The Middle East and the Jaredites

November 24, 2006 at 12:42 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, Lebanon, Mormon, Muslim, Religion, War on Terror, World Events | 2 Comments

David Ignatius has a great op-ed in the Washington Post today on what he calls the Politics of Assassination, in reference to the murder of Pierre Gemayel, the Lebanese Christian politician. He says:

A disease is eating away at the Middle East. It afflicts the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Lebanese, even the Israelis. It is the idea that the only political determinant in the Arab world is raw force — the power of physical intimidation. It is politics as assassination.

This week saw another sickening instance of this law of brute force, with the murder of Pierre Gemayel, a Lebanese cabinet minister who had been a strong critic of Syria. Given the brutal history of Syria’s involvement in Lebanon, there’s an instant temptation to blame Damascus. But in this land of death, there are so many killers and so few means of holding them to account that we can only guess at who pulled the trigger.

I am reminded, sadly, of another group of people with a similar knack for the use of violence and political assassination: The Jaredites. Who are the Jaredites? They are a people in the Book of Mormon (the Olmecs from what we know archaeologically), who left during the time of the Tower of Babel, crossed the Pacific and found their promised land. In Ether 9:4-12 we read the following:

4 And it came to pass that Jared was anointed king over the people, by the hand of wickedness; and he gave unto Akish his daughter to wife.
5 And it came to pass that Akish sought the life of his father-in-law; and he applied unto those whom he had sworn by the oath of the ancients, and they obtained the head of his father-in-law, as he sat upon his throne, giving audience to his people.
6 For so great had been the spreading of this wicked and secret society that it had corrupted the hearts of all the people; therefore Jared was murdered upon his throne, and Akish reigned in his stead.
7 And it came to pass that Akish began to be jealous of his son, therefore he shut him up in prison, and kept him upon little or no food until he had suffered death.
8 And now the brother of him that suffered death, (and his name was Nimrah) was angry with his father because of that which his father had done unto his brother.
9 And it came to pass that Nimrah gathered together a small number of men, and fled out of the land, and came over and dwelt with Omer.
10 And it came to pass that Akish begat other sons, and they won the hearts of the people, notwithstanding they had sworn unto him to do all manner of iniquity according to that which he desired.
11 Now the people of Akish were desirous for gain, even as Akish was desirous for power; wherefore, the sons of Akish did offer them money, by which means they drew away the more part of the people after them.
12 And there began to be a war between the sons of Akish and Akish, which lasted for the space of many years, yea, unto the destruction of nearly all the people of the kingdom, yea, even all, save it were thirty souls, and they who fled with the house of Omer.

The Jaredites focused on revenge and reprisals instead of the religion they espoused. Sounds very similar to the Middle East. Mr. Ignatius continues:

The sickness must end. The people of the Middle East are destroying themselves, literally and figuratively, with the politics of assassination. So many things are going right in the modern world — until we reach the boundaries of the Middle East, where the gunmen hide in wait. Those who imagined they could stop the assassins’ little guns with their big guns — the United States and Israel come to mind — have been undone by the howling gale of violence. In trying to fight the killers, they began to make their own arguments for assassination and torture. That should have been a sign that something had gone wrong.

This is a time of convulsive change in the region, and many doors are being pushed open. Syria has an opportunity to leave behind its drab Cold War trench coat and become a modern, prosperous Mediterranean nation; Hezbollah, the militia that represents Lebanon’s dispossessed Shiite population, has a chance to lead its followers into political power and prosperity. But they won’t realize these opportunities so long as the politics of assassination rules the region. If Syria and Hezbollah keep brandishing their power like a grenade, it will ultimately blow apart in their hands.

In Ether 11:5-7 we see the worsening of the violence:

5 And it came to pass that the brother of Shiblom caused that all the prophets who prophesied of the destruction of the people should be put to death;
6 And there was great calamity in all the land, for they had testified that a great curse should come upon the land, and also upon the people, and that there should be a great destruction among them, such an one as never had been upon the face of the earth, and their bones should become as heaps of earth upon the face of the land except they should repent of their wickedness.
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.

When we see the terrible destruction violence has upon the Iraqis, with the attack just yesterday killing now over 200 people, is this destruction bad enough yet to make the Iraqis see the futility of the use of violence? Sadly, I do not believe that will end their hate. The Iraqis (and Lebanon is following in this path), are starting to look a lot like the Jaredites:

Ether 13:25-27

25 Now there began to be a war upon all the face of the land, every man with his band fighting for that which he desired.
26 And there were robbers, and in fine, all manner of wickedness upon all the face of the land.
27 And it came to pass that Coriantumr was exceedingly angry with Shared, and he went against him with his armies to battle; and they did meet in great anger, and they did meet in the valley of Gilgal; and the battle became exceedingly sore.

Ether 13:31

31 And Shared wounded Coriantumr in his thigh, that he did not go to battle again for the space of two years, in which time all the people upon the face of the land were shedding blood, and there was none to restrain them.

Ether 14:8-10

8 Now the brother of Shared, whose name was Gilead, also received great strength to his army, because of secret combinations.
9 And it came to pass that his high priest murdered him as he sat upon his throne.
10 And it came to pass that one of the secret combinations murdered him in a secret pass, and obtained unto himself the kingdom; and his name was Lib; and Lib was a man of great stature, more than any other man among all the people.

Ether 14:21-24

21 And so great and lasting had been the war, and so long had been the scene of bloodshed and carnage, that the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead.
22 And so swift and speedy was the war that there was none left to bury the dead, but they did march forth from the shedding of blood to the shedding of blood, leaving the bodies of both men, women, and children strewed upon the face of the land, to become a prey to the worms of the flesh.
23 And the ascent thereof went forth upon the face of the land, even upon all the face of the land; wherefore the people became troubled by day and by night, because of the scent thereof.
24 Nevertheless, Shiz did not cease to pursue Coriantumr; for he had sworn to avenge himself upon Coriantumr of the blood of his brother, who had been slain, and the word of the Lord which came to Ether that Coriantumr should not fall by the sword.

It got so bad that even when Coriantumr realized just how horrible things have gotten, he tried to make amends with his enemy, who still wanted this head. This was impossible with his people, and thus the violence continued:

Ether 15:1-6

1 And it came to pass when Coriantumr had recovered of his wounds, he began to remember the words which Ether had spoken unto him.
2 He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.
3 He began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, and he saw them that they were fulfilled thus far, every whit; and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted.
4 And it came to pass that he wrote an epistle unto Shiz, desiring him that he would spare the people, and he would give up the kingdom for the sake of the lives of the people.
5 And it came to pass that when Shiz had received his epistle he wrote an epistle unto Coriantumr, that if he would give himself up, that he might slay him with his own sword, that he would spare the lives of the people.
6 And it came to pass that the people repented not of their iniquity; and the people of Coriantumr were stirred up to anger against the people of Shiz; and the people of Shiz were stirred up to anger against the people of Coriantumr; wherefore, the people of Shiz did give battle unto the people of Coriantumr.

Ether 15:19-22

19 But behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed; wherefore they went again to battle.
20 And it came to pass that they fought all that day, and when the night came they slept upon their swords.
21 And on the morrow they fought even until the night came.
22 And when the night came they were drunken with anger, even as a man who is drunken with wine; and they slept again upon their swords.

Ether 15:29-30

29 Wherefore, he did pursue them, and on the morrow he did overtake them; and they fought again with the sword. And it came to pass that when they had aall fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with the loss of blood.
30 And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz.

Thus ends a civilization.

2 Comments »

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  1. According to the Book of Mormon, assassination can be a tool used by the righteous as well. Don’t forget Teancum, who assassinated two kings who were formerly Nephite dissidents: Amalickiah and Ammoron.

    The assassination of Gemayel is of course wrong. One cannot help but also think of this political dissident who was apparently poisoned while living in London.

    Personally, I don’t have any problem at all with the Israelis assassinating the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, just as I don’t have any problem with the United States assassinating leaders of al-Qaeda.

  2. I’m wondering what makes certain assassinations right and others wrong? Is this back to the whole “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” issue?

    I think my comparison of the Jaredites and the Middle East today is not necessarily solely on the “Politics of Assassination” piece by Mr. Ignatius, but more on the point that both groups sought to repay violence with violence to the complete and utter detriment of one, and possibly the other.

    I’m just wondering when the players in the Middle East will learn that violence will not solve their problems, on both sides.


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