“Now the Daughter of Jared Being Exceedingly Expert”

Alan C. Miner

The text mentions that Jared2 "became exceeding sorrowful because of the loss of the kingdom for he had set his heart upon the kingdom, and upon the glory of the world" (Ether 8:7)

According to Hugh Nibley, there is one tale of intrigue in the book of Ether that presents very ancient and widespread (though but recently discovered) parallels. That is the story of Jared's daughter and her "plan" (Ether 8:8) in restoring her father to the power which he had gained through rebellion in the first place. Jared's daughter asked her father if he had read,

the record which our fathers brought across the great deep, [a very instructive account of those secret devices by which the men of old got "kingdoms and great glory"]

And now, therefore, let my father send for Akish, the son of Kimnor; and behold, I am fair, and I will dance before him, and I will please him, that he will desire me to wife; wherefore if he shall desire of thee that ye shall give unto him me to wife, then shall ye say, I will give her if ye will bring unto me the head of my father, the king. (Ether 8:9-10)

The most important point of this whole story is that it was not the first time that it happened in history. . . . This is indeed a strange and terrible tradition of throne succession, yet there is no better attested tradition in the early world than the ritual of the dancing princess (represented by the salme priestess of the Babylonians, hence the name Salome) who wins the heart of a stranger and induces him to marry her, behead the old king, and mount the throne. . .You can find out all about the sordid triangle of the old king, the challenger, and the dancing beauty from Frazer, Jane Harrison, Altheim, B. Schweitzer, Farnell, and any number of folklorists. The thing to note especially is that there actually seems to have been a succession rite of great antiquity that followed this pattern. . . The episode of the dancing princess is at all times essentially a ritual, and the name of Salome is perhaps no accident, for her story is anything but unique. Certainly the book of Ether is on the soundest possible ground in attributing the behavior of the daughter of Jared to the inspiration of ritual texts -- secret directories on the art of deposing an aging king. The Jaredite version, incidentally, is quite different from the Salome story of the Bible, but is identical with many earlier accounts that have come down to us in the oldest records of civilization. [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, pp. 210-213]

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