From the book: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting
the Prophet Joseph Smith
by Michael R. Ash
In the book of Ether, the Lord instructed the brother of Jared to build eight barges so the Jaredites could travel to the Americas. These barges, patterned after Noah’s ark, were “tight like unto a dish,” peaked at both ends, and had holes which could be “unstop[ped]” in which to allow ventilation (see Ether 2:17, 20). When we examine non-Biblical writings that give greater detail about Noah’s ark than what we find in the Bible, we discover some interesting similarities to the oddities mentioned in the account of the Jaredite barges.
These ancient documents tell us that Noah’s boat had a portal that could be shut during the storm flood. The word ‘ark’ originally meant a box –such as a chest or coffin –that was covered with a lid. And just as the barges had ventilation holes, the ark had not only a door that could be shut, but at least one nappashu –this word is translated as “airhole” or “window” but means “breather” or “ventilator” and was not an ordinary window.
Few things have elicited more laughs from the critics than the use of “shining stones” in the Jaredite barges. According to the ancient Palestine Talmud, however, the Ark was illuminated with a miraculous light-giving stone. This precious stone, the ancient documents tell us, glowed for twelve months inside the ark and would dim during the day. As Dr. Hugh Nibley explains, of the four copies of the Palestine Talmud that mention the ark’s shining stones, two appeared thirty years after Joseph had already translated the Book of Mormon. In 1830, when the Book of Mormon was published, there was not a single translation of the Palestine Talmud available in any modern language.
Michael R. Ash is the author of: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting The Prophet Joseph Smith. He is the owner and operator of MormonFortress.com and is on the management team for FairMormon. He has been published in Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Maxwell Institute’s FARMS Review, and is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt. He and his wife live in Ogden, Utah, and have three daughters.
Julianne Dehlin Hatton is a broadcast journalist living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Radio and Television Host, and Airborne Traffic Reporter. She graduated with an MSSc from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2008. Julianne and her husband Thomas are the parents of four children.
Music for Faith and Reason is provided by Arthur Hatton.