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Book of Ether

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The Book of Ether is one of the books that make up the Book of Mormon. The Book of Ether tells of an ancient people (the Jaredites), descendants of Jared and his companions who were led by God to the Americas shortly after the destruction of the Tower of Babel. The title refers to Ether, a Jaredite prophet who lived at the end of the time period covered by the book.

Provenance

According to The Book of Mormon, the Book of Ether was taken from a set of twenty-four plates written by Ether and discovered by the people of Limhi during the time of King Mosiah (father of King Benjamin) (Mosiah 8:9 and Ether 1:2). The book was translated and abridged by Moroni and included in the plates from which The Book of Mormon was translated.

Contents

The book begins with the journey of Jared and his people from the tumultuous wickedness of the Tower of Babel to "the promised land." Although Jared is described as "a large and mighty man...highly favored of the Lord" (Ether 1:34), the brother of Jared (not otherwise identified) seems to have been the spiritual leader of the group. Through his faith, he is given a prophetic vision of the history of the world, and inscribes prophetic writings that are to be "sealed up" until the Lord sees fit that they be revealed. The brother of Jared is directed by the Lord to build barges in which to cross the ocean to the promised land. They successfully establish a righteous nation, but as Jared and his brother grow old their people desire that they appoint a king to govern in their stead. They anoint Orihah, the youngest son of Jared, to be king, but only after all the sons of the brother of Jared and all of Jared's older sons refuse to be king.

Orihah reigns in righteousness, but strife and dissension arise among the children of Orihah. From this time forward there is a nearly constant contention for the government of the Jaredites that continues for many generations, and ultimately the book ends with an enormous final war in which millions of Jaredites are killed and the Jaredite nation is destroyed. The prophet Ether had warned Coriantumr, the last king of the Jaredite nation, that if he did not obey the Lord he would live to see the end of the Jaredites. The prophecy is fulfilled, and, on the last day of the war, only Coriantumr and Shiz, the commander of the opposing army, remain. Coriantumr slays Shiz and he wanders alone, the last Jaredite, for many years. Coriantumr is finally discovered by the Mulekites, another Book of Mormon people who come to the Americas sometime after the fall of Jerusalem in 600 B.C. Later, the people of Zarahemla also discover a large stone containing a history of the Jaredites that Mosiah was able to translate (Omni 1:20-22).

In addition to the historical events outlined above, the Book of Ether contains several interpolations by Moroni (Ether 4-5, Ether 12) regarding points of doctrine or lessons illuminated by the actions of the Jaredites, such as how faith works and the importance of following Jesus Christ to be blessed as a nation.

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