Thursday, January 30, 2014

Proper Names in the Book of Mormon: A Matter of Chance?

It is no small feat . . . simply to have picked a lot of strange and original names out of the air. But what shall we say of the man who was able to pick the right ones?

Hugh Nibley, "Men of the East," Lehi in the Desert (1987), 132

Monday, January 27, 2014

Joseph Smith: Lazy Boy?

Everybody says Joseph Smith was lazy because of the things he didn't do, but what about the things he did do? What good does it do to say that you, with your tiny routine of daily busywork, think another man is lazy if that man happens to accomplish more than ten ordinary men in a short lifetime? Joseph Smith's activities are a matter of record and they are phenomenal. You might as well claim that Horowitz doesn't know how to play the piano to a man who owns a library of Horowitz recordings, or that Van Gogh couldn't paint to the owner of an original Van Gogh, or that Dempsey couldn't fight to a man who had fought him, as to maintain that Joseph Smith was a lazy loafer to the historian who gets dizzy merely trying to follow him through a few short years of his tremendous activity.

I think this constantly reiterated unfailing charge that Joseph Smith was a raggle-taggle, down-at-the-heels, sloppy, lazy, good-for-nothing supplies the best possible test for the honesty and reliability of his critics. Some of them reach almost awesome heights of mendacity and effrontery when, like Mrs. Brodie, they solemnly inform us that Joseph Smith, the laziest man on earth, produced in a short time, by his own efforts, the colossally complex and difficult Book of Mormon.

Hugh Nibley, “Myth Makers," Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass (1991), 144-45

Friday, January 24, 2014

More on Nahom

Neal Rappleye and Stephen Smoot have an article on minimalist efforts to downplay the identification of the site of Nahom over at Interpreter.

Blasphemy! The Book of Mormon

The first and foremost objection to the Book of Mormon was summed up in the first word of Alexander Campbell's opening blast against it: "Blasphemy!" The first thing that would hit any Christian on opening to the title page was the claim of this book to be nothing less than the word of God—right beside the Bible! . . .

Again the Book of Mormon has the last word. Rare indeed is the Christian scholar today who would maintain that every word declared canonical in the past by committees claiming no inspiration whatever is the absolute word of God or that all the writing given noncanonical status by the same learned conclaves are, when they claim the status of scripture, to be condemned out of hand as fraudulent. That won't do any more. Today religious journals are full of perplexed and controversial articles on "What is Scripture?"

Hugh Nibley, "Howlers in the Book of Mormon," The Prophetic Book of Mormon (1989), 253

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is Doctrine More Important Than Book of Mormon History?

Now there are those who say, “I believe that doctrine is all that is important in the Book of Mormon; we do not need to worry about the history.” We are faced, however, with the fact that most of the Book of Mormon is history. It is not doctrine; that is, it’s not doctrine in the sense of quotable proof texts–things that we can memorize and quote. Instead, history is a kind of container for doctrine. We do not understand the form of the doctrine, the substance of the doctrine, without knowing the substance of the history. We cannot know all the meaning of all those wars and migrations, the destructions, the ups and downs and the social fate of the peoples in the Book of Mormon unless we interpret it doctrinally. Doctrine and history are two sides of the same coin. We cannot have one without the other. Now, doctrine as such can be learned by careful reading and investigation and study and prayer in regard to the text of the Book of Mormon as we have it. The matter of history, however, deserves equal care and exhaustive examination. It, itself, the history, is a convincer of the authenticity of the book as much as doctrine is.

John Sorenson, “The Book of Mormon in Ancient America,” (1994), 4.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Those Who Disappear

The Book of Mormon tells of several prophets and leaders who prophesy, give counsel, entrust valuable records and other sacred objects to their sons, and then depart out of the land without ever being seen again (Alma 45:1-19; 3 Nephi 1:2-3; 2:9). Alma entrusted the Nephite records to his son Helaman (Alma 37:1-47), and then prophesied of the future destruction of the Nephites as a people (Alma 45:9-14). "And when he had done this he departed out of the land of Zarahemla, as if to go into the land of Melek. And it came to pass that he was never heard of more; as to his death or burial we know not of. Behold, this we know, that he was a righteous man" (Alma 45:18-19). In his recent book, Mormon’s Codex, John Sorenson notes a similar pattern found in Mesoamerican lore. Among the Quiche Maya, “some of the most important rulers were said to have disappeared without leaving notice whether or not they `tasted death.’” (Mormon’s Codex: An Ancient American Book. Salt Lake City: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and Deseret Book, 2013, 471-72. Sorenson is citing the work of Robert M. Carmack, The Quiche Maya of Utatlan. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981, 149).

Although Sorenson does not cite specific examples for this pattern, one is found in the Mayan Popol Vuh, which recounts the departure of the founding tribal ancestors Balam Quitze, Balam Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui Balam. According to this account these leaders first gave counsel and instruction to their sons, charged them to remember them and gave them a sacred bundle. Then, though they were not sick or ill, they departed.

This, then, was their counsel when they disappeared there atop the mountain Hacavitz. They were not buried by their wives, nor their children. Neither was their disappearance clear when they vanished. But their counsel was clear . . . . Thus were the deaths of our four grandfathers and fathers when they disappeared, when they left their sons there on top of the mountain Hacavitz. (Allen J. Christenson, ed. and trans., Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya. New York and Winchester: O Books, 2003), 253-55, emphasis added).

Nezahualpilla King of Tezcoco (Wikipedia Commons)

Diego Duran in his History of the Indies of New Spain tells how Nezahualpilli, one of the last kings of Tezcoco visited Motecuhzoma before his death and foretold the destruction of the Aztec empire. Like Alma in the Book of Mormon, the old king foretold the future destruction of their people.

O powerful and great lord! I do not wish to trouble your peaceful spirit, but the obligation I have to serve you forces me to reveal a strange and bewildering thing that I have been permitted to to see by the Lord of the Heavens, of Night and Day, and of Wind, something that is to happen in your time.

You must be on your guard, you must be warned, because I have discovered that in a very few years our cities will be ravaged and destroyed. We and our children shall be killed, our subjects humbled. Of all these things you must not doubt. . . . Before many days have passed you will see signs in the sky that will appear as an omen of what I am saying. But do not be cast down because of these things, since one cannot turn one’s face from that which must be. One consolation is that I shall not see these calamities and afflictions because my days are numbered
  (Doris Heyden, ed. and trans., The History of the Indies of New Spain By Fray Diego Duran (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994, 452).

According to most historical sources the old king died not long before the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico. One source, however, the Codex Chimalpahin, tells a different story.

1515, Ten Reed. At this time Necahualpiltzintli [Nezahualpilli], ruler of Texcoco died. He had ruled for twenty-four years. And when it is all added up, he lived on earth fifty-two years. But although it has thus been put forth that Necahualpiltzintli died, it is not true that he died. He was just gone; he just disappeared. It is not known where he went, although all the ancestors knew and said that it was said that he went into a cave near Mount Tetzcotzin as soon as he first knew that the Spaniards were coming here to New Spain; that they would spread out, that they would be rulers yet. For the aforesaid Necahualpiltzintli knew it well. He was a great sorcerer and a wise man. 1516, Eleven Flint. At this time the Lord Cacamatzin was installed as ruler of Texcoco. He was the son of Necahualpiltzintli, who had just disappeared.

(Arthur J. O. Anderson Susan Schroeder, eds. and trans., Codex Chimalpahin: Society and Politics in Mexico Tenochtitlan, Tlateleco, Texcoco, Culhuacan, and Other Nahua Altepetl in Central Mexico. The Nahuatl and Spanish annals and accounts collected and recorded by don Domingo de San Anton Munon Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin. Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997, 2:37, emphasis added).

While I strongly doubt that the King of Tezcoco was translated, the pattern found in some Mesoamerican literature is an interesting one. Make of it what you will.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

“Blessed is he that shall bring this thing to light”

As a believer in the Book of Mormon, someone with a testimony, I do not need to win the debate with disbelievers. It becomes rather irrelevant to me, although there are those who wish to carry on the debate–and they may if they wish, as far as I’m concerned. I am more concerned with reaching out to accomplish the blessing–to bring about what Mormon describes in chapter 8, verse 16, of his book. He says, “Blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light. It shall shine forth out of darkness and come unto the knowledge of the people.” He’s speaking, of course, of the Book of Mormon itself, and the obvious fulfillment of that blessing was on Joseph Smith, but perhaps those of us who would like to clarify–make more convincing, make more understandable–the Book of Mormon are in our own ways also bringing it to light–to a knowledge of the people. It certainly still remains dark for some.

John Sorenson, “The Book of Mormon in Ancient America,” (1994), 2-3.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The War Chapters in the Book of Mormon

Readers of the Book of Mormon often express disgust or at least weariness and impatience at having to wade through 170 pages of wars and alarms in a religious book. This writer must confess to having suffered from the same prejudice. After surviving three years of military intelligence at every level from company to army group, with frequent visits to Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) on the one hand and a muddy foxhole on the other, and after reading and writing thousands of reports on enemy dispositions and tactics from company sector to army front, I have always been inclined to rush through the military parts of the Book of Mormon as painful reminders of an unpleasant past. In twenty years of writing about the Book of Mormon we have studiously ignored the war stories. But that is where we were wrong.

The whole point of Alma's (or rather Mormon's) studies in "the work of death" as he calls it, is that they are supposed to be revolting—they are meant to be painful.

Hugh Nibley, "A Rigorous Test: Military History," Since Cumorah (1987), 291

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Book of Mormon

It is a surprisingly big book, supplying quite enough rope for a charlatan to hang himself a hundred times. As the work of an imposter it must unavoidably bear all the marks of fraud. It should be poorly organized, shallow, artificial, patchy, and unoriginal. It should display a pretentious vocabulary (the Book of Mormon uses only 3,000 words), overdrawn stock characters, melodramatic situations, gaudy and overdone descriptions, and bombastic diction . . ..

Whether one believes its story or not, the severest critic of the Book of Mormon, if he reads it with care at all, must admit that it is the exact opposite. . . . It is carefully organized, specific, sober, factual, and perfectly consistent.

Hugh Nibley, "Good People and Bad People," Since Cumorah (1988), 337-38

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Crime and Punishment

There are those who believe that carrots are better motivators than sticks, that we should only emphasize the rewards and not the punishments. This little report brings that into question:
Last year researchers from the University of Oregon found that crime rates are higher in countries where more people believe in heaven than in hell.

The findings emerged from a study into 26 years of data involving more than 140,000 people from almost 70 nations.

Academics discovered that offences such as murders, robberies and rapes were more common in societies where punishment forms an important part of people's religious beliefs.

This means a country where more people think there is a heaven than a hell, for example, is likely to see more offences than a nation where beliefs are more equally shared.
The situation is actually outlined in the Book of Mormon by Alma:
 17 Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment?

18 Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man.

19 Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder?

20 And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin. (Alma 42:17–21)

"And he fastened it upon the end of pole"

In Alma 46 we read of Moroni's effort to rally the Nephites against dissenters who threatened the Church of Christ and the liberty of the people. "And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it--In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children--and he fastened it upon the end of a pole" (Alma 46:12) he then took the pole upon which he placed his torn coat and rallied the people to his cause (Alma 46:13). And "the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins" (Alma 46:21). There are many aspects of this account which are of interest and shed light upon this episode, some of which have been explored by scholars. 

Roland de Vaux, an authority on ancient Israelite institutions and practices notes that the Hebrew term nes, often translated as a banner (Isaiah 5:26; 11:10, 12; 13:2; 18:3; Jeremiah 4:6; 51:12, 27;  Exodus 17:15) "is not really an ensign, but a pole or mast, which was raised on a hill to give the signal to take up arms or to rally together (Is 5:26; 11:10, 12; 13:2; 18:3; Jr 4:6; 51:12, 27; cf. Ex 17:15)." He noted that "the custom exists among the Arabs, and only a few years ago, when a surveyor named Schumacher was making topographical surveys in Galilee, he [inadvertently] brought about the mobilization of a neighboring tribe by fixing a sighting picket on the top of a hill" (Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel: its Life and Institutions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961, 227).

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Book of Mormon Challenge to the World

A century and a quarter ago, a young man shocked and angered the world by bringing out a large book that he set up beside the Bible, not as a commentary or a key to the scriptures, but as original scripture—the revealed word of God to men of old—and as genuine history.

The book itself declares that it is an authentic product of the Near East. It gives a full and circumstantial account of its own origin. It declares that it is but one of many, many such books that have been produced in the course of history and may be hidden in sundry places at this day. It places itself in about the middle of a long list of sacred writings, beginning with the patriarchs and continuing down to the end of human history. It cites now-lost prophetic writings of prime importance, giving the names of their authors. It traces its own cultural roots in all directions, emphasizing the immense breadth and complexity of such connections in the world. It belongs to the same class of literature as the Bible, but, along with a sharper and clearer statement of biblical teachings, contains a formidable mass of historical material unknown to biblical writers but well within the range of modern comparative study since it insists on deriving its whole cultural tradition, even in details, directly from a specific time and place in the Old World.

The Book of Mormon is God's challenge to the world. It was given to the world not as a sign to convert it but as a testimony to convict it. In every dispensation the world must be left without excuse. It is given without reservation or qualification as a true history and the word of God.

Hugh Nibley, "Historicity of the Bible," Old Testament and Related Studies (1986), 15-16

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Ordeal of the Three Nephites and the Popol Vuh (Mesoamerican Perspectives)

    The Book of Mormon tells of three Nephite disciples who, like the Apostle John were blessed by Jesus that they should “never taste death” and “never endure the pains of death” (3 Nephi 28:6-8). As they went forth to preach, these chosen representatives of the resurrected Lord were persecuted by those who “denied the Christ” and his gospel and “did despise them because of the many miracles which were wrought among them. Therefore they did exercise power and authority over the disciples of Jesus” (4 Nephi1:29-30), According to Mormon, “they were cast into prison by them who did not belong to the church. And the prisons could not hold them, for they were rent in twain, And they were cast down into the earth: but they did smite the earth with the word of God, insomuch that by his power they were delivered out of the depths of the earth; and therefore they could not dig pits sufficient to hold them. And thrice they were cast into a furnace and received no harm. And twice were they cast into a den of wild beasts; and behold they did play with the beasts as a child with a suckling lamb, and received no harm” (3 Nephi 28:19-22; see also 4 Nephi 1:30-33). (1) To the modern reader the behavior of the disciples’ enemies may seem curious. There being no shortage of ways in which one might kill or attempt to kill one’s opponents, why, we might ask, were these methods chosen by the disciples’ persecutors, and what may have been their significance to those who observed them? (2) While definitive answers to these questions are elusive, it may be useful to consider Mormon’s account in light of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican myths found in the Mayan Popol Vuh.

    Chief and oldest among these tales are the exploits of the two Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque, and their triumph over various proud and powerful opponents (3). The brothers’ exploits are represented on Mesoamerican monuments, painted murals and vases dating back to Pre-Classic times evidencing the antiquity of the story. “The Twins were the very model of what ruling princes should be. They were eternally youthful and therefore immortal. Their father the Maize God had suffered death in the Underworld, but thanks to their efforts he was reborn on the surface of the earth; in a like manner, so were the temporal lords of the Maya realm responsible for the seasonal planting, germination, and harvest of the great staple food, maize.” (4)  From an early time down to the European arrival, “Maya kings seem to have emulated the Hero Twins and their exploits.” (5) In fact, “Maya Rulers exploited their myth known as the Popol Vuh, to prove their right to rule . . . They portrayed themselves in the images of their gods and demigods. The most powerful and popular of the characters they cloaked themselves with were the famous Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque.”(6)

    While the ordeals repeatedly inflicted on the three disciples by those seeking power may seem curious to the modern reader, it is noteworthy that similar ordeals are associated with Hunahpu and Xbalanque in the Popol Vuh. The Popol Vuh tells of the monster Cabracan who had the power to cause earthquakes. At the direction of the god Huracan, the precocious brothers outwitted their dangerous enemy by tricking him to eat, thereby causing him to lose his power. “Then the boys tied him up. They tied his hands behind his back. The boys were mindful to make sure that his hands were well bound. They also tied his ankles together. Then they hurled him down into the earth and buried him.” (7) Contemporary traditions in highland Guatemala seem to reflect this story. In the town of Chichicastenango: “They say of the earthquake that there is a giant under the earth, bound by his hands and feet, and when there is a slight tremor, it is because he has moved his hands and feet a little; and when he turns over on the other side is when there are strong earthquakes.” (8) In the ancient Maya story, the troublesome monster was restrained by hurling him down into the earth and burying him. Perhaps by casting the three disciples into the earth, the disciples’ enemies may have hoped to bolster their claims to rulership and authority by emulating the exploits of Hunahpu and Xbalanque, but their actions seemingly backfired for when the disciples were “cast down into the earth,” this failed to restrain them as it had Cabracan, “but they did smite the earth with the word of God, insomuch that they were delivered out of the depths of the earth; and therefore they could not dig pits sufficient to hold them” (3 Nephi 28:20). Consequently, “the powers of the earth could not hold them” (3 Nephi 28:39). (9)

    The Popol Vuh also tells of the Hero twins’ encounter and eventual triumph in Xibalba where they outwitted the lords of death. During their visit, the hero twins were confined in various rooms where the evil lords of death hoped that they would be overcome and killed, as others had been. In one of these ordeals they were confined in a house full of hungry jaguars, but were not killed. They outwitted the Lords of death by speaking to the beasts and giving them bones to eat. (10) “What they had planned to do, they had done despite all their afflictions and misfortunes. Thus they did not die in the trials of Xibalba. Neither were they defeated by all the ravenous beasts that lived there.” (11) In another later, but possibly related tale found among the Popoluca of Veracruz, the corn-god hero Homshuk fills the same role as the Hero Twins and undergoes a similar ordeal. “In the land of Hurricane, there were different kinds of jails: one in which there were hungry tigers, another in which there were famished serpents . . . Then Homshuk was ordered placed in the jail where there were serpents. `You are a nagual,’ Hurricane said. `Here you are going to be eaten.’ But in the morning when they appeared, he was seated on a serpent. He had not been eaten. . . .  The next night he was placed in the jail with the tigers, and he told them the same thing that he had told the serpents, keeping only the largest to serve as his chair. . . . On the following day, Hurricane saw that the boy was not dead, and he said, `That is a nagual.’ Then he pondered, and finally said, `We won’t be able to kill him this way, but since he is a nagual, he can’t continue to live amongst us.’” (12) The tale of Homshuk, like that of Hunahpu and Xbalanque reminds us of the ordeal of the three Nephites who played with the dangerous beasts and receive no harm (3 Nephi 28:22; 4 Nephi 1:33).

    In another ordeal, the Hero Twins were confined in a house of fire. “There was nothing but fire inside. But they were not burned. They were to have been roasted and set aflame. Instead they were just fine when the dawn came. It had been desired that they would straightway die when they passed through there, but it was not so. Thus all Xibalba lost heart as a result.”  (13) Similarly, the three Nephites were cast into a furnace of fire on several occasions, but “received no harm” (3 Nephi 28:21; 4 Nephi 1:32). While the persecutors may have thought that these ordeals would have strengthened their own authority in the eyes of the people, the miraculous deliverance of the disciples could be seen as a testament to the power of Jesus who had bestowed this blessing upon his three chosen representatives.

    In the Popol Vuh, the two brothers definitively demonstrated their divine power in a voluntary act of immolation. After being consumed in the flame, they were then transformed, disguised and tricked the lords of death into sacrificing themselves. After humbling their proud enemies, the two heroes ascended into heaven where they became the sun and the moon. By besting the lords of Xibalba at the various ordeals, the Hero Twins demonstrated their power over death and exposed the illegitimacy of their enemies. “Surely, they were not true gods. Their names merely inspired fear, for their faces were evil. They were strife makers, traitors, and tempters to sin and violence . . . . Thus their greatness and their glory were destroyed.” (14) While speculative, it is tempting to view the confrontation between the three disciples and their opponents in a setting where the exploits of the Hero Twins were known and tied to claims of authority and rulership by those who rejected the gospel of Christ. The implications of the unexpected outcome could not have been lost on those who witnessed it. In triumphing over these efforts to slay them, the disciples effectively turned the tables, exposing the folly of their power seeking enemies and validating the teachings and authority of their Master, the rightful Lord who had truly triumphed over death.

1. Mormon provides two descriptions of the miraculous deeds of the three disciples (3 Nephi 28:18-23; 4 Nephi 1:29-34), but it is unclear if these descriptions refer only to the events in 4 Nephi or to two separate episodes (one shortly after the visitation of Jesus associated with the conversion of the people in that generation and to another two hundred years later, during which the disciples were rejected). While I prefer the later, either reading is possible.

(2) Moroni alludes to the faith of the Pre-Columbian saints. “For in his name could they remove mountains; and in his name could they cause the earth to shake; and by the power of his word did they cause prisons to tumble to the earth; yea, even the fiery furnace could not harm them, neither wild beasts nor poisonous serpents, because of the power of his word” (Mormon 8:24). These miracles attributed to the three Nephites and other Book of Mormon prophets may have become a point of persecution inflicted on the disciples of Jesus by those who saw them as a threat to their own power and opposed the teachings of Christ.

(3) Allen J. Christenson, Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya (New York: Winchester, 2003).

(4) Michael D. Coe, “The Hero Twins: Myth and Image,” in Justin Kerr, ed., The Maya Vase Book: A Corpus of Rollout Photographs of Maya Vases (New York: Kerr Associates, 1989),1:182.

(5) Mary Miller and Karl Taube, The God’s and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya (London: Thames and Hudson, 1993), 134.

(6) Justin Kerr, “The Myth of the Popol Vuh as an Instrument of Power,” in Elin C. Danien and Robert Sharer, eds., New Theories on the Ancient Maya (University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, 1992),  109. 

(7) Christenson, Popol Vuh, 110.

(8) Christenson, Popol Vuh, 111, note 219.

(9) One wonders if a similar motivation may lie behind to murder of Jaredite prophets during th reign of King Heth (Ether 9:29).

(10) Christenson, Popol Vuh, 170.

(11) Christenson, Popol Vuh, 177.

(12) George M. Foster, Sierra Popoluca Folklore and Beliefs (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1945), 193.

(13) Christenson, The Popol Vuh, 171.

(14) Christenson, The Popol Vuh, 188.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Amalickiah's Coup: Insights into Alma 47

Morgan Deane at Warfare and the Book of Mormon has written several insightful posts which should be of interest to those interested in the subject

"For the Peace of Our people: Amalickiah's Arguments in Alma 47."

"Imperial Patriots: The Book of Mormon War Chapters as a Catalyst For Imperialism"

Deane, a historian of ancient military history, anticipates the publication of a book on Book of Mormon warfare in the near future.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Jaredite Inheritance Patterns

Jaredite kingship passes from father to son, but perhaps not from father to oldest son. Consider the following passages:
And it came to pass that he [Orihah] also begat Kib in his old age. And it came to pass that Kib reigned in his stead (Ether 7:3).
nevertheless Kib begat Shule in his old age, while he was yet in captivity. . . . And now because of the thing which Shule had done, his father bestowed upon him the kingdom; therefore he began to reign in the stead of his father. (Ether 7:7, 10)
And it came to pass that Shule begat sons and daughters in his old age. . . . And it came to pass that he begat Omer, and Omer reigned in his stead. (Ether 7:26, 8:1)
And it came to pass that Omer began to be old; nevertheless, in his old age he begat Emer; and he anointed Emer to be king to reign in his stead. (Ether 9:14)
And Emer did execute judgment in righteousness all his days, and he begat many sons and daughters; and he begat Coriantum, and he anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead. (Ether 9:21)
And it came to pass that Coriantum took to wife, in his old age, a young maid, and begat sons and daughters; wherefore he lived until he was an hundred and forty and two years old. And it came to pass that he begat Com, and Com reigned in his stead (Ether 9:24–25).
There is a possible break in the pattern at this point, but the text is not clear.
And Shez did live to an exceedingly old age; and he begat Riplakish. And he died, and Riplakish reigned in his stead. (Ether 10:4)
There is another break at this point, but the pattern continues with two successive kings:
And it came to pass that Kim did not reign in righteousness, wherefore he was not favored of the Lord. And his brother did rise up in rebellion against him, by which he did bring him into captivity; and he did remain in captivity all his days; and he begat sons and daughters in captivity, and in his old age he begat Levi; and he died. And it came to pass that Levi did serve in captivity after the death of his father, for the space of forty and two years. And he did make war against the king of the land, by which he did obtain unto himself the kingdom. And after he had obtained unto himself the kingdom he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord; and the people did prosper in the land; and he did live to a good old age, and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Corom, whom he anointed king in his stead. (Ether 10:13–16)
Later, the pattern continues:
And he [Com] lived to a good old age, and begat Shiblom; and Shiblom reigned in his stead. (Ether 11:4)
So among the Jaredites, at least ten kings were replaced by children born when they were old. While we do not know that these children were the youngest or the youngest son, it certainly looks like a case of ultimogeniture as opposed to the more common primogeniture. This follows the precedent in the case of the first Jaredite king:
And it came to pass that the people desired of them that they should anoint one of their sons to be a king over them. And now behold, this was grievous unto them. And the brother of Jared said unto them: Surely this thing leadeth into captivity. But Jared said unto his brother: Suffer them that they may have a king. And therefore he said unto them: Choose ye out from among our sons a king, even whom ye will. And it came to pass that they chose even the firstborn of the brother of Jared; and his name was Pagag. And it came to pass that he refused and would not be their king. And the people would that his father should constrain him, but his father would not; and he commanded them that they should constrain no man to be their king. And it came to pass that they chose all the brothers of Pagag, and they would not. And it came to pass that neither would the sons of Jared, even all save it were one; and Orihah was anointed to be king over the people. (Ether 6:22–27)
We have one other piece of information about Orihah before he became king.
And Jared had four sons; and they were called Jacom, and Gilgah, and Mahah, and Orihah. (Ether 6:14)
Orihah comes last in the list and seems to have been the youngest of Jared's sons. With the founding ruler the youngest son, the precedent seems to have been for the youngest son to succeed the father as ruler. This would at least explain an otherwise peculiar system of Jaredite succession.