1. The Lord grants the requests of the brother of Jared.
Ether 1:34 The brother of Jared
“While residing in Kirtland Elder Reynolds Cahoon had a son born to him. One day when President Joseph Smith was passing his door he called the Prophet in and asked him to bless and name the baby. Joseph did so and gave the boy the name of Mahonri Moriancumer. When he had finished the blessing he laid the child on the bed, and turning to Elder Cahoon he said, ‘The name I have given your son is the name of the brother of Jared; the Lord has just shown (or revealed) it to me.’ Elder William F. Cahoon, who was standing near, heard the Prophet make this statement to his father; and this was the first time the name of the brother of Jared was known in the Church in this dispensation.” (“The Jaredites,” Juvenile Instructor, 1 May 1892, p. 282)
Ether 1:35 He did not confound the language of Jared
“It is stated in the Book of Ether that Jared and his brother made the request of the Lord that their language be not changed at the time of the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel. Their request was granted, and 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 wrote ’were mighty even…unto the overpowering of man to read them.’ (Ether 12:24) That was the kind of language Adam had and this was the language with which Enoch was able to accomplish his mighty work.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, p. 69)
Ether 1:38-42 A chosen land
“The Book of Mormon informs us that the whole of America, both North and South, is a choice land above all other lands, in other words—Zion. The Lord told the Jaredites that he would lead them to a land ‘which is choice above all the lands of the earth’ [Ether 1:42]” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:73).
Ether 1:43 This long time ye have cried unto me
“Do you get answers to your prayers? If not, perhaps you did not pay the price. Do you offer a few trite words and worn-out phrases, or do you talk intimately to the Lord? Do you pray occasionally when you should be praying regularly, often, constantly? Do you offer pennies to pay heavy debts when you should give dollars to erase that obligation? When you pray do you just speak, or do you also listen? Your Savior said, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’ (Revelation 3:20.)….The Lord stands knocking. He never retreats. But he will never force himself upon us. If we ever move apart, it is we who move and not the Lord. And should we ever fail to get an answer to our prayers, we must look into our lives for a reason.” (Spencer W Kimball, “Prayer,” New Era, March 1978,)
2. The Jaredites begin their journey to the promised land.
Ether 2:7 Which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people
‘The Lord wanted Jared and his brother to know that the promised land to which he would lead them was a very sacred land which had a magnificent destiny in the coming centuries. However, the Lord made it clear that this promised land was so sacred that it would require its inhabitants to be a righteous people or they would lose their blessings.’ (W Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)
Ether 2:14 The Lord chastened the brother of Jared
“It is difficult to imagine what a three-hour rebuke from the Lord might be like, but the brother of Jared endured it. With immediate repentance and prayer, this prophet again sought guidance for the journey they had been assigned and those who were to pursue it. God accepted his repentance and lovingly gave further direction for their crucial mission” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ and the New Covenant , 15).
Ether 2:16 Barges
‘Barges are normally defined as flat-bottomed cargo vessels used chiefly for canal and river navigation. In addition, the Jaredite record implies a box-like form by its references to the top, bottom, sides, and ends of the barge (Ether 2:17). Both the definition of “barges” and the implied box-like form are in harmony with the eminent nautical scholar Casson’s representation of the earliest Egyptian and Mesopotamian planked boats as square-ended and flat-bottomed, “more barge than boat, a form that might have been chosen because it involved simpler carpentry.” These vessels were common on the rivers and canals of lower Mesopotamia and would have been familiar to the Jaredites. ‘[Randall P. Spackman,The Jaredite Journey to America, p. 64, unpublished]
Ether 2:19 There is no light
“We can endure all things when our hope is centered in one who will never fail us-our Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world.
“How do we develop that hope-that hope that lights our way across life’s stormy seas? There are times, as there were for our family, when darkness surrounds us and threatens to engulf us altogether. At such times we can take a lesson from the brother of Jared. You remember the Lord instructed the brother of Jared to make barges so his people could travel safely to the promised land. But because these boats were dark and without air, the brother of Jared took his concerns to the Lord in words that any of us might use to describe our own troubled times: ‘There is no light. … we cannot breathe’ (Ether 2:19).
“How does a person venture out into the darkness without fear? How do any of us venture out day after day into a world where there are no guarantees of safety? The Lord gave a profound answer that again applies not just to the dark sea the brother of Jared faced, but to our own dark seas as well: ‘Ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea’ (Ether 2:25). ‘I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea’ (Ether 2:24). The Lord was not going to spare the Jaredites from the experience, but he prepared them for it and gave them the sweet promise of bringing them up again out of the depths of the sea.
“…Like the Jaredites, we’re afraid of traveling in the darkness, and we need light, which is hope. Sometimes, in the midst of our problems, we lose the vision of why we’re here or where we’re going. We wonder if we’re equal to the tasks that are given us. It is then that we can ask the Lord to touch the unlighted stones of our lives with light. He can deliver peace and hope when all around us speak against it.
“‘Touch my life with light,’ we can ask the Lord. ‘Fill my heart with hope.’ The Lord will do this if we ask in faith and continue to live his commandments. Like the brother of Jared, it is only with the Lord’s light that we can see all things clearly.” (Dwan J Young, Ensign, Nov. 1986, “The Light of Hope”)
Ether 2:23-24 The winds have gone forth out of my mouth
‘The Lord’s guidance and instruction are essential. He helped the faithful brother of Jared by solving one of his two challenges when He told him how to get fresh air into the barges that had been faithfully built. But, pointedly, the Lord not only left temporarily unsolved the challenge of how to provide light, but He then made it clear that He, the Lord, would allow the buffetings and trials that necessitated its solving. He it would be who would send forth the winds, the rains, and the floods (see Ether 2:23–24
Why would He do that? And why does He warn any of us to remove ourselves from a source of danger when He could simply stop the danger from happening? President Wilford Woodruff told the story of being spiritually warned to move the carriage that he, his wife, and child slept in, only to discover that a whirlwind shortly thereafter uprooted a large tree and dropped it exactly where the carriage had previously stood (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff , 47).
In both of these instances, the weather could have been adjusted to eliminate the dangers. But here is the point—rather than solve the problem Himself, the Lord wants us to develop the faith that will help us rely upon Him in solving our problems and trust Him. Then we can feel His love more constantly, more powerfully, more clearly, and more personally. We become united with Him, and we can become like Him. For us to be like Him is His goal. In fact, it is His glory as well as His work. (Terence M Vinson, General Conference, October 2013)
3. The brother of Jared sees Jesus Christ.
Ether 3:1 Sixteen small stones
“The only trouble is that the stones don’t shine. What shall the man do next? He carries the stones up to the very top of ‘an exceedingly high mountain’—and that is as far as he can go. Of course God could have appeared to him in the plain, but the idea of the whole thing is that man himself must meet God halfway. So the brother of Jared toils up the mountain as he had toiled at the smelter until, as it were, he reaches the end of the line—he can go no further; he has done all that is in his power. From then on it is up to the Lord. Standing on the mountaintop, the brother of Jared holds up his pretty but worthless stones and asks the Lord to take over.” (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 351)
Ether 3:6 The brother of Jared fell down before the Lord
‘As the finger of the Lord stretched forth to touch each stone, the veil was lifted so that the astonished brother of Jared could see the finger and it appeared to be flesh and bone as though it were a human finger. It was part of the Hebrew tradition that no man could look upon the glory of God’s being and survive. Therefore, when the brother of Jared realized he had seen the very finger of God he fell to the ground, virtually petrified with fear.’ (W Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)
Ether 3:9 Because of thy faith
‘Yahweh explains just what the brother of Jared has seen. There is a dual importance to this revelation. The first is that he has been allowed to see. The second is the meaning of what he has seen. Yahweh declares, “I shall take upon me flesh and blood,” which happens when Yahweh becomes the mortal Messiah. The brother of Jared therefore sees the present evidence of prophecy. Yahweh will descend to earth to become the Atoning Messiah. This is not a revelation of form but of mission.
In addition to the communication of Yahweh’s Messianic mission, the lesson also becomes one of faith. Yahweh declares that faith allowed this vision. Then comes the dramatic question, “Sawest thou more than this?” Like the question about why the brother of Jared fell (v. 7), Yahweh asks this question for the drama of the story, not because he doesn’t know the answer. Yahweh has already answered the essential question about his mission. Therefore, at this point, the experience becomes a lesson on the power of faith—specifically, faith in Yahweh’s Messianic mission.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Ether 3:11 Believest thou the words which I shall speak?
“There was a test of faith involved, as the Lord asked: ‘Believest thou the words which I shall speak?’ (Ether 3:11. Italics added.) Interesting, isn’t it, that he was not asked, ‘Believest thou the words that I have spoken?’ It didn’t relate to the past. It related to the future. The brother of Jared was asked to commit himself on something that had not yet happened. He was to confirm his belief in that which the Lord had not yet spoken. . . . Faith, to be faith, must center around something that is not known. Faith, to be faith, must go beyond that for which there is confirming evidence. Faith, to be faith, must go into the unknown. Faith, to be faith, must walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness. If everything has to be known, if everything has to be explained, if everything has to be certified, then there is no need for faith. Indeed, there is no room for it.” (Boyd K Packer, quoted in We Talk of Christ, by Neal A. Maxwell, p. 66)
Ether 3:12 I know that thou speakest the truth
‘Mahonri said he had no hesitancy in saying he would believe what the Lord would tell him. He reasoned that there would be no risk involved in believing the Savior because the Lord can only speak the truth and cannot lie. In this response Mahonri Moriancumer exhibited the perfect faith of a little child.’ (W Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)
Ether 3:15 Never have I showed myself unto man
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland discussed six possible explanations for Jesus’s statement that He had never shown Himself to man prior to showing Himself to the brother of Jared:
“One possibility is that this is simply a comment made in the context of one dispensation and as such applies only to the people of Jared and Jaredite prophets—that Jehovah had never before revealed himself to one of their seers and revelators. …
“Another suggestion is that the reference to ‘man’ is the key to this passage, suggesting that the Lord had never revealed himself to the unsanctified, to the nonbeliever, to temporal, earthy, natural man. The implication is that only those who have put off the natural man [and are] sanctified (such as Adam, Enoch, and now the brother of Jared)—are entitled to this privilege [see D&C 67:10–11].
“Some believe that the Lord meant he had never before revealed himself to man in that degree or to that extent. This theory suggests that divine appearances to earlier prophets had not been with the same ‘fulness,’ that never before had the veil been lifted to give such a complete revelation of Christ’s nature and being.
“A further possibility is that this is the first time Jehovah had appeared and identified himself as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with the interpretation of the passage being ‘never have I showed myself [as Jesus Christ] unto man whom I have created.’ That possibility is reinforced by one way of reading Moroni’s later editorial comment: ‘Having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus.’
“Yet another interpretation of this passage is that the faith of the brother of Jared was so great he saw not only the spirit finger and body of the premortal Jesus (which presumably many other prophets had also seen) but also some distinctly more revealing aspect of Christ’s body of flesh, blood, and bone. …
“A final explanation—and in terms of the brother of Jared’s faith the most persuasive one—is that Christ was saying to the brother of Jared, ‘Never have I showed myself unto man in this manner, without my volition, driven solely by the faith of the beholder.’ As a rule, prophets are invited into the presence of the Lord, are bidden to enter his presence by him and only with his sanction. The brother of Jared, on the other hand, seems to have thrust himself through the veil, not as an unwelcome guest but perhaps technically as an uninvited one. Said Jehovah, ‘Never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. … Never has man believed in me as thou hast.’ Obviously the Lord himself was linking unprecedented faith with this unprecedented vision. If the vision itself was not unique, then it had to be the faith and how the vision was obtained that was so unparalleled. The only way that faith could be so remarkable was its ability to take the prophet, uninvited, where others had been able to go only with God’s bidding” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ and the New Covenant, 21–23).
Ether 3:24 These stones
“Joseph Smith received the same Urim and Thummim had by the Brother of Jared for it was the one expressly provided for the translation of the Jaredite and Nephite records. (D. & C. 10:1; 17:1; Ether 3:22-28.) It was separate and distinct from the one had by Abraham and the one had by the priests in Israel. The Prophet also had a seer stone which was separate and distinct from the Urim and Thummim, and which (speaking loosely) has been called by some a Urim and Thummim. (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 222-226.)
4. Moroni seals up the writings of the brother of Jared.
Ether 4:3-5 The sealed portion
“Even the true saints-the believing disciples, those who have accepted the gospel and received the gift of the Holy Ghost-are not prepared to receive all things. We have the fulness of the everlasting gospel, meaning we have every truth, power priesthood, and key needed to enable us to gain the fulness of salvation in our Father’s kingdom. But we do not have, and are not yet prepared to receive, the fulness of gospel truth.
“This is perfectly illustrated by the fact that we do not have the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. That treasure-house of Holy Writ contains an account of the creation of the world, of the dealings of God with men in all ages of the Second Coming of the Son of Man, and of the millennial era when the earth shall rest and Zion prosper to the full-all of which we are not prepared to receive. The doctrines revealed to the brother of Jared, and which are recorded in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, were had among the Jaredites; they were known to the Nephites during their Golden Era; certainly they were known and taught in Enoch’s Zion; but when the Lehite people ‘dwindled in unbelief,’ Moroni was commanded to ‘hide them up.'” (Bruce R McConkie, Mortal Messiah, Book 2, p. 237)
Ether 4:6-7 In that day that they shall exercise faith in me
‘Now the Lord has placed us on probation as members of the Church. He has given us the Book of Mormon, which is the lesser part, to build up our faith through our obedience to the counsels which it contains, and when we ourselves, members of the Church, are willing to keep the commandments as they have been given to us and show our faith as the Nephites did for a short period of time, then the Lord is ready to bring forth the other record and give it to us, but we are not ready now to receive it. Why? Because we have not lived up to the requirements in this probationary state in the reading of the record which had been given to us and in following its counsels.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, General Conference, October 1961)
Ether 4:8 He that will contend against the word of the Lord
‘Virtually all God’s revelations come as both blessing and cursing. We are blessed to have the revelations if we receive them. However, if we “contend against the word,” we will be cursed. This particular promise of the blessing/cursing duality is punctuated by the pronouncer’s authority. This is not Moroni’s promise. It is God’s.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Ether 4:11 Manifestations of my spirit
“…a manifestation of the Holy Ghost…is given to acquaint sincere seekers with the truth about the Lord and his gospel. For example, the prophet Moroni promises that when we study the Book of Mormon and seek to know whether it is true, sincerely and with real intent, God will ‘manifest’ the truth of it unto us, ‘by the power of the Holy Ghost’ (Moro. 10:4). Moroni also records this promise from the Risen Lord: ‘He that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true’ (Ether 4:11).
“These manifestations are available to everyone. The Book of Mormon declares that the Savior ‘manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people’ (2 Ne. 26:13). ” (Dallin H Oaks, Conference Report, Nov. 1996 Ensign, “Always Have His Spirit”)
Ether 4:15 When ye shall rend that veil of unbelief
“The Book of Mormon is predicated on the willingness of men and women to ‘rend that veil of unbelief’ in order to behold the revelations—and the Revelation—of God. The brother of Jared may not have had great belief in himself, but his belief in God was unprecedented. In that there is hope for us all. His faith was without doubt or limit.
“’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.’ (Ether 3:4) From the moment of that utterance, the brother of Jared and the reader of the Book of Mormon would never again be the same. Once and for all it was declared that ordinary people with ordinary challenges could rend the veil of unbelief and enter the realms of eternity. And Christ, who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem his people, would stand in all his glory at the edge of that veil, ready to receive the believers and show them ‘how great things the Father had laid up’ for them at the end of faith’s journey. (Ether 4:14)” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 29)
5. The Jaredites travel to the promised land.
Ether 6:3 Shine in darkness
“You have the light within. You can shine in darkness. You can light up the world. You can help dispel the darkness. You can make a difference” (Ardeth Kapp, The Joy of the Journey , 69).
Ether 6:4-9 The Jaredites commended themselves to the Lord
‘In the context of Ether 6:4–9 the word commendmeans to entrust their care to. In other words, the Jaredites entrusted their care to God. By commending themselves to the Lord, they demonstrated their faith that He could and would deliver them. “The wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters” (Ether 6:8). Contrast this attitude with the attitude of Nephi’s brothers as they crossed the sea with their family. When Laman and Lemuel bound Nephi, the family’s compass, the Liahona, ceased to work and their boat was “driven back upon the waters for the space of four days” (1 Nephi 18:15). Both the Jaredites and Lehi’s family sought to commend themselves to the Lord’s care; however, some members of Lehi’s family were disobedient. The contrast between these two accounts shows that we must exercise faith and keep the commandments to receive all the blessings the Lord would give us through His care.’ (Book of Mormon Institute Manual)