2 Nephi Chapter 3
2 Nephi 3:11-12 Lehi's prophecy of the latter-day seer, Joseph Smith. 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.
In this chapter Lehi quotes prophecies originally made by ancient Joseph who was sold into Egypt (verses 5 through 21). He found these prophecies upon the plates of brass. These prophecies are not contained in the Bible. Why are they not found in the Bible? It would seem that two possible explanations might apply. First, perhaps they were never included in any detail in the Bible. After all, the Bible is the record or "stick" of Judah, not Joseph. It is the Book of Mormon and the plates of brass that are each the record or "stick" of Joseph (or Ephraim). It is in these latter two records that we might expect to find more of the prophecies of Joseph. Secondly, perhaps the biblical manuscripts did contain a detailed account of Joseph's prophecies, but they were lost from the biblical writings when many "plain and precious parts" were taken away (see 1 Nephi 13:24-29).
In this chapter we will speak of ancient Joseph and the prophet Moses. In order that we might be chronologically oriented relative to these two biblical figures, let us review a few dates having to do with these two great prophets (see the supplemental article, Chronology of The Bible and the Book of Mormon). The ancient prophet Jacob, or Israel, traveled to Egypt with his family to escape the famine in Palestine in about 1700 BC. Joseph, you will recall, had previously been exiled to Egypt by his resentful brothers. Joseph had achieved an important and influential position in the Pharaoh's government. In Egypt Joseph received his family warmly and provided sustenance for them. The Israelite exile in Egypt lasted from about 1700 to 1260 BC. In about the latter year, the prophet Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt into the wilderness. Joshua was finally allowed by the Lord to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land in 1220 BC. Here they were ruled initially by the Judges and then by the succession of kings: Saul, David, and Solomon. At Solomon's death in 931 BC the Israelites were divided as the rebellious military leader Jeroboam led many to the north where they established the Kingdom of Israel with its center in the city of Ephraim. The dominant tribe of this group was the tribe of Joseph and his birthright son Ephraim. Some of the Israelites remained behind in Judah under the leadership of Solomon's son Rehoboam. Here they became the Kingdom of Judah with its center in Jerusalem. The dominant tribe, of course, was that of Judah.
Let us not make the mistake of underestimating the importance and stature of ancient Joseph as a prophet. We know that he had a personal visitation from the Lord, and he prophesied specifically of the Lord's raising up Moses to lead captive Israel out of bondage in Egypt (JST, Genesis 50:24). The Lord also covenanted with him regarding his posterity with a solemn oath (JST, Genesis 50:34). Joseph was moved to prophesy of his seed by virtue of this covenant, and prophesy he did. We will study at least a part of this prophecy in this chapter. Evidently there are some additional writings of Joseph that have never been made available to us. Joseph Smith reported that at the same time he received the record of Abraham from Michael Chandler, he also received a record of ancient Joseph which he apparently intended to translate, but it has never been made available to us (HC, 2:348, 350-51).
As you study this chapter, it is important to keep straight in your mind the first person or speaker of each verse you are studying. To simplify this task I will summarize the speakers: verses 1-5-Lehi to his son Joseph; verse 6-ancient Joseph; verses 7-13-the Lord is speaking to ancient Joseph; verses 14-16-ancient Joseph; verses 17-21-the Lord to ancient Joseph; and verses 22-25-Lehi to his son Joseph. As we come to these verses, I will again remind you of the speaker.
1 And now I speak unto you, Joseph, my last-born. Thou wast born in the wilderness of mine afflictions; yea, in the days of my greatest sorrow did thy mother bear thee.
verse 1 Lehi now turns his attention to his youngest son Joseph. Lehi is the speaker or first person in verses 1-5.
"wilderness of mine afflictions" Apparently both Joseph and his elder brother Jacob were born during the most difficult parts of Lehi's colony's journey in the wilderness. See the commentary for 2 Nephi 2:1. In all four standard works, this colorful phrase is unique to the Book of Mormon and is found only in this verse and in verse 3 of this chapter.
Regarding Lehi and Sariah's naming of their children, Hugh Nibley observed:
It should be noted in speaking of names, that archaeology has fully demonstrated that the Israelites, then as now, had not the slightest aversion to giving their children non-Jewish names, even when those names smacked of a pagan background. One might, in a speculative mood, even detect something of Lehi's personal history in the names he gave to his sons. The first two [Laman and Lemuel] have Arabic names-do they recall his early days in the caravan trade? The second two [Sam and Nephi] have Egyptian names, and indeed they were born in the days of his prosperity. The last two, born amid tribulations in the desert, were called with fitting humility, Jacob and Joseph. Whether the names of the first four were meant, as those of the last two sons certainly were, to call to mind the circumstances under which they were born, the names are certainly a striking indication of their triple heritage, and it was certainly the custom of Lehi's people to name their children with a purpose (Helaman 3:21; Helaman 5:6) (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, volume 6, 76-77.)It should be noted in speaking of names, that archaeology has fully demonstrated that the Israelites, then as now, had not the slightest aversion to giving their children non-Jewish names, even when those names smacked of a pagan background. One might, in a speculative mood, even detect something of Lehi's personal history in the names he gave to his sons. The first two [Laman and Lemuel] have Arabic names-do they recall his early days in the caravan trade? The second two [Sam and Nephi] have Egyptian names, and indeed they were born in the days of his prosperity. The last two, born amid tribulations in the desert, were called with fitting humility, Jacob and Joseph. Whether the names of the first four were meant, as those of the last two sons certainly were, to call to mind the circumstances under which they were born, the names are certainly a striking indication of their triple heritage, and it was certainly the custom of Lehi's people to name their children with a purpose (Helaman 3:21; Helaman 5:6) (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, volume 6, 76-77.)
2 And may the Lord consecrate also unto thee this land, which is a most precious land, for thine inheritance and the inheritance of thy seed with thy brethren, for thy security forever, if it so be that ye shall keep the commandments of the Holy One of Israel.
verse 2 Obviously, Lehi's blessing to Joseph and, indeed, most all of heaven's blessings, are conditional. Again, take note of the duration of this covenant. Does this mean the covenant will still be in force when the earth is in its terrestrial phase during the Millennium? What about during the earth's celestial phase?
"may the Lord consecrate also unto thee this land" Lehi may have been giving Joseph his specific "land of inheritance" within the broader land (see the commentary for 2 Nephi 1:30-32).
3 And now, Joseph, my last-born, whom I have brought out of the wilderness of mine afflictions, may the Lord bless thee forever, for thy seed shall not utterly be destroyed.
verse 3 Even though the Nephite nation will eventually largely be destroyed, Joseph is promised not only that his descendants will never be annihilated, but in a later verse he promised that his seed will also accept the Book of Mormon (verse 23). The doctrine that there are descendants of Joseph among today's native Central and perhaps North Americans is implied in a modern revelation to Joseph Smith (D&C 3:16- 18). Are there descendants of the Nephites alive in this final dispensation? Weren't they all killed by the Lamanites? Following the Savior's visit to the New World, there followed a two-hundred-year period of peace, when the people joined together into one unified group in which there were no "-ites." After this so-called "mini-millennium" the people broke up into Nephite and Lamanite groups again. This time the division was not according to lineage but by righteousness or unrighteousness. The "Nephites" were those that wanted to live the commandments of God, and the "Lamanites" were those that did not (see 4 Nephi 1:38). Therefore, there were descendants of Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, Jacob, Joseph, and Zoram in both groups, and undoubtedly some of their descendants are among indigenous Americans today (see the supplemental article, Book of Mormon Myths).
4 For behold, thou art the fruit of my loins; and 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.
verse 4 "I am a descendant of Joseph" It is interesting that Lehi uses the occasion of the blessing of his son Joseph to deliver a sermon on his ancestor, ancient Joseph "who was carried captive into Egypt." Lehi was a descendant of ancient Joseph's son Manasseh (see Alma 10:3), and Ishmael was of Ephraim (see JD, 23:184). Thus the Book of Mormon people represented both branches of Joseph's posterity.
Joseph "who was carried captive into Egypt" is the prototype of the gatherers of Israel. Remember how he delivered his brothers and saved their lives when they came out of famine-ravaged Canaan to Egypt. Joseph told his brothers: "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; Genesis 45:7). Not only was Joseph a great deliverer, but his actions were a type of the Savior's future deliverance, as he offered life to his brothers who had rejected him.
"great were the covenants of the Lord which he made unto Joseph" These covenants are contained in the verses that follow and are summarized as follows: A righteous branch of Joseph's descendants would be "broken off," that is, separated from the main body of Joseph's descendants. The "seed" or descendants of this branch would be scattered through wickedness, but they would not be completely destroyed. Rather, they would be delivered through another of Joseph's descendants, Joseph Smith, Jr., by means of the Book of Mormon. They would be taught their true identity as a branch of Israel. The Messiah would be manifest to them. They would be converted and drawn back into the Lord's Church. These covenants are not contained in the biblical record, and this fact has caused the gentile world to stumble over the truths restored to Joseph Smith.
verses 5-7 The prophecies of ancient Joseph contained in these verses were taken from the brass plates (2 Nephi 4:2). There is a remarkable similarity between the content of these verses and the content of JST Genesis 50:24-28. Pause for a moment and consider the question of why there should be such a similarity. Perhaps the concepts are similar because they are true and come from the same God. Or, perhaps, Joseph Smith learned these important concepts from the Book of Mormon, and this learning aided him in his revision of these verses in the book of Genesis 50. An even more interesting explanation has been suggested. It is likely that the JST serves, in some instances, an important restorative function, that is, in doing his inspired revision, Joseph restored knowledge and understanding which had been lost from the Bible since its original writing, especially that deletion and alteration which occurred at the hand of the great and abominable church (see 1 Nephi 13:39-40). Thus Joseph's revisions found in the JST today may occasionally allow us to see how those same scriptures might have been found in their original form such as would have been found on the brass plates. However, the reader should be cautious about assuming that Joseph's purpose, in producing the JST, was to restore the Bible text to its original form. One area in which the average member of the Church almost always misunderstands our theology is the relationship between the JST and the biblical text.
Just what is the JST? First of all, the JST is not canonized scripture except for JST Genesis 1-6 and Matthew 24, which are both found in the Pearl of Great Price and several assorted verses found in the section titled "Joseph Smith Translation, Excerpts Too Lengthy for Inclusion in Footnotes" found between the Bible Dictionary and the Gazetteer. The JST is not the LDS version of the Bible. The King James Version is and always has been. We believe that the JST is "inspired," but that is not the same thing as saying it always restores the original texts of the biblical books. In 1828 the word translation was broader in its meaning than it is now, and the Joseph Smith translation (JST) should be understood to contain additional revelations, alternate readings, prophetic commentary or midrash, harmonizations, clarifications, and corrections of the original. Though some may object to this interpretation of the word translation, it is a matter of record that Joseph used the term this broadly to mean "render," "interpret," or "adapt." How else than by granting this broader meaning of "translate" can the JST, which starts with the KJV English and ends up still in English, be considered a "translation" at all? Joseph Smith often saw more than one meaning in a passage and brought many of these explicitly to our attention by means of the JST. See the supplemental article in Learning to Love the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith's Inspired Revision of the Bible-The JST.
5 Wherefore, Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel; not the Messiah, but a branch which was to be broken off, nevertheless, to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light-yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom.
verse 5 Joseph saw Lehi's day and prophesied among the seed of Joseph that there would rise up, in the words of Joseph's father Jacob, a "fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall" (Genesis 49:22). In other words, a branch of the house of Joseph (representing both the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh) would be broken off and cross the ocean and come to the western hemisphere. These are the Lehites. They would eventually drift into "darkness," but later, in the "latter days," the Messiah would be manifest unto them, and his spirit would lift them "out of darkness unto light."
"not the Messiah" In the Scriptures a "branch" often refers to the Messiah, as for example in Isaiah 11:1-5. But here, Lehi explains that Joseph did not refer to the Messiah, but to some one who was to be broken off from Joseph's genealogical tree and yet to be remembered in the latter days.
"hidden darkness" This phrase may refer to the fact that the true identity of the remnant of Joseph of Egypt in the western hemisphere was unknown for many centuries until the Lord revealed it through Joseph Smith, Jr.
"out of captivity unto freedom" This phrase may have political as well as spiritual connotations.
6 For Joseph truly testified, saying: A seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins.
verse 6 The speaker in this verse is ancient Joseph. The "seer" seen by ancient Joseph is Joseph Smith, Jr. Probably the principal doctrine taught in chapter 3 is that Joseph Smith was a choice seer foreordained to come forth in the latter days.
7 Yea, Joseph truly said: Thus saith the Lord unto me: A choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and he shall be esteemed highly among the fruit of thy loins. And unto him will I give commandment that he shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins, his brethren, which shall be of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers.
verse 7 Notice that beginning in this verse and ending in verse 13, ancient Joseph in Egypt is reporting a revelation from the Lord. Thus the speaker in these verses is the Lord who is speaking to ancient Joseph. Where did Lehi obtain this record of ancient Joseph? From the brass plates, of course (2 Nephi 4:1-2). It seems likely that Moses reported Joseph's words on the plates of brass. This conjecture is based on 1 Nephi 5:11-14 which suggests that the earliest records contained on the plates of brass are "the five books of Moses." Also, JST Genesis 50:24-38 has Moses quoting the writings of Joseph. Presumably, then, in a similar fashion Moses quoted the writings of Joseph on the plates of brass.
"he shall do a work . . . which shall be of great worth" This, of course, includes the restoration of the gospel and the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon.
"the covenants which I have made with thy fathers" The Abrahamic covenants are summarized in the commentary for 1 Nephi 14:8.
8 And I will give unto him a commandment that he shall do none other work, save the work which I shall command him. And I will make him great in mine eyes; for he shall do my work.
verse 8 Joseph Smith, Jr., during his ministry, was commanded to give his primary attentions to spiritual matters rather than temporal or worldly affairs (D&C 24:9).
"I will make him great in mine eyes" Joseph will be given the keys of God's earthly "kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times" (D&C 27:13).
9 And he shall be great like unto Moses, whom I have said I would raise up unto you, to deliver my people, O house of Israel.
verse 9 "And he shall be great like unto Moses" Moses was the great gatherer. Keep in mind the essential function of the restored gospel and Church in this final dispensation in gathering scattered Israel (the reader may wish to review the commentary for 1 Nephi 20).
10 And Moses will I raise up, to deliver thy people out of the land of Egypt.
verses 9-10 Here we have the Lord, through ancient Joseph, prophesying specifically of the great deliverer Moses. There are other ancient documents that have ancient Joseph prophesying of Moses. A second-century AD translation of the Bible into Aramaic, Targum Neofiti, has Joseph prophesying of the captivity of Israel in Egypt and their deliverance from captivity by "Moses, Aaron, and Miriam" (Martin McNamara, trans., Tarfum Neofiti 1: Genesis [The Aramaic Bible, vol. 1A] [Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1992], 182).
From the standard account in Genesis 50:24-25, it is clear that Joseph was aware that the Israelites would someday leave Egypt, though he says nothing about the bondage they would endure in the meanwhile. But Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 48 (attributed to Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrqanos, who lived in the latter half of the first century AD and through the first decades of the second century), citing the Genesis passage, has Joseph prophesying the bondage of the Israelites and their deliverance by God. The second century AD Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Genesis 50:24 has Joseph telling 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'" (Michael Maher, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis [The Aramaic Bible, vol. 1B] [Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1992], 166).
verse 10 The world is not aware that the Lord raised up Moses to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt in fulfillment of a covenant he entered into with Joseph of Egypt (see also 2 Nephi 3:17). This verse is a record of that covenant with ancient Joseph.
It is likely that Moses descended from Levi, one of ancient Jacob's sons.
11 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.
verse 11 In reading the first few phrases in this verse, emphasis should be placed on the word "thy." After mentioning the prophet Moses in the previous verse, the Lord says, "But a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins" (emphasis added). The Lord here is speaking, of course, to ancient Joseph, and the seer, as previously mentioned, is Joseph Smith, Jr. Not only will he bring forth the Book of Mormon, but through the Book of Mormon the "seed of [Joseph's] loins" will be convinced of the truth of the Bible ("my word, which shall have already gone forth among them"). Make careful note of this interesting point: This prophetic verse states that the Book of Mormon will be used to prove the truth of the Bible rather than the converse.
12 Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.
verse 12 Moses initiated the record later continued by the seed of Judah-the Bible. Joseph Smith, of the "fruit of [the] loins" of Joseph of Egypt translated the Book of Mormon. These two records would eventually "grow together" to teach the latter-day seed of Joseph of Egypt about their true identity as a branch of Israel and about the covenants the Lord made with their fathers.
The reader may wish to review the supplemental article, Biblical Prophecies of the Book of Mormon.
Consider, for a moment, how important it is for the Book of Mormon to stand together with the Bible as a second witness. McConkie and Millet point out that, "In the historical sense, the Bible [by itself] has been a book of war and bloodshed as men and nations have quarreled over its meaning; innumerable martyrs have been left in its wake, and Europe was virtually torn asunder" (Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, volume 1, 207-8). Alone, the Bible is subject to an almost endless array of interpretations. From it has come a "war of words and tumult of opinions" (JS-H 1:10). Speaking of his search to know which church he should join, Joseph Smith said that the teachers of religion "understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible" (JS-H 1:12). Resolution of this doctrinal contention comes in the union of the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
13 And out of weakness he shall be made strong, in that day when my work shall commence among all my people, unto the restoring thee, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.
verse 13 "And out of weakness he shall be made strong" "He," of course, is the seer, Joseph Smith. Why does the Lord choose the weak things, or the weak men, of the earth through whom to perform his works? The answer is that it is vital that man learn to lean upon the true source of power, instead of leaning upon themselves. The Lord chooses people as his agents who could not possibly fail-even expending all their own resources-to demonstrate to all where the power really lies. In Judges 7:2 we read: "Lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me." Paul recorded: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent" (1 Corinthians 1:19). Of those whom the Lord calls to labor in his vineyard, Paul wrote: "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence" (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). Joseph Smith, Jr., was one of those "weak things" (see D&C 35:13-14; D&C 35:17- 18). He came of humble circumstances and had natural weaknesses.
14 And thus prophesied Joseph, saying: Behold, that seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise, which I have obtained of the Lord, of the fruit of my loins, shall be fulfilled. Behold, I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise;
verse 14 The speaker now changes again. In verses 14 through 16 the speaker is ancient Joseph. Here we learn that Joseph Smith was protected from serious harm until, in the Lord's economy, it was expedient that he and his brother Hyrum should give their lives in order to seal their testimonies of the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel (D&C 71:7-10; D&C 71:135:1).
15 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.
verse 15 Ancient Joseph continues to prophesy, and he confirms the identification of the "seer." It is Joseph Smith, Jr., the son of Joseph Smith, Sr.
"the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth . . . shall bring my people unto salvation" The restored gospel in this final dispensation is, of course, the means for the gathering of scattered Israel. Review the commentary or introduction for 1 Nephi 20. An interesting meaning of the Hebrew name which is equivalent to Joseph, Asaph, is "he who gathers," "he who causes to return," or "God gathereth" (O. Odelain and R. Sequineau, Dictionary of Proper Names and Places in the Bible, 40).
"he shall be like unto me" One far-reaching similarity between ancient Joseph and Joseph Smith, Jr., is that they were both gatherers and Saviors. Ancient Joseph gathered his family in Egypt and saved them from the famine. The Joseph of this dispensation began the gathering of the house of Israel that all who gather might be saved in the presence of God.
verses 16-18 These verses draw a parallel between the gathering function of the latter-day seer, Joseph Smith, Jr., and that of Moses.
16 Yea, thus prophesied Joseph: I am sure of this thing, even as I am sure of the promise of Moses; for the Lord hath said unto me, I will preserve thy seed forever.
verse 16 "I am sure of this thing" Ancient Joseph is confident of the Lord's promise of a latter-day seer, just as he is convinced of the Lord's promise to raise up Moses to lead captive Israel out of Egypt. This promise of the Lord is summarized in the following verse.
17 And the Lord hath said: I will raise up a Moses; and I will give power unto him in a rod; and I will give judgment unto him in writing. Yet I will not loose his tongue, that he shall speak much, for I will not make him mighty in speaking. But I will write unto him my law, by the finger of mine own hand; and I will make a spokesman for him.
verse 17 Once again the speaker changes. In verses 17 through 21, the Lord is speaking to ancient Joseph.
"a Moses" This refers to Moses himself.
"I will give power unto him in a rod" Moses's rod played a role in many incidents during Moses's ministry (Exodus 4:1-5; Exodus 4:17; Exodus 4:20; Exodus 7:15-18; Exodus 8:5; Exodus 8:16-17; Exodus 9:23; Exodus 10:13; Exodus 14:16; Exodus 17:9).
"I will give judgment unto him in writing." Moses was blessed with the gift of being able to write, yet:
"I will not loose his tongue" The gift of being able to communicate effectively with the spoken word was withheld.
"I will write unto him my law, by the finger of mine own hand" This is a reference, of course, to Sinai (Exodus 31:18) and the commandments Moses received there.
"I will make a spokesman for him." This spokesman is Moses's brother Aaron. The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible also contains this prophecy. It reads, "And I will make a spokesman for him" (JST Genesis 50:35).
18 And the Lord said unto me 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.
verse 18 The Lord is still speaking to ancient Joseph. The Lord is going to "raise [a man] up unto the fruit of thy [ancient Joseph's] loins." This man will also be a writer who shall write "unto the fruit of thy loins." Apparently the Lord will raise up, for the benefit of ancient Joseph's posterity, a writer. And that writer will have a "spokesman." Some have suggested that the writer is Joseph Smith, Jr. who "wrote" or translated the Book of Mormon. Further, it has been suggested that perhaps the spokesman is a composite personality including Oliver Cowdery (D&C 28:3) and Sidney Rigdon (see D&C 100:9; 124:103-4; 35:19-23; JD, 25:126- 27), who were both important spokesmen for the Church.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie has provided yet another interpretation of this verse: "The individual of the lineage of Joseph who would be raised up to write the record of Joseph (the Book of Mormon) is the prophet Mormon. The 'spokesman' of the word is Joseph Smith, Jr." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 426.)
The phrase "fruit of thy loins" in its initial usage in this verse seems to refer to the latter-day descendants of ancient Joseph. The Lord will "raise up [a writer] unto" them.
Speaking of the "writer," the Lord says, "he shall write the writing of the fruit of thy loins [the writings of the Nephite prophets], unto the fruit of thy loins [to the latter-day remnants of the tribe of Joseph]."
19 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.
verse 19 "the words which he shall write" The writer, then, is either Joseph Smith, Jr. or the prophet Mormon.
As in the previous verse, the phrase "fruit of thy loins," which appears twice in this verse, has a different meaning with each usage. With the first usage, the meaning seems to be the latter-day remnant of the lineage of Joseph. In context, the meaning is that the Book of Mormon will go forth unto that remnant. The second usage of the phrase "fruit of thy loins" appears to refer to the ancient prophet writers of the Book of Mormon. It will be as if these authors cry unto "them"-the latter-day remnant of the seed of ancient Joseph-from the dust. Since the plates of the Book of Mormon were unearthed by Joseph Smith, the book is said to be as a "cry from the dust."
"the words which are expedient in my wisdom" One of the definitions of expedient in Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language is, "tending to promote the object proposed; fit or suitable for the purpose; proper under the circumstances."
"for I know their faith" The Lord is aware of the virtue of the prophet writers of the Book of Mormon.
20 And they shall cry from the dust; yea, even repentance unto their brethren, even after many generations have gone by them. And it shall come to pass that their cry shall go, even according to the simpleness of their words.
verse 20 "And they shall cry from the dust" As in the previous verse, the Book of Mormon authors shall "cry from the dust."
"even after many generations have gone by them" This phrase apparently refers to the centuries, or "many generations," that the Book of Mormon plates lay sleeping in the dust before they were brought forth to "cry" repentance to the latter-day posterity of Joseph and to others. They will cry repentance in a forthright manner that is easy to understand.
21 Because of their faith their words shall proceed forth out of my mouth unto their brethren who are the fruit of thy loins; and the weakness of their words will I make strong in their faith, unto the remembering of my covenant which I made unto thy fathers.
verse 21 "Because of their faith their words shall proceed forth out of my mouth unto their brethren who are the fruit of thy loins" Because of the faith of the Book of Mormon prophets, they are able to perceive and communicate God's mind to their latter-day progeny.
"the weakness of their words will I make strong in their faith" This phrase is reminiscent of D&C 1:24. Speaking of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said, "These commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding."
"covenants which I made unto thy fathers" Again, you can review these covenants, the so-called Abrahamic covenants in the commentary for 1 Nephi 14:8.
22 And now, behold, my son Joseph, after this manner did my father of old prophesy.
verse 22 The final speaker change in this chapter occurs here. In verses 22 through 25 the speaker, Lehi, is again speaking to his son Joseph.
"My father of old," of course, is ancient Joseph.
23 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.
verse 23 "this covenant" This refers to the covenant the Lord has just outlined in 2 Nephi 3:18-21.
24 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.
verse 24 To whom does this interesting prophecy refer? Generally it has been thought to refer to Joseph Smith, Jr. However, Presidents Joseph Fielding Smith (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:251) and Spencer W. Kimball ("The Lamanites," Improvement Era, November 1947, 717, 762-65) have suggested this will be a future prophet yet to be raised up among the Lamanite people. The far-reaching extent of this prophecy will be better understood when it is fulfilled.
25 And now, blessed art thou, Joseph. Behold, thou art little; wherefore hearken unto the words of thy brother, Nephi, and it shall be done unto thee even according to the words which I have spoken. Remember the words of thy dying father. Amen.