A Geographical Analysis of the Book of Ether
We are frequently asked how the Jaredite story in the Book of Ether fits into our geography of the Book of Mormon lands, and by what route the Jaredites would have reached Baja California. The Jaredites are an often-forgotten people, even though their story is intertwined at several points with the history of the people of Zarahemla (the Mulekites) and the Nephites (Omni 1:20-22; Mosiah 8:6-21; Mosiah 21:26-28; Alma 22:30; Alma 63:4-9; Ether 7:6; Ether 9:3, 31; Ether 15:11). The Jaredite account, as abridged by Moroni into the Book of Ether, was taken from the twenty-four gold plates discovered by king Limhi’s failed expedition while attempting to find the land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 21:22-32). It was later translated by king Mosiah (the second) and then sealed to come forth at a time declared by the Lord (Mosiah 8:9-21; Mosiah 28:11-20; Ether 4:4-7). The 15 chapters of the Book of Ether, rich in geographical detail, allow us a glimpse into the origins of the Jaredite people, their journey to a choice land, their agriculture and industry, and their settlement locations within a new homeland. The following is our geographical analysis of these numerous details and the probable routes and locations they describe. We have attempted to organize these geographical topics chronologically, from the great tower to the tragic end of the Jaredite civilization many years later.
Surprisingly, the term Jaredite is not found in Moroni’s abridgment of the Book of Ether, even though the name is in common usage today. The term Jaredites, however, is mentioned one time in Mormon’s second epistle to Moroni, wherein he likens his people, the Nephites, “unto the Jaredites, because of the wilfulness of their hearts” (Moro. 9:23). The group departing for the promised land was composed of the families of Jared and his brother and their friends and their families (Ether 1:41). “The friends of Jared and his brother were in number about twenty and two souls; and they also begat sons and daughters before they came to the promised land; and therefore they began to be many” (Ether 6:16). Mainly for economy of language, we need a single name to label this assemblage of separate families. And even though the title Jaredites can be misleading and not fully representative, we use this familiar name to represent the families of Jared and his brother and all their friends. At the same time it is essential that we differentiate these disparate groups of fellow-travelers in our geographical analysis.
The Jaredites were told by the Lord that they would be led into a land which is “choice above all other lands of the earth” (Ether 1:42). Likewise, the Lord told the Nephites they would be “led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands” (1 Ne. 2:20). Understandably, the Jaredites and the Nephites would need to be led to the same general geographical area if both were to occupy the “most choice” area. Indeed, they did settle in the same limited geographic area but at different times, with a short overlap of space and with a short overlap of time.
Updated: Friday, 25 April 2014
Articles Book of Mormon Geography Sea West to the Sea East Narrow Strip of Wilderness Jaredites Searching for Ruins The River Sidon Cursing and Blessing Narrow Neck of Land Environmental Descendants Great Signs and Wonders Longitude of Zarahemla Christ in Bountiful
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