As you study the book of Ether, you will learn about the Jaredites—a group of people who traveled to the Western Hemisphere and lived there for many centuries before the arrival of the people of Lehi. This book will help you learn important principles concerning prayer, revelation, and the relationship between exercising faith in Jesus Christ and receiving spiritual knowledge. It will also help you understand the role of prophets in persuading people to repent and the consequences that come to those who reject Jesus Christ and His prophets.
Moroni abridged this book from 24 gold plates called the plates of Ether. It is named for the prophet Ether, who was the last prophet of the Jaredites and created a record of their history (see Ether 15:33–34). In the days of King Mosiah, some of the people of Limhi discovered the plates of Ether as they were searching for the land of Zarahemla (see Mosiah 8:7–11; Ether 1:2). Nephite prophets and record keepers passed the plates of Ether down until they came into Moroni’s possession. Moroni stated that he did not include “the hundredth part” of the record in his abridgment (Ether 15:33).
The original sources used to create the book of Ether were written centuries before Moroni made his abridgment. The first Jaredite record was created when the brother of Jared wrote the vision he received before his people crossed the seas (see Ether 4:1). No other record keepers among the Jaredites are mentioned until Ether (see Ether 13:3; 15:33). Moroni abridged the book of Ether (see Mormon 8:3–6; Moroni 10:1). Moroni did not state where he was when he made the abridgment, although he wrote that the Jaredites were destroyed in “this north country” (Ether 1:1), indicating he may have been in the land where they were destroyed.