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The lines of kings continued, with the wicked kings bringing oppression and destruction upon the people, and the righteous king easing their burdens and restoring them. Shez “began to build up again a broken people” (verse 1) because he remembered the destruction his ancestors had experienced (verse 2). So he led the people to righteousness, walking “in the ways of the Lord” (verse 2).
His son, like other sons, rebelled against him (verse 3). But like others who had rebelled, he was killed by the very venue he was using to rebel against his father. This pattern continues over and over throughout Ether, where the wicked are destroyed by those they used to rise in power using that same wickedness against them.
Since this son was killed, another son, Riplakish, reigned when Shez passed away (verse 4). He “did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord”, grieving the people with burdens and taxes, and misusing government funds, and engaging in many sexual sins (verse 5). When people could not pay their taxes, he threw them in prison and forced them to labor to pay off their debts – and killed those who would not or could not (verse 6). His unrighteous dominion “did afflict the people” (verse 7).
When he had reigned for more than forty years, the people rebelled against them, and so there was war in the land (verse 8). This is another continued pattern we learn in Ether.
The next descendant, Morianton, gave battle to the people, gaining power over the cities and land until he made himself king (verse 9). When he became king, he did the righteous thing: “he did ease the burden of the people” (verse 10). Because he was good to the people, the people loved him.
However, he did not make good choices for himself (verse 11). He continued in the sexual sins that he had grown up learning from his father’s bad behavior, which means the people of his generation had also grown up with these sins being “normal” and commonplace. Because he did not repent, and did not address it with the people, he lost the presence of the Lord.
Without the spirit of the Lord, it was much more difficult for him to make good choices even for the people, because we need the spirit of the Lord to help us discern between what is right and what is wrong. So once he chose to keep “some” of the sins of his father, then he began to commit other sins like his father had as well. He built up wealth at the expense of the people (verse 12), and did not teach his children righteousness. So when his son began to reign, he also “did not reign in righteousness, wherefore he was not favored of the Lord” (verse 13).
Because of his unrighteousness, this king’s brother rebelled against him, and put him in captivity (verse 14). Even his children were born in captivity (verse 15), until battling themselves out of captivity. This son remembered the Lord, and repented, and reigned by doing “that which was right in the sight of the Lord”, and so the people prospered (verse 16). He also taught his children the ways of the Lord, and so they reigned in righteousness as well for several generations (verses 17-19).
The people prospered in righteousness, enough to build a great city and to have enough game for hunting. They were “exceedingly industrious”, and gained through trade (verse 22). They worked minerals (verse 23), and silks, and linen, and cloth (verse 24), and tools for farming (verse 25), and tools for their animals (verse 26). They also made weapons, able to protect their lands and families and provisions (verse 27).
And never could be a people more blessed than were they, and more prospered by the hand of the Lord. And they were in a land that was choice above all lands, for the Lord had spoken it (verse 28).
They continued in righteousness, until their wealth made them proud, and they focused on weapons, and then their kingdom was taken away (verse 30). Then they were in captivity for many generations (verse 31). Battling against their captors, they regained some of the kingdom (verse 32), and also found themselves battling against the Gaddianton Robbers seeking to gain wealth and power to the destruction of everyone else (verses 33).
The people “did not prevail against them” (verse 34) because the only way to conquer them was through righteousness – not just actual battle.