In Ether 2:6 we read that the Brother of Jared built barges in which they crossed many waters. In Ether 2:16 he is again commanded to build barges to cross ‘the great deep’. Would the first set of barges not have had plugs in them to stop their inhabitants from being drowned while allowing them to have air to breathe? Also no mention is made of the first set having light, but presumably they would have needed light for the journey. Thanks.
Unlike Nephi’s surprisingly thorough documentation of the route taken by his group when leaving Jerusalem and coming to their promised land, the Book of Ether offers us almost no geographical cues to piece together the travels of the people of Jared. Ether 2:6 contains a passing reference to barges built by the people of Jared, which they used to traverse “many waters.” Ten verses later, we read the Lord’s commands to build more barges “after the manner which they had built.” Verses 16 and 17 describe in a bit more detail what these boats were like — which, judging by my personal reading of these verses, were apparently almond-shaped and perhaps 35-70 feet (10-20 meters) long.
However, the following verses show another aspect of this task, one not yet encountered by the Jaredites. They were led spiritually by the brother of Jared, one of the mightiest prophets of whom we have record, The brother of Jared recognized in this task something fundamentally different from their previous efforts at barge-building: These barges would be used to cross the “great deep” in an extended voyage. But the barges were not fit for long voyages for at least two reasons: First, there was no light source inside the barges, rendering the interiors inky black, with no ability to see in order to steer or take care of other necessities; and second, the barges were airtight, with no mechanism to allow the passengers to breathe when the air became stale. Since these were problems that were beyond the ken of the Jaredites to solve on their own initiative, the brother of Jared took them to the Lord, and the Lord gave him instructions to help them resolve the problems. (For a fascinating and instructive take on this scriptural account, read or listen to Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s BYU devotional speech “Agency or Inspiration – Which?“)
In short, the Jaredites’ earlier barge-building efforts appear to have been for a shorter-duration voyage, so no special construction was required. It was only when crossing the sea, a journey of nearly a year, that they needed such special construction and conditions.