Once more in the Book of Mormon prosperity and riches are equated with righteousness (v. 16; cp. Jacob 2:18–19; Alma 62:48–51; Helaman 3:24–25). Notice that their prosperity included more than gold and silver (Ether 9:17–19). In fact, prosperity is a conditional blessing on the land of America. Nephi, son of Lehi, was promised: “And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land” (1 Nephi 2:20; see also 2 Nephi 1:9; Ether 2:12). The alternative of the blessing was the curse, which was now beginning, to be taken off the land (Ether 9:16, 20). Lehi warned his sons, “for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes” (2 Nephi 1:7).
The elephants, cureloms, and cumoms, and for some even the horses, must be accepted by faith (Ether 9:19). While there has been much speculation concerning which modern-day animals the cureloms and cumoms may be, Dr. Hugh Nibley has written:
I think it quite significant that the Book of Mormon associates elephants only with the Jaredites, since there is no apparent reason why they should not have been as common in the fifth as in the fifteenth century B.C. All we know is that they became extinct in large parts of Asia somewhere between those dates, as they did likewise in the New World, to follow the Book of Mormon, leaving only the written records of men to testify of their existence.
“They have plenty of iron, accarum, and andanicum,” says Marco Polo of the people of Kobian. “Here they make mirrors of highly polished steel, of large size and very handsome.” The thing to note here is not primarily the advanced state of steel-working in Central Asia, though that as we have seen is significant, but the fact that no one knows for sure what accarum and andanicum are. Marco knew, of course, but since the things didn’t exist in Europe there was no western word for them and so all he could do was to call them by their only names. It is just so with the cureloms and cumoms of Ether 9:19. These animals were unknown to the Nephites, and so Moroni leaves the words untranslated, or else though known to the Nephites, they are out of our experience so that our language has no name to call them by. They were simply breeds of those “many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man” (Ether 9:18).
The history of the breeding of “animals which were useful for man” is an extremely complex one; to trace even such conspicuous breeds as the Arabian horse, the dromedary, or the ox is still quite impossible. Travelers in central Asia both from Europe and the Far East always comment on the peculiar breeds of animals they find there—camels with two humps (which are really no more like the Arabian camels than a llama is like a sheep), a big-tailed sheep, and strange varieties of oxen and horses, for none of which it is possible for the travelers to find words in their own languages. So they call dromedaries and Bactrian camels both “camels” and kulans “horses,” just as no doubt the Book of Mormon designates as sheep and cattle breeds that we would hardly recognize. I find it most reassuring that the book of Ether, taking us to archaic times, insists on complicating things by telling about animals plainly extinct in Nephite days and breeds that we cannot identify.
Someday we will learn more about these animals among the Jaredites.
Emer was righteous enough that he saw the Savior (Ether 9:22), an indication of his having his calling and election made sure, or “the more sure word of prophecy” (D&C 131:5–6). He probably had the “privilege to receive the other Comforter [Jesus Christ], which the Lord hath promised his Saints” (TPJS, 150).