Ether 2:16-18. Glowing Stones in the Jaredite Barges
Ether 2:16-18 informs us that the Jaredites built barges “according to the instructions of the Lord,” but the Lord evidently forgot to tell them how to provide both air and light inside the barges and had to be approached by the brother of Jared about these matters (Ether 2:19-21; 3:1, 4, 6). Is the Lord really so forgetful? And why should he respond to every whim of the brother of Jared?
The Lord is, of course, not forgetful, but he does not always give complete instructions. Instead, he gives us a chance to think for ourselves, in order to learn. For example, in 2 Kings 13:15-19, we read that the prophet Elisha told the king of Israel to smite some arrows on the ground. The king smote three times, after which the prophet chastised him for not striking five or six times. Had he done so, Elisha informed him, he would have destroyed Syria. In this case, the Lord allowed the king to fill in the gaps.
The Lord’s acquiescence in providing a miracle for the brother of Jared is similar to the story of Gideon in the Bible. Seeking a sign that the Lord had really called him to free Israel from its enemies, Gideon placed a lamb’s fleece on the ground and asked that the fleece be made wet with dew, while the ground stayed dry. When this was done, he asked that the sign be reversed, with the ground wet and the fleece dry (Judges 6:36-40). The Lord complied with his request for a specific miracle in much the same way he responded to the request from the brother of Jared to touch the stones in order to provide light inside the ark. A number of ancient texts indicate that Noah had glowing stones to provide light inside the ark, and this may have prompted Jared’s brother to ask the Lord for the same favor.