“The Brother of Jared Highly Favored of the Lord”

Monte S. Nyman

The designation of this “large and mighty man” as the brother of Jared (v. 34) instead of calling him by his own name may have been because Jared was the record keeper and patriarch of the family. The name of the man was reportedly given to the Prophet Joseph Smith by revelation.

While residing in Kirtland Elder Reynolds Cahoon had a son born to him. One day when President Joseph Smith was passing his door he called the Prophet in and asked him to bless and name the baby. Joseph did so and gave the boy the name of Mahonri Moriancumer. When he had finished the blessing he laid the child on the bed, and turning to Elder Cahoon he said, the name I have given your son is the name of the brother of Jared; the Lord has just shown [or revealed] it to me.

Other reasons for not calling the brother of Jared by name that have been suggested include: (1) The brother of Jared was modest and did not mention his own name. The Apostle John did not mention his own name when he wrote the Gospel of John; (2) Moroni may have omitted the name as he abridged because of the difficulty of writing it in the reformed Egyptian.

How was the request of the brother of Jared to not confound the language (v. 36) fulfilled? The probable way was that the Lord did not change the language of the Jaredites as he did the other surrounding peoples. According to the Bible, prior to the building of the tower of Babel: “The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech” (Genesis 11:1). The Lord said he would “confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So I the Lord, will scatter them abroad from thence, upon all the face of the land, and unto every quarter of the earth. And they were confounded” (Genesis 11:5–6). Therefore, the language of Adam continued with the Jaredites while the other languages were confounded. President Joseph Fielding Smith has written: “They carried with them the speech of their fathers, the Adamic language, which was powerful in its written form.” He then quoted Ether 12:24, which states that Ether’s words were “overpowering of man to read them.” How were the other languages changed? Did all of the people suddenly begin to speak other languages, or were the different languages developed? Dr. Hugh Nibley has suggested:

In Ether’s account, the confounding of people is not to be separated from the confounding of their languages; they are, and have always been, one and the same process: That “confound” as used in the book of Ether is meant to have its true and proper meaning of “to pour together” “to mix up together,” is clear from the prophecy in Ether 13:8, that “the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; … and they shall no more be confounded,” the word here meaning mixed up with other people, culturally, linguistically, or otherwise.

The Jaredites were taken away, but were not confounded or mixed with the others who were scattered (Ether 1:35–37). In their scattered condition, the languages of the other peoples were developed as their accents and slang were infused with the original language.

Book of Mormon Commentary: I Mormon Make a Record