“By Their Secret Plans Did Obtain Kingdoms and Great Glory”

Brant Gardner

Jared’s daughter refers to a text that crossed the oceans with them (v. 9), the source of “secret plans” that would assure the possession of “kingdoms and great glory” and that figured so large among the Jaredites and then, in Mormon’s record, among the Nephites. The content of this text was certainly influential in the way Mormon understood the history of his people, being here described as the ultimate source of all secret combinations. What that document might have been is not as clear as its impact.

According to Mosiah’s translation, Ether’s record contained an account of the creation and Adam and Eve (Ether 1:3). Although I have suggested that Mosiah read his own brass-plates text into his translation of Ether’s record (see commentary accompanying Ether 1:3–5), there still had to have been some similarity upon which Mosiah’s translation was based. Some version of the Adam and Eve story must have been in the record. However, the indication that it also contained these secret combinations does not fit with any text that we know for the Old Testament. Therefore, while the original Jaredite text had similarities to the Old Testament, it was not the Old Testament as we know it (even accounting for the books from the same time period).

Vocabulary: In verse 8, Jared’s daughter was “exceedingly expert.” In the 1828 Webster’s dictionary, an “expert” is: “Properly, experienced; taught by use, practice or experience; hence, skilful; well instructed; having familiar knowledge of; as an expert philosopher.” This suggests that she was adept in the political world of the times and understood, in particular, the secret combinations that would be used to change the balance of power. Because those secret combinations were in a book and she had obviously read and understood it, she presents an interesting figure for a woman in a strongly patriarchal society. She was clearly educated and intelligent, even if we do not agree with her moral sense.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6