Let My Father Send for Akish and I Will Dance Before Him

Bryan Richards

One cannot help but see some similarities between the story of Akish and the story of Salome. Salome, whose name is not mentioned in the Bible but is recorded by Josephus (see Bible Dictionary), was the daughter of Herodias who had illegally married Herod. She and her mother devised a plan to get John the Baptist killed. Like the plan of the daughter of Jared, it involved a dance designed to please Herod and company (see Matt 14:3-12). Hereby, we learn how wicked women wield power over weak men. “The daughter of Jared used her beauty and charm to evil purpose…Jared‘s daughter is described as ’exceedingly expert’ (Ether 8:8); her plan involved no armies, but was quite effective in bringing destruction to many…Her success in enticing Akish led to the downfall not only of her grandfather and father, but to the destruction of her people. In preparing Jared‘s daughter’s dowry—the severed head of her grandfather the king—Akish restored the practice of secret combinations and blood oaths. Here, beauty and skillful manipulation of others brought death and evil. ”(Camille S. Williams & Donna Lee Brown, Ensign, Jan. 1992, “Ordinary People in the Book of Mormon”)

Today, the practice continues but finds its expression in the huge industries of strip dancing, pornography, and prostitution.

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…Historically, the whole point of this story is that it is highly unoriginal. It is supposed to be. The damsel asks her father if he has read ‘the record’ and refers him to a particular account therein describing how ’they of old … did obtain kingdoms (v. 9).‘ In accordance with this she then outlines a course of action which makes it clear just what the ’account’ was about. It dealt with a pattern of action (for ‘kingdoms’ is in the plural) in which a princess dances before a romantic stranger, wins his heart, and induces him to behead the ruling king, marry her, and mount the throne. The sinister daughter of Jared works the plan for all it is worth…
“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. I once collected a huge dossier on this awful woman…You 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 (in reference to Herodias’ daughter) 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.” (Lehi In The Desert & The World Of The Jaredites, p. 212-13)