In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jaredite Barges, Noah's Ark, and the Book of Mormon's Brilliance

So the information for this blog post has been found on a few other blogs and websites, but as far as I have been able to research I am pretty confident that we've all gotten it from the same source. It is originally from Michael Ash's article out of Mormon Times entitled,"Ventilators and Illuminators in Noah's Ark and Jardite Barges". This article shows how the story of the Jaredites shared by Ether gives us added insights and understanding into the Bible story of Noah and his ark.

Jared and his brother most commonly referred to as "The Brother of Jared" or also known by modern day revelation as Mahonri Moriancumer were commanded to build 8 barges to be able to be lead to a promised land during the confounding of the tongues (or languages) at the Tower Babel. According to the description given by Ether these were patterned after Noah's Ark, (Ether 6:7) and were "tight like unto a dish," peaked at both ends an had holes that could be unplugged to allow ventilation. (Ether 2:17,20)

Because the story of Noah's Ark or the equivalent is found so commonly in ancient literature it could have easily been known to the Jaredites. There are also some traditions about the ark that are not found in the Bible. Dr. Hugh Nibley shares some of the oddities with us. He noted that the ark or deluge boat was peaked at both ends forming a "crescent shape" like the Jaredite barges. The word "ark" originally meant "a box" such as a "chest or coffin-that covered with a lid". He also noted that the Bible never mentions that the ark had sails, so like (Ether 6:5-9) it was probably driven by furious winds and took on a submarine like nature often being completely submerged by water and violent waves during their voyage.

The Jaredite barges had ventilation holes, the ark had not only one door that could be shut but at least one "nappashu" which is translated as "air-hole" or "window" but means "breather or ventilator" and was not an ordinary window. The brother of Jared was worried about lighting or illuminating the insides of these barges and took the matter to the Lord, who told him that windows would break and that he couldn't start a fire in the barges so he left the matter at the brother of Jareds hands. The brother of Jared returned to the Lord after climbing a mountain and moltening 16 transparent stones, wherein he asked the Lord to touch them so they would shine in the barges.

Now this story of shining stones has caused a lot of laughs from critics of the Book of Mormon but we'll see that the story actually fits in very well with ancient lore. According to the Palestine Talmud the ark was illuminated by a miraculous light-giving stone. This precious stone supposedly glowed for 12 months inside the ark and would dim during the day so that Noah knew if it was day or night outside. The above information was not available to Joseph Smith. As Hugh Nibley explains, of the four copies of the Palestine Talmud that mention the arks shining stones, two appeared 30 years after Joseph had already translated the Book of Mormon. When the Book of Mormon was translated there was not a single version of the Palestine Talmud available in any modern language.

Another name for this precious stone or gem was "Moonfriend" or "Jalakanta" which interprets as, "that which causes the waters to part." Thus this gem or stone had the power to allow the possessors to pass through waters safely. The ark was also called a "bright house" or "moon-boat" because it was crescent shaped and wandered through space for 12 months. Also because it was illuminated by a miraculous light. While the Ancient Babylonian texts, tell us that the deluge-boat had a window or nappashu, the window in Genesis comes from the Hebrew "tsohar", which also translates as "shiner" or "illuminator". The Book of Mormon gives us these added insights and contain a fuller version with the ideas that the barges had a ventilator as well as an illuminator a design apparently shared by Noah's ark.


  1. Excellent information, especially with the translations from the other books/languages.

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