Editor’s Note: This is a serialized chapter from Women of the Book of Mormon: Insights & Inspirations
by Heather B. Moore. Originally published by Covenant Communications, Inc., 2010
Daughter of Jared
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.
This is a classic story of evil begetting evil. The daughter of Jared learned about the ancient conspiracies of secret combinations through the records of her own people, the Jaredites (see Ether 8:8–9). A covert plan was the answer to her father’s deepest wants, she realized. And she, as a dutiful daughter who probably wanted a little glory for herself, decided she’d be the one to instigate the masterful plan of putting her father on the throne. It would bring her notice, and she would be the one heralded and admired by her father for regaining his throne (see Ether 8:10).
Except the plan called for the assassination of her own grandfather.
Secret combinations have been around since the beginning of time. Cain was the first to fall under Satan’s influence and enter into a covenant with the arch deceiver (see Moses 5:38, 49). This covenant became the beginning of the secret combinations that have withstood the passage of time—and can be found in most societies over the last several thousand years. What was the purpose of belonging to a secret society? To gain instant power and wealth that derived from having the “right” connection, although this was a deceptive avenue that came at a very high price, which the daughter of Jared found out.
In order for her to come up with an effective plan, she had to let several others in on the secret—perhaps through bribery or promises of future wealth and honors. Perhaps through the threat of death (see Ether 8:13–15). Power was the main driving force behind agreeing to be part of the secret combination, but riches and carnal desires could also have been motivating factors. Jared’s daughter was ready to promise them all when she told her father, “Send for Akish . . . and I will dance before him, and I will please him, that he will desire me to wife” (Ether 8:10).
The temptation was strong for her. If her father once again ascended the throne, her life would change. She’d live in luxury overseen by a powerful king, her new husband, Akish, would be offered honors and authority, and her children given every indulgence.
How did she go about putting her plan into action? She had somehow learned about secret combinations through the records of her own people, and there was enough information in them to intrigue her. If her ancestors had won power and kingdoms through treachery, why couldn’t she? She bore the mark of a confident woman, although deception was not new to her family. Her father, Jared, had already betrayed his father, Omer, once and condemned him to exile. It was only when Omer’s other sons rose up and recaptured the throne that Jared was suddenly removed from his power (see Ether 8:1–6).
The combination in which Jared’s daughter engaged was “most abominable and wicked” because it entailed murder (Ether 8:18). In fact, Moroni, the translator of the book of Ether, refused to detail the oaths and combinations that were involved, so that the knowledge and tradition couldn’t be handed down to any other generation. Quite directly, Moroni blames the secret society as the downfall of the Jaredites and “the destruction of the people of Nephi” (v. 21).
Allowing herself to be influenced by Satan, Jared’s daughter planned her grandfather’s murder. It would only take the oath of Jared, Akish, and various kinsmen to pull off the secret plan. A chain of events was set into motion that once started, led to more destruction than even Jared’s daughter could have possibly foreseen.
A Complex Plan
The more people that were involved in the secret society, the more complex it became. Jared’s daughter knew she was beautiful and “fair” by Jaredite standards, and she must have been skilled in dancing. It was not uncommon to have dancing as part of entertainment in the royal houses for guests. After all, the arts were venerated among a culture that revered precious things and during this era of commerce and class distinction. And it certainly wasn’t the first time a woman’s charms were used to beguile a man.
Perhaps Akish didn’t suspect anything when he arrived at Jared’s home. Although Akish was friends with Omer, the current king (see Ether 8:11), he certainly had political alliances with others, including this ostracized son. It seemed Akish was not averse to marrying one of Jared’s daughters, since he likely desired to strengthen his connection with all claimants to the royal throne.
On the selected evening, Jared’s daughter brought out her full feminine charm in preparation for her dance. We might picture her, waiting in another room, for her father’s call. When the music started, she began her well-choreographed dance—one rehearsed for the express purpose of seduction. Akish found her beautiful, of course, but there likely was something more that made him desire to marry her. He knew who she was, and perhaps he had future plans of his own in mind. The detail that Jared’s daughter singled him out as their would-be assassin tells us that she already knew of his character. He was a man to be influenced.
In fact, once Akish learned the price of his betrothal to Jared’s daughter, he agreed to gather his relatives at Jared’s home. Akish’s desire for her was such that he was willing to enter into a secret combination to plot the murder of Omer.
With Jared, Akish studied the oaths Jared’s daughter had reminded them about—oaths so evil and ancient that they originated from Cain (see Ether 8:15). Now a whole slew of people were in on the plan. Jared’s daughter had not only compromised herself, but many others. In this case, the influence of one woman affected the lives of many for the worse.
A Bad Seed
Although part of the plan was foiled, her father was able to regain the throne by default. The Lord warned Omer in a dream, and he took his family and fled for safety (see Ether 9:2–3). Jared then ascended the throne, and the marriage ceremony between his daughter and Akish took place as promised (see v. 4).
But for all the work it took to create a secret combination around the plot to kill her grandfather, Jared’s daughter had created an even bigger foe—her own husband. It’s anyone’s guess what she thought when Akish began his plan to kill Jared and take the throne for himself (see 9:5–6). Was she delighted to be queen? Or was she horrified that her husband had continued on a treacherous path? Yet she had been part of the earlier secret conspiracy, had even instigated it, so the leap doesn’t seem too large to suppose that she knew of the plan to assassinate her father.