Lib Reigned in Kishs Stead

Alan C. Miner

Ether 10:18 states that "Lib reigned in [Kish's] stead," but no specific genealogical linkage is mentioned. However, in the genealogy of Ether back to Jared, found in Ether 1:6-33, we are told that "Lib was the son of Kish" (Ether 1:18).

Ether 10:18 Lib reigned in [Kish's] stead ([Illustration]): A Projected Chronology of Jaredite History. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust: New Light on an Ancient American Record, p. 46]

Lib Reigned in Kishs Stead

When King Kish passed away, his son Lib "reigned in his stead" (Ether 10:18). In the account of the days of Lib we find that his people,

were exceedingly industrious, and they did buy and sell and traffic one with another, that they might get gain. And they did work in all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore . . . And they did work all manner of fine work. And they did have silks, and fine-twined linen; and they did work all manner of cloth . . . And they did make all manner of tools to till the earth, both to plow and to sow, to reap and to hoe, and also to thrash. And they did make all manner of tools with which they did work their beasts. And they did make all manner of weapons of war. And they did work all manner of work of exceedingly curious workmanship. And never could be a people more blessed than they . . . (Ether 10:22-28)

According to Warren and Palmer, the enormous leap in culture described for the time of Lib can be seen in the ruined city of San Lorenzo. Furthermore, both the timing and location are an excellent match. San Lorenzo was an impressive centre built up above the floodplain overlooking the Coatzocoalcos River.

San Lorenzo represents the first great center of the Olmec civilization of Mesoamerica. The prophet Ether gave a careful description of the culture that developed with Lib (San Lorenzo). According to Ether 10:23-28, the elements of culture were trade, metallurgy, mining, textiles and weaving, agriculture, domesticated animals, warfare, and a very unique art style.

The Olmec culture developed on the Gulf Coast of Mexico in about 1450 B.C. Their culture developed in San Lorenzo, and spread to other important sites such as La Venta, Laguna de los Cerros, and Tres Zapotes (see illustration). Other minor sites became involved. The Olmec culture eventually spread from the "heartland" to other sites throughout Mesoamerica and Mexico, where the traits are often called "Olmecoid."

Some seventy different languages are spoken today in the area known as Mesoamerica. Scholars have classified these languages, and determined relationships between them. Ultimately, they created language trees to show how the different branches developed from a few languages (Campbell, Lyle, and Marianne Mithun eds., 1979). The linguists then attempted to reconstruct the time at which the various branches separated. This has considerable impact on Book of Mormon studies since it augments and relates to the data developed by archaeologists (Joesink-Mandeville, 31). Applying these techniques, Campbell and Kaufman (41, 80, 1976) have concluded that the Mixe-Zoque language spoken today in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region was once the language of the archaeological Olmecs. As we have just examined the strong resemblances of the Olmecs to the later Jaredites, this information is of no small importance. It allows a possible flashback to the vocabulary used when Lib first established his city. The time-depth of Mixe-Zoque has been calculated as 3500 years, or very roughly 1500 B.C. That is approximately the time when the Olmecs began their massive building program at San Lorenzo. [Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, 8-1,2,3,4,5, unpublished]

Ether 10:18 Lib Reigned in [Kish's] Stead (Location - San Lorenzo) [Illustration]: Remains of an ancient reservoir at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan, Veracruz] [F.A.R.M.S. Staff, "The Lands Of The Book Of Mormon, Slide #84]

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