Selections from the Book of Moses
An extract from the translation of the Bible as revealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet, June 1830-February 1831
Moses Chapter 1 (June 1830) The Visions of Moses
Moses 1 Moses sees God face to face and is confronted by Satan.
Moses 1:2 And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.
Moses 1:12-22 Moses tempted by Satan. Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not. And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me.
Moses 1:33-35 Worlds without number have I created. But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you.
Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
Both scripture (Moses 1) and tradition hold that Moses received at least one vision not recorded in the biblical text. The book of Jubilees records one vision and Moses 1 records two visions. According to both Jubilees 1, a pseudepigraphical text (a document that is non-canonical and non Apocryphal, but purports to be an authentic document relevant to the biblical timeframe), and Moses 1, this vision, or these visions, concerned the inhabitants of the earth throughout time, apparently until the coming of the messianic age (see Jubilees 1:4; Moses 1:8; Moses 1:27-29; Moses 1:35).
The book of Jubilees locates the "extra" vision after the exodus, during one of Moses's two forty-day sojourns on Mount Sinai (see Jubilees 1:1-5). For a discussion of the location of Mount Sinai and a summary of all of Moses's visits with the Lord on Mount Sinai, see the supplemental article, Moses and Mount Sinai).
Moses 1 places the visions after the call at the burning bush (see Moses 1:17) and before the Exodus (see Moses 1:25-26). This was during the time Moses spent in Midian after he had killed an Egyptian man and fled Egypt. It was also before Moses's return to Egypt to lead the Israelites out.
Following Moses's call from the Lord to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, it seems plausible that the Lord felt Moses needed more mentoring before he would be qualified to become the prophet and leader of Israel. Perhaps the visions in Moses 1 were part of that instruction. As we consider Moses 1, it will become evident that the Lord is providing an "orientation" for Moses by means of the two visions recorded in this chapter. There is a precedent for this "orientation session" in the calls of other prophets. One who is called to serve in a prophetic position must obtain the divine point of view in order to serve fully and effectively, and to serve as God would have him serve.
Moses 1 describes an experience carefully orchestrated for Moses. In addition, it is a skillfully crafted introduction to the Creation account and what results from the Creation.
The First Vision of God (Moses 1:1-11)
1 The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain,
verse 1 "The words of God" There are a few expressions that are used in Hebrew texts as introductory words or opening phrases. These are called incipit titles. The word incipit is from the Latin meaning "here begins." This phrase is one of those titles. These expressions also include "in the beginning" (see Genesis 1:1) and "in the land" (see Abraham 1:1).
"caught up" There is an implication that the place to which Moses was carried was sacred. The verbal phrase "caught up" implies both exaltation and being near the presence of God, for God is always understood as "up" (Satan was cast "down"-Moses 4:3).
"into an exceedingly high mountain" This phrase suggests a place of revelation, a virtual temple. As mentioned this mountain could well have been Horeb or Mount Sinai. The location remains unknown as discussed in the supplemental article Moses and Mount Sinai (see verse 42; compare 1 Nephi 11:1), though Mount Sinai, east of the Gulf of Aqaba in the land of Midian is certainly a possible venue for this vision of Moses.
2 And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.
verse 2 "And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him" Seeing and hearing ("see with their eyes" "hear with their ears") are the basis for absolute knowledge or absolute testimony. They obviate the need for faith. The phrase "face to face" implies intimacy in the form of an embrace or touch, that is, face next to face (see the reference to touching in Abraham 3:11-12). Seeing God evidently involves much more than a simple act of looking upon him. We are reminded of the promise that those who "see my face" will "know that I am" (D&C 93:1). Other Old Testament prophets who shared in this blessed experience include Enoch (see Moses 7:3-11), Abraham (see Abraham 3:11-21), and the brother of Jared (see Ether 3:13-28). We are thus reminded that "face to face" meetings with the Lord are characterized by more than simply beholding him.
We must never regard the doctrine of the Godhead-that the Father and the Son have eternal bodies of flesh and bone-as merely an interesting and isolated feature of our understanding of God. The true nature of God is fundamental for understanding ourselves, our relationship with God, and our eternal future and possibilities. God is an exalted man in whose image we are. It is often said that God is an anthropomorphic being, meaning that he is in the image of man. While this is not incorrect, it is more accurate to say that man is a theomorphic being (in the image of God), since the human body is literally patterned after the body of the Father.
It should be noted that "moral anthropomorphism"-that man is in the moral image of God-is generally accepted by Christian theologians in lieu of the physical anthropomorphism intended in Genesis 1:26 and elsewhere (compare Genesis 5:3). Moral anthropomorphism implies that what God considers right and wrong applies fully to man.
The Latter-day Saint concept of salvation stands or falls on the declaration: "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit" (D&C 130:22). If God is the immaterial, omnipresent, spirit essence affirmed by traditional Christianity, then the Latter-day Saint doctrine of exaltation with its component elements of eternal marriage, endless spirit progeny, and progression toward godhood is manifestly untenable. On the other hand, if the Latter-day Saint definition of God is correct, then the god of the creeds is exposed as nothing more than a myth conceived in the minds of theologians of the fourth and later centuries. Because these men co-mingled philosophy with scripture, millions of Christians have been robbed of the instinctive, intuitive truth they possessed in their childhood. They may never recover this truth until they stand before the Lord at the last judgment.
Addressing this thought, Rodney Turner wrote:
Knowing who and what God is is the key to the mystery of man's own identity and potential. For as Joseph Smith observed: "If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves" (TPJS, 343). To know what God is is to know what man is-and what he may become. The loss of this knowledge goes far to explain the present plight of humanity. Man, like water, cannot rise higher than his beginnings. If an ever-increasing number of men and women are choosing to wallow in the mire of carnality, we must not forget that they are taught that the human race was spawned in mire. We have little desire to reach for the stars if we do not believe that we came from the stars. That we did is the message of the Restored Gospel. This is why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints testifies that the origin of man is the potential destiny of man (Studies in Scripture, Volume 2, The Pearl of Great Price, 45).
Brother Turner's comment is based in part on the idea that, without the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, man has traditionally been taught that the origins of mortal man are steeped in wickedness and carnality. This is a carry over from the Gnostic philosophic teaching that this world was created by one of the arrogant and rebellious sons of God. He was considered to be a lying demon and not god at all. Gnostics called him by many names-all of them derogatory-names like "Saklas," the blind one; "Samael," god of the blind; or "the Demiurge," the lesser power. This Gnostic doctrine declares man to be a union of (1) a body, which, being the creation of the Demiurge, is essentially evil, and (2) a spirit, which, being derived from Deity, is essentially divine. The spirits thus imprisoned in evil bodies will be finally liberated, the power of this evil creator god will cease, and the earth will be dissolved into nothingness.
"the glory of God" The central theme of Moses 1 is the glory of God-the Father's continuing increase in it, his desire to endow his children with it, and Satan's efforts to rob men of it. God's glory is his intelligence, the sum total of all his spiritual gifts and growth (D&C 93:36). It is, from man's perspective, magnificent and absolute perfection, but we know it is ever increasing. See also The Concept of Light in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 15.
"and the glory of God was upon Moses" Whenever a man or woman comes before the Lord in his glory, they must be transfigured or glorified by the Holy Ghost in order to endure the divine Presence. "For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God. Neither can any natural man abide the presence of God" (D&C 67:11-12). Joseph Smith stated: "God Almighty Himself dwells in eternal fire; flesh and blood cannot go there, for all corruption is devoured by the fire" (TPJS, 367). In verse 11 of this chapter, Moses reports that had he not been transfigured, "I should have withered and died in his presence" (Moses 1:11). An impenetrable shield of glory preserves the holiness of the celestial world and its inhabitants from all corruption. The "natural man"-being devoid of the inspiration and higher influences of the Spirit of the Lord-can only understand and partake of the glories of this world and not of the celestial realm (1 Corinthians 2:14; Mosiah 3:19; Alma 26:21). For additional discussion of the phenomenon of transfiguration see Transfiguration in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 3, chapter 14.
We do not, of course, understand the actual physical nature of the process of transfiguration or glorification. This verse suggests that perhaps Moses was temporarily surrounded or enveloped with God's glory or light as a protection to him while he was in the presence of God.
In a strictly worldly sense, the word glory has many connotations. It is commonly associated with the trappings of wealth, power, artistic and intellectual gifts, and those like factors which so often play such critical, yet capricious, parts in the lives of men and women. In the main, such glory is short-lived. What is fame today is forgotten tomorrow. For no glory can be more enduring than its source. Mortal men and mortal worlds can only produce mortal glory. Consequently, the "glory of the world" (D&C 10:19) is, by its very nature, a passing vanity. Being but the reflection of a transient state of affairs, it possesses no enduring existence of its own. It is a facade of reality, an illusion of the moment destined to be replaced by still another illusion when time and circumstance overtake it. Wealth, power, and the honors of men are rarely predicated upon one's inherent moral and spiritual qualities. Regardless of how the world bows before these "idols," they are deceptive measures of an individual's real worth. They reveal what men possess, rather than what men are. In doing so, they fail the critical test of true glory: they do not originate with, nor bring us to, God.
An extreme example of one who thought that glory can be had without virtue is Lucifer, who "sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ" (D&C 76:28). In his lust for power, he would have dethroned God himself! He is the "god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), and the god of all those in it who would gratify their desires without regard to the cost to themselves or to others. Cain-who shares the title of Perdition with Lucifer (Moses 5:24; D&C 76:25-26)-"gloried" in his murder of Abel and in the acquisition of his sheep (Moses 5:33). But the price was high: Cain lost his very soul. And in the end it was all for naught. His brother's flocks have long since crumbled to dust, and Cain is now doomed to wander in torment the dark, empty places of the second death (Jacob 3:11). Indeed, death will eventually claim everything that is not infused with life by the Spirit. For whatever is not of God must inevitably succumb to its own mortality (D&C 132:13-14). Only that which is endowed with immortal glory is immune to death.
In an immortal sense the word glory describes the light, spiritual intelligence, or spiritual attributes an individual possesses (D&C 93:36). Again, see the The Concept of Light in volume 1, chapter 15 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine.
3 And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?
verse 3 "And God spake unto Moses" It is clear that Moses is talking face to face with Jehovah, Jesus Christ, who speaks as though he were the Father by the principle of divine investiture of authority. See for example verse 6 of this chapter when the Savior refers to "mine Only Begotten" who "is and shall be the Savior."
"I am the Lord God Almighty" The titles for Jesus Christ all have unique and rich meanings. The title "I am" is the divine title. In some of the revelations to Joseph Smith, our Savior introduces himself as "the Great I AM," (D&C 29:1), or "the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end" (D&C 38:1). The title Almighty is linked to God's creative acts. Lord God is associated with covenant making. The title Endless refers to God's characteristic of being "without beginning of days or end of years" (see D&C 19:10-12).
4 And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.
verse 4 "thou art my son" Here is the literal confirmation to Moses that he is a son of God. Some have viewed the use of the expression "thou art" as especially forming a bond between man and God. The divine name for God is I AM, and the mortal equivalent is "thou art" (see also verses 6, 7 and Moses 6:68).
"but not all" In contrast to Abraham's vision of the cosmos (see Abraham 3:12), Moses's visionary view was to concern only this earth (verses 33, 35). Again, we have here an example of Jehovah's speaking as though he were the Father-by the principle of divine investiture of authority.
"works . . . and . . . words . . . never cease" All that the Lord does and says is forever pertinent and applicable.
5 Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.
verse 5 "no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh" Beholding all of God's glory is the same as being in the physical presence of an eternal celestial being who appears in his glory. Only a celestial eternal being, or a lesser being who is temporarily protected by being "transfigured" can tolerate this. Another implication of this verse is that such a vision as this will only come to the man whom the Lord is ready to bring into his presence permanently. Hence, "no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth."
6 And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.
verse 6 "I have a work for thee" The Lord reiterates Moses's call, received initially at the burning bush (Exodus 3:10) to go to Egypt and bring the captive people of Israel out.
"thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten" Here Jehovah refers to himself in the third person by the principle of the divine investiture of authority. He comments upon a similitude, undoubtedly both physical (Moses 2:26-27; Ether 3:15-16) and spiritual (the scriptures speak of a spiritual comparison-see Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22-23) between Moses and Jesus Christ.
The phrase "Only Begotten" anticipates Christ's future conception into mortality (see John 1:4).
"is and shall be" Perhaps these two forms of the verb "to be" connect to the divine name I AM. It is interesting to note that here, centuries prior to his atoning sacrifice in Gethsemane and on the cross, he refers to himself as the Savior. By virtue of his commitment to go down and atone for the sins of the world, his atoning sacrifice was already functional in the lives of all of God's children at whatever phase of existence they were in.
"there is no God beside me" The Father and the Son are, in a profound way, "one God," and besides this one God, there is no other supreme God.
"all things are present with me, for I know them all" This statement can have two possible meanings. First, "all things" may refer to others of God's works (other than the earth) of which he is constantly aware. The second possible meaning is that "all things" refers to all things of the earth and that God is constantly aware of all things of the earth past, present, and future.
As a side note, Greek thought-Platonic and Neo-Platonic-holds that God exists and acts outside of a temporal or time frame of reference. God is held to be independent of or beyond time. The words used to define this condition include transtemporal, supratemporal, or nontemporal. This thinking has been accepted into the dogma of most Christian and non-Christian churches. The thesis that God is beyond time has sometimes been introduced to account for God's omniscience or foreknowledge. Only if God is somehow transtemporal, it is argued, can he view past, present, and future as "one eternal now." This traditional concept of "out-of-time" omniscience does not derive either from the Old or the New Testament but is borrowed from Greek philosophy.
The LDS understanding differs in this regard from almost all other religious dogma. We understand that God exists in eternity and eternity is time which goes on forever. At God's own supreme and unsurpassable level, he has a past, a present, and a future. Neither he nor his creations can return to or change the past. He has become what he is through eons of time gone by. God anticipates the future. It is "present" before him, but it is still future. When the future occurs, it will occur for the first time to him and to his creatures. Eternity consists of any number of specific "times." When we use the phrase "time and all eternity," we mean now and forever. The word time often refers to this mortal phase of our existence. In this sense, the time will come when "time shall be no longer" (D&C 84:100; 88:110). In other words, this mortal phase will be no longer. Time had no beginning and will have no end. It unfolds continually in one direction and never repeats. In a cosmic sense, the reckoning of time is according to the rotations of the spheres. It is presumed that God, angels, men, and prophets reckon time differently depending upon the sphere on which they reside (see Abraham 3; D&C 130:4).
7 And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee.
verse 7 "this one thing I show unto thee" Here God sets the limits of the vision that he is about to open to Moses. It will refer to this world and not to all of God's creations (see the commentary on Moses 1:4; Moses 1:33-35).
8 And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered.
verse 8 "Moses beheld the world" We may distinguish between the "world" which refers to the human inhabitants of this earth-"all the children of men"-and the "earth" which refers to the physical earth itself.
In Moses 1:27 the phrase which corresponds to this phrase ("beheld the world") is "beheld the earth." You will note there (in Moses 1:27) that "there was not a particle of it which he [Moses] did not behold."
9 And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.
verse 9 "And the presence of God withdrew from Moses" As previously noted, in order to endure God's presence, Moses had to be enveloped in that presence-which is to say his glory or light. It was this protective divine presence that withdrew from Moses.
"And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth." Obviously the process of being transfigured is an enervating one. Moses lost his physical strength as a result of the intense spiritual manifestation. For other examples of this enervation, we note that Ezekiel suffering from the same temporary disability following his first vision, wherein he was unable to do much for a week (see Ezekiel 3:15). Also, we have noted Joseph Smith's weakened condition after his first vision (see JS-H 1:20).
10 And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.
verse 10 "for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed" Moses is obviously overwhelmed and overpowered by the grandeur and majesty of his experience. Many have wondered about the literal truth of this phrase since whatever man is, it seems to be the focus and purpose of God's very existence (Moses 1:39). This phrase likely refers only to the fact that Moses realized his mortal strength is puny, and he was entirely overcome by God's visit.
11 But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.
verse 11 "mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes" In an inspired reflection, Moses concludes that his vision involved more than his natural eyesight. He also concludes with a further truism that, without divine help, without being transfigured, he "should have withered and died in [God's] presence."
One may observe that it is remarkable that the Lord himself, the person most in demand in the universe, was willing to spend time with Moses. There was not only divine self-disclosure, and also conversation, teaching, and tutoring, as well as further revelation and visions. The sheer amount of divine time spent and divine energy used in this meeting indicates the depth of love that the Lord possesses both for Moses and for those whom the Moses will lead and instruct.
The Vision of Satan (Moses 1:12-22)
Moses now has an encounter with Satan. It would seem that in the training of prophets by the Lord, Satan almost seems to demand "equal time." In being tried and tested to become prophets, these chosen servants experience, doubtless under the tutelage of the Lord, sublime highs and hellish lows (see also Moses 7:35-44; Moses 7:67-69; Abraham 1:12-15; Abraham 3:12; JS-H 15-16). The Lord provides them with experiences that give them a divine perspective. These experiences both sober and sanctify them and provide them a perspective that prevents them from ever viewing the world and its inhabitants in quite the same way as before.
12 And it came to pass that when Moses had said these words, behold, Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me.
verse 12 "Satan came tempting him" Unlike most secular biblical scholars in the world today, we do accept the notion that Satan is a real personality. It seems apparent that because of Moses's weakened condition, Satan chose this moment to reveal himself in an effort to turn Moses from the path the Lord had set him on. It is also apparent that Satan's actions were evidence of his desperation, since he rarely makes such appearances. On this occasion Satan sought to reverse the Lord's efforts both to free an enslaved people from bondage and to reveal the creative processes to Moses. We may easily see the correlation between Satan's overt temptation of Moses and that of the boy prophet Joseph Smith. In both cases, much of profound significance was hanging in the balance.
While the verb to tempt can mean to entice, it also carries the meaning to test or to try. Perhaps both meanings are pertinent here. It is not clear how Moses learned the identity of Satan.
"Moses, son of man, worship me" The phrase "son of man" is a negative one, emphasizing here that Moses is a mere mortal. This title is unrelated to that title by which the Savior is occasionally referred to in the scriptures-the "Son of Man." This latter title emphasizes that Jesus's earthly Father is "Man of holiness." Satan is here addressing one of God's mightiest prophets. Moses had been taught of his true eternal importance by the Lord: "Thou art my son; . . . in the similitude of mine Only Begotten" (Moses 1:4; Moses 1:6). In typical fashion, Satan challenges that divine testimony and tries to drag Moses down to the level of unregenerate humanity. Moses was alert to Satan's ruse, and rejected his salutation.
verses 13-18 In these verses Moses will lecture Satan which will cause Satan to become so angry that he loses control of himself and reveals himself as the miserable desperate creature he really is.
The inner strength of Moses and his dedication and commitment to justice are evidenced here, as they were also evidenced previously in Moses's life by his reaction to the Egyptian overseer who was punishing the Hebrew slave (see Exodus 2:11-12). This same strength was also made evident by the fact that he was not cowed by the voice of God during his call at the burning bush, as illustrated by his perceptive questions (see Exodus 3:11; Exodus 3:13; Exodus 4:1; Exodus 4:10).
13 And it came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?
verse 13 "Moses looked" In the second handwritten manuscript of Joseph Smith's new translation of the Bible, which was copied in March 1831 and became the working copy for the JST, this expression is "Moses lifted up his eyes and looked"-a more Semitic or Hebrew rendering.
"Who art thou?" This classic question, which appears in other contexts at crucial moments (compare Exodus 5:2; Mosiah 11:27; Alma 18:18), stands as a challenge to Satan's demand "worship me" (verse 12), and it underscores Moses's courage. Moses is saying, "Who art thou that I should worship you?"
"For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten" Moses here expresses one of the most important doctrinal concepts about the relationship between humans and God.
Moses would not be robbed. He knew who he was. He had been told in verse 6. He would not be made less. Nor would he worship any God but "the God of glory" (Moses 1:20). Here is an important lesson for the saints of our dispensation. They must not forget who they are by yielding themselves to the influences of the world and their fallen nature.
"where is thy glory?" Moses had personally experienced, through the influence of the Spirit of God, the glory of God (verse 2). While glory may refer mainly to the light of Christ, experiencing God's glory is far more than a visual experience. Once an individual has had that experience, he is far better able to detect its imitations. Light can judge darkness, but darkness is incapable of judging light. Moses could discern Satan's veiled darkness because he had experienced true light. To some degree, this same ability extends to all who "have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide" (D&C 45:57).
Since most of mankind is ignorant of true glory, the vast majority of them are easily deceived by Satan's counterfeits. They are blinded by the many false doctrines with which Satan has "veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness" (Moses 7:26). The spiritually blind will worship darkness in the name of light.
Satan longs to have the Lord's noble and great ones bow down to him. It is not so much the number as it is the quality of his victories that seems to please him the most. The ignorant worship of the masses of mankind is probably less satisfying to Satan than the knowledgeable submission of a single son of God. Elder Wilford Woodruff observed: "When he [Satan] overcomes a man that has made a covenant with God, who has been baptized in this Church and kingdom, he gains a greater victory over him than over one who never made any profession" (JD, 2:198). Our human nature causes us to feel that who praises us matters more than the mere fact that we are praised.
14 For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I were transfigured before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man. Is it not so, surely?
15 Blessed be the name of my God, for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me, or else where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God; for God said unto me: Worship God, for him only shalt thou serve.
verse 15 "for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me" The process of transfiguration or glorification of Moses involved somehow the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God. The implication here is that the conditions and effects of Moses's transfiguration had not entirely passed.
"I can judge between thee and God" Also, we learn that transfiguration is more than just a protective process. A person who is transfigured is better able to discern spiritual light and spiritual darkness.
"for God said unto me: Worship God, for him only shalt thou serve" This command had been received by Moses on a previous occasion. It could have come during the call at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:17) or during God's earlier appearance to him (Moses 1:2-8). The mortal Christ had the same rejoinder for Satan when he was being tempted by him (Matthew 4:10; compare Deuteronomy 6:13).
16 Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.
verse 16 "Get thee hence, Satan" This demand is the first of Moses's four orders that Satan depart, illustrating Satan's persistence and unwillingness to leave (see Moses 1:18; Moses 1:20; Moses 1:21). In fact, Satan leaves only when commanded "in the name of the Only Begotten" (Moses 1:21).
17 And he also gave me commandments when he called unto me out of the burning bush, saying: Call upon God in the name of mine Only Begotten, and worship me.
verse 17 "he also gave me commandments" The commandments quoted here by Moses from his call at the burning bush form one of those pieces that has been lost or excised from the biblical text-"Call upon God in the name of mine Only Begotten, and worship me." Here we can test the observation that the text of the Bible has suffered at the hands of those who have knowingly or unknowingly altered it (see Moses 1:23).
"when he called unto me out of the burning bush" This phrase places Moses's present experience at a point following God's call to him to lead the Hebrew slaves to freedom. We have previously speculated that Moses's experience in Moses 1 might have occurred shortly following his call rather than following the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
18 And again Moses said: I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him: for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee. Depart hence, Satan.
verse 18 "his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee" See the commentary for verse 15.
19 And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me.
verse 19 "Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth" The actions of Satan illustrate one of his methods for achieving his purposes-that of intimidation. It seems to have worked-at least momentarily-when "Moses began to fear exceedingly" (verse 20).
20 And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory.
verse 20 "as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell" As with the vision of God, which typically expands to reveal more than God's countenance or personage, the vision of Satan now expands to include a view of hell itself. It is not clear exactly which "hell" is referred to here-outer darkness or the spirit world. It would seem that Satan's motive for opening this view to Moses was to increase Moses's fear. It is a vision that few have seen.
The reader should also make note here of the juxtaposition between revealed light and smothering darkness. A key example of the manifestation of good and evil close together is that of Jesus, who received an affirming spiritual witness at his baptism and then was beset by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Similarly, in the case of Moses in Moses 1, darkness in the form of Satan followed the initial, illumining vision from God. By contrast, in the case of Joseph Smith, the power of darkness tried to discourage him from praying before the light came and delivered him (see JS-H 1:15-16). What is the conclusion? To each person who seeks divine light, darkness may also come in one form or another-either before or after, according to these models-to test whether that person can stand more of the light.
"calling upon God, he received strength" Receiving strength is exactly what happened to Jesus in Gethsemane (Mark 14:36; Mark 14:38).
"Depart from me, Satan" Notice here that, again, Satan does not depart when Moses commands him. And this was the third time Moses had commanded him. Satan does so only when Moses invokes the name of the "Only Begotten" in the next verse.
21 And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook; and Moses received strength, and called upon God, saying: In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan.
verse 21 "Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook" Now it is Satan's turn to fear and tremble. Does Satan have influence over the elements? Does he have power? Can he, in fact, command the elements so that they will obey him or at least tremble in sympathy with him? Satan has power only because there are some intelligences who are willing to obey him. It would seem that a part of the intelligences that make up the inanimate materials of the earth are basically disobedient and inclined to follow Satan (Moses 7:48). Likely the majority of these intelligences are, however, disinclined to follow Satan. We have made the point previously that God's power comes from those intelligences who obey him (see The Power of God in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 14). We might also speculate that some degree of power exists in Satan as those disobedient spirits inhabiting human spirits, plants, animals, and "inanimate" objects of the earth are inclined to obey his commands.
22 And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence, even from the presence of Moses, that he beheld him not.
verse 22 "weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth" The very agony of Satan in hell is unmasked before Moses's very eyes. One of the most profound aspects of Moses's encounter with Satan, is watching Satan's emotional deterioration and his unmasking of his own miserable self in response to Moses's rejection of him. Satan betrays his innate frustration and misery as he undergoes a transition from an arrogant would-be god, to a raging liar ("I am the Only Begotten, worship me"), and then to a tormented creature overcome "with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth" when he is commanded to depart "in the name of the Only Begotten"-the one title that Lucifer had so desperately wanted to hold (Moses 4:1).
23 And now of this thing Moses bore record; but because of wickedness it is not had among the children of men.
verse 23 "because of wickedness it is not had among the children of men" The account of this incident on Moses's own "mount of temptation" was expurgated from Moses's writings "because of wickedness." But whose wickedness? It is the wickedness among those who potentially might have been recipients of this record. Because of a general wickedness among the people the record could not be left in human custody. Satan has succeeded in suppressing the record. Generally speaking, he has covered his tracks rather well. So well, in fact that most of the learned scholars of our day are quite amused by the "naive" notion that such a being as Satan actually exists (2 Nephi 28:22).
The Second Vision of God, the earth, and countless other earths (Moses 1:24-41)
24 And it came to pass that when Satan had departed from the presence of Moses, that Moses lifted up his eyes unto heaven, being filled with the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son;
verse 24 "the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son" We will learn in Moses 6:61 that one of the titles of the Holy Ghost (his titles reflect his various roles) is the "record of heaven." His spiritual light or influence contains in abundance a confirmation or witness or testimony of the reality of the Father and the Son. He is inclined to provide or affirm (to "bear") this confirmation to those who seek it in righteousness.
25 And calling upon the name of God, he beheld his glory again, for it was upon him; and he heard a voice, saying: Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God.
verse 25 "he beheld his glory again" Moses again saw God and his light or glory.
"he heard a voice" Some scriptural scholars have noted a correlation between a specific mention of the Lord's voice and important spiritual moments in the history of mankind such as the beginning of a new dispensation. At other times it correlates with especially far reaching actions by the Lord. Compare the characterization of John the Baptist as the "voice" (Mark 1:3-4; see also D&C 1:1). Here the Lord's voice announces the beginning of a grand revelation about the earth, a new dispensation, and the beginning of the Exodus.
"thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God" This promise is a prophecy which likely alludes to the miraculous parting of the Red Sea.
"as if thou wert God" God avers a truism about all who act with God's authority in his name and in his stead, as Moses is about to do. They truly function as if they were God (D&C 1:38).
26 And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days; for thou shalt deliver my people from bondage, even Israel my chosen.
verse 26 "I am with thee" What does it mean that God is with an individual? One is reminded of the Lord's promise to his twelve Nephite apostles: "Verily I say unto you, whatsoever things ye shall ask the Father in my name shall be given unto you" (3 Nephi 27:28). Such an individual is divinely favored even to the point of being sealed up to eternal life.
"thou shalt deliver my people from bondage" We will speak on a few occasions in this commentary on the prophet Moses's being a metaphorical symbol of the Savior who will come to deliver his people from bondage, both spiritual and physical (see Acts 3:22-23; Deuteronomy 18:15).
The Lord speaks of the Exodus as being yet in the future. Again, we are reminded that the visions in Moses 1 likely occurred between the time of Moses initial call at the burning bush and the Exodus.
27 And it came to pass, as the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God.
verse 27 "cast his eyes and beheld the earth" Moses was allowed to see as God sees, allowing him to behold "all of it [the earth]" (compare the descriptions of God's sight in Moses 2:4; Moses 2:10; Moses 2:12; Moses 2:18; Moses 2:31).
"there was not a particle of it which he did not behold" Now Moses experiences a magnification of his first vision (see verse 8). He again beholds the earth, the physical earth itself (see verse 8), but this time with the penetrating powers of the Spirit. There was not a particle of it which he did not behold. Perhaps this portends the great visions of the creation of the earth which we will read in Moses chapters 2 and 3.
28 And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not; and he discerned them by the Spirit of God; and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore.
verse 28 "And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof" In addition to seeing the earth, he also saw the world-the inhabitants of the earth. There was not a living soul upon the earth he did not behold. Nor did he simply view them en masse as one might look at a vast concourse of people without discerning any one individual. By the incomprehensible power of the Holy Ghost, he perceived each man, woman, and child comprising the human race at one and the same time! In doing so, he experienced something of the omnipresent nature of the Spirit of the Lord.
"even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore" The adjective "numberless" here is, of course, hyperbolic, as every person is numbered by and known to the Lord.
29 And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof.
verse 29 "he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth" Perhaps there are two ways we might interpret this phrase. Is Moses seeing the separate lands that belong to this earth? Another interpretation of this phrase is that, as part of this second vision, Moses beheld many earths. It would then appear that the term "earth" is reserved for those worlds which are organized to provide habitations for the children of the Gods. This interpretation seems the more likely particularly in view of the following verse.
Some might object to this latter interpretation because of Moses 1:35 which suggests that the Lord intended to give to Moses only an account of this earth. In this case then we must interpret the "many lands" as parts of this earth, and each of these lands then would be called earth.
30 And it came to pass that Moses called upon God, saying: Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?
verse 30 In this verse Moses asks two most profound and searching questions. See the prior verse. We suggested there that Moses might well have been blessed to see the other worlds, and the many inhabitants thereof, that God had created. Moses understood that these mighty works were done by the deliberate action of God. Moses then asks two questions: (1) "Why did you do it?" ("Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so.") and (2) "How did you do it?" ("and by what thou madest them?") These are two of the most fundamental questions of existence, and we must be impressed with the depth of Moses's perception and presence of mind even to think to ask such things.
In answer to Moses's first question as to the "why" of things, the Lord replied that he had made all these things because "this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). In other words, building worlds and populating them with people is the kind of work that God does. And why does he do it?-for the salvation and exaltation of his children.
In answer to the second question as to the "how" of things, Moses was informed that all things were done by the power of the Only Begotten, but that only an account of the creation of this world would be given to Moses. Also, subsequently he will be told of the six creative periods of the formation of the earth. Thus, much of the information in the early chapters of Genesis actually seems to have been given to Moses in answer to these two specific questions-"Why?" and "How?"
Answers are always more meaningful to us if we know what the questions are. These two basic questions are not to be found today in our current text of Genesis, but fortunately they have been made available to us through the visions of Moses as revealed to Joseph Smith. We cannot overestimate the value of Moses 1 as an introduction or preface to the book of Genesis.
31 And behold, the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face. And the Lord God said unto Moses: For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.
verse 31 "Moses stood in the presence of God" The answers to Moses's questions "Why?" and "How?" are so sacred that he is brought into the presence of God to receive them. Further, the answers will open up the revelation to Moses about the creation recorded hereafter in Moses chapters 2-3. This sequence is suggestive of temple worship, as temple celebrations are orchestrated to bring a worshiper into the presence of the Lord and to commemorate the creative acts of God (see Psalm 24).
"Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me" God possesses perfect wisdom. But what is wisdom? How is it different from knowledge? Wisdom consists of abundant knowledge possessed by an individual who places all of his knowledge in a correct eternal perspective. Knowledge consists of a logical comprehension of practical and theoretical facts, but knowledge is inconsistently applied correctly according to God's purposes. The eternal perspective of knowledge (wisdom) can only come by the influence of the Spirit of God. It is a revealed perspective and can come in no other way. He who possesses knowledge without an eternal perspective often becomes skeptical and even cynical about the possibility of any eternal or spiritual application of his knowledge. He is the intellectual. The wise individual fully realizes that his knowledge is limited, even puny compared to all the knowledge that is now available or that will become available. This wise individual also understands his limited knowledge in a spiritual and eternal context. On the other hand, the intellectual feels that his knowledge is all that is available on any given subject, and he is proud of his knowledge. He resists spiritual concepts, as they may suggest that earthly knowledge is not yet complete, and he wants badly to have the last word on any subject.
In the context of this verse, God's eternal perspective may be simply summarized in Moses 1:39: "For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." God obviously possesses all knowledge, but he utilizes that knowledge for his own eternal and spiritual purposes. Therein is his wisdom.
32 And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
verse 32 "by the word of my power" Here the Father defines the phrase "word of my power." The phrase refers to his Only Begotten Son-Jesus Christ. Though the Father was ordained by the council of the Gods to be the Creator, he has delegated the actual labor or creation to his Only Begotten Son. Another phrase with identical meaning is "the power of my Spirit" (see D&C 29:30 and its commentary).
"Word" is a translation of the rich Greek word Logos. Logos is a word with great depth and many nuances. It is not merely an assemblage of sounds-a "word" in the usual sense. Logos is the outward active expression of a deep inner meaning. That inner meaning may be much more than a single thought or group of thoughts. It may be a book, a group of books, a library, a group of libraries, or much more. In this particular case, the inner meaning is the essence and the will of the Father. Jesus Christ is and ever will be the outward and dynamic expression of both his Father's essence and his Father's will.
"who is full of grace and truth" Two of the Savior's most important virtues are grace and truth. Grace is the love which God has for each of the Father's creations-particularly that aspect of his love which inclines him to extend to all intelligences blessings which they do not actually deserve, according to the criteria of the law justice. Truth is the completeness of knowledge and attributes he possesses.
33 And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.
verse 33 "worlds without number have I created" Though the Lord will not reveal, to the prophets who minister to this earth, much about these worlds (see verse 35), he does make it clear to us that they exist and that he delegated their creation to his Son, Jesus Christ. See also Abraham's declaration "I saw those things which his [God's] hands had made . . . and I could not see the end thereof" (Abraham 3:12). Though we know little about them, other than that they exist, it is an interesting question to ask: Do they know much about us? For a discussion of this question, see Our Unique Earth in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 3, chapter 19.
34 And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.
verse 34 "Adam, which is many" There are two ways in which we might interpret this phrase. First, it could refer to the many first men on the "worlds without number." Or, it may point to all men of the earth. Because God had restricted Moses's vision to "this earth" (verse 35), the latter explanation may be the most correct. In this connection, it is worth noting that the common noun adam in Hebrew means "human being" (Frances Brown et. al., eds., A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978], 9).
35 But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.
verse 35 "only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you" The extent of the Lord's creations is vast beyond our comprehension. Moses, however, is to be given only an account of the creation of this earth.
"there are many worlds that have passed away" The creation of the earth came long after the creation of numerous other worlds whose histories had already run their course (see verse 38).
36 And it came to pass that Moses spake unto the Lord, saying: Be merciful unto thy servant, O God, and tell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heavens, and then thy servant will be content.
verse 36 "tell me concerning this earth" In light of verse 35, Moses appropriately petitions the Lord regarding this earth and its inhabitants.
"and also the heavens" And also the rest of thy universe.
37 And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
verse 37 "they are numbered unto me" God knows and understands perfectly the individually all of his creations.
38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
verse 38 Some have found in this verse the suggestion that another earth had previously occupied our present orbit around our sun. It was removed to make room for our earth.
The concepts of the birth and death and evolution of stars and other heavenly bodies with lifetimes in the billions of years are familiar to the modern astronomer. This modern knowledge has been slow to come, however, and it has been arrived at only after long, tedious research. Scarcely fifty years ago little was known of such matters, or even suspected by astronomers. When the Pearl of Great Price was published, a little more than a century ago, these concepts would have been regarded as little more than idle, fanciful speculations. It is remarkable, therefore, that they were known by the prophets of old.
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
verse 39 This verse is the most oft quoted verse from among the modern-day scriptures of the Restoration. It is simply a cogent and powerful explanation of why our universe was created.
40 And now, Moses, my son, I will speak unto thee concerning this earth upon which thou standest; and thou shalt write the things which I shall speak.
verse 40 "I will speak unto thee concerning this earth upon which thou standest" Lest Moses should desire to know more about the other worlds he had seen, the Lord cautions him that he will speak to him only of this earth. In this way, the Lord introduces Moses to an account of the creation of this world which follows in Moses 2-3.
41 And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men-among as many as shall believe.
verse 41 "I will raise up another like unto thee" The Lord prophesies of Joseph Smith. The latter days are a time when many plain and precious truths shall have been removed from the Bible-"the book which thou shalt write"-and when even the incomplete scriptures will be ignored. In the latter days, Joseph will bring forth the completeness of the Lord's word to the people through the Book of Mormon and other latter-day revelations, including the writings of the Pearl of Great Price and other writings in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. How blessed we are to have access to a true account of those marvelous things that happened so long ago!
42 (These words were spoken unto Moses in the mount, the name of which shall not be known among the children of men. And now they are spoken unto you. Show them not unto any except them that believe. Even so. Amen.)
verse 42 This verse is an inspired editorial insertion made by the prophet Joseph.
"the mount, the name of which shall not be known" These words affirm that the mountain where Moses received the visions really exists. Perhaps it is the holy mount (possibly Horeb or Mount Sinai) where Moses received his call at the burning bush or a mountain near it.
"Show them not unto any except them that believe" These are the Lord's instructions to Joseph Smith. The materials in the book of Moses are not intended for those without the Church, rather for those in the Church who desire further knowledge. This verse has the spirit of Matthew 7:6: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."
"now they are spoken unto you" These words are spoken unto you, Joseph.