Ether speaks of a New Jerusalem to be built in America by the seed of Joseph—He prophesies, is cast out, writes the Jaredite history, and foretells the destruction of the Jaredites—War rages over all the land.
1 AND now I, Moroni, proceed to finish my record concerning the destruction of the people of whom I have been writing.
2 For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof;
Ether had revealed the complete history of the world from the beginning of time, as well as the full doctrine of the Father, nevertheless, the people rejected all his teachings. This has been a choice land ever since it rose up from the waters. This probably refers to the time of the flood, although it could refer to the time of creation. We are not told why it is a choice land. Perhaps the Lord simply designated it as choice, but it may refer to some intrinsic characteristic of the land as well. It is choice above all the other landmasses of the world. This may refer to the specific area inhabited by the Nephites and Jaredites, but it probably refers to the entire continent. Because it is a choice land, those who are privileged to live on it are expected to serve God and obey his commandments.
3 And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.The building and establishment of a holy city, called the New Jerusalem, is an important prophecy. Among other things, we are told that it will be built prior to the second coming of Christ; that it will be built in Jackson County, Missouri, and that the translated City of Enoch will come from heaven and be united with with it.
From Bruce R. McConkie's Mormon Doctrine we read:
In addition to the rebuilding of the Jerusalem of old, the latter-days are to see the initial building of a New Jerusalem on the American continent, a city which like its ancient counterpart will be a holy city, a Zion, a city of God. (3 Ne. 20:22.) ... Missouri, is the spot designated by revelation for its construction. (D. & C. 28; 42:8-9, 30-42; 45:66-67; 52:2, 42-43; 57:1-5; 58:7, 44-58; 84:2-5.) It shall be built when the Lord directs. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 66-79; D. & C. 124:49-54.)
This New Jerusalem on the American continent will have a dual origin. It will be built by the saints on earth and it will also come down from heaven, and the cities so originating will be united into one holy city ...
Enoch saw the latter-day restoration of the gospel and the subsequent building of the New Jerusalem. "Righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare," the Lord told him, "an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other." (Moses 7:60-63.) Thus it is that the New Jerusalem shall be built by the saints and shall also come down from heaven.
Events to transpire after the millennial era and before the earth becomes a celestial sphere have not been revealed. We do have an account, however, of "the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God" a second time, that is, after the earth has become a celestial planet. John refers to this celestial city in Revelation 3:12 and then gives a somewhat detailed description of it in the 21st chapter of the same book.
Having in mind these glorious truths relative to the millennial New Jerusalem and the celestial city of the same name, knowing that Enoch's Zion had been taken to heaven and would return again, the ancient prophets "looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God," confessing the while "that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." And God "hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11:9-16), that is, he has prepared it for those who gain salvation, for such "come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." (Heb. 12:22.)
4 Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.
Ether likely had an all inclusive vision of the history of the world similar to that of Moses or Moriancumer. But Moroni only mentions that portion referring to the mission of the Savior and the New Jerusalem. In the next verse we are told that he saw the history of Jerusalem (the old city) and how it should be restored after it was destroyed following the crucifixion of Christ. It would be a holy city and the headquarters of the restored House of Israel. It is differentiated from the New Jerusalem which will be built in the Americas.
5 And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come—after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel.
6 And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.
The New Jerusalem will be the capitol of the Seed of Joseph. There was an earlier symbolic example of this in the rescue of Israel and his family from the famine in Canaan. Joseph brought them to Egypt and saved them temporally. In a similar fashion the Lord will gather the seed of Joseph to the New Jerusalem.
7 For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not.
8 Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away.
Christ has promised the seed of Joseph that this land would be their eternal inheritance. The seed of Joseph will build the new Jerusalem on this land, assisted by the gentiles. "If they [the gentiles] will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance; And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem (3 Ne. 21:22-23)."
Israel will no longer be in a state of apostasy or walk in a state of spiritual darkness. They will no longer be oppressed, scattered or deprived of their rights.
9 And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new.
This prophecy is millennial in timeframe. The earth will be renewed and returned to its paradisaical glory. All the telestial aspects of the old world will disappear and become elevated to a new Terrestrial state.
10 And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel.
Those who dwell in the New Jerusalem will be a blessed people. Only the worthy righteous will be allowed to enter or live there. This is probably a millennial prophecy. Those who live there will have been purified through the gift of the atonement. Those believing gentiles will be numbered among, or adopted into, the House of Joseph.
"In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain (Isa. 4:2-6)."
11 And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham.
The Old Jerusalem will also be rebuilt and become a holy city. These will be the two capitols of the millennial world. "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isa. 2:3-4)." These are they who will be gathered from all parts of the earth where they have been scattered. They will be the blessed participants in the fulfilling of the Abrahamic covenant.
12 And when these things come, bringeth to pass the scripture which saith, there are they who were first, who shall be last; and there are they who were last, who shall be first.
In the latter days the gentiles received the restored gospel first, and the House of Israel later. At the end of time, the House of Israel shall be the favored ones and the gentiles secondary.
13 And I was about to write more, but I am forbidden; but great and marvelous were the prophecies of Ether; but they esteemed him as naught, and cast him out; and he hid himself in the cavity of a rock by day, and by night he went forth viewing the things which should come upon the people.
The record of Ether contained much more than Moroni has included here. Moroni is impressed with the writings of Ether. He had intended to write more, but was forbidden by the Lord. In Moroni's view, Ether's prophecies were great and wonderful. Unfortunately, in spite of their great spiritual value, Ether's contemporaries rejected them and probably thought he was crazy. He was threatened and probably had to escape for his life. He hid in a cave by day, recording the events on his gold plates. He went out at night to observe the results of their wickedness and wars.
14 And as he dwelt in the cavity of a rock he made the remainder of this record, viewing the destructions which came upon the people, by night.
15 And it came to pass that in that same year in which he was cast out from among the people there began to be a great war among the people, for there were many who rose up, who were mighty men, and sought to destroy Coriantumr by their secret plans of wickedness, of which hath been spoken.
In the same year in which Ether was exiled from Jaredite society, the last great war commenced. The secret societies were organized and active among the Jaredites at this time. A number of prominent contenders, from various secret societies, came forward to challenge Coriantumr and vie for the throne, each supported in their evil plans by their particular society.
16 And now Coriantumr, having studied, himself, in all the arts of war and all the cunning of the world, wherefore he gave battle unto them who sought to destroy him.
Coriantumr was himself a wicked man and he was probably the leader of his own secret society. He was familiar with all the devices and intrigues employed by these groups. Therefore he fought back using their own tactics.
17 But he repented not, neither his fair sons nor daughters; neither the fair sons and daughters of Cohor; neither the fair sons and daughters of Corihor; and in fine, there were none of the fair sons and daughters upon the face of the whole earth who repented of their sins.
In spite of the gradual fulfillment of Ether's prophecies, and the adversities of their civil conflicts, none of them repented of their wickedness. Cohor and Corihor may have been some of the prominent men who were trying to overthrow Coriantumr. It appears that none of the Jaredite people were willing to repent.
18 Wherefore, it came to pass that in the first year that Ether dwelt in the cavity of a rock, there were many people who were slain by the sword of those secret combinations, fighting against Coriantumr that they might obtain the kingdom.
During the first year of Ether's exile, many of those members of the secret combinations who were fighting against Coriantumr died in battle. There were multiple groups engaged in these struggles. Their objective was to overthrown Coriantumr.
19 And it came to pass that the sons of Coriantumr fought much and bled much.
The sons of Coriantumr were members of his society and heavily involved in the civil conflict. It doesn't mention any of them dying from their wounds.
20 And in the second year the word of the Lord came to Ether, that he should go and prophesy unto Coriantumr that, if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people—
Ether is commanded to go again and warn Coriantumr. It is interesting to contemplate what Ether's feelings must have been. He was probably still technically a slave of the king. I don't imagine that it was easy for him to do it, but he obeyed, entered the king's presence at the risk of his life, and warned him once more. Coriantumr is promised that if he and his family would repent, he could save the people from the horrors of war, and the kingdom would securely be his.
21 Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr.
On the other hand, if they did not repent and abandon their wickedness, they would be destroyed. Note that it only mentions Coriantumr's household (extended family and relatives) being completely destroyed. He would be the only survivor of his subjects, and would live to see another people come to possess the land, and that he would be buried by this new people. The people mentioned here were apparently the Mulekites, or the people of Zarahemla (see Omni 21).
22 And it came to pass that Coriantumr repented not, neither his household, neither the people; and the wars ceased not; and they sought to kill Ether, but he fled from before them and hid again in the cavity of the rock.
None of them believed Ether, they didn't repent, and as might have been expected, they tried to kill him. Somehow he escapes and returns to his cave.
23 And it came to pass that there arose up Shared, and he also gave battle unto Coriantumr; and he did beat him, insomuch that in the third year he did bring him into captivity.
A new challenger arises (they are sprouting up like weeds), undoubtedly supported by his oath bound friends, and his secret society. In the third year of the civil war, Shared beats Coriantumr and his army in battle, and Coriantumr is captured. As is customary, he is kept alive.
24 And the sons of Coriantumr, in the fourth year, did beat Shared, and did obtain the kingdom again unto their father.
The war rages on, and a year later Coriantumr's sons attack Shared and his forces and liberate their father, and he is re-established as king.
25 Now there began to be a war upon all the face of the land, every man with his band fighting for that which he desired.
From this point on, there begins to be universal war--murder, theft and rapine occurred in all parts of the land of Moron. In this state of anarchy, roving bands of outlaws pillaged the villages and hamlets, each trying in their own way to gain power and plunder from whoever, or however they can.
26 And there were robbers, and in fine, all manner of wickedness upon all the face of the land.
Robbers are sometimes distinguished from the general population, but generally refer to the organized bands of the secret societies.
27 And it came to pass that Coriantumr was exceedingly angry with Shared, and he went against him with his armies to battle; and they did meet in great anger, and they did meet in the valley of Gilgal; and the battle became exceedingly sore.
Even though Shared's army had been beaten, and Coriantumr liberated, Shared and his army were still present and actively challenging Coriantumr's power. Coriantumr, in a rage (he may have been mistreated and humiliated while a prisoner of Shared), goes against Shared and his army and a fierce battle is waged in the valley of Gilgal.
28 And it came to pass that Shared fought against him for the space of three days. And it came to pass that Coriantumr beat him, and did pursue him until he came to the plains of Heshlon.
It was often the case in such contests that the leaders confronted each other in face to face combat. After a three day battle, Coriantumr beat Shared, who retreated to the plains of Heshlon. Heshlon was probably near, or adjacent to, the valley of Gilgal.
29 And it came to pass that Shared gave him battle again upon the plains; and behold, he did beat Coriantumr, and drove him back again to the valley of Gilgal.
Coriantumr followed Shared and his army to the plains of Heslon and the battle is renewed. This time Shared beat Coriantumr, and he and his army are driven back to the valley of Gilgal.
30 And Coriantumr gave Shared battle again in the valley of Gilgal, in which he beat Shared and slew him.
These armies seem fairly evenly matched and the victories alternated back and forth. In this last battle, however, Shared is killed by Coriantumr.
31 And Shared wounded Coriantumr in his thigh, that he did not go to battle again for the space of two years, in which time all the people upon the face of the land were shedding blood, and there was none to restrain them.
But before Shared is finally dispatched, he severely wounds Coriantumr in the leg. Coriantumr is incapacitated for two years because of this wound. He probably retired to Moron with his army. During this interval, with no major force to restrain them, roving robber bands terrorized the population, and the kingdom is in a state of complete anarchy.