Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Day 12: Ether 8-12 pgs 500-510: "Horses and Elephants and Cureloms, OH MY!"
I wondered if they were a political party or corrupt people within political parties or dictators or just the total forces of evil or what? As I thought of these things I remembered we are to judge a tree by its fruits. The fruits of the secret combinations are murder and mayhem to get power and over though righteous governance. With that thought I considered past political rebellions that claimed to be "of the people, by the people and for the people" but turned out to be excuses to over throw proper governance, create poverty and chaos among the masses and kill or imprison all rivals. I'm not naming countries, but I imagine you can guess who I'm thinking of.
I wondered about how this applies to modern America. We have mafias, drug cartels and street gangs all trying to rule by violence. They would destroy the rule of law so they could freely traffic in drugs, prostitution and power mongering. That sounds like an apple that didn't fall far from the secret combinations tree. So, I guess I can combine the two ideas of murderous "politicians" and organized criminals who form groups of murder and mayhem for profit and power.
The next idea that came as I was reading happened as I read Ether 9:  And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.***
Modern history tells us that there were no horses on the American continent till after the Spanish brought them. Modern science tells us that there never were elephants on the American continent and what the heck are curelons and cumoms? Why didn't Joseph Smith translate the names of those animals into English? And the Jaredites came by covered "barges" as long as a tree in a journey that took almost a year. Are we to believe they imported horses and elephants with them? The B of M does mention they have animals, but horses and elephants on little barges are a large leap of faith. I thought about this for a few minutes, and then proceeded on with my reading.
Did Joseph Smith have to translate words from an ancient language to modern English or did he have ideas put into his mind through the Holy Spirit and then he had to "relate" them into organized sentences of his own construct. I have the feeling that he did both at different times. From what I understand, the lost 116 pages were translated via the urim and thummim and were a word for word translation. The U & T was taken away after the pages were lost and thereafter to "translate" the rest, Smith used a seer stone which put compete ideas or images in his mind which he had to put into a readable format. Is this a glitch that God put in to test us? Did Smith miss-translate the names of the animals?
I believe I've found the answer further on in today's reading. In Ether 12, my favorite chapter of scripture in all the standard works, Moroni laments the weakness of his writing. 23: … Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them;
 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.
 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words. ***
The portion about the animal confusion is Joseph Smith's version of Moroni's abridgment of the writings of the Br. of Jared. It's a he said, she said, he said sort of situation that reminds me of the "telephone" party game we played as kids. No wonder there's confusion big enough to slip a horse and an elephant through. But, you know what? It is just a moot point. This confusion doesn't involve doctrine. It would be foolish for me or any one else to condemn the B of M as false or fictional. If we are to judge the tree by its fruits, this is a tiny blemish on an otherwise beautiful apple. I'm not going to throw away a whole apple over a tiny imperfection and I'm not going to discard the B of M, the LDS Church or the Gospel of Jesus Christ for such a small weakness.
How does the Lord reply to Moroni?
Ether 12: …Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;
Moroni closes this chapter with this invitation: Ether 12:  And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.***
Amen, Brother Moroni. The prophets and apostles are imperfect. The scriptures are imperfect. This blog is HIGHLY IMPERFECT, but I add my testimony that Christ is Perfect and this Book of Mormon is the Most Perfect way to learn of him.