Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Moriancumer’s Talk With the Lord-Part I

Many people have suggested that the brother of Jared spent three hours being chastised by the Lord after four years of his forgetting to call upon the Lord once reaching the seashore (Ether 13-14). While a cursory reading of this event in the scriptural record might lead someone to think that, a slower and more in-depth study suggests far more was involved than a simple but lengthy chastisement. 
The brother of Jared repented of the evil he had done by not calling upon the Lord and was given instruction to build barges
    It would seem that the Lord would have chastised the brother of Jared for a rather short time—it also seems unnecessary and out of character for this chastisement to have lasted very long—the Brother of Jared was not rebellious or an evil person by any means, therefore, the Lord calling him to repentance and instructing him on the importance of calling upon him regularly seems like a rather brief subject, albeit a very important one.
    On the other hand, we know that the Lord “talked to the brother of Jared for the space of three hours” which suggests that there was a considerable amount of information covered in that time that probably had to do with the preparation of a voyage to the promised land, building of the barges, and a considerable amount of information regarding that task.
    To perhaps further understand this sequence, one needs to keep in mind that the Jaredites had only wood to work with, and no doubt a limited expertise in building vessels, though they had built others earlier that we know floated across “many waters,” carrying themselves and all their animals and possessions they had brought with them out of their homeland.
    As recorded by Moroni in his abridgement, certain events seem to have taken place at this time and within the discussion:
1. After continual guidance to the brother of Jared by the Lord, the Jaredites reach the seashore (Ether 2:13);
2. The Jaredites spend four years camping in tents on the seashore (Ether 2:13);
3. During that time, the brother of Jared neglected to call upon the Lord (Ether 2:14);
4. The Lord stood in a cloud and talked to the brother of Jared (Ether 2:14);
5. The Lord chastised the brother of Jared (Ether 2:14);
6. The Lord called this inattention evil and reminded the brother of Jared of the seriousness of continuing to commit evil (Ether 2:15);
7. The brother of Jared repents of his sin (Ether 2:15);
8. The Lord forgives the brother of Jared and his brethren of their sins (Ether 2:15)—evidently none of the Jaredites had called upon the Lord during that four-year period;
9. The Lord promises to the Jaredites a land for their inheritance—“a land choice above all other lands” (Ether 2:15);
10. The Lord commands the brother of Jared to begin building barges to cross the ocean (Ether 2:16).
11. The Lord reminds the brother of Jared that they had built barges (vessels) before when earlier crossing the “many waters” (Ether 2:6,16).
The exact wordage is: “And the Lord said: Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord. And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water” (Ether 2:16).
    Consider the wording: “…after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord” (Ether 2:16). Let’s look at these two phrases, for they do not mean the same thing.
    1. “After the manner of barges” does not mean here as many interpret it, suggesting that they were the exact duplicate of the barges they had built earlier (Ether 2:6). Part of this problem arises because the word “barge” is not as common in usage today as it was centuries ago when the word meant “any small boat.” Over the years, the words describing vessels (barges, boats, ships) has increased to include different types of barges, different types of boats—from canoes to ships—the latter being much larger vessels.
    “After the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built,” has a particular meaning as used here. Since a barge means any type of small boat, the Lord is telling the brother of Jared they are to make more boats. These second boats, of course, are for an entirely different purpose. That is, the first boats merely had to ferry people and animals across rather placid waters forming wetlands, swamps, lakes, ponds, interweaving rivers and streams, etc. Those boats were barges in the more common usage of today—probably a flat- or shallow-bottomed type of barge used for transporting livestock, cargo, and even people as in the early days along rivers—often called rafts in early America.
    In this case, the continuation of the same sentence is “which ye have hitherto built,” with the word “hitherto” being a factor of time, meaning “in any time,” “every time till now,” “time preceding the present.” Hitherto also means “to this place, or “to here but no further,” but it also means “to a prescribed limit.” That is, the Lord wants the brother of Jared to build these barges to a prescribed limit (or exactly) as he would instruct him, just as they had done with the first set of barges.
    This does not imply building the exact same barge, nor even in the exact same manner, but building barges exactly as the Lord would instruct them—after all, he understood far better than man what it would take to make a vessel that would carry people, animals and cargo across the “great deep” of the ocean in the wake of the currents and winds he knew would exist.
    2. “after the manner which they had built,” also takes on a different meaning when including the second part of the same sentence: “according to the instructions of the Lord.” That is, the Lord had instructed the Jaredites earlier on how to build the barges they used to transport people, animals and cargo across the placid waters that all joined together, forming the Mesopotamian marshes.
Now, the Lord was going to again instruct them on how to build the barges, this time ones that would be needed to cross an ocean, referred to as “the great deep,” meaning a sea or ocean (with its great depth) as opposed to the “many waters” (ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, swamp and marsh of a delta) that made up the wetlands marsh earlier.
    Another interesting comment is made in the middle of these events which Moroni inserts, that reads: “And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done” (Ether 2:11, emphasis mine).
    Keep in mind that Moroni is writing this abridgement during or shortly after the fall of the Nephite nation. To him the previous inhabitants of the land would have been his own Nephites/Mulekites and before that, the Jaredites. But Moroni would also have known about the entire history of the land and the Flood (which he briefly mentions in Ether 13:2), and the previous inhabitants would also have included those previous to the Jaredites, i.e., the antediluvians, or the people before the Flood, who had occupied this land--obviously also evil and were wiped out.
(See the next post, “Moriancumer’s Talk With the Lord-Part II,” for a continuation of this interview the Lord had with the brother of Jared after the Jaredite four-year hiatus on the seashore)

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