2 Nephi 3
A Covenant Plan of Salvation
2 Nephi 3-5 (Preservation and Deliverance)
According to Catherine Thomas, three main ideas appear in 2 Nephi 3-5: Joseph in Egypt, Nephi's psalm, and the mark of the dark skin. At first glance they seem disparate subjects, but on deeper inspection the reader may see that a major thread of the entire Book of Mormon laces these chapters together, namely, the promise of deliverance, national and personal. In Chapter 3 Joseph of Egypt looked down through millennia with his seer's eye and saw the hand of God at work in the preservation and deliverance of his seed. In chapter 4 Nephi received a personal deliverance from the Lord. In chapter 5 the Lamanites rejected the Lord's deliverance and waded through centuries of suffering. Insight into the redeemer's power, love, and commitment to his children abounds in these chapters. [Catherine Thomas, "A Great Deliverance," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 1, p. 103]
2 Nephi 3:1-25 (Blessing of Joseph--Chiasm):
Shirley Heater has discovered that Lehi's blessing to his son Joseph (2 Nephi 3) is a beautiful chiastic structure (see illustration).
Lehi is probably reading this prophecy to his son Joseph directly from the brass plates. Hebrew children were often given a name of significance and then reminded by their parents to live up to the name. In this case, Joseph was undoubtedly named for Joseph of Egypt after Lehi discovered his lineage was through Manasseh, the son of Joseph of Egypt (see 1 Nephi 5:14; Alma 10:3).
In his final blessing to his son Joseph, Lehi thought it appropriate to remind him of his namesake and of the prophecies connected with the tribe of Joseph which were to be fulfilled at a future time. By reading this prophecy which was originally given to Joseph of Egypt directly by the Lord, Lehi is transmitting the promises given to the first Joseph to his son Joseph. It is exciting to realize that Lehi designed the center point of his last message to his son Joseph to be a restatement of the covenant made by the Lord to Joseph of Egypt: his seed would be restored to a knowledge of the covenants of the Lord as well as their heritage as part of the house of Israel. . . . Lehi's careful chiastic structuring of his son's blessing confirms to us once again that understanding the Hebrew nature of the Book of Mormon is indeed a key to understanding the message of the book!
1 A speak
2 B thy brethren
3 C Joseph
3 D may the Lord bless thee
3 E thy seed shall not be utterly destroyed
4 F covenants
4 G Joseph
5 H Joseph
5 I remembered in the covenants
5 J unto them
5 K in the latter days
6 L a seer shall the Lord my God raise up which shall be a choice seer unto the fruit
of my loins
7 M Thus saith the Lord unto me
9 N Moses
9 O I have said I would raise up
10 P Moses
11 Q power
11 R bring forth my word
12 S fruit of thy loins
12 T confounding
12 U bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers
12 U' and also to the knowledge of my covenants
14 T' confounded
14 S' fruit of my loins
15 R' the thing which the Lord shall bring forth
15 Q' power
16 P' Moses
17 O' the Lord hath said I will raise up
17 N' Moses
18 M' the Lord said unto me also
18 L' I will raise up unto the fruit of thy loins and I will make or him a spokesman
20 K' after many generations have gone
20 J' by them
21 I' remembering of my covenant
22 H' Joseph
22 G' my father
23 F' covenant
23 E' thy seed shall not be destroyed
25 D' blessed art thou
25 C' Joseph
25 B' thy brother
25 A' spoken
The chiastic center point (U and U') emphasizes the covenant made to the seed of Joseph of Egypt. [Shirley R. Heater, "Lehi's Blessing to His Son Joseph," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 55]
2 Nephi 3:1-25 (Blessing of Joseph -- Chiasm) (Illustration): 2 Nephi 3:1-25: Lehi's Blessing to Young Joseph [Shirley R. Heater, "Lehi's Blessing to His Son Joseph," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 55]
2 Nephi 3:1 My Last-born . . . in the Wilderness:
According to John Tvedtnes, Lehi apparently named his sons Jacob and Joseph after their distant ancestors Jacob and Joseph. Lehi termed Joseph "my last-born . . . born in the wilderness of mine afflictions" and spoke to him of his inheritance in the New World, calling it "a most precious land" (2 Nephi 3:1-2). He then went on to speak of their common ancestor, Joseph, who had been sold into Egypt (see 2 Nephi 3:4). The original Joseph was the last-born son of the patriarch Jacob (Israel) before he returned to the land promised to him (see Genesis 28:13-15). It is significant, therefore that Lehi's son Joseph was born in the wilderness, then went, as his ancestor Joseph, with his father to a land of promise. [John A. Tvedtnes, "Firstborn in the Wilderness," in Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., 1999, pp. 63-65; see also Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3/1 (1994): 207-209] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 2:1]
2 Nephi 3:1 And now I [Lehi] speak unto you, Joseph, my last-born (Illustration): Lehi blessing his son Joseph, statuary at the L.D.S. Hawaiian Temple. [Paul R. Cheesman and Millie F. Cheesman, Early America and the Polynesians, p. 27]
2 Nephi 3:1-25 Joseph (the Four Joseph's):
According to Daniel Ludlow, four different men named Joseph are referred to in 2 Nephi chapter 3 as follows:
(1) Joseph who was sold into Egypt; he is also known as Joseph the son of Jacob (Israel) -- verses 4-22.
(2) Joseph the son of Lehi -- verses 1-3, 22-25.
(3) Joseph Smith, Sr., the father of the prophet -- verse 15.
(4) Joseph Smith, Jr., the prophet -- verses 7-9,11,14-15,18-19.
[Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 128]
2 Nephi 3:4 I am a descendant of Joseph who was carried captive into Egypt (Illustration): "Joseph, our patriarchal ancestor, was prime minister of Egypt for 80 years. He lived approximately 1,771 to 1,661 B.C," by A&OR. [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 1200]
2 Nephi 3:4 I am a descendant of Joseph who was carried captive into Egypt. And great were the covenants of the Lord which he made unto Joseph (Illustration): Joseph of Egypt Making Grain Available during Famine. Artist: Robert T. Barrett. [L.D.S. Church, The Ensign, March 1990, inside front cover]
2 Nephi 3:4 I am a descendant of Joseph who was carried captive into Egypt (Illustration): Joseph of Egypt. Joseph who was sold into Egypt saw the latter days. He spoke of Joseph Smith when he testified, "A seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins." Artist: Robert T. Barrett. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 78]
2 Nephi 3:4 I am a descendant of Joseph who was carried captive into Egypt. And great were the covenants of the Lord which he made unto Joseph (Illustration): Joseph Making Himself Known to His Brothers. Artist: Ted Henninger. [L.D.S. Church, The Ensign, October 1987, inside back cover]
2 Nephi 3:4 And Great Were the Covenants of the Lord Which He Made unto Joseph:
Kristian Heal presented a paper at a FARMS "brown-bag" forum in which he reviewed a number of comparisons made between the life of Joseph and the life of Jesus recorded in ancient Syriac Literature. The origins of Christianity in Edessa (modern Urfa in southeast turkey) are shrouded in mystery. The traditional story, known to Eusebius and related at the end of Book 1 of Ecclesiastical History, tells of how Abgar, King of Edessa, upon hearing of the miracles of Jesus sent a letter requesting that Jesus come to Edessa to heal him. Jesus replies by letter promising that one of his disciples will be sent in due course. After the resurrection, Thaddeus is sent to preach in Edessa by Thomas. Eusebius reports to have made a copy of the original correspondence between Abgar and Jesus when he visited the city archives in Edessa, a translation of which he quotes in full in the text of his history.
The Old Testament Patriarch Joseph was a favorite theme of Syriac authors during the Golden age. Several extensive retellings of the Joseph story survive. Joseph's life is seen as typifying that of the Lord. For the benefit of the reader, Heal provides a detailed chart of comparisons in Syriac Literature between the life of Joseph and the life of Jesus (see chart below). [Kristian Heal, "Jesus in the Syriac Retelling of the Joseph Story," presented at a FARMS brown-bag lecture, October 11, 2000]
2 Nephi 3:4 And great were the covenants of the Lord which He made unto Joseph (Chart): Table of Comparisons between the Life of Joseph and the Life of Jesus [in Syriac Literature]. [Kristian Heal, "Jesus in the Syriac Retelling of the Joseph Story," presented at a FARMS brown-bag lecture, October 11, 2000]
2 Nephi 3:4 And Great Were the Covenants of the Lord Which He Made unto Joseph:
As patriarch of the house of Israel, just before his death Moses blessed the various tribes of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:1). Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that in the blessing to the tribe of Joseph (Deuteronomy 33) we find an interesting prophecy about the descendants of Joseph:
And of Joseph he [Moses] said, Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, And for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.
His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: And they are the ten thousands of Ephraim and they are the thousands of Manasseh. (Deuteronomy 33:13-17)
Concerning this scripture, Elder LeGrand Richards wrote the following:
When this blessing was given by Moses, the patriarch, it is clear that he first had in mind the new land that would be given to Joseph which would be abundantly blessed of the Lord to produce precious fruits of the land and the precious things of the lasting hills and of the ancient mountains.
When the descendants of Joseph were led to this land of America about 600 B.C., they were told that it would be a land choice above all other lands [see 2 Nephi 1:5]. The reading of Moses' blessing to Joseph indicates that Moses was impressed with this fact and attempted to so describe it. He further indicated that it would be in the "ancient mountains" and the "everlasting hills." The land to which they were led was in the western part of South, Central, and North America, in the Rocky Mountains, which accurately answers Moses' description.
Then Moses further indicated that the good will of him who dwelt in the bush (referring to the God of Israel who dwelt in the burning bush--see Exodus 3:2) would be upon Joseph who was separated from his brethren. Then he refers to his glory as like "the firstling of his Bullock," or the firstborn or heir of his father, and we have already pointed out how Joseph became heir to the birthright. Moses looked beyond to the power and authority that should be given to Joseph's seed and added: "he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh" (see Deuteronomy 33:17). This seems to look forward to the establishment of the kingdom of God in the earth in the latter-days, which we have previously outlined, and the gathering of Israel. (Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder , pp. 64-66)
In a time previous to Moses' blessing, Isaac's son Jacob had called his children to him and blessed them just prior to his death: "And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob: and hearken unto Israel your father" (Genesis 49:1-2).
Of these verses, Elder LeGrand Richards commented:
It is suggested the reader study the entire chapter [of Genesis 49] noting the great difference in the respective blessing. Now let us give careful consideration to the special blessing Joseph received from his father:
Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb; The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren (Genesis 49:22-26).
This blessing is very similar to that given by Moses, and begins with references to the land to which Joseph's seed would go: "A fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall." This seems consistent to assume that the ocean was regarded as the wall over which Joseph's branches were to run "unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills." Then Jacob indicated that Joseph would be blessed "with the blessings of heaven above . . . blessings of the breasts, and of the womb," indicating that his posterity would be great, and that his blessings would prevail above the blessings of his progenitors. (Richards, A Marvelous Work, pp. 64-66)
[Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, pp. 84-85]
Note* By what "patriarchal" authority did Moses give his blessing to Joseph's posterity? Joseph's line held the birthright. Did Moses have some of the blood of Joseph in him? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Richard Anthony's commentary on 2 Nephi 7; see also the commentary on 2 Nephi 1]
2 Nephi 3:6 For Joseph [the Ancient Patriarch of Egypt] Truly Testified:
According to Douglas and Robert Clark, the occasion of Joseph's prophecies (referred to in 2 Nephi 3:6) was, according to the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis, to his brethren just before he died (see JST Genesis 50:24). This was the same context in which the dying Lehi repeated those very prophecies to his son. But the pattern was far older than Joseph. Adam himself, according to both latter-day revelation (see D&C 107:53-56) and pseudepigraphical sources,22 called together his righteous posterity shortly before his death to leave his final testimony, counsel, prophecies, and blessings. As reported in the pseudepigrapha, the pattern was followed in turn by all the antediluvian patriarchs,23 and later by Abraham,24 Jacob25 (also reported in Genesis 48-49), and each of Jacob's twelve sons.26 The brass plates would have contained at least the accounts of Joseph and Jacob, and probably of others as well. [E. Douglas Clark and Robert S. Clark, Fathers and Sons in the Book of Mormon, pp. 26-27]
2 Nephi 3:6 For Joseph [the Ancient Patriarch] Truly Testified:
Walter Kaiser notes that the British Egyptologist Kenneth A. Kitchen has pointed to a number of social comparisons that are quite convincing in verifying the world and circumstances of the ancient patriarch Joseph as they are portrayed in Genesis.27 For example, Kitchen has detailed the escalating price of slaves from ancient Near Eastern sources to demonstrate that the price paid for Joseph (twenty shekels of silver according to Genesis 37:28) is most properly slotted for the Middle Bronze Age, the traditional age for the Patriarch. During the earlier Akkad Dynasty (2371-2191 B.C.), a slave brought between ten and fifteen shekels of silver, but the price dropped to ten shekels during the Third Dynasty of Ur (2113-2006 B.C.) But in the second millennium, the first part of which was the time of the patriarchs, the price of slaves rose to twenty shekels, as seen in the Hammurabi Code, the Mari Tablets and elsewhere. By the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries, the price had crept up to thirty shekels at Nuzi and Ugarit, a price that matched exactly the identical period of biblical history in the Mosaic Law (Exodus 21:32).
The Egyptological background for the Joseph narrative found in Genesis 37-50 is becoming more fully documented as more discoveries come in. The Hebrew name Joseph seems to be one of the Amorite second millennium perfective names of the i/y class. Joseph was also given an Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah (Genesis 41:45). This Egyptian name is a real Egyptian type that means "(the god) has said: he will live."
Joseph's entire life is connected with the significance of dreams. In this regard, the Egyptians seem to have surpassed their neighbors in the presence and interpretation of dreams. Egyptian literature records from the Middle Kingdom (about 2000 B.C.) onward an extraordinary number of dreams. Particularly noteworthy is Joseph's interpretation of Pharaoh's dream. The fact that a seven-year drought could occur has been attested at several points in Egypt's history due to the repeated low height of the Nile flood each year. It must crest at twenty-eight feet above zero datum level each year at Elephantine. However, should it only come up to twenty or twenty-one feet, crops would be off by 20 percent that year. Alternatively, should the water crest at thirty feet, it would sweep away the dikes and canal banks and there would be a loss of life as a result. Not only was precipitation low at the source of the Nile, but this condition appeared to have spread throughout large sections of Canaan and its neighboring lands. [Water C. Kaiser Jr., The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant?, pp. 86-87, 94-96]
2 Nephi 3:7 Joseph truly said: Thus saith the Lord unto me: A choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins (Illustration): Joseph Sees Joseph [Paul Mann, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 4]
2 Nephi 3:9 And He [Joseph] Shall Be Great Like unto Moses:
If Joseph Smith had written the Book of Mormon, one of the more preposterous claims that he would have had to propose to the world would be found in 2 Nephi 3. Here we find a prophecy directly linking and comparing a latter-day "Joseph" [Smith] with Moses:
And he [the modern-day Joseph] shall be great like unto Moses, whom I have said I would raise up unto you [the ancient Joseph of Egypt], to deliver my people, O house of Israel.
Not only would this comparison with Moses be a very tough hurdle for anyone, but it becomes doubly tough when taken together with another prophecy wherein a Prophet (Jesus Christ) was also "like unto" Moses (see 1 Nephi 22:20-21).
Thus, according to Almon Fackrell, if Joseph Smith really is who he says he is, and the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith should not only be "like unto" Moses, but "like unto" Jesus Christ. Towards this end, Fackrell lists 51 parallels relating to all three persons (see illustration). The following is a list of 22 out of the total of 51 parallels made by Almon Fackrell relating to Moses, Jesus, and Joseph Smith:
1. Moses, Jesus, and Joseph Smith are known all over the world; and millions believe they are prophets of God. (See World Almanac p. 718.)
2. For hundreds of years before their lives, the people of Moses, Jesus and Joseph Smith experienced a period of spiritual darkness. There were no prophets to receive revelation; direct communication from God had ceased. (Moses* See Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6-7 and Exodus 12:40. Jesus* See Mark 7:6-9. Joseph Smith* See Mark 3:24; 2 Corinthians 14:33; J.S. History 1:18-19)
3. Moses, Jesus, and Joseph each ended the period of spiritual darkness. They ordained other prophets so that direct communication from God would continue again. (M* Numbers 27:18-23; Amos 3:7. J* Ephesians 4:11-14. JS* D&C preface; Article of Faith #6, #9)
4. An angel of God appeared when the first announcement was made of each of their missions. (M* Exodus 3:1-10. J* Luke 1:26-33. JS* JSH 1:30-35.)
5. God spoke to each of them face to face as a man speaks to a friend. (M* Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:6-8; Deuteronomy 34:10. J* John 6:46; 10:15; Matthew 11:27. JS* Joseph Smith History 1:17-19)
6. They were all considered as unlearned and inadequate to perform any special mission. (M* Exodus 4:10. J* Matthew 13:54-58. 1 Corinthians 1:26-27. JS* In 1834 Isaac Hale, Joseph's father in law, is reported as saying this about Joseph: "His appearance at this time, was that of a careless young man - not very well educated . . ." -- Howe, p. 263)
7. Each had a spokesman to help prepare the way before them. (M* Exodus 3:10-11; 4:10-16. J* Luke 1:76-79. JS* 2 Nephi 3:16,18.)
8. They were all Israelites, being descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (M* Exodus 2:1-10. J* Matthew 1:1. JS* 2 Nephi 3:7-12.)
9. They each had a brother who became a high official among the people of God. (M* Exodus 4:14-30. J* Matthew 13:55-56; Galatians 1:18-19; Acts 1:15-26. JS* D&C 124:1,91-95.)
10. Each were criticized by members of their own family because of unbelief. (M* Numbers 12:1-9) J* John 7:3-8. JS* History of the Church 2:296-297, 338.)
11. Each went to their highest governing official for hearings, but to no avail. (M* Exodus 5:1-4. J* Luke 23:1,6-12. JS* History of the Church 4:40.)
12. They each performed more miracles than any other prophet in their era. (M* There are sixty-two incidents listed in the Old Testament which are classified as miracles. Twenty-two are attributed to Moses. The next highest number of miracles attributed to an Old Testament Prophet is twelve by Elisha. Joshua performed nine miracles and Elijah performed seven. . . . (see Regency Publishing House, pp. 661-662). J* There are seventy-one incidents listed in the New Testament which are classified as miracles. Thirty-eight of them are attributed to Jesus. The next highest number of miracles attributed to a New Testament personality is ten by Paul. Peter performed five . . . (see Regency Publishing House, pp. 663-664). JS* It is an accepted fact among the Latter-day Saints that Joseph performed more miracles than any other person since the restoration of the gospel.)
13. They each took three special witnesses and experienced a divine manifestation from God. (M* Exodus 24:1-10. J* Matthew 17:1-5. JS* The Book of Mormon, Testimony of Three Witnesses.)
14. In addition to the three special witnesses, they each had another group of witnesses who had a similar experience with them. (M* Exodus 24:1-2, 9-10. J* Acts 1:2-3. JS* The Book of Mormon, Testimony of Eight Witnesses.)
15. Witnesses testified that each of them were transfigured and their faces shone brightly. (M* Exodus 34:30-35. J* Matthew 17:1-2; Mark 9:2-3. JS* Shortly before his martyrdom, Joseph saw in vision the mountainous valleys in the west to which his people would be driven. Anson Call, who was present at the time, recorded the event. 'I had before seen him in vision, and now saw while he was talking his countenance change to white; not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living brilliant white . . . It is impossible to represent in words this scene which is still vivid in my mind, of the grandeur of Joseph's appearance, his beautiful descriptions of this land, and his wonderful prophetic utterances as they emanated from the glorious inspiration that overshadowed him." (Gibbons, pp. 40-41)
16. They were each mediators of the covenants of the saints in their dispensations. (M* Hebrews 8:4-7; 9:19-22. J* Hebrews 8:6; 9:15-16; 1 Timothy 2:5-6. JS* D&C 22:1-3; 28:2; 35:17; 112:15; 115:19.)
17. All three started a new dispensation of the gospel.
18. As major prophets, they were considered "as a god" to their people. (M* Exodus 4:16; 7:1; 18:19-20. J* Matthew 1:23; John 14:9-11. JS* History of the Church 6:319-320; Psalm 82:6; John 10:34-35).
19. Each organized a quorum of twelve men to stand with them as leaders to their people. (M* Numbers 1:4-16. J* Matthew 10:1-6. JS* History of the Church 2:181-187.)
20. Each organized seventy elders among the people. (M* Numbers 11:16-25. J* Luke 10:1, 17-20. JS* D&C 107:25-26; History of the Church 2:201-202.)
21. Each foretold their "deaths." They knew approximately when and where they would "die." (M* Deuteronomy 32:48-52. J* Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19. JS* History of the Church 6:555.)
22. Each freely offered to give their lives for their people. (M* Exodus 32:31-32. J* John 6:51; 10:15-18. JS* History of the Church 6:547-560.)
[Almon Fackrell, Parallels of Moses, Jesus and Joseph Smith, pp. 49-152]
2 Nephi 3:9 And he [Joseph] shall be great like unto Moses (Illustration): Parallels Relating to Moses, Jesus, and Joseph Smith [Almon Fackrell, Parallels of Moses, Jesus and Joseph Smith, pp. 49-152]
2 Nephi 3:9 Scriptures referring to Moses (Illustration) writing about Christ. [Cristian Heal. Brown Bag Presentnation: Josesph as a Type of Chrit in Syriac Literature.
2 Nephi 3:10 And Moses Will I Raise Up, to Deliver Thy People out of the Land of Egypt:
Although in 2 Nephi 3:10 it is the Lord that is speaking about "Moses" who he would raise up to deliver the people of Joseph out of Egypt, we should keep in mind that it was Joseph of Egypt who apparently wrote this prophecy down. Whether he personally inscribed these prophecies on the brass plates or whether someone transscribed them at a later time is not mentioned. Nevertheless, if they were written down by Joseph one might ask, Why was the name "Moses" and the details of what Moses would do not known to the people of Joseph and possibly to Pharaoh at the time of Moses' birth? Perhaps they were.
Although the king over Egypt "knew not Joseph" (Exodus 12:8), the Pharaoh was ordering all sons born to the Israelites to be killed (Genesis 1:15-22). Could these actions have been partly based on the fact that Moses' name and mission were made known to Pharaoh? Was Pharaoh reacting to prophecy in the same way Herod would order slaying of all children under the age of two in order to prevent Jesus from becoming King of the Jews? The Hebrew scriptures say that it was Pharaoh's daughter who "called his name Moses: and she said [that] because [she] drew him out of the water" (Exodus 2:10). Interestingly, the footnote for this verse in our present edition notes that the meaning of "Moses" in Egyptian was "To beget a child" and in Hebrew it was "To draw out." One might ask, did the Pharaoh's daughter intend to give her child an Egyptian name or a Hebrew name? And if it was an Egyptian name, why would the scriptures cite a Hebrew derivation? And if it was meant to be an Egyptian name, would the Pharaoh have recognized the double meaning of the name as it related to Joseph's prophecy? Interestingly, the idea of Moses' name being known well beforehand just as the idea of Jesus' name being known well beforehand has apparently been eliminated from the Hebrew scriptures. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
2 Nephi 3:11 Convincing Them of My Word, Which Shall Have Already Gone Forth:
According to McConkie and Millet, a primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is to convince the world that the testimony and teachings of the Bible are true. In 2 Nephi 3:11 we find the following:
But a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins--and not to the bringing forth my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.
Will Durant in his volume Caesar and Christ makes the following comment as his introduction to a consideration of the historicity of Christ and the Gospels:
One of the most far-reaching activities of the modern mind has been the "Higher Criticism" of the Bible--the mountainous attack upon its authenticity and veracity, countered by the heroic attempt to save the historical foundations of Christian faith; the results may in time prove as revolutionary as Christianity itself. The first engagement in this two-hundred-year war was fought in silence by Hermann Reimarus, professor of Oriental languages at Hamburg: on his death in 1768 he left, cautiously unpublished, a 1400-page manuscript on the life of Christ. Six years later Gotthold Lessing, over the protests of his friends, published portions of it as the Wolfenbuttel Fragments. Reimarus argued that Jesus can only be regarded and understood not as the founder of Christianity, but as the final and dominant figure in the mystical eschatology of the Jews--i.e., Christ thought not of establishing a new religion, but of preparing men for the imminent destruction of the world, and God's Last Judgment of all souls. In 1796 Herder pointed out the apparently irreconcilable difference between the Christ of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and the Christ of the Gospel of St. John. In 1828 Heinrich Paulus, summarizing the life of Christ in 1192 pages, proposed a rationalistic interpretation of the miracles--i.e., accepted their occurrence but ascribed them to natural causes and powers. In an epoch-marking Life of Jesus (1835-36) David Strauss rejected this compromise; the supernatural elements in the Gospels, he thought, should be classed as myths, and the actual career of Christ must be reconstructed without using these elements in any form. Strauss's massive volumes made Biblical criticism the storm center of German thought for a generation. In the same year Ferdinand Christian Baur attacked the Epistles of Paul, rejecting as unauthentic all but those to the Galatians, Corinthians, and Romans. In 1840 Bruno Bauer began a series of passionately controversial works aiming to show that Jesus was a myth, the personified form of a cult that evolved in the second century from a fusion of Jewish, Greek, and Roman theology. In 1863 Ernest Renan's Life of Jesus, alarming millions with its rationalism and charming millions with its prose, gathered together the results of German criticism, and brought the problem of the Gospels before the entire educated world. The French school reached its climax at the end of the century in the Abbe Loisy, who subjected the New Testament to such rigorous textual analysis that the Catholic church felt compelled to excommunicate him and other "Modernists." Meanwhile the Dutch school of Pierson, Naber, and Matthas carried the movement to its farthest point by laboriously denying the historical reality of Jesus. In Germany Arthur Drews gave this negative conclusion its definitive exposition (1906); and in England W. B. Smith and J. M. Robertson argued to a like denial. The result of two centuries of discussion seemed to be the annihilation of Christ. (Will Durant, Caesar and Christ [New York; Simon and Schuster, 1944], pp. 553-54)
The story of Bible scholarship for the past two or more centuries surely evidences the wisdom of God in bringing forth the Book of Mormon in defense of the testimony of Christ and the message of the Bible.
It is also of some considerable significance that the prophecy explicitly stated that we are to use the Book of Mormon to prove the Bible rather than the Bible to prove the Book of Mormon. [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol I, pp. 206-207]. [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 13:40]
2 Nephi 3:12 That Which Shall Be Written . . . Shall Grow Together:
In 3 Nephi 3:12 we find the prophetic phrase, "that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins [the loins of Joseph], and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together." A footnote in 2 Nephi 3:12 refers the reader to Ezekiel 37:15-20, which corroborates this prophecy:
"The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. (Ezekiel 37:15-17)
According to an article by Keith Meservy, many critics have long frowned upon the Latter-day Saint interpretation of sticks in Ezekiel's prophecy. They insist that sticks, either scrolls or tallies, do not make scriptures, and that, even if they do, Latter-day Saints are taking the prophecy out of context: chapter 37 as a whole discuses the gathering of Israel, not books of scripture. They suggest that stick really represents a scepter, a tribe, or one of the divided kingdoms of Judah or Israel.
However, in 1948, as he read two ancient Babylonian texts, San Nicolo discovered that scribes were filling their tablets with wax. He remembered that Greeks and Romans filled writing boards with wax and then wrote on their surfaces. Since Babylonians were filling boards with wax, he theorized that they must also have been using wax writing boards.
Five years later, archaeologist Max Mallowan discovered a set of sixteen hinged wax writing boards in Assyria that looked strikingly like Greek and Roman writing boards. The cuneiform inscription on the cover board identified it as an is leu (wooden tablet).
Having this as a tangible example, scholars recognized many examples of writing boards in use on the bas-relief sculpture of Assyrian palaces. It became abundantly clear that a previously unknown method of making records was commonly used in ancient Mesopotamia. From this it is also clear that Ezekiel and his fellow Jewish captives lived in a world where scribes typically wrote on wax writing boards. . . . In Ezekiel 37:17, it tells us that, having written on his boards, Ezekiel joined "them one to another into one stick [board]" and they became one in his hand. This joining action was typical of scribes who wrote on boards. . . . Ezekiel identified the owner of each board by writing a cover inscription on it. Once again, he was doing what scribes normally did to their boards. Sargon, for example, put an inscription on the cover of his sixteen-board set to show that it belonged to him, what its contents were, and that it was placed in his palace at Dur-Sharrukin. Ezekiel's inscriptions identified Judah and Joseph as the owners of each of the two boards. The Hebrew preposition le [to/for] in front of the names Judah and Joseph shows to whom each of these boards belonged.
Thus we might better translate the inscriptions to show this possession by putting the words "(belonging) to" before each name: "(Belonging) to Judah, and (belonging) to the children of Israel his companions," and "(Belonging) to Joseph, the [board of Ephraim], and (belonging) to all the house of Israel his companions" (v. 16). [Keith Meservy, "Ezekiel's Sticks and the Gathering of Israel," in The Ensign, February 1987, pp. 4-23] [See the commentary on 3 Nephi 15:16-17; 15:21]
2 Nephi 3:12 That which shall be written . . . shall grow together (Illustration): Wooden tablets, called sticks [Old Testament Student Manual Religion 302, p. 283]
2 Nephi 3:12 That which shall be written . . . shall grow together (Illustration): The discovery in 1953 of these writing boards from biblical Calah in Mesopotamia altered the thinking of scholars about how Middle Eastern cultures made records. Wooden tablets filled with wax represent the "earliest known form of ancient books" and help us understand an important prophecy of Ezekiel foretelling the uniting of the Bible and Book of Mormon. [Keith Meservy, "Ezekiel's Sticks and the Gathering of Israel," in The Ensign, February 1987, p. 4]
2 Nephi 3:12 That which shall be written . . . shall grow together (Illustration): A diagram of the hinged writing boards, showing their appearance when closed. [Keith H. Meservy, "Ezekiel's 'Sticks'," in The Ensign, September 1977, p. 25]
2 Nephi 3:12 (Ezekiel 37:17) Join them one to another into one stick [Ezekiel] (Illustration): Ezekiel. Artist: Robert Barrett. It now seems clear that the prophet Ezekiel was referring to wax writing boards in his prophecy about the "sticks" of Judah and Joseph. Wooden or ivory boards were filled with wax, inscribed with a stylus, then bound together to protect the writing surfaces, making them "one in the hand' of the scribe. The most recent discovery, as well as the oldest known example of wax writing boards, dating from the 14th century B.C. was found in a shipwreck off the southwestern coast of modern Turkey. This discovery was reported at the November 1986 annual meeting of the American School of Oriental Research. [Keith Meservy, "Ezekiel's Sticks and the Gathering of Israel," The Ensign, February 1987, p. 5]
2 Nephi 3:12 (Ezekiel 37:17) Join them one to another into one stick (Illustration): Reconstructed Mesopotamian Writing Tablets. Photo: Keith Meservy from British Museum, London. These writings tablets--"sticks"--still contain some of their beeswax and arsenic sulphide filling. The arsenic kept the wax pliable, and gave it a bright yellow color; and the writing is so small and careful that the thirty writing surfaces on the whole combined set of tablets could have contained 7,500 lines of text. [Keith H. Meservy, "Ezekiel's 'Sticks'," The Ensign, September 1977, p. 27]
2 Nephi 3:12 That which shall be written . . . shall grow together (Illustration): The Bible and the Book of Mormon Testify of Christ. The writings of Judah and the writings of Joseph would "grow together." Artist: Greg K. Olsen. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 80]
2 Nephi 3:12 The Fruit of Thy Loins Shall Write:
According to Joy Osborn, the importance of the Book of Mormon is not fully appreciated until it is recognized as the Stick, or Book, of Joseph. Since Joseph was given the birthright blessing over the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and this birthright blessing was continued with Joseph's son, Ephraim, and it was to be through Joseph that the house of Israel would be scattered and the people "pushed to the ends of the earth," it would be more surprising if a record was not kept by the tribes of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, than it would be to find that a record was kept. Israel's prophets were always instructed and required to keep a record of the Lord's dealings with their people. Why should it be different for the descendants of Joseph? Especially, when we remember that when Jacob, before his death, blessed the sons of Joseph, he declared: "In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim, and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh " (Genesis 49:20).
Jacob had declared that Manasseh would become a great people, but Ephraim, who received Joseph's birthright blessing over Israel, would become "greater" and "his seed shall become a multitude of nations" (Genesis 49:19). This blessing helps us understand why the Lord told the prophet Ezekiel that the stick of Joseph, or, the book of scriptures of Joseph, would be "in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows" (Ezekiel 37:19). [Joy M. Osborn, The Book of Mormon -- The Stick of Joseph, p. 7]
2 Nephi 3:13 And out of Weakness He [Joseph] Shall Be Made Strong:
In the Book of Mormon, the Lord declared that "out of weakness," Joseph Smith "shall be made strong" (2 Nephi 3:13). Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that Joseph Quincy, mayor of Boston, said of Joseph: "Born in the lowest ranks of poverty, without book learning and with the homeliest of all human names, he made himself at the age of thirty-nine a power upon earth."28
Dr. Harold Bloom, a Jewish religious scholar, and distinguished professor at both New York and Yale Universities, extols Joseph Smith as "an authentic religious genius, unique in our . . . history," and praises "the sureness of his instincts, his uncanny knowing precisely what [was] needful for the inauguration of a new faith." Joseph Smith and Mormonism, he further expounds, have contributed tot he world "a more human God and a more divine man. . . . I also do not . . . doubt that Joseph Smith was an authentic prophet. Where in all of American history can we find his match? . . . Nothing else in all of American history strikes me as . . . . equal to the early Mormons, to Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Parley and Orson Pratt, and the men and women who were their followers and friends."29 [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, pp. 95-96]
2 Nephi 3:14 And Thus Prophesied Joseph, Saying:
The prophecies of Joseph (see 2 Nephi 3:6-13; 14-22) are not found in the Bible. How they were lost or when it occurred, we do not know. Cleon Skousen reports that in 1955, Macmillan Company of New York published the English translation of a book (The Messianic Idea in Israel) by Dr. Joseph Klausner, professor of Hebrew literature and Jewish history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In this volume Dr. Klausner devoted one full chapter (Part III, chapter 9) to the coming of a future "Joseph." Dr. Klausner pointed out that one of the most ancient and respected traditions among the Jewish scholars is the prophecy that a "Joseph" should be raised up in the latter days for the specific purpose of preparing the way for the coming of the Messiah. He cited sources to show that this future Joseph is not only mentioned in the Talmud and other Jewish classics, but Christian scholars have also taken note of this tradition.
According to the Jewish scholars this future Joseph . . . would be a descendant of Joseph who was sold into Egypt and would come through the line of Ephraim (Joseph's heir). It said that his mission would commence about the time Elijah made his appearance to fulfill the promise made in Malachi 4:5-6. It also said that this future Joseph was to be killed (Klausner, pp. 496, 498).
But the thing which puzzled Dr. Klausner most was why this tradition of a latter-day Joseph should be so thoroughly established among Jewish scholars when there was no reference to it in the Hebrew scriptures. The Talmud, the Midrash, and the Targum all refer to it, but these, of course, are merely commentaries rather than the scripture itself. Furthermore, the Jews are not the only ones who have this tradition. Dr. Klausner states that the Samaritans are even more zealous than the Jews in keeping alive the tradition of the latter-day Joseph. Some of them claim to be of the tribe of Joseph and therefore this prophecy is extremely important to them (It will be recalled that the ancestors of the Samaritans were the tiny remnant which was successful in escaping the siege of the Assyrians in 721 B.C., and therefore they were not carried off to Mesopotamia with the rest of Israel). Their tradition concerning the latter-day Joseph goes back to the period which was long before the Talmud (p. 484). The Samaritans had this to say about the future Joseph:
1. They said he would be a descendant of Joseph through Ephraim. They sometimes referred to him as a "son of Ephraim."
2. They called him Teal, meaning "the restorer," "he who returns," or "he who causes to return."
3. They said he would call the people of the world to repentance and bring back better days for Israel.
4. They said this Joseph of the latter days would "restore everywhere the true Law to its former validity and convert all peoples, especially the Jews, to the Samaritan (Ephraimite) religion." [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, pp. ii-iii]
2 Nephi 3:15 His Name Shall Be Called after Me [Joseph]:
Matthew Brown writes of ancient Hebrew traditions which speak of two separate messiahs30 that were foreordained to arise among the covenant people of the Lord--one from the tribe of Judah (the Messiah ben David or "son of" David) and one from the tribe of Joseph (the Messiah ben Joseph/Ephraim). According to Jewish lore the Messiah ben Joseph concept first arose when Rachel, the mother of Joseph of Egypt, prophesied that Joseph would be the ancestor of a messiah who would "arise at the end of days."31 Scholars who have studied this legend have determined that it was "a standard article of faith, early and firmly established and universally accepted."32
The Messiah ben Joseph legends hold special interest for Latter-day Saints for two main reasons. First, these Jewish legends claim that Joseph of Egypt uttered prophecies about the Messiah ben Joseph,33 while prophecies by Joseph of Egypt found in the Book of Mormon and JST speak of a latter-day seer who would be named "Joseph" (see 2 Nephi 3:6-15; JST Genesis 50:26-33). Second, there are several elements found in the Messiah ben Joseph legends that closely correspond to the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The following are ten points of correspondence:
1. The Messiah ben Joseph is to be held in reserve to live on the earth in the "last days."34
In D&C 132:7 the Lord states that He had appointed Joseph Smith to hold the keys of the sealing power of the Priesthood "in the last days."
2. The Messiah ben Joseph is to be born through the lineage of Joseph of Egypt's birthright son Ephraim.35
In a meeting held in Nauvoo, Illinois, on 8 January 1845, President Brigham Young stated that Joseph Smith's "descent from Joseph that was sold into Egypt was direct, and the blood was pure in him. That is why the Lord chose him."36 On a later occasion President Young stated that "Joseph Smith was a pure Ephraimite."37
"President [Lorenzo] Snow reported that on one occasion Joseph Smith was . . . asked who he was. The Prophet smiled kindly upon his interlocutor and replied, 'Noah came before the flood. I have come before the fire'"40--meaning the fire that will accompany the Second Coming of Christ (see D&C 29:12; 133:40-41).
The Prophet taught the following about the "Elias" principle. "The spirit of Elias is to prepare the way for a greater revelation of God. . . . When God sends a man into the world to prepare for a greater work, holding the keys of the power of Elias, it [is] called the doctrine of Elias. . . . That person who holds the keys of Elias [has] a preparatory work."41 According to Parley P. Pratt, "Joseph Smith was the Elias, the Restorer, the presiding Messenger, holding the keys of the Dispensation of the fullness of times . . . to prepare the way of the Lord."42
4. The Messiah ben Joseph is to be "the revealer of the true faith" of Jehovah.43 In one Jewish legend Joseph of Egypt prophesies that the Messiah ben Joseph will cause some erroneous elements of religious worship that have crept in among the Israelite tribes to "vanish."44 Thus, he will perform his work after a period of apostasy.
The Lord Jesus Christ has declared: "I have sent forth the fullness of my gospel by the hand of my servant Joseph" (D&C 35:17). The Lord has also indicated in a modern revelation that the religious system He revealed through Joseph Smith constitutes "the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth" (D&C 1:30).
5. The prophet Elijah is to return to the earth, as foretold in Malachi 4:5-6, during the days of the Messiah ben Joseph.45
D&C 110:13-16 records the fulfillment of this expectation. In verses 14-15 of this passage, Elijah is represented as saying that his arrival in the Kirtland Temple fulfilled the prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6.
6. The Messiah ben Joseph is to "rebuild the temple" of Israel and restore its "true worship."46
Just as the Lord revealed the pattern for the Tabernacle to Moses (see Exodus 25:9) and the pattern of the Jerusalem Temple to David and Solomon (see 1 Chronicles 28:11-19), He also revealed the patterns for the Kirtland Temple (see D&C 94:5-6) and the Nauvoo Temple (see D&C 124:42) to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
7. The Messiah ben Joseph is to gather the children of Israel around him, including a portion of the lost ten tribes.47
Joseph Smith's father spoke the following words while administering a patriarchal blessing to his son. "A marvelous work and a wonder has the Lord wrought by thy hand, even that which shall prepare the way for the remnants of His people to come in among the Gentiles, with their fullness, as the tribes of Israel are restored."48 In the Kirtland Temple on 3 April 1836, Joseph Smith received the keys for the gathering of the twelve tribes of Israel. "The heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north" (D&C 110:11).
8. The Messiah ben Joseph is to be a warrior.49
On 10 March 1841 Thomas Carlin, Governor of the state of Illinois, commissioned Joseph Smith to the rank of Lieutenant General over the Nauvoo Legion.50 By 1844 the Nauvoo Legion is estimated to have been about 5,000 men strong. The Legion was not only the largest military unit in the state of Illinois but it was second only in size to the United States Army.
9. The Messiah ben Joseph is to be a king.51
William Clayton relates that during a Council of Fifty meeting held on 11 April 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois, "President Joseph [Smith was] chosen [as] our Prophet, Priest and King by hosannas."52 George A. Smith likewise recorded in his diary, under the date of 9 May 1844, that Joseph Smith had been installed as "King over the immediate House of Israel" by the Council of Fifty.53 A revelation from the Lord to the Council of Fifty on 27 June 1882 verified that Joseph Smith had been called "to be a Prophet, Seer and Revelator to my Church and Kingdom; and to be a King and Ruler over Israel."54 Once when the Prophet was "preaching from Daniel 2nd chapter, 44th verse, [he] said that the kingdom referred to was already set up, and that he was the king over it."55 Joseph Smith served in the capacity of a substitute sovereign over God's earthly kingdom, just as the kings of ancient Israel did (see 1 Chronicles 29:23).56
10. The Messiah ben Joseph is to die as a martyr.57
John Taylor informs us that "when Joseph [Smith] went to Carthage to deliver himself up to the pretended requirements of the law, two or three days previous to his assassination, he said: 'I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer's morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall be said of me--he was murdered in cold blood'" (D&C 135:4).
In summary, Brown states that while it cannot be stated with certainty that Joseph Smith and the Messiah ben Joseph are one and the same person, it cannot be denied that the parallels between them are striking. It is also of great interest that some of the Messiah ben Joseph legendary elements are present in revealed scriptural texts that clearly do refer to the Prophet (see 2 Nephi 3:6-15; JST Genesis 50:26-33). [Matthew B. Brown, All Things Restored: Confirming the Authenticity of LDS Beliefs, pp. 34-39]
2 Nephi 3:15 His name shall be called after me [Joseph] (Illustration): Parallels between the Messiah ben Joseph Legend and Restoration Scriptures. This chart illustrates five parallels between the ancient Jewish legends of the Messiah ben Joseph and scriptural literature that was produced by the Prophet Joseph Smith. [Matthew B. Brown, All Things Restored: Confirming the Authenticity of LDS Beliefs, p. 39]
2 Nephi 3:15 His Name Shall Be Called after Me [Joseph]:
In the prophecies of Joseph of Egypt, quoted by Lehi to his son Joseph, the ancient Joseph prophesied concerning the choice seer who the Lord would raise up from the fruit of the ancient Joseph's loins: "his name shall be called after me" (2 Nephi 3:15). McConkie and Millet comment that in patriarchal times personal names were considered to be of great importance. Conscious effort was made to assure identity between the name and its bearer. Often names would constitute a miniature biography of the bearer. Names were also used as reminders of significant events, to connote character traits, to identify position, and in some instances to foreshadow the bearer's destiny or that of his posterity. Thus names were used as memorials, as symbols, and as prophecies. Among righteous people, names were used to identify and testify of great truths or great events, thus keeping such things constantly in the consciousness of the people.
The etymology of the name Joseph is usually given as "the Lord addeth," "may [God] add," or "increaser." Though appropriate, such renderings have veiled a richer meaning associated with the name. In Genesis 30:24, where Rachel names her infant son Joseph, the Hebrew text reads Asaph, which means "he who gathers," "he who causes to return," or perhaps most appropriately, "God gathereth." (See O. Odelain and R. Seguineau, Dictionary of Proper Names and Places in the Bible, p. 40.) Thus the great prophet of the Restoration was given the name that most appropriately describes his divine calling. [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 209]
2 Nephi 3:15 His Name Shall be Called after Me [Joseph]:
Joseph McConkie makes this sidenote:
Having learned of the special meaning associated with the Prophet's name, I was especially interested when I discovered the following in the patriarchal blessing of the Prophet's older brother Hyrum. "Behold thou art Hyrum, the Lord hath called thee by that name, and by that name He has blessed thee."58 It then dawned on me that Hyrum is also a Hebrew name which means "my brother is exalted." What more appropriate name could have been given to the man who was destined to go with Joseph to Carthage and seal his testimony with his blood? So the testimony of the Restoration has been sealed on this dispensation with the blood of two prophets who, according to the ancient tradition, bore the right names. [Joseph Fielding McConkie, "Joseph Smith as Found in Ancient Manuscripts," in Isaiah and the Prophets, p. 17]
2 Nephi 3:15 [His Name] Shall Be after the Name of His Father:
According to McConkie and Millet, the prophecy "And it (the name Joseph) shall be after the name of his father" (2 Nephi 3:15) has reference to Joseph Smith, Sr. The Prophet's father was the first to hold the office of patriarch in this dispensation. Such was his right by birth, he being "the oldest man of the blood of Joseph" (HC 3:381), meaning that he was the oldest direct lineal descendant of Joseph of Egypt on earth at the time. How appropriate that the first patriarch ("head" or "prince of the tribe") should bear the name of his ancient forefather, who saw and prophesied of him! [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, pp. 209-210]
2 Nephi 3:15 He Shall Be Like unto Me:
According to Joseph McConkie, we know that Joseph of Egypt knew the Prophet Joseph Smith by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, that he described the work that Joseph Smith would do, that he named him by name, and declared that "he shall be like unto me" (2 Nephi 3:15).
In viewing the life of Joseph of Egypt as a type foretelling the destiny of his tribe in the last days as it centers in the experiences of Joseph Smith, the following parallels are suggested:
1. The older brothers of Joseph of Egypt lost their spiritual birthright and it was given to Joseph. The older brothers of Joseph Smith (the Christian churches) had lost their spiritual birthright and it was given to Joseph Smith and the tribe of Joseph.
2. Joseph of Egypt had a "coat" given to him that represented the authority of the priesthood. Joseph Smith was clothed in the "robes of righteousness" (D&C 109:76), and both the Melchizedek and Aaronic priesthood were restored through him (D&C 13).
3. The name "Joseph" is itself a prophecy of events of the last days. In the Bible account wherein Rachel names her infant son Joseph the Hebrew text reads Asaph, which means "he who gathers," "he who causes to return," or perhaps most appropriately "God gathereth" (Genesis 30:24; see also the footnote to the LDS edition).
4. Both Joseph of Egypt and Joseph Smith had their earthly destiny revealed to them. The dream of the "sheaves in the field" or Joseph's dream of earthly dominion is matched by the promise given to Joseph Smith wherein the Lord said, "I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh; And I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts" (D&C 38:18-19).
5. Both Joseph of Egypt and Joseph Smith had their heavenly dominion revealed to them. Joseph of Egypt's dream of heavenly dominion, that of the sun, the moon, and the stars, finds fulfillment only in the sealing powers of the priesthood. Jacob interpreted Joseph's dream as having reference to himself (the sun), Rachel (the moon), and Joseph's brothers (the stars) bowing down to Joseph (Genesis 37:10). The unanswerable difficulty that this presented to Bible interpreters is that Rachel had died many years before, while giving birth to Benjamin. The context of promises associated with the sealing power and the assurance given Joseph Smith that the keys and authority he held would never be taken from him in this life or "in the world to come" (D&C 90:3) give meaning to Jacob's interpretation.
6. The thought that Joseph of Egypt had some promised destiny that was not theirs caused Joseph's brothers anciently to "hate him yet the more" (Genesis 37:5). Again our story contains the type or pattern: "I soon found," Joseph Smith said, "that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution" (JS-H 1:22).
7. It is of interest that the promise of future destiny was given to Joseph of Egypt when he was seventeen years of age (Genesis 37:2). Similarly, it was when Joseph Smith was seventeen that Moroni appeared to him and unfolded the great destiny that was his and many passages of scripture promising the restoration of Israel in the last days (JS-H 1:33-41).
8. As Potiphar's wife accused Joseph of her own sins that she might have him cast into prison (Genesis 39:14-18), so Joseph Smith was accused of the crimes of his enemies who had him cast into prison.
9. "The keeper of the prison" anciently "committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison" (Genesis 39:22). And so were "committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners" in the spirit world. As Joseph Smith stands at the head of this dispensation of the gospel on earth, so he stands at its head in the spirit prison.
10. As Joseph was sold into Egypt, so Joseph Smith (or the Church in the last days) was forced into the bondage of a desert, where it was assumed that it would perish. As this happened to Joseph when he was seventeen, so it happened to the Church in 1847, or in its seventeenth year.
11. As Joseph interpreted the dreams of those in prison anciently, so Joseph Smith by the power of that same spirit has been able to interpret revelations given to others (the Bible, the papyrus of Abraham, and so on) in our day.
12. To the hungry, Pharaoh, lord of Egypt, said, "Go unto Joseph" (Genesis 41:55). As Joseph was the only source of bread to a starving world, so Joseph Smith, to whom the truths and authority of salvation have been revealed, becomes the only source of the bread of life to a world perishing for want of the truth.
13. As Joseph of Egypt was lifted up and sustained by a foreign power, thus enabling him to restore his family, so Joseph of the last days has been lifted up by a great Gentile nation (1 Nephi 22:6) and granted the power to again restore Israel.
14. Joseph of Egypt's brothers came to him for salvation. The ten tribes will yet come to Joseph Smith (the Church) seeking the bread of everlasting life (D&C 133:26-32). As Joseph saved his family anciently, so Joseph of the last days will be a savior to Israel (D&C 86:11).
15. As the Lord said to Jacob who was nearly blind, "Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes" (Genesis 46:4), so he has said to Israel of the last days: "For his (Joseph Smith's) word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith. For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory" (D&C 21:5-6).
[Joseph Fielding McConkie, Gospel Symbolism, pp. 38-43]
2 Nephi 3:15 He Shall Be Like unto Me:
According to Lenet Read, the great work of Joseph of Egypt was to bring salvation to a starving world during a time of famine--but particularly to his own people, the house of Israel. This ancient work testified of the greater saving work to be done in the last days, which was undertaken under the leadership of the Prophet Joseph Smith, his Heir and his namesake.
Joseph of Egypt prophesied, "And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto Salvation" (2 Nephi 3:15).
Elder B. H. Roberts wrote: "The Book of Mormon throughout is true to this Josephic idea; it is impregnated with it. Joseph is the central figure throughout. His spirit runs through the whole scheme of the book. We learn in the Book of Mormon of a great Seer that is to arise from the descendants of this Patriarch Joseph, to bring forth the word of God to them, a thing quite in keeping with the important part to be taken by Joseph and his seed in the affairs of the western world in the last days."59
The Apostle Paul also testified of the saving work of Joseph Smith. In Romans 11, he wrote of the twisting of fortunes that would occur to Israel. He explained that the original heirs of Israel were blinded so that the blessing of the gospel might go to the Gentiles. After warning that sin would cut off the inheritance for the Gentiles, as it had for the original Israelites, he prophesied that "all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion [Zion] the Deliverer, and he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Roman 11:26). He testified that a prophet would be raised up out of Israel's line who would bring righteousness back to the original descendants of Israel. It is clear that "the Deliverer" in this scripture is Christ, but as in many other cases the prophecy in context here may well have a dual fulfillment, pointing to Joseph as "the rod . . . that should come of the Stem of Jesse" (D&C 113:3; see also History of the Church, 1:313).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that "many of [the ancient prophets] lived in special situation or did particular things that singled them out as types and patterns and shadows of that which was to be in the life of him who is our Lord."60
Perhaps no prophet has had more parallels drawn between himself and Christ than Joseph of Egypt. His life was a pattern that looked up and forward to Christ in his suffering, in his exaltation. Jesus Christ fulfilled these witnesses through greater sufferings and through a far greater work of salvation.
Similarly, the work of the Prophet Joseph Smith and of us as descendants of Joseph follow after Christ, again in His pattern.
A final climax of this saving work will occur when Jesus Christ, like Joseph of Egypt, unveils His face to His brethren, and they and the world will come to know He is their slain brother and their Redeemer.
The ancient Joseph set the pattern for Jesus Christ (and for all future Josephs and descendants of Joseph) when he said:
"I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold . . . Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life" (Genesis 45:4-5). [Lenet Hadley Read, "Why All These Josephs?," Book of Mormon Conference, 14-16 August 2001: The Twenty-Fifth Annual Church Education System Religious Educators Conference at Brigham Young University, pp. 103-104]
Note* It is interesting that a prophecy alluding to Joseph's role in the restoration might be found in Romans 11. This is the chapter that mentions olive trees and which is often tied to the allegory of Zenos in Jacob 5. It is no small thing that both the allegory of Zenos and Romans 11 would be linked to the tribe of Joseph. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
2 Nephi 3:15 And He [Joseph] Shall Be Like unto Me [Joseph], For the Thing Which the Lord Shall Bring Forth by His Hand . . . Shall Bring My People unto Salvation:
In 2 Nephi 3:15 we find a prophecy concerning the latter-day Joseph by the ancient patriarch Joseph:
And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord, shall bring my people unto salvation. . . . for the Lord hath said unto me, I will preserve thy seed forever.
According to Matthew Brown, the scriptures inform us that the birthright in Israel belonged to Joseph (see 1 Chronicles 5:1-2) and his son Ephraim (see Jeremiah 31:9). The symbol assigned to the birthright tribe was the ox and one of the responsibilities laid upon that tribe was the gathering of the Lord's people by symbolically pushing them together, from the four quarters of the earth, with oxen horns (see Deuteronomy 33:13-17; see especially nt. 17b). . . . In this light it is interesting to note that the twelve oxen underneath the Brazen Sea in King Solomon's Temple (and also those underneath many LDS temple baptismal fonts) were arranged in four groups of three with the horns of each group pointing to one of the cardinal directions of the earth (see 1 Kings 7:23-25; compare 1 Nephi 22:25; 2 Nephi 21:12; 3 Nephi 16:5; D&C 33:6; 45:46; JS-Matthew 1:37). This could be seen as a visual representation of Joseph's responsibility to push together, or gather together, the tribes of Israel from the four quarters of the earth. According to Wilford Woodruff, the tribe of Joseph/Ephraim is "the first fruits of the kingdom of God in this dispensation," and the other tribes of Israel will get their "endowments, and be crowned under the hands of the children of Ephraim" (Journal of Discourses, 4:232) [Matthew B. Brown, The Gate of Heaven, pp. 146-147]
2 Nephi 3:15 The Thing Which the Lord Shall Bring Forth by His Hand . . . Shall Bring My People unto Salvation:
Catherine Thomas notes that while Joseph was in Egypt, Canaan languished in famine. Having been driven to Egypt by hunger, ten penitent sons of Israel listened to the remarkable account of their younger brother's survival and rise to prominence. Joseph graciously said to them as he revealed his true identity: "Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves . . . for God did send me before you to preserve life . . . to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance." (Genesis 45:5, 7) This Joseph was the prototype of the chief gatherers in Israel; this was he who would gather souls, like the corn he gathered into storage, numberless as the sand of the sea; he would "push the people together to the ends of the earth, . . . the ten thousands of Ephraim, and . . . the thousands of Manasseh" (Deuteronomy 33:17); he would also, foreshadowing the Redeemer's deliverance, magnanimously offer life to his own brethren who had rejected him.
The covenant prophecies which Joseph of Egypt uttered appear in 2 Nephi 3:5-21 and in outline are as follows: Joseph of Egypt's seed would not be completely destroyed, but would be delivered through another of his descendants, Joseph Smith (verse 7-15) by means of the Book of Mormon, which would manifest the Messiah and his covenants with their forefathers, as well as this Israelite branches's true identity. They would be converted and drawn back into the Lord's fold.
It is interesting that Pharaoh had named Joseph of Egypt Zaphnath-paaneah, "he who reveals that which is hidden." (Genesis 41:45) Joseph Smith would disclose many godly mysteries to ancient Joseph's seed, which "by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation." (2 Nephi 3:15) The hidden darkness may refer to the fact that the true identity of the remnant of Joseph of Egypt in America was unknown for many centuries until the Lord revealed it through Joseph Smith. [Catherine Thomas, "A Great Deliverance," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 1, pp. 104-105]
2 Nephi 3:15 The Thing Which the Lord Shall Bring Forth By His Hand . . . Shall Bring My People unto Salvation:
In 2 Nephi 3:15 we find in a prophecy concerning the latter-day restoration of all things by the hand of Joseph that "the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation."
Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that in the Book of Acts we discover an ancient prophecy (that has apparently been deleted from the Old Testament) which speaks of a "period of restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21--New American Standard Bible). Part of the "restoration of all things" is the return of the Urim and Thummim--or interpreters used anciently by the Hebrew prophets (Exodus 28;30; Leviticus 8:8; Deuteronomy 33:8; Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65).
Ancient Jewish tradition has proclaimed that a great servant of God from the House of Joseph would come in the latter days to prepare the way for the coming of Shilo, the Great Messiah. They began calling him, "Messiah ben Joseph," and called their Shilo, "Messiah ben David." Literally translated, these appellations mean, "The anointed One, son of Joseph," and "The anointed One, son of David."61
In Joseph Klausner's doctoral dissertation on the Messiah ben Joseph at the Heidelberg University in 1904, he estimated that the Urim and Thummim, which had been lost since the destruction of the first temple, would be returned during the time of the Messiah ben Joseph.62 [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, pp. 27-28]
2 Nephi 3:17 I will raise up a Moses (Illustration): Moses and the Burning Bush. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Art, #107]
2 Nephi 3:17 I Will Make a Spokesman for Him:
According to John Tvedtnes, when Lehi was admonishing his son Joseph, he told him of a prophecy uttered by their ancestor Joseph of Egypt, who had foreseen that the Egyptians would bring the Israelites into bondage. Part of that prophecy spoke of Moses: "And Moses will I [the Lord] raise up, to deliver thy people out of the land of Egypt" (2 Nephi 3:9-10). Joseph further declared: "and I will make a spokesman for him" (2 Nephi 3:17). This prophecy is also found in Genesis 50:29, 34-35 of the Joseph Smith Translation, which adds that the name of the spokesman would be Aaron.
In Targum Pseudo-Jonathan of Genesis 50:24, Joseph tells his family, "Behold you will be enslaved in Egypt, but do not make plans to go up out of Egypt until the time that TWO deliverers come and say to you, "The Lord surely remembers you." (emphasis added) This suggests that Joseph knew about the coming of Moses and Aaron to liberate Israel and confirms Joseph Smith's addition to that very place in the Genesis account.
Though the Jewish tradition regarding Joseph of Egypt's prophecy about Moses and Aaron can be traced to the second century A.D., the relevant texts were not available to Joseph Smith. The existence of that prophecy in both the Book of Mormon and the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis provides evidence for the historicity of the account. [John Tvedtnes, "Joseph's Prophecy of Moses and Aaron" in Insights, Vol. 21, No. 1, 2001]
2 Nephi 3:18-19 I Will Make for Him a Spokesman:
In 2 Nephi 3:18-19 we find the following:
And the Lord said unto [Joseph of Egypt] also: I will raise up unto the fruit of thy loins; and I will make for him a spokesman. And I, behold, I will give unto him that he shall write the writing of the fruit of thy loins, unto the fruit of thy loins; and the spokesman of thy loins shall declare it.
And the words which he shall write shall be the words which are expedient in my wisdom should go forth unto the fruit of thy loins. And it shall be as if the fruit of thy loins had cried unto them from the dust; for I know their faith.
According to Robert Millet, traditionally this passage (2 Nephi 3:18-19) has been interpreted in terms of Joseph Smith being given a spokesman, either Oliver Cowdery (D&C 28:3) or Sidney Rigdon (D&C 100:9-11; 124:104). More recently, however, Elder Bruce R. McConkie has provided an alternative explanation: the person of the lineage of Joseph who would be raised up to write the record of Joseph (the Book of Mormon) is Mormon; the spokesman of the word is Joseph Smith (see McConkie, New Witness 426). [Robert L. Millet, "The Influence of the Brass Plates," in Nyman and Tate eds. The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, The Doctrinal Structure, p. 220]
2 Nephi 3:24 One Mighty among Them:
In 2 Nephi 3 we find the blessing which Lehi gave to his son Joseph. Contained within that blessing are the prophecies made by Joseph of Egypt concerning "a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins" (2 Nephi 3:6). Some have incorrectly supposed that this "choice seer" was to be a direct descendant of Lehi's son Joseph. However, Nephi states that Joseph of Egypt "truly prophesied concerning all his seed" (2 Nephi 4:2). In 2 Nephi 3:23-25 we find an explanation concerning this "choice seer."
Wherefore, because of this covenant thou art blessed; for thy seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words of the book. And there shall rise up one mighty among them, who shall do much good, both in word and in deed, being an instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, to work mighty wonders, and do that thing which is great in the sight of God, unto the bringing to pass much restoration unto the house of Israel, and unto the seed of thy brethren.
Thus, first and foremost, this was a covenant promise, predicated on obedience to covenants. Secondly, we understand from the facts of the latter-day Restoration that Joseph Smith was the "one mighty among them" (or among the seed of Joseph of Egypt who would restore the gospel or "book" to the seed of Lehi's son Joseph). Thirdly, we realize that in spite of the final destruction of the Nephite nation, some of the seed of Joseph (although mixed and apostate to the covenant at the time of the destruction--see Moroni 9:24) would eventually be brought back to the knowledge and blessings of the covenant. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
2 Nephi 3:25 Blessed Art Thou, Joseph . . . Hearken unto the Words of Thy Brother, Nephi, and It Shall Be Done unto Thee Even According to the Words Which I Have Spoken:
Noel Reynolds notes that in Lehi's final words to his youngest son Joseph, he depends heavily on the writings of two ancient prophets in Egypt--Joseph and Moses (see 2 Nephi 3:4-25). It is interesting that in Nephi's collection of Lehi's patriarchal blessings to his posterity, he omits his own blessing, however we find allusions to it in the blessings of the other brothers. In the first blessing, Lehi speaks to Laman, Lemuel, Sam and the sons of Ishmael, and tells them: "Rebel no more against your brother." He strongly endorses Nephi by summarizing Nephi's qualifications: (1) "[Nephi's} views have been glorious"; (2) he has "kept the commandments from the time that we left Jerusalem"; and (3) "were it not for him, we must have perished with hunger in the wilderness." (2 Nephi 1:24). . . . In refuting Laman and Lemuel's claims that Nephi "sought power and authority" over them (2 Nephi 1:24-26), Lehi explains that Nephi was only seeking "the glory of God, and [their own eternal welfare." (2 Nephi 1:25-27). . . . The blessings given to Zoram, Sam, Jacob, and Joseph corroborate the fact that Lehi intended Nephi to be the leader. Because Zoram has been a faithful and "a true friend" to Nephi, Lehi promises that his posterity will be blessed with Nephi's (2 Nephi 1:30-31). Jacob, too, will be blessed and "dwell safely with . . . Nephi" (2 Nephi 2:1-3). Joseph is told that if he follows Nephi, he will receive similar blessings (2 Nephi 3:25). Finally, Sam is blessed to inherit land with Nephi. His descendants shall be numbered with Nephi's, and he will be blessed all his days (2 Nephi 4:11). In all the blessings, whether negative or positive, Nephi is explicitly endorsed as the authorized successor to Lehi. [Noel B. Reynolds, "The Political Dimension in Nephi's Small Plates," FARMS, 1987, pp. 31-32]
2 Nephi 3:25 Blessed Art Thou, Joseph . . . Hearken unto the Words of Thy Brother, Nephi, and It Shall Be Done unto Thee Even According to the Words Which I Have Spoken:
According to Noel Reynolds, in Lehi's final words to his youngest son Joseph, he depends heavily on the writings of two ancient prophets in Egypt--Joseph and Moses (see 2 Nephi 3:4-25). The text invites us to see Nephi also as a parallel figure to these two great leaders and deliverers of Israel. They both shared Nephi's problem-having to justify their unexpected callings to authority over their brethren. Concerning the parallels, we find that Nephi, like Joseph, is resented by his older brothers, for he also was his father's favorite. As Joseph has his visions of sheaves and stars, God tells Nephi that he will teach and rule over his brothers. While bringing Ishmael's family out of Jerusalem, Nephi's brothers become possessed of the same murderous rage that caused Joseph's brothers to throw him into a pit in the wilderness to die or be eaten by wild beasts (Genesis 37:18-214) Like Joseph, Nephi ascribes his escape to the power of God (Genesis 45:5, 7-8 and 1 Nephi 7:17-18). Nephi mentions that Joseph is their ancestor, in spite of his resolve not to take precious space on the small plates with genealogical information. In parallel to Joseph (see Genesis 49:23-4) Nephi, by the strength of his bow provides food and saves his father's family from starvation (1 Nephi 16: 18-32). Jacob of old accuses his older sons of bringing "down [his] gray hairs with sorrow to the grave" (Genesis 42:38). . . . Nephi chooses this exact phrase to describe the effects of family rebellion on his own father (1 Nephi 18:18). And when Lehi, like Jacob, gathers his people together to receive his final blessings, he rebukes the older sons for their faithlessness, and he promises their birthright to the younger son, who has already become the family's de facto leader as they reside in a strange land (compare Genesis 49, especially v. 26, and 2 Nephi 1, especially vv. 28-29). [Noel B. Reynolds, "The Political Dimension in Nephi's Small Plates," FARMS, 1987, pp. 32-33]