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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ether 1

Ether is an interesting book of scripture. We get about a thousand or so years of history crammed into fifteen chapters, with a few chapters devoted to the brother of Jared, a few devoted to doctrine, and the rest describes the wickedness and fall of a civilization. Alma gives us insight into why this book is included in the Book of Mormon in his last message and testimony to his son Helaman:

21 And now, I will speak unto you concerning those twenty-four plates, that ye keep them, that the mysteries and the works of darkness, and their secret works, or the secret works of those people who have been destroyed, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, all their murders, and robbings, and their plunderings, and all their wickedness and abominations, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, and that ye preserve these interpreters.

29 Therefore ye shall keep these secret plans of their oaths and their covenants from this people, and only their wickedness and their murders and their abominations shall ye make known unto them; and ye shall teach them to abhor such wickedness and abominations and murders; and ye shall also teach them that these people were destroyed on account of their wickedness and abominations and their murders. (Alma 37).

So apparently the main lesson of the Jaredites is supposed to be a cautionary tale of secret combinations. Those are something I've never really understood, but we are warned by leaders today that they are still very present. It's a little scary, because we see in this people and with the Nephites how secret combinations can undermine and ruin an entire society. They start out as a small, secret group and eventually grow until the point that they are no longer a secret because everyone is apart of it.

This chapter establishes the genealogy of Ether back to Jared and describes how the Jaredites were spared when the Lord confounded the languages at the tower of Babel. I think we can deduce a few things from how Jared and his brother are described. I used to be confused and wondered why Jared didn't pray himself. But I think that his brother, who we know was named Mahonri Moriancumer, must have been the prophet, while Jared was the head of the family. So Jared too was a very faithful man, but he knew that his brother could receive revelation for them all. So he prays and is told that they need to leave and the Lord will guide them to a choice land.


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