Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2010, May 10

“Book of Mormon | UPDATE: Glass Windows in Ether?” by grego

I commented earlier on John Tvedtnes’ article “Heavenly Light” found at here.

Hugh Nibley showed that glass was very likely already in existence at the time, and there wouldn’t be any problems with “glass windows”.

I have a few additional comments:

I prefer Nibley’s explanation of the windows actually being glass! To me, it beats the pants off of FAIR and Tvedtnes’ explanations as the windows *not* being made of glass.

I guess FAIR and Tvedtnes’ window explanation is possible, but I have a hard time imagining that the Lord would say, “don’t use open holes, because the waves might break the barges”; instead of “open holes in barges = you’ll drown, eh!”.

Noah’s ark was huge–and I’m sure the window(s) were much higher up on the huge (tall) boat, than the windows on the barges that the Jaredites were on; I mean, I don’t envision barges that were the length of a tree, also being taller than a tree; does anyone?

The windows’ main purpose was to provide air, but by being glass, they would also provide light at all times, not just when opened up all the way–which would be hard to do with shutters/ covers. If so, the brother of Jared was trying to kill two birds with one stone in his design.

Though the antecedent problem (however strong… or weak it might be) is an explanation, there’s this verse, in Ether 3:1:
“1 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared, (now the number of the vessels which had been prepared was eight) went forth unto the mount, which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as *TRANSPARENT GLASS*; and he did carry them in his hands upon the top of the mount, and cried again unto the Lord…”

It seems the Jaredites either had glass, or something similar that Ether/ Mormon/ JS (take your pick) used “transparent glass” to describe. Now, if it was the same, well, glass! If it wasn’t glass, but it was *just* “white and clear, even as transparent glass”, is it possible that… well…? close enough? Maybe a window or such from something…? ;)


  1. Hi Grego.

    I have a problem with the idea that the barges had glass windows. Here is why

    God said that the barges would need to be “tight like unto a dish”, because they were to be “as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon.” This sounds to me like there would be times when the barges would be completely submerged, like a submarine. What that in mind, we need to consider which type of “window” would be more likely to withstand such conditions.

    Glass windows probably wouldn’t work. It is hard enough to build glass windows on a submarine with modern technology, and it seems utterly impossible for that feat to be done with the technology that the brother of Jared had to work with. Even 200 years ago wooden ships did not have glass windows built into the lower decks because it would never be sealed well enough to keep water out, and it would probably break from the pressure anyway.

    What about the type of windows that Tvedtnes suggests? I envision windows that are simply openings in the barge but which can be opened and shut like a small door. Sort of like Noah’s door, but as you point out it would need to be sealed tighter than Noah’s needed to be. These doors would need to be shut tight enough so that water would not seep through when it was under water. I recognize that such a challenge is also unlikely for the same reasons I listed above for glass windows, but it seems much more probable to me. Thick wooden “doors” on the window opening sound like they could seal off water much better than glass windows.

    The Lord recognized that any such windows (glass or with wooden doors) would compromise the structural integrity of the barges and so instructed that no such features were to be built.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. I just see glass windows as being far less likely, nigh impossible, while the alternative sounds more plausible.

    Comment by James — 2010, May 13 @ 4:47 am

  2. Hi James,

    I should distinguish a few things to make my comments clearer and more relevant. I think we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves, or at least the Book of Mormon.

    1. Tvedtnes’ first point was that modern readers assume “window” means “glass”. Likely so; but is there anything that shows the Lord is *not* talking about glass? Even with all the noted correct interpretations of window–still, unfortunately, no.

    2. Tvedtnes’ claimed that “glass” didn’t exist at the time, so if you assumed “window” meant “glass” window, you were mistaken; the Lord was talking about something else/ another meaning.
    On that point, Nibley shows Tvedtnes’ assumptions were incorrect; and whatever type of window the Lord might have been talking about, the Book of Mormon (in Ether 3:1) shows that the original meaning could very well have been “glass”.

    3. Tvedtnes explains that the antecedent could be one that the normal reader would not assume; while it could be, it could just as well be that the antecedent *is* the one that the readers assume. (He also used this explanation with one or two other parts of the article, which I commented on at least one other time.)

    4. I don’t think the barges had glass windows, either; I can easily imagine that the brother of Jared had thought of that possibility, though. I think the Lord was alluding to “glass windows”–not thin panes of cheap glass like most American homes have nowadays; but thicker, stronger; but not even that would stand up to the crashing waves.

    What about something else here as understood as the window? Note that the purpose of the light was to “steer” (Ether 2:19). Well, if that was the case, transparent glass–or even better–an opening/ hole, would probably be the case (unless the brother of Jared was planning on using something simpler like the rising of the sun to steer or such).

    Sure, I can see “structural integrity” being a point–no matter what kind of windows they might have been talking about.

    Without knowing much about the barges, it’s hard to say; but the main point: there was glass or something near enough to it.

    Comment by grego — 2010, May 17 @ 12:26 pm

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