Ether Chapter 13
1 And now I, Moroni, proceed to finish my record concerning the destruction of the people of whom I have been writing.
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;
verse 2 "he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man" Ether likely told his people of God's dealings with man from the time of Adam to Noah.
"This land," of course, refers to the Americas, or at least a part of the Americas.
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.
verse 3 "the New Jerusalem" Here is a prophecy of the latter-day New Jerusalem or Zion that will be established in the New World. As we encounter references to the latter-day Zion, each of us has a tendency to consider "Zion" as a location, a specific city. Even those of us who are "enlightened" relative to the concept of Zion look forward to the eventual founding and building up of the center place or center pole of the tent of Zion in Jackson County, Missouri. In the context of this verse, it is probably more appropriate to think of Zion as a state of mind (D&C 97:21) or a lifestyle or social structure (4 Nephi; Moses 7:18; D&C 105:5). A Zion people are "pure in heart" (D&C 97:2). They are "of one heart and one mind, and [dwell] in righteousness; and there [are] no poor among them (Moses 7:18). They are "in one the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God" (4 Nephi 1:15-17). This definition of Zion continues to be applicable today. Zion, the New Jerusalem, is also a place but it will turn out to be wherever the saints are gathered (particularly those descending from the "lost" ten tribes, especially the tribe of Joseph). In this latter-day dispensation it is located all over the world.
Parenthetically, it should be noted that there are three specific locations or cities of Zion. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
In the day of regeneration, when all things are made new, there will be three great cities that will be holy. One will be the Jerusalem of old which shall be rebuilt according to the prophecy of Ezekiel. One will be the city of Zion, or of Enoch, which was taken from the earth when Enoch was translated and which will be restored [Moses 7:63-64] ; and the city Zion, or New Jerusalem, which is to be built by the seed of Joseph on this the American continent (Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:105).
"which should come down out of heaven" Elder Bruce R. McConkie suggested that this phrase might have a specific meaning. He pointed out that Enoch's city-the city of Holiness that was taken up into heaven (see Moses 7:13-21) will come down from heaven and be united with the earthly New Jerusalem (see Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:581). The New Jerusalem and Enoch's Zion will become one city, also called Zion, and serve as the home of the Lord during the Millennium. The union of these two holy cities may give insight into the verse: "The Lord hath brought down Zion from above. The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath" (D&C 84:100). By uniting these two cities, the Lord will fulfill his sworn oath that in Enoch's city "the heavens and the earth should come together" (JST, Genesis 14:35).
4 Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.
verse 4 "days of Christ" Elder Bruce R. McConkie suggested that the "days of Christ" refer to "the days of his glorious second coming" (Millennial Messiah, 304).
It has been suggested that the "New Jerusalem" referred to in this verse is distinct from that referred to in the previous verse. Perhaps verse 3 refers to Enoch's city of Zion which is to "come down out of heaven," and the New Jerusalem in this verse is that city of Zion to built upon this land.
Joseph Smith taught that "Christ and the resurrected saints will reign over the earth during the thousand years. They will not probably dwell upon the earth, but will visit it when they please, or when it is necessary to govern it" (HC, 5:212).
In addition to the return of Zion before the Millennium, certain scriptural passages suggest a city of God descending from heaven to a celestialized earth after the Millennium (Revelation 21:10-27; Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:582). If the holy city of Zion is to descend "a second time," it is reasonable to surmise that it must have been taken back to heaven in the interim. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith explained:
After the close of the millennial reign we are informed that Satan, who was bound during the millennium, shall be loosed and go forth to deceive the nations. Then will come the end. The earth will die and be purified and receive its resurrection. During this cleansing period the city Zion, or New Jerusalem [the combination of Enoch's Zion and the New Jerusalem], will be taken from the earth; and when the earth is prepared for the celestial glory, the city will come down according to the prediction in the Book of Revelation (Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:106).
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.
verse 5 For the temporal orientation of the reader, perhaps it would be helpful to point out that Bible scholars have suggested that patriarch Abraham was probably born some time around 2167 BC. It may have been also about this time (or even centuries earlier) when Jared, the brother of Jared, and their families and friends went out from Babylon or Babel. Therefore the prophet Ether had no direct historical knowledge of the house of Israel, rather all he knew of the Jacob and his descendants was revealed to him. The same is true of Ether's knowledge of the destructions of Jerusalem in about 586 BC and AD 70.
"And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come" Ether points out that the restoration of the old city of Jerusalem is not the "New Jerusalem" spoken of in the previous verse and in the following verse-note the word also in this scriptural phrase.
6 And that a New Jerusalem should be built upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.
verse 6 "for which things there has been a type" The type or symbol of the building of the New Jerusalem for the preservation and gathering of the tribe of Joseph is explained in the following two verses.
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.
verse 7 Here is the "type" referred to in the previous verse. Just as ancient Joseph brought his father and siblings down into the land of Egypt to keep them from dying from the famine in Palestine, the Lord also brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out from Jerusalem (Lehi and Ishmael and their families) to keep them from perishing in the Babylonian siege.
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.
verse 8 Here the doctrine is clearly spelled out. The land of the Americas is specifically the promised land of the descendants of Joseph. They will build up Zion or the New Jerusalem and remain here until the cleansing of the earth just prior to the Lord's second coming.
An archaic meaning of the word "confounded" is defeated or overthrown.
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.
verse 9 This verse refers to the renewing and cleansing of the earth in preparation for the millennial thousand years. At this time the earth will be transformed from its present telestial state to a terrestrial-like state. In this new state, the earth is similar to what it was like in its paradisiacal state when Adam and Eve were placed in the garden-"like unto the old." At the end of the Millennium there will again be a new heaven and a new earth as the earth is transformed into its eternal celestial state (Mormon Doctrine, 531).
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.
verse 10 These residents of the New Jerusalem are Latter-day Saints. This verse implies that, though the New Jerusalem will begin prior to the millennial thousand years, it will continue to exist as the dwelling place for the saints after the onset of the millennium.
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.
verse 11 Here Moroni describes the prophet Ether's prophecy of the gathering of the Jews back to Old Jerusalem and back to the gospel of Christ. This will occur later than ("And then also cometh") the gathering to the New Jerusalem. We now know that this will likely occur near the beginning of the Millennium. Ether also taught of Abraham and the Abrahamic covenant which teaching he could only have learned by revelation from heaven.
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.
verse 12 "there are they who were first, who shall be last . . ." It is difficult to know whether Moroni or Ether is recalling this scripture. If it was Moroni, then he might have read it in the writings of Nephi (1 Nephi 13:42). If it was Ether, then the origin of the scripture is unknown.
As a reminder to the reader: There is a timetable established for the dissemination of the gospel. At the time of Christ's mortal ministry, the gospel was preached to the house of Israel, or to "the Jews" (Matthew 15:24). Some years later the apostles took the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10-11). This sequence is, in a way, reversed in this final dispensation. In 1830 the Church was first established among people of a "great Gentile nation." As has been often stressed, most of those designated as Gentiles in the Book of Mormon are actually members of the house of Israel by lineal descent. They are "Gentiles" largely in the sense that they are not Jews and they are citizens of the great Gentile nation. From its establishment among these "Gentiles," the gospel will then be taken to the house of Israel, including the Jews. Thus "the last [the Gentiles] shall be first [to receive the gospel in this final dispensation], and the first [those of the house of Israel] shall be last [to hear the gospel in this final dispensation]." See also the commentary for 1 Nephi 13:42.
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.
verse 13 The prophet Ether wrote marvelous things that had been revealed to him. So marvelous that Moroni was forbidden to write some of them. Tragically, for them, the Jaredite people rejected his preachings and writings.
The final Jaredite wars all took place in a land northward within a territory small enough that the prophet Ether could observe most of the action while moving only short distances from his cave base.
14 And as he dwelt in the cavity of a rock he made the remainder of his record, viewing the destructions which came upon the people, by night.
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.
verse 15 "the secret plans of wickedness" The secret combinations came against Coriantumr in order that they might obtain his kingdom. Coriantumr himself was not a righteous man.
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.
verse 16 It is evident that the last Jaredite king, Coriantumr, is more a warrior than a diplomat. He reigned during a time of intense crime, secret combinations, political upheaval, and constant civil war.
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.
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.
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-
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.
verse 21 Here is a significant prophecy by the prophet Ether. He prophesies that Coriantumr will survive even though all of his household and all of his people will be killed. He will be discovered by the people of Zarahemla, the Mulekites-"another people receiving the land for their inheritance"-among whom he will live for nine months before his death (see Omni 1:20-21).
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.
26 And there were robbers, and in fine, all manner of wickedness upon all the face of the land.
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.
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.