How is it that Heth, the son of Com, embrace secret plans of old when the people doing the secret planning were all dead? All of Akish’s family died in self-destruction. Then I realized the secret plans didn’t start with Akish’s family. They may have among the Jaredites but that isn’t the original source. They didn’t even start with Cain. The source of those secret plans or combinations stem from the adversary. He is present all throughout time. Anyone who wants those evil plans can receive them. Granted, I think that maybe Heth discovered records of Akish or heard stories. Maybe he read of the story of Cain and Abel. There was great wickedness in the land. I’m sure other people were starting up these combinations again. Heth succeeds in dethroning his father. He kills Com with his own sword and reigns in his stead.
Prophets Cry Repentance
Prophets come into the land and cry repentance unto the people and that there should be a great famine that would destroy them if they did not repent. I have already talked about the calling of prophets among the Jaredites. There is one thing I wanted to point out this time. The prophets come into the land. That means they were living outside the land. Were they hermits or are there other civilizations and great cities that we have not heard of? I guess the Book of Ether is more a general history of the people in the political capital area rather than smaller city area specific. It’s like U.S. history vs. Utah history. We are getting U.S. history overview instead of city by city, state by state history. Also, prophets are never accepted in their own land. That is probably why prophets are called to travel to other lands and lead them out.
The people don’t believe the prophets and cast them out or cast them into pits and leave them to the perish. All of this was done to the wishes of the king. Notice prophets is plural. Are these two last verses taking place over a period of time? No doubt. I guess my questions was, how many prophets were there at one time among the people? One in each city? Multiple? Did they have missionaries? Was the church fully established in other cities? I feel like where there are prophets, there is priesthood. Where there is priesthood, there is a church. If this is right, perhaps the church wasn’t so big if nearly everyone in the land was wicked.
Casting prophets into pits. Wow, that’s a low move. Reminds me of Daniel and the lions’ den. Casting him in there to let him die. All the killings and casting outs were done to the order of king Heth. See how important leadership is in the righteousness of a people? If the king/leader is righteous, the people come to be righteous. However, if they aren’t, as exemplified in this verse, the people do wickedly. Both in carrying out orders and most likely in their personal lives as well. That is why if you are a leader, make sure you are living up to the standard of excellence. People will follow your example. If you perish, so does everyone else. If you succeed, everyone does. You need to walk the talk. Perhaps more so than everyone else. You need to be that beacon for rallying the people together.
A great famine. Are they still living in northeastern United States? It seems pretty green up there. I can’t imagine a big famine and everything dying. Could a famine also mean having a lack of food you need rather than having a dearth of rain? Maybe nothing grew? They would plant a seed and it wouldn’t grow or all the animals migrated away. I’d like to know how the famine worked out.
The great dearth, or famine, begins. No rain. It says people begin to die exceedingly fast. Probably because they can’t grow crops. And, because they didn’t listen to the prophet because of their wickedness. They don’t have food storage setup. When the food runs out, people begin dropping like flies.
Poisonous serpents also begin attacking them. They poison many people (who die?). The snakes attack the people’s flocks too and they flee south to the land called by the Nephites, Zarahemla. Were there specific types of snakes or was it generally speaking, different types of poisonous snakes? Maybe the same snakes as Moses?
Let’s talk about Zarahemla. All the flocks go there. Assuming the “Exploring the Book of Mormon in America’s Heartland” book is correct, Zarahemla would be around the Mississippi River. I will attempt to draw a picture and explain as much as I can from memory.
If that is true, the sheep were scattered very far. Unless it was just the southernmost cities in the area. It says a lot of sheep perished on the way, but some made it to the land southward.
The Lord tells the serpents to pursue the sheep no more, but to stop and prevent the people from following lest they be bitten. Going on, the people must have been a far way off from the sheep because they ate the carcasses of the already dead sheep as they followed. Gross! These sheep were poisoned! These people are starving! They are like animals! It’s what iniquity does to you. Turns you into an animal. When the people realize the snakes are preventing the following and retrieving of the sheep, they repent of their iniquity.
The People Humble Themselves
When the people had humbled themselves sufficiently, the Lord sent rain. People began to revive and fruit returned. To the north countries and everywhere round about. Thus the Lord shows his power in the preserving of the people from famine. Cross reference D&C 5:24. This is a revelation to Martin Harris at his request to see the plates. The scriptures says that he was not sufficiently humble. But if he bows down in mighty prayer and humbles himself, he will show unto him what he desires to see. What we learn from this is that being humble and bowing before the Lord is absolutely necessary. When you are humble, you are teachable and do not ask that which you ought not to. When you do these thing (be humble), God grants unto you the desires of our hearts because they are righteous. God may send famines or other calamities our way but that doesn’t mean it is the end. If you repent and become humble before him, he will preserve you and reverse those calamities. God loves us. He loves you dear reader. This I know.
The Shez Dynasty
Annnnnd back to the story. Hitting the ground running. Shez, a descendant of Heth, began to build up a broken people. Heth had perished in the famine. Heck, everyone but Shez had died in the famine. How many people do you think died? Probably thousands. It said people began to be destroyed exceedingly fast and there were poisonous serpents biting people. It says Shez was building up a “broken people”. There must not have been that much left. One other thing it says that Shez is that he was a descendant. That means he wasn’t immediate family. Probably not even extended family if he is so far down the line to be called a descendant. How long did this famine last?
Shez remembers the destruction of his fathers and builds up a righteous kingdom. Shez himself walks in the ways of the Lord. I’m glad Shez was a righteous king. When your civilization has fallen, and you realize it was because of wickedness, you see how important God is. When either you or society has hit rock bottom, we begin to realize, if slowly, that the only way to get out of rock bottom is to turn to God. I have been there spiritually speaking. I know how hard it is. Truly, it is through God that we escape the dumps of despair. One of my favorite quotes by Joseph Smith is that sometimes the Lord allows us to be brought low before he can lift us higher. This has been helpful to me in enduring trials.
Chapter 10, verse 3 is a little funny. Shez’s son, Shez, rebels against his father. This worried his father. But, it says Shez the son was smitten by a robber because of his many riches and peace was brought unto his father again. In summary, Shez rebels, is attacked by a robber and his father feels better after that. Probably thought he needed a good beating. Or maybe the robber calmed him down and Shez the son rebelled no longer.
Riplakish: The Naughty Grandson of Shez
Shez the son of Shez dies and his son, Riplakish reigns in his stead. He is a bad king. He has many wives and concubines. He also laid heavy taxes upon the people in which he used to build spacious buildings. Cross reference Genesis 47:24. The tax in this scripture was 1/5 or 20 percent. Do you think it could have been the same here in Ether? I mean if it is a cross reference it has to be pretty close right? It doesn’t matter too much, I just want to know. Also cross reference Mosiah 11:4. This was the same amount king Noah invoked upon the people. Twenty percent is a huge tax! That’s a little more than 3 times the tax here in Malaysia! Also, it says that he (Riplakish) built many spacious buildings. Is that is a reference to the great and spacious building in Lehi’s dream? I think so. But Ether lived before Lehi so how could this be? Maybe Moroni being the one doing the abridging, put that in.
Riplakish constructs a beautiful throne. He builds many prisons. Anyone who refuses or is unable to pay the taxes he imposed upon them, is thrown into prison. Those who are left, are put to labor for the support of the king. Anyone who refuses to labor is put to death. This is so sad. Wicked king. The worth of souls is great in the sight of God. What Riplakish is doing is not effective at all. He is imposing these very heavy taxes and expecting people to pay up. Most probably cannot afford to pay and are in prison. Then you have the ones who are refusing to pay who are also in prison. Riplakish probably has most the population in prison. The people who are left are the rich ones but they are put to work to labor for the king’s benefit. Their pay goes directly to support the king. Pretty soon they wouldn’t be able to support the taxes and be put in prison themselves. Riplakish is literally killing off his entire kingdom! Why?! Wickedneeeeeessssss! Remember how earlier in Ether I talked about the veil of wickedness? Boom! Here it is. You become blinded to the reality around you to the point that you destroy your people and kingdom all to satisfy gluttonous and lustful needs. Once everything is gone, you still don’t care because all you are thinking about is how to get the next bit of what you desire. It’s all consume, consume, consume, consume, self indulgence, self indulgence, self indulgence, and turning inward and shutting out everyone so you are the only important person who deserves anything.
Wow man, seriously? Verse 2 says that he obtained all this gold and whatnot but he had the people in prison refine it. He turned his prisons into factories? Riplakish reigns 42 years before the people rise up in rebellion. I hoped they would. The stuff Riplakish was putting them through was ridiculous. The scriptures say there was an all out war against Riplakish. the feelings of negativity towards him were quite high I imagine. Riplakish ends up being killed and all his descendants were driven out of the land. Again, this book would make an epic movie! These people were not satisfied with just killing Riplakish and ending his reign of terror, but also eliminating all trace of his family.
Morianton Takes Back the Kingdom
After many years, a descendant of Riplakish, Morianton, comes onto the scene. He raises up an army of outcasts to take back power of the kingdom. Is this sounding familiar at all. He battles the people, wins over many cities, and eventually, after many years and exceedingly sore fighting, establishes himself over the land.
Sometimes you just got to ask yourself why Moroni put this stuff in the book of Mormon. If I was Moroni, I would already want to put all of the record, unabridged, in here. This is a civilization that inhabited America before the Nephites and Lamanites arrived! You think we are excited to know this, imagine what it was like for the Nephites! But Moroni, being a prophet, and desiring to follow and fulfill the council of God, puts only what he is directed to. I bet Moroni wanted to put it all in. So why did what we have make the cut? Because God knows what his people need. He knows that what is now the Book of Mormon would have impact on millions of people worldwide.
How can we liken the Book of Ether to ourselves or just this specific part now? The entire book of Ether has pretty much been king, rebellious son, son cast out, son returns, and takes over. Over and over again. Some kings are bad, some good. There are lots of wars and fighting. I think the message that is trying to reach us is don’t let secret combinations in. They result in utter and complete undermining of society and result in its eventual collapse. Another thing could be that the book highlights the importance of obeying the commandments and what happens when abandonment of them brings to pass. We have righteous kings who remember God and lead the people to do good and prosper. But when a bad king comes to power, the effects are horrific. People die, there are wars, intrigue, secret combinations, and pretty soon, no one is alive. It shows that when you turn from righteousness, what you become is something ugly that is self-destructive.
Morianton fights his way into the kingdom and gains cities but he doesn’t force his kinghood on anyone. They anoint him! What?? Are the people thinking? This person, Morianton, comes out of no where and guns blazin’ wages war on the people for many years. I know! Morianton probably realized during the course of his years waging war that the people he was waging war against had an oppressive ruler and he, being cunningly sly, declares himself their savior. That way, instead of being this man who desires power attacking the kingdom, Morianton becomes an ideal. An idea. Delivering them from their current government. That means when Morianton beat the people down, he wouldn’t have to crown himself king by force. The people would be used to him being their king because he had delivered them. That’s how I can see this working out.
Once established, he executes justice among the people. Yet, exempts himself (probably secretly) from the law. He participates in many whoredoms and is cut off from the presence of the Lord. How many people today in government do this? Do you think there are people who ensure justice is administered but at the same time exempt themselves because of their position? Or at the very least are sensual and nobody ever finds out because of their secret agreements of combinations among their peers? Regardless of what Morianton is doing, the people prosper and become exceedingly rich. Wickedness never was happiness though. You may prosper for a time if you are wicked but it will not last. I can guarantee that.