Hey guys, welcome back. So to give a little context to what we’re going to talk about today, remember that after the story of Noah’s ark and the flood, Noah’s descendants get into a little mischief when they attempt to build a tower tall enough to get to heaven. As a consequence of their wickedness, their languages get all scrambled around, and it’s at this point that we meet a group of people later known as the Jaredites, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, led by a man known as “the brother of Jared.”
God saves the Jaredites from the chaos and commands them to build barges they’d use to cross the ocean, where God had a promised land waiting for them. The brother of Jared wrote that the barges “were tight like unto the ark of Noah.”
But before they set out on their grand adventure, they ran into a problem. The brother of Jared “cried unto the Lord, saying”… ”behold, O Lord, in [the barges] there is no light; whither shall we steer?”…“wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?” God’s response is, “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?”
This whole story of the brother of Jared and his solution to this problem has been mocked by critics of our faith for years. In the 90s one critic wrote simply, “The words ‘patently ridiculous’ seem too kind.” But further study has shown that what the brother of Jared did next might not be so “patently ridiculous” after all. And that’s what we’re going to talk about in this video.
So let’s cut right to it. What does the brother of Jared do? He goes up a mountain and “did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear…” He takes them to the top of the mountain and cries once again to the Lord and says, “…touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.”
And that’s exactly what happens. Shining stones. That’s what we’re dealing with here. It seems totally random—a product of the brother of Jared’s imagination, or worse—a product of Joseph Smith’s imagination.
Now, you’ll remember that the brother of Jared compared his barges in at least one way to Noah’s ark. So let’s go back and read a bit more about Noah’s ark. Genesis 6:16 contains instructions from the Lord to Noah: “A window shalt thou make to the ark…”
The word “window” here is translated from the Hebrew word “tzohar.” In Genesis 8:6 we get another window reference: “And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made.” Curiously, this window is translated from the word “challown,” instead of “tzohar.”
If you look up challown in Strong’s Concordance of the Bible, you find 1 meaning: It’s a window. But if you look up tzohar, you get multiple meanings. One definition is simply “a light,” stemming from tzahar, which can mean, “to glisten.”
In the Midrash Rabbah, which is essentially ancient Jewish commentary on the first 5 books of our Old Testament, one Rabbi explained tzohar to be “a precious stone.” … “During the whole [time] that Noah was in the Ark he did not require the light of the sun by day or the light of the moon by night, but he had a polished gem which he hung up: when it was dim he knew that it was day, and when it shone he knew that it was night.”
In the Babylonian Talmud in reference to tzohar another Rabbi commented, “The Holy One, blessed be He, instructed Noah, ‘Set therein precious stones and jewels, so that they may give thee light, bright as the noon.’”
One book about ancient Jewish folk tradition mentions that “In the case of the Tzohar, it is said that the glowing jewel was handed down by Adam and Eve to their son Seth, and that it subsequently reached Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and, of course, Noah. So when God told Noah, Put the Tzohar in the ark, Noah knew exactly what He meant, and thus Noah hung the Tzohar from a beam in the ark, where it illuminated the ark…”
Again, we know from Ether 6 that the brother of Jared is already comparing his barges to Noah’s ark. So when you ask yourself where he gets this radical idea to use illuminated stones as a light source, he very well may still be following the pattern set by Noah. In that context, it makes perfect sense.
Of course, you’re free to believe as you see fit. I just thought this was some fun, interesting stuff that I thought I’d pass along. We’re done here! Check out the stuff in the description for more info on this topic, and have a great day.
- From Book of Mormon Central: https://bit.ly/2XZMVuz
- “Glowing Stones in Ancient and Medieval Lore,” by John Tvedtnes: https://bit.ly/2XB97Mz
- “When Is A Window Not A Window?” (Take it for what it’s worth): https://bit.ly/3gPqhxD
- Babylonian Talmud source: https://bit.ly/30abVC6
- Midrash Rabbah source: https://bit.ly/307Q12r
- Some additional information concerning Jewish tradition on this topic: https://bit.ly/3gSr691