Babylon was the city during ancient times that was built by Nimrod, the man who also commenced the construction of the Tower of Babel. Before the tower itself was finished, however, the Lord expressed his displeasure of what was taking place and stopped everything by confusing the languages of the people. "So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of the earth, "the Bible says, "and they left off to build the city." (Genesis 11: 8)
Yet there was one group of people who had foreknowledge of what was going to happen, and a prophet among them prayed to God that their language would not be confounded, which request was granted. As a consequence, a people known as the J aredites left Babylon and under divine guidance began a long journey toward a distant place, their promise from the beginning being that it would be a choice land and a land of promise.
But the prospects oftravel were not good because there was a long way to go, involving a passage over land and then across an ocean. The latter would require worthy sea vessels capable of transporting a large company of people. They would also need some type of special lighting , since the eight barges they eventually constructed were sealed over the top, blocking out the sunlight. Each vessel was shaped like a dish, both the top and the bottom, with peaked ends and a sealable door. Those traveling inside would often be submerged in water and necessarily would require some kind of illumination or light source.
To obtain what was needed, the Jaredite prophet again prayed to the Lord asking for help, and this time it was left up to the people to help find a solution to the light problem. Consequently, the prophet ascended a high mountain and there smelted sixteen small stones out of a rock. As recorded in the Book of Mormon, the stones were "white and clear, even as transparent glass." (Ether 3: 1) The prophet again prayed, this time asking the Lord to reach down and touch the stones, causing them to illuminate.
And so the miracle occurred as "the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the rocks one by one with his finger," after which the transparent stones immediately began to shine! "And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness." (Ether 3:6,6:3)
It was then that the Jaredites continued their journey, the final distance being across a vast expanse of ocean where they were driven forth continually by the wind. For almost a year they traveled before reaching the choice land they had been promised. Their voyage was successful, and even though many times they were tossed furiously upon the waves and often buried in the depths of the sea, the barges remained tight like unto"'dish and gave a safe passage, as had happened before on the ark during the days of Noah!
Written by Clay McConkie.
Click here "Ether 1:33-43; 2 - 4, 6:1-12" to read the actual account of this story from the Book of Mormon.