Book of Ether

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The Book of Ether (/ˈ.θər/)[1] is one of the books that make up the Book of Mormon. The Book of Ether tells of an ancient people (the Jaredites), descendants of Jared and his companions who were led by God to the Americas shortly after the confusion of tongues and the destruction of the Tower of Babel.[2]

The title refers to Ether, a Jaredite prophet who lived at the end of the time period covered by the book. The time frame for the events in the book have been estimated as starting anywhere from 2600 BC[3] to 2100 BC and extending to some time beyond 600 BC, giving a date range of at least 1500 years,[4] but possibly as long as 2500 years.[5]

Contents[edit]

The Brother of Jared[edit]

The book begins with the journey of Jared and his people from the tumultuous wickedness of the Tower of Babel to "the promised land." The brother of Jared is described as "a large and mighty man ... highly favored of the Lord",[6] and seems to have been the spiritual leader of the group. Through his faith, he is given a prophetic vision of the history of the world, and inscribes prophetic writings that are to be "sealed up" until the Lord sees fit that they be revealed. The brother of Jared is directed by the Lord to build unpowered submarines, termed barges, to cross the ocean to the promised land. They are capable of maintaining an air supply underwater by opening a hole.[7]

Because the barges wouldn't allow fire or windows for light, the brother of Jared goes to a mountain with several molten stones; then God touches the stones and makes them shine. Because of the great faith of the brother of Jared, he could not be kept from beholding, and saw the finger of the Lord. He saw and was ministered unto by Jesus. He leads the people to successfully establish a righteous nation, but as Jared and his brother grow old their people desire that they appoint a king to govern in their stead. They anoint Orihah, the youngest son of Jared, to be king, but only after all the sons of the brother of Jared and all of Jared's older sons refuse to be king.

Kingdoms[edit]

In the days of Com many prophets predicted that the people would face destruction unless they repented, but the people didn't want to hear that and they sought to kill them, so they fled to Com for safety. He took payment in the form of prophecies and he found himself blessed for the rest of his life.

Com begat Shiblom and the brother of Shiblom, who made war upon each other, and this war involved the whole land. The brother of Shiblom executed all the prophets who brought bad news about the destruction of the people if the people refused to repent. Following that there was a great destruction, ". . .such an one as never had been known upon the face of the earth."

Shiblom was slain, so his son Ahah ascended to the throne. He did much iniquity, and the days of his reign were short. His son Ethem also did much iniquity but reigned a bit longer. Just as in the days of Com, many prophets came around predicting that God would wipe the people off the face of the Earth unless they repented. But the people wouldn't listen, so the prophets relented. Ethen did what was wicked before the Lord, and he begat a son Moron, and Moron did what was wicked before the Lord as well.

A descendant of Jared overthrew Moron and took his kingdom. Moron was put into jail, and there he begat Coriantor who lived in prison all of his days. Coriantor begat Ether in captivity. Then he died. But Ether could not be restrained because the Holy Spirit dwelt in him. So he came out of prison and preached to the people during the days of the reign of Coriantumr the king.

End of the Jaredites[edit]

Moroni commits to plates the tale of the destruction of the Jaredites. They had rejected the words of Ether, that their land was chosen of God for those who serve him, and it would be the place of the New Jerusalem that would come down from heaven and be the dwelling place of the Lord. And Ether said that the old Jerusalem would be built up again in Israel, and the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem would fulfil the covenant God made with Abraham.

Coriamtumr did not repent, and sought to capture Ether, but Ether fled to a cave and watched everything from afar, and recorded it.

A man named Shared rose up and gave battle to Coriamtumr, and brought him into captivity, but the sons of Coriamtumr released him. Coriamtumr came again after Shared with his armies, and they met in the valley of Gilgal, and Shared was driven to the plains of Heshlon. Then Shared turned and fought Coriamtumr, and drove him back to the valley of Gilgal.

The next time they fought in the valley of Gilgal, Coriantumr slew Shared, but Shared wounded Coriantumr in his thigh, which took him out of commission for two years. And there was a curse on the land so that when people set objects down at night, in the morning they disappeared. So everyone started keeping their worldly goods and weapons on their own person.

Then the brother of Shared, who was named Gilead, gave battle to Coriantumr, and was driven to the wilderness of Akish. But the brother of Shared waylaid a part of the army of Coriantumr because they were drunken. And he went to the land of Moron and placed himself on Coriantumr's throne. Meanwhile, Coriantumr stayed with his army in the field for two years.

Gilead's high priest murdered him as he sat upon the throne of Coriantumr. Then Lib was elevated to king just in time for Coriantumr to come back to Moron and give battle. Lib wounded him in the arm, but the army of Coriantumr drove the army of Lib to the shore of the sea.

But the army of Lib smote the army of Coriantumr and drove them through the wilderness of Akish to the plains of Agosh. On the plains of Agosh Coriantumr smote upon Lib until he died, but Lib's brother Shiz rose up in his place and gave battle, causing Coriantumr to flee.

Shiz chased after Coriantumr, burned down many cities, and slew women and children. And all the people in the land flocked into either the army of Shiz or the army of Coriantumr. The war had been so bloody that the whole face of the land was covered with dead bodies, and no one took the time to bury them because they were busy marching to slay more people. And the land stank.

Shiz pursued Coriantumr to the seashore and gave battle for three days. The people of Shiz grew frightened and fled to the land of Corihor, while Coriantumr pitched his tents in the valley of Shurr, and assembled his army on the hill of Comnor hard by.

In the battle Shiz smote upon Coriantumr with many wounds, and Coriantumr fainted from the loss of blood and was carried away. Casualties were so high on both sides that Shiz ordered his people not to pursue the armies of Coriantumr.

When Coriantumr recovered from his wounds, he remembered the words of Ether and saw that two million of his men had been slain already, and also their families, and he realized that the prophesies had been fulfilled to the letter. So Coriantumr wrote a message to Shiz that he ought to resign for the sake of the lives of his people. Shiz said no.

Then Shiz wrote a message to Coriantumr that if he game himself up, he would spare the lives of the people. Coriantumr said no. So the people of Coriantumr gave battle to the people of Shiz. But when Coriantumr saw that he was about to be defeated he fled from the armies of Shiz.

They came to the river Ripliancum, which was the greatest river in the land. In the morning the armies fought. Coriantumr was wounded in battle and fainted with the loss of blood. After that, the armies of Coriantumr drove the armies of Shiz southward to Ogath. The army of Coriantumr camped at the hill Ramah, which is also the hill Cumorah, where Mormon hid the plates of Nephi and where another battle would take place that would result in 240,000 deaths.

Four years were spent by both sides mustering all the people for the fight. Every single one who still lived would, except Ether, who would be an observer.

All the people in the land fought at the hill Ramah (or Cumorah). Men, women, and children were all armed with weapons and wore armor. Men killed women and children as well as other men. Mothers killed other mothers and their children. The children of Coriantumr killed the children of Shiz, and vice versa, so much did they hate each other.

After that day's fighting, Coriantumr wrote a message to Shiz to the effect that he didn't want to fight anymore, but Shiz didn't agree to stop. The next day they fought again until there were 69 folks with Shiz who were still alive, and 52 folks with Coriantumr. The next day after that they fought again until there were 32 folks with Shiz who were still alive, and 27 folks with Coriantumr.

Shiz and his men chased down Coriantumr and his men, and they fought until only Shiz and Coriantumr still lived. Then Coriantumr gained so many hits on Shiz that Shiz passed out from the loss of blood. Then Coriantumr smote off the head of Shiz. "And it came to pass that after he had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised upon his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died."

After Coriantumr slew Shiz, he wanders alone, the last Jaredite, for many years. Coriantumr is finally discovered by the Mulekites, another Book of Mormon people who come to the Americas sometime after the fall of Jerusalem in 600 B.C. Later, the people of Zarahemla also discover a large stone containing a history of the Jaredites that Mosiah was able to translate.[8]

In addition to the historical events outlined above, the Book of Ether contains several interpolations by Moroni,[9] regarding points of doctrine or lessons illuminated by the actions of the Jaredites, such as how faith works and the importance of following Jesus Christ to be blessed as a nation.

Parallels[edit]

The Book of Ether parallels in many ways the story of the Book of Mormon as a whole. A small group (Jared and his companions; Lehi and his family) separate themselves from a wicked society (the Tower of Babel; Jerusalem just prior to its destruction) and establish a new nation (the Jaredites; the Nephites) in "the promised land." In each case the group is divided following the death of the original leaders and the divisions contend for many generations. The fortunes of the nations are dependent upon their obedience to God—righteousness brings prosperity and wickedness brings destruction (sometimes delayed). Ultimately, the wicked prevail and the nation is destroyed.[citation needed]

These parallels are often emphasized in Mormonism as applicable to the present day. The Americas are still considered "the promised land" and the continued prosperity of the present nations are believed to be contingent on the righteousness of their people.[citation needed]

Provenance[edit]

According to the Book of Mormon, the Book of Ether was taken from a set of twenty-four plates written by Ether and discovered by the people of Limhi during the time of King Mosiah (son of King Benjamin).[10][11] The book was abridged by Moroni onto the golden plates[12][13] from which the Book of Mormon was later translated into English by Joseph Smith. However, according to Daniel H. Ludlow, it is not made absolutely clear in the Book of Mormon whether Moroni made his abridgment of the record of Ether from Mosiah's earlier translation (see Mosiah 28:1-20) or whether Moroni took his account directly from the plates of Ether--in which case he would have needed to translate the record as well as abridge it.[14]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ LDS.org: "Book of Mormon Pronunciation Guide" (retrieved 2012-02-25), IPA-ified from «ē´ther»
  2. ^ Ether 1:33
  3. ^ Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon p. 117, quoted in Church Educational System (1996, rev. ed.). Book of Mormon Student Manual (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), ch. 6.
  4. ^ Church Educational System (1996, rev. ed.). Book of Mormon Student Manual (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), ch. 48.
  5. ^ Randal Chase (2008). Making Precious Things Plain: A Book of Mormon Study Guide (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort) p. 127.
  6. ^ Ether 1:34
  7. ^ Ether 2:20
  8. ^ Omni 1:20-22
  9. ^ Ether 4, Ether 5, and Ether 12
  10. ^ Mosiah 8:9
  11. ^ Ether 1:2
  12. ^ Ether 1:2
  13. ^ Moroni 1:1
  14. ^ Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 178

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Event Diagram of the Book of Ether at Wikimedia Commons. This is a PDF Document summarizing the events within the Book of Ether. It may be used when studying or teaching the contents of the book to provide a visual time line of the events which occur. It may be freely downloaded and distributed.