Chapter Synopsis: : Through analysis of the book of Ether, the people known as the Jaredites were directed by Jesus Christ to leave the Great Tower and travel across the Atlantic Ocean to the Promised Land. This conclusion is supported by recent evidence of the location of the Tower of Babel in northern Turkey. Correlations with the Nephite Geography of the Land of Promise, the location of Hill Ramah-Cumorah in the Land Northward, and the Jaredite location of Moron associated with the East Sea confirm the Jaredite crossing by way of the Mediterranean-Atlantic Seas
IN THE LAND OF PROMISE
The Jaredite landing and subsequent occupation, are vital links to the land known as "the Land Northward," "the Land of Desolation," and the area where Hill Ramah, and later to the Nephite-Lamanite peoples, the Hill Cumorah sites are located.
In the third chapter of the book of Ether, the Jaredites landed upon the shore of the Promised Land:
"And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the Promised Land, they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of His tender mercies over them. And it came to pass that they went forth upon the face of the land, and began to till the earth." (Ether 3:14,15)
After many years passed, a kingdom was called for by the people so Orihah, one of the sons of Jared, was anointed king. Orihah had many sons, and one named Kib reigned after him. No indications are given as to where their Promised Land was located in relation to the other Book of Mormon lands. It is not until Corihor, the son of Kib, is mentioned that we have the first name, Nehor, for a land location. The circumstance is that Corihor
"...rebelled against his father and went over and dwelt in the Land of Nehor ; and he begat sons and daughters...And when he had gathered together an army, he came up unto the Land of Moron where the king dwelt and took him captive, which brought to pass the saying of the Brother of Jared, that they would be brought into captivity." (Ether 3:41,42)
From the information the text presents, we read that Corihor left the location of Kib's rule and went to the land of Nehor. After many years, Corihor went back to the original location with an army, captured his father, and thus fulfilled prophesy of the people being brought into captivity. The location where the king dwelt is clearly given as a place known by them as Moron. (see figure A)
Moroni was abridging the record of Ether when he inserted into verse 43 the location of the land of Moron in reference to the geography we already know based on the work by his father Mormon:
"Now the land of Moron where the king dwelt, was near the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites.(Ether 3:43)
The next few verses describe some of the intrigue and power struggles which took place between the sons and grandsons of Kib.- Kib, along with his people under Corihor his son, dwelt in captivity in Nehor. (v.44)
- Corihor had a son named Noah. (v.52) - Noah rebelled against Shule, the king, and also against his father Corihor. (v.53) - Noah's brother, Cohor, and son of Corihor, followed after Noah. (v.53) - Noah battled Shule and obtained "the land of their first inheritance." (v.54) (see figure C)
According to verse 43, the Land of Moron "was near the land which was called Desolation by the Nephites." From verses 54 and 55, we are given to understand that Noah "obtained the land of their first inheritance", "became king over that part of the land", and carried Shule "away captive into Moron." This is a clear indication by Moroni that the Land of Moron was the "land of their first inheritance"! The Jaredites must have landed somewhere very close to this Land of Moron. The fact that Moron was the first place mentioned "where the king dwelt" also strengthens this conclusion. The king at this time was Kib, the successor to Orihah the first king in the promised land, and the son of Jared.
- Noah became a king "over that part of the land," ie: "the land of the their first inheritance." (v.54) - Noah again gave battle unto Shule, took him captive at Nehor and "carried him away captive into Moron" (v.55) - The sons of Shule rescued him, "and placed him upon his throne in his own kingdom" in Nehor. They also slew Noah. (v.56) - The sons of Noah built up the kingdom of Noah in Moron. (v.56) - The country was divided with two kingdoms: the kingdom of Shule, in Nehor, and the kingdom of Cohor, the son of Noah in Moron. (v.58) (see figure D) - Cohor gave battle to Shule; Shule beat his army and slew Cohor. (v.59) - Cohor's son Nimrod, gave up the kingdom to Shule. (v.60) - Nimrod gained favor with Shule, who bestowed great favors upon him. (v.60)
LAND OF MORON - EAST OR WEST?
If the Land of Moron is the land of the Jaredite's first inheritance, that land must be somewhat close to the sea which they would have had to cross to come to the Promised Land. If we can locate the Land of Moron, either on the east or west side of the Book of Mormon land mass, it should then be evident which ocean the Jaredites crossed. This is a major step in determining the location not only of the Jaredite occupation, but also of the Nephite-Lamanite lands since they are so closely linked with the Jaredite "Land of Desolation," "Hill Ramah-Cumorah," and "the Land Northward."(see figure E)
The Land of Moron is not mentioned again until near the end of the Jaredite civilization
"...and he [the brother of Shared] came forth to the Land of Moron and placed himself upon the throne of Coriantumr." (Ether 6:40)
Shared was then murdered by a man named Lib who then obtained the kingdom. However, Coriantumr was building up his army.
"and it came to pass that in the first year of Lib, Coriantumr came up unto the Land of Moron and gave battle unto Lib. And it came to pass that he fought with Lib, in which Lib did smite upon his arm that he was wounded; nevertheless, the army of Coriantumr did press forward upon Lib, that he fled to the borders upon the seashore. And it came to pass that Coriantumr pursued him; and Lib gave battle unto him upon the seashore." (Ether 6:45-48)
The phrase "came up unto the Land of Moron" is the same phrase used in relationship to the act of Corihor in Ether 3:42 when he "came up unto the Land of Moron where the king dwelt". This gives credence to the assertion that the Moron of Coriantumr was the Moron known as the "land of their first inheritance" in Ether 3:54. The Land of Moron is very near to the sea. Even though Coriantumr is wounded he pursues Lib not only to the borders, but also battles him upon the seashore. The location of this sea is still not evident to the reader. It could be to the East or to the West.
The phrase "came up unto..." may give us an indication that the Land of Moron was at a higher elevation than either Nehor (Ether 3:42) or the wilderness from which Coriantumr attacked Lib. It may also simply be a phrase which Moroni used, much as we might, when speaking of a place which is above our present location on a map. An alternate possibility is that "up" denotes a place of importance. In this case it would be the location of their first landing. When Corihor left his father in Moron, the statement is made that he "went over and dwelt in the Land of Nehor" (Ether 3:41), rather than using a phrase such as "went down and dwelt in the Land of Nehor" if, in fact, the Land of Moron was at a higher elevation. Some investigators have taken the phrase "went over" to mean there may have been a range of mountains, or at least hills, which had to be crossed.
NEHOR AND THE SEA
A very important relationship between Nehor, the Land of Desolation and the sea is found in the experience of Omer. This experience is recorded in Ether 3:67-4:15.
- Omer is the son of Shule and next reigned in the stead of his father. (v.67) - There was one kingdom and the location of the throne was in the City of Nehor. (v.60) - Jared, the son of Omer rebelled and sought the throne and the life of his father in battle. (vs.69,71)
- Omer was captured, carried away by Jared and was in captivity half of his days. (v.72) - His sons Esrom and Coriantumr were angry with Jared, raised an army, defeated Jared in battle and rescued their father who received back his kingdom in Nehor. (vs.73-75) -Through a series of secret combinations, a former friend of Omer by the name of Akish, overthrew the kingdom of Omer. (Ether 4:2). - Omer was a righteous man and the Lord warned him in a dream to depart out of the Land of Nehor. (v.3) - The directions he took help us to understand some of the geography of the land.
"...wherefore Omer departed out of the land with his family and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the Hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent," (Ether 4:3.4)
The "Hill of Shim" must be the same Nephite hill Shim where the records were placed by Ammoron, and therefore the same hill where Mormon obtained them (Mormon 2:25), and moved them to Hill Cumorah (Mormon 3:8), "the place where the Nephites were destroyed." This hill was called Hill Ramah by the Jaredites. Omer then went "eastward" to the "seashore". What sea is it? The EAST SEA of course! (see figure F)
In evaluating the location of Nehor, it could be put it in one of five places relative to hill Cumorah and Moron. (see figure G)
The placement of Nehor at positions 3 and 4, more or less directly above or below Cumorah, does not allow for the description given of Omer's flight with his family as they "...came over and passed by the Hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed..." (Ether 4:3,4). Position 5 does allow for the phrases "came over" but it does not fit with what seems to be a change in direction by Moroni's phrase "and thence eastward...". Position 2, to the southwest would place Nehor in the area of the Land Bountiful or even in the Land of Zarahemla. If this were the case, Moroni surely would have given this as the location. In Ether 4:36, and again in verse 37, he tells us that when the
"flocks began to flee before the poisonous serpents, toward the Land Southward, which was called by the Nephites Zarahemla." (Ether 4:36)
Other examples could also be given. Presumably Nehor is in the land northward of the Land of Desolation, so Position 1, would seem the most appropriate placement for Nehor. (see figure F) Nehor is also at some distance away, since Omer
"...departed with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the Hill of Shim..." (Ether 4:3)
The relationship of Moron to Nehor was originally linked in the early days of the reign of kings. Nehor must therefore be to the west of Moron. Omer travelled first to Hill Shim, and then to Ramah-Cumorah, probably in the southeasterly direction as indicated on figure F. From Cumorah he then travelled "eastward" (northeast, southeast or just east?) to the sea.
The relationship of the Land of Nehor and the Land of Moron to the EAST SEA has now been clearly established. Since the close proximity of the Land of Desolation to Bountiful has been given (3 Nephi 2:32), it is not likely that Moron was south of Desolation. It can therefore be assumed that it was northward of Desolation and east (northeast, southeast, or just east?) of Nehor. The land of Desolation has also been described as being northward of City Bountiful, which is on the east seacoast as well (Alma 22:35; 24:10). The geographical relationship of Moron to Desolation, of Moron to Nehor, and of Nehor to the East Sea, then places this Land of Moron, the land of the Jaredite's "first inheritance", on or very close to the EAST SEA.
EXAMINING THE CONCLUSION
Is this conclusion borne out by reading what the book of Ether said at the time of the exodus:
"from the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people" (Ether 1:7).
Where is the land where the Great Tower was located? Even today scholars do not agree on the location. A recent article and discussion in Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR; Abraham's Ur-Is the Pope Going to the Wrong Place?; Jan/Feb. 2000) pointed out that several locations in the Middle East have names similar to Ur. Also, in Turkey a city by the name of Urfa is close to Haran, where Abram would go and the location of the burial of his father, Terah, before going to Cainan.
Although the Ur located in southern Iraq has produced large numbers of artifacts, the northern Ur in Turkey was not until the middle of the 19th century identified as the home of Abram from the biblical record. This is also the area of the Chaldeas, and several other location names, which indicates that this region rather than present day southern Iraq, is the location, not only for biblical Ur, but also for "the great tower" from which the Jaredites would leave.
Looking at a good atlas which shows present day Turkey and some topography, we can see that the area north of the Ur area is very mountainous. There are at least two "seas" to the northwest and directly north is the Black Sea. To the East there are also mountains and, in fact, to the northeast are the mountains of Ararat, the location of the ark of Noah. Which direction did the Jaredites take? Let us look at the written word for the answer. Contrary to what Jared feared, that the Lord might:
"drive us out of the land, and if He will drive us out of the land, cry unto Him whither we shall go;" (Ether 1:12)
The Lord "had compassion"! (Ether 1:16) The Brother of Jared was told to gather their flocks and seed of every kind and, with their families and friends, depart into the valley which was northward:
"And there will I meet thee, and I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the land of the earth, and there will I bless thee and thy seed..." (Ether 1:17,18)
The valley was named after the mighty hunter Nimrod. This group of people left, carrying all kinds of seeds, swarms of bees, a vessel of live fish, fowls of the air, all their possessions--including tents, and their flocks which were made up of animals of every kind both male and female. Quite a load for a long trip! How long did the journey to the Promised Land take?
We know from the record that the sea voyage took three hundred and forty four days (Ether 3:13). But what of the travel to the sea? What was this time span? Is it helpful to know these to lend support for the conclusion that the Jaredites travelled the Mediterranean-Atlantic route to reach the Promised Land? Time is critical. If, as some investigators have theorized, the Jaredites came to the Americas by way of the Pacific, the route from the valley of Nimrod would have been a very long journey over very mountainous terrain to the coast of what we call China.
From the Valley of Nimrod the Lord
"commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as He stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel." (Ether 1:26,27)
Some have assumed that "that quarter where there never had man been" must be towards the east, rather than towards the north, northeast, or northwest. The west direction is excluded because of the Mediterranean Sea and perhaps the presence in this area of people referred to in the Bible or from a historical perspective. From any current Bible atlas of that time period, it can be seen that most of the regions around the area where the Valley of Nimrod was probably located had groups of people in them. It must be concluded that the phrase "that quarter where there never had man been" refers to an area which does not have to be very large, but did have to fulfill the requirement that man had never been there before. Remember also, that this time period is not that many years after the flood when the land had been changed dramatically.
"And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord." (Ether 1:28)
The words "many waters" immediately calls to mind a number of rivers, lakes, or seas which they had to cross at various times and which required them on several occasions to build some sort of water conveyances to be able to cross. The phrase "many waters" was used in Numbers 24:6. The definition of "many waters" was given by Nephi,
"And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum which being interpreted is many waters." (1 Nephi 5:64)
and was used by Mormon as he described the land where Hill Cumorah was located (Mormon 3:5). It was also used in Mosiah, as they described the land where the people of Limhi travelled when they found the Jaredite remains (Mosiah 5:61). So the definition of "many waters" is a sea.
THE SEA IN THE WILDERNESS
Verse twenty-nine in Ether confirms this definition, and from it we know that there was just one body of water which they crossed and one set of special barges which they used during the wilderness trip:
"And 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, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people;" (Ether 1:29)
In the American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster, published in 1828 at the approximate time the Book of Mormon was being translated into English the definition for "Sea" was:
1. A large basin, cistern or laver which Solomon made in the temple, so large as to contain more than six thousands gallons.
2. A large body of water, nearly inclosed by land. Seas are properly branches of the ocean, and upon the same level. Large bodies of water inland, and situated above the level of the ocean, are lakes. The appellation of sea, given to the Caspian lake, is an exception, and not very correct. So the lake of Galilee is called a sea, from the Greek.
3. The ocean.
The most important definition of "sea" in the Book of Mormon context is a Biblical reference which indicates that it can also refer to a large river. Jeremiah writes with reference to the sea of Babylon:
"Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry."(Jeremiah 51:36)
The "sea" of Babylon, according to this record was the Euphrates river. Once again:
"And 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, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people;" (Ether 1:29)
Could the sea which they initially crossed to get to the Mediterranean have been the Euphrates river? Possibly. Could it have bee the Black Sea? It could have been, but to reach it they would have had to go through a great range of mountains, suffer innumerable hardships and find themselves in a climate which was not very conducive to spending four years in what seemed to be relative comfort. These seem to be good enough reasons to at least tentatively reject the Black Sea as the route to the Mediterranean. There may have been other "seas" in the area they travelled which could also qualify.
THAT GREAT SEA
Moroni inserted some very important words in reference to the land of promise including "the everlasting decree of God" (Ether 1:32), and then returned in verse 36 to the Jaredite account:
"...and it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea, they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents; and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years." (Ether 1:36,37)
In most Bible atlases, the sea which we know as the Mediterranean is labeled as "THE GREAT SEA". It can also be found by this definition in Joshua 9:1, 15:12, 15:47, and 23:4. Of course this doesn't mean that the "great sea" referenced in the book of Ether is the same "great sea" identified as the Mediterranean. By itself the phrase could refer to the Pacific or the Atlantic Oceans. Since the writing was probably done after a three hundred and forty four day voyage in eight barges, any sea of that size would be "that great sea"!
Let us consider the proposition that the Mediterranean Sea may have been "that great sea." Remember, the Jaredites were people who were very devoted to the Lord and He to them. This is not an exodus from Egypt of a million Hebrews , with hardened hearts, ready to turn to a golden calf to worship, who required forty years in the wilderness to be ready to enter the promised land. The Jaredites were people led by the Lord who had "compassion" (Ether 1:16), who told them what they needed for their journey, and promised to meet them in a valley and that He would go before them. This is the Lord who "came down and talked with the Brother of Jared" (Ether 1:25), and "did talk with them as He stood in a cloud and gave directions whither they should travel." (Ether 1:27) This is the Lord who revealed Himself to the Brother of Jared as Jesus Christ. This is the Lord who, on two separate occasions, directed how the barges should be built. He provided for these people in every way they would allow Him.
Does it seem reasonable then, that the Lord would take this small group of people through vast, mountainous, freezing areas, thousands of miles to the east to get to the Pacific Ocean; these people who were "directed continually by the hand of the Lord."? (Ether 1:28) Rather, the direction would be for the shortest route to the sea. This route would accomplish two things. First, it would get them to the sea they had to cross to get to the Land of Promise. Second, it would be a time for experience, to develope faith and the kind of covenant relationship necessary so that the land of promise would be understood as the direct result of the love the Lord Jesus Christ had for them and for their offspring. The closest sea which led to the Promised Land of the American continent was the Mediterranean. Let us look at the definition for the word "Mediterranean". In the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary we find:
"Mediterranean - from medi- + terra land; enclosed or nearly enclosed with land"
Doesn't this definition also match the words written by Moroni referring "to that great sea""which divideth the lands"? (Ether 1:36)
PREPARATION AND THE VOYAGE
The people gave a name to the place at the seashore and dwelt there for four years. Living must have been nice. They had flocks, seeds, provisions, and tents. They were by a sea, and enjoyed its bounty. They had come out of a wilderness, built barges to cross a sea, and were at a location which must have been quite splendid with a temperate climate, a sea to appreciate and mountains not far away for scenery. It was so good, so easy compared to what they had endured to get there that surely it seemed that this also was "the Promised Land"! Not so!:
"And it came to pass at the end of four years, that the Lord came again unto the Brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the Brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord." (Ether 1:38,39)
When life is easy, it is almost a universal truth told to us by all of the scriptures and also by our own life experiences, that we tend to forget the Lord and all of His tender mercies unto us. It even happened to the Brother of Jared and those he brought with him to this place.
The Brother of Jared
"repented of the evil which he had done and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him." (Ether 1:40)
The Lord directed them to build eight barges. Light was provided by the sixteen stones the Lord touched "one by one" with his finger. In the subsequent experience the Lord revealed Himself as Jesus Christ to the brother of Jared. Two stones were given to him, so others would be able to translate what he would write. The animals and fowls were loaded, food was prepared to help them "subsist upon the water", and:
"...they set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God." (Ether 3:5)
"And they did sing praises unto the Lord, yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord all the day long, and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord." (Ether 3:11)
WIND OR CURRENTS?
The Lord spoke to the Brother of Jared about the vessels and the voyage which lay ahead and of His care for them:
"...for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth. And behold, I prepare you against these things; for howbeit, ye can not cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come." (Ether 1:57,58)
In chapter three the voyage is described in detail. (Ether 3:6-10) The wind is mentioned five times as the way the Lord chose to carry the barges to the Promised Land. There can be no doubt that it was the direct intervention of the Lord in this way that caused the barges, which were "as a whale in the midst of the sea" (Ether 1:56), to move through the water to the land designated by the Lord as the Promised Land. While the ocean currents may have played a role in the voyage, it was this special wind which drove them forth.
The distance from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea to the Yucatan peninsula is seventy-three hundred miles. The rate of travel during the three hundred forty four day trip would have been 0.9 mile per hour. By comparison, the distance from Shanghai, China to Acapulco, Mexico is eighty-three hundred miles. That rate of travel would have been l.0 mile per hour. One-tenth of one mile per hour difference between the Mediterranean-Atlantic route and the Pacific route proposed by others. In our day of fast travel, the 0.9 or 1.0 mile per hour average rate of travel seems very slow. To the Jaredites this was just their progress by the hand of the Lord bringing them to the Promised Land.
The people known as the Jaredites left from the Great Tower under the direct leadership of the Lord, travelled northward to the valley of Nimrod, and then into the wilderness. They crossed a body of water in barges of their own making, came to a place by the eastern origin of the Mediterranean Sea where they stayed for four years. They subsequently built eight barges under the Lord's direction and departed. The wind provided by the Lord carried them to the Promised Land, where they arrived on the shores of what came to be known to the Nephites as the East Sea. They later established a kingdom close to the location of their landing known as Moron, the "land of their first inheritance", in the Nephite "Land of Desolation."
This thesis is upheld by all of the textual evidence in the Book of Mormon that was written by those who were there and those who had access to the original documentary evidence!
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