Ether 13

Ether 13:2 the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof

Hugh Nibley

"This is the 'choice land above all other lands' since the Flood, reserved for the New Jerusalem and the 'remnant of the house of Joseph . . . like unto the Jerusalem of old' (Ether 13:2, 6-8). But God placed the promise upon it 'in his wrath' (Jacob 1:7; Alma 12:35; Ether 1:33; 2:8; 15:28). Why that, of all things? Because his patience was at an end when men had defiled all the other lands in the glorious and beautiful world he had given them. He would set apart a place where he would stand for no nonsense; there men would be given such freedom as nowhere else, and could enjoy such prosperity as nowhere else.

"But in return for this liberty, certain ground rules have to be observed. Perfect liberty means that you can go as far as you want...But when the inhabitants abuse that freedom until they 'are ripened in iniquity,' their presence will be no longer tolerated...God was angry when he laid down these conditions: 'These are my thoughts upon the land which I shall give you for your inheritance; for it shall be a land choice above all other lands.' And these are the thoughts: 'My Spirit will not always strive with man; wherefore, if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord' (Ether 2:15). This promise is conveyed to us for our special benefit: 'And this cometh to 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' (Ether 2:11). It is Moroni's prophetic warning to stop doing what we are doing. Fullness and ripeness: when the cup is full, it can no longer be diluted; when the fruit is ripe, it can only rot-there is no point to continuing the game. But up to that point all is permitted." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 505)

Ether 13:3 the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven

The Lord has revealed the exact location of the New Jerusalem, the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints. Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place of the city of Zion...Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place (DC 57:1-3). Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place (DC 84:4).

The above scriptures speak of a New Jerusalem to be built by the gathering of the saints. But Moroni is talking about a New Jerusalem which should come down out of heaven. We should understand this to mean that the earthly Zion and the heavenly Zion will have to combine to become one great city. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained, "This New Jerusalem on the American continent will have a dual origin. It will be built by the saints on earth and it will also come down from heaven, and the cities so originating will be united into one holy city." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 532)

Elder James E. Talmage said, "The Church in this day teaches that the New Jerusalem seen by John and by the prophet Ether, as descending from the heavens in glory, is the return of exalted Enoch and his righteous people; and that the people or Zion of Enoch, and the modern Zion, or the gathered saints on the western continent, will become one people." (Articles of Faith, p. 318 as taken from Jerusalem: The Eternal City, by Galbraith, Ogden, and Skinner p. 547)

The Lord describes the reunion of the earthly and heavenly Zions saying,

'I shall prepare, an Holy City (the earthly New Jerusalem), that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.
And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;
And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest'
(Moses 7:62-64).

From the last verse, we learn that this great event occurs at the beginning of the Millenium. Furthermore, we should note that the tabernacle spoken of in Moses 7:62 is the same temple as the holy sanctuary spoken of in Ether 13:3. The time for the building of this city and its temple has not yet come (DC 58:44), but both will be built rather quickly when the time comes, behold, I, the Lord, will hasten the city in its time, and will crown the faithful with joy and rejoicing (DC 52:43).

John Taylor

"When Zion descends from above, Zion will also ascend from beneath and be prepared to associate with those from above. The people will be so perfected and purified, ennobled, exalted, and dignified in their feelings and so truly humble and most worthy, virtuous and intelligent that they will be fit, when caught up, to associate with that Zion that shall come down from God out of heaven" (Journal of Discourses, 10:147 as taken from Jerusalem: The Eternal City, by Galbraith, Ogden, and Skinner p. 547)

Brigham Young

"We have no business here other than to build up and establish the Zion of God. It must be done according to the will and law of God, after that pattern and order by which Enoch built up and perfected the former-day Zion, which was taken away to heaven, hence the saying went abroad that Zion had fled. By and by it will come back again, and as Enoch prepared his people to be worthy of translation, so we through our faithfulness must prepare ourselves to meet Zion from above when it shall return to earth, and to abide the brightness and glory of its coming." (Journal of Discourses, 18:356.)

Franklin D. Richards

"I expect that in the city of Enoch there are temples; and when Enoch and his people come back, they will come back with their city, their temples, blessings and powers." (Journal of Discourses, 25:236-37)

Ether 13:5 the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come...should be built up again

The Jerusalem spoken of has been rebuilt according to this prophecy and the prophecies of other prophets, through whom the Lord said to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof (Isa 44:26-28). Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it...My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem (Zech 1:16-17).

The realization of these great prophecies was made possible, in part, by the dedication of the land of Jerusalem for the gathering of the House of Israel. Ironically, there were very few who understood the significance of the dedicatory prayer uttered on the Mount of Olives by Orson Hyde in October 1841. But that priesthood ordinance dedicated the Holy Land "for the building up of Jerusalem again after it has been trodden down by the Gentiles so long, and for rearing a Temple in honor of Thy name....Let that nation or that people who shall take an active part in behalf of Abraham's children, and in the raising up of Jerusalem, find favor in Thy sight" (History of the Church, 4:456-7)

Ether 13:7 the seed of Joseph...should perish not

Moroni makes a veiled reference to the coat of "many colors." This infamous coat was torn into pieces, but a portion of it was preserved symbolizing that portion of Joseph's posterity would be preserved and redeemed. Moroni said,

   '...we are a remnant of the seed of Joseph, whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces...

   ...let us remember the words of Jacob, before his death, for behold, he saw that a part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed. And he said-Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of his garment' (Alma 46:23-24).

Ether 13:9-10 there shall be a new heaven and a new earth... and then cometh the New Jerusalem

After the Millennium, after the little season when Satan is loosed, the conflict between good and evil will resume.  The battle of Gog and Magog will occur (Rev. 20:7-8), but Christ and Michael will reign triumphant.  The earth will then be transformed from a terrestrial or paradisiacal state (as in the Millennium) to a celestialized state.  This requires the death and resurrection of the earth; the earth will very literally pass away.  Then there shall be a new heaven and a new earth. 

The New Jerusalem and the Holy City of Jerusalem will have to be made new again.  Both of these new cities come from heaven.  Revelation 21 and Ether 13 teach the exact same thing-that after the Lord makes a new heaven and a new earth, the New Jerusalem must come from heaven and the Holy City of Jerusalem must come from heaven as well.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away... And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev. 21:1-2)

And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God... (Rev. 21:10-11)

Joseph Fielding Smith

"After the close of the millennial reign we are informed that Satan, who was bound during the millennium, shall be loosed and go forth to deceive the nations. Then will come the end. The earth will die and be purified and receive its resurrection. During this cleansing period the City Zion, or New Jerusalem, will be taken from the earth; and when the earth is prepared for the celestial glory, the city will come down according to the prediction in the Book of Revelation." (Answers to Gospel Questions 2:105 as taken from Jerusalem: The Eternal City, by Galbraith, Ogden, and Skinner p. 550)

Ether 13:11 then also cometh the Jerusalem of old

After the earth is celestialized, the city of Jerusalem will be restored, not by man but by God.  The Holy City of Jerusalem shall descend from heaven to the earth (Rev. 21:10).  In verse 5, Moroni is referring to Jerusalem being rebuilt before the Millenium. In verse 13, he is beginning to tell us of Ether's prophecies concerning the Jerusalem that shall come from heaven after the Millennium.  His record is short-as he admits, I was about to write more, but I am forbidden (v. 13).

In Hebrews, we learn more about this Holy City:

For ye are not come unto the mount [of evil]...
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

And to Jesus... (Heb. 12:18, 22-24)

Joseph Smith explained the difference between the New Jerusalem and the Old Jerusalem:

"Now many will feel disposed to say, that this New Jerusalem spoken of, is the Jerusalem that was built by the Jews on the eastern continent. But you will see, from Revelation 21:2, there was a New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband; that after this, the Revelator was caught away in the Spirit, to a great and high mountain, and saw the great and holy city descending out of heaven from God. [Rev. 21:10] Now there are two cities spoken of here." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 86, italics added)

LeGrand Richards

"There are those who do not understand why there should be no temple in this 'holy Jerusalem.' The fact is that when the thousand years are ended, the temple work will all have been done, and therefore we will have no more use for a temple, just as we learn from verse 23 (Rev 21) that we will have no further need of the moon by night or the sun by day, 'for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.'" (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 327)

Ether 13:13 great and marvelous were the prophecies of Ether

Neal A. Maxwell

"Other things Ether saw were simply too 'great and marvelous' for Moroni to record. (Ether 13:13) How marvelous these must have been-in view of the great things Moroni was able to record!

"Ether had a special perspective in his life. A fellow prophet, Moroni, paid Ether this compliment: 'And now I, Moroni, proceed to finish my record concerning the destruction of the people of whom I have been writing. For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man...' (Ether 13:1-3, italics added)

"Ether's degree of disclosure to those he taught no doubt made for sweeping sermons" (Ensign, Aug. 1978, "Three Jaredites: Contrasting Contemporaries")

Ether 13:13 they esteemed him as naught, and cast him out

"Ether was deprived of social status whereas Mormon was granted it by the Nephites. Ether, the heir apparent to the Jaredite throne, was rejected by the people in power, and they even tried to kill him. The fact that Ether was the grandson of a deposed king and that he was making accusations against king Coriantumr must have created a strong bias against him. Because both his person and his message were unwelcome in Coriantumr's court, Ether had to flee for his life (Ether 13:20-22). He lived without influence among the people rather than as a king in a castle. In fact, he was considered to be an enemy, and lived as a recluse in a cave. He warned the people, observed the war by night, and recorded the tragic events (Ether 13:13-14)."  (E. Dale LaBaron, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, 4 Nephi - Moroni, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 154)

Mark E. Petersen

"Is not our attitude toward these prophets an unerring reflection of our inner-most felling toward God? I mean our real, basic allegiance when it is divested of all outward show and stripped of all pretensions. Can we truly love the Lord and at the same time reject his servants? If we really do love God, then indeed we must and we will love and revere his anointed ones." (Conference Report, Oct. 1981, pp. 90-91 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 505)

Ether 13:21 Coriantumr should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies

"Ether's prophecy becomes a remarkable example of how prophets are able to see the end from the beginning and give inspired and detailed utterances long before such particulars could be known rationally. The extent of this prophecy by Ether becomes evident as we follow Coriantumr to the end of his reign and view how improbable Ether's prediction was at the time he confronted the king.

"To illustrate how implausible Ether's prophecy must have seemed to Coriantumr, the record shows that he should have died several times from wounds and loss of blood, if not infection. But Ether had told him that he alone of all of his subjects would survive and be buried by another people who would inhabit the land (Ether 13:20-21; see also Omni 1:14-22)." (Douglas E. Brinley, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, 4 Nephi - Moroni, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 54)

Ether 13:21 Coriantumr should receive a burial by them

For completeness sake, the reader is reminded that Coriantumr lived for 9 months with the Mulekites before he died and was buried, Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons (Omni 1:21). The year of this occurrence is not given, but was likely a long time after the arrival of the Nephites and the Mulekites, indicating that the three groups were all in the land at the same time but without a knowledge of each other.

Ether 13:25 every man with his band fighting for that which he desired

Neal A. Maxwell

"And as he dwelt in the cavity of a rock he made the remainder of this record, viewing the destructions which came upon the people, by night. (Ether 13:13-14.)

"Finally, in Ether's time too, the anarchy became absolute: 'Now there began to be a war upon all the face of the land, every man with his band fighting for that which he desired.' (Ether 13:25.) Destruction produced its own intoxication: 'And when the night came they were drunken with anger, even as a man who is drunken with wine; and they slept again upon their swords.' (Ether 15:22.)

"Preceding the second coming, will there be such similar and widespread violence, disorder, and anarchy again? Yet even in the midst of such destruction, the Lord's purposes unfold, not only generally but individually, as He keeps His individualized promises to His servants." (Plain and Precious Things, p. 90)