Revelation, , Seneca Co., NY, to , , and , [June 1829]. Featured version copied [not before 25 Nov. 1834] in Revelation Book 2, pp. 119–120; handwriting of ; Revelations Collection, CHL. Includes redactions. For more complete source information, see the source note for Revelation Book 2.
copied this revelation circa March 1831 into Revelation Book 1, but the page on which it was copied was removed at some point from that volume and is no longer extant. For unknown reasons, printers of the Book of Commandments chose not to include this revelation text in that volume. Some language used in the version copied into Revelation Book 2 does not fit an 1829 context, suggesting that version was modified from the original, although the degree of modification cannot be known.
After both a passage in the Book of Mormon and a JS revelation promised that three witnesses would testify of the , , , and requested that they be given the opportunity. In response, JS dictated this revelation in , New York, in June 1829. The text of the revelation implies that it was dictated after the was finished. JS later said that it was “not many days” after the revelation was given, that he, Cowdery, Whitmer, and Harris “agreed to retire into the woods, and try to obtain by fervent and humble prayer, the fulfilment of the promises given in this revelation; that they should have a view of the pl[a]t[es].”
According to JS’s history, the “heavenly messenger” who delivered the plates to him in 1827 had commanded him not to show them to anyone. By March 1829, , , Reuben Hale, and possibly others had served as scribes for JS as he dictated the translation, yet none of them had seen the plates. That same month Harris, whose strongly objected to his involvement with JS, traveled to , Pennsylvania, to obtain, in the words of a revelation, “a witness that my Servant Joseph hath got the things which he hath testified that he hath got.” That same revelation, which JS dictated after Harris’s arrival in Harmony, spoke of “a with me [God] that he [JS] should not show them except I Command him,” but also promised that three people would see the plates by God’s power and thereafter testify to the world of their existence. Harris was then informed that if he was sufficiently humble he would be one of the three witnesses.
also had reason to hope that he might be one of the promised witnesses. In April 1829, he became JS’s primary scribe and recorded almost all of the Book of Mormon manuscript produced after ’s loss of the “Book of Lehi,” so he was familiar with the passage prophesying that three persons would see and stand as witnesses of the plates. About this same time JS dictated a revelation for Cowdery declaring that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses, shall every word be established” and that God’s words would “be established by the testimony which shall be given.” The revelation commanded Cowdery to “assist to bring forth my work,” language similar to that in the Book of Mormon passage that envisioned the book’s future translator showing the plates to three witnesses who would testify of them “by the power of God” and “assist to bring forth this work.”
In late May or early June, helped JS and move to , New York, where they could more securely finish the translation. Whitmer was an important supporter of the translation effort from that time forward. Though he did not become a witness of the plates for weeks, he reported years later that soon after their arrival, his was shown the plates by a heavenly messenger. Shortly after Whitmer was in early June, JS dictated a revelation for him that again echoed the Book of Mormon passage about witnesses, calling Whitmer “to assist” in bringing forth the fulness of the gospel. He was also told that he might “stand as a witness of the things of which you shall both hear and see.”
In late June, JS translated another Book of Mormon passage that stated that three witnesses would testify “to the truth of the book, and the things therein.” JS recalled that , , and “became so very solicitous, and teazed me so much, that at length I complied and through the I obtained of the Lord for them” the revelation featured here. The text informed the three men that they would see the plates if they relied on the word of God “with full purpose of heart” and that they would testify they had seen them by the power of God.
See also Joseph F. Smith, New York City, NY, to John Taylor et al., [Salt Lake City, Utah Territory], 17 Sept. 1878, draft, Joseph F. Smith, Papers, CHL; and “Mormonism,” Kansas City Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, 1.
David Whitmer also reported later that he, Cowdery, and JS encountered the same messenger carrying the plates in a knapsack as they traveled from Harmony to Fayette. (Stevenson, Journal, 23 Dec. 1877, 9 Feb. 1886, and 2 Jan. 1887; see also Joseph F. Smith, New York City, NY, to John Taylor et al., [Salt Lake City, Utah Territory], 17 Sept. 1878, draft, Joseph F. Smith, Papers, CHL.)
Stevenson, Edward. Journals, 1852–1896. Edward Stevenson, Collection, 1849–1922. CHL. MS 4806, boxes 1–4.
A Revelation to and given sineca co [Fayette, Seneca County] New York given previous to them having a view of the plates &c.
Behold I say unto you that you must rely upon my word which if you do with full purpose of heart you shall have a view of the plate and also the brestplate the sword <ofLabanthe> Urim,andThumim of Laban the <which was> given to the brother of Jared upon the mount when he talked with the Lord face to face and the marveelus directors which was given to Lehi while in the wilderness on the borders of the red sea and it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old and after that you have obtained faith and have seen them with your eyes you shall testify of them by the power of God and this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith Jr may not be distroyed that I may bring about my rightous purposes unto the children of men in this work and ye shall testify that ye have seen them even as my servant Joseph Smith jr has seen them for it is by my power that he has seen them and it is because he had faith and he has them even that part which I have commanded him and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true wherefore you have received the same power and the same faith and the same gift like unto him and if ye do these last commandments of mine [p. 119]
In 1845, Lucy Mack Smith recounted that shortly after obtaining the breastplate with the gold plates, JS handed it to her, wrapped in “a thin muslin handkerchief.” She reported, “It was concave on one side . . . and extended from the neck downwards as far as the centre of the stomach of a man of extraordinary size. It had four straps of the same material for the purpose of fastening it to the breast: two of which ran back to go over the shoulders, and the other two were designed to fasten to the hips.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 114.)
In this version of the revelation, the use of “Urim and Thummim” (rather than the Book of Mormon term “interpreters” or the term “spectacles,” which JS used in 1829 and 1832) is probably a later redaction since “Urim and Thummim” does not appear in JS’s writings before 1833. The revisions in this section may in part be correcting errors made while copying from a source text that had itself been revised. (See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 172–173, 546 [Mosiah 8:13; Ether 4:5]; JS History, ca. Summer 1832; and “Joseph Smith Documents Dating through June 1831.”)
In the Book of Mormon the “marveelus directors,” named the “liahona,” function something like a compass to guide Lehi’s party in their journey. (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 39, 48–49, 329 [1 Nephi 16:10; 18:12–21; Alma 37:38–40].)
See Revelation, Mar. 1829 [D&C 5:25–26]; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 548 [Ether 5:2–4]. The March 1829 revelation discussing the prospect of Harris seeing the plates concluded with a commandment to JS that he stop translating the plates because, as the revelation explained, “I foresee the lieing in wait to destroy thee yea I foresee that if my Servant [Martin Harris] humbleth not himself & receive a witness from my hand that he will fall into transgression & there are many that lie in wait to destroy thee off the face of the Earth.” (Revelation, Mar. 1829 [D&C 5:32–33].)