Book of Mormon Lesson 45 (Ether 6–11)
THE JAREDITES IN THE PROMISED LAND
The Jaredites Travel by Sea to the Promised Land
The Jaredites put the lighted stones into their ships, along with their food and the animals, and placed themselves into the hands of God (Ether 6:1–4). There were 8 ships containing 28+ people, food, and animals. (Ether 3:1). According to tradition, seven of those ships contained people. The other ship could have carried animals, fish, and/or supplies.
Fierce winds (hurricanes?) blew the Jaredite ships across the ocean to the new world (Ether 6:5–10). Despite the fearful conditions of the journey, the Jaredites sang songs of praise to God within their ships. Nearly one year later—344 days—they arrived at the promised land and gave thanks unto God for their safe arrival (Ether 6:11–12).
The Jaredites “multiply . . . and wax strong in the land” (Ether 6:13–18). The Jaredites immediately “went forth upon the face of the land, and began to till the earth” (v. 13), and to raise their families. Jared had four sons—Jacom, Gilgah, Mahah, and Orihah (v. 14)—and the brother of Jared also had “sons and daughters” (v. 15). There were about 22 souls at the time they arrived.
Hah: Note that “the last two names [of Jared’s sons] end in hah, which in Mayan means ‘by or connected with water.’ These two sons, in other words, may have been born while traveling on or living by the ocean. A search of Book of Mormon names from Lehi to Mosiah yields no names ending in hah. Once King Mosiah translated the plates of Ether, however, the term hah came into use.”
All of the Jaredite people “were taught to walk humbly before the Lord; and . . . were also taught from on high” [received revelation] (v. 17).
Since the flood had preceded the Jaredite journey to America, we can assume that all forms of animal life on the American continents had been killed in the deluge. This was, no doubt, the reason why the Lord commanded the Jaredites to bring with them pairs of animals and even fish to repopulate the continent. It was, no doubt, vast and beautiful and covered with vegetation when they arrived. But it was likely empty of any other people, at least in the vicinity where “the Jaredites settled on this hemisphere at the time of the tower of Babel approximately 2600–2300 BC.”
Their Descendants Eventually Desire to Have a King
When Jared and his brother were old and near death, the people asked them to anoint a king to lead the people (Ether 6:19–24). The brother of Jared prophesied that it would bring them into captivity (v. 23).
None of the sons of the brother of Jared, and only one of the sons of Jared— Orihah—would agree to be their king (Ether 6:25–27). Jared and his brother died (Ether 6:28–30), and Orihah ruled in righteousness and humility while the Jaredites became “exceedingly rich” because of their righteousness (v. 28).
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).
1. God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, 321–322.