Towards the end of the Book of Mormon we read of the violent destruction of the Jaredite Nation, led by two military rivals: Coriantumr and Shiz.
Coriantumr was the king of the Jaredites, a man who had studied the art of war. Shiz was the brother of Lib, an earlier military leader that was killed by Coriantumr’s forces.
In the midst of this genocidal war (during which millions had been exterminated), the prophet Ether came to King Cortiantumr and pleaded with him to repent. For the Lord had told Ether that if Coriantumr, and all his household, would repent then “the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people” (Ether 13:20). But if he did not “they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself…and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr” (Ether 13:21).
Coriantumr not only rejects this message from Ether but he “sought to kill Ether” (Ether 13:22). Ether escapes and hides in a cave to record the last days of the Jaredite nation.
In time, Coriantumr is severely wounded in battle and when he “had recovered from his wounds, he began to remember the words which Ether had spoken unto him. He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart…He began to repent of the evil which he had done…and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted” (Ether 1-3).
Soon after this, Coriantumr wrote an epistle to Shiz, telling him that he would give Shiz the kingdom if Shiz would spare the lives of the people.
Now here’s the interesting part. Shiz writes back to Coriantumr, apparently agreeing with him, but with one minor exception: Shiz demanded that Coriantumr give himself up so that Shiz could slay him with his own sword.
Coriantumr’s response is reflected in this verse of scripture: “And it came to pass the people repented not of their iniquity; and the people of Coriantumr were stirred up to anger against the people of Shiz” (Ether 14:6).
The rest is as Ether prophesied. Millions upon millions of Jaredites are slaughtered in a horrendous war until Coriantumr stands alone, the last of his people.
At first glance, there seems to be little doctrinal depth in the senseless slaughter between these two rivals. But when I looked deeper into the story, I discovered one of the greatest analogies of Christ that I have ever read.
- Christ is a King and Coriantumr was a king.
- Christ gave us the commandments while Coriantumr rejected the commandments.
- Christ taught peace while Coriantumr studied war (Ether 13:16).
- Christ was wounded for our sins while Coriantumr was wounded for his sins.
- Christ gave his life for all mankind while Coriantumr kept his own life at the expense of his people.
- Christ’s sacrifice gives life, Coriantumr’s selfishness took life.
- Christ’s love brings more and more people into the fold while Coriantumr’s hatred annihilated his people.
There for us to ponder also is a clear case in which personal pride and rage kept two principals from acting for the welfare of their people. Shiz insisted on “getting his man,” even if it meant the destruction of his own people; and Coriantumr offered his kingdom but not his life for his people. Each said, in effect, that the ultimate object of his selfishness was nonnegotiable! Neither was willing to play the role of the intervenor and say of the circumstances, “This has gone too far—enough is enough.” How often on a lesser scale in human affairs do tinier tragedies occur for want of this selfless intervention? How often do we withhold the one thing that is needed to make a difference?
And thus we see the reverse Christ in the sad tale of Coriantumr. “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” (Luke 17:33).
Three Jaredites: Contrasting Contemporaries – Elder Neal A. Maxwell