Everyone does as the Lord says and goes into the valley northward which was called Nimrod, after the mighty hunter. Nimrod was a descendant of Noah’s brother (I think) and yes, he was a mighty hunter and yes he founded the city of Babylon (Babel).
Really quick side note on the name Babel. It’s actually a play on words. It stems from the Hebrew word Balel which means, “mix”. The name Babylon was received after the confounding of the languages. So the name Babel is quite accurate.
The Lord Leads The Jaredites Into the Wilderness
Once they get to the valley, the Lord comes down and talks with the brother of Jared in a cloud. The brother of Jared didn’t even see the Lord. This wasn’t the only time the Lord comes down in a cloud. Cross reference Numbers 11:25. When the first and original seventy were chosen by Moses, the Lord visited them in a cloud and bestowed the spirit upon them. Cross reference D&C 34:7. When the Lord comes again he will come in a cloud and with glory. Also cross reference Joseph Smith History 1:68. John the Baptist descended in a cloud of light to confer the priesthood to baptize. I think the cloud of light is the most accurate description.
The Lord tells them to go into the wilderness to that quarter of the world where no man has been. He talked with them from a cloud and gave them directions as they went.
“Where are we going Mr. Aragorn?”
“Into the wild.”
They are going off the map. To the blanks. Where no one has gone before. But they have the Lord with them to show them the way. How cool would it be to have the Lord himself lead you?! To chat with him while you walked? That would be super cool. This story sounds a lot like the story of the Israelites that I just finished reading about in Exodus. Except the Jaredites weren’t in physical bondage previous to coming out. Maybe spiritual bondage because they lived in Babylon. I don’t know. But God led them out to a promised land just like he did with the Israelites.
Crossing “Many Waters”
They traveled in the wilderness and built barges to cross many waters. Being continually directed by the Lord. That is really interesting that they built barges before they crossed the ocean. Cross reference Genesis 6:14-15. This is a description of Noah’s ark. Does that mean the barges these people built were like the ark? I don’t know. Probably in some senses. They weren’t in the ocean so they probably didn’t have to worry about storms destroying the boat. Maybe not the same size as the ark, but a modified version of it. It’s interesting that this parallel is brought up. In the last installment of Ether, I mentioned paying close attention to the parallels between Noah’s story and that of the Jaredites. It’s likely that the Jaredites drew heavily from Noah’s experiences.
What Were the Waters They Crossed?
What are the many waters crossed do you think? Actually, I think it depends on your interpretations of “many waters”. Does that mean that they were only crossing one body of water but for a long time? That wouldn’t make sense because the Lord told them to make barges as they had heretofore done. Unless the Lord is referring to barges made before their exodus. That seems the least likely possibility to me.
The second scenario is that that they hadn’t made barges before the journey and only had made them while on their trek. In which case, “many waters” would denote that they crossed many bodies of water big enough to require a barge. My next question and discussion are where are those bodies of water? What is their journey route?
Cross reference, “Exploring the Book of Mormon in America’s Heartland“. They talk about the routes that Lehi potentially took. I know Lehi wasn’t in Babylon but the thing I will say applies to the Jaredites. Ok, so, a few years ago, researchers built a boat in the style of the Phoenicians to see if they could sail from the Mediterranean around Africa and up towards Spain. They planned to keep within sight of the coast the entire time in case anything happened. The Phoenicians lived around the time of Lehi and the boat style or material would have been similar. The expedition made it half way up the side of the western coast of Africa before something happened. A current caught them and blew them within a few days of landing in the Caribbean and Florida. They had to fight this current a lot in order to make it back to Africa and eventually Spain.
Two things from this story. First, the boat left in the fall and should it have stayed with the current, they would have landed in America just in time to begin planting for the fall harvest. Now, the Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi says when Lehi and his family arrived in America, they gave thanks and began planting. I believe the route Lehi and his family and friends made is a similar one to what the Jaredite did. Looking at the map where Babylon/Babel was, they would have either crossed over to the Persian Gulf and headed off towards Africa, or gone to the Mediterranean and started from there. The only problem with this is that there aren’t any major bodies of water that would require you to build a barge to get across before getting to the major body of water. At least in size, magnitude, or type such that would require a cross-reference to Noah’s ark. I can’t imagine there are that many rivers among those two routes that would require such a thing either.
A possible route I can see is leaving Babylon heading southeast across the Arabian Peninsula until hitting the Red Sea. Build a barge there to cross the Red Sea and then walk across Africa till you get to the eastern tip that pokes out just south of the Arabian Peninsula. Then build another barge and sail along the Africa until you catch the current to America. Also, according to the book, the Jaredites inhabited all the area surrounding the Great Lakes and Michigan. Maybe they went the other way and landed in the Western U.S. or landed somewhere in the Eastern U.S. There really isn’t any evidence for me to narrow it down. This is extrapolation. I don’t know.
The Promises of Living in America
Verse 8-10 all say that in the promised land you are going to, you have to serve God. It is choice above all other lands. If God is going to give you his best land in agreeance that you will serve him, you had better hold up your end of the deal or you will be swept off. This is an interesting promise. If you live in the choice land, serve God or be swept off in his anger. If you obey, you will prosper. If you don’t, you’re gone. Do you think that people in the pre-Earth life made promises with God to serve him all their lives? I think so. And as a result of that promise, they were put (born) into a land that requires you to serve God all your days and allows you to? I think so. I wonder if all the people who are born in America made that promise?
Verse 12 is amazing. Whatever nation possess the American promised land will be free from bondage. And all other nations under Heaven if they will but serve God. No other nation or land has this promise. If you live here and serve God, you will be protected from captivity and other nations. How cool is that! That is why it is of the utmost importance to serve God.
The Sea That “Divideth the land”
The Lord brings the Jaredites to the great sea that “divideth the land”. They pitch their tents and dwell on the beach for four years. They call the land Moriancumr. Cross reference Alma 8:7. It was a custom of the people to call the name of the land after the people who first lived there. The next cross reference is Ether 1:34, a description of the brother of Jared. There you go, a scriptural reference that the brother of Jared’s name is Moriancumr.
Great Sea that divideth the lands. This one is hard. Because in the old world, any great body of water was called a sea. For example, you have the Caspian Sea, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea. That’s why when they come to America, they refer to bodies of water as seas, rather than lakes. It’s hard to judge if “great sea” is like Mediterranean, Red, Caspian or Black Sea size or Pacific/Atlantic ocean big. This leads me to my next question. What is meant by divideth the lands?
What is the definition of “lands”? Does it mean countries/ Such as a sea that divideth countries? In this case, the Red Sea would fit. Or would “lands” mean continents? In that case, they would be camped on the ocean side, at the edge of a continent. Again, not enough information to make a thought or conclusion.
The Conclusion of the Four Years on the Beach
After 4 years of dwelling on the shore of wherever they were, the Lord comes down and talks with the Brother of Jared for 3 hours. He chastises him because he had not remembered to call upon the Lord. Can you imagine having a personal interview with Jesus Christ for 3 hours? Especially being chastised by him. After that interview, I would definitely have the desire to be a better person. Cross reference 1 Nephi 16:25. The same thing happened with Lehi when he was murmuring in the wilderness. The Lord unto him and corrected him. Lehi was brought into sorrow and humility. The brother of Jared repents of his evil and prays for his brethren as well. The Lord forgives him and his brethren. He councils the brother of Jared to not sin anymore because his spirit will not always be with man. The Lord tells him these are his thoughts about the land he is taking him to. Oh wow! God has thoughts on things too!
Building the Barges
The Lord tells him after he has chastised and counseled him, shown an increase in love, to get to work and build. Build boats as I have hithertofore shown you. That’s how we roll in this church. We repent, get it all out, are empowered, and told to get back to work. Don’t look back. Just go. Trust the Lord. The type of boat was light upon the water like a bird and would be small. They were tight like unto a dish in all places, the ends were packed and it was the length of a tree. I wish I knew what the phrase, “tight like unto a dish” really meant. I think our understanding of a dish is different from theirs. From my understanding, however, tight mean waterproof, or water tight. No water will get in. So the ships are peaked at both ends, waterproof, and about as long as a tree.
The Lord Gives Us Opportunities to Grow
After the brother of Jared finishes the barges, in the way the Lord expected, he went to him in prayer and reported. After we have done what the Lord has instructed us to do, then we can ask for more and are entitled to that revelation. The brother of Jared said, “We finished the boats but I have a question regarding breathing.” The Lord answered his question because he had done everything he needed to up to this point. After he got the breathing matter taken care of as the Lord directed, then he came back to the Lord and said, “Ok, I did what you said, I have another question. Are we going to be doing this in the dark?” One thing I would like to point out here is that he was proactive. After he was done with the building of boats, he didn’t say, “Oh, I’m tired and these boats are good enough.” He worked his butt off building the barges and when he was done, asking, “What’s next?” he kept going forward, talking with the Lord. And the Lord answered him and he was 100% willing to act on that answer. Sometimes I’m scared to act on the answer I get from the Lord because I’m afraid it won’t be the one I want. But I can’t afford to do that because the Lord knows better than I do.
The Lord tells the brother of Jared that he will steer their ship. They will be like a whale coming up for air and have light. Cross reference Genesis 1:21. The footnote for whale says the Hebrew translation is a sea monster. Not in the sense we think of though. Probably great animals, such as a whale. But cross reference Ether 6:10. Whales and sea monsters are referred to separately. Loch Ness Monster? Giant Squid? Aliens? main main sahaja (I’m just teasing in Malay).
The Lord states that the winds go forth out of his mouth, and the rains and the floods. I feel like this is a light reference to Noah and the ark. This seems to have a lot of parallels with that story. Didn’t happen too long after the flood, interesting that it would play such a part in the story.
Preparation Precedes Success
The Lord says they will not be able to cross the deep unless he prepares them. Similarly, we will not be able to withstand the fiery darts and temptations of the adversary without God’s help. Same goes for temporal things as well. The Lord is really good at preparation. He has them build these boats. He could have also told the brother of Jared to put air holes in, get rocks so he could give them light by touching them, all as part of building the boat. But he didn’t. Why do you think he did that? Maybe he wanted the brother of Jared to recognize these things that he needed and come to him in prayer. I can give you all the answers if I wanted to. But you need to recognize the reasons for yourself for having me in your life. You need to liken me unto you. The Lord is giving him opportunities to grow. The Lord helped him out with the easy problem of breathing but the light one, the Lord gives him another opportunity to grow. He says, “What do you want me to do to help you prepare to have light?
That’s where we’ll pick up next time.