The brother of Jared went forth to a mountain "which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height" (Ether 3:1). According to Hugh Nibley, the word Shelem means "high, safe, secure." The word shalom is derived from that. Remember, shalom means you're safe. Shalom is a ladder, a high place." If you're going to a high place, it is a safe place, a secure place, a shelem. The brother of Jared went to the highest mountain around. Moses did the same thing. Lehi and Nephi did the same thing. So again this is a pattern. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, p. 271]


According to Catherine Thomas, the word shelem has three main Hebrew consonants forming a root word that spans a wide spectrum of meanings: peace, tranquility, contentment, safety, completeness, being sound, finished, full, or perfect. Shelem (and shalom) signify peace with God, especially in the covenant relationship. It also connotes submission to God, which we see in the Arabic words muslim and islam. In particular, shelem has reference to the peace offering of the law of sacrifice, which corresponds to the seeking of fellowship with God, and thereby has a relationship to the meanings of the at-one-ment; that is, shelem, fellowship, sealing, and at-one-ment have an obvious relationship. When the brother of Jared carried the stones in his hands to the top of the mount, whether or not a temple peace offering is implied, he sought a closer fellowship or at-one-ment with the Lord. Therefore, the mount is called shelem because of its exceeding height (see Ether 3:1), not because shelem means great height, but rather that it suggests a place that is suitably high for temple activity. [M. Catherine Thomas, "The Brother of Jared at the Veil," in Temples of the Ancient World, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 390-391]


According to Hugh Nibley, Jaredite proper names have a peculiar ring of their own. Their most characteristic feature is the ending in "m". This is called mimation and is actually found among the most ancient languages of the Near East, where it was followed by the later nunation, or ending in "n," the most characteristic feature of classical Arabic and also of Nephite proper names. The correct use and sequence of mimation and nunation in the Book of Mormon speaks strongly for the authenticity of the record, for the principle is a relatively recent discovery in philology. It may be illustrated by the only Jaredite common nouns known to us, curelom and cumom, and the only adjective, shelem, applied to a mountain 'because of its exceeding height" (Ether 3:1). It is interesting that the original meaning of the best known of Semitic roots, SALAM, may be "a high place" (Arabic sullam, ladder, stairway, elevation) with the idea of safety, and hence peace, as a secondary derivation. [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, p. 242]

Ether 3:1 The mount which they called . . . Shelem because of its exceeding height ([Illustration]): One of the major clues to the location of the Jaredites on the coast of East Asia is the reference to a mountain of "exceeding height." There appear to be many such peaks along the Chinese coastline, virtually all of which are located either around the Gulf of Chihli or south of the Yangtze River. Map VII identifies these peaks and shows their proximity to the proposed routes of the Jaredites into East Asia] [Randall P. Spackman, The Jaredite Journey to America, pp. 57-58, unpublished]

Alan C. Miner -

Alan C. Miner

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary