30 And it came to pass that Hearthom reigned in the stead of his father. And when Hearthom had reigned twenty and four years, behold, the kingdom was taken away from him. And he served many years in captivity, yea, even all the remainder of his days.
31 And he begat Heth, and Heth lived in captivity all his days. And Heth begat Aaron, and Aaron dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Amnigaddah, and Amnigaddah also dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Coriantum, and Coriantum dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Com. (Ether 10:30-31, emphasis added)
That’s a lot of captivity. Verse 31 has massive history compression, and all you learn about four generations is that they were all in captivity.
So I began to wonder, what does it mean when a king is in captivity? What is the character of this captivity?
While I was starting to think about that, I realized that this idea of kings in captivity is repeated over and over in the Book of Ether. Its repetition suggests that it has great importance to us.
In one way, it is important because it shows the fulfillment of the prophecy made by the brother of Jared that kingship brings into captivity. But in another way, it is important because those of us who are endowed have been promised that we will become kings and queens, priests and priestesses unto the most high God hereafter, and yet WE may still be living now in spiritual captivity!
Reading those verses about the Jaredite kings has always given me a feeling of sadness that they lived at a level so far below their privileges. But now I see that it may be just as true of me as well, if I don’t repent and keep a broken and contrite heart.
13 O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe. (2 Nephi 1:13)
29 And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom. (2 Nephi 2:29)
18 Or, that a cursing should come upon you for the space of many generations; and ye are visited by sword, and by famine, and are hated, and are led according to the will and captivity of the devil. (2 Nephi 1:18)
For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other—either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken. (1 Nephi 14:7)
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12:11)
Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever….(2 Nephi 1:7)
We escape captivity through faith in Christ, repentance, and keeping the commandments.