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Ether Chapter 2

1 And it came to pass that Jared and his brother, and their families, and also the friends of Jared and his brother and their families, went down into the valley which was northward, (and the name of the valley was Nimrod, being called after the mighty hunter) with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female, of every kind.

verse 1 "the name of the valley was Nimrod" The name "Nimrod" evoked strong feelings among the ancients and was usually associated with rebellion. Nimrod, who "founded the kingdom of Babel," had "established false priesthood and false kingship in the earth in imitation of God's rule" and "made all men to sin" (Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, 165). He typified Satan. The name of this valley may have been a stark reminder to the Jaredites that they, like all of God's children entering mortality, were strangers and sojourners in a dark and dreary world. Their trek through this valley of Nimrod might well have been a time of testing for them.

2 And they did also lay snares and catch fowls of the air; and they did also prepare a vessel, in which they did carry with them the fish of the waters.

3 And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.

verse 3 Brother Hugh Nibley has added insight to this verse:

By all odds the most interesting and attractive passenger in Jared's company is deseret, the honeybee. We cannot pass this creature by without a glance at its name and possible significance, for our text betrays an interest in deseret that goes far beyond respect for the feat of transporting insects, remarkable though that is. The word deseret, we are told (Ether 2:3), "by interpretation is a honeybee," the word plainly coming from the Jaredite language, since Ether (or Moroni) must interpret it. Now it is a remarkable coincidence that the word deseret, or something very close to it, enjoyed a position of ritual prominence among the founders of the classical Egyptian civilization, who associated it very closely with the symbol of the bee (Lehi in the Desert, 189).

4 And it came to pass that when they had come down into the valley of Nimrod the Lord came down and talked with the brother of Jared; and he was in a cloud, and the brother of Jared saw him not.

verse 4 The Lord would travel before them and direct them from his cloud of glory just as he did for Moses and the people of Israel-a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night" (see Exodus 13:21; Numbers 11:25; Numbers 12:5; see also D&C 34:7).

5 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel.

verse 5 The phrase "into that quarter" refers to a particular region of the land. This verse refers to the land in which the Jaredites lived and traveled after they left the great tower and the valley of Nimrod and where they spent four years before setting out across the sea (see Ether 2:13).

6 And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord.

verse 6 Apparently, as the group traveled on their way to the ocean, they were required to build barges and cross other waters. These barges, they simply left behind (see Ether 2:16).

verses 7-12 It is clear from modern-day scripture that at least a part of the Americas is a "promised land" and is "choice above all other lands." If those whom the Lord brings to this land will covenant to accept and serve Jesus Christ as their God, and if they will strive continually to repent of their sins, then great promises will be theirs including prosperity, both physical and spiritual, and national security-no one will ever be allowed to displace them from their land. However, if they fail to keep their covenants, reject the Savior, fail to keep his commandments, and become "ripened in iniquity" then they shall be swept off the land and destroyed. This covenant is the so-called "promise/curse covenant" and is reiterated again and again in the Book of Mormon text.

Which part or parts of the Americas qualify to be considered the "promised land"? North America? Central America? South Americ a? There is solid scriptural evidence that the North American continent including Central America fits into this category. It is difficult to be certain about the South American continent.

In the history of the world, four groups of covenant peoples have settled this promised land: (1) the antediluvians, from Adam to Noah (D&C 116; 107:53); (2) the Jaredites; (3) the Lehites; and (4) the latter-day "Gentiles."

We have learned that the first three of these groups have, indeed, ripened in iniquity and have been destroyed. The single exception is a subgroup of the Lehites, the Lamanites, whom the Lord is preserving, though chastening repeatedly. The complete story of the Gentiles is not yet recorded, though scripture suggests that there will be a great final destruction and purging before the Lord's second coming wherein the righteous among them will be preserved but the wicked will be cleansed from the earth.

Douglas Brinley ("The Promised Land and Its Covenant Peoples" in The Book of Mormon: Helaman Through 3 Nephi 8, According to thy Word) has suggested ten stages of evolution from righteousness to abject wickedness through which each of these covenant peoples have progressed on their road to destruction. These stages are (1) The Lord leads the people to the promised land. (2) He makes a covenant with them. (3) He assists them by inspiration to establish a constitution or set of laws based on sound principles. (4) The judgments of God begin when the majority vote of the people chooses to ignore or change the good laws. (5) The Lord dispatches prophets to warn the people to repent or be destroyed. (6) The people choose to accept or reject the prophets' warnings. (7) If they reject them, then natural calamities (wars, plagues, famine, drought) begin to destroy the people. (8) The Spirit of God withdraws from the people. (9) The people increase in wickedness until they are "fully ripe in iniquity" and have cast out or persecuted the righteous. (10) The wicked are destroyed by forces of nature, civil war, or conquering hosts; the righteous among them having been led elsewhere (39-63).

These stages of deterioration and eventual destruction may also be seen in subgroups, or even in individuals, among these four major groups of covenant peoples. Consider, for example, the people of Ammonihah (Alma 16:1-3) and the apostate Nephites, Nehor (Alma 16:1-3) and Korihor (Alma 30:6-60).

7 And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people.

verse 7 The Lord did not want them to stop in the wilderness, which was, from Moroni's perspective, "beyond the sea." Rather, the Lord wanted them to continue on and cross the sea to their promised land.

verses 8-12 These verses contain a discussion of the Americas as a "land of promise" and they remain deeply relevant to modern-day inhabitants of the New World, even today.

8 And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.

9 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.

10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.

verse 10 For a discussion of the concept of "fulness of iniquity" see "Pride" in The "Natural Self" and the "Spiritual Self," in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 5.

11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God-that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.

verse 11 Here is Moroni's warning to us and to the rest of the inhabitants of this great Gentile nation in these last days that the Lord's conditional "promised-land covenant" reiterated in verses 9-10 applies to us as well as to the ancient Jaredites. Apparently our fate is sealed. We are doomed to destruction. The weight of prophecy has condemned us and apparently sealed our fate. This great nation, along with all other nations of the world will be destroyed. It seems likely that the presence of the Lord's Church and the work of this final gathering of Israel are all that are preventing the Lord's destruction (Matthew 13:24-30).

12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.

verses 11-12 Moroni pauses in his narrative and turns his attention to the latter-day Gentiles. He reminds us of the promise/curse which still applies to this "promised" land, even today.

13 And now I proceed with my record; for behold, it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years.

verse 13 We actually have no direct information on the locality of Moriancumer. Some believe that the Jaredites traveled eastward through Central Asia and, hence, feel that Moriancumer was near the mouth of one of the great rivers that flow through the Chinese empire into the Pacific Ocean (see the Juvenile Instructor [May 1892], 284, note).

14 And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.

verse 14 It seems unlikely that this great prophet had stopped praying altogether. In the relative comfort of the seashore, and with the foreboding sea lying before them, perhaps his prayers had become less fervent. He had become too comfortable. President Spencer Kimball taught: "We have paused on some plateaus long enough. Let us resume our journey forward and upward. Let us quietly put an end to our reluctance to reach out to others-whether in our own families, wards, or neighborhoods. We have been diverted, at times, from fundamentals on which we must now focus in order to move forward as a person or as a people" (CR, April 1979, 114).

Whatever the reasons for the Lord's chastening Jared's brother, it is important to remember that other great prophets were also rebuked by the Lord. Moses was reproved for not explicitly following God's instructions in the wilderness of Zin (Numbers 20:7-11; Numbers 27:12-14; Deuteronomy 32:51-52). The apostle Peter received a sharp rebuke for letting his love of the Lord get in his way of comprehending the need for the atonement (Matthew 16:21-23). The prophet Joseph Smith was reprimanded for having "feared man more than God" (D&C 3:7). There is nothing demeaning in being corrected by the Lord. The Lord has declared, "as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Revelation 3:19; cf. D&C 95:1). It is likely that as the families dwelt on the sea shore for four years, the brother of Jared was too casual and not sufficient diligent in importuning the Lord for guidance.

15 And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him. And the Lord said unto him: I will forgive thee and thy brethren of their sins; but thou shalt not sin any more, for ye shall remember that my Spirit will not always strive with man; wherefore, if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And these are my thoughts upon the land which I shall give you for your inheritance; for it shall be a land choice above all other lands.

verse 15 "my Spirit will not always strive with man" This phrase simply reminds us that maintaining the influence of the Spirit is an ongoing dynamic process. When we stop striving, the Spirit withdraws.

"if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord" The complete withdrawal of the Lord's Spirit is the death-knell of any civilized society, because the absence of the Spirit inevitably means the presence of the spirit of the devil. It would seem that there is no such thing as a "spiritual vacuum." We do understand that evil must have its agency here in mortality since there must be opposition in all things. However, if a man or society sin until they are "fully ripe," they may be cut off from the Spirit completely leaving them in a wholly carnal state. They are then "without God in the world" and, therefore, "in a state contrary to the nature of happiness" (Alma 41:11).

16 And the Lord said: Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord. And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water.

verse 16 "barges which ye have hitherto built" See Ether 2:6 and its commentary.

17 And they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish.

verse 17 "tight like a dish" This expression means water tight. The redundancy in this verse is interesting. Why did Moroni use this expression, or variations of it, so many times in this verse? Perhaps he simply wanted to emphasize this expression as meaning ready for any type of adversity.

18 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me.

19 And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish.

20 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood.

21 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did so, according as the Lord had commanded.

22 And he cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?

23 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.

verse 23 "What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?" Here is a reminder that the Lord expects us to do our homework, to exercise our own ingenuity, before he gives answers to our prayers. We should not expect the answer to our prayers to appear written on the wall. The scriptural principle was given by the Lord to Oliver Cowdery in April 1829: "Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right" (D&C 9:7-8; see also D&C 58:26-29).

24 For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.

verse 24 One definition of the word dash in Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language is, "To strike suddenly or violently."

25 And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?

verse 25 "I prepare you against these things" The Lord is not going to spare them any of the problems which they are sure to encounter on their voyage to the promised land. Rather, he is simply helping them to prepare for those problems. Is this not his approach with us during our sojourn here in mortality?

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