Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Analysis of the Jaredite Civil War, Part II

What follows is the second part of a rough draft on which I am working. Footnotes are incomplete and the prose is still turgid but I am hoping to get some feedback on this and provide you with sorely needed original content.


Leading to War
The war leading to the destruction of the Jaredites begins in Ether 13:15 where we read that “there began to be a great war among the people” and many might men “sought to destroy [the king] Coriantumr”. But the latter half of the verse gives “wickedness” as the cause of the rebellion. The start of the war is also sandwiched between the expulsion of the prophet Ether, and his final warning to Coriantumr. This corresponds to the didactic purpose for many ancient histories including the Imperial history of The War of the Eight Princes. The Chinese Imperial historians often adopted the stereotype of the “bad last emperor” that would forfeit the right to rule through his cruel and sinful behavior. Coriantumr was “cunning” and obviously power hungry as he played the same role in the Ether’s morality tale as the “bad last emperor” (Ether 13:16).

Immediately after failing to repent, Coriantumr losing the Kingdom in “the third year”. By the “fourth year” the sons of Coriantumr regained the kingdom for his father. As a consequence of the chaos at the top there “began to be war upon the face of the land, every man with his band fighting for that which he desired”. (Ether 13:25)

The text doesn’t clarify how the Jaredites numbered their years. I suggest that the “third year” refers to the year of his reign given as numbered by the historian Ether. If this suggestion is accurate it points towards a very weak rule by Coriantumr. Less than four years into his reign he was deposed but quickly reinstated. Yet still could not restrain power centrifugal forces from various strongmen.

The War of the Eight Princes both corresponds to the salient points described in Ether and adds intriguing details to aid in our analysis. The Jin Dynasty was only a recent victor from the civil war that had lasted since the end of the Han Dynasty 100 years before. “However, the newly reunified empire was very far from being a faithful reconstruction of the glorious Han.” Centralized power was weak and the vigorous monetary economy had stagnated. With a strong center the Jin ruler could control the power frontier commanders next to the capital. These commanders had both civil and military control (another departure from the Han’s civil supremacy over the military) and guarded pivotal river valleys, mountain passes, and rich provinces. But with a weak and corrupt prince ruling in the center of the realm the regional leaders deposed him. After the Imperial Princes exerted their control over the center it threw the realm “into the abyss… An era in which power struggles were settled by palace coups and the fa├žade of central authority was preserved more or less intact now gave way to a period of warlordism and civil war…”

It’s possible to find strong men with powerful regional bases like unto the Imperial Princes within the Book of Ether. [I am planning on explicating various verses of Ether in this section, but as they say, "its still under construction"]


Thanks for reading, I look forward to your comments.

3 comments:

David J. West said...

I like where you are going with it because I too still see a lot of parallels between the Jaredites and Asia.

Michaela Stephens said...

"The text doesn’t clarify how the Jaredites numbered their years. I suggest that the “third year” refers to the year of his reign given as numbered by the historian Ether."

It seems to me that Moroni was the one who was numbering the years and that he was numbering them from the time that Ether was cast out from among the people.

"in that same year in which he was cast out from among the people there began to be a great war among the people" (Ether 13:15)

"in the first year that Ether dwelt in the cavity of a rock, there were many people who were slain by the sword of those secret combinations" (Ether 13:18)

"And in the second year the word of the Lord came to Ether, that he should go and prophesy unto Coriantumr" (Ether 13:20)

This also seems to be implied in verses 23 and 24.

This marking of time from the point that Ether was rejected would be perfectly natural for Moroni, considering he was an apostle and he also experienced the downfall of his civilization.

Morgan Deane said...

Thanks Micheala. It looks like I missed that in my analysis.

Thanks for your comments David.