Book of Mormon Lesson 46 (Ether 7–15)
A SUCCESSION OF RIGHTEOUS AND WICKED KINGS
In Ether 7–11, we read about a succession of righteous and wicked kings who followed Orihah. We also read about the rise of secret combinations among the Jaredites, and the teachings of prophets who called them to repentance.
The Brother of Jared’s Prophecy Is Fulfilled Within Two Generations
Orihah’s son Kib succeeded him, then was taken captive by his own son Corihor (Ether 7:1–6). Kib’s son Shule restored the kingdom to his father (Ether 7:7–9).
Steel was had and used among the Jaredites for swords (Ether 7:9). This is not the first reference to steel in the Book of Mormon, because Nephi spoke of breaking his fine steel bow (1 Nephi 16:18), but it pre-dates Nephi by at least 1500 years.
Kib bestowed the kingdom upon Shule because of his loyalty to his father (Ether 7:10–13). During Shule’s righteous reign, his kingdom became very numerous and spread out “upon all the face of the land” (v. 11).
Corihor bestowed his kingdom upon Noah, who rebelled against and captured Shule (Ether 7:13–17). This son chose to rebel against both his uncle Shule and his father Corihor.
Shule’s sons killed Noah and restored their father to his throne (Ether 7:18–22). Noah is succeeded by his son Cohor, who died trying to conquer Shule. The country was then divided into two kingdoms—Shule’s and Cohor’s (v. 20). Shule put down wickedness and rejection of the prophets during his righteous reign (Ether 7:23–27).
Moroni Warns Against Secret Combinations
Omer reigned in Shule’s stead, then was deposed by his son Jared, repeating an old pattern of sons rebelling against their father kings (Ether 8:1–3).
Omer was restored to his throne when two of his sons defeated Jared and kept him in captivity “half of his days” (Ether 8:4–6). Two of Jared’s sons, Esrom and Coriantumr, were “exceedingly angry because of the doings of Jared their brother” and raised an army to conquer him (v. 5). They were about to slay him, but spared his life (v. 6).
Akish, Jared’s “exceedingly expert” daughter schemed to return her sorrowful father to the throne (Ether 8:7–12). She was “exceedingly fair” and devised a plan, using secret oaths like those “of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory” (v. 9). She obtained information about secret oaths from the record that the “fathers” had brought with them from the Old World.
An unrighteous and binding oath (Ether 8:13–18). To carry out his murderous plan, Akish compelled her kinsfolk to “sware . . . by the God of heaven”—the same oath Satan demanded of Cain (v. 14; Moses 5:29) to cooperate in the plot. Anyone who refused or who divulged it, would lose their life (v. 14).
Moroni’s warning about secret combinations in the latter days, which he prophesied would also exist among us (Ether 8:19–26). Moroni is very clear about their danger, saying we must not sit by and allow it, but seek to eradicate secret combinations wherever they are.
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “. . .the Book of Mormon. . . states that the downfall of two great American civilizations came as a result of secret conspiracies whose desire was to overthrow the freedom of the people. (Ether 8:21). . . . This scripture [Ether 8:22] should alert us to what is ahead unless we repent, because there is no question but that as people of the free world, we are increasingly upholding many of the evils of the adversary today. . . . Moroni seemed greatly exercised lest in our day we might not be able to recognize the startling fact that the same secret societies which destroyed the Jaredites and decimated numerous kingdoms of both Nephites and Lamanites would be precisely the same form of . . . conspiracy which would rise up among the gentile nations in this day.”1
The Jaredite Pride Cycle
Earlier in the Book of Mormon, we became familiar with the Nephite pride cycle of prosperity, pride, destruction, and repentance. The Jaredites suffered from the same malady, which Moroni illustrates for us in the continuing history of Jaredite kings and their people.
Omer escaped with his people past the hill Shim to a place by the seashore (Ether 9:1–3).
The Hill Ramah: They passed by the place where the Nephites were later destroyed—the
hill that the Nephites called Cumorah (Ether 9:3; Mormon 6:1–2; Mormon 1:3; 4:23). “Ramah” is a Mayan word meaning a very high hill rising above a flat plain. It is near the Hill Shim, which is both a Mayan and a Nephite word for “corn.” It is the same hill where Mormon originally retrieved the records placed there by Ammoron (Mormon 1:3; 2:17).
Jared ruled briefly, then was assassinated by his son-in-law Akish (Ether 9:4–6). Akish killed his son and reigned in wickedness (Ether 9:7–11). Omer was restored again to the throne when Akish’s kingdom erupted into civil war among the sons of Akish, killing all but 30 people (Ether 9:12–13).
Emer succeeded his father on the throne and ruled righteously, bringing great prosperity to his people (Ether 9:14–22):
— All manner of fruit, grain, silks, fine linen, gold, silver, and precious things (v. 17).
— Cattle, oxen, cows, sheep, swine, goats, & other animals useful for food (v. 18).
— Horses, asses, elephants, cureloms, and cumoms, of which the elephants and cureloms were most “useful unto man” (v. 19).
— Cureloms and cumoms. We do not know for sure what kind of animals these were, but since they seem to be unique to the Americas and are “useful to man” (as opposed to wild), some Book of Mormon scholars speculate that cureloms are llamas (a type of camel, useful for packing things) and cumoms are either alpacas or bears, whose fur would have been especially useful for clothing.
“The Son of Righteousness” appeared during the reign of righteous King Emer (vv. 21–22).
Heth’s reign brought the rise of secret combinations again, leading to destruction of many people (Ether 9:26).
Many Jaredites moved into the lands southward from 1500–1000 BC. The archaelogical record shows Olmecs doing exactly that during those years (Ether 9:31–33). The narrow neck of land was infested with snakes. Today, that part of Mexico is called “Coatzalcoalcos” (land of snakes) and “Cancun” (snake pit).
Kish & Lib: Archaeological evidence for both these kings exist today (Ether 10:17–18). Artifacts bearing their names have been found in Mesoamerica.
The Jaredites achieved a very high state of civilization during this period. The whole northern part of the land was covered with cities (Ether 10:9–34).
— The land southward was preserved as a wilderness for hunting game (vv. 20–22)
— During this time, they were very industrious and had a thriving economy (v. 22).
— They made many things of gold, silver, iron, brass, and other metals (v. 23).
— They had silks, fine-twined linen, and “all manner of cloth” (v. 24).
— They made tools to till the earth, plow, sow, reap, hoe, and thrash, as well as “all manner of tools with which they did work their beasts” (vv. 25–26).
— They made all manner of weapons and “other works of. . .curious workmanship” (v. 27).
— Moroni says “never could be a people more blessed than were they” (v. 28).
The Final Stages of Jaredite Civilization
Hearthom, Heth, Aaron, Amnigaddah, and Coriantum all live in captivity (Ether 10:30–31). We know very little about their righteousness, but assume that Hearthom was righteous for a while, until he lost the kingdom and went into captivity.
Com regained control over the kingdom (Ether 10:32–34), but had to fight against secret combinations and ultimately “did not prevail against them” (v. 34). Prophets preached repentance to the people but were rejected and fled to Com for safety (Ether 11:1–4). They “prophesied unto Com many things; and he was blessed in all the remainder of his days” (v. 3), living “to a good old age” (v. 4).
Shiblom was righteous, but his brother rebelled and made it state policy to execute the prophets (Ether 11:4–8). This brought a “great calamity in all the land,” as had been prophesied. Predictably, this caused the people “to repent of their iniquity” and “the Lord did have mercy on them” (v. 8).
Seth, Ahah, and Ethem all reigned in wickedness, and the prophets withdrew from among the people because of their wickedness (Ether 11:9–14). Moron reigned in wickedness and was taken captive twice (Ether 11:14–18), spending all the remainder of his days in captivity” (v. 18). Coriantor lived in captivity all his days and begat the righteous prophet Ether (Ether 11:19, 23).
The prophets predicted the coming of the family of Lehi to inherit the land (Ether 11:20–22) after the Jaredites’ “utter destruction” (v. 20). But the people rejected all the words of the prophets “because of their secret society and wicked abominations” (v. 22).
FAITH, ADVERSITY, AND OVERCOMING WEAKNESSES
Trials of Our Faith
While Coriantumr was king, Ether—their last prophet—preached repentance unto the people (Ether 12:1–5). He “could not be restrained because of the Spirit of the Lord which was in him” (v. 2), crying repentance “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” (v. 3). Ether also prophesied “great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not” (v. 5).
Faith produces hope of eternal life, which is the motivation for righteous living (Ether 12:3–4). Moroni defines faith as “things which are hoped for and not seen,” and that we will “receive no witness until after the trial of [our] faith” (Ether 12:6; Hebrews 11:1).
Faith in Christ is needed for divine help and visitations (Ether 12:7–12). Faith is also a prerequisite to the receipt of miracles (Ether 12:12). It is by our faith that God performs miracles in our lives. And He does no miracle among the faithless.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Faith has been wanting not only among the heathen, but in professed Christendom also, so that tongues, healings, prophecy, and prophets and Apostles, and all the gifts and blessings have [also] been wanting.”2
President Brigham Young said, “Miracles, or these extraordinary manifestations of the power of God, are not for the unbeliever; they are to console the Saints, and to strengthen and confirm the faith of those who love, fear, and serve God.”3
Moroni illustrated the doctrine of faith with several scriptural examples of prophets and others who had gone before him who were recipients of great miracles, testimonies, and blessings of the Lord as a result of their great faith (Ether 12:13–22).
— Alma and Amulek caused the prison to tumble to the earth (v. 13).
— Nephi and Lehi caused Lamanites to be baptized with fire & the Holy Ghost (v. 14).
— Ammon and his brethren miraculously converted the Lamanites (v. 15).
— Many performed miracles by faith, both before and after Christ (v. 16).
— By faith the 3 Nephites obtained a promise that they would not taste of death (v. 17).
Moroni observed that in no case did the Lord perform any of these miracles “until after their faith”—until “they first believed in the Son of God” (v. 18). Many had faith so strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw. . .with an eye of faith, and they were glad” (v. 19). One of these was the brother of Jared, whose faith in God was so strong that “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” (vv. 20–21).
Moroni concludes by saying that “by faith. . .my fathers have obtained the promise that these things [the Book of Mormon] should come unto their brethren through the Gentiles,” which is the reason why “the Lord hath commanded me [to keep and protect the record], yea, even Jesus Christ” (v. 22).
Turning Weaknesses into Strengths
Moroni showed self-consciousness about the weakness of Nephite writing (Ether 12:23–25). In contrast, he observed that the writing of the brother of Jared (which was the Adamic language) was “mighty. . .even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them” (v. 24).
The Lord gives all of us weaknesses to keep us humble, and will help us to “make weak things become strong unto” us (Ether 12:26–29).
Moroni listed some of the great blessings the Lord had given unto His prophets and those who had faith (Ether 12:30–35).
Amen #3: Moroni wrote his third “farewell” statement here, thinking he was finished (Ether 12:38–41).
CITIES OF ZION: A DEFENSE AND A REFUGE
Old Jerusalem, New Jerusalem, and the City of Enoch are explained in Ether 13:1–12.
— The Americas were covered with water during the flood, killing all forms of life (v. 2).
— The Old Jerusalem (“from whence Lehi [came]”), will be “built up again, a holy city unto the Lord” by descendants of Judah before the Second Coming (vv. 5, 11).
— A New Jerusalem will be built as a “a holy city” upon this land (the Americas) by a remnant of the house of Joseph before the Second Coming (vv. 3–4, 6–7).
— The City of Enoch will come down out of heaven after the Second Coming and become part of the New Jerusalem (vv. 3, 10; 21:2, 10).
— The resulting holy city will stand until the earth is celestialized (v. 8).
— When that happens, there will be a new heaven and a new earth (v. 9).
— The New Jerusalem will be a holy city like unto the Jerusalem of the Lord (vv. 8–9).
— Those who inhabit the New Jerusalem will be the pure and righteous (v.10).
— The Old Jerusalem will be a holy city for the Jews and other tribes of Israel (v. 11).
— The “first” (the Jews) will be last, and the last (the Gentiles) shall be first (v. 12).
— Ether also saw the days of Christ, though Moroni provides no specifics of it (v. 4).
THE JAREDITES ARE DESTROYED
The People Reject Ether’s Teachings
The Jaredites rejected Ether and cast him out (Ether 13:13–14). He dwelt in a cave and witnessed their final destruction. Moroni was “about to write more” concerning the “great and marvelous” prophesies of Ether, but was forbidden by the Lord (v. 13). It was while he was dwelling in that cave that “he made the remainder of this record, viewing the destructions which came upon the people, by night” (v. 14).
War broke out, and many sought to destroy the king Coriantumr, resulting in much blood and death (Ether 13:15–19).
Ether’s Prophecies Concerning Coriantumr
Ether promised Coriantumr he would retain his kingdom if he would repent, but utter destruction awaited if he would not (Ether 13:20–22). He prophesied that Coriantumr would live to see the “other people” who Ether prophesied would come to this land—the Mulekites and Nephites (Ether 13:21).
Ether’s Prophecies Are Fulfilled by the Jaredites’ Destruction
Continual bloodshed resulted as different groups sought to obtain power (Ether 13:23–14:31). The whole face of the land was covered with bodies without burial, and the scent of death plagued them continually (Ether 14:21–23).
Coriantumr became the sole survivor of the Jaredites (Ether 14:24–31). He remembered the prophecies of Ether concerning him and wrote to Shiz in an effort to end the bloodshed—to no avail (Ether 15:1–6). More than two million Jaredites were killed in the battles (v. 2).
The last great battle utterly destroyed the Jaredite nation (Ether 15:7–33). The last great battle took place at the Hill Ramah (Cumorah) (vv. 7–14).”Ramah” is a Mayan word meaning a very high hill rising above a flat plain. This is the place where both the Nephites and the Jaredites were destroyed-the hill that the Nephites call Cumorah (Mormon 6:1–2; Mormon 1:3; 4:23). Every living Jaredite gathered there except the prophet Ether (v. 12).
— Ether remained aloof to “behold all the doings of the people” (v. 13).
— Coriantumr again attempted to end the war, to no avail (vv. 15–19).
— Anger toward their enemies caused fighting with insane stubbornness (v. 22).
— Shiz was so hardened that he could not be softened even by the gore of millions slain in this great last battle. The reason that Shiz would not yield was that he was fighting for more than the defeat of Coriantumr and his people. He was fighting to destroy the prophecy uttered by God’s anointed. He was fighting to prove the Lord wrong; thus, he was fighting God (v. 24). In 6 days of continuous warfare the nation was reduced to 59 individuals (v. 25).
— Even women and children were armed and sent into battle (v. 25).
— They were so weary they slept only to continue warfare the next day (vv. 20–25).
— Finally all were killed except the prophet Ether who witnessed it all (vv. 29–33).
How Ether’s Record Came into Our Hands
Ether hid the records “in a manner that the people of Limhi did find them” (Ether 15:33).
The people of Zarahemla (Mulekites) discovered Coriantumr as the lone Jaredite survivor (Omni 1:14–21). He lived among them for 9 months, then presumably died. The Mulekites preserved a large stone that gave an account of Coriantumr and the slain of his people. This stone is not the source of the book of Ether.
Limhi’s people found the 24 gold plates among the scene of Jaredite destruction at Cumorah—the 24 gold plates placed there by Ether (Alma 27:22–31). King Mosiah translated both the large stone and the 24 gold plates, using the Urim and Thummim (Omni 1:20–21; Mosiah 28:11–19). Moroni then abridged Ether’s record from the 24 gold plates (Mosiah 8:7–9; Ether 1:1–2). This abridgement became our present Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon.
1. God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, 321–322.
2. History of the Church, 5:218.
3. Discourses of President Brigham Young, sel. Elder John A. Widtsoe , 341.