The uninteresting, unimaginative history of the Jaredite people continues just as uninterestingly and unimaginatively as before.
Considering that this whole book is supposed to be another testament of Jesus Christ, it's pretty weird that this chapter seems to forget a huge event in the Christian narrative (verse 7):
And they hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord, because of their wicked combinations; wherefore, there began to be wars and contentions in all the land, and also many famines and pestilences, insomuch that there was a great destruction, such an one as never had been known upon the face of the earth; and all this came to pass in the days of Shiblom.Just in case you weren't keeping track, the days of Shiblom were pretty long after the days of an insignificant Old Testament prophet you may not have heard of. He was called Noah. He presided over the greatest destruction ever recorded in scripture. No matter how great the destruction was during Shiblom's time, it was clearly not as great as the destruction during Noah's time, when the entire earth was flooded and only one family survived.
Good to Know
A strange and unnecessary detail crops up in verse 17:
And it came to pass that there arose another mighty man; and he was a descendant of the brother of Jared.Why is it important to know that this guy is a descendant of the brother of Jared? He's never named and neither he nor his ancestry are even mentioned again.
And this is especially weird considering that everybody in Jaredite society can trace their lineage back to a relatively small group of people who survived in those wooden submarines together. After scores and scores of generations, how many of these people wouldn't be descendants of the brother of Jared? We could have learned that this "mighty man" was right-handed too and that would have been just as significant.
Crime and Punishment
So I probably should have complained about this much sooner in the Book of Mormon, but since this chapter kind of showcases God's attitudes on this point, I'll whine about it here. Look at verse 20:
And in the days of Coriantor there also came many prophets, and prophesied of great and marvelous things, and cried repentance unto the people, and except they should repent the Lord God would execute judgment against them to their utter destruction;This is an obvious reference to the arrival of Lehi's family around 600BC. Lehi's descendants, of course, would split into two camps, the Nephites and the Lamanites, who would war with each other for centuries. They received many reminders over the years that God would destroy them for their wickedness, and the Nephites were essentially exterminated by the Lamanites. The Lamanites received their punishment (ostensibly) by surviving just long enough for Europeans to come in and slaughter them—although not to extinction, at least.
But what I don't understand is why God threatens the Jaredites, Nephites, or Lamanites with destruction in the first place. I mean, the whole Plan of Salvation is set up in such a way that we receive eternal rewards (or punishments and withheld rewards) for our obedience (or disobedience) to God's laws. So the system is already integrated with penalties for the wicked. Why, then, does God think it's necessary to enact temporal punishment for violation of spiritual laws? Especially when those punishments are often visited generations after the fact, when the originators of the iniquities have long since died?
If you murder someone, then you're breaking both societal and spiritual laws. So society will discipline you by throwing you in prison, and God will discipline you by not allowing you access to the highest degrees of eternal glory. Doesn't God killing you because of this constitute some kind of spiritual double jeopardy? And isn't it especially cruel of God to do so, considering that death will deny you any opportunity for repentance or redemption? After all, according to Alma, "that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world." This is precisely why he exhorted us not to "procrastinate the day of [our] repentance." So if God controls how much time we have to procrastinate anything and chooses to cut that time short as a punishment for wickedness even though he's planning to punish us for our wickedness anyway during our post-mortal existence...how does that not make God an unjust, overzealous, vindictive asshole?