Monday, March 25, 2013

Moriancumer Moves a Mountain

The brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith (Ether 12:30).

YuGong YiShan
This tantalizing reference in the book of Ether has left us wondering for years. How, where and when did this singular event occur? Christ explained that if a man were to have a mustard-grain-size faith, he could, in fact, move a mountain (Matt. 17:20), but there are only two such cases recorded in the holy record (the second was the prophet Enoch – Moses 7:13-14).
I have earlier suggested that the Jaredites crossed the Asian steppes and passed through early China, to reach the Pacific coast. I would risk a guess that this mountain-moving event occurred in their crossing of the Asian land mass. If so, shouldn't we find some record or hint of this miracle in the historical record? Wouldn't the Chinese histories give us some clues of the Jaredite presence? Why don't we find more direct references in the Chinese histories of the passage of the Jaredites? The answer – because the Chinese tampered much with the ancient chronicles.
One of the difficulties with Chinese history has been the periodic revisions that have occurred over the years. Apparently, egotistical monarchs, in their quest to enhance their name and fame, have decided that history should begin with their reign. They ordered the destruction of all previous records that might detract from their illustrious lives. This would give the impression that history began with them. (Incidentally, this is comparable to the Mesoamerican conquerors who upon gaining power, defaced and destroyed the monuments of their predecessors. However, in this case, it is a little more difficult to destroy monuments carved in stone.)
One writer, commenting on this problem with the Chinese records states:
“In China, history has been defined by the successive erasures and rewritings of the past. These alterations of history have occurred when the country has shifted from one highly antithetical, contradictory era to another—from dynasty to dynasty, from imperial rule to communism, from communism to the market economy. Each new era attempts to redefine its relationship to tradition, with the hope of shaping an ideal present legitimized and supported by an idealized and carefully formed past. For the Imperial dynasties, the erasure of the past was a way to enforce the continuation of tradition. Emperors would commission their own official histories, rewriting the history of the past then writing their own history, to reinforce the inevitability of their place in the lineage of their predecessors 
Apparently, the early histories of China were destroyed and revised a number of time over the centuries. Later monarchs, concerned with the true history, would commission the rewriting and recovery of the original documents. Although this was a noble effort, it would often result in much different documents than the originals
Because of this tampering with history, we can conclude that even the finding of shadows of early events in the legends of the Chinese would lend credence to the actual Jaredite history. I have come across one such “shadow” in an early Taoist legend of a man who moved a mountain. The legend is called “Old Man Moves a Mountain”. It is reproduced in full below.
Map showing mountains,
Bo Sea and Laoshan
Taihang and Wangwu are two mountains with an area of seven hundred li [a Chinese unit of length] square and rise to a great height of thousands of ren [a unit of elevation]. They were originally situated south of Jizhou and north of Heyang [about 150 miles south of Beijing]. 
North of the mountains lived an old man called Yugong (literally 'foolish old man') who was nearly ninety years old. Since his home faced the two mountains, he was troubled by the fact that they blocked the way of the inhabitants who had to take a roundabout route whenever they went out. He gathered his family together to discuss the matter. 
"Let us do everything in our power to flatten these forbidding mountains so that there is a direct route to the south of Yuzhou reaching the southern bank of the Han River. What do you say?" Everyone applauded his suggestion. 
His wife voiced her doubts. "You are not strong enough even to remove a small hillock like Kuifu. How can you tackle TaTxmg and Wangwu? And where would you dump the earth and rocks?" 
"We can dump it into the edge of the Bo Sea and north of Yintu," said everyone. 
Therefore Yugong took with him three sons and grandsons who could carry a load on their shoulders. They broke up rocks and dug up mounds of earth which were transported to the edge of the Bo Sea in baskets. His neighbour, a widow by the name of Jingcheng, had a posthumous son who was just at the age of discarding his silk teeth. This vivacious boy jumped at the chance of giving them a hand. From winter through summer the workers only returned home once. 
An old man called Zhisou (literally 'wise old man') who lived in Hequ, near a bend of the Yellow River, was amused and dissuaded Yugong. 
"How can you be so foolish? With your advanced years and the little strength that you have left, you cannot even destroy a blade of grass on the mountain, not to speak of its earth and stone." 
Yugong from north of the mountains heaved a long sigh. "You are so obstinate that you do not use your reason. Even the widow and her little son do better than you. Though I die, my son lives on. My son produces a grandson and in turn the grandson has a son of his own. Sons follow sons and grandsons follow sons. My sons and grandsons go on and on without end but the mountains will not grow in size. Then why worry about not being able to flatten them?" Zhisou of Hequ was bereft of speech. 
The god of the mountains who held a snake in his hand heard about this and was afraid that Yugong would not stop digging at the mountains. He reported the matter to the king of the gods who was moved by Yugong's sincerity. The king commanded the two sons of Kua'eshi, a god with great strength, to carry away the two mountains on their backs: one was put east of Shuozhou and the other south of Yongzhou. From that time onwards no mountain stood between the south of Jizhou and the southern bank of the Han River

Could this ancient legend reflect the actual miracle mentioned in the book of Ether? It is worth considering.


  1. This is an intriguing find you've made; the only part I'm not understanding is chronology. I thought the Jaredites arrived in the Promised Land in chapter 6 of Ether in the Book of Mormon, Mount Zerin isn't mentioned until chatper 12. I suppose chapter 12 could likely be Mormon referencing past deeds, deeds performed before the barges were driven to the Promised Land- but is it likely that Jared was 90 years old before the oceanic voyage?

    I do think building on Nibley's theory of the Jaredites following the reverse route of the ancient Silk Road is a good place to start though.

    1. You are correct that the reference in Ch. 12 is referring back to an earlier event. As to Jared's age, it was common for men at that time period to live to be over 200 years old. See Genesis 11.