Brother of Jared’s Barges

I’m teaching Ether 1-3 in Primary tomorrow, but wanted to share some adult thoughts

In Ether 2, we read that from a Nimrod Valley, a place already named previously that lay north of the great tower, the Jaredites prepare and then take their journey.

We do not know for certain whether they traveled east or west. Verse 6 only tells us they traveled in the wilderness. Many scholars assume they went east, as did the Nephites. However, I believe they went west.

Chapter 2 tells us they built barges on more than one occasion to cross large bodies of water. This includes the “Sea in the Wilderness”. After crossing this sea, they stopped for 4 years, pitching their tents. They called this place Moriancumer, and is where the brother of Jared sees the finger of the Lord.

It is from this place they prepare to cross the ” great sea”,which divides the lands. I propose they went west from Nimrod.  Going north from the tower takes one to modern day Georgia. Barges would be needed to cross the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea (the Sea in the Wilderness).  Landing near the Rock of Gibraltar, either in modern Spain or Morocco, they could then prepare for their ocean voyage. Going east, the only large body of waterr is the Sea of Japan, and requires years of land travel through areas that were more populated at the time of Babel. This does not suggest the water going people the text suggests of the Jaredites.

The Lord instructs them to build barges similar to the ones previously built. However, there are important differences to be considered. To cross the ocean, the new barges need light. Unlike before, they cannot have windows or use fire. They need a way to make it “tight, like a unto a dish”, and larger-the length of a tree. They will need a way to replenish air, as they may be submerged for periods of time.

We’re talking major changes to the barges made previously. Some issues require the Lord’s guidance in changes to the blueprints, like adding holes in the top and bottom, which can be plugged.  Other plans require ingenuity and new design, such as the 16 shining stones.

I think these thoughts make for a better picture of the Jaredites travellers. Thoughts?

 

5 thoughts on “Brother of Jared’s Barges

  1. The story of the Brother of Jared took on a new meaning for me when I read the book of Ether shortly after brushing up on my Mesopotamian history during a re-read of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

    In Ether 6, which I know is beyond the scope of your lesson, there’s a reference to how the Lord caused a “furious wind” to blow the barges. The wind reference is interesting to me because the Sumerian Enlil (often called just “The Lord”) was the god of air and wind. En – Lil literally means Lord of Wind. His place in the pantheon is also interesting – he is the son of An, the all-father, and Ninhursag, the earth mother. Also in this immediate family was Enki, the Lord of Water. Think of our Heavenly Parents, and their son Christ. Enki is the analog of the Holy Ghost (remember in Genesis when the spirit of the lord walks upon the water?),

    In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim and his wife are granted eternal life by the Sun God Shamash when they kneel before him. He reveals himself to them in his glory and he kisses them on the forehead. To me, a parallel is found in the Brother of Jared’s experience on the mountain when the Lord shows himself to him.

    That may be a bit rambling. What I’m trying to say is that I particularly enjoy the Book of Ether because it contains these little snippets and passing references to proto-semitic religion if you know what to look for. The writing style and language indicates it comes from a different world from the rest of the Book of Mormon, one darker and more mysterious, but also perhaps a world where the divine was not quite so far removed from us.

    I’m grateful for its inclusion in the Book of Mormon; I am of the opinion that it serves a “Battlestar Galactica” sort of purpose: “All this has happened before. All this will happen again.” Civilizations rise and fall, records are kept and are lost. But patterns of basic human behavior remain constant, as do the Lord’s ways of dealing with his children.

  2. The argument for travel to the east is made by Hugh Nibley in “World of the Jaredites”. I like to think that there are indicators in the readiness of some cultures in the far east to receive the Gospel. In any case I agree with Beth, the inclusion of the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon is a treasure.

  3. I’m teaching the lessons on the Book of Ether in a few weeks in our Gospel Doctrine class. I’m sad, though, because for some reason we had more lessons than weeks in our ward this year, so we’ve had to combine the two Ether lessons into one.

  4. Joyce, I agree we tend to rush through the teachings I’d like to see us go to a topical study, and spend several weeks just on one topic.

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