BMGD #45: Ether 1-6

November 26, 2012 | 6 comments
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CHAPTER 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.

Irony:  we read Moroni’s account as one of ancient inhabitants, but there were people who were “ancient inhabitants” to him.  Are we supposed to be thinking that the actors might change, but the roles stay the same?  If so, what does this imply for our society?

What does the phrase “destroyed by the hand of the Lord” suggest to you about the forces of history?  Is it a universal rule, or only true in some instances?

Is “north country” significant here?  If so, in what way?

One thing that is apparent from this verse is that Moroni’s goal was not to create a suspenseful account–what with him telling us in the first words out of his mouth that these people would be destroyed.  So if suspense wasn’t his goal, what was it and how does blabbing the end of the story at the beginning help him realize his goal?

 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.

In what ways might it be significant that this is “mine [=Moroni's] account”?

Is the number 24 significant here?  Might it be symbolic?

Is it significant that he says he “takes” his account?  What does that mean?  Maybe excerpts instead of a more redacted text?

Is the fact that these plates were found by the people of Limhi significant?  In other words, does the story of the people of Limhi impact how we should be understanding this story?

Does Moroni come up with the name “Book of Ether”?  Or was the name already there?  Or what?

General question:  Is there any significance to the fact that it is Moroni and not Mormon (who is responsible for the abridgment and inclusion of  the overwhelming bulk of the record) who is giving us the Book of Ether?  Remember that way back in Mosiah, Mormon said that he would include the record, but apparently never did.

Mosiah 28:17 says that this record was already translated.  Is he re-translating it here?  If so, why?

 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—

Doesn’t this verse kind of break your heart?  Because I know that I would be thrilled to have another version of the creation story!

I find the “I suppose” interesting, as if he wasn’t entirely sure about it.

Think about the Pearl of Great Price, where we get two more versions of the creation account.  One suspects, after reading this verse, that if Moroni had been in charge, he would have left them on the cutting room floor.  What do you make of this?

Note that Moroni highlights the creation and tower here, but doesn’t even mention  other items that were presumably in the record, such as the Cain and Abel story.  Why do you think he mentioned these items in particular?

Why would you tell an audience that you weren’t going to tell them something?  (In other words, why even mention it?)

Why do you think Adam is mentioned separately from “the creation of the world” in this verse?

Why do you think he calls it “the great tower” and not “the tower of Babel” or “the wicked tower” or whatever?

What effect does “children of men” have on the reader that another phrase might not?

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.

To which account is Moroni referring here?  Do we have that account?  Does the end of the verse sound like an invitation to find it or what?

Does “they are had upon the plates” mean that the brass plates had or did not have the same account from early Genesis that we have?

Again, why is he making the decision not to repeat material here (because we already have it) when so much of his father’s record repeats material that we already have (such as Isaiah).

Does this verse imply that “the full account” is or is not on the plates?  (I think you could read this verse either way.)

Is it possible to get “a full account” of the creation story?

In this verse, does “the plates” mean the brass plates or the Jaredite record?

 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.

This is now the THIRD verse that Moroni has devoted to telling us what he isn’t going to tell us.  This is not normal behavior.  One almost suspects that Moroni is toying with us.  I’m sensing that the point is made:  this record is incomplete.

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

Given that we’ll later find out that bJared wrote some of the record, what does it mean to say here that Ether wrote this record?  (My thought is that modern notions of authorship don’t line up perfectly with how the BoM understood that term.)

Here’s one way of visualizing the book of Ether.

7 Coriantor was the son of Moron.

8 And Moron was the son of Ethem.

9 And Ethem was the son of Ahah.

10 And Ahah was the son of Seth.

11 And Seth was the son of Shiblon.

Starting on p4, this article considers whether the text might be in error here.

12 And Shiblon was the son of Com.

13 And Com was the son of Coriantum.

14 And Coriantum was the son of Amnigaddah.

15 And Amnigaddah was the son of Aaron.

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

Note “descendant” and not “son” in the first half of this verse.

17 And Hearthom was the son of Lib.

18 And Lib was the son of Kish.

19 And Kish was the son of Corom.

20 And Corom was the son of Levi.

21 And Levi was the son of Kim.

22 And Kim was the son of Morianton.

23 And Morianton was a descendant of Riplakish.

Note “descendant” and not “son” in this verse.

24 And Riplakish was the son of Shez.

25 And Shez was the son of Heth.

26 And Heth was the son of Com.

27 And Com was the son of Coriantum.

28 And Coriantum was the son of Emer.

29 And Emer was the son of Omer.

30 And Omer was the son of Shule.

31 And Shule was the son of Kib.

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

Interesting comments on the genealogy here.

So the original writer of this account, Ether, was about 28 generations (plus: do you take “descendant” to mean “I skipped a few generations here” or “well, he was actually his uncle; he couldn’t give the record to his son because his son was a total waste of humanity”?) removed from the subject of this account.  So is Moroni making the point that we are dealing with an oral tradition that was only written down late in the game?  (While scholars have found that oral traditions can be far more stable than the average modern reader might assume, it is also fair to say that the BoM writers are fairly obsessed with accurately keeping a written record, so I can almost hear Moroni’s dismay at the record-keeping practices of the Jaredites here.)

From the very first verse, we are encouraged to see parallels between the Nephite and the Jaredite experience.  But then, we are introduced right away to three huge differences between the Nephite and the Jaredite record:  (1) the Jaredite record won’t cover material that we already have, (2) the Jaredite record will have long genealogies, and (3) the Jaredite record was apparently an oral record for a very long time.  What is the reader supposed to conclude from these differences?

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.

How is Jared’s situation the same as or different from Lehi’s?

Webster 1828 “confound”:

1. To mingle and blend different things, so that their forms or natures cannot be distinguished; to mix in a mass or crowd, so that individuals cannot be distinguished.

2. To throw into disorder.

3. To mix or blend, so as to occasion a mistake of one thing for another.

4. To perplex; to disturb the apprehension by indistinctness of ideas or words.

5. To abash; to throw the mind into disorder; to cast down; to make ashamed.

6. To perplex with terror; to terrify; to dismay; to astonish; to throw into consternation; to stupify with amazement.

7. To destroy; to overthrow.

What does “confound” mean in this verse?  (Does v34 help you understand what the word means?) What’s interesting about the first definition from Webster is that it would imply that the people had multiple different languages before the tower incident and that those languages were blended as a result of the incident.  (Which of course is the opposite of how we usually read that story.)

How literally do you interpret the “confounding” of the languages?

General question:  what will it mean to Jaredite history that their founding story has its roots in the tower of Babel?

Crazy speculation alert:  this record never uses the word “Babel.”  Could it be an event different than the one in our Bible?  (That might actually make some sense of Moroni’s intro re “I’m not going to tell you stuff you already have.”)

Does this account encourage you to read the story of Babel differently?  (I think it does.  You would read the Babel account and think there was no one good there.  But here we learn of a “righteous remnant,” kind of like Rahab.)

The scattering business at the end of the verse is interesting, because clearly the Jaredites were scattered, but it doesn’t seem to have been a bad thing for them.  Which raises the question of how the wrath of the Lord fits into all of this.

Thoughts on towers here.

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.

Skousen reads “therefore Jared” here.

And thus begins the weirdness:  why aren’t we given the name of the brother of Jared?  And why does the story sort of make Jared out to be the main character, when really his brother is the main character?  (Or is he?)

Can you learn anything interesting by comparing Jared and his brother and Nephi and his brothers?

Why doesn’t Jared just pray?  Why does he ask his brother to pray?  (There are maybe some interesting resonances here with when Nephi asks his father to pray about how they should find food instead of just praying about it himself.)

Why are we told that bJared (that’s what I’m calling him) was large and mighty?  Why/how is that relevant?

Why was bJared highly favored of the Lord?  Because he was large and mighty?  What does it mean to be highly favored of the Lord?

If we think someone is highly favored of the Lord, should we get them to do our praying for us?

V33 made it sound like the confounding and scattering where a done deal, but this verse either makes it sound as if it hadn’t happened yet, or Jared thought bJared could pray hard enough to undo it.  Which do you think is the more likely scenario?  What are the implications either way?

If the Lord has just announced in his wrath that’s he’s on a confounding and scattering binge, then why would Jared think it was OK to try to change that decree?  Are there implications here for how we think about what the Lord does?  What prayer does?  When is it OK to ask the Lord to change his mind?

Is the implication here that Jared, bJared, and their people were or were not guilty of the sin of trying to build the tower of Babel?

Did Jared think that the “confounding” would mean that no one could understand anyone else?  If so, was this or was this not accurate?

Why was “confounding” of languages an appropriate consequence for what happened at Babel?

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.

I’m really curious about the dynamic of the relationship between Jared and bJared:  on the one hand, bJared is presented to us at the spiritual giant but on the other hand, he takes orders from Jared (and shows no initiative).  What are we to learn from this?

Note that bJared prays but the Lord has compassion not on him but on Jared.  What’s going on here?  Why didn’t the Lord have compassion on bJared? (I’m wondering if bJared is supposed to be a Christ figure here, where his work benefits someone else.)

The word “compassion” sort of surprises me here.  Why is that the Lord’s reaction?

Is the point of the story that any person from the Babel experience who had bothered to pray earnestly would have been spared?  That’s a pretty interesting was to read it.  It is often problematic (to me, anyway) to read these OT stories where entire groups of people are punished.  This story makes me wonder if the subtext might not be:  the only people who actually ended up being punished were those who chose not to make a connection to the Lord.

What do you make of the idea that the Lord is shown changing his mind (or, at least, the plan) in this verse?  What does that suggest about the Lord and his word?  What does it suggest about the power of prayer?

Does this verse imply that confounding the languages was an act without compassion?

Does this verse imply that the lack of confounding only applied to Jared and bJared (and not their families)? (See the next verse for more on this–it definitely implies that it didn’t apply to their friends, but doesn’t really settle the family issue, I don’t think.)

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.

It is hard to avoid the impression that bJared is a puppet for Jared.  Why isn’t bJared managing his own prayer relationship?  Why isn’t Jared praying for himself?  In other words, why is bJared an intermediary for Jared and the Lord?  Are there other examples of this in scripture?  Is there anything like this today?  Anything we should be learning from this?  (Brant Gardner kind of [not quite] suggests that if the record was kept through Jared’s line, his people would have wanted to show him to be the leader, and therefore he is shown instigating the prayers, although perhaps he really didn’t and bJared was the actual instigator here.  That sounds plausible to me, although I am sure some people would be uncomfortable finding that kind of inaccuracy in the record.)

What do you learn about anger from this verse?  Anything here that is relevant to your own life?

“Friends” isn’t a concept that we hear a lot about in the scriptures.  Why is it mentioned here?

Why does Jared ask about friends and not their families?

Why is the request for the non-confounding of the friends’ language an entirely separate thing from the request to not confound their language?

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.

Note that in the last verse, Jared did NOT mention families, but in this verse, the Lord adds “families” to “friends.”  What do you conclude from this?

Do you read this section to say that the Lord would NOT have had compassion on them if bJared hadn’t prayed for them?  If so, what conclusions do you draw from this about prayer, the Lord, and our relationships with each other?

Is it significant that we are talking about _them_, not their languages, being confounded in this verse?

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.

Note that, unlike when he requested that their language not be confounded, the request is different this time:  he doesn’t seem to mind being driven out of the land–he just wants to know where they are supposed to go.  Why do you think he doesn’t ask to stay?

The question in this verse seems like one of those wink-and-a-nod things to me.  Is that the best way to read it?  Why would Jared assume they’d get sent somewhere awesome when the sending was a manifestation of the Lord’s wrath?

The last sentence strikes me as a little weird, as if their plan to be faithful was conditional on getting an awesome gift.  Maybe I am over-reading this.

We’ve got other scriptures where people are sent to awesome lands:  Moses and the children of Israel, Lehi and company.  How are those stories similar to and different from this one?

Notice how in the middle of this verse, Jared shifts from telling bJared what to pray for to kind of chatting with bJared.  What’s going on here?

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.

Once again, this is a weird set-up.  Note the emphasis on Jared as instigator. Why isn’t Jared praying his own prayers?  (And why isn’t this explained to us?)

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

Now the last time, the Lord had compassion on Jared (even though it was bJared who was praying).  Why does the Lord have compassion on bJared this time?

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.

Skousen reads “family” instead of the first time that “families” is used.

So obvious resonances with the creation story and Noah’s ark and Lehi’s journey.  What can we learn from the comparison?

Once again, I am struck by the “friends” thing.  What might we learn from this?

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.

Does this mean that bJared is called to lead this group?  In what ways is he like (and not like) Moses and Lehi?

Note that what they had actually asked for was to know where they would go, but what they get instead is the Lord to lead them.  What might we learn from this?

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.

Skousen reads “and this I will do” instead of “thus” here.

Do you take the “none greater” as hyperbole or more literally?

Do you think it is kind of weird that bJared gets this big blessing for praying when it seems like it was Jared who put him up to it?

Brant Gardner:

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. Citation

CHAPTER 2

1 And it came to pass that Jared and his brother, and their families, and also the friends of Jared and his brother and their families, went down into the valley which was northward, (and the name of the valley was Nimrod, being called after the mighty hunter) with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female, of every kind.

Why did we need to know the name of the valley?

2 And they did also lay snares and catch fowls of the air; and they did also prepare a vessel, in which they did carry with them the fish of the waters.

Why was this included in the record?

Why did they need to bring fish?

Brant Gardner:

The logistics of moving a breeding population of multiple live fish is tremendous. There is little chance that the Jaredites could have arranged such a wondrous feat, nor that there would be a real necessity for it. It is most probable that this is not really a historical statement, but rather a symbolic one that continues to connect the Jaredites to the story of Noah and the ark. Citation

Is this just pragmatic (long trip, need food) or is something symbolic going on here:  a new creation?  Noah’s ark?

3 And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.

Every single word in this account was in another language, but we don’t feel that because we are reading a translation.  But then we get “deseret.”  Why was this word included?  (Possibly there are some parallels with the handful of times in the gospels when we are told the Aramaic words that Jesus used.)

Info on bees here.

Article on “deseret” here.

4 And it came to pass that when they had come down into the valley of Nimrod the Lord came down and talked with the brother of Jared; and he was in a cloud, and the brother of Jared saw him not.

Why was it important that bJared not see the Lord?  (Especially since bJared will, famously, see the Lord later.)

5 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel.

It kind of sounds like they had no idea where they were going–that they were supposed to gather their stuff, meet the Lord in the wilderness, and get more directions then.  I kind of like that picture of them operating by faith but not perfect knowledge of the plan.

How literally do you read “never had man been”?  (Like anyone could even know that . . .) Might it be symbolic?  If so, of what?  (I’m thinking there is a lot of “new creation” imagery here.)

Parallels to the children of Israel wandering in the desert?  Differences?  (I’m intrigued by the fact that they have brought natural stuff with them, not the plunder of the Egyptians.  What might that signify?)

Why don’t we learn what the Lord told them as he talked with them?  (Or is he only giving directions.)

Note that the Lord is talking with “them,” not just bJared.

The Lord is like a human (well, not human exactly, but you know what I mean) Liahona in this story.

Of all of the different ways that the Lord could have given them traveling directions, why do you think it was done this way?

6 And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord.

 

How does this compare with Noah’s experience? With Nephi’s boat-building experience?

Later on, we have all this drama about how to get air and light into the boats. Why isn’t that an issue here?

7 And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people.

What do you see in this verse that is relevant to your own life?

8 And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.

What does “wrath” have to do with this?  It doesn’t sound very wrath-ful to me.  Is it related to the wrath after the tower in the last chapter?

Both the wrath and the “from that time” make it sound as if there were previous occupants of this land.  Do you think that that is the best way to read this verse?

Notice how references to wrath bookend this verse.

What does “swept off” convey to you?

Thinking about the word “serve” in this verse . . .

9 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.

Who is the “we” here?  This strikes me as the kind of editorial aside that Mormon used to put in; is this one from Ether? Moroni?  Or what?

Why do you think the narrator felt the need to interrupt the story with this aside at this point?  What does it suggest to you about how you should be interpreting the story? If we read this as Moroni’s editorial aside, it makes clear that the reason that Moroni was telling this story–including it in the record instead of any one of a number of other stories he might have told–is because it was so eerily similar to the experience of his own people in terms of being destroyed for unrighteousness.  That’s why he jumps into the story with the “we can behold” now, as opposed to at some other moment.  (So for all we might want to make of creation or Noah or Lehi parallels, those are not the points where Moroni jumps in to say “and thus we see that . . . “)

How can you behold a decree?

What does it mean for a land to be a land of promise?  (Are all lands lands of promise or not?)

Does “land of promise” mean “you have to serve God or leave,” or are these two separate things?

Kind of interesting that when you say “land of promise,” it sounds like a good thing, but when you say “if you don’t serve God, you are outta here,” it sounds a tad less positive.  I’m wondering if we take “promise” to mean “I promised you something good” when it means something more like “there are strings attached–promises you have to keep–here.”

What does the word “ripened” suggest to you about iniquity?

10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.

How does this verse differ from the verse before it?  What is the purpose of the repetition?

Is “this land” any different from any other land?  If so, how?

Why does God wait for the iniquity to fill up before he sweeps people off?

I like how Brant Gardner points out that the promise attaches to the land, not to the people.  (Perhaps some fertile ground to think about stewardship of the land here.)

11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.

Skousen reads “fulness be come” here.

To what does “this” refer in this sentence?   (I’m thinking the Jaredite record, but maybe something else? Gardner suggests the entire BoM, but I don’t know how you could prove that.)

I think this verse is saying:  you get the same deal that the Jaredites got.  Is that the best way to read this verse?  If so, what difference should it make in our lives?

Who is the “you” in this verse:  the modern reader of the BoM or someone else?

No offense, but if the brutal enslavement of Africans, genocide of Native Americans, etc., were not enough to fill up God’s wrath to kick out people from “this land,” what’s it gonna take and why should we even worry about it?

12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.

About that bondage thing again . . . explain to me how slavery of Africans on the American continent fits in here?

I find it interesting that one of the developments of OT theology is that the people come to understand that their God is not a tribal god but a god without geographic limits.  Here, there is a sense in the BoM that almost the opposite is happening.  Not to suggest that Christ is limited to a geographical area, but rather that he is “the God of the land” in some sense.

What does “choice” mean in this verse?

What is the “land” here?  All of North and South America?  The US?  A small patch where the Jaredites and Nephites actually lived?  What?

Are bondage and captivity two different things or two ways of saying the same thing?

What does the last phrase (“who hath been manifested . . .”) mean?  Is the point that Jesus is manifested to us through these writings?  If so, that is kind of interesting because, right before the narrator/editor interrupted, Jesus was manifested to the people in a cloud and guided them, and here we are being told how he can be manifested to us.

13 And now I proceed with my record; for behold, it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. 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.

Who is the “I” in this verse?  Ether?  Moroni?  Is the “I” significantly different from the “we” of the previous verses?

What is the great sea that divides the land?  Is the reader supposed to know what this is?

Is the pitching of tents supposed to remind us of Lehi’s party?

Is “Moriancumer” supposed to be significant?  If it isn’t, then why aren’t we given the name of the place?  If it is, then why aren’t we given some clues to the meaning of the name?

Note the 3x references to dwelling in tents.  Why?  Why?  Why?

So, was this like a four-year beach vacation, or are they there for a reason?  (I like to read in to the story the idea that they knew they were supposed to be there, but they didn’t know what was supposed to happen next, so they just waited patiently on the Lord.  I think this is a lot like real life, but isn’t a dynamic that is often obvious to us when it happens in the scriptures.  A lot of life is just waiting.)  Or maybe, thinking about the next verse, the issue is that they weren’t being righteous.  If that’s the case, then this verse is pretty subtle.  Maybe someone didn’t want to share the dirty laundry.

14 And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.

Skousen reads “the four years” here.

Why three hours?  Symbolic?

Why four years?  Symbolic?

Are there other times when the Lord appears to people to chastise them?

So during this time of backsliding on the part of bJared, the narrative has consisted of Moroni (probably) hoping in to the story to make a point about the land.  One almost wonders if this was a bit of indirection, perhaps a distraction so Moroni wouldn’t feel the need to focus on what bad things were happening to bJared and his people.  A second possibility is that there is some tie to Moroni’s thoughts about the land and the fact that bJared backslides in what is clearly not the promised land, although I’m not quite sure where to go with that idea, except to say that hanging out on the beach for four years was apparently not conducive to righteous living.

I’m wondering if there is something about bJared forgetting to pray being related to the fact that, up to this point, bJared only prayed when Jared told him to.  Are these two things related and, if so, what should we learn from it?  I’m thinking there might be a point here about bJared’s lack of initiative; maybe he was the kind of guy who would have been happy to stay on the beach forever.

It seems kind of weird that, if you forgot to pray, the Lord would personally visit you.  Why does that happen here?

What does “remembered not” mean?  Surely he didn’t literally forget.  I’m thinking it’s that “didn’t prioritize” meaning.  How/why would this have happened to bJared?

I’m wondering how the “forgot to pray” bit fits in with the “spent four years at the beach” part.  You’d think they would have realized that the beach was not their final destination (right?  or did they think the beach was the promised land?) and would have realized that they needed to pray.  So why didn’t bJared pray?  Maybe they were content there, and didn’t want to risk being told to travel (unpleasant in itself) to a less pleasant locale.  Maybe they stopped praying because they were afraid of new info that they didn’t want to hear.

It is pretty hard to imagine someone who had had prayers vividly answered (“Please don’t scramble our language!”  “OK.” “Please tell us where to travel.”  “I will personally be your GPS.” [Insert obligatory joke about being cloud-based here.]) forgetting to pray.  How does this happen and what are we to learn from it?

Henry B. Eyring:

The numbers in that sad account are keys to the brother of Jared’s problem and to the Master’s solution: four years and three hours. The brother of Jared, and his caravan of people and animals, had been stopped four years in a journey they knew was to take them over many waters to a promised land. And the Master took not a minute, not five minutes, but three hours of His time to rebuke inattention. What do those four years and three hours show us about barriers and gateways to learning? To me, the importance of the four years stems from the fact that the Jaredites were in a time of inaction during a journey that began with the chaos of the Tower of Babel, then swept across the uncharted wastes of Asia and would, following the Lord’s rebuke, take them through the depths of hurricane-tossed oceans to a land choice above all others—all under the Lord’s direction. . . .

How could Moriancumer—a man able to accept his brother’s counsel, a man blessed by the Master’s personal attention for his mighty prayer, a man strong enough to lead people and flocks of every kind across trackless wastes and seas and finally reach the edge of the great ocean—how could he pitch his tent and, four years later, be chastened for forgetting the Lord? . . . Can’t you almost hear the sighs of relief as the burdens are set down, the flocks are let to feed in the coastal plain, the tents are pitched, and the place is named for the great leader who brought them safely through? The scriptures don’t tell us why the people “remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord” (Ether 2:14) during those years, but our own experience may give us a clue. When we face an unknown wilderness or a strange sea, which may for us be a move to a new place or mortal sickness in a loved one, our hearts soften and we beg for blessings and weep when they’re given. But when it’s harder to see the needs or the blessings—when our tents are pitched—it’s easy to forget the Master and think more of the part our own courage and exertions may have contributed. Sometimes those around us make that forgetfulness more likely by praising us and attributing the victory to us. Most of us spend a good part of our lives in perils so nearly invisible that self-reliance comes easily, and accepting counsel from brothers, or from God, comes hard. Citation

D. Todd Christofferson:

 Because he so willingly responded to this severe rebuke, the brother of Jared was later given the privilege of seeing and being instructed by the premortal Redeemer (see Ether 3:6–20). The fruit of God’s chastisement is repentance leading to righteousness (see Hebrews 12:11). Apr 2011 GC

15 And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him. And the Lord said unto him: I will forgive thee and thy brethren of their sins; but thou shalt not sin any more, for ye shall remember that my Spirit will not always strive with man; wherefore, if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And these are my thoughts upon the land which I shall give you for your inheritance; for it shall be a land choice above all other lands.

We aren’t often told about the evil or the repentance of leaders.  Why are we told that about bJared here?

Is it “evil” not to pray?  Or is this boilerplate?  I think we usually consider sins of omission not to be evil, but I am wondering if this verse should encourage us to re-think that position.

What happened to Jared?  How come he wasn’t encouraging bJared to pray for guidance during their years on the beach?

What sins were bJared’s brethren guilty of?  Is this a leadership fail or a community fail?

Is asking a mortal not to sin anymore realistic, or what?

So I read this verse to say that bJared was not “fully ripe” in sin.  Is that right?

References to the Lord’s “thoughts” are pretty rare.

What exactly are the Lord’s thoughts that are referred to in this verse?

How does the “upon the land” work here?  They aren’t at the land of their inheritance, so how does the Lord’s comment fit into this?

I suspect that there is some relationship between bJared neglecting to pray and the fact that, at the beginning of the story, it is always Jared who tells bJared to pray, but I’m not quite sure where to go with the idea after that.  (It would make more sense if Jared had died and now bJared is in new territory, having to initiate prayer on his own, but that isn’t how the story goes.)

16 And the Lord said: Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord. And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water.

Note that the Lord seems more than willing to give bJared a second chance, even after the “evil” he had done and the very fundamental thing he had forgotten.  There is a subtle testimony here that repentance is real.

Why “barge” and not the more common “boat”?

Webster 1828 “barge”:

1. A pleasure boat; a vessel or boat of state, furnished with elegant apartments, canopies and cushions, equipped with a band of rowers, and decorated with flags and streamers; used by officers and magistrates.

2. A flat-bottomed vessel of burthen, for loading and unloading ships.

 I like the idea of following up repentance with a command to “go to work.”  It is time for bJared to move on.

What does it mean for a barge to be “light upon the water”?  In what ways is a fowl light on the water?  How might this have differed from the boats that they (or Ether?  or Moroni?) were familiar with?

How does this verse relate to the previous incident of chastisement-for-not-praying?  In other words, should bJared have prayed earlier to know what to do (and been told the message of this verse as a result), but was just hanging out at the beach instead?  If that’s the case, why didn’t the Lord just tell him what to do earlier?  (Surely leaders sometimes receive revelation that they weren’t asking for, right?  Or wrong?  How interesting the world would be if we looked at history and the current state of things not as “reflecting the Lord’s will” but rather “reflecting the answers the Lord gave to the questions that were asked.”)  What’s the message for us here?  Is the Lord waiting to tell us stuff until we ask?  What precisely should we be asking for?

Note:  if these barges are “after the manner” of barges that they have already built, as I think this verse suggests, then why is air and light going to be a problem now but it wasn’t before?

Why can’t they just use the barges they already have if the design is the same?  (Maybe the four years saw their decay.)

Why would they build “small” barges?  Wouldn’t you want large-ish ones?

How does the “light upon the water” part relate to the fact that they will go under the water?

17 And they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish.

Why is the construction of the boats worth mentioning in this really long verse?

So far, the barges have been compared to fowl and dishes, and maybe a tree, depending on how you read.

How do you figure that door shut?

Interesting that this material was included in a narrative where, as Moroni tells us, he left out that bit about the creation and fall.  Why do you think Moroni chose to include this information?

18 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me.

What do you learn about prayer from this verse?

This is the first time that bJared prays without Jared telling him to.  (I’m curious as to why Jared has dropped out of the story [for the most part] here.)

19 And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish.

Is this just all pragmatic logistics, or was all the description of “tightness” meant to set up the idea that it was too dark inside the barge?

Article on the symbolism of “light” here.

I’m curious about the relationship between light and steering here.  Is the only reason that he wants light so he can steer?  It seems that this is reason #1 why ships have decks.  Why doesn’t this one seem to have a deck that they can use and steer from?  Maybe the point is that he assumed he would be steering, but the Lord will be steering.  (But then why give them light?)

It seems weird for him to bring up the steering issue first when the breathing issue seems like a bigger deal.  Why does he do this?

(Did ancient people get that they needed fresh air to breathe?  How would they have known that?)

I think there’s a way to read this where you can see bJared as kind of faithless:  I mean, did he really think that the Lord gave him a barge blueprint that would result in them dying of asphyxiation shortly before they hit the rocks because they couldn’t steer?  Shouldn’t he have assumed that the Lord would have answers to these challenges that would be revealed to him in good time?  How is this _not_ complaining or questioning the wisdom of the Lord?

I think it might be fair to see bJared as passive earlier in this story, since he only ever does anything when Jared tells him to.  But here, he’s pretty aggressive in asking the Lord for help, and asking without Jared ordering him to pray.

20 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood.

So I’m not a boat designer, but . . . a hole in the bottom?  Really?  I’m thinking it would have been obvious to any writer or reader (including bJared) who had so much as played with a leaf in a puddle as a kid that this was not likely to float.  So how are we supposed to be reading this–are we supposed to assume that this is going to be a miracle?  (And, if so, then why the hole in the bottom and not just, you know, magic air?  Or just air from the hole in the top?  Why not two holes on the top?)  Or is there a better way to read this?

Hugh Nibley suggests that they weren’t getting air from the outside, but from a chamber where it was stored.  The holes are not holes in the boat, but in the air chamber.  That’s . . . clever but weird.

When he says “unstop the hole,” does that mean the one on top or the one on the bottom?  Or both (but I kind of doubt that since it is singular)?

But if they stop the hole, then how can they continue to get air?

Does the word “flood” here tie the story to Noah’s flood?  If so, how is it similar and different and what can you learn from comparing it?

21 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did so, according as the Lord had commanded.

So why weren’t the holes part of the original plan that the Lord had given to bJared?  What are we to learn from this?

22 And he cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?

Wouldn’t the holes (or at least the one on top) have provided light?

Why isn’t there a deck?

Does bJared kind of come across as a whiner by asking this again when he has every reason to suspect that the Lord will help him figure it out?

Is it significant that bJared’s first question was about light and second was about air but the Lord addressed the air problem before the light problem?

23 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.

Why does the Lord ask bJared what to do instead of telling him what to do?  Are we to learn something from this?  Why didn’t the Lord ask bJared what to do about the air problem and just gave him the solution?

Info on windows here.

Why doesn’t he give him an actual reason why he can’t use fire, the way he gives him a reason that he can’t have windows?  (Is the issue that they won’t have enough oxygen to have a fire, but the Lord doesn’t want to drag bJared through modern century chemistry in order to explain that?)

Note that the Lord asks him what he wants, but then takes two options off of the table.  Why might he have set it up this way?

Henry B. Eyring:

The Lord knew uncounted ways to light the ships, but he took time to define the problem, and then offered help only after Moriancumer had designed the solution. The brother of Jared did all he could to bring it into being and defined precisely what remained for the Master to do. Citation

24 For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.

What should you learn from the whale comparison?  Are we supposed to be thinking about Jonah?

In what ways will they be like a whale?

Why call waves “mountains”?

How is the Lord’s sending out of the rains and floods relevant here?

It sounds like they will be a sort of submarine.  Is this like or unlike Nephi’s boat?  Why does the Lord send them this way?  And how are those airholes going to work underwater?

This is sounding fairly mythic to me . . . how literally do you read this?  Is there any relationship to the mythic qualities of this story and the fact that it was apparently an oral tradition for 28 generations?

25 And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?

Interesting that the last verse showed the Lord in control of the seas but this verse shows the Lord preparing them “against” these things.

Why waves/winds/floods?

Again, how does this journey compare with Lehi’s?

Are there normally “floods” on the seas?  What’s going on here?

Again, why is the Lord asking him instead of telling him?

Note that there was not originally a chapter break here.

CHAPTER 3

1 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared, (now the number of the vessels which had been prepared was eight) went forth unto the mount, which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass; and he did carry them in his hands upon the top of the mount, and cried again unto the Lord, saying:

Notice how awkward the placing of the note about what the number of vessels is.  Might there be a reason for this?  (There’s an odd parallel in the Mark 5:42, right after Jesus has raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead:  “And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.”  That one turns out to be significant because her age seems to be symbolic. So I wonder if the same thing is happening here.)

Thinking about how this verse relates to the one before it (so ignoring the chapter break), it is odd that bJared doesn’t answer the Lord’s question, but goes off to make these things.  Why might he have done that?  Wasn’t it kind of presumptuous not to run his plan by the Lord first?

Is the location of a mount, or mount Shelem in particular, significant?   (This is the only reference to Shelem.)

Does “because of its exceeding height” explain why they called it “Shelem” or why he went there?

Is 16 symbolic?  Is it significant that there are 2x as many stones as vessels, or is that just a logistics thing?

Notice that the “barges” are now called “vessels.”  Is that significant?

Can something be “white” and “clear” at the same time?

If I am following, he makes these glass stones on the mount but then goes to the top of the mount with them in his hands.  Is this journey significant?

Why “carry them in his hands”?  Wouldn’t that have been obvious?

How do these stones compare to the Liahona?  The Urim and Thummim?

So “molten” is a very rare word in the scriptures, but it is the word used for how Nephi got his tools to build his boat back in 1 Nephi 17:16.  Is there a parallel here?  How do the stones and Nephi’s tools compare?

More on glowing stones here.

Remember that all this action started because the people were going to build a tower to get to heaven.  Here, it appears that bJared climbs to a height to–what?–be closer to the Lord?  Because it is sacred space and temple-like?  So are these two things related?  (Is the idea that bJared does this “in nature” and not on a human-created structure?)

2 O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.

Was bJared right to worry that the Lord would be angry with him?  If he was, why didn’t he get permission for his scheme first?

What weakness is bJared thinking about here, or is this just boilerplate?  The only weakness we know about is when he forgot to pray–is that what he’s talking about here?  Or is there something related to procuring the 16 stones that conveys weakness?

Who is the “we” to which bJared refers here?

Did the fall make our natures evil continually?  Is bJared right or wrong here?

Note how bJared contrasts humans (weak, evil) with the Lord (holy, in heaven) here.  What is the point of making this contrast?

I’m thinking that the commandment to call upon the Lord feels really significant here, since bJared only used to pray when Jared made him (but nonetheless Jared made him because he recognized that he was really good at it) but then bJared got yelled at for not praying.  Also because it sort of makes it sound like bJared wouldn’t be praying–perhaps because of his evil nature?–if he weren’t commanded to.

I have to say that all of this grovelling strikes me as a little excessive, given that he was in the middle of a conversation with the Lord at the end of the last chapter, and the last thing the Lord had done was to ask bJared what he wanted.  Why isn’t bJared more confident then is speaking with the Lord?  Should he be?

3 Behold, O Lord, thou hast smitten us because of our iniquity, and hast driven us forth, and for these many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless, thou hast been merciful unto us. O Lord, look upon me in pity, and turn away thine anger from this thy people, and suffer not that they shall go forth across this raging deep in darkness; but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock.

Is the smiting for iniquity boilerplate, or does it point to their role in the tower of Babel debacle, or forgetting to pray, or something else?  Why is bJared bringing it up now?

Why does bJared want pity?  Is that something we should want from the Lord?

Was the Lord angry at bJared’s people at this moment?  If so, why?  (He didn’t sound that way at the end of the last chapter, to be honest.)

It sounds like bJared thinks a journey in the dark is a punishment from the Lord that he is hoping to escape.  Is that what he thinks?  Is he right to think that?

“Raging deep” seems very poetic.  Why here?

General:  Why did bJared think it would be a good idea to molten stones out of a rock?  Is he drawing on some scripture text?  (Rev 21:21 also has the phrase “transparent glass;” it is describing the heavenly city.) Is it just a crazy idea he had?  Was he inspired to do it?  What are we to learn from his actions here?  (I’m kind of struck by the contrast between the lack of initiative he showed back in the days when Jared had to make him pray and here, where he comes up with this big idea and takes it to the Lord all on his own.)

Henry B. Eyring:

The brother of Jared heated rock to make 16 transparent stones, and then on Mount Shelem he asked the Lord for the part of the solution he could not provide: to make the stones emit light. But he didn’t simply ask as a child might ask a hurried parent or a student might ask a teacher flitting from pupil to pupil. He took time to plead for forgiveness. He acknowledged blessings. He proclaimed faith in God’s power. Citation

4 And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.

How does bJared know this?

I’m thinking about the word “prepare.”  I would have expected the touch to make them shine, not to prepare them to shine.  What’s going on here?

What other scripture stories are similar to this one?

Where does bJared get this idea?  What would have made him think this was possible?

Robert D. Hales:

As parents and leaders, we must remember that “it is not meet that [the Lord] should command in all things.” Like the brother of Jared, we must carefully consider the needs of our family members, make a plan to meet those needs, and then take our plan to the Lord in prayer. This will require faith and effort on our part, but He will help us as we seek His assistance and do His will. Apr 03 GC

5 Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.

Who is the “we” in this verse?  Is he still speaking for Jared?  (If so, why isn’t that made explicit the way it was in previous chapters?)

Would stones shining “look small” unto men?  I think it would look pretty awesome!  It seems that he is saying it backwards here.  What’s going on?

6 And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood; and the brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear.

BJared doesn’t ask to have the veil removed; why is it?

“One by one” seems like a given; why do you think it was mentioned?

Does it strike you as odd that the Lord is taking direction from bJared?  (Is this related to the fact that bJared took direction from Jared?)

What does “the veil” mean here?

When Jesus dies, the veil in the temple rips from top to bottom.  Is that relevant here?  (Hint:  yes.)

What does “as the finger of a man” mean?  What does “like unto flesh and blood” mean?  (I think it would suggest _not_ flesh and blood, right?)

Why does bJared fear?  Was that the right reaction to have?  (Does v7 answer this question?)

7 And the Lord saw that the brother of Jared had fallen to the earth; and the Lord said unto him: Arise, why hast thou fallen?

So after reading this verse, what reaction do you think you should have if you ever see the Lord’s finger?

Why do you think the Lord asks a question here?  Do you think he knew the answer before he asked it?  (If so, then why ask?)

8 And he saith unto the Lord: I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.

Was bJared right to have this fear?  If not, why does he have it?  (I think we often think that reactions like this come from guilty consciousnesses.  Are we right about that?)

It sounds like bJared thinks, “A finger!  I bet he’s gonna use it to smite me!”  But why is that his reaction when he just asked the Lord to touch the stones?

Why is bJared speaking of the Lord in the third person here?  (Wouldn’t “I saw your finger” have been more natural?)

Notice the difference between this verse and v6:  v6 said “like unto flesh and blood” but this verse says “flesh and blood.”  Does this mean that bJared missed something, or is there a better way to read this?

So bJared wanted to Lord to touch the stones, but didn’t think the Lord had flesh and blood, so he gets fearful when he sees that he does because he thinks the Lord will smite him.  This . . . doesn’t make sense to me.

Did the (pre-existent, mind you) Lord have “flesh and blood”?  What are the implications of your answer?

9 And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?

What did bJared do that showed his faith?  Was it asking the Lord to touch the stones or something else?  If it was touching the stones, is that really that much faith?  (No offense.  I’m just saying–it sounds more like “asking for a magic trick” than, say, being willing to give your last bit of food to a prophet with no expectation of reward when you have a kid depending on you and there’s a famine, for example.)  How does bJared’s exceptional faith fit in with his (mistaken?  not mistaken?) fear of the Lord?

Note “shall take.”  Does that answer the question above about whether the Lord actually had flesh and blood here or just seemed to have it?  Is this saying that bJared was able to see the future flesh and blood or is there a better way to read this?  Was bJared sort of able to see the future?

General question:  why “flesh and blood”?  Is that one thing or two things?  Why is that the best way to describe a mortal body here?

Do you read “never has man . . .” literally or as hyperbole?  If more literally, then what about this made it the greatest example of faith?

Does this verse imply that the more faith you have, the better you can see the Lord?  If so, what are the implications of this belief?

Do you learn anything from bJared about how to develop faith?

Why does the Lord ask the question at the end of the verse?  Do you think the Lord knows the answer to the question before he asks it?

Jeffrey R. Holland:

It is a basic premise of Latter-day Saint theology that God “knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it” (2 Nephi 9:20). The scriptures, both ancient and modern, are replete with this assertion of omniscience. Nevertheless, God has frequently asked questions of men, usually as a way to test their faith, measure their honesty, or allow their knowledge greater development. For example, he called unto Adam in the Garden of Eden, “Where art thou?” and later asked Eve, “What is this that thou hast done?” (Genesis 3:9, 13), yet an omniscient parent clearly knew the answer to both questions, for He could see where Adam was and He had watched what Eve had done. It is obvious that the questions are for the children’s sake, giving Adam and Eve the responsibility of replying honestly. Later, in trying Abraham’s faith, God repeatedly called out regarding Abraham’s whereabouts, to which the faithful patriarch would answer: “Here am I” (Genesis 22:11). The purpose in this scriptural moment was not to provide God with information He already knew but to reaffirm Abraham’s fixed faith and unwavering position in the most difficult of all parental tests. These kinds of rhetorical questions are frequently used by God, particularly in assessing faith, honesty, and the full measure of agency, allowing the “students” the freedom and opportunity to express themselves as revealingly as they wish, even though God knows the answer to His own and all other questions.  Citation

10 And he answered: Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.

How does bJared go from fear of smiting to demands to see more in the space of a few verses?  Is there something we should learn from this?

Why does bJared make this request?  Was it appropriate?  (My thought:  the Lord just told him that he could see what he did because of his faith.  So asking to see more then sounds kind of like cheating–he should be able to see more if/when he has the faith to see more, not because he asks.  Unless, perhaps, the asking _is_ evidence of the faith.)

11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?

Why does the Lord ask this question?  Does he know the answer to it before he asks or not?

Note “shall speak,” a future tense.  Interesting that he is asking if bJared’s faith is so great that he can assure the Lord that he will believe things he hasn’t even heard yet.

12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.

Is bJared saying that it is impossible for the Lord to lie?  If so, is he right about that?  (It would be interesting to think of the Lord as lacking agency to do something that you and I can do.)

13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.

Notice the shift from “believe” (v11) to “know” (v12 and here).

What are the “these things” that he knows?  (That God can’t lie, from the previous verse?  Or something else?)

What does it mean to be “redeemed from the fall”?  What precisely did bJared do that redeemed him from the Fall?  Is it possible for this to happen to someone today?   (And remember that this is happening a good many years before Jesus’ mortal life.)

Does this verse imply that “redeemed from the fall” and “brought back into my presence” are the same thing?  If so, what are the implications of that?

So now that we see what happens in this verse, we realize that what happened in v12 was reeeaaally important.  I want to go back and think about it more:  why was the statement bJared made there (and note that it was a statement, not an action or a response to a trial or whatever) sufficient to redeem him from the fall?

Note that bJared is redeemed from the fall because of what he knows.  This is interesting, since it is gaining knowledge (of good and evil) that causes the fall.  I like how gaining knowledge plays into both.  I’m thinking more about the parallels between the knowledge of good and evil (=knowledge that causes the fall) and knowing that God speaks the truth and is a good of truth (=knowledge that redeems bJared from the fall).  How are these two kinds of knowledge related?  How are they different?

Does this verse imply that being brought into the Lord’s presence and being shown the Lord are the same thing?  If so, then what do we make of bJared seeing the Lord’s finger?  (Kind of a half-way thing.)

14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.

I think you could almost read this verse as constituting “showing myself unto you” (the language from the end of the last verse).  In other words, not so much the physical (if that’s the right word) seeing as gaining the knowledge of this verse.

Is there any link between bJared preparing the barges and stones and the Lord being “prepared” here?

What does he mean when he says “I am the Father and the Son”?  (Does the “become my sons and daughters” explain what “Father” means here?)

What does “life” mean in this verse?  (You want to just say “eternal life,” but then the “and that eternally” makes it sound like it needs to mean something else.)

Brant Gardner:

The presence of the name Jesus Christ is very likely to have been added by Moroni, who would have know the relationship of the person of Jesus Christ to the being who appeared to the brother of Jared. To the brother of Jared we would expect either the Jehovah title, or the Messiah title. Citation

Is what bJared did in the last few verses “believing on his name”?  (This is an interesting idea, because I would normally have a hard time giving you a precise definition of “believe on his name,” but this story makes pretty clear that it means “believe everything Jesus tells you, even the stuff he hasn’t told you yet.”)

Remember how this story started with bJared wanting his stones lit up?  Yeah.  He got a lot more than that.  How did the need for light in the barge end up in this huge theophany?  How are the two stories related?

General:  one of my favorite aspects of this story is that bJared starts out as this totally passive guy who needs to be told to pray by his brother, who forgets to pray, who gets a THREE HOUR lecture from the Lord, who is all worried that the Lord is gonna smite him for asking a question, but the story ends with him as this incredible example of faith who has been redeemed from the Fall.  bJared is not a perfect person; he is a person perfected through his faith in Jesus Christ.

NB “daughters.”  Thanks for the shout-out!

15 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.

If bJared is the first person to see the Lord, that’s a pretty big deal.

Is there a link between “whom I have created” and “ye are created in mine own image,” especially since the latter phrase is emphasized?

Does this verse change how you read the creation story?

An article on what “never have I showed” means.

Jeffrey R. Holland (I realize this is long, but it is worth the read not just for the content but for the careful manner in which he sets out the possibilities without being dogmatic):

The potential for confusion here comes with the realization that many—indeed, we would assume all—of the major prophets living prior to the brother of Jared had seen God. How then does one account for the Lord’s declaration? Adam’s face-to-face conversations with God in the Garden of Eden can be exempted because of the paradisiacal, prefallen state of that setting and relationship. Furthermore, other prophets’ visions of God, such as those of Moses and Isaiah in the Bible, or Nephi and Jacob in the Book of Mormon, came after this “never before” experience of the brother of Jared. But before the era of the Tower of Babel, the Lord did appear unto Adam and “the residue of his posterity who were righteous” in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman three years before Adam’s death (see D&C 107:53–55). And we are left with Enoch, who said very explicitly, “I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face” (Moses 7:4). We assume there would have been other prophets living in the period between Adam’s leaving the Garden of Eden and the building of the Tower of Babel who also saw God in a similar manner, including Noah, who “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” and “walked with God” (Genesis 6:8–9), the same scriptural phrase used to describe Enoch’s relationship with the Lord (see Genesis 5:24). This issue has been much discussed by Latter-day Saint writers, and there are several possible explanations, any one—or all—of which may cast some light upon the larger truth of this passage. Nevertheless, without additional scriptural revelation or commentary on the matter, any conjecture is only that—conjecture—and as such is inadequate and incomplete. One possibility is that this is simply a comment made in the context of one dispensation and as such applies only to the Jaredites and Jaredite prophets—that Jehovah has never before revealed Himself to one of their seers and revelators. Obviously this theory has severe limitations when measured against such phrases as “never before” and “never has man” and combined with the realization that Jared and his brother are the fathers of this dispensation, the first to whom God could have revealed Himself in their era. Another suggestion is that the lowercase reference to “man” is the key to this passage, suggesting that the Lord has never revealed Himself to the unsanctified, to the nonbeliever, to temporal, earthy, natural man. The implication here is that only those who have put off the natural man, only those who are untainted by the world—in short, the sanctified (such as Adam, Enoch, and now the brother of Jared)—are entitled to this privilege. Some have believed that the Lord here means He has never before revealed Himself to this degree or to this extent. This theory would suggest that divine appearances to earlier prophets had not been with this same “fulness,” that never before had the veil been lifted to give such a complete revelation of Christ’s nature and being. A further possibility is that this is the first time Jehovah has appeared and identified Himself as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, thus the interpretation of the passage being “never have I showed myself [as Jesus Christ] unto man whom I have created” (Ether 3:15). This possibility is reinforced by one way of reading Moroni’s later editorial comment: “Having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus” (Ether 3:20; emphasis added). Yet another interpretation of this passage is that the faith of the brother of Jared was so great he saw not only the spirit finger and body of the premortal Jesus (which presumably many other prophets had also seen) but also had some distinctly more revealing aspect of Christ’s body of flesh, blood, and bone. Exactly what insight into the flesh-and-blood nature of Christ’s future body the brother of Jared might have had is not clear, but Jehovah does say to him, “Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood” (Ether 3:9), and Moroni does say that Christ revealed Himself in this instance “in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites” (Ether 3:17). Some have taken that to mean literally “the same body” the Nephites would see—a body of flesh and blood. A safer position would be that it was at least the exact spiritual likeness of that future body. Jehovah says, “Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit . . .and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh” (Ether 3:16), and Moroni says, “Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit” (Ether 3:17). A final—and in terms of the faith of the brother of Jared (which is the issue at hand) surely the most persuasive—explanation for me is that Christ is saying to the brother of Jared, “Never have I showed myself unto man in this manner, without my volition, driven solely by the faith of the beholder.” As a rule, prophets are invited into the presence of the Lord, are bidden to enter His presence by Him and only with His sanction. The brother of Jared, on the other hand, stands alone then (and we assume now) in having thrust himself through the veil, not as an unwelcome guest but perhaps technically an uninvited one. Says Jehovah, “Never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. . . . Never has man believed in me as thou hast” (Ether 3:9, 15; emphasis added). Obviously the Lord Himself is linking unprecedented faith with this unprecedented vision. If the vision is not unique, then it has to be the faith— and how the vision is obtained—that is so remarkable. The only way this faith could be so remarkable would be in its ability to take this prophet, uninvited, where others had only been able to go by invitation. Indeed it would appear that this is Moroni’s own understanding of the circumstance, for he later writes, “Because of the knowledge [which has come as a result of faith] of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil. . . .“Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus” (Ether 3:19–20; emphasis added). This may be one of those very provocative examples (except that it is real life and not hypothetical) about God’s power. Schoolboy philosophers sometimes ask, “Can God make a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it?” or “Can God hide an item so skillfully that He cannot find it?” Far more movingly and importantly we may ask here, “Could God have stopped the brother of Jared from seeing through the veil?” At first blush one is inclined to say, “Surely God could block such an experience if He wished to.” But think again. Or, more precisely, read again. “This man . . .could not be kept from beholding within the veil; . . . he could not be kept from within the veil”(Ether 3:19–20; emphasis added). No, this may be an absolutely unprecedented case of a prophet’s will and faith and purity so closely approaching that of heaven’s that the man moves from understanding God to being actually like Him, with His same thrust of will and faith, at least in this one instance. What a remarkable doctrinal statement about the power of a mortal man’s faith! And not an ethereal, unreachable, select category of a man, either. This is one who once forgot to call upon the Lord, one whose best ideas focused on rocks, and one who doesn’t even have a traditional name in the book that has immortalized his remarkable feat of faith. Given such a man with such faith, it should not be surprising that the Lord would show this prophet much, show him visions that would be relevant to the mission of all the Book of Mormon prophets and to the events of the latter-day dispensation in which the book would be received.  Citation

Is seeing the Lord a “reward” for believing in him?  A natural consequence of believing in him?  Something else?

The first sentence has “whom I have created” and the second has “created after mine own image.”  How are these related?

Why does the Lord ask the question he does in this verse?  Does he think that perhaps it would not have been obvious to bJared?

The meaning of “created in the image of God” has many possibilities; what does this verse suggest to you about what it actually means?

What does “in the beginning” modify? (Does it mean that all men were created in the beginning?  Does it mean that everyone began [but perhaps does not continue with] with the image of God?  Something else?

What does it do to our understanding of gender to think of women being created in the image of God?

16 Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.

In the phrase “body of my spirit,” what does “body” mean?  (And what do “body,” “spirit,” and “flesh” mean in this verse?)

Is it weird that our physical bodies are created after the image of a spirit body?

When he says “appear unto my people in the flesh,” what appearances is he talking about?  (Does the next verse answer this question?) Once you settle that question, then how does his current visit to bJared (which, remember, is pre-mortal and spirit only) “even as” those other appearances?

In the phrase “I appear unto thee to be in the spirit,” does that mean that he IS or IS NOT in the spirit?  (I think we usually read “appear unto thee to be” to mean “but I wasn’t really.” Is that the best way to read this?)

17 And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites.

Holy cow, Moroni, Jesus is talking to the first person to ever see him and you are going to cut to a commercial?  What the heck?  Maybe you could have left out some of that genealogical list and had space for a few more verses here!  (Serious question:  why couldn’t Moroni make a “full account” here?  Was it space?  Sacredness?  Something else?)

Do “manner” and “likeness” mean the same thing or two different things in this verse?

Interesting that this verse references an appearance to the Nephites and the last verse said “appear unto my people,” which I had assumed meant Jrsm, but maybe Jesus was calling the Nephites “my people.”

So once again, we see the Jaredites as pre-enacting Nephite history, but this time it is bJared seeing the Lord paralleled to the Lord’s visit to the Nephites.  (The next verse is also very specific about making this comparison.) Note the differences:  Jesus’ visit to the Nephites is a community thing but, as far as we know, Jesus only visits bJared.  Also, bJared is a spiritual rock star, but the Nephites were not so.  What other differences are there and what might we learn from the differences?

18 And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him.

Skousen reads “and all this because that this man knew that he was God.”

What does “ministered” mean in this verse?

Is this verse saying that the point of the visit was to increase bJared’s faith and knowledge?  That’s interesting, because the reason he had the visit in the first place was because he has such great faith.

What “great works” did the Lord show bJared?  (And why doesn’t Moroni tell us in detail?)

This verse makes it sound as if bJared in particular knowing that “he was God” is of crucial importance.  Why might this be?

Speculation alert:  in the phrase “this man might know that he was God,” perhaps we could read “this man [=bJared] might know that he [=bJared] was God,” given the ambiguity of the pronouns in this phrase as well as the point that Jesus makes that man was created in his image.

19 And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.

Again interesting that the visit was because of bJared’s faith/knowledge, but it also increased his faith/knowledge.

What relationship between knowledge and the veil is this verse positing?  (And how might that be relevant to us today?)

What does “beholding within the veil” mean?  Does that mean seeing, but the veil is still there?  Or seeing through the veil?  Or the veil being gone?  Or what?

Why the shift from “the Lord” to “Jesus” here?  (I think Ether may have used “Lord” but Moroni uses “Jesus.”)

Why does Moroni restate what we have already read?

Note that this experience destroyed bJared’s faith!  (In the sense that he didn’t have faith anymore.  I think we sometimes forget that faith is a half-way, transitory thing–faith is not meant to be permanent but a stepping stone to something else.)

bJared had more faith than anyone, being seeing the Lord ended his faith and replaced it with knowledge.  What does this teach you about faith?  What does it teach you about knowledge?

If he has knowledge and no doubt, then why does he fall with fear?  Shouldn’t he know that his fear is  not appropriate/necessary?

Does this verse define knowledge as the absence of doubt?  If so, does it mean that bJared had some doubt before this experience?

20 Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him.

Notice the shift from knowledge in the last verse to perfect knowledge in this verse.  Is that significant?

Notice the shift from Jesus in the last verse to God in this verse.  Is that significant?

Does this verse imply that the veil is a creation of our doubt/lack of faith/lack of knowledge?

I presume that in “he did minister unto him,” the he is Jesus and the him is bJared, right?

What is the link between knowledge and the veil in this verse?

What is the link between the veil and ministering in this verse?

In “could not be kept from within the veil,” what is the “from” doing?  (In other words, would it mean something different to say “he could not be kept within the veil”?)

21 And it came to pass that the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt not suffer these things which ye have seen and heard to go forth unto the world, until the time cometh that I shall glorify my name in the flesh; wherefore, ye shall treasure up the things which ye have seen and heard, and show it to no man.

Note that with this verse, we shift from Moroni talking to us to the Lord talking to bJared.  How does Moroni’s interjection relate to the material around it?  (In other words, would you have read this verse differently if it directly followed v16?)

Some scholars think there is a “messianic secret” in the Gospel of Mark:  people aren’t supposed to be telling other people about the messiah.  Is the same thing happening here?  If so, how do you understand this idea, which seems to be somewhat counter to the idea of sharing the gospel with the world?  Does something similar happen today?  Why did it happen then?  What does it suggest to you about knowledge?  Is it fair to withhold knowledge from people?

Why did bJared need to keep this experience quiet when other miracles from before the time of Jesus’ mortal life (including appearances to Moses, etc.) were make public?

An interesting little thing happens . . . according to the logic of this verse, if you are reading this, Jesus has already come.

Does this verse explain why no one does much with the Jaredite record when they found it way back in Mosiah?

I presume that “time . . . that I shall glorify my name in the flesh” refers to Jesus’ mortal life (right?), but why would he have called it this?  Why the emphasis on the name and on the flesh?

Does this verse suggest that treasuring something up is the opposite of sharing it?

22 And behold, when ye shall come unto me, ye shall write them and shall seal them up, that no one can interpret them; for ye shall write them in a language that they cannot be read.

What does “when ye shall come unto me” mean?  Does it mean when bJared dies?  Does that mean he writes this record after his death?  I thought Ether wrote this record 28 generations later . . . does that mean that Ether didn’t write this part?  Does it mean that Ether worked from a text written by a spirit?  How does any of that mesh with the idea of bJared not sharing this story with anyone?  I’m confused.  (See v27–apparently bJared wrote this.)

What does it mean to “seal up” a record?

How will bJared know a language that no one else knows?  Does this have anything to do with the confounding of the languages?  (See v24 for more on this.)

Does the sealing have any relationship to the interpreting?

Why “interpret” and not “translate”?  Do these words mean the same thing?

Are “read” and “interpreted” the same thing in this verse or two different things?

23 And behold, these two stones will I give unto thee, and ye shall seal them up also with the things which ye shall write.

Are these two stones related to the 16 stones that bJared wanted the Lord to touch to give light?  (Remember that that’s how this whole story started . . .)

24 For behold, the language which ye shall write I have confounded; wherefore I will cause in my own due time that these stones shall magnify to the eyes of men these things which ye shall write.

So it appears that the stones are given to bJared but not for his own use.  Interesting . . .

What does it mean here for a language to be “confounded”?

What does “magnify” mean in this verse?

Why is “men” plural here?

Presumably it is Mosiah in Mosiah 28:17 who translates the record with the stones.  Why him?  Why then?  (Do you think the keeper of the record throughout Nephite history was familiar with the text, even if it didn’t go out “to the world” at that point?)

25 And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth.

Why does bJared have this visionary experience here?  How is it related to what happened before?  (Remember that bJared’s initial issue was light for his barges.)

Is there any relation to being able to see all of these inhabitants and having the veil removed?

What do you think bJared saw, exactly:  a whole bunch of faces?  People going about their daily business?  Something else?

What do you think bJared was supposed to learn from this experience?

Is it significant that bJared learns about the Lord first and then learns about people/history?

26 For he had said unto him in times before, that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things—it should be shown unto him; therefore the Lord could not withhold anything from him, for he knew that the Lord could show him all things.

Is the idea that if you believe in the  Lord, you will see all things a universal principle, or only true in this case?

Note that bJared was told this before.  Why is that significant?

Why is there a correlation between believing in Christ and being shown all things?

What benefit is it to bJared to see this?

27 And the Lord said unto him: Write these things and seal them up; and I will show them in mine own due time unto the children of men.

1:6 says that this record was written by Ether.  How does that mesh with this verse?  Was Ether a Mormon-like editor maybe?  How else might we understand this?

28 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded him that he should seal up the two stones which he had received, and show them not, until the Lord should show them unto the children of men.

Does the “until” mean that bJared would be showing these things to people in his lifetime?

Remember that we’re still kind of left hanging on the whole touch-the-stones-for-light aspect that kicked off the story; we’ll have to wait another chapter to wrap that part of the narrative up.  Does it change how you read this section to see it as an insertion into that story?  Or as bound be that story?

There was not originally a chapter break here.

CHAPTER 4

1 And the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to go down out of the mount from the presence of the Lord, and write the things which he had seen; and they were forbidden to come unto the children of men until after that he should be lifted up upon the cross; and for this cause did king Mosiah keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his people.

Skousen reads “Benjamin” instead of “Mosiah” here.

Why the repetition?  This is the 3x we hear that he is supposed to write but not share this record.

Does this mean that Mosiah read the record?  What about other BoM prophets? Or had it but didn’t read it?  Either way, does knowing this change how you understand Mosiah’s story?

2 And after Christ truly had showed himself unto his people he commanded that they should be made manifest.

What is “truly” doing in this verse?

What does “they” mean in this verse?  (Obvious referent would be bJared’s record, but why is it plural?)

Does this mean that Jesus commanded the Nephites to release this record?  I think that’s the best way to read this verse, but we don’t read anything like that in 3 Nephi, although there is something of an interesting parallel to the inclusion of Sam the Lamanite in the record.

3 And now, after that, they have all dwindled in unbelief; and there is none save it be the Lamanites, and they have rejected the gospel of Christ; therefore I am commanded that I should hide them up again in the earth.

Why does Moroni do the history review here?  (Does injecting this Nephite history into the Jaredite record affect the reader’s interpretation of events?)

Note the “therefore;” how does the second part of the sentence relate to the first part?

4 Behold, I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw; and there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared.

Hyperbole or literal?

If bJared’s is the greatest manifestation ever, we should be reading this account with special care.  Maybe particularly the weird parts, like the fact that bJared doesn’t have a real name.

Is “never were greater” sort of a dig at all of Nephite history?  I guess I just find it interesting that Moroni would write this . . . maybe it helped him keep the loss of his civilization in perspective?

5 Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them. And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord.

So does this verse mean that Moroni is using the two stones buried with bJared’s record to read this account?  If so, does he also use them for the rest of the account?

Why does the Lord have Moroni write another version of bJared’s record?  Why not just stick with the first version?  Do you think Moroni adds to the record in significant ways?  (Such as this aside!)

What does “seal” mean in this verse?

What does “interpretation” mean in this verse?  Is it “translation” or something else?

What is the relationship between the interpretation and the interpreters?

Is it safe to conclude that the two stones are the interpreters?

It is interesting that this verse puts Moroni into the same role that bJared was in, with many of the same tasks.

6 For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.

Does this verse mean that the Gentiles have repented, since the record has gone forth?  I’m  not sure how else to read this verse, except that I find it hard to believe that the Gentiles are clean.

Are repenting and becoming clean one thing or two different things?

7 And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.

Does this verse imply that “they” (the Gentiles?  all the Gentiles?) will have as much faith as bJared did?

What does this verse imply about the relationship between faith and sanctification?

Why all the titles for Jesus in this verse?

You know, if you took this verse seriously, it would be a really big deal.

Joseph Fielding Smith:

I would like to call your attention to one thing in the Book of Mormon. The Lord has promised us greater knowledge, greater understanding than we find in the Book of Mormon, when we are prepared to receive it. When the brother of Jared went upon the mount to have the Lord touch stones to give them light to light their way across the great ocean, the Lord revealed to him the history of this world from the beginning of it to the end). We do not have it. . .  All of that was written and given to the Nephites. We do not have that record . . . I say that when the brother of Jared went on the mount, the Lord revealed the history of this earth to him from the beginning to the end thereof, but we do not have it. But when the Nephites became righteous, after the visit of the Son of God, the Lord revealed that record to them, and then when they began to fall away, he took the record away again and hid it up.  . . . For the sake of time I will skip a little and say that the Lord has promised that we can have that hidden record when we are prepared to receive it. . . . Now the Lord has placed us on probation as members of the Church. He has given us the Book of Mormon, which is the lesser part, to build up our faith through our obedience to the counsels which it contains, and when we ourselves, members of the Church, are willing to keep the commandments as they have been given to us and show our faith as the Nephites did for a short period of time, then the Lord is ready to bring forth the other record and give it to us, but we are not ready now to receive it. Why? Because we have not lived up to the requirements in this probationary state in the reading of the record which had been given to us and in following its counsels. Oct 1961 GC

8 And he that will contend against the word of the Lord, let him be accursed; and he that shall deny these things, let him be accursed; for unto them will I show no greater things, saith Jesus Christ; for I am he who speaketh.

This warning kind of feels like it comes out of nowhere; how does it relate to the verse before it?  Is it suggesting that contending against the word is the opposite of faith?  If that is the best way to read this, it is interesting because we usually juxtapose doubt and faith, not contending and faith.

What does “accursed” mean here?  Is it the same as just not being shown greater things?

9 And at my command the heavens are opened and are shut; and at my word the earth shall shake; and at my command the inhabitants thereof shall pass away, even so as by fire.

What does it mean for the heavens to open and shut?  Is that divine communication or rain or what?  What about the earth shaking?  It would be fairly easy to read both of those as metaphorical, but then the people dying, not so much.

What does “as by fire” mean?  Not by fire?  By fire?  Why mention the fire at all?  How does that make the verse different than if was just a reference to people passing away without a method mentioned?

10 And he that believeth not my words believeth not my disciples; and if it so be that I do not speak, judge ye; for ye shall know that it is I that speaketh, at the last day.

Why does Jesus mention the disciples at this point?

Remember that this speech began with the Lord saying these words to Moroni.  Do you think this verse was personally directed at him, or is Moroni the messenger to deliver it mainly to other people?

Why the negative in “do not speak”?

What kind of judging are we being commanded to do here?

Is this verse suggesting a scenario where the disciples speak but it isn’t the Lord speaking?  How else might we read this?

Does “at the last day” mean that before that point we might not know if it is Jesus speaking?  If so, what does that imply for the judging that we are supposed to be doing?  (How can we judge now if we won’t know until then?)

How does “if it so be that I do not speak” mesh with “ye shall know that it is I that speaketh”?

11 But he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good.

What does “visit with the manifestations of my Spirit” mean?

What does this verse suggest about the relationship of knowing and bearing record?

Does this verse imply that the manifestation of the Spirit moves someone from “believing” to “knowing”?

How does the Spirit visit in this verse compare with the visit that bJared had?

What is the relationship between knowing that things are true and being persuaded to do good?

I like the word “persuaded.”  (I don’t know if we think of this role of the Spirit very often.)

12 And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good; he that will not believe my words will not believe me—that I am; and he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father, I am the light, and the life, and the truth of the world.

Is it literally true that anything that encourages goodness is “of Christ”? Is it literally true that good can’t come from anyone but him?  (Think about a charity sponsored by an anti-Mormon group.  Is it impossible for them to do good even if they are feeding orphans, or is the good they are doing coming from Christ?)

Are leading and persuading the same thing in this verse?

What does this verse suggest to you about leadership?

“He that will not believe my words will not believe me” strikes me as pretty circular.  Is there a better way to read this?

In the OT and NT, “I am” has a pretty specialized meaning, starting with when, at the burning bush, Jehovah tells Moses, “tell ‘em ‘I am’ sent you!”  I suspect a similar meaning here.  And this reminds me:  is there any parallel between the lit stone and the burning bush?

What does “I am the Father” mean in this verse?  (You know, I find it deliciously ironic that all of the verses that an evangelical might want to use in the BoM to dispute our lack of trinitarianism, like this verse, also contain the seeds of the destruction of the critique, such as how this verse refers to the Father sending the Son, as if they were two different people.  Which doesn’t solve the problem though:  how can Jesus be the Father if the Father sends him?  (Crazy speculation alert:  Could “I am the Father” mean that at that point the Father, not Jesus, is speaking?)

Does the light reference in this verse relate to the lighting of the stones that frames this speech?

13 Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief.

I think “knowledge” here means “greater things,” but greater than what?  Greater than faith?

Is knowledge always hid up because of unbelief?  If so, how then would we read the story of the Fall?  Was knowledge hid up then because of unbelief?  I kind of think Eve un-hid the knowledge.

The record has also been “hid up.”  Is there a useful parallel drawn between the record and knowledge?

14 Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.

Note how Jesus addresses the Gentiles and the house of Israel separately.  Why does he do this?  How is the message to each group different?  How is it the same?  Is “laid up” and “hid up” the same or different?

15 Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.

Does the rending of the veil here parallel the rending of the temple veil when Jesus died?  (Note that no specific actor was given for that rending, but here, it appears to be the people of the house of Israel that do the rending.)

In what ways is unbelief like a veil?  When we talk about “the veil,” are we talking about (the consequences of) unbelief?

Does this verse posit that unbelief causes wickedness?  If so, what are the implications of this idea?

Note wicked/hard/blind.  How do these ideas relate?

Did bJared rend the veil of unbelief?  Or:  is his experience the same thing as what is described here?

Does “O house of Israel” at the end imply that the promises of this verse only apply to the house of Israel?  If so, then why are they told so much more than the Gentiles are?  (In other words, why are there not words to this effect directed to the Gentiles?)

16 And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. Remember, when ye see these things, ye shall know that the time is at hand that they shall be made manifest in very deed.

Wait–why are we talking about John here?

What does “unfolded” suggest to you about revelation?

Does the “when ye see these things” refer to the time when the events prophesied in Revelation will happen?  If so, when is that time?

Does “all the people” clash with the idea of only those who believe gaining knowledge?

Isn’t the last sentence kind of circular:  when you see these things, you will know that it is time for these things to happen?

Is this verse suggesting a relationship between the release of bJared’s record and the fulfillment of John’s record?  If so, should we be reading these two as intertexts?  (If we do, there might be some interesting stuff about the stones and divine appearances in both stories.  What else might be compared?)

17 Therefore, when ye shall receive this record ye may know that the work of the Father has commenced upon all the face of the land.

Interesting that reading this verse means that prophecy is being fulfilled.

What does it mean for the work of the Father to commence?  Hasn’t the work of the Father always been happening?  Maybe the key is “all the face of the land”?

18 Therefore, repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and believe in my gospel, and be baptized in my name; for he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned; and signs shall follow them that believe in my name.

Does this verse imply that belief is a choice?

You know, a lot of people find the stuff in the Book of Revelation to be rather disturbing, but this verse suggests what our response should be when those things happen.

Notice the parallelism in the phrases about being saved and damned, but also notice that the “damned” phrase doesn’t include “and is not baptized.”  Why might this be?

Why do signs follow believers?  (I am also wondering if there is a link between the signs here and the reference to Revelation in the previous verse, given that Revelation is “signified” (Rev 1:1, meaning presented through signs) to the reader.

19 And blessed is he that is found faithful unto my name at the last day, for he shall be lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world. And behold it is I that hath spoken it. Amen.

What does it mean to be “found faithful”?

What difference does it make to know that a kingdom was prepared for you from the foundation of the world?

CHAPTER 5

1 And now I, Moroni, have written the words which were commanded me, according to my memory; and I have told you the things which I have sealed up; therefore touch them not in order that ye may translate; for that thing is forbidden you, except by and by it shall be wisdom in God.

What does “according to my memory” mean:  that he wasn’t able to write it down right away?  This is an unusual statement in a book that prides itself on the tight link between revelation and text and then text and reader.  Is there maybe a sign here that we are supposed to read the preceding section with a grain of salt (what the heck does that expression really mean?) because Moroni may have remembered something incorrectly?  Is it significant that this is all happening in the middle of a book that we are told was written down 28 generations after the fact (except that we are also told that bJared wrote some?)

Is it weird for Moroni to be telling us things that were supposed to be sealed up?

Who gets the command to “touch them not”?  Is this written directly to Joseph Smith and we are just eavesdropping or what?  If it is written directly to him, then why isn’t that made clear?  (Should we be assuming other specific audiences for other sections?)

Does “touch them not in order that ye may translate” mean that if you touch them, you won’t be allowed to translate or does it mean that you shouldn’t touch them with the goal of translating?  Or perhaps something else?

Why would it be forbidden to touch the things that are sealed up?

The is from the LDS Bible Dictionary entry for “by and by” : “An English term that in 1611 meant immediately. However, in common usage today it has come to mean nearly the opposite.”  Which meaning do you think was intended here?  How does your choice affect how you interpret the verse?

2 And behold, ye may be privileged that ye may show the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth this work;

So now this is really starting to sound as if it were written directly to Joseph Smith, but that’s kind of weird because we haven’t gotten any warning that he (and not us generically) were the audience.  (And you can kind of imagine Joseph Smith being pretty weirded out as he translates a text that is all of a sudden talking about him.)

Remember that Mary Whitmer also saw the plates, but it wasn’t Joseph Smith who showed them to her.

Why would showing the plates to some people be a “privilege”?

It is kind of weird that the living Moroni speaks directly to the not-born-yet Joseph Smith and later the messenger Moroni will appear to the boy Joseph Smith.

How does this verse relate to the one before it?

3 And unto three shall they be shown by the power of God; wherefore they shall know of a surety that these things are true.

What does “by the power of God” mean in this verse?  What does it teach you about what the power of God is?

Why three people?  Symbolic?  Coincidental?

Why would seeing the plates make them know for sure that “these things” are true?  (Is that really how it works?  Seeing an angel didn’t do much for Laman and Lemuel.)

What does “these things” mean in this verse?

Why are the eight witnesses (and others, like Mary Whitmer and, to an extent, Emma Smith) not mentioned here?

4 And in the mouth of three witnesses shall these things be established; and the testimony of three, and this work, in the which shall be shown forth the power of God and also his word, of which the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost bear record—and all this shall stand as a testimony against the world at the last day.

What does “established” mean in this verse?  Could it not be “established” without witnesses?

Is there a link between having thee witnesses and the reference to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost in this verse?

What do you make of the idea of a testimony “against” the world?

Seriously, why should the statement of three random 19th century dudes carry any weight for anyone?  I’m sure I could find 100x that number who would testify to Big Foot, or snake oil, or aliens, or whatever.

5 And if it so be that they repent and come unto the Father in the name of Jesus, they shall be received into the kingdom of God.

Note how similar this is to v18-19 at the end of the last chapter.

6 And now, if I have no authority for these things, judge ye; for ye shall know that I have authority when ye shall see me, and we shall stand before God at the last day. Amen.

Once again, the invitation to judge is extended.  (See v10 in the last chapter.) What are you learning about judging here? Is Moroni putting himself into the Lord’s shoes here, by saying something so similar?

Why is the issue here Moroni’s authority, as opposed to, say, the actual truthfulness of the record?  (Because those things are not necessarily identical.)

How literally do you read this verse?  (Do you expect to see Moroni at the last day?  Do you think this verse just applies to Joseph Smith?)

CHAPTER 6

1 And now I, Moroni, proceed to give the record of Jared and his brother.

So keep in mind that that entire divine visit and then aside from Moroni interrupted us in the middle of a story.  How does the framing affect your interpretation of the central material?  How does the central material affect your interpretation of the frame?  Why do you think Moroni chose to put the record together this way?

It’s kind of crazy that Moroni calls this “the record of Jared and his brother” when Jared has no role in this story.  Why might Moroni have done that?  (It’s like Moroni–and maybe earlier editors/writers–are working soooo hard to keep Jared in the story when . . . he just isn’t.  Why would they do this?)

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

It seems that the going up and down the mount must be significant, but why is it?

Is it significant that it takes two stones per vessel?

3 And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.

Why mention the women and children here?

Why is this such a huge deal?  It seems like it would have been easier to design a boat with a deck so the travelers could get light that way.  Why design what’s basically a submarine and then you need a whole ‘nother miracle to light it?

Should we be reading this symbolically?

Not quite sure what to make of this, but you kind of get the feeling that the stones aren’t really the point of the story, but rather the divine manifestation that came about because bJared was working on the problem of the stones.  And then maybe the stones are sort of a reminder of that experience, or suggest it symbolically because of the light.  But the stones just aren’t the point.

John S. Thompson:

The stones of light play a significant role in the story, because the writer uses them to carry the imagery of Christ throughout the rest of the narrative. In chapter six, we read that the brother of Jared “did put forth the stones into the vessels which were prepared, one in each end thereof; and behold, they did give light unto the vessels” (Ether 6:2). However, in contrast to “the” stones in this verse, verse three omits any definite article in reference to stones and also “men, women, and children.” The author/editor seems specifically to ignore direct reference to the stones which the brother of Jared “moltened” and the men, women, and children of the Jaredites: “And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.” The absence of the definite articles prompts the reader to broaden his view, rather than focusing in on the actual stones and Jaredites of the story, allowing the imagery of Christ—who is the “light that shineth in darkness” (D&C 11:11), giving light or truth unto all men, women, and children-to surface.  Citation

4 And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them—and it came to pass that when they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.

Note that we’ve gone from “barges” to “vessels” to “vessels or barges.”  Is this significant?

What does “commending themselves” mean here?

5 And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.

Skousen omits the “be” after “should.”

Do the barges have sails?  (No mention of them.)  If not, how useful is a furious wind?

“Furious” is a pretty nasty sounding word–why not say “powerful” or something?

Couldn’t the Lord have come up with a less nausea-inducing method of travel?

6 And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.

“Buried” is a very evocative word–why do you think it was used here?  Does it imply a symbolic element to the story?

Are the “mountain” waves related to the mount that bJared climbed to get the stones lit?

7 And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.

I suspect that the reference to the ark isn’t just a comparison, but is mean to make the reader think about Noah’s story.  How do these stories compare?

What do you make of the idea of water (not) “hurting” them?  (In primeval cosmology, as reflected in the older parts of the OT, water is a symbol for chaos.  It already exists before God creates; it is something God contains and keeps away from harming humans who are faithful.)

How did they know they were submerged?

8 And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.

9 And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.

Why the emphasis on praise and not, say, pleading?  What do you think they were praising the Lord for?

10 And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.

Does this verse imply the existence of sea monsters?  ;)

11 And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water.

Does this verse imply that they kept a calendar?

Is the time symbolic or accidental?

12 And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.

I like how they focused on the tender mercies here, and not on the many miserable parts of spending a year tossed on the waters (with livestock!).

13 And it came to pass that they went forth upon the face of the land, and began to till the earth.

Why mention tilling the earth?  Like Adam?

14 And Jared had four sons; and they were called Jacom, and Gilgah, and Mahah, and Orihah.
15 And the brother of Jared also begat sons and daughters.

Who the heck cares about Jared’s kids–he is not the star of this story!

Why do we get names for Jared’s kids (note:  sons only) but we don’t get the names for bJared’s kids (note:  sons and daughters, no specific number given)?  Is this related to the fact that we don’t know the name of bJared?

16 And the friends of Jared and his brother were in number about twenty and two souls; and they also begat sons and daughters before they came to the promised land; and therefore they began to be many.

17 And they were taught to walk humbly before the Lord; and they were also taught from on high.

18 And it came to pass that they began to spread upon the face of the land, and to multiply and to till the earth; and they did wax strong in the land.

This makes them sound like the children of Israel in Egypt.  More generally, it shows the fulfillment of the covenant promises when people have kids and spread out.

19 And the brother of Jared began to be old, and saw that he must soon go down to the grave; wherefore he said unto Jared: Let us gather together our people that we may number them, that we may know of them what they will desire of us before we go down to our graves.

Does this verse suggest to you that Jared or bJared is the leader of this group?

There’s that desire again–a main theme in the BoM.

Why did bJared want to number the people?  Why was that his desire?

Brant Gardner:

In the case of the Jaredites, the counting suggests that strongly that a similar mixing and enlargement of population has occurred. If there are only twenty four original adult males and their offspring, we have a limited number of men who must only keep track of their grandchildren (and perhaps an odd great-grandchild). This is not a large number, and it would be rather simple for the twenty four grandfathers to gather and add up their progeny. The very fact of the count tells us that something else has happened. As with Benjamin, circumstances have occurred which make it difficult to assess the numbers of people who are now beholding to the Jaredite polity. The easiest and most logical way to explain the census is the infusion of “others” who were already living in the area when the Jaredites arrived. Citation

Note that the narrator tells us that bJared is getting old, but bJared tells us that both he and his brother are getting old.

20 And accordingly the people were gathered together. Now the number of the sons and the daughters of the brother of Jared were twenty and two souls; and the number of sons and daughters of Jared were twelve, he having four sons.

Why are bJared’s kids numbered here but not before?  Is it significant that he has 22 kids, the same number as there was of friends in v16?  (These aren’t the same group, are they?!?)

Why mention Jared’s daughters here, when they weren’t mentioned before?

Because we already know that Jared had four sons, why mention it again?

Do you think Mrs. bJared had 22 actual kids, or do you think this includes grand-kids, or is there more than one Mrs. bJared, or what?

Brant Gardner:

The numbers present in the original party of the Jaredites fall into categories that are too neat to be readily accepted as actual counts. We have the number of adult males as 24, or 2×12. Jared had 4 sons, but the total number of children is 12. These are all numbers that are important in either the Biblical heritage or the Mesoamerican heritage (12 from the Old World and 4 in the New). With the only numbers of people showing as such symbolic numbers we should be cautious in assigning specific historical veracity to the them. We can be comfortable in the relatively small nature of the founding Jaredite population, but these particular numbers may tell us more of the subsequent conceptions of numerical symbology among the recorders of the tradition than any real count of the Jaredites. Citation

21 And it came to pass that they did number their people; and after that they had numbered them, they did desire of them the things which they would that they should do before they went down to their graves.

So given these small numbers, it isn’t like they needed to have a huge formal census and it isn’t like Jared or bJared wouldn’t have known these numbers off the top of their heads.  So what, then, was the purpose of all of the ceremony surrounding “numbering” the people?

22 And it came to pass that the people desired of them that they should anoint one of their sons to be a king over them.

Why would they want a king?  What were their motives?  Do you think bJared and/or Jared had left the issue of succession unclear, and they wanted some clarity?  Is this related to the fact that whether bJared or Jared is the leader of this group seems to be unclear?

Remember that the only thing that we know about this people is that they were taught to walk humbly and they were taught from on high.  (And they offered a lot of praise during and after their trip.)  How is that related to their desire for a king?

So we see the (future) history of the Israelites and the Nephites repeated (er, pre-peated, or whatever) here.  Is the message that a desire for a king is a universal thing, a bad thing?  What are we to learn from this?

Given the repetition of the “they wanted a king and that was bad” motif in the scriptures, one suspects we should think about how this message is relevant to our day.  Is this just about wanting strong government leaders?  (And is that ever a good thing?  Keep in mind that the inspired constitution was basically a long way of saying that the new states realized that they needed a stronger federal govt than they already had.)  Or are there other areas of life where we might ask for stronger leadership than is good for us?

23 And now behold, this was grievous unto them. And the brother of Jared said unto them: Surely this thing leadeth into captivity.

You know, this is the same thing that happened with Mosiah:  he asks what the people wanted, and then gets mad at them for wanting it.  Is this a failure to understand the pulse of the people?  A failure to have taught them properly? Is it a shocker–a hidden, unexpected desire coming suddenly to light?  What are we to learn from this?

Given bJared’s very early moment in history, what would he have known about kings leading to captivity?

Is bJared trying to talk them out of their desire here?

Does the fact that bJared and not Jared is speaking help you understand the current leadership better?

Note that this desire was grievous to “them,” but then it is bJared speaking.  Is this significant?

Brant Gardner:

This sentiment is so close to that given my Mosiah II in Mosiah 29 that we must consider whether the sentiment was original to Ether’s record, or influence by Moroni’s interpretation of the events. Since we know that Moroni is telling the tale rather than recounting it verbatim (and again, possibly from memory) there is ample opportunity for Moroni to massage the text into “better” parallels with the Nephite history. For an ancient historian such as Moroni, this would not be seen as misrepresenting history, but rather as truly representing the cyclical nature of history. Citation

24 But Jared said unto his brother: Suffer them that they may have a king. And therefore he said unto them: Choose ye out from among our sons a king, even whom ye will.

This is the first time we see Jared and bJared disagreeing (are they actually disagreeing?) on something.
Does this verse imply that it is really Jared who is in charge?

If it was grievous to Jared that the people wanted a king (as the last verse says), then why does he say here that they should go ahead and do it?  Did he make the right decision?  When, as a parent or leader, should you give in to the desires of your charges even if you think they are wrong to want what they want?

Who says, “choose ye . . .”, Jared or his brother?  (Does the next verse answer this question?  Or was “our sons” corporate?)

Since when do the people choose a king?  (Does the fact that they are choosing mean that “king” didn’t mean to them what it does to us?  Or are they not really choosing because their current leadership told them to choose?)

25 And it came to pass that they chose even the firstborn of the brother of Jared; and his name was Pagag. And it came to pass that he refused and would not be their king. And the people would that his father should constrain him, but his father would not; and he commanded them that they should constrain no man to be their king.

Note that the names of bJared’s kids haven’t been given up to this point.

Does the fact that the first choice was one of bJared’s kids imply that bJared was their leader?

Is it wrong to refuse when you are asked to be a king?  Was it wrong for bJared to refuse to force him to be king?  (My suspicion is that the best king would be the one least eager for the job.)

Weird:  a leader is forcing the people not to force someone to be their king.  What’s the message about agency here?

26 And it came to pass that they chose all the brothers of Pagag, and they would not.

Note that it says “brothers of Pagag” and not “sons of bJared.”  Does that imply anything?

27 And it came to pass that neither would the sons of Jared, even all save it were one; and Orihah was anointed to be king over the people.

Does the fact that they asked bJared’s sons first and Jared’s sons second imply that bJared was their ruler?  (It seems this way, but then we are left with explaining a record that usually treats Jared as the main character and doesn’t even give bJared a proper name.  How to explain that?)

28 And he began to reign, and the people began to prosper; and they became exceedingly rich.

This verse is kind of funny:  all that agonizing about how bad a king was, but things seem to start off really well . . .

Note “began.”  Does that mean that they didn’t prosper before this?

29 And it came to pass that Jared died, and his brother also.

Interesting that Orihah took over before either of them died . . .

30 And it came to pass that Orihah did walk humbly before the Lord, and did remember how great things the Lord had done for his father, and also taught his people how great things the Lord had done for their fathers.

General questions:

(1) The idea that the Jaredite record is the Reader’s Digest version of the Nephite record is intriguing.  Is that the best was to read this story?  If so, how does it impact your interpretation of both the Jaredite and the Nephite record?  Do you assume that this story has played out more than these two times?  Is it also playing out in our time?  What else might you learn from it?

(2) It’s weird that Jared doesn’t say his own prayers in ch1 but has bJared do it for him.  What’s up with that?  (Crazy speculation alert:  does the fact that the communication is always “Jared –> bJared –> Lord” have something to do with the fact that the Lord has confounded their languages?  Maybe that Jared lost the ability to speak to the Lord?)

(3) Why aren’t we ever told the name of the brother of Jared?  That’s weird.  Note how the absence of his name emphasizes his relationships–he’s never his own person, he’s always a brother.

(4) This article posits that the Jaredites were not Christians and that Moroni “Christianizes” their record and is an example of the kind of clever close reading that explains why I have an intellectual crush on Grant Hardy.

(5) This article hints that the barges are a type of a temple.  Is that a useful way to approach this text?

(6) An article on the nature of the Jaredite record.

(7) So we’re all familiar with the story of Joseph Smith announcing that the name of bJared was Mahonri Moriancumer.  This story has never sat right with me.  I’m not entirely sure why.  Maybe because no one else in scripture has two names like this.  Maybe because it is weird for the record to not name him, but a name to be revealed later.  (What’s the point of revealing the name, anyway?)  Maybe because knowing (or thinking we know) the name distracts us from the fact that the text does not give us the name, which is significant, very significant I think.  Maybe because manifesting a name through a baby naming is weird.  Maybe because the name is weird.  I dunno.

(8) Some interesting reflections on the story here.

(9) Jeffrey R. Holland:

The full measure of this unprecedented and unexcelled vision—“there never were greater things made manifest”—is yet to be made known to the children of men. But consider what was made known in one man’s experience in receiving it, consider that the time was approximately two thousand years before Christ’s birth, and consider what is not presently contained in the Old Testament canon of that period regarding Jehovah and His true characteristics. These twenty-five items are all drawn from Ether 3 and 4:

1. Jehovah, the God of the pre-Christian era, was the premortal Jesus Christ, identified here by that name (see Ether 3:14).

2. Christ is both a Father and a Son in His divine relationship with the children of men (see Ether 3:14).

3. Christ was “prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem [his] people” (Ether 3:14), knowledge which had been shared before with Enoch and later would be shared with John the Revelator (see Moses 7:47; Revelation 13:8).

4. Christ had a spirit body, which looked like and was in the premortal form of His physical body, “like unto flesh and blood,” including fingers, voice, face, and all other physical features (Ether 3:6).

5. Christ assisted in the creation of man, fashioning the human family “after the body of my spirit” (Ether 3:16).

6. With a spirit body and the divinity of His calling, the premortal Christ spoke audibly, in words and language understood by mortals (see Ether 3:16).

7. Christ is a God, acting for and with His Father, who is also a God (see Ether 3:14; 4:7).

8. Christ reveals some truths to some that are to be kept from others until an appointed time—His “own due time” (Ether 3:24).

9. Christ uses a variety of tools and techniques in revelation, including the interpreting power of “two stones”: the Urim and Thummim (see Ether 3:23–24; D&C 17:1).

10. Christ’s later atoning, redeeming role is clearly stated even before it has been realized in His mortal life. Furthermore, in a most blessed way for the brother of Jared, it is immediately efficacious. “I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people,” Christ says. “In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters” (Ether 3:14).

Then the brother of Jared has his redemption pronounced, as though the Atonement had already been carried out. “Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall,” Christ promises him, “therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you” (Ether 3:13).

This statement underscores the eternal nature of the Atonement, its effects reaching out to all those who lived before the Savior’s birth as well as all those living after it. All who in Old Testament times were baptized in Christ’s name had the same claim upon eternal life that the brother of Jared had, even though Christ had not yet even been born. In matters of the Atonement, as in all other eternal promises, “time only is measured unto men” (Alma 40:8).

11. Christ had past knowledge of “all the inhabitants of the earth which had been” and foreknowledge of “all that would be,” showing all of these to the brother of Jared (Ether 3:25).

Moroni, in recording the experience of the brother of Jared, adds these insights and revelations which come from the same encounter:

12. Future Saints will need to be sanctified in Christ to receive all of His revelations (see Ether 4:6).

13. Those who reject the vision of the brother of Jared will be shown “no greater things” by Christ (Ether 4:8).

14. At Christ’s command “the heavens are opened and are shut,” “the earth shall shake,” and “the inhabitants thereof shall pass away, even so as by fire” (Ether 4:9).

15. Believers in the vision of the brother of Jared will be given manifestations of Christ’s spirit. Because of such spiritual experience, belief shall turn to knowledge and they “shall know that these things are true” (Ether 4:11).

16. “Whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good” is of Christ. Good comes of none except Christ (Ether 4:12).

17. Those who do not believe Christ’s words would not believe Him personally (see Ether 4:12).

18. Those who do not believe Christ would not believe God the Father, who sent Him (see Ether 4:12).

19. Christ is the light and the life and the truth of the world (see Ether 4:12).

20. Christ will reveal “greater things” (Ether 4:13), “great and marvelous things” (Ether 4:15), and knowledge hidden “from the foundation of the world” (Ether 4:14) to those who rend the veil of unbelief and come unto Him.

21. Believers are to call upon the Father in the name of Christ “with a broken heart and a contrite spirit” if they are to “know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made” unto the house of Israel (Ether 4:15).

22. Christ’s revelations to John the Revelator will be “unfolded in the eyes of all the people” in the last days, even as they are about to be fulfilled (Ether 4:16).

23. Christ commands all the ends of the earth to come unto Him, believe in His gospel, and be baptized in His name (see Ether 4:18).\

24. Signs shall follow those who believe in Christ’s name (see Ether 4:18).

25. Those faithful to Christ’s name at the last day shall be “lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for [them] from the foundation of the world” (Ether 4:19). Citation

(10) Jim F.:

Though things are complicated by the fact that Mosiah (which one?) withheld the Book of Ether from his people (Ether 4:1), it is plausible to think of the book as being like a Book of Mormon for the people of the Book of Mormon. Why would the children of Lehi need such a book? Does each dispensation have its own ‘Book of Mormon’ What does seeing that the Book of Mormon people had the Jaredite record teach us? Does it make the story of their fall any more poignant?

(11) Showing his usual brilliance, Grant Hardy shows how the story of the brother of Jared works backwards from the tower (through the Noah parallel, the time before the flood, the time of wickedness, the expulsion from the garden [where the Jaredites are in the wilderness], the crucial touching [Adam and Eve of the fruit, the Lord of the 16 stones], the opening of the eyes [Adam and Eve and bJared], to the creation [where the Lord points out the bJared that he was created in his image.)  If you read the story of the bJared as playing the tape backwards from the tower to the creation, what do you learn?  Is this a process that we are to go through in our own lives?

(12) Some reflections here.

(13) Henry B. Eyring:

President Brigham Young directed our attention away from the sensational visions in the book of Ether and toward the lessons that must come first: “But if you had faith to go out to the graveyard and raise up scores of the dead, that alone would not make you Latter-day Saints, neither if the visions of your minds were opened so as to see the finger of God. What will? Keeping the commandments of the Lord, to walk humbly before your God, and before one another, to cease to do evil and learn to do well, and to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; then you are a Latter-day Saint, whether you have visions or not” (in Journal of Discourses, 3:211). This statement seems to suggest that, since few of us will have spectacular manifestations as the brother of Jared did, we might well add to that frequent picture of Moriancumer that pops into our minds (the blinding light from the stones on a mountaintop) the quiet scene of four years by a lovely seaside and the image of a three-hour interview. The tents by the sea could remind us that our dependence and gratitude must be unending, not just when we are in the “trackless wastes” or buried in some raging spiritual ocean. And a three-hour interview, longer than we may ever give our child or brother or husband or wife, could remind us of the availability, the patience, and the love of our Teacher. And with that sense of need and with that faith in God’s availability, we will have learned a crucial lesson from the brother of Jared, a master learner. He remained teachable throughout his life, as shown by his last act: he accepted the counsel of his brother to give the people a king, despite his conviction that it would lead to captivity. Despite personal power and visions of the future from heaven, Moriancumer still sought trusted counsel. Apparently we can never know so much of heaven that we can’t learn from each other. Citation

 

6 Responses to BMGD #45: Ether 1-6

  1. Tom on November 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    A simpler explanation – if the vessel is airtight, and the top hole is closed, you can open the bottom hole and water doesn’t come in (the pressure of the air in the vessel holds it back). The open hole also provides a convenient place to dispose of trash or waste.

  2. Cameron on November 28, 2012 at 1:57 am

    Great chapters, great study notes. Thank you so much! Can’t wait for the next one with Ether 12!

  3. Cary Crawford on November 29, 2012 at 1:51 am

    I think it’s interesting to contrast bJared pleading with the Lord to save a few righteous out of the crowd with Abraham trying to save a few righteous out of Sodom (Gen. 18). Abraham cannot find enough believers for Sodom to be saved. Here bJared is successful in protecting his family and friends. Perhaps like Abraham, bJared is a high priest whose priestly role points ahead to Christ: he pleads with the Lord to save others; but only the ultimate high priest–Christ–will truly be able to intercede to save many. A possible reading….

  4. Julie M. Smith on November 29, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Cary, I like that. I think there are other elements of bJared as a type of Christ as well.

  5. Barry Boyd on December 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Chapter 3: 1-10, Wow, good questions. After a 3 hour pep talk, did the bJared recommit himself, prove to the Lord he was on his team, and go even further with the audacity to show faith of his friends and family to have the stones prepared to work like the Liahoni, and to show almost a dare for the Lord to use his finger? What Faith indeed!

  6. Janis on December 9, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Thanks so very much, Julie, for the fantastic insights. I wonder if this part of Ether might not be seen as anticipating Herbert Spencer’s criticism of Carlyle’s Great Man theory of history. I say this because it seems that the bJared could have had his name inserted in this record if he had wanted to. Something in him seems to be resisting this, perhaps as a way of emphasizing not only the importance of his own interconnectedness with his brother, but the interconnectedness that chareacterizes all of our relations with others.
    Janis

    Janis

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