Question: Is the Book of Mormon reference to windows that can be "dashed in pieces" an anachronism?

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Question: Is the Book of Mormon reference to windows that can be "dashed in pieces" an anachronism?

It seems likely that Ether 2:23 means that the barges themselves would break if they had windows or openings built into them

Ether 2:23:

What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces;

The mention of windows that could be "dashed in pieces" in Ether 2:23 seems to be anachronistic, since glass windows were not invented until the late Middle Ages. However, the term "window" originally referred to an opening through which the wind could enter. It is found 42 times in the Bible, where it does not refer to glass windows as we know them. In one passage (2 Kings 13:17), we read that a window in the palace was opened. So windows sometimes had doors or shutters. The same is true of the window that Noah built into the ark (Genesis 6:16; Genesis 8:6).

It seems likely that Ether 2:23 means that the barges themselves would break if they had windows or openings built into them. In the next verse, the Lord explains that this is because they would go through extremely turbulent conditions at sea, sometimes being buried beneath the waves. Windows would mean weakening the wooden structure, by creating openings, making it more fragile and thus liable to be "dashed in pieces." If we read only the sentence containing the word "windows" and read it out of context, then the antecedent of "they" would, indeed, be "windows." But it is probable that the antecedent is "vessels," the last word in the preceding sentence.[1]


Notes

  1. FARMS "Question of the Week," farms.byu.edu off-site