citation from Ancient America and the Book of Mormon.

 

“And [the.Tulteca history tells] how afterwards men, multiply­ing made a very tall and strong Zacualli, which means the very high tower, in order to shel­ter themselves in it when the sec­ond world should be destroyed.

When things were at their best, their languages were changed and, not understand­ing each other, they went to dif­ferent parts of the world;" and the Tultecas, who were as many as seven companions and their wives, who understood their lan­guage among themselves, came to these parts, having first crossed large lands and seas, living in caves and undergoing great hardships, until they came to this land, which they found good and fertile for their habitation.

It is the common and general opinion of all the natives of all this Chichimeca land, which is now called new Spain, besides appearing in the demonstration of their pictures, that their ancestors came from Occidental parts, and all of them are now called Tultecas, Aculhuas, Mexi­canos; and other nations that are in this land say that they are of the lineage of the Chichimecas, and are proud of it; and the reason is, according as it appears in their histories, that the first king they had was called Chichi­mecatl, who was the one who brought them to this New World where they settled, who, as can be inferred, came from the great Tartary, and they were of those of the division of Babylon, as it is declared more at length in the history that is written.

And they say that they trav­eled for 104 years through dif­ferent parts of the world until they arrived at Huehue Tlapallan their country, which hap­pened in ce Tecpatl, for it had been 520 years since the Deluge had taken place, which are five ages.” (Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson. Ancient America and the Book of Mormon. Kolob Book Company. 1950, pp. 24-25.)

 

It is completely apparent to the novice that this statement provides an important correlation to the Book of Mormon. There is an account that is tied to a tower, called a Zacualli, a reference to the flood, and a reference to a migration across the ocean. Surely this is a remembrance of the events of the Book of Mormon? It is not. While Ixtlilxochitl is a native Aztec, and one of the remaining line of the kings of the Aztecs, while he has access to an important store of Aztec documents, he is a man who is born and educated after the Conquest and under the tutelage of the Spaniards. This description of events has obvious parallels to the authentic native traditions of the creation of the world, but if one is familiar with the versions of the story that are less affected by Christian history, the pieces of Ixtlilxochitl’s narrative are more easily pulled apart.

 

Ixtlilxochitl is extracting pieces of Biblical history from his Spanish training and mixing them into his native mythological heritage. He is relating events from the Mesoamerican myth commonly known as the legend of the suns, where there were a series of creations and destructions leading to the creation of the present world. In the Mesoamerican mythology, the cycles of creation and destruction are governed by various natural elements that are important to the native conception of the world. Therefore one creation is destroyed by a rain of fire, one by earthquakes, one by violent winds, and one by floods. Of all of these, Ixtlilxochitl’s account focuses only on the flood because there is a parallel in the Biblical text. He has the people saved inside the “zacualli.” The native texts do thypically have someone saved from the flood inside of some type of safety, but typically is a hollow tree, not the tower. Ixtilxochitl’s account shows some affinities to the native mythology, but it has clearly been altered to appear much more Christian. His accounts should not be used to support the Book of Mormon events. (see Brant Gardner. “Reconstructing the Ethnohistory of Myth: A Structural Study of the Aztec ‘Legend of the Suns.” Symbol and Meaning Beyond the Closed Community: Essays in Mesoamerican Ideas. Ed. Gary H. Gossen. Institute for Mesoamerican Studies, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1986, pp. 19-34).

 

When  Ixtlilxochitl continues with his “history,” he links the people coming from the tower as the people who are descendants of the Chichimeca. This is a people who entered the Mesoamerican scene after the close of the Book of Mormon, so his “history” mixes time periods from Jaredite times with events that are after the destruction of the Nephites. The Toltecs, for instance, are usually given time periods around 900 AD.

 

Ether 1:34

34  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.

 

Although we are introduced first to Jared through the genealogy, we hare introduced to the brother of Jared as the first actor in the events. As this story progresses we will see a division between functions of Jared and his brother. Jared is the king-line, and the brother of Jared is the priest accompanying his brother. Why does the Book of Mormon consistently refer to this great religious leader as the brother of Jared rather than by his own name? The best answer is that Ether is writing this history, and it the story as he has received it has traveled through the king-line of Jared. Thus it is Jared’s story as the king, and transmitted to his descendants as Jared’s story. To that king-line, the brother of Jared is peripheral, even though we can see that his faith was tremendous.

 

The name of the brother of Jared is never disclosed in the Book of Mormon itself, but was revealed later:

 

“At this place we record an authoritative statement regarding the name of the Brother of Jared. In the Juvenile Instructor, Volume 27, p. 282, one of the authors hereto, President George Reynolds of the First Council of Seventy, furnishes this information:

 

‘While residing in Kirtland, Elder Reynolds Cahoon had a son born to him. One day, while the Prophet Joseph Smith was passing by his door, he called the Prophet in and asked him to bless and name the baby. Joseph did so and gave the baby the name of Mahonri Moriancumer. When he had finished the blessing he laid the child upon the bed, and turning to the father, 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 nearby, 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 and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, edited and arranged by Philip C. Reynolds, 7 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955-1961], 6: 69.)

 

In this commentary, the brother of Jared will be referred to by that reference, not by the later revealed name. While it is interesting to know the name, the text’s insistence on the description “brother of Jared” rather than a personal name will be respected during discussions of the text.

 

History: Hunter and Ferguson key on the idea that the Jaredites were “large and mighty men” to make a connection to Ixtlilxochit’s “giants.” (Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson. Ancient America and the Book of Mormon. Kolob Book Company. 1950, pp. 46.) A sample of their too-enthusiastic use of the text comes from reading Ixtlilxochitl’s term quinametzin and a Maya word, which it is clearly Nahuatl. The etymology they give in Maya is therefore absolutely fanciful (Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson. Ancient America and the Book of Mormon. Kolob Book Company. 1950, pp. 45.) Unfortunately, Ixtililxochitl’s orthography is sometimes difficult to correlate to the actually nahuatl words, but it we can certainly see the –tzin ending as the standing nahuatl honorific. There is no root quiname-, but there is a quenami, which is the probable term meant in this case. Quenami means “in what manner, in what condition.” (Fray Alonso de Molina, Vocabulario en lengua Castellana y Mexicana y Mexicana y Castellana.. Editorial Porrua, S.A. 1970). The rough translation would be “the respected whatever-they-were.” Ixtlilxochitl is correct that native legends related giants as remnants of one of the destructions, but the connection between the Mesoamerican giant tradition and the Nephites continues to be wishful thinking at best and a distortion of the native texts at worst. (see Brant Gardner. “Reconstructing the Ethnohistory of Myth: A Structural Study of the Aztec ‘Legend of the Suns.” Symbol and Meaning Beyond the Closed Community: Essays in Mesoamerican Ideas. Ed. Gary H. Gossen. Institute for Mesoamerican Studies, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1986, pp. 33).

 

Ether 1:35

35  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.

Ether 1:36

36  Then Jared said unto his brother: Cry again unto the Lord, and it may be that he will turn away his anger from them who are our friends, that he confound not their language.

 

Notice that while the brother of Jared is the one to cry unto the Lord, it is at the instigation of Jared. As the man who would be the leader of his people, Jared must be seen as the one who initiates the actions in the record of his people. Therefore, even though we know that the brother of Jared is a man of great faith, we see Jared as the one to assigns his brother the task of crying unto the Lord.

 

Ether 1:37

37  And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon their friends and their families also, that they were not confounded.

Ether 1:38

38  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.

 

Redaction: One of the questions that is never asked of the book of Ether is why we have the parts that we do. Moroni told us in verses 3-4 that he is not giving us the entire story. He leaves out sections dealing with the creation and the story of Adam. We might assume that he begins with this story of Jared and his brother because that was the next in line, but that would be an insufficient reason. We could assume it is because there is the wonderful story of the faith of the brother of Jared, and certainly that is a powerful story. However, even with all of that, Moroni might have left out this earliest story of the Jaredites, or at least abbreviated the telling of it.

 

It is likely that we have this story precisely because it is such a direct parallel to the origin story of the Nephites. Both Mosiah and Moroni would certainly be impressed with the similarities in the stories of the founding fathers of these two peoples. They both begin in important cites-in-crisis in the Old World, and both come to the New World as a “promised land.” Since what we have is likely the translation by Mosiah, it would not be contrary to expectations that some of the language used to tell this story is actually due to the parallels that Mosiah would have seen. The story would have been the same, but in the way the story is told, the similarities would be accentuated. This could have happened either in Mosiah’s translation or in Moroni’s retelling.

 

In this verse we have some very interesting and specific parallels:

 

[and if he will drive us out of the land, cry unto him whither we shall go]: What was there about the confounding of peoples and tongues that required the Jaredites to be driven from the land? Jared may have seen the danger in remaining in that more than language might be confounded. Babel was, after all, in the process of building a temple to other gods. Jared might see the value in leaving so that they might worship as they knew they ought. However, there is nothing that we see in either this story or the story from the Bible that suggests that there was reason that Jared and his band should be driven from the land. There is, however, a good reason for the driving out if we see this as a parallel to the Nephite story, where there was more reason to seen the exodus from Jerusalem as forced by either the encroaching Babylonians, or by the events with Laban. The parallelism of begin driven out would appear to be a literary parallel more than a historical one.

 

[And who knoweth but the Lord will carry us forth into a land which is choice above all the earth?]: Certainly if they were to be driven out, the hope of going to a good place would be high on the list of options. However, once again this is so directly parallel to the Nephite foundational stories that the similarities may have been heightened in the telling (again either through Mosiah or Moroni, or both).

 

[And if it so be, let us be faithful unto the Lord, that we may receive it for our inheritance.]: This parallel is not only to the Nephites, but to all of Israel. God made a covenant with Israel that they would have a promised land. Both the Nephite and the Jaredite record emphasize the continued participation of the house of Israel in the covenant of the promised land, even when that land was not the same as for the rest of the House of Israel, and when the remnant of the House of Israel that was to occupy that promised land was significantly smaller than the main body of Israel.

 

Ether 1:39

39  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.

 

Redaction: The emphasis is on the command from Jared. This is certainly an authentic part of the Jaredite record. Even though we may suspect Mosiah and/or Moroni of heightening certain parallels, this emphasis on the priority of Jared over the brother of Jared is certainly authentic to the original text that Ether wrote.

 

Ether 1:40

40  And it came to pass that the Lord did hear the brother of Jared, and had compassion upon him, and said unto him:

Ether 1:41

41  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.

 

The command of the Lord comes to the brother of Jared. The command is to gather flocks and seeds. More than just flocks and seeds, it is reproductive flocks. Specifically they are told to bring male and female. If they brought whatever they had, there would likely have been both male and female. The reason for adding this admonition is to let them know that they will be on a colonizing mission. Given the crossing of the waters to come, there is probably some parallel reference intended here to the story of Noah.

 

Ether 1:42

42  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.

Ether 1:43

43  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.

 

Redaction: The Lord does command as was prefigured in verse 38 with Jared’s request. They are to leave and go to a choice land that they will have for their inheritance. These verses provide an interesting parallel to the story of Abraham:

 

Genesis 12:1-3

1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

 

The parallels begin even before the cited text, for the story that is immediately previous to Abraham in Genesis is the Tower of Babel followed by the intervening genealogy. After the Tower story, we have Abram who is commanded to “get thee out of they country.” Then Abram and his family leave, and are told that they will be a “great nation,” as well as a promise that there will a great increase in his seed. These elements are directly paralleled in the Jaredite story. The similarity of structure as well as the proximity to the Tower suggests that there is more than a coincidental link between the description of Abram and that of the departure of the Jaredites. However, this linkage could not have been original to Ether because the Jaredites left generations prior to Abraham. The form of this description is therefore due to someone who was influenced by the Genesis record. Again, we have Mosiah and/or Moroni as candidates for the particular phrasing of this passage.

 

Textual: There is no chapter break at this location in the 1830 edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Brant Gardner. Copyright 2002