Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ether Chapter 7

Orihah reigns in righteousness—Amid usurpation and strife the rival kingdoms of Shule and Cohor are set up—Prophets condemn the wickedness and idolatry of the people, who then repent.

1 AND it came to pass that Orihah did execute judgment upon the land in righteousness all his days, whose days were exceedingly many.
Orihah reigns in righteousness all his life. His life was long and may have equaled that of his father.
2 And he begat sons and daughters; yea, he begat thirty and one, among whom were twenty and three sons.
Orihah has a large posterity. He may have had more than one wife. He had many sons who could have competed for the throne, but it appears that they didn't contest their father's choice.
3 And it came to pass that he also begat Kib in his old age. And it came to pass that Kib reigned in his stead; and Kib begat Corihor.
Kib was the youngest son of Orihah and continued the practice of having the youngest son reign.
4 And when Corihor was thirty and two years old he rebelled against his father, and went over and dwelt in the land of Nehor; and he begat sons and daughters, and they became exceedingly fair; wherefore Corihor drew away many people after him.
Corihor was now a grown man. We see a later Nephite rebel with the same name (Korihor), but with different spelling. Perhaps Corihor saw that he was not in line for the throne, therefore he rebelled, took his friends and supporters with him, and established his own kingdom on the fringe of his father's domains. The name Nehor is new to the account, but it was apparently an established place name before Corihor ever settled there. We see it appear later in the Nephite record as the name of an apostate, and also as a Jareditish religion. Hugh Nibley describes this “drawing away” process as very typically Asian. We will see it again and again throughout the Jaredite history. Corihor's sons and daughters are fair, handsome and popular. They assisted their father in drawing away many of their grandfather's people. These children of Corihor are apparently adults at this time, so the rebellion has probably gone on for a long time.
5 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.
Over a period of years Corihor is able to accumulate a large army. This was probably his long range plan, in the Asian tradition, just as Nibley has pointed out. He attacks his father in the capitol of Moron and takes him captive. It is strange that no mention of defense on the part of Kib is mentioned. The prophecy of Moriancumer begins to be fulfilled.
6 Now the land of Moron, where the king dwelt, was near the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites.
Fonseca Bay

Central America showing Moron
Where the king dwelt – Moron was the political capitol of the Ether Jaredites. The land of Moron would have been the large rural area surrounding the city. This is one of the important geographical clues found in the Book of Mormon. Moron was “near” the Nephite land of Desolation (probably to the north). In my model, the land of Desolation would have been northwestern Nicaragua, north of the “narrow neck,” or north of the town of Rivas. The area to the north of this land would have been the area around the Gulf of Fonseca. Concerning the term “near”, we have to remember that the Nephites judged geography from a horizontal, ground level, so near was probably within a distance of several days journey.
7 And it came to pass that Kib dwelt in captivity, and his people under Corihor his son, until he became exceedingly old; nevertheless Kib begat Shule in his old age, while he was yet in captivity.
Kib serves in captivity, under his son, until his death. “Exceedingly old” would be an age between 100-200 years old. “And his people” seems to infer that those who were loyal to Kib were captives also, or at least less than full fledged citizens, and subject to the tyranny of Corihor. In Kib's old age a son is born who will regain the kingdom. Another example of the youngest son tradition. Apparently, although a captive and slave, Kib was allowed to associate with his family. 
Hugh Nibley sheds light on this ancient tradition of enslaved kings. 

“The practice, mentioned many times in the book [of Mormon], of keeping a king prisoner throughout his entire lifetime, allowing him to beget and raise a family in captivity, even though the sons thus brought up would be almost sure to seek vengeance for their parent and power for themselves upon coming of age. Thus Kib was taken captive by his own son, begot yet other children in captivity ... To avenge Kib, his son Shule overcame the unfilial Corihor whom, however, he allowed to continue in power in the kingdom! Shule in turn was taken prisoner by Corihor's son Noah, only to be kidnapped from his prison and restored to power by his own sons. And so on: [Then referring to future Jaredite examples Nibley continues] 'Seth . . . did dwell in captivity all his days;... Moron dwelt in captivity all the remainder of his days; and he begat Coriantor. And it came to pass that Coriantor dwelt in captivity all his days. And [he] begat Ether, and he died, having dwelt in captivity all his days.' It seems to us a perfectly ridiculous system, yet it is in accordance with the immemorial Asiatic usage. Thus when Baidu and Kaijatu disputed the throne of Asia, the advisers of the latter when he gained ascendency declared: 'It is right that he [Baidu] should be yoked under service, and that he should be kept in bondage for the whole period of his life, so that his hand can never be stretched out to kill or commit any injury.' Kaijatu failed to heed this advice, to his sorrow, for presently his brother staged a coup and put him in a tower for the rest of his days, but refused to kill him. The expression 'yoked under service' reminds us that in the book of Ether kings are made to 'serve many years in captivity' (Ether 8:3; 10:15; 10:30) ... the khalif, the spiritual ruler of all western Asia, arranged for 'the brothers and other members of the khalif's family' to live lives of ease, luxury, and security: 'Every one of them possesses a palace within that of the khalif, but they are all fettered by chains of iron, and a special officer is appointed over every household to prevent their rising in rebellion against the great king.' … When Izzudin overcame his brother Alluddin in their fight for the Seljuk empire, he locked him up in prison; but when at the end of seven years Izzudin died, his brother was immediately released and put on the throne without a dissenting voice—he had been kept behind bars all that time just as a precaution!  It was the custom of Turkish allow their defeated rivals to sit upon their thrones by day, but lock them up in iron cages for the night!" (Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites, pp. 201-202) 
8 And it came to pass that Shule was angry with his brother; and Shule waxed strong, and became mighty as to the strength of a man; and he was also mighty in judgment. 

Shule develops into a strong and wise man who resents the aggression of his brother and the treatment of his father. It does not appear that Corihor restricted Shule in his activities, but perhaps we are not privy to that information.

9 Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib.
This hill Ephriam should have been somewhere near Moron. It would have been an iron ore deposit, the remnants of which should still be in existence today. Shule smelted the iron ore and manufactured steel swords. He must have been trained somewhat in metallurgy. Such working of iron was well known in Sumer. Apparently, he had already drawn away many followers from Corihor. These he armed with the swords, and returned with his army to Moron (or possibly Nehor. It is not clear which.) and defeated his brother in battle. With this defeat he regained the kingdom, but instead of keeping it for himself, he turned it over to his father Kib. He is not the typical Jaredite,, but an honorable and respectful son.
10 And now because of the thing which Shule had done, his father bestowed upon him the kingdom; therefore he began to reign in the stead of his father.
In gratitude, Kib officially conferred the kingdom upon Shule (perhaps Lib was too old to want to reign). The youngest son again became the king.
11 And it came to pass that he did execute judgment in righteousness; and he did spread his kingdom upon all the face of the land, for the people had become exceedingly numerous.
Shule was a righteous and good king. He expanded his kingdom over"all the face of the land." What does this mean? Most likely it is to be interpreted in a local sense, over all the land of Moron and its environs, not over the whole continent. Shule's people had multiplied and become numerous. I do not think that this includes all the Jaredites who had undoubtedly spread out over much of the landmass and formed other colonies.
12 And it came to pass that Shule also begat many sons and daughters.
13 And Corihor repented of the many evils which he had done; wherefore Shule gave him power in his kingdom.
This act shows the greatness of Shule, and also illustrates the Asian tradition mentioned earlier by Nibley. We don't know how much, or what power was given Corihor.
14 And it came to pass that Corihor had many sons and daughters. And among the sons of Corihor there was one whose name was Noah.
15 And it came to pass that Noah rebelled against Shule, the king, and also his father Corihor, and drew away Cohor his brother, and also all his brethren and many of the people.
Noah, Corihor's son, turns against his father and the king. This was probably a long term rebellion. He recruits his brothers and draws away a large part of the population to form an opposing army. Although it doesn't mention it, we are probably seeing the early signs of secret combinations at work.
16 And he gave battle unto Shule, the king, in which he did obtain the land of their first inheritance; and he became a king over that part of the land. 
"Land of first inheritance" meaning Moron. In his first battle with Shule, Noah defeated him and drove him from the capitol of Moron and became king of that part of the land. The kingdom was divided and Shule moved his dominion and followers to another part of the land (possibly the land of Nehor).
17 And it came to pass that he gave battle again unto Shule, the king; and he took Shule, the king, and carried him away captive into Moron.
In the second encounter, Noah beat Shule and his army, and carried Shule prisoner back to Moron were he was king.
18 And it came to pass as he was about to put him to death, the sons of Shule crept into the house of Noah by night and slew him, and broke down the door of the prison and brought out their father, and placed him upon his throne in his own kingdom.
In this story of intrigue, Noah was about to execute Shule, but his sons planned a secret attack by night and killed Noah in his house, then freed Shule from the prison.  They all escape from Moron, and return to Shule's kingdom in exile.
19 Wherefore, the son of Noah did build up his kingdom in his stead; nevertheless they did not gain power any more over Shule the king, and the people who were under the reign of Shule the king did prosper exceedingly and wax great.
With Noah dead, his son Cohor assumed the throne and reigned in Moron. “Build up his kingdom” infers that over a long period of time, Cohor strengthened his position and fortified his territory. However, he did not gain any further advantage over Shule (although it implies that he tried). On the other hand, Shule's people prospered and became great (or powerful).
20 And the country was divided; and there were two kingdoms, the kingdom of Shule, and the kingdom of Cohor, the son of Noah.
It appears that the kingdom remained divided for some time with Cohor reigning in Moron, and Shule apart, probably in Nehor.
21 And Cohor, the son of Noah, caused that his people should give battle unto Shule, in which Shule did beat them and did slay Cohor.
Once Cohor felt that he was strong enough to challenge Shule he attack him. Cohor was killed in battle.
22 And now Cohor had a son who was called Nimrod; and Nimrod gave up the kingdom of Cohor unto Shule, and he did gain favor in the eyes of Shule; wherefore Shule did bestow great favors upon him, and he did do in the kingdom of Shule according to his desires.
Cohor's son Nimrod is next in command. He still rules in Moron, however, decides to relinquish his title to Shule and unite the kingdom once again. Shule is so impressed with his magnanimity that he gives him free rein in his kingdom.  Note that we have here a namesake of the original Nimrod.  The early history of Sumer was probably familiar to the Jaredites.  
23 And also in the reign of Shule there came prophets among the people, who were sent from the Lord, prophesying that the wickedness and idolatry of the people was bringing a curse upon the land, and they should be destroyed if they did not repent.
Apparently, this series of wars had a negative effect upon the people and they had become hardened and wicked, and their wickedness was cursing the land. This probably affected their crops and agriculture. Prophets were sent by the Lord to call them to repentance, however, the people rejected the prophets and their message and began to persecute them. There is archaeological evidence that the early people of Central America practiced idolatry and they may have reverted back to some of the evil traditions of the Sumerians.
24 And it came to pass that the people did revile against the prophets, and did mock them. And it came to pass that king Shule did execute judgment against all those who did revile against the prophets.
It appears that Shule was more righteous than his people. Whenever he could, he protected the prophets and punished those who persecuted them.
25 And he did execute a law throughout all the land, which gave power unto the prophets that they should go whithersoever they would; and by this cause the people were brought unto repentance.
Shule enacted a “freedom of speech” law which enabled the prophets to preach anywhere among any group of the kings subjects. This eventually brought the people to repentance.
26 And because the people did repent of their iniquities and idolatries the Lord did spare them, and they began to prosper again in the land. And it came to pass that Shule begat sons and daughters in his old age.
Because of their repentance, the Lord spared the people. He removed the curse from the land, and they began to proper once again.  Note that this verse refers to the “idolatries” of the people giving credence to the possibility that these Jaredites were making and worshiping idols.  Shule reached an advanced age and continued to bear children in his old age.
27 And there were no more wars in the days of Shule; and he remembered the great things that the Lord had done for his fathers in bringing them across the great deep into the promised land; wherefore he did execute judgment in righteousness all his days.
Shule and his people were blessed with peace for the rest of his life.  He reigned in righteousness all his life. He remembered the blessings of the Lord in bringing the Jaredites to this land and taught his people to remember as well. 


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