Thomas R. Valletta, “Jared and His Brother,” in Fourth Nephi, From Zion to Destruction, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1995), 303–22.
Thomas R. Valletta was an institute instructor in Ogden, Utah, when this was published.
The Book of Mormon chronicle of Jared and his brother is the story of us all in our quest for the eternal land of promise. The first six chapters of Ether typify the “great plan of the Eternal God” (Alma 34:9) for all humankind. Mormon desired to include the Jaredite record in the Book of Mormon because “it gave them much knowledge in which they did rejoice . . . [and] it is expendient that all people should know the things which are written in this account” (Mosiah 28:18–19). Moroni’s careful abridgment of Ether’s record concerning Jared and his brother is much more than a mere synopsis of dark and dusty history. It is also more than a wonderfully crafted narrative of the travels and travails of one of earth’s finest Saints. It is inspired history and record keeping at its best.
The story of Jared and his brother is cut from the same pattern as the accounts of the fall of Adam and Eve and their subsequent search for truth, Noah’s escape from a decadent civilization and voyage to the top of Mt. Ararat, the Israelites’ exodus from their bondage in Egypt and their eventual crossing of the Jordan into the land of milk and honey, as well as Lehi’s deliverance from a dark and dying Jerusalem to a new world of promise. The chronicle of Jared and his brother, like these other accounts, reveals a pattern and type testifying of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation.
Like the writings of Isaiah, we should study these scriptures diligently, for the things contained therein both “have been and shall be” (3 Nephi 23:1–3). Modern scripture declares that “all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record” of Jesus Christ and the eternal plan of salvation (Moses 6:63). The Book of Mormon emphatically proclaims that “all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of [Jesus Christ]” (2 Nephi 11:4; compare Mosiah 3:15; 13:10, 31; Alma 13:16; 25:15; 33:19; 37:45). Types have been defined as “divinely established models or prerepresentations of corresponding realities” (Eichrodt 225). Grounded in “real people and real events,” types “constitute a significant system of intelligible coordinates in the gradual unfolding of God’s historical design” (Frye 84; Tate 247). While the events recorded in Ether chapters 1–6 reflect a true and historical account of the Jaredites, their relevance to us may be as a model or pattern of what we must accomplish in the Lord’s plan of salvation. Table 1 overviews some of the many possible parallels between the Jaredite exodus and the eternal plan of redemption. A closer examination of the Jaredite experience helps us understand how their story is also our story.
The Jaredite Exodus: A Type of the Plan
Exodus of the Jaredites
The Tower of Babel (Ether 1:33)
Jared (To Go Down)
The Brother of Jared
Seeking and Receiving Blessings from God
Valley of Nimrod and the Wilderness (Ether 2:1–5)
Directed by God in a Cloud (Ether 2:4–5, 14)
Crossing Many Waters (Ether 2:6)
Brother of Jared Chastened by the Lord (Ether 2:14)
Building the Barges (Ether 2:6, 16)
Questions of Air and Light (Ether 2:19–23)
The Shining Stones (Ether 3:1–4; 6:2–3)
Experience on Mount Shelem (Ether 3)
The Crossing (Ether 6:4–10)
The Promised Land (Ether 6:11–12; 2:7–11)
Eternal Plan of Redemption
Rebellion, a Fallen World, and a Scattering
To Go Down into the Lone and Dreary World
A Deliverer Is Prepared
A New and Everlasting Covenant
Continually Tested; Land of Rebellion
Gift of the Holy Ghost
Baptism and Ordinances
The Lord Chastens Those He Loves
Building a House of God
Revelation, Agency, and Action
The Word and the Light of Christ
Experience in the Temple
Trials of Life; Putting Off the Natural Man
Eternal Promised Land
Moroni’s record of the Jaredites begins when “Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others and their families, from the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth” (Ether 1:33). The tower of Babel, described further in Genesis 11, is considered by many scholars to be a Babylonian temple (Jacobsen 334). This false temple was an attempt by an ambitious and wicked people to imitate true temple worship (Nibley, Lehi in the Desert/
All of these references to ancient and modern temples as houses for “the name” of the Lord obviously involve something far more significant than a mere inscription of his sacred name on the structure. The scriptures speak of the Lord’s putting his name in a temple because he gives authority for his name to be used in the sacred ordinances of that house. That is the meaning of the Prophet’s reference to the Lord’s putting his name upon his people in that holy house. (Oaks 81)
The rebellion at the tower of Babel was abruptly interrupted when the Lord intervened, driving them out of the land and scattering them abroad (Ether 1:38; Gen. 11:9). People were scattered and separated from each other as well as from God (eg, Ether 1:33; Gen. 9:19; 49:7; Matt. 9:36). Symbolically this is comparable to Lehi’s situation in the beginning of his dream of the tree of life. Jared and his brother found themselves in what Lehi described as “a dark and dreary waste,” from which the only escape was through an arduous and prayerful journey (see 1 Nephi 8:7–8). The setting for the story of Jared and his brother is “the familiar one of the righteous man who leads his people out of a doomed and wicked world. There is nothing original in that: it is also the story of Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, ‘The Church in the Wilderness,’ and, for that matter, the restored Church” (Nibley, Lehi 156). Finding ourselves “in a dark and dreary waste,” we too must find our way to the light by following Jesus Christ.
Jared, whose name in Hebrew means “to go down,” was one of those sent forth when the tower fell. Like Adam and many before and many after, Jared embarked on a new beginning. He was not alone in his journey. Jared had a special though unnamed brother. Although the Prophet Joseph Smith apparently revealed this great prophet’s name to be Mahonri Moriancumer, the text of Ether does not record his name. Commentators have suggested many possible reasons for this phenomenon (see Ludlow 310), but it just may be that the book of Ether employs the phrase “the brother of Jared” as a type for Jesus Christ. The exclusion of the name draws attention to the fact that Jared was not left alone, but had a very special brother who intervened in his and his family’s behalf. All of us have such a brother in Jesus Christ, whose mission is to give us immortality and help us all gain eternal life (Moses 1:39).
It should not be surprising that the brother of Jared could be a type of Jesus Christ, as all of God’s prophets typify Jesus Christ (J. McConkie, Gospel Symbolism 146–72). In the case of the brother of Jared, there are many similarities between the recorded facts of his life and events in the life of Jesus Christ. Table 2 summarizes some of the possible comparisons.
The Brother of Jared as a Type of Jesus Christ
The Brother of Jared
Large and mighty man, highly favored of the Lord (Ether 1:34).
“Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
Intermediary for his people (Ether 1:34–39).
One mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5).
Commanded to gather his people, flocks, and seeds (Ether 1:40–43).
How often would I have gathered thy children together (Luke 13:34).
Commanded to lead his people in their trek (Ether 2:1–13).
All are commanded to follow Jesus Christ (e.g., Matt. 4:19; 10:38).
Visited by the Lord in a cloud (Ether 2:4–5; 14).
Jesus visited by Father in cloud (Matt. 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34).
Procured small transparent stones for the Lord to touch for light in the barges (Ether 3:1–4).
Jesus Christ is the light to lead us through darkness (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46); He is also the stone or rock of Israel (Acts 4:11; 1 Cor. 10:4; Hel. 5:12).
Had a great vision of Lord on top of an exceedingly high mountain (Ether 3).
Jesus received divine messengers and was transfigured on a high mountain (Matt. 17:1–2).
Forbidden to write many of the things which he had seen (Ether 4:1).
Jesus charged his disciples after descending the mount to “tell the vision to no man” (Matt. 17:9).
With the world collapsing around them in apostasy and wickedness, Jared asked his brother to intervene with God, “that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words” (Ether 1:34). As he took on this responsibility, the brother of Jared acted as a mediator between his people and God. Jared also petitioned his brother to “inquire of the Lord whether he will drive us out of the land, and if he will drive us out of the land, cry unto him whither we shall go” (v. 37). It was in this latter request that Jared first raised the possibility that “the Lord will carry us forth into a land which is choice above all the earth. . . . And if it so be, let us be faithful unto the Lord, that we may receive it for our inheritance” (v. 38). Thus, the Jaredites realized that they must be worthy to receive the blessing they were seeking.
Their request concerning the language was granted. According to Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, “they carried with them the speech of their fathers, the Adamic language, which was powerful even in its written form, so that the things Mahonri [Moriancumer] wrote ‘were mighty even unto the overpowering of man to read them.’ That was the kind of language Adam had and this was the language with which Enoch was able to accomplish his mighty work” (The Way to Perfection 60). There is likely more to the account of the retaining of the original or Adamic language than what initially meets the eye. The book of Moses described the language of Adam as “pure and undefiled” (Moses 6:5–6). It is intimately connected with the “Priesthood, which was in the beginning, [and] shall be in the end of the world also” (v. 7; see also Zeph. 3:9). As noted earlier, Moroni described the brother of Jared’s words in the Adamic language as “mighty even . . . unto the overpowering of man” (Ether 12:24). An example of the relationship between language and power is contained in the book of Moses which describes Enoch’s faith as causing him to be feared among men because “so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him” (Moses 7:13; emphasis added).
Jared’s phrase, “drive us out of the land,” is like the language used to describe Adam and Eve’s being driven from the Garden of Eden (Ether 1:38; Gen. 3:24; Moses 4:31), as well as the expression Cain used when he was driven from “the face of the Lord” (Moses 5:39; Gen. 4:14). The same words are used when the Israelites are expelled from Egypt (Ex. 11:1; 12:31), and when the inhabitants of Canaan are driven out before the children of Israel (33:2; 34:11). The Hebrew word used in these verses is garash, which means to “drive out,” “cast out,” “separate,” “divorce” or “expel,” sometimes suggesting “forcible or violent expulsion” (Harris 1:173).
God echoed his earlier instructions to Noah and foreshadowed the actions of the Israelites leaving Egypt (Gen. 6:19; see also 1 Nephi 8:1; Ex. 12:32, 38) when he told the brother of Jared that he and his followers should “go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind” (Ether 1:41). The similarities continued as the brother of Jared was next commanded to lead Jared and their families “down into the valley which is northward” where God would meet them and go before them “into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth” (v. 42). Further, the Lord promised that he would bless them and their seed that they would become “a great nation,” and “that there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed” (Ether 1:43), a promise similar to that made to Abraham and Israel.
In the opening scenes of the book of Ether, the reader is presented with a people being driven out of a land, but promised that the Adamic language would not be taken from them. In addition, they are promised that they would be led by a prophet under the direction of God to a new inheritance where they and their seed would become a great nation. These promises of God to the Jaredites contain the essential elements of the everlasting covenant detailed later to Father Abraham and to every covenant people. These elements include priesthood, posterity, and a land of inheritance (see Abr. 2:11; B. McConkie, A New Witness 505). Modern revelation makes it clear that these covenants, often referred to as the Abrahamic covenant, were previously and subsequently made with Adam and the other patriarchs (see Moses 6:65–68; 7:51; 8:2; also see Old Testament Student Manual 70–72). This covenant is the new and everlasting covenant that God established in this dispensation (see D&C 49:9; 66:2; 132:2–7). According to Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “the covenant made with the fathers was that their seed after them should receive the same gospel, the same priesthood, the same promise of salvation, that blessed the lives of those with whom the covenant was first made” (A New Witness 524).
“Jared and his brother, and their families, and also the friends of Jared and his brother and their families went down,” as commanded, into the valley called Nimrod, “being called after the mighty hunter” (Ether 2:1). The name “Nimrod” evoked strong feelings among the ancients and was usually associated with “rebellion.” It may have carried more meaning than simply a name-title for a valley. 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’” (Nibley, Lehi 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. If so, it can stand as a pattern of a similar temptation and trial the Savior experienced after being in the wilderness following his baptism. The record does not give us much detail concerning this part of their journey, except that it was a time of hard work, gathering and preparation (Ether 2:2–3).
Like the children of Israel departing Egypt, the Jaredites were led “into the wilderness” by the Lord (Ether 2:5; Ex. 13:18). In scriptural accounts, the idea of the people of God escaping into the wilderness is a common pattern. Adam and Eve are driven into a world of thorns and thistles (Moses 4:24). The Israelites wandered forty years in the wilderness. Even the Savior preceded his mission by going out into the wilderness to commune with God. Concerning this pattern, Hugh Nibley has observed: “Now the idea that this life is a pilgrimage through the desert did not originate with the Christians or even the Jews: it has been the religious memory of the human race from the earliest dispensations of the Gospel” (An Approach 146). Another scholar of antiquity has suggested that, in the ancient view, “The desert is the world one passes through. It is nothing in itself, it is barren and inhospitable. It is not meant for people to remain in. One travels through the wilderness as one travels through time. Just like time, so does the desert lead to a new world, to the promised land” (Weinreb 125).
The Lord did not abandon the Jaredites during their travels. He “did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel” (Ether 2:5; compare Ex. 13:21–22). As he did with Moses centuries later, “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” (Ether 2:4; Ex. 19:19). Similar to the Israelites, the Jaredites also had to “cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord” (Ether 2:6; compare 2 Sam. 22:16–18; Ps. 18:15–17). Inasmuch as the Apostle Paul compared the Israelites’ crossing the waters and being led by the cloud to baptism and the Holy Ghost, such a comparison might also be made with the Jaredites (see 1 Cor. 10:1–4). From the scriptural motifs it seems evident that the Lord often leads his children into the wilderness, but he does not leave them alone. He gives them ordinances, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and even his own presence.
When the Jaredites came to the “great sea which divideth the lands,” they pitched their tents in a place they named Moriancumer (Ether 2:13). After four years, “the Lord came again in a cloud” and talked with the brother of Jared. The Lord “chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord” (v. 14). Many modern readers are puzzled by this apparently ungrateful behavior. One recent commentary notes that “it seems highly unlikely that a man of the spiritual stature of the brother of Jared—one who had received marvelous manifestations and had previously exercised great faith in the Lord—would suddenly cease praying to his Maker.” The commentary continues: “It may be that what this verse is saying to us is that Mahonri Moriancumer was chastened by the Lord because he had not fully followed and implemented the counsels of the Lord previously received. It may be that in the relative comfort of the seashore he had allowed his prayers to become less fervent, more casual and routine. He may have been calling upon the Lord in word, but not in faith and deed” (J. McConkie, Millet, and Top 4:269). 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 (Num. 20:7–11; 27:12–14; Deut. 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 (Matt. 16:21–23). Even 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, that comes from not humbly receiving the correction. The book of Job reads: “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty” (Job 5:17). The Lord has declared, “as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:19). Jared’s brother, like the rest of God’s prophets, took immediate action to turn away the Lord’s wrath (Ether 2:15).
As soon as the Jaredites were spiritually ready, the Lord commanded them to build barges as they had done before. They immediately “built barges after the manner which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord” (Ether 2:16). The Jaredites had experience constructing barges earlier, with which they “cross[ed] many waters” (v. 6). They had also built these barges “according to the instructions of the Lord.” There are only a few examples of the Lord’s giving his children intricate instructions for building something, and these are usually associated with temple building (eg, Ex. 25; 1 Chron 28; D&C 124). Of course, Noah’s ark and Nephi’s ship are illustrations of God’s giving detailed direction for the building of vessels. According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “the construction of the first vessel was given to Noah, by revelation. The design of the ark was given by God, ‘a pattern of heavenly things’” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 251; hereafter TPJS). Significantly, the barges of the Jaredites were patterned after the ark of Noah (Ether 6:7).
Jared’s brother fulfilled the Lord’s instructions strictly and therefore felt the confidence necessary to ask for further light and knowledge concerning the barges: “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” (Ether 2:19). God answered the second question first by telling the brother of Jared how they could “receive air” on their voyage (v. 20). Then he responded to the concern about light with a question: “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?” (v. 23). Although the Lord willingly provided directions for receiving air, supplying light was a matter wherein he required the brother of Jared to exercise his own “agency, his intelligence, and his faith” (Jackson 250). There is a pattern in these verses worth noting. God preserves his children “from day to day, by lending [them] breath, that [they] may live and move and do according to [their] own will. . . . And behold, all that he requires of [them] is [that they] keep his commandments” (Mosiah 2:21–22). In other words, God freely grants his children breath and life so that they might exercise their own wills righteously, and thereby grow more like him. This principle is also taught in the revelation concerning Oliver Cowdery given 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). President Harold B. Lee commented on these verses in Ether similarly: “It was as though the Lord were saying to [the brother of Jared], ‘Look, I gave you a mind to think with, and I gave you agency to use it. Now you do all you can do to help yourself with this problem; and then, after you’ve done all you can, I’ll step in to help you’” (“How to Receive” 863).
Not only did the brother of Jared ponder the problem assigned to him by the Lord, but he also took action based upon his deliberations. He ascended Mount Shelem, “and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass” (Ether 3:1). Humbly, he approached God with his solution: “I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea” (Ether 3:4). The text indicates that the Lord, without hesitation, “stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger” (Ether 3:6). Much has been written connecting these stones to ancient traditions of how light was given to Noah’s ark, or concerning how the stones were used as oracles of hidden knowledge (e.g., Nibley, An Approach 337–38; Graves 113). For purposes of this paper it must suffice to state that these stones received their light from Christ and “shine[d] forth in darkness,” and provided “light when [the Jaredites were] swallowed up in the depths of the sea” (Ether 2:25; 3:4). In the next chapter, the record identifies Jesus Christ as “the light, and the life, and the truth of the world” (Ether 4:12).
There may also be a comparison between the Jaredite stones and the Liahona, at least as far as types. The Nephite prophet Alma compared the Liahona to the words of Christ. He rhetorically asked: “Is there not a type in this thing [the Liahona]?” Continuing, he declared, “for just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise” (Alma 37:45). The brother of Jared’s shining stones typologically led the Jaredites to the promised land by the power of Christ. By that same power mankind can be led “into a far better land of promise.”
Sacred events transpired when the brother of Jared was on the high mountain calling upon the Lord. Mountains have often been utilized by God and his prophets as actual and symbolic temples where Jehovah has manifest himself, his word, and his will to man (eg, Ex. 15:17; Matt. 17; Moses 1; 1 Nephi 11:1; J. McConkie and Parry 84). Elder Joseph Fielding Smith has stated: “Of necessity the first sanctified temples were the mountain tops and secluded places in the wilderness. If we are correctly informed, Adam built his altar on a hill above the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman. At that place the Lord revealed to him the purpose of the fall and the mission of the Savior. . . . It was upon the great mountain Shelem, which was sanctified and made holy, that the brother of Jared was commissioned and received one of the greatest revelations ever given unto man, for he was shown all things from the beginning to the end of time” (Doctrines of Salvation 2:232–33).
During his powerfully sacred experience, the brother of Jared was able to penetrate the veil and see “the finger of the Lord” (Ether 3:6). After a brief examination of the brother of Jared’s understanding of what was happening to him, the Lord revealed further knowledge to him. Because of the matchless faith and humility of Jared’s brother, Jesus Christ “showed himself unto him,” and declared, “because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you” (Ether 3:13). Few mortals of record have received this glorious experience.
Then, as if by explanation of the distinctive difference between this revelation and his other appearances to man, Jesus Christ exclaimed: “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. . . . Never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. . . . Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit. . . . Even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh” (Ether 3:14–18). Moroni intruded into the record at this point with the clarification that he “could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites” (v. 17), adding that Jesus ministered to the brother of Jared “even as he ministered unto the Nephites” (v. 18). Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained: “Read in context and in the light of other passages, this means that no prior person had ever had so great faith as Moriancumer and that as a consequence none had gained so comprehensive a revelation of Christ’s personality. The veil was completely removed where this Jaredite prophet was concerned; the Lord appeared in a more complete manner and form than ever before had been the case” (Mormon Doctrine 464). In other words Jared’s brother received the blessing of the Second Comforter, the personal presence and ministration of the Lord God himself (see John 14:18, 21, 23; TPJS 149–51; J. McConkie, Millet, and Top 4:274–75).
The perfect knowledge of this man made it so that “he could not be kept from beholding within the veil” (Ether 3:19). Further, “the Lord could not withhold anything from him, for he knew that the Lord could show him all things” (v. 26). He was given a vision of “all inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be . . . even unto the ends of the earth” (v. 25). The Lord instructed the brother of Jared to seal these things up to be shown in His own due time (v. 27; see also 2 Nephi 27:7, 10).
Like the brother of Jared, Latter-day Saints have available the power, keys, covenants, ordinances, and sanctuaries to receive “the fulness of the priesthood” (see D&C 124:28; TPJS 321–24). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “all the prophets that have written, from the days of righteous Abel, down to the last man . . .” have had the goal of gathering the Lord’s people (TPJS 83). He later added: “Why gather the people together in this place? For the same purpose that Jesus wanted to gather the Jews—to receive the ordinances, the blessings, and glories that God has in store for His Saints” (TPJS 312). Like Jesus Christ, Jared’s brother ascended a holy mount and received glorious visions and probably his endowments (Ether chapters 2, 3; compare Matt. chapter 17). Following the same pattern, Saints of God enter the “mountain of the Lord’s house” and have opened to them “all . . . which had been, and also all that would be” (Isa. 2:2–3; Ether 3:25). The Prophet Joseph Smith promised that “the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest. How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power, and the other Comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation” (TPJS 149).
Endowed with divine power, the brother of Jared was prepared to lead his people across the seas. They made their temporal affairs ready and “set forth into the sea.” The “Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land” and “the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters” (Ether 6:4–5, 8). Hugh Nibley has chronicled many “ancient” accounts of tremendous winds during the fall of Babel (Lehi 177–78). In the ancient world, wind was often seen as Jehovah’s “instrument in overcoming chaos (Gen. 1:2; 8:1), and in transporting a prophet (1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; cf. 2:11; Ezek. 8:3; 11:1)” (Scott 4:848).
Anciently, water was often symbolic of the primordial chaos, “when darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:2; Eliade, The Myth 59–60). The act of creation or organization occurred when “the Spirit of God moved upon the deep,” and order and life came upon the chaos (Gen. 1:2). To pass through the waters symbolized death and renewal. The ordinance of baptism partially draws upon this symbolism. To baptize is to bury the natural man in the dissolutive primordial waters, and then to raise up, by God’s Spirit, a new creature. As Paul puts it, “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:12; see also Rom. 6:4).
In much the same symbolic fashion, to cross the waters or seas is to leave the old decadent world behind to receive the new pristine and promised land. In ancient lore, crossing the great waters evoked images of traveling through time or life and traversing from old to new worlds. Friedrich Weinreb points out that, “The passage through this world is very much like passing through water, hence . . . a passage through time. And lest we should be drowned in water and in time, God gave us the ‘teba,’ the ‘word,’ [Ark] which carries us like a ship through the water” (Weinreb 248). Just as the “Flood figures both the descent into the watery depths and baptism,” so too would the Jaredite journey into the seas (Eliade, The Sacred 134). After all, the Jaredites were “buried in the depths of the sea” but “there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah” (Ether 6:6–7). Like Noah, these Jaredites left the old behind, pressing forward to a new land of promise. These historical stories may also typify the fact that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
After 344 days on the ocean, “they did land upon the shore of the promised land” (Ether 6:11–12). Having obtained “the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people,” the Jaredites needed to realize their responsibility to live worthy of such an inheritance (2:7). The Lord 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” (v. 8). This divine oath is of such weight that Moroni felt the need to reiterate it: “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. . . . 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” (Ether 2:9–10). One additional condition is added by Moroni: “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” (v. 11; emphasis added). Modern prophets have echoed these words and stressed their seriousness to the current inhabitants of this choice land (eg, Smith, Doctrines 3:321–22; Kimball 439–40; and Benson, Teachings 580, 596).
The Jaredites immediately acknowledged the hand of the Lord in their great blessings as well as in their future. “When they set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them” (Ether 6:12).
God’s conditional promise of the land of inheritance has an everlasting significance. Although all covenant people have a temporal “promised land” (Lee, “To Know Nothing” 3–4), they also have the assurance of a far better land of promise. As Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated: “Following the millennium plus ‘a little season’ (D&C 29:22–25), the earth will die, be resurrected, and becoming like a ‘sea of glass’ (D&C 130:7), attain unto ‘its sanctified, immortal, and eternal state’ (D&C 77:1–2). Then the poor and the meek—that is, the godfearing and the righteous—shall inherit the earth; it will become an abiding place for the Father and the Son, and celestial beings will possess it forever and ever (D&C 88:14–26, 111)” (Mormon Doctrine 211).
This chapter has attempted to examine the typological correspondences between the Jaredite exodus and the eternal plan of redemption. Whether we are talking about the exodus of Noah, the Jaredites, the Israelites, or the family of Lehi, the pattern and types seem to testify of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation, and that plan is taught throughout the scriptures by discourse, testimony, type and/
Like the Jaredites of old, we begin our test of salvation by descending into a fallen world. Like them, we are not alone. Our Father has sent our Elder Brother as our Deliverer and Mediator. There is no way out of this dark and dreary wilderness without Jesus Christ. By living his teachings we can make the trek through the valleys of temptations and travails, to our promised home. We must receive the covenants and ordinances, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost we can make it to the mountain of the Lord’s house and receive further light and knowledge. Thus prepared, we can finish our task of putting off the old natural person and become new creatures in Christ. By feasting on the words of Christ, we will be led on a straight course to eternal bliss.
Benson, Ezra Taft. “The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.” Ensign (May 1987) 17:84–85; also in Conference Report (April 1987) 3–7.
———. The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988.
Donaldson, Lee, V. Dan. Rogers, and David R. Seely. “I Have a Question: Building the Tower of Babel.” Ensign (Feb. 1994) 24:60.
Eichrodt, Walter. “Is Typological Exegesis An Appropriate Method?” In Essays on Old Testament Hermeneutics. Trans. James Barr. Ed. Claus Westermann. Atlanta: John Knox, 1963. 224–45.
Eliade, Mircea. The Myth of the Eternal Return or, Cosmos and History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ., 1954.
———. The Sacred & the Profane. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959.
Frye, Northrop. The Great Code: The Bible and Literature. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982.
Graves, Robert, and Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths. New York: Greenwich House, 1983.
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Chicago: Moody Press, 1980. 1:173–74.
Jackson, Kent P., “Christ and the Jaredites.” Studies in Scripture, vol. 8: Alma 30 to Moroni. Ed. Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988. 245–58.
Jacobsen, T. “Babel.” The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Ed. George A. Buttrick. 4 vols. New York: Abingdon, 1962. 2:334.
Kimball, Spencer W. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982.
Lee, Harold B. “How to Receive a Blessing from God.” Improvement Era (Oct. 1966) 69:862–63, 896–99.
———. “To Know Nothing Save Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.” Ensign (Nov. 1973) 3:2–4; also in Conference Report (Oct. 1973) 3–7.
Ludlow, Daniel H. A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976.
McConkie, Bruce R. Mormon Doctrine. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966.
———. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985.
McConkie, Joseph Fielding. Gospel Symbolism. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985.
———, Robert L. Millet, and Brent L. Top. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992.
———, and Donald W. Parry. A Guide to Scriptural Symbols. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990.
Nibley, Hugh. An Approach to the Book of Mormon. Vol. 6 of The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley. 3rd ed. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book/
———. Lehi in the Desert/
Oaks, Dallin H. “Taking Upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ.” Ensign (May 1985): 15:80–83; also in Conference Report (April 1985) 101–5.
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Scott, R. B. “Wind.” The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, R-Z. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick. 4 vols. New York: Abingdon, 1962.
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———. The Way to Perfection. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1963.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Comp. Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976.
Tate, George S. “The Typology of the Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon.” In Literature of Belief. Ed. Neal E. Lambert. Provo, UT: Brigham Young Univ. Religious Studies Center, 1981. 245–62.
Thomas, Catherine. “The Brother of Jared at the Veil.” In Temples of the Ancient World: Sixth Annual F.A.R.M.S. Symposium. Provo, UT: Brigham Young Univ. FARMS, 1993. 388–98.
Weinreb, Friedrich. Roots of the Bible: An Ancient View for a New Outlook. Braunton: Merlin, 1986.