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The daughter of Jared has the notorious privilege of being the wickedest woman in the Book of Mormon. She was a descendant of the Jaredites, the people who came across the sea in barges to the American continents at the time of the tower of Babel. Her father was named Jared (not the same Jared who traveled in the barges), and he was the son of the king, a man named Omer.
Jared organized a movement to overthrow Omer and take the kingdom. Jared put his father and his brothers and sisters in captivity. Eventually his brothers were able to raise their own army and Jared was ousted from power. The brothers were merciful and chose not to kill Jared, but still, “Jared became exceedingly sorrowful because of the loss of the kingdom, for he had set his heart upon the kingdom and upon the glory of the world” (Ether 8:7).
Enter Jared’s daughter.
Now the daughter of Jared being exceedingly expert, and seeing the sorrows of her father, thought to devise a plan whereby she could redeem the kingdom unto her father.
Now the daughter of Jared was exceedingly fair. And it came to pass that she did talk with her father, and said unto him: Whereby hath my father so much sorrow? Hath he not read the record which our fathers brought across the great deep? Behold, is there not an account concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory?
It is interesting that there are two adjectives used to describe her, and both of them have the word exceedingly before them, indicating that she was not your typical woman. She is described as “exceedingly expert” (vs. 8) and “exceedingly fair” (vs. 9), meaning she was exceptionally intelligent and unusually beautiful—a powerful combination.
The daughter of Jared saw the sorrow of her father and “thought to devise a plan whereby she could redeem the kingdom unto her father” (vs. 8). She approached her father and asked him if he had read the records brought across the ocean by Jared. Her question indicates that she was well read and very familiar with the scriptures. In fact, she seems to have been something of a scholar, being better acquainted with the ancient records than her father was. She reminded him that in the records was an account “concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory” (Ether 8:9).
The daughter of Jared was referring to secret combinations, which “had been handed down even from Cain, who was a murderer from the beginning” (vs. 15). We are not meant to understand all the ins and outs of secret combinations. Alma, when he handed the sacred records over to his son Helaman, warned him, “I command you that ye retain all their oaths, and their covenants, and their agreements in their secret abominations; yea, and all their signs and their wonders ye shall keep from this people, that they know them not, lest peradventure they should fall into darkness also and be destroyed” (Alma 37:27). Yet Alma did tell Helaman to make sure he taught the people about the existence of secret combinations and how to avoid “their wickedness and abominations and their murders.”
Mormon taught that secret combinations “are had among all people” (Ether 8:20) and that they bring about the destruction of civilizations. We see evidence of secret combinations all throughout the scriptures, from Nimrod and the builders of the tower of Babel (see Gen. 11) to the Gadianton robbers among the Nephites. Even today, secret combinations are prevalent and we need to be able to identify them when they emerge in our societies, our families, and even within our own hearts.
The basic idea of secret combinations is seen in the story of Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. Satan promised Cain that killing his brother would bring him wealth, power, and freedom. After he had completed the murder, Cain exulted, “Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret” (Moses 5:31). Hugh Nibley said that the “secret” that Cain learned from Satan was “how to convert life into property,”199 or, as Cain said himself, “that I may murder and get gain” (Moses 5:31).
All life, mortal and immortal, belongs to God. Life is His work and His glory. In contrast, the adversary’s power comes from attempting to control life or exchanging human life for money. There are many ways this is done: slavery trades human life for money; war uses life as expendable currency to gain power and wealth; and fornication, prostitution, abortion, adultery, and sexual perversions tamper with the wellsprings of life in exchange for freedom, pleasure, and money. We convert life into property anytime that we directly, or indirectly, decide who is worthy of life and who isn’t.
When the daughter of Jared suggested that her father resurrect secret combinations in order to gain back his kingdom, she was aware of what she was doing. In fact, she had already masterminded her father’s return to power. She told her father to send for a man named Akish, who was a friend of King Omer. She knew she was beautiful, and she told her father that she would dance before Akish, and “I will please him, that he will desire me to wife” (Ether 8:10). She even knew exactly what the bride-price should be: the severed head of her grandfather—King Omer. Her confidence and cruelty is astounding. She had no qualms with using her beauty and sexuality as a form of power and manipulation. Neither did she seem to feel any remorse over the planned murder of her grandfather.
The daughter of Jared’s plan went just as she had arranged. She danced before Akish, and he, lusting after her beauty, asked Jared for her hand in marriage. The daughter of Jared must have chosen Akish because she knew he would have no problem fulfilling the bride-price Jared asked. Akish agreed to murder his friend King Omer in exchange for Jared’s daughter as his wife. Yet, before Akish undertook this murder, he gathered his kinsfolk and “administered” to them “the oaths which were given by them of old who had sought power” (Ether 8: 15). They formed a secret combination set on overthrowing the king.
Though Akish organized the secret combination, the credit for its revival goes completely to the daughter of Jared. Ether 8:17 tells us that “it was the daughter of Jared who put it into his [Jared’s] heart to search up these things of old; and Jared put it into the heart of Akish.” And who put it in the daughter of Jared’s heart? Satan.
Sometimes it is easier to see the impact of one wicked person’s influence than it is to see the impact of one righteous person’s influence. The Book of Mormon is full of women who silently and namelessly promote peace, but we don’t always realize what they have done. On the other hand, the daughter of Jared’s wicked influence is easy to see. She reminds us how powerful a woman’s influence can be, for good or for evil.
Luckily, King Omer was warned in a dream that he should flee with his family. So before Akish could put the daughter of Jared’s plan into action, Omer and the members of his family who were loyal to him escaped to safety (see page 239). In his father’s absence, Jared was anointed king, and even though he hadn’t fulfilled the bride-price, Jared still gave Akish his daughter to marry.
Not surprisingly, after Jared became king, Akish immediately began planning his demise. He enlisted those he had engaged in a secret combination to aid him. “For so great had been the spread of this wicked and secret society that it had corrupted the hearts of all the people; therefore Jared was murdered upon his throne” (Ether 9:6).
After Jared was dead, Akish took his place on the throne. Soon he became jealous of his own son and “shut him up in prison, and kept him upon little or no food until he had suffered death” (vs. 7). The daughter of Jared is not mentioned, but I can’t help but think that this turn of events must have saddened her. She may not have felt remorse for the murders of her grandfather or even her father, but we have to suppose that she would have felt some grief at seeing her son confined and starved to death. The fact that Akish shut up his son in prison might suggest that he was hesitant, perhaps because of his wife, to murder him outright.
Nimrah, who was another son of Akish and the daughter of Jared, was angry at what had been done to his brother. He, with a small gathering of people, fled and went to join Omer and his people. Now the daughter of Jared had lost both of her sons. But that was just the beginning. Things quickly progressed from bad to worse for her family.
Akish had many other sons who were desirous for power and wealth and “won the hearts of the people” (vs. 10) by offering them money. (Like father, like son, right?) Soon Akish’s sons had amassed a large enough following that they went to war against their father. The war lasted “for the space of many years” (vs. 12) and ended in the near destruction of Akish’s kingdom. Only thirty people survived.
Mormon wrote, “It is by the wicked that the wicked are punished” (Mormon 4:5). This is certainly true for the daughter of Jared. In a remarkably short amount of time, the secret combinations she helped resurrect destroyed her, her son, her family, and her entire kingdom. It took only one generation for the natural consequences of exchanging life for power to be evidenced in the saddest way possible.
The daughter of Jared was a woman of many talents and abilities, yet she misused her power. Like her father, Jared, she had set her heart “upon the glory of the world” (Ether 8:8) and did all she could to gain worldly power and wealth. Yet in the end, that power betrayed her and destroyed everything she could have possibly loved. She became a pawn in Satan’s hand. How much better it would have been for her to have “sought the glory of God” (2 Ne. 1:25) and used her talents to nurture and create life rather than destroy it. If she had, the fate of almost the entire Jaredite nation might have been different.
** The following was taken from Walking With the Women of the Book of Mormon. The opinions and views expressed herein belong solely to Heather Farrell and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of Cedar Fort, Inc.