Ether 6.5, 8, 11. The Jaredite Ocean Crossing

Ether 6:5, 8, 11. The Jaredite Ocean Crossing[i]

With a “furious wind” that “did never cease to blow towards the promised land” (Ether 6:5, 8) pushing them across the ocean, the Jaredites should have arrived much sooner than the 344 days-nearly a year-it took them to cross (Ether 6:11).

Book of Mormon JapaneseThe furious wind caused them to be “tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind” (Ether 6:5), but only “while they were upon the waters,” for “they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them” (Ether 6:6). While thus buried, the winds could have had little effect upon their vessels. We must also remember that these were not vessels with sails and were therefore dependent on the waves and especially ocean currents.

In 1964, following the discovery of Jomon period Japanese pottery on the coast of Ecuador in South America, Clifford Evans and Betty J. Meggers of the Smithsonian Institution, calculated that a boat caught off the coast of Japan would be carried by the North Pacific, reaching land in Ecuador in about eleven months (330 days). The current would first carry the boat northeast, then down the coast of the American continent.[ii] Another study produced the same year suggested that this Pacific current would bring a vessel to land somewhere off the coast of northern or central Mexico, depending on the time of year.[iii]Latter-day Saint scholars are generally agreed that the Jaredites crossed the Pacific, so studies such as these support the Book of Mormon account. It is also interesting that the Jomon period pottery was dated to the late third millennium BC, which is approximately the time when the Jaredites sailed to the New World.

[i] For an earlier treatment, see “The Jaredite Ocean Voyage,” chapter 43 in John A. Tvedtnes, The Most Correct Book: Insights From a Book of Mormon Scholar (Salt Lake City: Cornerstone, 1999, later reissued by Horizon).

[ii] Clifford Evans and Betty J. Meggers, “Transpacific Origin of Valdivia Pottery on Coastal Ecuador,” XXXVI Congreso Internacional de Americanitas, Espana, 1964 (Sevilla, 1966), 66.

[iii] Carl L. Hubbs and Gunnar I. Roden, “Oceanography and Marine Life along the Pacific Coast of Middle America,” in Robert Wauchope, gen. ed., Handbook of Middle American Indians (Austin: University of Texas, 1964-1976), 1:148, 154-5, 160.