Ether 10:2 Shez...did build up a righteous kingdom; for he did remember what the Lord had done
Neal A. Maxwell
"[There is an] urgency of our coming to know God and His scheme of things, and of also developing within ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren a sense of history, including what God has done for Israel. Such reminders of the past-and millennia of memories from the scriptures-will help us amid present challenges.
"For instance, one religious and political leader, Shez, had the difficult assignment of beginning 'to build up again a broken people' (Ether 10:1). To begin with, Shez remembered 'the destruction of his fathers' and also 'remembered what the Lord had done in bringing Jared and his brother across the deep.' This sense of spiritual history helped him as he began to 'build up a righteous kingdom' of people who, once again, learned to 'walk in the ways of the Lord' (Ether 10:2).
"This 'memory' or sense of history should reach back not just a few decades but to the very beginning-even way back to the stated purposes of the Lord with regard to this whole mortal experience...scriptures give us a framework for better understanding mortality amid 'all occasions.'
"Equipped with such a framework, along with a sense of history, we find that a great many things become clearer.
"This sense of spiritual history will thus truly help Church members to stay the course, to hold out faithful, and to endure well (see D&C 6:13; D&C 121:8). And surely some such guide and stay is crucial to us for it will take both testimony and spiritual sophistication to ride out some of the challenges of our time and to avoid being diverted or discouraged." (We Will Prove Them Herewith, pp. 2-4)
Ether 10:5 Riplakish did not do that which was right
"Riplakish, like wicked king Noah, had many wives and concubines, laid a grievous tax on his people, built spacious buildings, and eventually suffered a violent death (Ether 10:4-8)." (Lee L. Donaldson, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, 4 Nephi - Moroni, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 77)
Ether 10:5 Riplakish...did have many wives and concubines
"The Jaredites of the Book of Mormon arose a century or so after the Flood. It is possible, though by no means certain, that at least some in the early colony were polygynists (the brother of Jared had 22 sons and daughters [Ether 6:20]). In any event, polygyny was definitely practiced in the first half of their approximately two-thousand-year-plus history. One of their earlier kings, Riplakish, was not unlike the later Solomon. He burdened his people with heavy taxes, built numerous large buildings with forced labor, had 'many wives and concubines ... [and] did afflict the people with his whoredoms and abominations' (Ether 10:5-7). Jaredite polygyny, was not restricted to royalty. Moroni recorded that in the final fratricidal war of the Jaredites every man kept his sword in hand 'in the defence of his property and his own life and of his wives and children' (Ether 14:2)." (Rodney Turner, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Jacob - Words of Mormon, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 280)
The above quote should not be interpreted to condone the Jaredites' practice of polygamy but rather to condemn it. The tendency for men to abuse this principle needs no explanation. The verse clearly explains that Riplakish "did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord" with respect to his many wives.
Ether 10:11 he did do justice unto the people, but not unto himself
Neal A. Maxwell
"Strange as it seems, some are more fair to others than they are to themselves! Morianton, for instance, was able to prosper a whole nation he had conquered with an army of outcasts. Furthermore, as a ruler he dealt justly with his people. However, he was not fair with himself. In what way? Because of his immoral life-style. He was his own victim! (See Ether 10:11.)
"When we sin, we not only sin against God and others but also we actually sin against ourselves. We act against our own self-interest, leaving self-inflicted wounds. Morianton would have done well to follow this sage advice: 'You cannot play with the animal in you without becoming wholly animal, play with falsehood without forfeiting your right to truth, play with cruelty without losing your sensitivity of mind. He who wants to keep his garden tidy doesn't reserve a plot for weeds.' (That Ye May Believe, pp. 154-55)
Neal A. Maxwell
"There are many scriptures which are less used, less 'advertised,' than others, but which speak out to us, nevertheless. For instance, in Ether 10:11 it is said of Morianton the king that, 'he did do justice unto the people, but not unto himself because of his many whoredoms... ' How often do we see those in life whose 'public' contributions are significant, who treat others better than they treat themselves in terms of doing what is right? History seems replete with examples of men whose contributions were superior, but whose lives contained some fatal flaw which kept them from making even greater contributions and, more importantly, kept them from mortal happiness and from working out their salvation. Some shrug off these defects as being insignificant alongside their accomplishment (which no one can take from them). And since one can hardly measure present misery, and can scarcely measure misery retroactively, rebuttal is difficult. Yet, is it not reasonable to suggest that the maxim, 'no other success in life can compensate for failure in the home' was operative then as well as now? Conversely put, 'disorder in the passions is mirrored by disorder in the state.' Personality and politics are inevitably intertwined." (For the Power is in Them, pp. 35-36)
Neal A. Maxwell
"In some respects, it is easier to govern a whole people than oneself...One can cater to mortal constituencies but lose the support of the one Elector who matters!" (We Will Prove Them Herewith, p. 5)
Ether 10:14 he did remain in captivity all his days
"The Jaredites, like their Asiatic relatives and unlike the Nephites, were thoroughgoing monarchists, and their monarchy is the well-known Asiatic despotism lacking none of the trimmings. Where could one find a more perfect thumbnail portrait of the typical Asiatic overlord than in the four verses that describe the reign of Riplakish? (Ether 10:5-8). The lechery and cruelty, the magnificence and the oppression are all there...Such is the practice, mentioned many times in the book [Hajji Baba], of keeping a king prisoner throughout his entire lifetime, allowing him to beget and raise a family in captivity, even though the sons thus brought up would be almost sure to seek vengeance for their parent and power for themselves upon coming of age. Thus Kib (Ether 7:7) was taken captive by his own son, begot yet other children in captivity, and died of old age, still a prisoner...It seems to us a perfectly ridiculous system, yet it is in accordance with the immemorial Asiatic usage." (Lehi In The Desert / The World Of The Jaredites, p. 205)
Ether 10:20 they built a great city by the narrow neck of land
Students of the Book of Mormon often imagine that the Jaredites lived in what is now North America. Often, they imagine that they lived in the regions near Palmyra, where the plates were eventually found. However, this verse makes it clear (and the rest of the Book of Mormon supports the notion) that the Jaredite settlements were just north of the narrow neck of land. It is pretty hard to find a narrow neck of land anywhere close to the state of New York. Therefore, this notion should be abandoned. The Jaredites lived in a land later called Desolation, not because the land was completely barren but because the people suffered a desolating annihilation there (Hel 3:6). And the land of Desolation was defined as the land just north of the narrow neck, Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation...and now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation (Alma 22:31-32, see also Alma 63:5).
Ether 10:31 he begat Heth...And Heth begat Aaron
Chapter 10 can lull the reader to sleep with a long list of kings which are only distinguishable by whether or not they were righteous. However, Moroni's abridgment comes not from a secular, royal history but from the personal record of Ether. In verses 30-31, we realize that the record does not follow the line of kings but Ether's own genealogical line. Heth, Aaron, Amnigaddah, Coriantum, and Com all dwelt in captivity. But none of these reigned as king until Com took half the kingdom. Thus, Ether's record is the story of his forefathers, not just the kings of the Jaredites.
"Neither did Ether give much attention to those usurping rulers, likely from a competing lineage, who imprisoned his ancestors and so kept them from their place on the throne; in fact, their names aren't even mentioned in the Book of Ether. (See Ether 10:30-31; Ether 11:17-19.) To the people of Jared's lineage, those names were not important.
"In significant ways, the burden of these ancient American records was about the fate of the central families who kept them. Others were sometimes mentioned, but only because they provided necessary scenery and furniture for the primary drama. Even centuries-long periods could be ignored, no doubt because little happened then which was considered crucial in determining the destiny of the descendants of Nephi or of Jared." (John L. Sorenson, Ensign, Sept. 1984, "Digging into the Book of Mormon")