Most people think that Jaredite history covers a period of around 2,000 years from the Tower of Babel to Coriantumr’s death. This post is part of my challenge to that paradigm. I think it was much longer.
In a previous post, I introduced my theory that the Jaredites’ “great tower” was Gobekli Tepe, around 10,000 years ago (8,000 BC). I had 37 points to support that, and you can read it all here. My point #2 therein had to do with the unreliability of the king list provided in Moroni’s abridgment of Ether’s record. I’ve seen people use that list to make assumptions and calculations to support the popular view that the Jaredite’s great tower was around 2300 BC.
Today I’ll expound upon the point I made in my original post to show that we really can’t rely too much on the king list to estimate dates for the Jaredites; and I endeavor to show that the king list, with all its sketchiness, can support an 8,000-BC brother of Jared instead.
Son or descendant?
The king list is given quickly in Ether 1, then again in Ether 6-11, spread out through the Jaredite story. We read that some of the kings are “the son of” the preceding king, some were “begat” by the previous king, and some are “a descendant of” the last king in the list. Here is a table I’ve made summarizing the relationships in the king list. The times the word descendant is used are indicated in bold. Take a look, note the inconsistencies, and then I’ll comment on it below.
|Name||Ether 1||Ether 6-11||of/by|
|Orihah||son (1:32)||son (6:14)||Jared|
|Kib||son (1:32)||begat (7:3)||Orihah|
|Shule||son (1:31)||begat (7:7)||Kib|
|Omer||son (1:30)||begat (8:1)||Shule|
|Possible time gap? War and “destruction of nearly all the people of the kingdom” except 30 souls (9:12)|
|Emer||son (1:29)||begat (9:14)||Omer|
|cattle, oxen, cows, sheep, swine, goats, horses, asses, elephants, cureloms, cumoms mentioned (9:18-19)|
|Coriantum 1||son (1:28)||begat (9:21)||Emer|
|Com 1||son (1:27)||begat (9:25)||Coriantum 1|
|Heth 1||son (1:26)||begat (9:25)||Com 1|
|great dearth, no rain, people destroyed exceedingly fast, poisonous serpents… flocks flee south, many beasts die… famine kills Heth and his descendants… broken people (9:30-34, 10:1)|
|Shez||son (1:25)||descendant (10:1)||Heth 1|
|Riplakish||son (1:24)||begat (10:4)||Shez|
|Riplakish’s descendants driven out of the land… “the space of many years” passes (10:8)|
|Morianton||Descendant (1:23)||Descendant (10:9)||Riplakish|
|Kim||son (1:22)||begat (10:13)||Morianton|
|Levi||son (1:21)||begat (10:14)||Kim|
|Corom||son (1:20)||begat (10:16)||Levi|
|Kish||son (1:19)||successor (10:17)||Corom|
|Lib||son (1:18)||successor (10:18)||Kish|
|poisonous serpents destroyed (10:19)|
|Hearthom||son (1:17)||begat (10:29)||Lib|
|Heth 2||son (1:16)||begat (10:31)||Hearthom|
|Aaron||descendant (1:16)||begat (10:31)||Heth 2|
|Amnigaddah||son (1:15)||begat 10:31||Aaron|
|Coriantum 2||son (1:14)||begat (10:31)||Amnigaddah|
|Com 2||son (1:13)||begat (10:31)||Coriantum 2|
|Shiblon||son (1:12)||begat (11:4)||Com 2|
|Seth||son (1:11)||successor? (11:9)||Shiblon|
|Ahah||son (1:10)||son (11:10)||Seth|
|Ethem||son (1:9)||descendant (11:11)||Ahah|
|Moron||son (1:8)||begat (11:14)||Ethem|
|Coriantor||son (1:7)||begat (11:18)||Moron|
|Ether||descendant (1:6)||begat (11:23)||Coriantor|
Ether 1 identifies 3 descendant relationships: Morianton as a descendant of Riplakish, Aaron as a descendant of Heth 2, and Ether as a descendant of Coriantor. The rest of the 30 generations in Ether 1 are father-son relationships.
Ether 6-11 identifies Shez as a descendant of Heth 1, Morianton as a descendant of Riplakish, and Ethem as a descendant of Ahah. The rest of the 30 generations in Ether 6-11 are begat relationships.
As you can see, The ONLY descendant relationship that’s consistent in both places is Morianton to Riplakish. The other 4 are clearly contradictory:
- Heth 1 is the father of Shez in Ether 1, but the ancestor of Shez in Ether 6-11.
- Heth 2 is an ancestor of Aaron in Ether 1, but begat Aaron in Ether 6-11.
- Ahah is the father of Ethem in Ether 1, but the ancestor of Ethem in Ether 6-11.
- And Coriantor is the ancestor of Ether in chapter 1, but begat Ether in chapter 11.
If the king list contradicts itself, what are we supposed to believe? If we’ve been assuming that “begat” always means “sired”, and “son of” means “was sired by”, then our calculation of Jaredite history spanning 2,000 years might be completely wrong. Apparently, “begat” can skip generations. I don’t know a lot about the word, but would it be acceptable to say that my great grandfather begat me? According to the Jaredite king list, I think so.
There a couple other minor things worth mentioning. From the table, you see that
- Kish is the son of Corom in Ether 1, but Ether 6-12 just says Kish reigns in Corom’s stead.
- Lib is the son of Kish in Ether 1, but Ether 6-11 just days Lib reigns in Kish’s stead.
- And Seth is Shiblon’s son in Ether 1, but no relationship or reign info is given in Ether 6-11.
Were these men actually sons of the men who reigned before them, or were they descendants? Maybe they weren’t even related to them? Are there bigger time gaps between them than we usually think? These are subtle, and although we typically assume father-to-son transitions here, it may be a clue that we’re looking at something much more complex than meets the eye.
Examples from other scriptures
“Son of” meaning something other than “sired by” actually has a precedent in scripture, including the Book of Mormon. Joseph and his (adopted) son Jesus were both called sons of David, despite neither of them having a father by that name. David was their ancestor from almost 1,000 years earlier. (Matt. 1:1, 1:20)
Lehi called his grandchildren his sons and daughters, although he did not personally sire any of them. They were his descendants, but not his actual sons and daughters in the modern sense. (2 Nephi 4:3-9)
Mormon identified himself as “a pure descendant of Lehi”—an ancestor who had died nearly 1,000 years prior to Mormon’s birth (3 Nephi 5:20). And all throughout the Nephite record, their founding patriarch is referred to as “father Lehi” by his descendants, several hundred years later (Alma 36:22). Clearly the term descendant can stretch back very far in the Book of Mormon–even a millennium. So, when Moroni writes that Ether is the descendant of Coriantor, it could be skipping a very large chunk of time indeed.
The writer MormonBox pointed out in one of their articles that ancient king lists were often inaccurate, exaggerated, and embellished, and were the rulers’ attempts “to prove political legitimacy based on genealogy”. So while Ether says, for example, that Ahah was the son of Seth, the reality might be that many years later, Ahah wished to prove his right to the throne by claiming descent from Seth—declaring himself as “the son of” and rightful heir of Seth. Claiming an important historical figure as your father for appeal to authority happens a few other times in the Book of Mormon, so it’s not completely out of the ordinary (see 2 Nephi 3:4, Mosiah 7:13, Alma 10:2, Alma 17:21, 54;23, Helaman 1:15).
Some have suggested that the man who wrote the book of Enos wasn’t the literal son of Jacob, Nephi’s brother, but instead a descendant of Jacob. Likewise, some of the great ages of men who kept the Nephite records, such as Ammaron–whose supposed father, Amos, must’ve died some 126 years before Ammaron passed on the plates–might be other clues that “son” or “begat” in the Book of Mormon are more complicated than we typically think.
So while considering the king list in Ether, remember that clear discrepancies exist. Not all those listed as sons may actually be literal sons, and some begats might indicate an ancestral relationship, not a “sired by” one. That means when the book of Ether says that Coriantum begat Com, it might actually mean that Coriantum was Com’s great-great-great grandfather. And when it says “son”, the reality potentially could be “5th great grandson”, or something like that. This opens up the possibility that multiple generations and hundreds if not thousands of years are missing from this list.
Because there are so many discrepancies in the Jaredite king list, we really can’t assume that “son” and “begat” indicate solely one generation–from father to son. I think we need to be aware that there are probably many more generations shelved away in Ether than the given 30.
My theory is that the Jaredite time frame spanned from around 8,000 BC to around 600 BC—some 7,400 years. It is my opinion that the Jaredite king list supports this hypothesis, rather than refutes it.
You can see all my Gobekli-Jaredite Theory material here.
Sources and Notes
- If each of the 5 distinct utilizations of descendant in Ether span 1,000 years (using Mormon’s usage of descent from Lehi being ~1,000 years), then we’re looking at 5,000 years just right there. Of course, some of those periods could be less than 1,000 years, and some could be more than 1,000 years; but the idea is that we can’t know for sure how long they were. Say there is 5,000 years hiding among those descendants in Ether. If Jared left the great tower around 8,000 BC, and Coriantumr died around 600 BC, then that’s 7,400 years we need to account for. The 5,000 “descendant” years leave only 2,400 years for the other 25 generations mentioned in Ether. That makes a mere 96 years average per father-to-son generation, which isn’t that hard to believe when so many of them were begatting kids “in [their] old age” (see Ether 7:3 and many more).
- Enos problem (that Enos might have been the grandson of Jacob, not his son): https://bookofmormonnotes.wordpress.com/2011/09/24/book-of-mormon-jacob-his-son-enos-and-179-years-by-grego/; https://askgramps.org/confused-age-enos-missing-time/; https://www.reddit.com/r/latterdaysaints/comments/9t5iwm/prolonged_life_in_the_bom/
- Enos problem and good reasoning for why BC Semitic people had no use for the word “grandfather” or anything like that. It was always just “father”: http://adventures-in-mormonism.com/2009/03/19/the-enos-problem-in-the-book-of-mormon/
- Ammaron problem: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Dictionary_of_the_Book_of_Mormon/Ammaron
- Possible time gap between Omer and Emer suggested here: http://mormonuniversalism.com/2672/book-of-mormon-chronology-timeline-of-jaredites/
- Cover photo: “Consequences of Two Kings by Brian C. Hailes”, found here: https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/how-could-shiz-move-and-breathe-after-being-beheaded . It’s of Coriantumr, the last Jaredite king, contemporary with Ether, the last one in our king list.
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