Why doesn’t the Book of Mormon name the Brother of Jared?

Why does the Book of Mormon not name the Brother of Jared (later named by Joseph Smith as Mahonri Moriancumer)?

Possible answer to 1): Ether and Moroni were simply following tradition in trying to concentrate on the name Jared.  Jared was the patriarch of the family, and tradition had been to concentrate on him and his name, not Mahonri’s.  At the end of the day, the name Mahonri was not as important as the name Jared.  Majonri was so modest that he wanted his brother to be remembered, not him.

Problem:  why then do the Jaredites name one of places where they pitched their tents “Moriancumer” (see Ether 2:13), presumably after the Brother of Jared?

Another possible answer:  the name “Mahonri Moriancumer” is too long.

Problem: they could have just called him “Mahonri.”

I’m stumped.  What do you think, M* readers?

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

28 thoughts on “Why doesn’t the Book of Mormon name the Brother of Jared?

  1. I wonder this myself every time I read this story. I have no clue. But it sure is fun to say.

  2. We discussed this same question in Sunday School today and no one really had an answer. What my question is, is why didn’t anyone bring up the obvious correlation that not only is he not named, but why aren’t most of the women in scriptural text given proper names?

    On a side note, one of my favorite things I just learned about Church History, you probably remember he story of Mahonri Moriancumer Cahoon? He is the baby of Reynolds Cahoon who received the blessing (by Joseph Smith) wherein he was named after the brother of Jared. Guess what Mahonri Moriancumer named his only child.

    John.

  3. One thought shared today is that it could be something Joseph Smith was working on the plates and unable to translate that particular name until the baby blessing, for whatever reason.

    Our class was spent pretty much debating what it meant when Christ said he had showed himself to no man before that point. I offered the opinion that he meant as “the Christ” and not as Jehovah, and that Adam, Eve and Enoch (the only ones we know for sure who saw the premortal Messiah) were shown Jehovah as the eternal God, whereas Enoch saw Christ, as he would come. It’s the only reading that made sense to me at least.

  4. I am home sick with the flu, so I do not have the benefit of having attended gospel doctrine. That said, I’m guessing this falls under what a seminary teacher of mine called the “whee don’t know” category. Perhaps someday we will know, but I am not sure it is pertinent to our eternal salvation. Interesting question, though.

  5. Dan M, I was thinking about that very issue as well. My wife and I believe that Adam, Eve and Enoch saw Christ when they were transfigured, whereas Mahonri was the first person to see him without being transfigured, which was yet another sign of his incredible faith.

  6. This may seem silly, but I think it offers the most likely scenario, we do it here. Perhaps the brother of Jared is just like #$#^&. Maybe Mahonri was vulgar in Mormon(Prophet)’s language.

  7. Addrax, your scenario is possible, of course, but we know that Moriancumer was not an obscenity, so why didn’t Ether and Moroni simply call him by that name?

  8. I thought maybe that the record was originally taken from a first person account so that in the source from which the Book of Ether was drawn it was the brother of Jared writing so all they got was an “I”. As in “My Brother Jared and I went to build some ships” etc. His name was never included in the text, much like you’d never pull my name from my journal if the cover page was missing.

  9. Actually, perhaps Mahonri is like a title and Moriancumer is his real name. Mormon could stomach the unintended obscenity with “they called the valley Moriancumer”, but constantly writing “Moriancumer went to the Lord in Prayer” was out of the question and decided, I’ll just write “the brother of Jared”.

  10. The typical answer is that the records we have come through the line of the Brother of Jared. Therefore the person outside of that line isn’t named so as to maintain the authority of King’s lineage and to undermine descendents of the Brother of Jared from seeking leadership. That’s actually fairly common in the ancient world.

    I’ve no idea if that’s true. But it makes sense.

  11. I know a member who named his child Mahonri Moriancumer. But he just called himself MM. Now just imagine if you were in high school and it’s roll call and the teacher blurts out, “Mahonri Moriancumer!” If you were him, wouldn’t you wish you’d just melt in your seat as all the Scotts, Kevins, Terrys and Jennys give you a long, wide stare?

    And think about this: there seems to be no other name in the Book Mormon, Jaredite and post-Jaredite, that seems to be such a kilometer-long like Mahonri Moriancumer. Or maybe I’m wrong…

  12. “Our class was spent pretty much debating what it meant when Christ said he had showed himself to no man before that point.”

    Of course Christ had shown himself to others before this time. Obvious examples include Adam, Enoch, Abraham, and Moses. But he had never before revealed Himself to man as He had at this time. In other words, there was a fundamental difference in HOW the Lord revealed Himself to man at this time that differed from any previous event.

    Ether explains himself. The brother of Jared had a very unique faith, as no one had before believed in Christ has he had (Ether 3:15). Because of the brother of Jared’s unique faith, he could not be kept within the veil (Ether 3:19-20). In other words Christ was COMPELLED to reveal himself unto man at this time, where as before, it was Christ’s will whether to reveal himself or not.

    Read closely Ether 12:19-21. Because his faith was so strong “when God put forth his finger he COULD NOT HIDE IT from the sight of the brother of Jared,” neither could “the Lord [] withhold ANYTHING from his sight.” Thus, the borther of Jared had so much faith that it required a showing of the Lord. In my opinion, in the instances involving Adam, Enoch, etc., the Lord was not required to reveal Himself, but did so only by His own free will an choice.

    I posted a related article about this at:

    http://theseerstone.blogspot.com/2008/08/eternal-faith.html

  13. While I’m not too sure about the Moriancumer part but I always thought Mahonri was a cool name. My wife disagreed so we have a son named Conner.

  14. Another possibility is that Ether does in fact name the Brother of Jared: his given name was Ahijared– literally in Hebrew (and similar in other semitic languages) “The Brother of Jared”

    Later, because of some remarkable experience, he also became known as, or was renamed, “Mahonri Moriancumr” — which, sounded out phonetically, sounds rather similar to a Hebrew phrase meaning “The Congregaton Saw (or Was Seen) in Darkness”.

  15. Yeah, I knew with the collectively intelligence of the Bloggernaclites that we would start getting some interesting answers. Thanks Matthew.

  16. I think it must have been a cultural or linguistic Jaredite thing because we see many other people labeled as the Brother of So-and-So, or other relations like the daughter of Jared, whose name we never do learn. She is known only by her relation to her father.

    Brothers in particular seem very important to the Jaredites.

  17. I wonder if this culture was similar to the Chinese in names. For example you name is Kwan, Ming and you are the oldest son in the family. This is the name that you called in the community. At home you are never called Ming, but instead GeGe. GeGe is oldest brother, Jie Jie is oldest sister,Mei Mis youngest sister, and Di Di is youngest brother. If there is more than one older brother it goes something like 2nd Ge Ge etc… See for more explanation http://www.kwanfamily.info/familytitles/familytitle.html.

  18. JA, that’s an interesting theory, and it might help support the theory that the Jaredites left from China on their way to the Americas. (Nibley is a big proponent of this).

  19. Thank you Geoff. How flattering that you would point out that Hugh Nibley and I would have a vastly similar thought. Hopefully Nibley is/was a much better typist.

  20. My name is Mahonri, and I’m very proud of the heritage of the name, within the scriptures, the Church and my own family.
    I was never was embarassed about my unique name, nor did people give me grief about it, except on one or two rare occassions. It’s been a badge of honor to me. Didn’t name my son John, either. I’ve never really fancied too common of names. We named him Hyrum, not too strange, not too common, while, like my name, thoroughly Mormon.

  21. I am learning to write in the Aramaic language. The number one reason when writing names, is that Jared and brother of Jared is so much easier and Mahonri Moriancumer just can’t be written in these languages anciently. It is one thing to have the name, but another to “write it”

  22. Well, maybe he didn’t like his real name, or maybe he had a funny name that belong to his father. My nephew complains all the time about his first name and then I remind him that it could have been worse, he could have been named after his great–great grandfather Luigi and then he doesn’t complain so much.(sorry it was my lame excuse at humor)

  23. If the Jaredite writers (including Ether) were also using “modified Egyptian” heroglyphics, the character for “brother” likely would have taken only one space, and possibly the name “Jared” would have taken a space or two. Using Japanese Kanji, for example, the character for “brother” takes one space; the Kana for “Jared” take four. (In Chinese, it may take only two spaces). Therefore, to write “the brother of Jared” (and likely “the” and “of” were unneeded), only 3 or 4 spaced might have been required)
    However, “Mahonri Moriancumer” in English takes 19 spaces (including the one between the two names) Even in Japanese Kana, this name takes 11 spaces. If they were trying to conserve available space, the difference between using 3 spaces versus 19 might be significant (also, less laborious.

  24. I think the name “Mahonri” has character and if I was a guy I wouldn’t be ashamed of a name like that…it’s a dignified name and I love that story about Mahonri Moriancumer. Mahonri Stewart I envy you being named after such a wonderful man with never-ending Faith.

  25. i remember somehow that the name of the brother of jared was very sacred and not to be spoken.

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