BMGD #46: Ether 7-15

December 3, 2012 | no comments
By

CHAPTER 7

 

1 And it came to pass that Orihah did execute judgment upon the land in righteousness all his days, whose days were exceedingly many.

Is “upon the land” (as opposed to “upon the people”) significant?

Is it significant that he lived a long time?  (In some ancient texts, that seems to be just a way of saying “he was a good guy.”)

 2 And he begat sons and daughters; yea, he begat thirty and one, among whom were twenty and three sons.

One of the most note-worthy features to me of the Book of Ether is that the daughters always get mentioned.  And yet there are no stories of women in Ether (save the daughter of Jared; more on that later).  What’s going on here?

Why did the record include the number of children as well as the number of each gender?

Should we assume he was a polygamist?  (I suppose he could have been a serial monogamist.)

 3 And it came to pass that he also begat Kib in his old age. And it came to pass that Kib reigned in his stead; and Kib begat Corihor.

Do you read this verse to imply that Kib is or is not part of the numerical total from the verse above?

Why is this son, who presumably has a whole football team’s worth of older brothers, the one who ends up reigning next?

 4 And when Corihor was thirty and two years old he rebelled against his father, and went over and dwelt in the land of Nehor; and he begat sons and daughters, and they became exceedingly fair; wherefore Corihor drew away many people after him.

Why aren’t we given any details about the rebellion?  (But we are given Corihor’s age when it happened; that’s an odd detail to include.)

Is this rebellion supposed to remind us of the sons of Mosiah?  And we’ve seen the names “Corihor” and “Nehor” before.

Usually, “exceedingly fair” in the BoM is a good thing, a marker of righteousness, but here they are in rebellion.  What’s going on?

Does the “wherefore” imply that the “becoming exceedingly fair” was related to attracting more followers?  Is the point that the followers are attracted to their “fairness” (whatever that means)?

 5 And when he had gathered together an army he came up unto the land of Moron where the king dwelt, and took him captive, which brought to pass the saying of the brother of Jared that they would be brought into captivity.

Pretty crazy to take your own father captive . . .

Usually, in a situation like this, a prince will poison his father, or do something else that leverages his close contact.  Why do you think he left, started an army, and came back and attacked?  That seems like more trouble than should have been necessary.

Note how the narrator emphasizes the fulfillment of prophesy.  Yet at the same time, we (and, I would wager, bJared) probably didn’t expect that they would be taken into captivity by . . .  themselves!  (It also raises this question:  had Kib been a judge, would this have played out any differently?  Was it really the king element that was a problem?)  What’s going on here?

Brant Gardner suggests that there were other people in Nehor that he joined up with, otherwise it is hard to imagine a break-away group becoming stronger than the original group.

 6 Now the land of Moron, where the king dwelt, was near the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites.

Does this verse imply that we are supposed to associate events at the two locales?

7 And it came to pass that Kib dwelt in captivity, and his people under Corihor his son, until he became exceedingly old; nevertheless Kib begat Shule in his old age, while he was yet in captivity.

Again, very weird to keep your father and his people captive. . .

 8 And it came to pass that Shule was angry with his brother; and Shule waxed strong, and became mighty as to the strength of a man; and he was also mighty in judgment.

Do you think that Kib trained Shule to see Corihor as a usurper?  (Or maybe the older brothers did?)

What does “mighty in judgment” mean?

 9 Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib.

“Molten” makes us think of bJared’s 16 stones–is that relevant here?  What to make of the fact that he is making swords and not stones?

Why do you think the record included the bit about making stones?  Just to make the link to “molten,” or something else?

Note that he gave the rule to his father, not himself.  (But see the next verse.)

Background on steel here.

 10 And now because of the thing which Shule had done, his father bestowed upon him the kingdom; therefore he began to reign in the stead of his father.

Do you think the only reason this story was told was to explain how the youngest son ended up inheriting the throne?  (I suppose also to show that bJared’s prophecy of captivity came true.)  Anything else to learn from this incident?

Is it weird to give the kingdom to the youngest son?

 11 And it came to pass that he did execute judgment in righteousness; and he did spread his kingdom upon all the face of the land, for the people had become exceedingly numerous.

Another good king . . . they actually haven’t had a problem with kings so far, but with their sons.

What does “spreading a kingdom” mean?  Is that an example of judging righteously?  Or just a necessity given the increasing population?

 12 And it came to pass that Shule also begat many sons and daughters.

 13 And Corihor repented of the many evils which he had done; wherefore Shule gave him power in his kingdom.

That’s . . . wow.  Really?  We’ve had two references to Shule’s good judgment; I suspect that that was to prepare us to read this as being forgiving and merciful and not just stupid.  Once again, I am struck at how merciful people are shown to be in this record.

 14 And it came to pass that Corihor had many sons and daughters. And among the sons of Corihor there was one whose name was Noah.

 15 And it came to pass that Noah rebelled against Shule, the king, and also his father Corihor, and drew away Cohor his brother, and also all his brethren and many of the people.

Oh, the irony!  Reminds me of Bill Cosby’s parents’ curse:  “I hope that someday you have a child JUST LIKE YOU!”

What’s the lesson that we are supposed to take from this turn of events?

 16 And he gave battle unto Shule, the king, in which he did obtain the land of their first inheritance; and he became a king over that part of the land.

 17 And it came to pass that he gave battle again unto Shule, the king; and he took Shule, the king, and carried him away captive into Moron.

Note that, with v16, we get “the king” three times to describe Shule.  Why?

 18 And it came to pass as he was about to put him to death, the sons of Shule crept into the house of Noah by night and slew him, and broke down the door of the prison and brought out their father, and placed him upon his throne in his own kingdom.

Usually, you get divine intervention to break down the prison doors.  The fact that you don’t get it here kind of reminds us that we’re 18 verses into the chapter and we’ve had no hint (except for one act of repentance) that there is any religion here at all . . .

Is there any indication as to why he was about to be put to death, when it seems like they had the habit of keeping people in captivity instead?

 19 Wherefore, the son of Noah did build up his kingdom in his stead; nevertheless they did not gain power any more over Shule the king, and the people who were under the reign of Shule the king did prosper exceedingly and wax great.

 20 And the country was divided; and there were two kingdoms, the kingdom of Shule, and the kingdom of Cohor, the son of Noah.

Are we supposed to see this as a parallel to the Nephites and Lamanites?  If so, what do you learn from the differences between the two situations?

 21 And Cohor, the son of Noah, caused that his people should give battle unto Shule, in which Shule did beat them and did slay Cohor.

Brant Gardner:

The incessant warfare suggests a population that has sufficient younger men to mount successful military campaigns. None of this is overly surprising, and indeed the history of Mesoamerican appears to confirm such constant warfare. Where it is surprising is to note that we have this type of warfare in only the third generation removed from the original landing party. This both confirms the need for others in the land when the Jaredites arrive, and continues to suggest that the king-list is not complete. It is highly likely that there are several missing links between these kings and Jared. Citation

 22 And now Cohor had a son who was called Nimrod; and Nimrod gave up the kingdom of Cohor unto Shule, and he did gain favor in the eyes of Shule; wherefore Shule did bestow great favors upon him, and he did do in the kingdom of Shule according to his desires.

Does naming the kid “Nimrod” imply a desire to link to the “old world”?

 23 And also in the reign of Shule there came prophets among the people, who were sent from the Lord, prophesying that the wickedness and idolatry of the people was bringing a curse upon the land, and they should be destroyed if they did not repent.

Why is the first mention of real religion in v23?  It feels weird to have a religious element hop into this story so late in the game.  (Were there perhaps prophets before this that were not mentioned?)

What work is “who were sent from the Lord” doing?  Aren’t all prophets sent from the Lord?

Is “upon the land” (as opposed to “upon the people”) significant?

Where does the idolatry come from?

 24 And it came to pass that the people did revile against the prophets, and did mock them. And it came to pass that king Shule did execute judgment against all those who did revile against the prophets.

In what ways might an otherwise faithful church member be tempted to mock the prophets today?

Is it a good or a bad thing for a king to judge those who revile prophets?

It seems to me that mocking and reviling are two very different reactions.  Or are they two sides of the same coin?  Does this verse picture the same people doing both?

Does the second sentence imply that there was no judgement against those who mocked the prophets?

 25 And he did execute a law throughout all the land, which gave power unto the prophets that they should go whithersoever they would; and by this cause the people were brought unto repentance.

Does this mean other people (= not prophets) did not have the right to go wherever they wanted?

Is there a message here about the non-separation of church and state?  What are we supposed to be learning from this verse?  (A difficult reader might say:  this verse implies that it is OK to limit the liberties of the people, as long as you give the prophets their rights.)

Why is there (apparently) a link between the free movement of the prophets and the repentance of the people?

26 And because the people did repent of their iniquities and idolatries the Lord did spare them, and they began to prosper again in the land. And it came to pass that Shule begat sons and daughters in his old age.

Note the daughters again  . . .

Here’s my crazy theory for the day: maybe there is something in the Jaredite language that, when translated into English, does NOT drop the female members of plural groups (unlike most languages, including Hebrew and Greek).  And just remember that their language was _not_ confounded . . .

It seems to be a Jaredite habit to have kids “in old age.”  Why is this always mentioned in the record?  (Of course, their “old age” was probably 37 or something humiliating like that.)  Brant Gardner suggests that this is just a formula saying that indicates prosperity, especially since he has Shule in his 70s here.

 27 And there were no more wars in the days of Shule; and he remembered the great things that the Lord had done for his fathers in bringing them across the great deep into the promised land; wherefore he did execute judgment in righteousness all his days.

I think the point here is that the political leaders aren’t able to avoid warfare, but the personal religiosity of the people is able to avoid warfare.

What’s the link between remembering and judging in this verse?

I like the picture of the results of repentance in these verses.  (Of course this is problematized by the fact that it only happened because prophets were sent to them.  What if they hadn’t been sent prophets?  What if their political leader hadn’t given the prophets legal protection?)

There was not originally a chapter break here.


CHAPTER 8

1 And it came to pass that he begat Omer, and Omer reigned in his stead. And Omer begat Jared; and Jared begat sons and daughters.

 2 And Jared rebelled against his father, and came and dwelt in the land of Heth. And it came to pass that he did flatter many people, because of his cunning words, until he had gained the half of the kingdom.

What does “flatter” mean in this verse?  How might we be victims of flattery today?  How might we be practitioners of flattery today?

What is the link between flattery and cunning words?

How do you gain half of a kingdom by flattery?  Does it suggest some sort of link between flattery and warfare (=the usual means by which you would obtain a kingdom)?

I think it is sort of weird that when Jaredite princes rebel, they do it by . . . leaving.

Does the flattery and the kingdom mean Heth?

 3 And when he had gained the half of the kingdom he gave battle unto his father, and he did carry away his father into captivity, and did make him serve in captivity;

History is repeating itself . . . what should we learn from this?  (I wonder if there is any link between the odd Jaredite penchant for capturing one’s father and the odd example of brothers kind-of sharing rule in the founding generation.)

 4 And now, in the days of the reign of Omer he was in captivity the half of his days. And it came to pass that he begat sons and daughters, among whom were Esrom and Coriantumr;

5 And they were exceedingly angry because of the doings of Jared their brother, insomuch that they did raise an army and gave battle unto Jared. And it came to pass that they did give battle unto him by night.

So . . . Esrom and Coriantumr are both “the brother of Jared” in this generation, as this verse makes clear.

Note how obviously their history is repeating itself, with a father in captivity bearing a child who is mad at the brother who stole the kingdom.

Why at night?  Why tell us this?  Symbolic?

 6 And it came to pass that when they had slain the army of Jared they were about to slay him also; and he plead with them that they would not slay him, and he would give up the kingdom unto his father. And it came to pass that they did grant unto him his life.

 7 And now Jared became exceedingly sorrowful because of the loss of the kingdom, for he had set his heart upon the kingdom and upon the glory of the world.

Is there any significance to the fact that this guy shares a name with one of the founding generation (actually, with both of them since we only know bJared as “the brother of Jared”)?

Brant Gardner:

While there is nothing to say that this verse is Moroni’s moralistic interpolation in the story, it is both consonant with Moroni’s editorial methods and unlikely to have been a part of the original tale. Citation

 8 Now the daughter of Jared being exceedingly expert, and seeing the sorrows of her father, thought to devise a plan whereby she could redeem the kingdom unto her father.

It’s so rare to get a story of a woman in the BoM, and this is the only one in the Book of Ether.  And it is an echo of an NT story.

She’s “the daughter of Jared,” with no other name, in a book where “the brother of Jared” casts a long shadow.  I suspect this is significant, but I am not sure how exactly . . .

Normally, someone responding to her father’s sorrow would be a good thing.

What does “exceedingly expert” mean?

Note the verbs:  being, seeing, and thought.  What to conclude?  (Kind of reminds me of Eve’s assessment of the fruit . . .)

We’ve seen a lot of children in the last few chapters work to change the rule of a kingdom.  How is this story the same?   How is it different?

There’s something about this verse, with the seeing, the sorrow, the devising, the plan, the redeeming, and the kingdom, that makes me think that there is Something Going On Here, but I’m not sure what.  Is this an inversion of the plan of salvation, with dJared as the anti-Christ?

 9 Now the daughter of Jared was exceedingly fair. And it came to pass that she did talk with her father, and said unto him: Whereby hath my father so much sorrow? Hath he not read the record which our fathers brought across the great deep? Behold, is there not an account concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory?

In the last verse, she was exceedingly expert and here she is exceedingly fair.

I had a lot to say last week about the odd relationship of Jared and bJared in terms of initiative and passivity.  Do you see that playing out here, with Jared and dJared?

Note that we virtually never get the direct speech of a female person in the BoM, but we do here.

What’s the point of her first question?  Isn’t it obvious why he is sorrowing?  Or is her point that he shouldn’t sorrow because she has a plan?

Does this verse imply that she had read scripture?  (Or, perhaps more likely, had it read to her?)

What does this verse imply about the uses and abuses of scripture?

Note that there was actually nothing in the original story that told us that they were taking scriptures with them–until we got to this verse, we didn’t know they had a record.  (I suppose that Moroni’s note that the Jaredite record went back to Adam could be read to imply that they had a record with them, but it is also possible that they didn’t and that what Moroni ends up with was the result of new revelation.)

Is it fair to conclude from the last sentence that she is talking about what is elsewhere called “secret combinations”?  (In the rest of the BoM, there seemed to be an effort to keep the record of secret combinations away from the people.  Did that happen here?  Not happen here?  Did she, as royalty, have access to the secret part?)

Who would have been “of old” before the tower:  Cain? (See v15.) (Does this verse imply the existence of other records that we don’t have?)

A lot of critics of the BoM have seen this as nothing but a pale rip-off of the NT story, but note that this story tells us that dJared didn’t make this up–it was an idea that she got from a record.

Note how she is using the scriptures as “inspiration.”  Is there a warning here for us?  (Seriously:  I think we sometimes read the scriptures as “how to” guides when part of them are “this is what you should not do.”)

James E. Faust:

We frequently find that the influence of good women is underrated. It is an influence that is often subtle but yet has tremendous consequences. One woman can make a great difference for a whole nation. I cite two examples from the scriptures, one for evil and one for good. In the book of Ether, Jared’s beautiful daughter enticed Akish to marry her through a seductive dance. Akish was to pay for her hand in marriage by murdering her grandfather, King Omer, so that her father could become the king. At her urging, Akish formed oath-bound secret combinations which caused the destruction of the Jaredite nation. On the other hand, Esther, a Jewess in the Old Testament, saved her people.  . . . One woman can make a great difference, even for a nation. Apr 03 GC

 10 And now, therefore, let my father send for Akish, the son of Kimnor; and behold, I am fair, and I will dance before him, and I will please him, that he will desire me to wife; wherefore if he shall desire of thee that ye shall give unto him me to wife, then shall ye say: I will give her if ye will bring unto me the head of my father, the king.

What do you make of the daughter calling the shots and designing a plan here?

What is the message here about marriage, desire, sexuality, lust, gain, etc.?

If this verse describes a “secret combination,” then what does that suggest to you about the nature of secret combinations?

 11 And now Omer was a friend to Akish; wherefore, when Jared had sent for Akish, the daughter of Jared danced before him that she pleased him, insomuch that he desired her to wife. And it came to pass that he said unto Jared: Give her unto me to wife.

 12 And Jared said unto him: I will give her unto you, if ye will bring unto me the head of my father, the king.

Note how the way this plays out makes dJared look like a prophet.

 13 And it came to pass that Akish gathered in unto the house of Jared all his kinsfolk, and said unto them: Will ye swear unto me that ye will be faithful unto me in the thing which I shall desire of you?

Why does Akish do this exactly?

Is the thing that he desires dJared, or something else?

 14 And it came to pass that they all sware unto him, by the God of heaven, and also by the heavens, and also by the earth, and by their heads, that whoso should vary from the assistance which Akish desired should lose his head; and whoso should divulge whatsoever thing Akish made known unto them, the same should lose his life.

Note that this is our first reference to God in this text . . .

Is the reference to their heads related to the head of the king?

Is this like a formal secret combination ratification ceremony or something?  (I think the next verse suggests this.) Because it doesn’t seem to quit fit the story, where we would have expected Akish to go off to get the head instead of doing something like this?

General question:  any relation to the Nephi beheading Laban story here?  (It might be interesting to read that story as an upending of the secret combination beheading story.)

What did (or will) Akish tell them?  Why is he telling them anything?

Is dJared included in all of this?

 15 And it came to pass that thus they did agree with Akish. And Akish did administer unto them the oaths which were given by them of old who also sought power, which had been handed down even from Cain, who was a murderer from the beginning.

Why do evil people have oaths?  What does this teach us about (righteous) covenants?

Why did Akish have them enter into an oath here?

What does it mean to say that Cain was a murdered “from the beginning”?  Because I think that one thing that is clear in the Genesis account is that he is specifically given a real opportunity to repent.

What is the link between oaths and power?

Where did Akish get the details on these oaths:  were they included in the records that they had?  How does this relate to v9, where dJared seems to be using the record to come up with a secret combination?

General:  in what ways is dJared a foil for bJared?  The names make us suspicious, the relation to good/evil, the use/abuse of scripture, relation to power-seeking . . . what else?  What should we be learning from this?

Is there a difference between an “oath” and a “covenant”?

 16 And they were kept up by the power of the devil to administer these oaths unto the people, to keep them in darkness, to help such as sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms.

What does “kept up” mean in this verse?

How would the oaths have kept them in darkness?

What does this verse suggest about “power”?

17 And it was the daughter of Jared who put it into his heart to search up these things of old; and Jared put it into the heart of Akish; wherefore, Akish administered it unto his kindred and friends, leading them away by fair promises to do whatsoever thing he desired.

Note the path:  dJared –> Jared –> Akish.  Note also that the narrator takes pains to point this path out to us.  Note that it is Akish, and not dJared or Jared, who helps them make the oaths.  What to conclude from this?

“Fair” has been used in this text for physical beauty; what does it mean here?

I think one of the under-appreciated secret combo-ish elements in our world today are all of the get-rich-quick, get-skinny-quick, get-emotionally-intelligent-quick schemes that promise you “whatsoever thing [you] desire” without the normal effort involved in getting it.

18 And it came to pass that they formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God;

Why is a secret combination more wicked than, say, child prostitution, or do you read this as hyperbole?

You know, there just aren’t a lot of scriptures where women are instigators of great evil.  But this is one.

19 For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man.

What’s the difference between a secret combination and the secret temple ceremonies?  (And don’t tell me that it is sacred and not secret.  That’s just a semantic game.  I’m sure Akish would also have told you that this wasn’t secret.)

Is this verse implying that shedding blood is always forbidden by God?  Is that true?

What link is this verse making between secret combinations and shedding blood?

20 And now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it hath been made known unto me that they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites.

Why did Moroni pop into the text at precisely this moment?

Hasn’t he already told us quite a bit about their oaths?

Is it really true that “all people” have these oaths?

Note that Moroni gives the reason for not writing these oaths as being that all people already have them.  Is that the reason that you would have expected?

Why does Moroni specifically mention the Lamanites when he has already said that all people have these oaths?

If the oaths are already had among all people, then what’s the point of not writing them down?

21 And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.

Is Moroni solely blaming secret combinations for the destruction of the Jaredites?  What about the fact that they had kings?  Or general unrighteousness?

Why does Moroni use a circumlocution and not just say “Jaredites”?

Is Moroni solely blaming secret combinations for the destruction of the Nephites?  What about the fact that they had kings?  Or general unrighteousness?

22 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

In what ways should we be worried about secret combinations today?

What does the image of blood crying from the ground suggest to you?

In what ways would a nation (not an individual or a group) uphold secret combinations?

Does this verse imply that the reasons a nation would support secret combos (ha!  if I ran a fast food restaurant in Utah, I’d offer secret combinations that weren’t on the menu.  They’d all come with sweet potato fries.) is power and gain?

Do secret combos always involve bloodshed?

23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

To what does “these things” refer to?  Secret combinations or something else?  (It would be weird if it were secret combos, since he just told us he wasn’t going to tell us what those were.)

Why would having “these things” shown encourage repentance?  What’s the link to secret combos here?

Notice “shall get above you.”  That’s a strange way to put it.  What does it imply?

Why is a sword a good image here?

I think Moroni is showing the secret combinations to be this thing that grows above you but then falls on you and kills you.  But then he kind of says the same thing about the sword of God.

What can we do to prevent secret combinations?  (Does this verse imply that we can?)

Notice how careful Moroni is to point out to us that this isn’t ancient history but something that is/should be immediately relevant to our lives.)

24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

Skousen reads “for woe be” here and “build” instead of “built.”

What does “these things” refer to in this verse?

What does “awake” imply to you?

Is it possible for one (or a small group) to stop a secret combination?  Because the Nephites had a pretty terrible track record for it.  I guess I am wondering how it can be a commandment in this verse to stop secret combinations when I’m not clear as to how you could do that.

There have been multiple times here where Moroni has tied secret combos to blood shed.  Is that link always there?

25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.

What’s the link between secret combinations and freedom?  Are all infringements of freedom related to secret combinations?

In the BoM, is “secret combination” just another way of saying “stuff Satan does,” or is there more to it than that?

How does free agency fit in to the description of Satan as a cause of evil in this verse?

What does “from the beginning” mean in this verse?  (Because I don’t remember Adam stoning any prophets.)

Does anything in this verse change how you read the creation story?  (I think these sorts of strong emphases  on Satan’s role make it hard to see Eve as making a wise, brave choice, as many recent LDS commenters think.)

26 Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved.

Is it possible to write things that will make evil go away?  Is it possible to make evil go away?

I find it interesting that he didn’t want to tell us about the secret combos, but he also believes that telling us about these things can make evil go away.  There’s a fine line here . . .

Note “persuaded.”  Compare the last verse–how is that the same/different from how Satan works?  Interesting contrast between persuaded and power.

What does “fountain” convey to you?

CHAPTER 9

1 And now I, Moroni, proceed with my record. Therefore, behold, it came to pass that because of the secret combinations of Akish and his friends, behold, they did overthrow the kingdom of Omer.

Why does he say his name again?

Note that Moroni has interrupted in the middle of a story for this little aside on secret combinations.  How do you read this aside differently knowing that it is in the middle of a story? How do you read the story differently knowing that there is an aside in the middle?

Why is the secret combination attributed to Akish when it was dJared’s idea?  (Yes, I can get my feminist knickers in a twist over slights of evil women!)

2 Nevertheless, the Lord was merciful unto Omer, and also to his sons and to his daughters who did not seek his destruction.

Note how rarely in this story there is any divine intervention.  Why here?

What role are the daughters playing here?  They seem to be independent political actors here–that’s pretty unusual.

3 And the Lord warned Omer in a dream that he should depart out of the land; wherefore Omer departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent, and also his sons and his daughters, and all his household, save it were Jared and his family.

How does this dream compare with Joseph (Genesis) or Joseph (Mary’s husband)?  Why do you think a dream was used here?

It is weird to say “the place where the Nephites were destroyed” when that won’t happen for 100s of years.  What happens when our attention is drawn from this story to the story of Nephite destruction?

Any relation to the first Jared and family pitching their tents by the seashore?

4 And it came to pass that Jared was anointed king over the people, by the hand of wickedness; and he gave unto Akish his daughter to wife.

Note that “anoint” implies a religious ritual.  This is the first use of anoint in this record.

5 And it came to pass that Akish sought the life of his father-in-law; and he applied unto those whom he had sworn by the oath of the ancients, and they obtained the head of his father-in-law, as he sat upon his throne, giving audience to his people.

Oh, the irony.  Of course you can’t trust Akish!

Why “the ancients” instead of the more typical “of old” here?  And why is the antiquity of the oaths repeatedly mentioned?  (I think there might be a bit of a corrective here to the idea that anything that has withstood the test of time is necessarily good.)

Why the details “as he sat upon his throne, giving audience”?

6 For so great had been the spreading of this wicked and secret society that it had corrupted the hearts of all the people; therefore Jared was murdered upon his throne, and Akish reigned in his stead.

Why did we shift from “combinations” to “oath” to “society”?

How do “hearts” become corrupted?

How does the presence of a secret society end up affecting “hearts”?

7 And it came to pass that Akish began to be jealous of his son, therefore he shut him up in prison, and kept him upon little or no food until he had suffered death.

Why are we given a motive here?  (You don’t hear a lot about jealousy.)

I think that the real deal here is that Akish is worried that his son will be just like he was.  It’s almost Shakespearean or something that Akish can’t enjoy his position because of his own neurosis.  Or maybe he’s completely justified to worry.  There’s something here . . . maybe a justification for why we “do unto others,” because who wants to live in a world where people act like Akish did?  Not him!

8 And now the brother of him that suffered death, (and his name was Nimrah) was angry with his father because of that which his father had done unto his brother.

Note the last verse had jealousy and this one has anger . . .

9 And it came to pass that Nimrah gathered together a small number of men, and fled out of the land, and came over and dwelt with Omer.

Once again, we have the “prince leaves to raise an army” script playing out . . .

10 And it came to pass that Akish begat other sons, and they won the hearts of the people, notwithstanding they had sworn unto him to do all manner of iniquity according to that which he desired.

Why does Akish trust these other sons?  (Maybe my analysis above about him worrying that they would act like him was misplaced.  Or maybe he doesn’t worry about these sons, because they don’t know how his father came into power.)

How did these sons win the hearts of the people and why does that even matter?

11 Now the people of Akish were desirous for gain, even as Akish was desirous for power; wherefore, the sons of Akish did offer them money, by which means they drew away the more part of the people after them.

What does this verse suggest about the relationship between gain and power?

Doesn’t Akish already hold power?

12 And there began to be a war between the sons of Akish and Akish, which lasted for the space of many years, yea, unto the destruction of nearly all the people of the kingdom, yea, even all, save it were thirty souls, and they who fled with the house of Omer.

Once again . . . the father versus son war.  Why was this so common among the Jaredites?  (Is there even a single example of this among the Nephites?)  Is it at all related to the odd brother-brother leadership structure of the first generation?  (Would it be pressing too hard to say that they didn’t have a pattern of a decent father-son relationship, like the Nephites had?)

13 Wherefore, Omer was restored again to the land of his inheritance.

14 And it came to pass that Omer began to be old; nevertheless, in his old age he begat Emer; and he anointed Emer to be king to reign in his stead.

15 And after that he had anointed Emer to be king he saw peace in the land for the space of two years, and he died, having seen exceedingly many days, which were full of sorrow. And it came to pass that Emer did reign in his stead, and did fill the steps of his father.

What does “fill the steps” suggest to you?

16 And the Lord began again to take the curse from off the land, and the house of Emer did prosper exceedingly under the reign of Emer; and in the space of sixty and two years they had become exceedingly strong, insomuch that they became exceedingly rich—

Again, note how rare direct divine intervention is in this story.

What was the curse?  How was it related to the secret combination?  Why was the curse on the land and not on the people?

What does this verse suggest about the relationship between strength, riches, and the curse?

Can you tell why things start going well for them?  How/why did things change?

17 Having all manner of fruit, and of grain, and of silks, and of fine linen, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things;

Background on silk here.

18 And also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man.

Swine is interesting–of course, they left _before_ the law of Moses was given . . .

19 And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.

What’s with the laundry list of “stuff” here?  Why include that in the record?  Didn’t the reference to “riches” at the end of v16 cover it?

Info on elephants here.

Cureloms!  Cumons!

20 And thus the Lord did pour out his blessings upon this land, which was choice above all other lands; and he commanded that whoso should possess the land should possess it unto the Lord, or they should be destroyed when they were ripened in iniquity; for upon such, saith the Lord: I will pour out the fulness of my wrath.

Does this verse imply that removing the curse and pouring out blessings are two different things?

What does it mean for a land to be “choice” above other lands?  How does that idea relate to the terrible times of wars that they have just endured?

What does it mean to possess land “unto the Lord”?

Does the “and he commanded . . .” intimate that this is something new?  Is it new?

21 And Emer did execute judgment in righteousness all his days, and he begat many sons and daughters; and he begat Coriantum, and he anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead.

22 And after he had anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead he lived four years, and he saw peace in the land; yea, and he even saw the Son of Righteousness, and did rejoice and glory in his day; and he died in peace.

Skousen reads “Sun” instead of “Son” here.

Is it weird that they get a new king before the old one dies?

Kind of weird to have a divine visitation passed over as an aside.  Why do you think more isn’t made of this visit?

Do “rejoice” and “glory” mean the same thing?

23 And it came to pass that Coriantum did walk in the steps of his father, and did build many mighty cities, and did administer that which was good unto his people in all his days. And it came to pass that he had no children even until he was exceedingly old.

What does “in the steps” do in this verse?  (My thought: righteousness as a journey.)

Why mention the “mighty” cities?

Now this seems like a twist on the “children in old age” thing  because he doesn’t have any kids until he’s old.  Is there some significance to this, or is it just factual detail?  (And, if so, then why is it in the record?)

24 And it came to pass that his wife died, being an hundred and two years old. And it came to pass that Coriantum took to wife, in his old age, a young maid, and begat sons and daughters; wherefore he lived until he was an hundred and forty and two years old.

Note one of the very few references to wives in the record.  Why do you think she was mentioned?  (And the second wife.)  And she sure lives a long time.  (In fact, I don’t think we get age info about any other BoM woman.)

Do you conclude from v23-24 that the Jaredites did not practice polygamy?  (I’m thinking if a king with no kids isn’t going to take a second wife [while the first one is still living], then no one is.)  (See also v5 in the next chapter for more on this.)

How literally do you take the 142 years?

25 And it came to pass that he begat Com, and Com reigned in his stead; and he reigned forty and nine years, and he begat Heth; and he also begat other sons and daughters.

26 And the people had spread again over all the face of the land, and there began again to be an exceedingly great wickedness upon the face of the land, and Heth began to embrace the secret plans again of old, to destroy his father.

Is there a link here between the spreading people and the great wickedness?

What does the word “embrace” suggest to you?

Is “secret plans” (as opposed to secret oaths, secret combinations, etc.) significant?

27 And it came to pass that he did dethrone his father, for he slew him with his own sword; and he did reign in his stead.

Why don’t we get any details on the dethroning, like we did with the other stories?

It seems that “son dethrones father” is a theme in Ether.  Why?  (I’m especially curious about the contrast with the Nephites, since there are so many other parallels.)

Brant Gardner:

Heth uses a secret combination (verse 26) to cover himself as he kills his father to take the throne. It is interesting that while Heth is a murderer ascending to the throne, he is still listed in the king-list. When Corihor steals the throne, he does not get entered on the king-list, even though he was king, and was of the right lineage. Akish sits on the throne, but is never in the king-list. This highlights the unusual circumstance of Heth who kills his father to steal the throne, and the does get listed in the king-list. It is not know why there is such a distinction, but there is a use for Heth that there was not for the other usurpers. Heth is blamed for the disintegration of the kingdom. Citation

28 And there came prophets in the land again, crying repentance unto them—that they must prepare the way of the Lord or there should come a curse upon the face of the land; yea, even there should be a great famine, in which they should be destroyed if they did not repent.

Is the famine related to the curse?  Are all famines curses?

Note that option A is to prepare the way of the Lord and option B is a famine.  How are these things the inverse of each other?

If we follow the customary dating scheme, it is something like 900BCE here.  In what ways could they have prepared the way of the Lord?  What does that phrase mean?

Is the famine (as opposed to some other method of destruction; I am partial to plagues myself) significant here?

29 But the people believed not the words of the prophets, but they cast them out; and some of them they cast into pits and left them to perish. And it came to pass that they did all these things according to the commandment of the king, Heth.

30 And it came to pass that there began to be a great dearth upon the land, and the inhabitants began to be destroyed exceedingly fast because of the dearth, for there was no rain upon the face of the earth.

What does “dearth” mean here?  Drought?

Webster 1828 “dearth”:

1. Scarcity; as a dearth of corn.

2. Want; need; famine;

3. Barrenness; sterility; as a dearth of plot.

31 And there came forth poisonous serpents also upon the face of the land, and did poison many people. And it came to pass that their flocks began to flee before the poisonous serpents, towards the land southward, which was called by the Nephites Zarahemla.

Do you read the serpents as being under God’s immediate control, or the natural result of the “dearth,” or what?  (I think v33 might answer this question, although I suppose that it is possible that the Lord stopped the serpents but hadn’t necessarily started their actions.)

Thoughts on serpents and droughts here.

Why does it matter here what the Nephites would someday call this land?

32 And it came to pass that there were many of them which did perish by the way; nevertheless, there were some which fled into the land southward.

33 And it came to pass that the Lord did cause the serpents that they should pursue them no more, but that they should hedge up the way that the people could not pass, that whoso should attempt to pass might fall by the poisonous serpents.

If I am following this, there is a sort of serpent barricade preventing them from leaving.  Why do you think the Lord might have done this, as opposed to some other way of stopping them?  Is there a symbolic element?  Any other scripture stories come to mind here?

34 And it came to pass that the people did follow the course of the beasts, and did devour the carcasses of them which fell by the way, until they had devoured them all. Now when the people saw that they must perish they began to repent of their iniquities and cry unto the Lord.

Which beasts?

Why mention all this bit about the beasts?

This doesn’t strike me as really genuine repentance, but just that they are trying to avoid dying.  (But see the next verse–apparently the Lord disagreed with me there.)

35 And it came to pass that when they had humbled themselves sufficiently before the Lord he did send rain upon the face of the earth; and the people began to revive again, and there began to be fruit in the north countries, and in all the countries round about. And the Lord did show forth his power unto them in preserving them from famine.

Is there a symbolic element to the rain?

What does the word “revive” suggest to you?

There was not originally a chapter break here.

CHAPTER 10

1 And it came to pass that Shez, who was a descendant of Heth—for Heth had perished by the famine, and all his household save it were Shez—wherefore, Shez began to build up again a broken people.

“Broken people” is a rather unusual phrase–why do you think it was used here?

2 And it came to pass that Shez did remember the destruction of his fathers, and he did build up a righteous kingdom; for he remembered what the Lord had done in bringing Jared and his brother across the deep; and he did walk in the ways of the Lord; and he begat sons and daughters.

Note the repetition of “build up” from v1.

Interesting how the journey of Jared and bJared is their foundation story–not Moses leaving Egypt or Lehi leaving Jrsm.  What is our foundation story?  The First Vision?  Something else?

3 And his eldest son, whose name was Shez, did rebel against him; nevertheless, Shez was smitten by the hand of a robber, because of his exceeding riches, which brought peace again unto his father.

So we are supposed to read this as poetic justice?

What does “smitten” mean here?  Did he start behaving after a beating, or was he killed, or what?

4 And it came to pass that his father did build up many cities upon the face of the land, and the people began again to spread over all the face of the land. And Shez did live to an exceedingly old age; and he begat Riplakish. And he died, and Riplakish reigned in his stead.

5 And it came to pass that Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines, and did lay that upon men’s shoulders which was grievous to be borne; yea, he did tax them with heavy taxes; and with the taxes he did build many spacious buildings.

Is there a relationship between polygamy and taking advantage of one’s people (in the sense of high taxes)?  Because this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this . . .

So is he their King Noah?

6 And he did erect him an exceedingly beautiful throne; and he did build many prisons, and whoso would not be subject unto taxes he did cast into prison; and whoso was not able to pay taxes he did cast into prison; and he did cause that they should labor continually for their support; and whoso refused to labor he did cause to be put to death.

7 Wherefore he did obtain all his fine work, yea, even his fine gold he did cause to be refined in prison; and all manner of fine workmanship he did cause to be wrought in prison. And it came to pass that he did afflict the people with his whoredoms and abominations.

In what way would _his_ whoredoms have afflicted the people?

Brant Gardner:

The specific mention of gold is anachronistic according to known archaeology. The presence of the idea of working “fine gold” in the prisons certainly paints the right picture, but it may be a later addition to the story. It is even possible that it is an interpretation given by Joseph Smith for what a valuable forced labor might be doing. In Joseph Smith’s world, gold would be the standard used for a valuable produced work. However, in Olmec times, that valuable material would have been jade. It is a plausible hypothesis that the original text had the working of jade, something with which Joseph Smith would not be familiar. When he needed to translate the forced creation of something of clear value, the translation used gold as the modern “translation” of the concept of the value of jade in the ancient Olmec culture. Citation

8 And when he had reigned for the space of forty and two years the people did rise up in rebellion against him; and there began to be war again in the land, insomuch that Riplakish was killed, and his descendants were driven out of the land.

9 And it came to pass after the space of many years, Morianton, (he being a descendant of Riplakish) gathered together an army of outcasts, and went forth and gave battle unto the people; and he gained power over many cities; and the war became exceedingly sore, and did last for the space of many years; and he did gain power over all the land, and did establish himself king over all the land.

Only other BoM use of “outcasts” is 2 Nephi 21:12, an Isaiah quotation.

10 And after that he had established himself king he did ease the burden of the people, by which he did gain favor in the eyes of the people, and they did anoint him to be their king.

Interesting that this verse shows “the people” anointing a king.  (Is the person still a king–with all of the condemnation that entails–if “the people” anoint him?)

11 And he did do justice unto the people, but not unto himself because of his many whoredoms; wherefore he was cut off from the presence of the Lord.

Fascinating–this is one of the few (maybe the only?) times in the BoM that we see a split between personal and public morality.  Is this a useful distinction?  (Or:  Should Clinton have been impeached?)  What should we learn from this?

Neal A. Maxwell:

Moreover, the foregoing trends are further accelerated by the fashionable nonjudgmentalism which excuses whatever wrong individuals do—as long as they do anything else commendable. After all, didn’t Mussolini make the trains run on time? Violators of the seventh commandment may still make useful contributions, but they pay a hidden, personal cost (see Alma 28:13). Of King Morianton we read, “He did [deal justly with his] people, but not [with] himself because of his many whoredoms” (Ether 10:11). Apparently a fair, no-respecter-of-persons leader, Morianton did not respect himself! His self-inflicted wounds were masked by the outward ornamentation of riches and buildings (see Ether 10:12). Oct 01 GC

12 And it came to pass that Morianton built up many cities, and the people became exceedingly rich under his reign, both in buildings, and in gold and silver, and in raising grain, and in flocks, and herds, and such things which had been restored unto them.

One thing that Brant Gardner points out is that this exceptional story–where a personally unrighteous king has a reasonably successful rule–implies that Moroni isn’t creating the history (or:  cherry-picking the history) out of whole cloth.  (Wait, sorry, mixed metaphors there.)  

13 And Morianton did live to an exceedingly great age, and then he begat Kim; and Kim did reign in the stead of his father; and he did reign eight years, and his father died. And it came to pass that Kim did not reign in righteousness, wherefore he was not favored of the Lord.

Is the implication that Morianton _was_ favored of the Lord?

Again, we have a child born in old age who ends up ruling.

14 And his brother did rise up in rebellion against him, by which he did bring him into captivity; and he did remain in captivity all his days; and he begat sons and daughters in captivity, and in his old age he begat Levi; and he died.

Here’s a departure:  a brother, not a son, rebelling and causing a captivity.

15 And it came to pass that Levi did serve in captivity after the death of his father, for the space of forty and two years. And he did make war against the king of the land, by which he did obtain unto himself the kingdom.

Does “serve in captivity” mean that this captivity was sort of a slavery?  Or what?

This isn’t our first 42 year span.  One wonders if someone was using dates symbolically.

16 And after he had obtained unto himself the kingdom he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord; and the people did prosper in the land; and he did live to a good old age, and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Corom, whom he anointed king in his stead.

17 And it came to pass that Corom did that which was good in the sight of the Lord all his days; and he begat many sons and daughters; and after he had seen many days he did pass away, even like unto the rest of the earth; and Kish reigned in his stead.

What work is “even like unto the rest of the earth” doing in this verse?

18 And it came to pass that Kish passed away also, and Lib reigned in his stead.

19 And it came to pass that Lib also did that which was good in the sight of the Lord. And in the days of Lib the poisonous serpents were destroyed. Wherefore they did go into the land southward, to hunt food for the people of the land, for the land was covered with animals of the forest. And Lib also himself became a great hunter.

We’ve had poisonous serpents all this time and didn’t hear about them?

Why did it take several generations of righteousness for the poisonous serpents to be destroyed?

20 And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land.

21 And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game. And the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants.

Why mention this?  Are we supposed to learn some moral lesson about zoning or conservation here?  ;)

22 And they were exceedingly industrious, and they did buy and sell and traffic one with another, that they might get gain.

Does “traffic” mean the same as buy and sell (and, if so, why say it again?) or something different (and, if so, what?)?

We often get “that they might get gain” related to secret combinations, but it seems to be a good thing here, no?

23 And they did work in all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore, they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of fine work.

24 And they did have silks, and fine-twined linen; and they did work all manner of cloth, that they might clothe themselves from their nakedness.

Normally the scriptures are critical of silk and fine-twined linen.

25 And they did make all manner of tools to till the earth, both to plow and to sow, to reap and to hoe, and also to thrash.

26 And they did make all manner of tools with which they did work their beasts.

27 And they did make all manner of weapons of war. And they did work all manner of work of exceedingly curious workmanship.

28 And never could be a people more blessed than were they, and more prospered by the hand of the Lord. And they were in a land that was choice above all lands, for the Lord had spoken it.

Are they blessed because of their industriousness?  Why do we have multiples verses devoted to their economic situation?

Hyperbole or more literal here?

It bugs me a little that this most blessed people is described not by how they treated each other but by how much stuff they had.

29 And it came to pass that Lib did live many years, and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Hearthom.

30 And it came to pass that Hearthom reigned in the stead of his father. And when Hearthom had reigned twenty and four years, behold, the kingdom was taken away from him. And he served many years in captivity, yea, even all the remainder of his days.

Jaredites spend a lot of time in captivity.  (Are we supposed to be pleased that their enemies don’t just kill them?)

Why don’t we get any back story as to how they go from the awesomeness of the previous verses to the captivity here?

31 And he begat Heth, and Heth lived in captivity all his days. And Heth begat Aaron, and Aaron dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Amnigaddah, and Amnigaddah also dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Coriantum, and Coriantum dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Com.

Wow–multiple generations in captivity.  Can’t think of anything similar to this since the children of Israel were in Egypt.

32 And it came to pass that Com drew away the half of the kingdom. And he reigned over the half of the kingdom forty and two years; and he went to battle against the king, Amgid, and they fought for the space of many years, during which time Com gained power over Amgid, and obtained power over the remainder of the kingdom.

There are a lot of 42s in this book–I wonder if that number (in addition to being the answer to everything) is symbolic.

33 And in the days of Com there began to be robbers in the land; and they adopted the old plans, and administered oaths after the manner of the ancients, and sought again to destroy the kingdom.

What does “adopted” convey to you?

It sorta feels like he’s just phoning it in at this point . . .

34 Now Com did fight against them much; nevertheless, he did not prevail against them.

What does this verse suggest to you about the secret combinations?

CHAPTER 11

1 And there came also in the days of Com many prophets, and prophesied of the destruction of that great people except they should repent, and turn unto the Lord, and forsake their murders and wickedness.

By this point, I think the reader is thinking, “I get it . . . good king, bad son takes good king captive, people are wicked, prophets come, people ignore prophets, shampoo, rinse, repeat.”  Is it safe to say that the point of this record is to see the repeating patterns of history?  If so, what should we learn from that and how is it relevant to our lives?

2 And it came to pass that the prophets were rejected by the people, and they fled unto Com for protection, for the people sought to destroy them.

Interesting to have prophets seeking a king’s protection:  usually the prophets need protection from the king!

3 And they prophesied unto Com many things; and he was blessed in all the remainder of his days.

Interesting that we clearly have more than one prophet here.

4 And he lived to a good old age, and begat Shiblom; and Shiblom reigned in his stead. And the brother of Shiblom rebelled against him, and there began to be an exceedingly great war in all the land.

5 And it came to pass that the brother of Shiblom caused that all the prophets who prophesied of the destruction of the people should be put to death;

6 And there was great calamity in all the land, for they had testified that a great curse should come upon the land, and also upon the people, and that there should be a great destruction among them, such an one as never had been upon the face of the earth, and their bones should become as heaps of earth upon the face of the land except they should repent of their wickedness.

Do you take “such an one” as hyperbole? (See also the next verse.) (Do you figure we are before or after Noah’s ark here?)

The image of heaped bones is very evocative–what does it convey to you?

7 And they hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord, because of their wicked combinations; wherefore, there began to be wars and contentions in all the land, and also many famines and pestilences, insomuch that there was a great destruction, such an one as never had been known upon the face of the earth; and all this came to pass in the days of Shiblom.

Hyperbole?

What role are the combinations playing here?  How might that be relevant to us?

I’m surprised that the wars and contentions were only beginning here.

8 And the people began to repent of their iniquity; and inasmuch as they did the Lord did have mercy on them.

Once again, I feel like I need to wonder how genuine the repentance is if it is brought on by calamity.

9 And it came to pass that Shiblom was slain, and Seth was brought into captivity, and did dwell in captivity all his days.

10 And it came to pass that Ahah, his son, did obtain the kingdom; and he did reign over the people all his days. And he did do all manner of iniquity in his days, by which he did cause the shedding of much blood; and few were his days.

Does the author think that length of life is correlated with righteousness?

11 And Ethem, being a descendant of Ahah, did obtain the kingdom; and he also did do that which was wicked in his days.

Remember how Mormon seemed to organize his material by date?  Here, it seems like the organizing material is who is reigning.  Does this suggest anything to us about the difference between Nephites and Jaredites?

12 And it came to pass that in the days of Ethem there came many prophets, and prophesied again unto the people; yea, they did prophesy that the Lord would utterly destroy them from off the face of the earth except they repented of their iniquities.

This gets to be like a chorus or a refrain:  prophets (whose names we never know; there is always >1 of them) show up, preach “repent or be destroyed,” and are ignored.

13 And it came to pass that the people hardened their hearts, and would not hearken unto their words; and the prophets mourned and withdrew from among the people.

What do you make of the mourning here?

Note that the prophets are normally killed or kicked out, but here they seem to leave voluntarily.  Can you tell what is different this time around?

14 And it came to pass that Ethem did execute judgment in wickedness all his days; and he begat Moron. And it came to pass that Moron did reign in his stead; and Moron did that which was wicked before the Lord.

15 And it came to pass that there arose a rebellion among the people, because of that secret combination which was built up to get power and gain; and there arose a mighty man among them in iniquity, and gave battle unto Moron, in which he did overthrow the half of the kingdom; and he did maintain the half of the kingdom for many years.

16 And it came to pass that Moron did overthrow him, and did obtain the kingdom again.

17 And it came to pass that there arose another mighty man; and he was a descendant of the brother of Jared.

Interesting to get a shout-out to bJared here.  Should you be reading this differently with the reminder of bJared?  Note that this person is not named!  Just like bJared.

18 And it came to pass that he did overthrow Moron and obtain the kingdom; wherefore, Moron dwelt in captivity all the remainder of his days; and he begat Coriantor.

19 And it came to pass that Coriantor dwelt in captivity all his days.

20 And in the days of Coriantor there also came many prophets, and prophesied of great and marvelous things, and cried repentance unto the people, and except they should repent the Lord God would execute judgment against them to their utter destruction;

21 And that the Lord God would send or bring forth another people to possess the land, by his power, after the manner by which he brought their fathers.

22 And they did reject all the words of the prophets, because of their secret society and wicked abominations.

I’m struck by how many different words:  secret, wicked, oath, combination, society, etc. are used in this text to describe the secret combinations.

We’re wrapping up a bunch of really boring chapters where basically the same thing happens over and over again.  Why do you think Moroni chose to include this part of the record?

23 And it came to pass that Coriantor begat Ether, and he died, having dwelt in captivity all his days.

CHAPTER 12

1 And it came to pass that the days of Ether were in the days of Coriantumr; and Coriantumr was king over all the land.

2 And Ether was a prophet of the Lord; wherefore Ether came forth in the days of Coriantumr, and began to prophesy unto the people, for he could not be restrained because of the Spirit of the Lord which was in him.

Skousen reads “constrained” instead of “restrained” here.

Note that this is the first time that we learn the name of a Jaredite prophet.

3 For he did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun, exhorting the people to believe in God unto repentance lest they should be destroyed, saying unto them that by faith all things are fulfilled—

Is his message different from previous Jaredite prophets, or are we just hearing more about it?  Why are we hearing more about it anyway?

What does “all things” mean in this verse?

What things are “fulfilled” by faith?  (I’m having a hard time thinking of anything but prophecies, and I suspect that prophecies will be fulfilled whether I have faith in them or not.)

4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

Skousen reads “faith and maketh” here.

What does this verse have to say about the relationship between belief and hope?

What does “a better world” mean here:  does it refer to this life?  The next?

I am sensing some tension between “hope” and “surety.”  Is that just me?

In what ways does hope come from faith?

What do anchors do?  Why is that a good image here?

In “maketh an anchor,” is the anchor hope or faith?  In what ways is hope/faith an anchor?

Note “surety” at the beginning of the verse and “sure” near the end–are these related?

How do good works relate to an anchored soul?

In this verse, are good works the same and glorifying God, or is that two different things?

Bonnie D. Parkin:

There are both stormy seas and calm waters in life. But as Ether tells us, “Hope cometh of faith, [and] maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4). Covenants anchor us to solid ground, which, amidst the storms, makes our promises not only meaningful for eternity but vital for today. Apr 95 GC

Jeffrey R. Holland:

Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as “hope for a better world.” For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of “good things to come.” My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. Oct 99 GC

5 And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not.

Is the last verse a prophecy?

Note that the people thought that they should be able to see prophecies.  What should we learn from this?

6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

There’s Moroni popping into the text again.  Why did he do that here?  (My guess: he hops in to be sure that we don’t make the same mistake that Ether’s audience did, which was to think that we shouldn’t believe any prophecy that we couldn’t see.)  It is a little awkward, maybe, in the sense that it conveys that Moroni thinks there is something incomplete about his source text that he needs to round out.

I think that if we took this verse seriously, we wouldn’t be so vexed by the things that we don’t understand.

What is this verse’s message about our senses?

Is “a witness” the same as “seeing”?

Interesting that Moroni is telling us not to want to “see” stuff in the same breath that he says he will “show” us stuff.  I wonder if he did that on purpose to mess with us.

What do you make of Moroni’s definition of faith as “things which are hoped for and not seen”?  Is it complete?  Misleading in any way?

In this verse, is faith a choice?  A decision to believe in the absence of evidence?  How else might you understand it?

Would Moroni say that it is incorrect to claim to “have faith” in something once you have seen it?

If faith is “things which are hoped for and not seen,” then what would a trial of faith look like?

Neal A. Maxwell:

Yet in the geometry of the restored theology, hope corresponds to faith but sometimes has a greater circumference. Faith, in turn, constitutes “the assurance of things hoped for” and the proof of “things not seen” (JST, Heb. 11:1; see also Ether 12:6). Thus hope sometimes reconnoiters beyond the present boundaries of faith, but it always radiates from Jesus. Oct 98 GC

Boyd K. Packer:

Another example: We once had a major decision to make. When our prayers left us uncertain, I went to see Elder Harold B. Lee. He counseled us to proceed. Sensing that I was still very unsettled, he said, “The problem with you is you want to see the end from the beginning.” Then he quoted this verse from the Book of Mormon, “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6). He added, “You must learn to walk a few steps ahead into the darkness, and then the light will turn on and go before you.” That was a life-changing experience from one verse in the Book of Mormon. Apr 05 GC

Robert D. Hales:

These miracles come to us as we endure what the scriptures call a “trial of [our] faith.”Sometimes that trial is the time it takes before an answer is received. When President David O. McKay was a young man herding cattle, he sought a witness, but it did not come until many years later while serving his mission in Scotland. He wrote, “It was a manifestation for which as a doubting youth I had secretly prayed … on hillside and in meadow. It was an assurance to me that sincere prayer is answered ‘sometime, somewhere.’” The answer may be “Not now—be patient and wait.” I testify that on the hillside or the meadow, in the grove or closet, now or in the eternities to come, the Savior’s words to each of us will be fulfilled: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Oct 07 GC

Richard G. Scott:

“Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6). Thus, every time you try your faith—that is, act in worthiness on an impression—you will receive the confirming evidence of the Spirit. As you walk to the boundary of your understanding into the twilight of uncertainty, exercising faith, you will be led to find solutions you would not obtain otherwise. Oct 10 GC

7 For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him; wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him, for he showed himself not unto the world.

In what sense was faith necessary for Christ to show himself to the Nephites?  Christ’s faith?  The people’s faith?
What’s the relationship between faith and sight here?

Is it really true to say that Christ didn’t show himself until they had faith, or better to say that all those who didn’t have faith were killed beforehand?

Is it true that no one sees Christ until they have faith in him?

What is “it must needs be . . .in him” doing?  Suggesting that Christ showed himself to some faith-less Nephites because there were enough faithful Nephites present?  Is there a better way to understand this verse?

When Jesus visited the Nephites, in what sense did he not show himself “unto the world”?  Were only certain people permitted to be there?  (Or is it just that “the world” was killed off before he came?)

8 But because of the faith of men he has shown himself unto the world, and glorified the name of the Father, and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, that they might hope for those things which they have not seen.

Compare this verse with the last verse–in what sense did Christ show himself “unto the world”?

Is this verse implying that the faith of some people is sufficient to allow other people (without faith) to see Christ?  What would be the implications of that idea?

Why mention glorifying the name of the Father, and what precisely does that mean, anyway?

What is the “heavenly gift”?  What effect does it have on you to think of it as a “gift”?

The “hope for those things which they have not seen” is pretty darn close to the definition of faith from just a few verses ago; is it correct to say that the heavenly gift _is_ faith, or that partaking of the heavenly gift _causes_ faith, or what?  Does the next verse answer this question?

Are specific unseen things in mind in this verse?

9 Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith.

Note how careful Moroni is to be sure we understand that the same deal applies to us.

In what ways does faith lead to hope?

Does this verse help you better understand what the gift is?  How does the gift relate to hope and faith?

10 Behold it was by faith that they of old were called after the holy order of God.

Who does Moroni have in mind here?  Melchezidek?  Others?

11 Wherefore, by faith was the law of Moses given. But in the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way; and it is by faith that it hath been fulfilled.

In what ways was faith involved in giving the law of Moses?

If we keep Moroni’s definition of faith in mind, we could rewrite this verse as “by things which are hoped for but not seen was the law of Moses given.”  In what ways is that true?

We usually don’t think of faith and the law of Moses in the same breath.  What connections is this verse encouraging us to make?

How does “the gift of his Son” relate to the “heavenly gift” above?

In what ways is the Son a gift to us?

Does this verse imply that the gift of the Son is “a more excellent way” than the law of Moses?  Are there other ways to read this?  If that is the best way, then is it weird to talk about the role of faith in something that is not the most excellent way?

In “it is by faith that is hath . . .”, to what does the second “it” refer?  The law of Moses?  Something else?  If it is the law of Moses, in what sense was it fulfilled by faith?

12 For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.

Is it correct to conclude from this verse that God is not omnipotent (if God can’t do miracles under certain conditions)?

Why is faith required for miracles?

Does this verse imply that a visit from God is a miracle?  Do we usually think of it that way?

“After their faith” has an awkward sound to it–is it just clumsy, or is their something going on here?  Maybe it means “after their faith” in the bJared sense of “not having faith anymore because now you have knowledge.”

13 Behold, it was the faith of Alma and Amulek that caused the prison to tumble to the earth.

Again (and, really, maybe you should do this for all of these verses), you could say “it was the things which were hoped for but not seen of Alma and Amulek that caused . . .”  How might that make you think differently about this verse?  Or am I misapplying the definition?

Does this verse imply that everyone unrighteously who didn’t get out lacked faith?

14 Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

What does “wrought the change” mean here?  How can the faith of one person cause a change on another?

15 Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites.

Note that Moroni is not working in chronological order here.

Note “wrought the change” in the last verse and “wrought so great a miracle” in this verse.  How are these ideas related?

16 Yea, and even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith, even those who were before Christ and also those who were after.

Are there any situations where miracles happen without faith being the primary mover?  (See also v18.)

Why does Moroni call attention to the difference of times before and after Christ, only to then show that things were the same both before and after?

17 And it was by faith that the three disciples obtained a promise that they should not taste of death; and they obtained not the promise until after their faith.

Again, does “after their faith” just seem awkward, or does it mean “when they had knowledge (and therefore no more faith)”?

18 And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God.

Is Moroni nuancing his definition of faith to mean “believe in the Son of God” here, or is there a better way to understand this verse?

19 And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.

Does this verse imply that it is a bigger deal to have faith before Christ came than after?

Now, it sounds like this verse is talking about bJared (and the next verse confirms this), except that it says “many.”  Why do you think we don’t get these other stories?  Does it mean that bJared’s faith was not unique?

What work is “truly” doing in this verse?

Does this verse imply that the only reason there is a veil is because of lack of faith?  Would it be correct to say that the veil is a product of disbelief?

What is the “eye of faith”?  Is that a thing?  What does it suggest to you about sight?

“Glad” seems pretty tepid for what is being described here.  Why do you think that word was used?

20 And behold, we have seen in this record that one of these was the brother of Jared; for so great was his faith in God, that when God put forth his finger he could not hide it from the sight of the brother of Jared, because of his word which he had spoken unto him, which word he had obtained by faith.

Is it significant that he is using “God” and not “Jesus” here?

Does this verse imply that God does not control who sees God?  (See also the next verse.)

What is “because of his word . . .” doing here?  Who is the “he” and the “him” in that phrase?

How do you obtain a word by faith?

21 And after the brother of Jared had beheld the finger of the Lord, because of the promise which the brother of Jared had obtained by faith, the Lord could not withhold anything from his sight; wherefore he showed him all things, for he could no longer be kept without the veil.

Given that it has only been a few chapters since we got the whole bJared story, why do you think Moroni is going through it all again?  Does this recounting have a different nuance to it than the original narration?

What does “all things” mean?  How literally do you take that?  (Do you think bJared saw iPads?)

22 And it is by faith that my fathers have obtained the promise that these things should come unto their brethren through the Gentiles; therefore the Lord hath commanded me, yea, even Jesus Christ.

Note “my” here.  Nice touch.

What does it mean to obtain a promise?  Which promise?

What command did the Lord give Moroni and why doesn’t Moroni tell us specifically?

23 And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them;

It seems pretty jarring to go straight from a discourse on faith to an example of what might fairly be termed a lack of faith on Moroni’s part.  Do you think he did this deliberately?

Is this an appropriate response to a commandment?  Why doesn’t he just say “OK”? I mean, seriously, he seems to almost be criticizing the Lord for not making them good writers and therefore setting them up to be mocked by the Gentiles.

What do you learn about mockery from this verse?

What do you think Moroni meant by “weakness in writing”?  (See the next verse for more on this.)

What does “word by faith” mean, knowing that it doesn’t mean writing?

What does this verse say about the relationship between the Holy Ghost and speaking?

Sorry, but “speak much” doesn’t sound too impressive.  Did he maybe mean “speak well”?  (It would be ironic if he wrote poorly here, given the beginning of the verse.)

24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.

What do you think he meant by the awkward hand business?  I’m stumped.

Really?  bJared was a mighty writer?  I didn’t see anything in his story that indicated that.  Is Moroni just extrapolating because he thought the story was well-told or something?

Did you feel overpowered when you read the bJared story?  Should you have?

Are you buying Moroni’s complaint here, or is this just false modesty, or what?

We always hear that comparison is the death of contentment.  Was it OK for Moroni to compare himself to bJared?

25 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.

Again, he kind of sounds like he is complaining:  “you made our words so awesome we couldn’t write them!”  Is this a complaint?  Was it wrong to do this?  What purpose does/did it serve?

The following chiasmus has been identified (source):

23 A And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things,
B because of our weakness in writing;
C for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith,
D but thou hast not made us mighty in writing;
E for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much,
because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them;
24 E And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the
awkwardness of our hands.
D Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother
of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were
mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.
25 C Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them;
B wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of
the placing of our words;
A and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.

If that’s right, it’s pretty hilarious that he’s using a poetic literary form to explain what a crummy writer he is.  :)

26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;

Does mocking always lead to mourning?

“Fools mock, but they shall mourn” is quite the one-line smack-down, and somewhat out of character.

I almost wonder if there isn’t a hint of a suggestion here that Moroni is the fool who is mocking the plan of the Lord (as well as the larger meaning that if any Gentiles mock, they will mourn).

How would you define grace?

What does grace have to do with anything here?

Why are only the meek covered sufficiently by grace?  What’s the relationship there?  Why meek and not, say, faithful?

Is it true that no one has taken advantage of Moroni’s weakness in writing?

Was Moroni meek?  Was Moroni being told in this verse that he needed to be meeker?

Why doesn’t Moroni get a smack-down for not trusting more in the Lord here?

Jeffrey R. Holland:

 The scriptures are replete with the promise that God’s grace is sufficient. This is one arena where no one has to claw or compete. Apr 02 GC

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

What does “come unto me” mean in this verse?

The idea that the Lord would show you your weaknesses is an interesting one.  Most of us just want to hear about our strengths.

Is it possible to be humble without weaknesses?  (Was Jesus humble?  Did Jesus have weaknesses?)

Would it be correct to conclude that the Lord does not have sufficient grave for those who are not humble?  How does that idea work exactly?

So . . . according to this verse, what should you do with your weaknesses?  Where’s the line between sort of celebrating them and/or reveling in mediocrity?

Is humbling yourself and having faith two different things or two ways of saying the same thing?

What exactly does it mean to humble yourself?

How can a weak thing be made strong?  Can you think of examples?

Do you conclude from this verse that you should or should not try to overcome your weaknesses?

Do you think it is accurate to say that the weaknesses in the BoM are made into strengths?  Can you think of any examples of this?

Hartman Rector, Jr.:

So where do we get our weaknesses? We get them from the Lord; the Lord gives us weaknesses so we will be humble. This makes us teachable. Now don’t misunderstand me—the Lord is not responsible for the sin; he is only responsible for the weakness. It seems that all men have weaknesses in one form or another, character traits that make one more subject to a particular temptation than another. Apr 70 GC

Bruce C. Hafen:

So if you have problems in your life, don’t assume there is something wrong with you. Struggling with those problems is at the very core of life’s purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, stronger. If you’re seeing more of your weaknesses, that just might mean you’re moving nearer to God, not farther away. Apr 04 GC

28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.

Note that the solution for Moroni’s poor writing isn’t improved writing, but that the Gentiles will see their own weaknesses.  (I think this is why we all have callings and alternate them around–our experience in seeing our own weaknesses in our callings is much more effective in helping us be charitable toward others’ weaknesses than actually reducing their weaknesses would be.)

Why mention charity here?

What does “fountain” suggest to you?

So . . . do you read this response to say that the Lord didn’t think that Moroni was being too complain-y or too whiny?  (Because I kind of think he was.)

29 And I, Moroni, having heard these words, was comforted, and said: O Lord, thy righteous will be done, for I know that thou workest unto the children of men according to their faith;

Was comfort the thing that Moroni was looking for?  Or something else?  Is comfort what the Lord provided?

Does this verse imply that Moroni is now willing to accept the will of the Lord (but perhaps wasn’t before)?

Does the “for I know . . .” statement imply that maybe he didn’t know this before but does now?  If so, how/why did he figure this out?  What about his experience had to do with faith?

30 For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith.

Wait a minute–when did that happen?  I don’t remember bJared moving any mountains!  This is, I think, a bit of an editorial failure (dare I say a weakness in writing?) on Moroni’s part, to toss out this story as if we are all familiar with it, when we are not.  Apparently it was in his source material, but not included in his redaction.  Which is kind of fascinating–I’m trying to envision a situation where I am condensing a source and choose to leave out the part where someone used faith to move a mountain (and, for good measure, left in all of those tedious king lists and battles).

I have to say:  this sounds a little but mythic to me.  Not only because it isn’t part of the actual Jaredite record, but because I think the “faith moving mountains” thing was meant to be . . . not literal.  I would have guessed that Moroni wasn’t thinking about this literally, either (maybe using ‘move mountains’ as a fancy way of saying ‘remove the veil’) except for that part about naming the mountain that was moved.  So I am not sure what to make of this.

This is just so weird, like he’s repeating this story to the Lord.  Almost psalm-like.

31 For thus didst thou manifest thyself unto thy disciples; for after they had faith, and did speak in thy name, thou didst show thyself unto them in great power.

32 And I also remember that thou hast said that thou hast prepared a house for man, yea, even among the mansions of thy Father, in which man might have a more excellent hope; wherefore man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared.

“And I also remember” is a pretty odd opening . . . is the suggestion that this isn’t in the record but maybe something from Nephite oral tradition?

Is “house” different from “mansion” in this verse?

Does Moroni see hope as something that will be needed in the afterlife?  If not, then how do you understand the houses/mansions in this verse?

Why is hope necessary to getting an inheritance?  (Hope seems more to me like a personality characteristic than a virtue per se.)

What does the word “inheritance” suggest to you about your relationship to the Lord?

Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

Moroni in his solitude—even after having witnessed the complete destruction of his people—believed in hope. In the twilight of the Nephite nation, Moroni wrote that without hope we cannot receive an inheritance in the kingdom of God. Oct 08 GC

33 And again, I remember that thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world, that thou mightest take it again to prepare a place for the children of men.

Again with the remembering . . . why does he say that?

What do you learn about love from this verse?

Does this verse imply that the taking up of his life was necessary to preparing a place for humans?

34 And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father.

How does Moroni know this?  Is this something that was revealed to him?

I’m curious about the “now,” as it seems to imply that he recently gained this knowledge.  Is it this last conversation about making weaknesses strong that taught him this (and, if so, how?) or something else?

Does this verse imply that there are various types of love, and that the type that Christ has is charity?  Or is there a better way to read what is happening here?

What is Moroni saying about why people need charity?

V32 said hope was necessary to inherit; this verse says charity is necessary.

Dallin H. Oaks:

 The reason charity never fails and the reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness he cited is that charity, “the pure love of Christ” (Moro. 7:47), is not an act but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes. Thus, as Moroni declared, “except men shall have charity they cannot inherit” the place prepared for them in the mansions of the Father (Ether 12:34; emphasis added). Oct 00 GC

35 Wherefore, I know by this thing which thou hast said, that if the Gentiles have not charity, because of our weakness, that thou wilt prove them, and take away their talent, yea, even that which they have received, and give unto them who shall have more abundantly.

Did the Lord really say anything about the Gentiles having charity or did Moroni just make that up?

What does Moroni think the relationship between charity and weakness is?  Is his point that the Gentiles should love him enough to ignore his mistakes?

I find it interesting that after seeming to go off on a tangent about charity, Moroni brings the theme back to weaknesses.  It now appears that he has used this discussion of charity to show what the Gentiles’ response to the weaknesses in the BoM should be.  So:  In what ways are mocking and charity opposites?

What does “prove” mean in this verse?

What does “talent” mean here?  Does it mean “thing they are good at,” or, per the parable, “unit of money”?  Does “even that which . . .” answer the question?

What does this verse say is the cost of not having charity?

36 And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity.

Interesting how Moroni has shifted from concern over his writing to concern over the hearts of the Gentiles.  Thoughts on how we might apply this principle today?

Is Moroni saying that grace is a precursor to charity?  How might this be true?

Is grace something God gives people?  What is it?

37 And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.

It is a little hard for me to imagine the Lord saying, “if they mess up, no skin off your nose.”  There’s a sense in which that is, of course, true, but also a sense in which it seems to lack compassion.  If God weeps, then how could it not matter to Moroni if the Gentiles don’t have charity?

What are garments a symbol for here?  Why are they a good symbol?

So does this verse imply that it was good for Moroni to do all that whining about his poor writing?

Does this verse imply that Moroni’s writing would be improved, or does “made strong” mean something else?

Why are mansions and sitting in them a good image?

38 And now I, Moroni, bid farewell unto the Gentiles, yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood.

In what sense is Moroni bidding farewell to the Gentiles?

How literally do you read this:  do you expect to high-five Moroni at the judgment seat?

I have a hard time reading the final line as anything but . . . disinterested in an inappropriate way.  Kind of an “I’ve got mine . . . forget about you” attitude.  It just seems wrong to me that Moroni is acting so disinterested in us.  I’m not buying it.

In what situations might someone’s garments end up spotted with someone else’s blood?  I’m thinking:  a violent struggle, an animal sacrifice, some sort of injury or accident . . . what else?  What’s the assumption behind Moroni’s image here?

Jeffrey R.  Holland:

May I refer to a modern “last days” testimony? When Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum started for Carthage to face what they knew would be an imminent martyrdom, Hyrum read these words to comfort the heart of his brother: “Thou hast been faithful; wherefore … thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. And now I, Moroni, bid farewell … until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ.” A few short verses from the 12th chapter of Ether in the Book of Mormon. Before closing the book, Hyrum turned down the corner of the page from which he had read, marking it as part of the everlasting testimony for which these two brothers were about to die. I hold in my hand that book, the very copy from which Hyrum read, the same corner of the page turned down, still visible. Later, when actually incarcerated in the jail, Joseph the Prophet turned to the guards who held him captive and bore a powerful testimony of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Shortly thereafter pistol and ball would take the lives of these two testators. Oct 09 GC

39 And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things;

This is the first we really hear about this . . . why wasn’t this info incorporated into the story as it actually happened?

What does “face to face” mean?  (What would be the alternative?)

Do you think of the post-resurrection Jesus as being “in plain humility”?

Why “in mine own language”?  Shouldn’t that kind of be a given?  (Any relation to the “confounding” of languages behind the Jaredite story?)

I wonder if the “in mine own language” is a bit of apology for any weakness in the record.

40 And only a few have I written, because of my weakness in writing.

Oy!  We’re back to this again!  First, I’m not clear in what way he is really weak in writing, or if this is just false humility. Second, didn’t we clear that whole thing up with the “weak things made strong” business?  I thought he just got tutored on the idea that his weakness in writing wasn’t a problem?

41 And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.

What’s the difference between “commend” and “command?

I like the idea of “seeking” Jesus.

Howard W. Hunter:

It is the responsibility and joy of all men and women everywhere to “seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have [testified]” (Ether 12:41) and to have the spiritual witness of his divinity. It is the right and blessing of all who humbly seek, to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness of the Father and his resurrected Son. Apr 88 GC

CHAPTER 13

1 And now I, Moroni, proceed to finish my record concerning the destruction of the people of whom I have been writing.

Remember that we just had a Moroni-interjection.  Why here?  How does it affect your reading of the framing story?

Once again, we see Moroni as not trying to build suspense, but rather telling us the end at the beginning.  So, if the goal isn’t suspense, what is the storyteller’s motive here?  A way to approach this might be:  what is the point of reading a story if you already know how it will end?  (Or is this just an example of his weakness in writing?)

It feels to me like he’s using a circumlocution to avoid saying “Jaredites.”  Is he?  Why?

2 For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof;

So do you think Moroni was deliberately tying his concern about being a poor writer and the Gentiles therefore rejecting the BoM with the people rejecting Ether’s words?

Does this verse imply that they had a record with them, or that Ether had a new revelation about their origins, or what?

What does “all things” mean in this verse?  Is it hyperbolic?

“After the waters had receded . . .” is interesting stuff.  It could refer to Noah’s flood, and perhaps even be considered evidence for a universal flood.  It could, on the other hand, relate to the “beginning of man” phrase right before it, because many people read the Genesis creation story (although who knows how similar their account was to ours) as saying that the earth was initially covered in water (note that God doesn’t create water in Genesis 1; it is just there) until God made the dry land appear.  Either way (or maybe there is another possibility–any relation to the Jaredites crossing the great deep?), why do you think Moroni goes out of his way to mention the waters here?

Is there a relation between the removal of the waters and the fact that it is a choice land?  What does choice land mean anyway?  Is it a physical or a spiritual thing?  Does the “wherefore” statement help you understand what choice mean?  Does a chosen land mean one where the people serve the Lord?

3 And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.

What is the New Jerusalem?  (Perhaps better understanding what Jrsm is is necessary to answer that question.)  How literally do you read this?  Why is the entity coming out of heaven a city?

Reading v2-3 together, is it correct to say that Ether told the people that a New Jrsm would come to them, and a temple, but they rejected the message?  Is there a better way to read this?

4 Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.

Are the two parts of this verse related?  Which is to say:  what did the “days of Christ” (which I presume means either his mortal ministry or his visit to the Nephites) have to do with the New Jrsm?  Was there a New Jrsm built “on this land”?  Is he talking about that brief moment (OK, fine, several hundred years) where the people behaved in 4 Nephi?  Is _that_ the New Jrsm?

5 And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come—after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel.

What is the relationship between the house of Israel and the (new) Jrsm?  (Keeping in mind that Ether may or may pre-date Jacob/Israel, depending on how you count, but the Jaredite departure surely does pre-date it.)

Is it weird that Ether is apparently telling his people about Jrsm–a city that doesn’t exist yet–and Lehi (is he really telling them about Lehi or is that Moroni’s interjection?), who is way in their future?  Is there a better way to read this verse, or is Ether really giving his people a history lesson about Jrsm (a city, mind you, on another continent that they have absolutely no contact with) in advance?

6 And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.

When does Ether think this New Jrsm will be built?

What is the point of a Jrsm?

Is he saying that the old Jrsm is a type of the New Jrsm?  If so, what should you learn from this?  Or does the next verse imply that the type has something to do with Joseph’s family’s relationship to the old Jrsm?  Brant Gardner suggests that the type is found in the fact that Joseph, like the Jaredites and the Nephites, left Jrsm and didn’t ever go back.

7 For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not.

Did Ether teach this stuff (which, again, hadn’t happened when bJared left the Old World) to his people, or is this an aside from Moroni?  (V13 makes clear that Moroni is speaking, but it isn’t clear to me at what point he starts speaking.  Could be anywhere from the middle of v5 onward.)

How does this verse change the way you might have thought about these stories in the OT? (Because this puts quite a different gloss on them for me–suggesting, for example, that the point of Joseph going to Egypt was to bring his faher there, that the point of the children of Israel leaving Egypt was to preserve a remnant of the seed of Joseph, etc.)

The end of this verse talks about the Lord’s mercy in stopping the father of Joseph (who, interestingly, is never named in this verse) from dying, although the beginning of the verse acknowledges that he did die.  What is the point here?

8 Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away.

How literally do you read this verse?

Was the old Jrsm really a holy city, or is that more of an idealization?  If the latter, then is an idealization imagined here?  Or maybe not a city at all, but the ideal city as a template for righteous living?

“Confounded” seems to bring the whole Babel thing to the forefront, which reminds us that these people got their start at the beginning of a very wicked building project, and now Moroni (Ether still speaking here?  maybe) is envisioning a very righteous project.  So how did Babel differ from Jrsm?

Does this verse imply that they will be confounded when the end comes?

9 And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new.

Does a new heaven and new earth imply that something was wrong with the old one?  If so, what?

How literally do you read this verse?

What’s the point of getting new ones if they will be like the old ones?

What does “all things” mean in this verse?

What does this verse suggest about newness and oldness?  Does it imply anything about the old and new Jrsm?

10 And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel.

What time period is envisioned here?

How literally do you read this?

What effect do the symbols (are they symbols?) have on the reader?

Are there allusions to Rev 21-22 here?

11 And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham.

Wait–the old Jrsm is coming back?  I thought everything woul dbe new?

Does the phrase “four quarters” inform your thinking as to how literally to take this passage?

Why the specific mention of the north countries?

Why the shout-out to Abraham?

12 And when these things come, bringeth to pass the scripture which saith, there are they who were first, who shall be last; and there are they who were last, who shall be first.

In what way would these events make the first last and the last first?  Is it because the New Jrsm is up and running before the old one, or something else?

13 And I was about to write more, but I am forbidden; but great and marvelous were the prophecies of Ether; but they esteemed him as naught, and cast him out; and he hid himself in the cavity of a rock by day, and by night he went forth viewing the things which should come upon the people.

Does this verse imply that the previous verses were a summary of what Ether taught?

Note the framing of the above prophecies:  here’s stuff no one believed.

Why was he forbidden to write more?

Interesting that Ether seems to be both a record keeper and a prophet.  We hear about other Jaredite prophets before this (most get the same treatment) but not record-keepers (except sort of bJared).

Is the detail about hiding in the rock presented as just a factual aside, or are we to learn something from this?  (I have to say that living in a cavity of a rock is pretty much the anti-city.)  Note that the material is repeated in the next verse.

Does “viewing the things” mean that he had visions?  If so, then why does he have to leave his rock cavity to do that?

14 And as he dwelt in the cavity of a rock he made the remainder of this record, viewing the destructions which came upon the people, by night.

This verse sounds like he is viewing the destructions by, say, watching a battle–not having a vision.  (But the idea of battles at night is pretty weird.) How does this verse relate to the one before it?  Is he sort of an anti-Jonah, then?

15 And it came to pass that in that same year in which he was cast out from among the people there began to be a great war among the people, for there were many who rose up, who were mighty men, and sought to destroy Coriantumr by their secret plans of wickedness, of which hath been spoken.

Note that, for once, our main story is about the prophet/record-keeper with the political intrigue as a sideline; up to this point, it has been the other way around (after the founding generation, anyway).

16 And now Coriantumr, having studied, himself, in all the arts of war and all the cunning of the world, wherefore he gave battle unto them who sought to destroy him.

17 But he repented not, neither his fair sons nor daughters; neither the fair sons and daughters of Cohor; neither the fair sons and daughters of Corihor; and in fine, there were none of the fair sons and daughters upon the face of the whole earth who repented of their sins.

This is one of the few references to women making moral choices in the BoM.  Why do you think we get this reference here?

I presume “whole earth” doesn’t mean “the literal entire earth” here.  (That might be useful data point when thinking about the literalness of this and/or other records.)

18 Wherefore, it came to pass that in the first year that Ether dwelt in the cavity of a rock, there were many people who were slain by the sword of those secret combinations, fighting against Coriantumr that they might obtain the kingdom.

Why is Ether’s rock-dwelling the new dating scheme?  Does it imply a relation between the events?

19 And it came to pass that the sons of Coriantumr fought much and bled much.

20 And in the second year the word of the Lord came to Ether, that he should go and prophesy unto Coriantumr that, if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people—

Once again, I am struck by the care and concern given to deeply wicked people.  I know I regularly write off people for far less sin, and am far less willing to expend my energies in bringing them back to the fold.

What does “prophesy” mean in this verse?  (If it means something like “tell the future,” that’s an interesting missionary approach.)  If so, is the prophecy “repent and get your kingdom spared”?

Are you worried that an offer like “repent and your kingdom will be spared” is not the kind of thing likely to lead to genuine repentance?

21 Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr.

Weird that he would be preserved.  Does “only live” mean “he would only be allowed to live so that . . .”?  If so, doesn’t this sound maybe a little vindictive or something?

22 And it came to pass that Coriantumr repented not, neither his household, neither the people; and the wars ceased not; and they sought to kill Ether, but he fled from before them and hid again in the cavity of the rock.

23 And it came to pass that there arose up Shared, and he also gave battle unto Coriantumr; and he did beat him, insomuch that in the third year he did bring him into captivity.

24 And the sons of Coriantumr, in the fourth year, did beat Shared, and did obtain the kingdom again unto their father.

 

25 Now there began to be a war upon all the face of the land, every man with his band fighting for that which he desired.

I’ve talked a lot about desire as a theme in the BoM.  Usually, it is a good thing.  Here?  Not so much, apparently.  Why did desire go bad for the Jaredites?

26 And there were robbers, and in fine, all manner of wickedness upon all the face of the land.

Do you think it provided comfort–or its opposite–to Moroni to see a historical precedent for what was happening to his society?  Do you think he thought of himself as playing the role of the Nephite Ether to some extent?  (Or maybe even Coriantumr to a limited extent?)

27 And it came to pass that Coriantumr was exceedingly angry with Shared, and he went against him with his armies to battle; and they did meet in great anger, and they did meet in the valley of Gilgal; and the battle became exceedingly sore.

Note the 2x references to anger.  Why is that a theme here?

28 And it came to pass that Shared fought against him for the space of three days. And it came to pass that Coriantumr beat him, and did pursue him until he came to the plains of Heshlon.

29 And it came to pass that Shared gave him battle again upon the plains; and behold, he did beat Coriantumr, and drove him back again to the valley of Gilgal.

30 And Coriantumr gave Shared battle again in the valley of Gilgal, in which he beat Shared and slew him.

31 And Shared wounded Coriantumr in his thigh, that he did not go to battle again for the space of two years, in which time all the people upon the face of the land were shedding blood, and there was none to restrain them.

Skousen reads “constrain” instead of “restrain” here.

I’m very curious about the details in this passage:  anger, three days, thigh, plains, etc.  Is this just factual, or is something going on?

CHAPTER 14

1 And now there began to be a great curse upon all the land because of the iniquity of the people, in which, if a man should lay his tool or his sword upon his shelf, or upon the place whither he would keep it, behold, upon the morrow, he could not find it, so great was the curse upon the land.

I’m surprised at “began” here–I thought they sounded cursed for quite a while.  Is the issue the land as opposed to the people?

Note 2x references to cursed land, but the description in between them is of the behavior (specifically, theft) committed by people.  So what does it mean to say that the curse is upon the land; does the land have anything to do with it?

Am I wrong to read this verse as being about theft?

This verse, with its sort of simple and practical example of the problems they were having seems . . . somehow disconnected from the huge failings of their society.  Why do you think Moroni chose to frame the issue this way?  (It sort of feels like a nuclear bomb has exploded on Jaredite society and Moroni’s pointing out that people were having a hard time keeping their lawns nice, you know?)

2 Wherefore every man did cleave unto that which was his own, with his hands, and would not borrow neither would he lend; and every man kept the hilt of his sword in his right hand, in the defence of his property and his own life and of his wives and children.

Is it bad to cleave to your own stuff?

I find it interesting that this epidemic of theft has led them to not want to borrow or lend things.  In other words, it has extended to corrupt innocent practices.

Is there a message here about being armed?  (Maybe that the need for constantly being armed is a reflection of societal failure?)

3 And now, after the space of two years, and after the death of Shared, behold, there arose the brother of Shared and he gave battle unto Coriantumr, in which Coriantumr did beat him and did pursue him to the wilderness of Akish.

I can’t help but hear an echo of “brother of Jared” when I read “brother of Shared.”  Do you think that’s significant?

4 And it came to pass that the brother of Shared did give battle unto him in the wilderness of Akish; and the battle became exceedingly sore, and many thousands fell by the sword.

5 And it came to pass that Coriantumr did lay siege to the wilderness; and the brother of Shared did march forth out of the wilderness by night, and slew a part of the army of Coriantumr, as they were drunken.

6 And he came forth to the land of Moron, and placed himself upon the throne of Coriantumr.

7 And it came to pass that Coriantumr dwelt with his army in the wilderness for the space of two years, in which he did receive great strength to his army.

8 Now the brother of Shared, whose name was Gilead, also received great strength to his army, because of secret combinations.

Interesting that only at this late point do we get a name for the brother of Shared.

9 And it came to pass that his high priest murdered him as he sat upon his throne.

Interesting that they had high priests.

So . . . does this make him a good high priest or a bad high priest?

10 And it came to pass that one of the secret combinations murdered him in a secret pass, and obtained unto himself the kingdom; and his name was Lib; and Lib was a man of great stature, more than any other man among all the people.

What is a “secret pass”?

Why do we need to know that Lib is tall?

I almost feel like v9 and v10 are giving us two different explanations for the same event . . . (unless maybe the “him” in this verse refers to the murdering high priest from the last verse?)

11 And it came to pass that in the first year of Lib, Coriantumr came up unto the land of Moron, and gave battle unto Lib.

12 And it came to pass that he fought with Lib, in which Lib did smite upon his arm that he was wounded; nevertheless, the army of Coriantumr did press forward upon Lib, that he fled to the borders upon the seashore.

13 And it came to pass that Coriantumr pursued him; and Lib gave battle unto him upon the seashore.

14 And it came to pass that Lib did smite the army of Coriantumr, that they fled again to the wilderness of Akish.

15 And it came to pass that Lib did pursue him until he came to the plains of Agosh. And Coriantumr had taken all the people with him as he fled before Lib in that quarter of the land whither he fled.

Brant Gardner:

Shiz is killing non-combatants. In addition to being a serious problem, this is also a parallel to the final run of the Gadianton-infused Lamanite army against the Nephties. Once again, the parallels so tight enough to lead to a suspicion that Moroni is the cause of the parallel, rather than history itself. In Mormon’s day, the destructive type of warfare was an apparent new innovation, and one for which they were ill prepared. To have a similar war of total destruction at the end of the Jaredites at a much earlier period in history fits into the cyclical view of history, but it is highly probable that it was pushed into that cyclical representation. Citation

16 And when he had come to the plains of Agosh he gave battle unto Lib, and he smote upon him until he died; nevertheless, the brother of Lib did come against Coriantumr in the stead thereof, and the battle became exceedingly sore, in the which Coriantumr fled again before the army of the brother of Lib.

17 Now the name of the brother of Lib was called Shiz. And it came to pass that Shiz pursued after Coriantumr, and he did overthrow many cities, and he did slay both women and children, and he did burn the cities.

Skousen reads “both men women and children” here.

Once again, we get this thing where someone is “the brother of X” for multiple verses and only named later.

Why mention the women and children here?  (Is it significant that women are at the final Nephite battle as well?)

18 And there went a fear of Shiz throughout all the land; yea, a cry went forth throughout the land—Who can stand before the army of Shiz? Behold, he sweepeth the earth before him!

Very interesting to get this cry of fear recorded . . . what effect does it have on the record?

What does “sweeping the earth” convey to you?

19 And it came to pass that the people began to flock together in armies, throughout all the face of the land.

“Flock” is a pretty unusual word . . . are they like a flock of animals?  Is that good or bad?

20 And they were divided; and a part of them fled to the army of Shiz, and a part of them fled to the army of Coriantumr.

So now the flock is divided . . .

21 And so great and lasting had been the war, and so long had been the scene of bloodshed and carnage, that the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead.

So “whole face” is obviously hyperbolic here.

22 And so swift and speedy was the war that there was none left to bury the dead, but they did march forth from the shedding of blood to the shedding of blood, leaving the bodies of both men, women, and children strewed upon the face of the land, to become a prey to the worms of the flesh.

So apparently women and children were victims in this war as well?

Do they seem to have the same hangups about proper burial that the Nephites did?

23 And the scent thereof went forth upon the face of the land, even upon all the face of the land; wherefore the people became troubled by day and by night, because of the scent thereof.

How is it possible that there is no one to bury the dead but people troubled by the stink?

Why include this verse in the record?

24 Nevertheless, Shiz did not cease to pursue Coriantumr; for he had sworn to avenge himself upon Coriantumr of the blood of his brother, who had been slain, and the word of the Lord which came to Ether that Coriantumr should not fall by the sword.

I don’t get how “and the word of the Lord . . .” relates to the rest of the sentence.  What’s going on here?

25 And thus we see that the Lord did visit them in the fulness of his wrath, and their wickedness and abominations had prepared a way for their everlasting destruction.

Is this Moroni’s “and thus we see,” or an earlier hand?  (Moroni is usually pretty good about letting us know when he is writing, and that doesn’t happen here.)

So if this is “the fulness of his wrath,” then what does this passage tell you about what that phrase means?

What does “prepared a way” suggest to you about what happens here?

What does “everlasting destruction” mean in this passage?

26 And it came to pass that Shiz did pursue Coriantumr eastward, even to the borders by the seashore, and there he gave battle unto Shiz for the space of three days.

27 And so terrible was the destruction among the armies of Shiz that the people began to be frightened, and began to flee before the armies of Coriantumr; and they fled to the land of Corihor, and swept off the inhabitants before them, all them that would not join them.

They only now began to be frightened?

28 And they pitched their tents in the valley of Corihor; and Coriantumr pitched his tents in the valley of Shurr. Now the valley of Shurr was near the hill Comnor; wherefore, Coriantumr did gather his armies together upon the hill Comnor, and did sound a trumpet unto the armies of Shiz to invite them forth to battle.

The trumpet is an unusual touch.  Only other BoM use is from the Sermon on the Mount quote about not sounding a trumpet before your alms.

29 And it came to pass that they came forth, but were driven again; and they came the second time, and they were driven again the second time. And it came to pass that they came again the third time, and the battle became exceedingly sore.

Why do you think this level of detail made it into our record?

30 And it came to pass that Shiz smote upon Coriantumr that he gave him many deep wounds; and Coriantumr, having lost his blood, fainted, and was carried away as though he were dead.

The “as though he was dead” is an interesting touch, since we were just reminded (in that awkward phrase) that he wouldn’t be killed in battle.

31 Now the loss of men, women and children on both sides was so great that Shiz commanded his people that they should not pursue the armies of Coriantumr; wherefore, they returned to their camp.

Again it appears that women and children are part of the battle.

CHAPTER 15

1 And it came to pass when Coriantumr had recovered of his wounds, he began to remember the words which Ether had spoken unto him.

Is this kind of like Peter’s moment with the cock crowing?

Is the recovering and the remembering linked, or just coincidental?

2 He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.

Do you take the numbers literally?  (Honestly, I think most of the ancient records we know of tend to exaggerate their numbers.)  Brant Gardner assumes the number is estimated and exaggerated.

3 He began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, and he saw them that they were fulfilled thus far, every whit; and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted.

What do you make of his repentance here?  How likely do you think it is to be genuine?

Is it right to think that the death toll triggered his repentance?  If so, is there anything that we might learn from this?  Maybe something about natural consequences?

Crazy to think that a guy this bad could repent, isn’t it?  Once again, I find that I don’t really consider that an option for the really evil people that I know.

I don’t get the “refused to be comforted” part–is that really compatible with repentance?  It sounds like he doesn’t quite get it, maybe.

4 And it came to pass that he wrote an epistle unto Shiz, desiring him that he would spare the people, and he would give up the kingdom for the sake of the lives of the people.

5 And it came to pass that when Shiz had received his epistle he wrote an epistle unto Coriantumr, that if he would give himself up, that he might slay him with his own sword, that he would spare the lives of the people.

Normally, Jaredites seem content with captive kings, but Shiz insists on more here.  Why?  Is there some message here suggesting that Coriantumr can repent all he wants, but can’t escape the consequences of his actions?  Is there a better way to read this?

6 And it came to pass that the people repented not of their iniquity; and the people of Coriantumr were stirred up to anger against the people of Shiz; and the people of Shiz were stirred up to anger against the people of Coriantumr; wherefore, the people of Shiz did give battle unto the people of Coriantumr.

So does this mean that Coriantumr refused Shiz’s offer?  Was that the right thing to do?

Interesting that Coriantumr can’t force repentance–or at least reconciliations–on his people.

7 And when Coriantumr saw that he was about to fall he fled again before the people of Shiz.

8 And it came to pass that he came to the waters of Ripliancum, which, by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all; wherefore, when they came to these waters they pitched their tents; and Shiz also pitched his tents near unto them; and therefore on the morrow they did come to battle.

Why are we given the interpretation of “Ripliancum” when we are almost never told what words mean?  Is it because the writer thought that the meaning of the word was significant to the story?

9 And it came to pass that they fought an exceedingly sore battle, in which Coriantumr was wounded again, and he fainted with the loss of blood.

10 And it came to pass that the armies of Coriantumr did press upon the armies of Shiz that they beat them, that they caused them to flee before them; and they did flee southward, and did pitch their tents in a place which was called Ogath.

11 And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah; and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred.

How did Moroni know that it was the same hill?  Was there some physical evidence?  Did he have a revelation about it?  Is it just a guess?  And why mention it to us?  Are we supposed to see some significance here?

Why “which were sacred”?  Did he think maybe we didn’t know that?  Or is it to draw a contrast to what happened with the Jaredites there?

12 And it came to pass that they did gather together all the people upon all the face of the land, who had not been slain, save it was Ether.

Do they not gather Ether because he was hiding, or what?

Once again, the Ether-Moroni parallel is pretty striking.  I wonder if it was sorta therapeutic for Moroni to work through this text and realize that he wasn’t really alone in the sense that Ether had gone through something similar to his own experience.  Or maybe that just would be more depressing to think about.

13 And it came to pass that Ether did behold all the doings of the people; and he beheld that the people who were for Coriantumr were gathered together to the army of Coriantumr; and the people who were for Shiz were gathered together to the army of Shiz.

Well, um, not to criticize Ether’s spying skills or anything, but isn’t this verse kind of obvious?

14 Wherefore, they were for the space of four years gathering together the people, that they might get all who were upon the face of the land, and that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they could receive.

15 And it came to pass that when they were all gathered together, every one to the army which he would, with their wives and their children—both men, women and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breastplates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war—they did march forth one against another to battle; and they fought all that day, and conquered not.

Now we have confirmation that women and children are armed.

Why do you think the catalog of armaments and defenses were included?

16 And it came to pass that when it was night they were weary, and retired to their camps; and after they had retired to their camps they took up a howling and a lamentation for the loss of the slain of their people; and so great were their cries, their howlings and lamentations, that they did rend the air exceedingly.

Howling and lamentation doesn’t sound like military protocol to me . . .

What does it mean to “rend the air”?

Why do you think this evocative image was included in the record?

Brant Gardner:

The howlings and lamentations of verse 16 are a very authentic addition to the text. Not only would such sounds accompany the loss of life, but they would be a dramatic part of Ether’s experience from his distant location. He might not see much or the specifics of the battle, but he would certainly hear the clashes, and in the still of the night the sounds of mourning would be particularly audible and poignant. We may expect that this particular detail is original to Ether’s record. Citation

17 And it came to pass that on the morrow they did go again to battle, and great and terrible was that day; nevertheless, they conquered not, and when the night came again they did rend the air with their cries, and their howlings, and their mournings, for the loss of the slain of their people.

Battle by day, cry by night.  Is there any relation between this day/night pattern and how Ether used to hide in his rock cavity during the day and see the destruction at night?

18 And it came to pass that Coriantumr wrote again an epistle unto Shiz, desiring that he would not come again to battle, but that he would take the kingdom, and spare the lives of the people.

Does he have any reason to expect that he would accept this offer when he hadn’t the last time?  Or is this just desperation?

19 But behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed; wherefore they went again to battle.

Are the strivings of the Spirit and the power of Satan a zero-sum game?

If these people are still capable of feeling compassion for their lost dead, are they really a lost cause?

20 And it came to pass that they fought all that day, and when the night came they slept upon their swords.

Is it significant that they aren’t lamenting and howling this night?

21 And on the morrow they fought even until the night came.

22 And when the night came they were drunken with anger, even as a man who is drunken with wine; and they slept again upon their swords.

Why is “drunk” a good way to describe anger?

Why do we get “even as a man . . . wine.”  Did he think we might not know what “drunken” meant?

23 And on the morrow they fought again; and when the night came they had all fallen by the sword save it were fifty and two of the people of Coriantumr, and sixty and nine of the people of Shiz.

Are these numbers exact? (How would they know?)  Symbolic?

I’m kind of imagining Ether creeping around at night counting how many people are still living . . .

24 And it came to pass that they slept upon their swords that night, and on the morrow they fought again, and they contended in their might with their swords and with their shields, all that day.

It seems like the sleeping on the swords is significant, but I’m not sure why.  Is this related to the curse upon the land and the thefts at the beginning of the chapter?  (Is the point that they can’t even trust each other?)  Or is this different?

25 And when the night came there were thirty and two of the people of Shiz, and twenty and seven of the people of Coriantumr.

26 And it came to pass that they ate and slept, and prepared for death on the morrow. And they were large and mighty men as to the strength of men.

Natural selection at work . . . only the strongest would be likely to survive to this point.  And none of the women and children.

I like “as to the strength of men,” a sort of snide acknowledgement that they didn’t have the really important kind of strength.

27 And it came to pass that they fought for the space of three hours, and they fainted with the loss of blood.

It seems sort of unlikely that this would happen to everyone at precisely the same time . . . what do you think is going on here?  Combined with the next verse, it almost sounds like divine intervention, but that doesn’t sound quite right.

28 And it came to pass that when the men of Coriantumr had received sufficient strength that they could walk, they were about to flee for their lives; but behold, Shiz arose, and also his men, and he swore in his wrath that he would slay Coriantumr or he would perish by the sword.

29 Wherefore, he did pursue them, and on the morrow he did overtake them; and they fought again with the sword. And it came to pass that when they had all fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with the loss of blood.

30 And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz.

I don’t quite get this verse . . . is the point that he rested on his sword for a moment to get enough strength to take of Shiz’s head?  Or is there a better way to read this?

Are there echoes (well, pre-echoes) of Laban’s head here? Kind of interesting that the entire BoM is bookended by beheadings.

31 And it came to pass that after he had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died.

Skousen reads “raised upon his hands” here.  That’s a little easier to understand if you take it as a passive, I think.

Wait–the headless body did this?  One option for understanding this here.

32 And it came to pass that Coriantumr fell to the earth, and became as if he had no life.

It’s almost humorous at this point how it keeps seeming like Coriantumr is dead, but isn’t.

33 And the Lord spake unto Ether, and said unto him: Go forth. And he went forth, and beheld that the words of the Lord had all been fulfilled; and he finished his record; (and the hundredth part I have not written) and he hid them in a manner that the people of Limhi did find them.

What is the “go forth” command really about?  Witnessing the end of the battle?  Hiding the record?  Helping or inspecting Coriantumr? Moving on? “The coast is clear to leave your rock cavity now that they are all mostly dead”?

This verse makes you realize how much this record is NOT about Ether.

Is the “I” here Moroni?  Why did he choose to write so little of Ether’s record?  And, why did he choose to include weird details (number of people still alive, arms and defensive stuff) and not more spiritual stuff?

34 Now the last words which are written by Ether are these: Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God. Amen.

Did Ether have reason to think that he would be translated?

Is “suffer . . . flesh” a euphemism for death, or something else?

Do you read Moroni’s “it mattereth not” differently knowing that he was aping (and I don’t mean that in a bad way necessarily) Ether?

This is quite a note for a book to end on.  And not just a book, but the story of a civilization.  What effect does it have on the reader?

General thought:

(1) To an extent, the Book of Ether is the Reader’s Digest version of the Book of Mormon.  (Maybe I should ask first if that is a fair statement to make.  Is it?)  What effect does it have on the reader to have the BoM story re-told at the end, and not just re-told but set previously to the main BoM narrative?  What do you make of the differences between the Jaredite and Nephite record?  (One thing that stands out to me is that there is way more attention paid to women in the Jaredite record.  Also, the Jaredite record sounds “more mythic” to me, whatever that means.)  To what extent do you think the similarities between Nephites and Jaredites reflect objective reality and to what extent are they a creation of the editors to make a point?  (Note:  there is no value judgment implied there; if Mormon and/or Moroni were inspired to cast the histories to highlight similarities, I don’t have a problem with that.)  I’m also wondering if we should read the rest of the BoM differently if we think the record-keepers from Mosiah onward had access to this text.  Did it shape how they interacted with the world?  How they wrote their histories?

(2) Here’s what happens after Mosiah translates the Jaredite records:

Now after Mosiah had finished translating these records, behold, it gave an account of the people who were destroyed, from the time that they were destroyed back to the building of the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people and they were scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth, yea, and even from that time back until the creation of Adam. Now this account did cause the people of Mosiah to mourn exceedingly, yea, they were filled with sorrow; nevertheless it gave them much knowledge, in the which they did rejoice. (Mosiah 28:17-18)

Is that our reaction to this text?  Should it be?

(3) I think one of the most interesting aspects of the Book of Ether is the way that Moroni pops into the text periodically.  I wish I had more time to look at this.  I noticed that he tends to do it in the middle of a story, not the end.

(4) Ether 12 contains what appears to be a lot of quotations from documents that Moroni didn’t have access to, most notably the Epistle to the Hebrews.  Brant Gardner seems to take most of this similarities as not part of the original text, but rather created by Joseph Smith’s (rather loose) translation.  I suppose another possibility is that there is a shared textual source used by both Moroni and the epistle.  Another possibility is that both that author and Moroni had similar personal revelations that became the basis for their writings.  How might we best understand this?  What are the implications for our understanding of the BoM text?  Here’s Grant Hardy on this topic:

In light of the fact that Joseph Smith dictated the book of Ether before either Moroni 9 or 2 Nephi 33 (itself dependent on 2 Ne. 3) [note that Hardy has earlier suggested that Ether alludes to these texts], it may begin to strain credulity when we try to imagine Smith creating a narrator who makes specific allusions to several interrelated texts, none of which had yet been created.  From the perspective of believers, it would be rather ironic if Moroni . . . her inadvertently ended up providing perhaps the strongest textual validation for the historicity of the Book of Mormon.  Paradoxically, though, with Ether 12′s clear and thorough dependence on Hebrews 6 and 11, Moroni has simultaneously supplied some of the most compelling evidence that the book has its origins in the nineteenth century.  Citation

Comments are closed.

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.