Ether 6:7 they were tight like unto the ark of Noah
There are more similarities between Noah's ark and the Jaredite barges than one might think. Both had to be built to withstand torrential rains and tidal waves. Therefore, they were both built "tight," in other words, completely sealed when the hatch was closed. For the Jaredites, we know that this design meant that extraordinary means would be needed to provide light. Well then, what did Noah and family do in order to see when they were sealed up in their "tight" ark? By rabbinical and ancient Oriental tradition, they also were given lighted stones to illuminate the ark.
"Truly remarkable is the statement in Ether that the submarine nature of Jared's ships made them 'like unto the ark of Noah,' since that aspect of the ark, perhaps its most characteristic, is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, and has led to great confusion among Bible illustrators, ancient, medieval, and modern...They lead us directly to the most puzzling problem of all-that of the illumination of the ark, for while the window is called a zohar (more properly tsohar), i.e., shiner or illuminator...in a boat equipped to go under water other sources for both [light and ventilation] would have to be found, and it is in the lighting department that the Jewish sources are most specific. For the Rabbis do not settle for the zohar-the lighter of the Ark-as being simply a window: for some of them it was rather a miraculous light-giving stone...Rabbi Akiba ben Kahmana, for example, says it was a skylight, while Rabbi Levi said it was a precious stone. He quotes R. Phineas as saying that 'during the whole twelve months that Noah was in the Ark he did not require the light of the sun by day or the moon by night, but he had a polished gem which he hung up; when it was dim he knew that it was day, and when it shone he knew it was night.'" (A Book of Mormon Treasury, p. 140)
"The oldest accounts of the ark of Noah, the Sumerian ones, describe it as a 'magur boat,' peaked at the ends, completely covered but for a door, without sails, and completely covered by the waters from time to time, as men and animals rode safe within. But the remarkable thing about Jared's boats was their illumination by stones which shone in the dark because they had been touched by the finger of the Lord (Ether 3:6, 6:3).
"The Rabbis tell of a mysterious Zohar that illuminated the ark, but for further instruction we must go to much older sources: the Pyrophilus is traced back to the Jalakanta stone of India, which shines in the dark and enables its owner to pass unharmed beneath the waters; this in turn has been traced back through classical and Oriental sources to the Gilgamesh Epic, where Alexander's wonderful Pyrophilus stone turns up as the Plant of Life in the possession of the Babylonian Noah.
"A large number of ancient traditions, first brought together in the present century, justify one in assuming some sort of legendary shining stones in the ark of Noah. Whether or not there is any historical reality behind it, the fact is that we now know, from sources completely inaccessible to the world of Joseph Smith, that such a tradition actually did exist in very ancient times. It is nothing to laugh at after all." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 244)
Ether 6:9 they did sing praises unto the Lord
One can only imagine what it would have been like to be cooped up in one of those Jaredite barges for 344 days with furious winds, terrible tempests, and mountain waves which buried them in the deep (v. 5-7). The reader gets seasick just thinking about it! Yet their difficult journey was not marred by murmuring and mayhem as it was with Laman and Lemuel (1 Ne 18:9-13). In retrospect, this is truly amazing! The Jaredite journey was no pleasure cruise but it lacked nothing for joy and gratitude for they did thank and praise the Lord all the day long. By comparison, we often complain if our plane-ride or car-ride lasts longer than 344 minutes, let alone 344 days.
Music has the power to lift people in the most trying of circumstances. Michael F. Moody said, "Music has the power to transport us from the hard realities of day-to-day living, to a peaceful, beautiful realm in which we can find a renewed perspective of life." (Church News, 11/16/91) It was this peaceful, beautiful realm to which the Jaredites were transported by their songs of praise. Furthermore, the Lord has declared, my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me (DC 25:12). The parallelism between the song of the righteous and the prayer of the righteous is seen in the language used by Moroni and Enos. The Jaredites did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord. Enos records, all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens. (Enos 1:4)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"We recognize the universal power of music to touch the hearts of men and women everywhere and in all generations--to inspire and encourage, to sustain and lift, to comfort and bring peace." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, "Music")
Neal A. Maxwell
"I'm continually impressed with the power of music to comfort and counsel in a way that often exceeds the power of the spoken word." (Church News, 11/16/91)
Ether 6:11 they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days
Even though the Jaredites traveled for a very long time, Noah and his family had to suffer even longer. Noah and his family remained on the ark for a record 366 days (see Gen 7:11-13; 8:14-16).
"Their mode of travel from the shores of Asia was in barges 'upon the waters,' and their motivated power was furnished by 'furious winds' (v. 5). Quite probably their route was in the Japan Current, which travels from east to west at a rate of between twelve and twenty-one miles a day, and if the Pacific is about seven thousand miles across, the 'three hundred and forty and four days' that they were upon the water would be pretty well consumed. They disembarked near the land called Desolation by the Nephites, 'it being the place of their first landing' (Alma 22:30)." (A. L. Zobell, Sr., A Book of Mormon Treasury, p. 169)
Ether 6:12 they did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy
"Recognizing the blessings of the Lord in one's life brings a sense of gratitude and humility. As a person ponders the workings of the Lord in his life, he may be filled with a sense of awe and wonder and a feeling of overwhelming love for the Lord. When the heart is softened by gratitude and humility and the mind is quickened by a recognition of God's hand, the Spirit of the Lord fills the soul with joy even to tears. President Ezra Taft Benson declared: 'Spiritual promptings move us on occasion to great joy, sometimes to tears.... The Holy Ghost causes our feelings to be more tender. We feel more charitable and compassionate. We are calmer. We have a greater capacity to love.' (Come Unto Christ, p. 20.) The 'tender mercies of the Lord' are manifested in our lives both in temporal and spiritual ways. We experience his tender mercy through his forgiveness of our sins and the transformation of our lives through his grace. We are protected and blessed in temporal ways by his ever-watchful loving-kindness and care. When we recognize and experience these temporal spiritual mercies of the Lord we are indeed filled with joy-a joy that, as Ammon declared, borders on 'boasting' or 'glorying' in the goodness of God (see Alma 26:12-16)." (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 287)
Ether 6:19 Let us gather together our people
"Jaredite history in the New World was formally inaugurated by a general assembly and census of the entire nation (Ether 6:19), a thoroughly Asiatic practice which goes back to the days of prehistoric hunters and which lies at the root of all ancient political organization, as I have demonstrated in a number of articles. Strictly in accordance with the ancient pattern, this assembly was the occasion for the choosing of a king, and the establishment of a dynasty, which as the brother of Jared clearly foresaw, could only lead straight to the slough of Old World intrigue and turmoil from which the Jaredites had already been once delivered (Ether 6:23). He was right, for presently one Corihor 'rebelled against his father, and went over and dwelt in the land of Nehor; . . . and . . . drew away many people after him' (Ether 7:4)." (Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites, p. 224)
Ether 6:23 surely this thing leadeth into captivity
What may be the most impressive aspect of this statement by the brother of Jared is the quick perceptiveness that only comes through the Spirit. He did not need to think about the proposition, ruminate over the possibilities, and contemplate the implications before giving his opinion. His spiritual eyesight was 20-20 or better. He immediately knew that a monarchial form of government was a bad idea. He could see trouble ahead while his whole family was completely oblivious to the danger. This is the way of the prophets. Their ideas are not popular. Their counsel often seems illogical to the spiritually near-sighted who can't see the end of the trail because they are so focused on the fork in the road.
The problem with a Monarchy is the great potential for abuse. While the Book of Mormon records the history of several righteous kings: Nephi, Benjamin, Mosiah, and others, these men were exceptions to the rule. The general rule is that less righteous, or frankly wicked, men eventually rise to power only to make the people suffer. As Mosiah says, because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you (Mosiah 29:16). Therefore, the prophets were always leery of establishing a government of kings. Nephi was faced with a people who looked up to them as their leader, And it came to pass that they would that I should be their king. But I, Nephi, was desirous that they should have no king; nevertheless, I did for them according to that which was in my power (2 Ne 5:18). In the Old Testament, we read that when the Israelites asked the prophet Samuel for a king so that they could be like all the other nations in the land, the Lord replied, Hearken unto the voice of the people...for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them (1 Sam 8:7). The Israelites and the Jaredites would have benefited most if they had the KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev 19:16) as their king, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words (2 Ne 10:14).