The book of Ether is Moroni’s abridgment of the history of the Jaredites. The Jaredites were people who came to the Western Hemisphere centuries before the people of Lehi. Following the Flood in Noah’s day, many descendants of those who had been spared became wicked. One group of people attempted to build a tower “whose top may reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4). The account of the Jaredite nation began with the building of the Tower of Babel. The Lord dealt with the widespread wickedness by confounding the common language and by scattering the people across the face of the earth (see Genesis 11:5–8; Ether 1:33). This account in the book of Ether begins with Jared and his brother seeking the Lord’s help when He confounded the language of the people at the Tower of Babel. The Lord preserved the language of Jared, his brother, and their families and friends and led them through the wilderness toward the promised land. The Lord then instructed the brother of Jared to build eight barges to carry his people over the seas.
To help you understand where the book of Ether came from, review “Overview of Mosiah 7–24” from the Unit 12: Day 1 lesson (page 116). Refer to journey 4, and notice what Limhi’s people found on this journey.
Look at the beginning of the book of Ether, and find the brief description of the book under the title. This description explains that the record of the Jaredites was taken from 24 gold plates found by the people of Limhi.
After Moroni finished the record of his father, he took the Jaredites’ record and created a shorter version of it to include in the Book of Mormon. Read Ether 1:1–4, and look for what Moroni said he did not include in his version of the Jaredite record. Then read Ether 1:5, and look for what part of the account Moroni did include in his record. The tower referred to in Ether 1:5 is the Tower of Babel. As explained in Ether 1:33, the Lord “confounded” (confused or mixed up) the language of the people who sought to build the tower so they could not understand each other, and He scattered the people throughout the earth.
As recorded in Ether 1:6–33, a man named Ether had written the Jaredite record. Moroni recorded the ancestry of Ether back to a man named Jared, who lived during the time of the Tower of Babel.
Have you ever been in a country or area where people spoke a language you did not understand? How do you think you would feel if you could not understand the language that others around you were speaking? If you could pick only a few people to communicate with in that situation, whom would you choose? This situation existed for a man named Jared and his brother, as well as their families, who lived during the time of the Tower of Babel. Read Ether 1:33–37, and look for the people with whom Jared wanted to be able to communicate. After the brother of Jared obtained a promise from the Lord that their language would not be confounded (see Ether 1:34–35), he prayed for his friends (see Ether 1:36–37). As demonstrated by the brother of Jared, one of the characteristics of faithful people is to pray for their friends to receive the Lord’s blessings.
The Lord blessed the families of Jared and his brother and their friends so that their language was not confounded. Then Jared asked his brother to pray to God, asking Him where their families should go. (See Ether 1:38–40.)
Read Ether 1:40–43, and identify the instructions the Lord gave to the Jaredites to guide them in their journey. Why do you think it was important for Jared and his brother to follow these instructions from the Lord?
Read Ether 2:1–3 to discover how well the Jaredites responded to the instructions the Lord gave them about preparing to travel to a promised land (see Ether 1:41–42). Then read Ether 2:4–6, and look for what happened next. Notice that because the Jaredites had obeyed the Lord’s instructions, He gave them further directions. Ponder the blessings and the guidance the Jaredites received because they followed the Lord’s instructions.
From the Jaredites’ experience we learn this principle: As we act in faith on direction the Lord has given us, we can receive further guidance from Him. You may want to write this principle in your scriptures next to Ether 2:6.
Can you think of an impression or prompting you have received from the Lord while praying, studying the scriptures, or attending a Church meeting? Keep that impression or prompting in mind as you read the following statement from Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about how we often receive answers to prayers: “Seldom will you receive a complete response [to prayer] all at once. It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity. As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer. That pattern requires you to exercise faith in our Father’s capacity to respond. While sometimes it’s very hard, it results in significant personal growth” (“Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 9).
Write in your scripture study journal how you responded (or can respond) to the spiritual prompting you thought of earlier. You might also include the blessings you received (or can receive) from acting on that prompting.
As recorded in Ether 2:7–12, the Lord told the brother of Jared that when he and his people arrived in the promised land, they would need to “serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off” (Ether 2:8).
Read Ether 2:13–15, and look for what happened when the Jaredites came to the great sea that divided the lands. They had been guided through the wilderness by the Lord because they listened to the Lord and kept His commandments. However, after they had camped by the great sea for four years, the Lord came to the brother of Jared and chastised him for failing to pray.
Ether 2:14–15 helps us learn these principles: The Lord is not pleased when we fail to call upon Him in prayer. The Lord desires us to call upon Him regularly in prayer.
As you read the following statement from Elder Donald L. Staheli, who served as a member of the Seventy, think about how often you pray: “Daily fervent prayers seeking forgiveness and special help and direction are essential to our lives and the nourishment of our testimonies. When we become hurried, repetitive, casual, or forgetful in our prayers, we tend to lose the closeness of the Spirit, which is so essential in the continual direction we need to successfully manage the challenges of our everyday lives” (“Securing Our Testimonies” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 39).
In your personal journal or on a separate piece of paper, respond to the following questions:
How do you feel about the frequency of your personal prayers?
How do you feel about the sincerity of your personal prayers?
In your personal prayers, do you feel that you truly communicate with Heavenly Father? Why, or why not?
If you could make one change that would improve your personal prayers, what might it be?
As recorded in Ether 2:16, the brother of Jared repented of his sins and prayed to the Lord for his family members and friends. The Lord told him that he was forgiven but that he must continue in righteousness in order to be led to the promised land.
Think of an important personal decision you are facing or might face in the future, such as how to deal with a difficult family or social situation, how to do well in school, whom to marry, or what profession to pursue. Have you thought about how the Lord might give you direction or help in that situation? As you study the remainder of Ether 2, ponder the decision you identified and look for principles that will help you receive the Lord’s assistance.
Read Ether 2:16–17, and look for what the Lord asked the Jaredites to do to progress toward the promised land. The brother of Jared faced three problems resulting from the design of the barges. Read Ether 2:18–19, and mark the three problems the brother of Jared mentioned to the Lord.
To help you visualize what you have read in Ether 2:16–19, draw what you think the barges might have looked like in your scripture study journal.
The following chart will help you discover how the Lord helped the brother of Jared with the problems with the barges. Study the scripture verses in the chart, and then use the information to fill in the “Solution to the Problem” column of the chart.
Problem with the Barges
Solution to the Problem
What the Lord did and what He required Jared’s brother to do were different for each problem. From each problem and solution, we can learn a different truth about how the Lord assists us when we need help. Compare the solutions you wrote in the chart with those in the following list:
No air (Ether 2:20–21). To solve this problem, the Lord told the brother of Jared what he should do. The brother of Jared then had the faith to follow the Lord’s instructions.
No steering (Ether 6:4–9). To solve this problem, the Lord provided the answer to the problem Himself.
No light (Ether 2:22–3:6). To solve this problem, the Lord gave the brother of Jared some direction. The brother of Jared then had to think of a solution to the problem—based on the information he had—and ask for the Lord’s approval and help in carrying it out.
From the brother of Jared’s experience, we learn this principle: As we strive to do our part to solve our problems, we can receive the Lord’s help. Thinking about the personal decision you thought of earlier, how can knowing this principle help you receive help or guidance concerning this decision? What do you think the Lord might expect you to do in making your decision?
Write a paragraph in your scripture study journal explaining what you have learned from the brother of Jared’s experiences about prayer and about receiving the Lord’s help and direction in your life.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Ether 1–2 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: