Ether 2

Ether 2:1 the name of the valley was Nimrod, being called after the mighty hunter

Jared's company left Babylon (Map 2, F-4) in a northerly direction (Ether 1:42) and entered a valley named after Nimrod. The mighty hunter was famous for more than just hunting. He was a leader in the building of the tower of Babel, and excited his people to rebel against God. "He persuaded them not to ascribe [their prosperity] to God, as if it was through his means they were happy...He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach! And that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers! Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower." (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, chap. IV, v. 2-3)

Hugh Nibley

"This Nimrod seems to be the original arch-type of the Mad Hunter. His name is for the Jews at all times the very symbol of rebellion against God and of usurped authority; he it was 'who became a hunter of men,' established false priesthood and false kingship in the earth in imitation of God's rule and 'made all men to sin.'...There is another common tradition that Nimrod's crown was a fake, and that he ruled without right 'in the earth over all the sons of Noah, and they were all under his power and counsel'; he 'did not go in the ways of the Lord, and was more wicked than all the men that were before him.'

"...In the book of Ether the name of Nimrod is attached to 'the valley which was northward,' and which led 'into that quarter where there never had man been' (v. 2,5), which suits very well with the legendary character of Nimrod as the Mad Hunter of the Steppes'" (Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites, p. 156-7)

Ether 2:2 they did carry with them the fish of the waters

Why would they need to take fish with them? The Jaredite crossing took 344 days in vessels that were anything but fishing vessels (Ether 6:11). Apparently, these fish, as well as the birds, were brought along as a source of food for the long journey.

Ether 2:3 deseret, which, by interpretation is a honey bee

Hugh Nibley

"By all odds the most interesting and attractive passenger in Jared's company is deseret, the honeybee. We cannot pass this creature by without a glance at its name and possible significance, for our text betrays an interest in deseret that goes far beyond respect for the feat of transporting insects, remarkable though that is. The word deseret we are told (Ether 2:3), 'by interpretation is a honeybee,' the word plainly coming from the Jaredite language, since Ether (or Moroni) must interpret it. Now it is a remarkable coincidence that the word deseret, or something very close to it, enjoyed a position of ritual prominence among the founders of the classical Egyptian civilization, who associated it very closely with the symbol of the bee. The people, the authors of the so-called Second Civilization, seem to have entered Egypt from the northeast as part of the same great outward expansion of peoples that sent the makers of the classical Babylonian civilization into Mesopotamia. Thus we have the founders of the two main parent civilizations of antiquity entering their new homelands at approximately the same time from some common center -- apparently the same center from which the Jaredites also took their departure, ... the Egyptian pioneers carried with them a fully developed cult and symbolism from their Asiatic home. Chief among their cult objects would seem to be the bee, for the land they first settled in Egypt was forever after known as 'the land of the bee,' and was designated in hieroglyphic by the picture of a bee, while every king of Egypt 'in his capacity of King of Upper and Lower Egypt' bore the title, 'he who belongs to the sedge and the bee.'

"From the first, students of hieroglyphic were puzzled as to what sound value should be given to the bee-picture.... We know that the bee sign was not always written down, but in its place the picture of the Red Crown, the majesty of Lower Egypt was sometimes 'substituted for superstitious reasons.' If we do not know the original name of the bee, we do know the name of this Red Crown -- the name it bore when it was substituted for the bee. The name was dsrt (the vowels are not known, but we can be sure they were all short)." (Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites, pp. 184-85.)

Ether 2:6-7 they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters

Contrary to popular belief, the Jaredites made barges on two separate occasions. Upon leaving the valley of Nimrod, they came to a body of water which was not the same as the ocean which is described as the great sea which divideth the lands (v. 13). They crossed this sea in barges, landed on the other side, and kept traveling. Hence Moroni's statement, the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise. In other words, they had crossed many waters but had not yet reached their final destination. Hugh Nibley explains that in ancient Asia Minor, there were many large bodies of water, "Now it is a fact that in ancient times the plains of Asia were covered with 'many waters', which have now disappeared but are recorded as existing well down into historic times; they were of course far more abundant in Jared's time...The steady and continual drying up of the Asiatic 'heartland' since the end of the last ice age is one of the basic facts of history." (Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites, pp. 178) "It [is] our guess that the Caspian was 'the sea in the wilderness' that the Jaredites had to cross (Ether 2:7)." (An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 330)

We get more evidence that they built barges on two separate occasions in verse 16. The Lord explicitly tells the brother of Jared, Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built.

Ether 2:12 this is a choice land...if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ

Thomas S. Monson

"Are we today serving the God of the land, even the Lord Jesus Christ? Do our lives conform with His teachings? Are we entitled to His divine blessings?

"Headlines from America's leading newspapers, depicting recent events, pass silently in review, that you and I may judge: 'Serious Crime Registers 10% Increase in Past Year,' 'Violence Rocks South,' 'Racial Strife Hits East.' Murder, rape, arson, burglary, assault, narcotics violations are all on the increase in the America of today. These are the headlines of today's newspapers.

"The revered Abraham Lincoln accurately described our plight: 'We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.' (Proclamation for a National Fast Day, March 30, 1863.)

"Can we extricate ourselves from this frightful condition? Is there a way out? If so, what is the way? We can solve this perplexing dilemma by adopting the counsel given by Jesus to the inquiring lawyer who asked: 'Master, which is the great commandment in the law?' Jesus said unto him, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' (Matthew 22:36-39.)" (Be Your Best Self, p. 96-97)

Joseph Fielding Smith

"These passages of scripture from the Book of Mormon are true; this nation is not exempt, and the people, if they continue to pursue the course of evil and ungodliness that they are now treading, shall eventually be punished.  If they continue to disregard the warning voice of the Lord, deny their Redeemer, turn from his gospel unto fables and false theories, and rebel against all that he has through his servants in this day declared for the salvation of man; and if they increase in the practice of iniquity, I want to say to you, that if they do these things, the judgments of the Lord will come upon this land, and this nation will not be saved; we will not be spared from war, from famine, from pestilence and finally from destruction, as a nation.

"Therefore, I call upon the people, not only Latter-day Saints but to all throughout the whole land, to repent of their sins and to accept the-Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Redeemer and the God of this land.  Turn from your evil ways, repent of your sins and receive the fulness of the gospel through the waters of baptism and obedience, that the judgments which shall be poured out upon the ungodly may pass you by."  (Doctrines of Salvation 3:321-22.)

Ether 2:14 the Lord came again...and stood in a cloud

"Just as Jehovah appeared to and conversed with Moses and led the children of Israel in the wilderness in a cloud by day and in a pillar of fire at night (see Exodus 13:21; Numbers 11:25; Numbers 12:5), so did he lead the Jaredites as they were in the wilderness.  From this cloud of glory the Lord directed them and gave them directions for their journey.  The image of a cloud associated with the Lord's appearance is not unique to his dealings with ancient peoples.  In this dispensation the Lord also spoke of a cloud of glory, one that will surround him when he again returns to earth and appears to man (see D&C 34:7)." (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 267)

Ether 2:14 for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him

We often make the mistake of expecting perfection from the prophets. One of the main reasons why some early saints apostasized was because of perceived imperfections in the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph openly admitted that he was not perfect, and in the D&C, he was sorely chastised because he feared man more than God (DC 3:7). Similarly, Nephi struggled with his weakness, which was an uncharitable anger towards his enemies (2 Ne 4:17,27-29). Moses' faithless disobedience brought upon him a sore chastisement (Num 20:11-12). And the brother of Jared became, for a time, negligent with his prayers, only to suffer an unimaginable three-hour rebuke from the Lord. Yet, the brother of Jared later became legendary for his great faith. What are we to learn from this?

Rather than be critical of the prophets, or make the equally fatal mistake of covering their sins, we should rejoice that the Lord's most valuable servants were, after all, only human. In this, we can take consolation. If Joseph feared man more than God, maybe there is hope for us. If Nephi felt anger, Moses was disobedient, and the brother of Jared forgot to pray, maybe there is hope for the rest of us. We can only hope!

Neal A. Maxwell

"Jesus was a principle-centered leader but also a people-centered leader. Jesus spoke 'the truth in love' (Ephesians 4:15), both correcting and commending. As noted, during the space of a three-hour visit with the Lord the admirable brother of Jared was reproved for not remembering to be sufficiently prayerful (see Ether 2:14). Yet later Jesus warmly commended this same prophet by saying, 'Never has man believed in me as thou hast' (Ether 3:15)." (A Wonderful Flood of Light, p. 113)

Ether 2:15 thou shalt not sin any more

The word of the Lord to the brother of Jared was an ultimatum, thou shalt not sin any more! With the brother of Jared, a prophet who had conversed with the Lord, this warning was particularly stern. However, this message is not just for a once negligent prophet, but to all repentant sinners. While we marvel at the wisdom of Jesus who dispelled the crowd ready to stone an adulterer, we sometimes forget that his last words to her were 'go, and sin no more' (Jn 8:11).

Spencer W. Kimball

"In all our expressions of wonder and gratitude at our Father's loving and forgiving attitude we must not be misled into supposing either that forgiveness may be considered lightly or that sin may be repeated with impunity after protestations of repentance. The Lord will indeed forgive, but he will not tolerate repetitions of the sin:

   'And the Lord said unto him: I will forgive thee and thy brethren of their sins; but thou shalt not sin any more, for ye shall remember that 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.'  (Eth. 2:15.)"

(The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 357)

Ether 2:15 my Spirit will not always strive with man

Harold B. Lee

"' 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 means the withdrawing of that vital light which all could have enjoyed if they had kept the commandments.

"Now, may I take another example to impress how much further one may go. One day there came to my office a man who a few years before had been excommunicated from the Church because of a very serious transgression. After these years of sad, humiliating, tragic experiences, he is wondering how he can find his way back into the Church....This man who had been excommunicated had attended a stake conference shortly before he came to see me. One of the General Authorities was there and said, 'One of the most terrible things that you can experience is to lose the Spirit of the Lord.'...With these things on his mind, he went home and began to write, and he put in my hands the results of his thinking. This statement is one of the saddest things that I have read in a long time. This man had been a teacher, and he said: While I was enjoying the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, I could read the scriptures and the unfoldment of truths would come before me, and I was thrilled. That power is gone today. That day I heard that terrible word in the high council trial, 'You are hereby excommunicated,' it was as though a pall of darkness fell, and now instead of light, there is doubt and wavering in my faith. I am wondering and I am struggling without that light. I used to be able to kneel down and get a tremendous lift from my prayer. Even while I was sinning, even up to the point of my excommunication, I got some comfort from it, but now it is as though a dome of steel is over my head, and I seem not to be able to pray. The spirit that leads to the presence of our Father has been lost.

"I used to enjoy performing the ordinances of the Church, especially in behalf of my own children-to bless them, to baptize them, to confirm them, to ordain them to the priesthood; and now to have to stand by while some other takes my place has been one of the saddest experiences that has come to me. And, of course, I have been refused the privilege of going to the temple. I no longer can go there and enjoy the sweet peace. I stand as though I had never been within those sacred walls. When I go to sacrament meeting, I can't partake of the sacrament. I have lost the respect of my family. My children, including a son now grown, tolerate me, but I know that deep in their hearts there is a shame because they bear the name of a father who hasn't lived worthily." (Stand Ye in Holy Places, p. 119-20)

Ether 2:19 there is no light...we cannot breathe

Sister Dwan J. Young

"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." (Ensign, Nov. 1986, "The Light of Hope")

Ether 2:23-24 the mountain waves shall dash upon you

Hugh Nibley

"The Lord explained why it would be necessary to build such peculiar vessels: because he was about to loose winds of incredible violence that would make the crossing a frightful ordeal at best: any windows, he warns, will be dashed to pieces; fire will be out of the question; 'ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you...This was no normal crossing and no brief passing storm: 'The wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters' (Ether 6:8)-'the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters; . . . they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind' (Ether 6:5-6; italics added). It is perfectly clear from our account that the party was to spend a good deal of time below the surface of the sea!" (Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites, p. 178)

Ether 2:25 what will ye that I should prepare for you that he may have light

Jeffrey R. Holland

"Clearly the brother of Jared was being tested. God had done his part. Unique, resolutely seaworthy ships for crossing the ocean had been provided. The brilliant engineering had been done. The hard part of the construction project was over. Now the Lord wanted to know what the brother of Jared would do about incidentals." (Christ And The New Covenant, p. 16)

Harold B. Lee

"Then the Lord went away and left him alone. It was as though the Lord were saying to him, 'Look, I gave you a mind to think with, and I gave you agency to use it. Now you do all you can to help yourself with this problem; and then, after you've done all you can, I'll step in to help you.'" (Stand Ye in Holy Places, p. 243)

Harold B. Lee

"This is the principle in action. If you want the blessing, don't just kneel down and pray about it. Prepare yourselves in every conceivable way you can in order to make yourselves worthy to receive the blessing you seek.

"...When we are situated that we cannot get anything to help ourselves, then we may call upon the Lord and His servants who can do all. But it is our duty to do what we can within our own power.

"That is a tremendous principle. In order to teach young people how to approach the Lord and how to prepare to receive what the Lord has promised for those who are faithful, we must teach them these fundamental steps. After Moroni had read this great experience of the brother of Jared, he added: '. . . wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.' (Ether 12:6.)" (Stand Ye in Holy Places, p. 244-5)