D&C/CHURCH HISTORY- LESSON 4
JS-HISTORY 1:55-65; SECTIONS 3&10
- Joseph Smith Receives The Gold Plates.
- Historical Summary.
- Annual visits to the Hill Cumorah 1823-1827.
- As instructed by the Angel Moroni, Joseph returned to the hill each
year in September to receive additional teaching and instructions.
- During this period of preparation, Joseph was instructed by many of
- In his letter to John Wentworth, Joseph wrote of "...many visits
from the angels of God unfolding the majesty and glory of the events that
should transpire in the last days." (HC 4:537)
- According to John Taylor, the Prophet "not only had the principles
developed but was conversant with the parties who officiated as the leading
men" in former ages. (JD 20:174-175)
- Consider the words of Joseph's mother:
- "...we continued to get the children together every evening
for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same. I
presume our family presented an aspect as singular as any that ever lived
upon the face of the earth--all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons
and daughters, and giving the most profound attention to a boy, eighteen
years of age, who had never read the Bible through in his life: he seemed
much less inclined to the perusal of books than any other the rest of our
children, but far more given to meditation and deep study.
- "During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally
give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would
describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of
traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings,
with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious
worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent
his whole life among them." (HJS, pp82-83)
- In 1825, the Smith family made the acquaintance of Josiah (Stoal) Stowell
from Chenango County, New York. He came into the Smith neighborhood for
the purchase of wheat and flour.
- He heard about Joseph Smith and the discover of the gold plates. He
sought out the Smith family and made a proposal to Joseph to come down
to his home county and search for a buried treasure.
- Joseph convinced Stowell that he had no powers to find hidden treasure.
Stowell liked Joseph and offered him employment, which Joseph needed and
- While employed by Stowell in the Susquehanna country, Joseph boarded
and roomed with Isaac Hale in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Isaac Hale had 9 children,
the third of which was Emma.
- Against her family opposition, Emma married Joseph in January of 1827
in the village of South Bainbridge, New York.
- Joseph prevailed on Stowell to give up the search for buried treasure.
He continued to work for Stowell on his farm in Chenango Country and also
for Joseph Knight in Broome County.
- After marrying Emma, Joseph returned to his father's farm, where he
worked for the next season.
- Joseph receives the plates.
- On the morning of September 22, 1827, Joseph returned to the Hill Cumorah
where he received the ancient Nephite record from the angel Moroni.
- Moroni gave the following charge to Joseph (see JS-History 1:59): "...the
same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that
I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly,
or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would
use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should
call for them, they should be protected."
- JS-History 1:60: "I soon found out the reason why I had received
such strict charges to keep them safe, and why it was that the messenger
had said that when I had done what was required at my hand, he would call
for them. For no sooner was it known that I had them, than the most strenuous
exertions were used to get them from me. Every stratagem that could be
invented was resorted to for that purpose. The persecution became more
bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually
to get them from me if possible."
- One Willard Chase, a Methodist Sunday School leader, organized a group
of twelve men to obtain the plates from Joseph. The Prophet's father learned
of the plans and hurried to Macedon, where Joseph was working, to advise
him of the conspiracy.
- Joseph left Macedon and hurried to the woods where he had hidden the
plates in a hollow log. He removed the plates and concealed them in his
coat. On the path to his house, he was attacked by three men. He knocked
the men down and barely escaped.
- The plates were placed in a wooden box and placed under the stones
of the hearth. No sooner had the plates been secured when the house was
rushed by an armed mob. The men in the house rushed out in such fury that
they hoped to scare the mob off, which they were successful in doing.
- Many other attempts were made to get the plates from young Joseph.
Said Joseph: "Several times I was shot at, and very narrowly escaped,
and every device was made use of to get the plates away from me."
- The persecution became so great, that Joseph and Emma determined to
get out of the area. No work could be done with the plates in this atmosphere.
- Martin Harris, a Smith neighbor, took interest in Joseph's story and
gave Joseph and Emma $50 to enable them to return to Emma's home in Harmony,
- During this trip, the plates were hid in the bottom of a cask of beans.
- The translation begins.
- Joseph and Emma were furnished two rooms in the Hale home in Harmony.
- It was here that Joseph began to study the characters on the plates
by using the Urim and Thummim.
- Joseph refused to show Emma's father, Isaac Hale the plates. Isaac
would not allow Joseph to continue in his house. Joseph and Emma purchased
13 1/2 acres of land, with a shanty on it, where they then moved and Joseph
began the first stages of translation.
- In the month of February, Martin Harris visited Joseph and Emma in
Harmony. Martin took a copy of the characters, along with their translation,
to New York City.
- HAVE A CLASS MEMBER RELATE THE STORY OF MARTIN HARRIS' VISIT TO PROFESSORS
ANTHON AND MITCHELL. (See JS-History 1:63-65)
- WHAT PROPHECY DID THIS INCIDENT FULFILL? (Isaiah 29:11-12)
- Neither Anthon or Mitchell could interpret the characters. The ability
to translate ancient Egyptian was just beginning through the work of a
French scholar by the name of Jean Francois Champollion and his work with
the Rosetta stone discovered in 1799.
- The transcript taken by Harris has been preserved. It was attached
to the last sheet of the Book of Mormon manuscript, which was retained
by David Whitmer. Study of the transcript has been made and nearly every
character copied from the plates was found to have been used at some time
in Egyptian writing.
- In addition to the fulfillment of ancient prophecy, the most significant
development from this incident, is that it more fully convinced Martin
Harris of the validity of the work that Joseph was involved in.
- Section 3.
- The loss of the 116 pages.
- Martin returned to Harmony to assist Joseph in the translation.
- On April 12, 1828, Martin became the Prophet's scribe. By June 14 they
had completed 116 pages.
- Martin Harris wished to show translation to wife. She evidently badgered
Martin about being involved with Joseph. Joseph inquired of the Lord 3
times before Martin was given a positive answer.
- Conditions: to be shown to his wife and 4 other specific persons.
- Shortly after Martin left with the manuscript, Emma had a child which
lived only a short time.
- Emma was so distraught over the loss of the child that remained by
her side for two weeks.
- As Emma began to recover he became increasingly concerned over the
manuscript. Three weeks had passed and Joseph had heard nothing from Martin.
- Emma had Joseph bring her mother over and then he left for Palmyra
to find out about the manuscript.
- Joseph was tired from the vigil by his wife's side and deeply worried
about the manuscript. A stranger assisted Joseph in getting to the home
of his parents.
- Mother Smith's account of the lost manuscript:
- When Joseph had taken a little nourishment, according to the directions
of the stranger, he requested us to send immediately for Mr. Harris. This
we did without delay. And when we had given the stranger his breakfast,
we commenced preparing breakfast for the family; and we supposed that Mr.
Harris would be there, as soon as it was ready, to eat with us, for he
generally came in such haste when he was sent for. At eight o'clock we
set the victuals on the table, as we were expecting him every moment. We
waited till nine, and he came not--till ten, and he was not there--till
eleven, still he did not make his appearance. But at half past twelve we
saw him walking with a slow and measured tread towards the house, his eyes
fixed thoughtfully upon the ground. On coming to the gate, he stopped,
instead of passing through, and got upon the fence, and sat there some
time with his hat drawn over his eyes. At length he entered the house.
Soon after which we sat down to the table, Mr. Harris with the rest. He
took up his knife and fork as if he were going to use them, but immediately
dropped them. Hyrum, observing this, said "Martin, why do you not
eat; are you sick?" Upon which Mr. Harris pressed his hands upon his
temples, and cried out in a tone of deep anguish, "Oh, I have lost
my soul! I have lost my soul!"
- Joseph who had not expressed his fears till now, sprang from the
table, exclaiming, "Martin, have you lost that manuscript? Have you
broken your oath, and brought down condemnation upon my head as well as
- "Yes; it is gone," replied Martin, "and I know not
- "Oh, my God!" said Joseph, clinching his hands. "All
is lost! all is lost! What shall I do? I have sinned--it is I who tempted
the wrath of God. I should have been satisfied with the first answer which
I received from the Lord; for he told me that it was not safe to let the
writing go out of my possession." He wept and groaned, and walked
the floor continually.
- At length he told Martin to go back and search again.
- "No"; said Martin, "it is all in vain; for I have
ripped open beds and pillows; and I know it is not there."
- "Then must I," said Joseph, "return with such a tale
as this? I dare not do it. And how shall I appear before the Lord? Of what
rebuke am I not worthy from the angel of the Most High?"
- I besought him not to mourn so, for perhaps the Lord would forgive
him, after a short season of humiliation and repentance. But what could
I do to comfort him, when he saw all the family in the same situation of
mind as himself; for sobs and groans, and the most bitter lamentations
filled the house. However, Joseph was more distressed than the rest, as
he better understood the consequences of disobedience. And he continued
pacing back and forth, meantime weeping and grieving, until about sunset,
when, by persuasion, he took a little nourishment.
- The next morning, he set out for home. We parted with heavy hearts,
for it now appeared that all which we had so fondly anticipated, and which
had been the source of so much secret gratification, had in a moment fled,
and fled forever. (HJS 127-129)
- Background: Joseph says that he remained in Manchester for a "short
season" and then returned to Pennsylvania.
- He said: "Immediately after my return home, I was walking out
a little distance, when, behold, the former heavenly messenger appeared
and handed to me the Urim and Thummim again--for it had been taken from
me in consequence of my having wearied the Lord in asking for the privilege
of letting Martin Harris take the writings...and I inquired of the Lord
through it, and obtained the following: (Section 3)" (DHC, pp
- Discussion on Section 3.
- Joseph was told in this section of the loss of his gift and why.
- There is much vital counsel here for all of us.
- Remember what Nephi said: "I did liken all scriptures unto
us, that it might be for our profit and learning." (1 Nephi 19:23)
- Even though the Lord is addressing Joseph in these verses, it is solemn
counsel and a warning for all of us.
- The Lord has told us to "pray always" (D&C 19:38).
- WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DOING THIS AND DOING WHAT JOSEPH AND
MARTIN DID WHEN THEY PERSISTED WITH THEIR REQUEST TO SHOW THE 116 MANUSCRIPT
PAGES TO MARTIN'S WIFE?
- Jacob 4:10: "Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord,
but to take counsel from his hand."
- HOW CAN WE LEARN TO ASK FOR THAT "WHICH IS RIGHT" FOR US?
- 3 Nephi 18:20: "And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my
name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall
be given unto you."
- Did Joseph believe it was right? No. I continued to plead with the
Lord because of Martin's pleading.
- If we listen to the Spirit, we will know what is right to ask for?
- READ D&C 3:5-9.
- V7: "For, behold, you should not have feared man more than
- ARE WE EVER GUILTY OF THIS? DOESN'T THIS INCIDENT TEACH THE FOLLY OF
SUCH AN ATTITUDE?
- HOW CAN WE OVERCOME THE FEAR OF MAN?
- D&C 3:10: "But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent
of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which
I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work;"
- WHAT LESSON CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS VERSE AND THE LIFE OF THE PROPHET?
- We may mess up big time, but the Lord is merciful, and we can repent
and take up our calling in life. Joseph did and so have many others.
- Additional commentary on the loss of the 116 pages (Ivan J. Barrett
in Joseph Smith and the Restoration, p84)
- "Grievous as the experience was, it proved to be the lesson Joseph
Smith needed in his youth to strengthen him and fortify him against temptations
that would later beset his path.
- "It taught him to hearken to the inspiration that came to him
and not to yield to the persuasions of men.
- "It taught him to be cautious in trusting men, for few could be
- "It also taught him that more than one copy of valuable documents
should be made. In the future he made duplicate copies of all important
- Disposition of the manuscript.
- The testimonies of a Pomeroy Tucker and a Reverend Clark indicate that
Martin's wife snatched the manuscript while her husband slept.
- Mother Smith said this: "...There is no doubt but Mrs. Harris
took it from the drawer, with the view of retaining it until another translation
should be given, then to alter the original translation, for the purpose
of showing a discrepancy between them, and thus make the whole appear to
be a deception."
- Section 10.
- Joseph said: "After I had obtained the above revelation (Section
3), both the plates and the Urim and Thummin were taken from me again:
but in a few days they were returned to me, when I inquired of the Lord,
and the Lord said thus unto me: (Section 10)"
- This section was given some time later in the summer of 1828.
- The Lord begins by telling Joseph that the gift of translation was
restored to him.
- READ D&C 10:4-5. Wise counsel from the Lord.
- As a sometimes runner/biker I can appreciate counsel delivered to the
Prophet in v4.
- Consider my goal to ride to Utah in 1984.
- Lived in W. Seattle - In March I bought bike - could hardly make it
the 1 1/2 miles home from the bike shop - how could I even consider a near
1000 mile ride.
- 1st long distance training ride - W. Seattle to Auburn - wasted me
out - it was almost too much and discouraged me - "Do not run faster
or labor more than you have strength" (D&C 10:4).
- In continued my training on a frequent basis throughout the spring
& early summer - rode to work frequently/rode evenings/rode every weekend.
- Even at the end of my training I doubted whether I was physically prepared
to make the trip - but my preparation was sufficient.
- HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO US IN THE GOSPEL?
- The Lord does not expect us to achieve perfection and celestial glory
in a day.
- He expects us to keep trying, have failures, grow weary. But he wants
us to keep trying. As he says in verse 4, "...be diligent unto
- And then, he counsels in v5 to "Pray always, that you may come
off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape
the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work."
- READ D&C 10:9-12. The wicked have altered the words of the translation.
- It is important to note in these verses we have been reading of the
battle of Satan to confound the work.
- In is vital for us to realize the reality of the battle Satan is waging
against us and the work of salvation.
- Much of this section discusses the efforts of Satan to destroy the
- As we continue through Church history, we will see ample evidence of
his attempt to stop the work of salvation. In fact, it would be interesting
to chronicle these events. We are engaged in a battle without parallel.
- In v30 the Lord commands Joseph to not retranslate those plates.
- He goes on to say in v31: "For, behold, they shall not accomplish
their evil designs in lying against those words."
- READ D&C 10:38-42. Instructions regarding the small plates.
- Next Week.
- Study Sections 5-9 & Joseph Smith-History 1:66-67.