Book of Mormon Lesson #45: “Never Has Man Believed in Me as Thou Hast”
1. H. Donl Peterson: The book of Ether was discovered by the Nephites about 92 BC, and translated by the prophet Mosiah with the aid of the Urim and Thummin. The 24 plates containing Ether’s abridgement appear to have been passed down, along with Mosiah’s translation of them, from prophet to prophet, until they came into Mormon’s hands. … Moroni completed the abridgement of the book of Ether on the plates of Mormon, which we often call the Gold Plates. The Book of Mormon, p. 241.
2. George Reynolds: While residing in Kirtland, Elder Reynolds Cahoun had a son born to him. One day when President Joseph Smith was passing his door he called the Prophet in and asked him to bless and name the baby. Joseph did so and gave the baby the name of Mahonri Moriancumr. When he had finished the blessing he laid the child on the bed, and turning to Elder Cahoun he said, the name I have given your son is the name of the brother of Jared; the Lord has just shown it to me. Elder William F. Cahoun, who was standing near, heard the Prophet make this statement to his father; and this was the first time the name of the brother of Jared was known in the Church in this dispensation. The Juvenile Instructor, vol. 27, p. 282.
3. Alvin R. Dyer: The Jaredites began their migration to this land at the time when the great tower of Babel was under construction. This occurred in about the year 2200 BC. … This tower has been identified in our modern time at a place called Hillah in modern Iraq, southwest of the city of Bagdad, on the east bank of the Euphrates River. Here is found a ruin known as Birs Nimrud, standing like a watchtower on a vast plain. Inscriptions on the pyramid-shaped ruins were found by Professor Rawlinson to bear the name of “The Temple of the Seven Planets.” This ruin was supposed to be what is left of the tower of Babel. General Conference, Oct. 1968.
4. Daniel H. Ludlow: What does it mean when the record states that the Lord “did not confound the language of Jared”? Does it mean the same as saying that the Lord did not change the language of Jared? If so, Jared and his people apparently spoke and wrote the language of Adam, because so far as we know there was only one language before the “great tower” of Babel. A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 309.
5. Spencer W. Kimball: [Ether 1:43 – because this long time ye have cried unto me] The Lord does answer our prayers, but sometimes we are not responsive enough to know when and how they are answered. We want the “writing on the wall” or an angel to speak or a heavenly voice. … There must be works with faith. How futile it would be to ask the Lord to give us knowledge, but the Lord will help us to acquire knowledge, to study constructively, to think clearly, and to retain things we have learned. … Do you get answers to your prayers? If not, perhaps you did not pay the price. Do you offer a few trite words and worn-out phrases, or do you talk intimately to the Lord? Do you pray occasionally when you should be praying regularly, often, constantly? … When you pray, do you just speak or do you listen? Your Savior said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20) … The Lord stands knocking. He never retreats. But he will never force himself upon us. If we ever move apart, it is we who move and not the Lord. And should we ever fail to get an answer to our prayers, we must look into our lives for a reason. New Era, March 1978.
6. George Washington: [Ether 2:7-9 – choice land] No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. … The foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality. … The propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which heaven itself has ordained. Harvard Classics, vol. 43, pp. 226-27.
7. Gordon B. Hinckley: I hope that there is not a day that passes that you and I, every one of us, does not get on our knees and pray for this land of which we are a part and those who preside here, that they may be guided and blessed to do that which the Lord would have done. Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, vol. 2, p. 524.
8. Hugh Nibley: [Ether 2:16-17 – barges] The Bible is not the only ancient record that tells about the ark. … There are various versions of the Flood story floating about, all of which tell some of the story. The oldest accounts of the ark of Noah, the Sumerian ones, describe it as a “magur boat,” peaked at the ends, completely covered but for a door, without sails, and completely covered by the waters from time to time, as men and animals rode safe within. The remarkable thing about Jared’s boats was their illumination. … The rabbis tell of a mysterious Zohar that illuminated the ark, but for further instruction we must go to much older sources: the Pyrophilus is traced back to the Jalakanta stone of India, which shines in the dark and enables its owner to pass unharmed beneath the waters; this in turn has been traced back through classical and Oriental sources to the Gilgamesh epic, where Alexander’s wonderful Pyrophilus stone turns up as the Plant of Life in the possession of the Babylonian Noah. Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, p. 473.
9. Daniel H. Ludlow: [Ether 2:20] In providing a solution for the difficulty of obtaining air, the Lord informed the brother of Jared: “Behold thou shalt make a hole in the top thereof, and also in the bottom thereof; and when thou shalt suffer for air, thou shalt unstop the hole thereof, and receive air. And if it so be that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole thereof, that ye may not perish in the flood.” This quotation is taken from the first edition of the Book of Mormon because the four thereofs underlined above appear in the early editions, but for some unexplainable reason were deleted from the 1920 edition and all subsequent editions (perhaps the revising committee thought they were superfluous). A careful reading of this verse in the first edition seems to indicate that the terms “in the top” and “in the bottom” do not refer to the barge itself. Rather, they refer to the top and bottom of something else such as a chamber or cylinder (designated here as “thereof”) which could be used to admit air. A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 313-14.
10. Andrew C. Skinner: [Ether 3:1 – shining stones] The King James Version of the Old Testament reports that Noah’s ark was to have a “window” for a light: “a window shalt thou make to the ark” (Gen. 6:16). However, some modern Jewish translators of the Hebrew text render this passage: “a light shalt thou make to the ark.” The word in question, tsahar, in the dual form means “noon” or “midday.” Ancient Jewish legend relates that it was not just a light in the ark but was actually a “precious stone which illuminated the whole interior of the ark.” (Hertz, Pentateuch and Haftorahs, p. 26-27). Studies in Scripture, p. 265. [See also the footnote to Gen. 6:16 in the LDS Bible regarding the tsohar.]
11. Joseph Smith: [Ether 3:9 – because of thy faith] Are you not dependent on your faith, or belief, for the acquisition of all knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence? Would you exert yourselves to obtain wisdom and intelligence, unless you did believe that you could obtain them? Would you have ever sown, if you had not believed that you would reap? Would you have ever planted, if you had not believed that you would gather? Would you have ever asked, unless you had believed that you would receive? Would you have ever sought, unless you had believed that you would have found? Or, would you have ever knocked, unless you had believed that it would have been opened unto you? In a word, is there anything that you would have done, either physical or mental, if you had not previously believed? Are not all your exertions of every kind, dependent on your faith? Or, may we not ask, what have you, or what do you possess, which you have not obtained by reason of your faith? Your food, your raiment, your lodgings, are they not all by reason of your faith? Reflect, and ask yourselves if these things are not so. Turn your thoughts on your own minds, and see if faith is not the moving cause of all action in yourselves; and, if the moving cause in you, is it not in all other intelligent beings? Lectures on Faith, Lecture First, #11.
12. Sidney B. Sperry: [Ether 3:15 – never have I shown myself unto man] The Lord’s statement may have to do with the principle that he does not reveal himself to men, (meaning “sons of men,” unbelieving men); he only reveals himself to believers, to those who trust in and rely on him, who like Moriancumr, become redeemed from the Fall. Answers to Book of Mormon Questions, p. 49.
13. Daniel H. Ludlow: Another possible interpretation is that Jesus Christ is essentially saying in Ether 3:15 that he has never had to show himself unto man before. A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 318.
14. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: Perhaps the matter [in Ether 3:15] is simpler than we had supposed. Could it be that the pronouncement is a relative statement, that it pertains only to the Jaredites? That is, it may be that Jehovah was explaining, in essence, “never before have I showed myself to anyone in your dispensation, the Jaredite dispensation.” Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol.4, p. 278.
15. Jeffrey R. Holland: [Ether 4:13-15 – rend the veil of unbelief] The Book of Mormon is predicated on the willingness of men and women to “rend the veil of unbelief” in order to behold the revelations – and the Revelation – of God. It would seem that the humbling experience of the brother of Jared in his failure to pay and in his consternation over the 16 stones were included in this account to show just how mortal and just how normal he was … at least in some ways so much like ourselves. His belief in himself and his view of himself may have been limited – much like our view of ourselves. But his belief in God was unprecedented. It was without doubt or limit. … Ordinary individuals with ordinary challenges could rend the veil of unbelief and enter the realms of eternity and Christ would be standing at the edge of that veil to usher the believer through. Sperry Symposium, 1995.
Next week: Ether 7-15 “By Faith All Things Are Fulfilled”