Tag Archives: D&C 25

Reception of Moses 2-3 & D&C 24-26

This isn’t yet directly related to my research on the Abrahamic Covenant, but I thought this was cool & something to study more about.

Kerry Muhlestein wrote an article that is now in the Sperry volume published in 2008 where he charts out which D&C sections were being revealed at the same time as specific parts of the New Translation. To be honest I had my hopes that Emma Smith’s turn as scribe had happened during the parts about Eve, but it turns out her turn was just part of the beginning of the Enoch story. But then I found that the revelation to Emma (Section 25) was received during the same months (more details aren’t available yet) as Moses 2-3, where we get the beginning of the Adam and Eve story. This makes me wonder how the two might have influenced Emma’s understanding of the other. If her revelation was received first, how did it influence the way she heard the story in the book of Moses? If Moses 2-3 were received first, how did that influence the way she understood her own revelation?

The most obvious connection to me is between Moses 3:20-25 and D&C 25:5-6. Eve was an “help meet” for Adam (a help equal too, up to the task, etc.). Emma is asked to be a “comfort” for Joseph in his afflictions, and also to “go with him at the time of his going, and be unto him for a scribe.”

The next chapters in Moses describe more of Eve’s relationship to Adam. I was hoping those were the ones received so close to Emma’s revelation. And it looks like Moses 4-5 were received after. But then again, I suppose regardless of even that, I can look at connections between Moses 4 and D&C 25 if I want to, huh? ūüôā

So here are some of the things I like. D&C 25 gives Emma huge opportunities and responsibilities. She is going to expound scripture, teach, write, learn, etc., all alongside Joseph as he does his work (which includes most if not all of the things she is going to do). This reminds me of Moses 5:1, which says in simplicity, “And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.”

Ironically, Adam had to eat by the sweat of his brow (and Eve labored with him), but in D&C 24-25, Joseph is told he won’t have strength in temporal labors and needs to rely on the church for support! And Emma is told she can be comforted and they really will be taken care of financially. Interesting difference between Adam and Eve and Joseph and Emma! But both of course were by faith. To us, now, working to get money or food is normal and responsible. But to Adam and Eve, this was new and probably required a lot of faith!

I also like Moses 5:4’s description of “Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord” together. This reminds me of Joseph and Emma going to get the plates together. And probably all sorts of moments not recorded (or yet published anyway) where the two of them together called on God or received revelation, etc.

Moses 5:10-11 actually mirror Emma and Joseph’s relationship well too. There Adam prophesies about all the families of the earth, etc. Then Eve hears it, is glad, and then expounds on what her husband said:

And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

Emma, in section 25 again, is told that she will be ordained under Joseph’s hand to expound scripture (which had to include the very things that her husband was receiving as revelations):

And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.

For he shall lay his hands upon thee, and thou shalt receive the Holy Ghost, and thy time shall be given to writing, and to learning much.

I like the parallel relationship a lot, especially when I know that the verses in Moses 5 and in D&C 25 were received within months of each other. I wonder if Emma pondered these things? Is it just our generation that mines the scriptures for verses on women? Was that a question to the early LDS women as well? Would Emma have been as interested in more information on Eve as I am?

Good questions. I still get to learn from the connections I guess, and it’s still fun. I wonder what she (and other women) thought, though? I wonder if I could learn from what resources I have on Joseph Smith Papers etc.? I don’t know. A question for some historian friends…

Being “A Daughter of God” – YW Lesson 1, Manual 1

(Note these posts are now being cross-posted at Beginnings New and Feast Upon the Word Blog.)

Though a week later than I’d like, here are a few notes on the first lesson¬†in the manual.

First off, I feel like I need to repeat a concern I’ve expressed before. Why is it that we want to project our experiences/opinions onto the scriptures? In this case, the girls are asked to list qualities of¬†earthly fathers and then to apply that¬†to our¬†Heavenly Father. I suppose one could say that that’s all we have to go on so it’s not a bad place to start. But it’s not all we have to go on. Might we instead¬†look to the scriptures first to see what God is like, and then see if we can’t change our understanding of father and motherhood from that?¬†I bring this up because I imagine there are going to be some young women with¬†negative or strained feelings¬†that could negatively affect the way the envision God. It’s something to be sensitive about, at any rate.

Aside from that,¬†two scriptural passages¬†came to mind that would make good potential resources for this lesson.¬†The first idea is¬†connected with the¬†manual’s lesson outline, and the other is connected to¬†the lesson’s¬†associated Resource Guide suggestions.

ONE. The lesson outline seemed to stay on this side of the veil, as it were. It starts with their earthly, daily experience and uses that to draw implications about what they can’t see. It talks about¬†what it means to have good earthly relationships, about¬†behaving as a good daughter should, about noticing our blessings here, and what all that that implies about our Heavenly Father there.

Looking on this side of the veil, I got to thinking about Emma Smith. She is the only female in the D&C to receive her own section of revelation. It deals with her life on this earth and what God expected of her. (It is also in¬†her section that we get the title for the new RS history Daughters in My Kingdom.) What is it that D&C 25 could teach us about being a good daughter — as God himself presents it?

I actually found it quite remarkable to read this as a father-daughter conversation. An early version of verse 1¬†simply read, “Emma, my daughter” which is just beautiful to me. Verse 2 sounds like something a father would tenderly say to his child, “I want to help you and keep you safe, but you have to listen to me and trust me.” Heavenly Father explains to her that if she walks in the paths of virtue, her life will be preserved. She will also receive an “inheritance” – something passed down from parents to children. I’m sure she rejoiced in knowing her sins were forgiven (verse 3) and in knowing her Father had chosen her as an “elect lady” with work to do. Verse 4 reminds her to trust her Father, even when she doesn’t yet understand His reasons. I like that verse 5¬†refers to¬†Joseph Smith¬†as “my servant, Joseph, thy husband” – to me it seems to put Joseph and Emma on the same plane, geometrically speaking. They are both God’s children, and servants, and here He is explaining how He needs them to treat each other. (I’ve had several of those¬†sorts of conversations with my children on how to treat their siblings as well…)¬†

Jumping around a bit now, verse 9 lovingly reassures her that “thou needest not fear.” Verse 10 advices her to “lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better” – that better place, which is where He is. It’s not only a request, but an invitation to enjoy the kind of life He has with Him.

What is His daughter Emma asked to do? Here’s what I saw: Hearken. Be faithful. Walk in the paths of virtue. Don’t murmur. Fulfill the office of your calling (in Emma’s case, to comfort her husband and be his scribe). Receive whatever you are ordained to do (in Emma’s case, to expound scripture, to exhort the church, to work by the Spirit, tospend her time¬†“writing, and to learning much.”) Lay aside things of this world, seek for things of a better. Take up special assignments that are a delight to¬†God¬†(for Emma, it was making a hymn book).¬†Lift up your head and rejoice! Cleave to your covenants. Be meek.¬†Beware of pride. Let your soul rejoice (in¬†Emma’s case,¬†she could let her soul rejoice in her husband – maybe her fears were¬†keeping her back?). Keep commandments continually.

And as the revelation concludes: “this is my voice unto all.”¬†Perhaps we could all learn from Emma what God would¬†like¬†His daughters to be like.¬†(I know I¬†just did!)¬†

TWO. The Resource Guide suggestions seemed to focus mostly on¬†who God was and how to worship Him, and then secondarily on what it means to be His daughter (certainly a great approach¬†, it seems¬†to me). While¬†browsing these suggestions I remembered the depressed and poor¬†Zoramites telling Alma they couldn’t pray to their God. The poor Zoramites were afraid that there was something impeding¬†their communication with God, and so their path to God seemed an impossible path.¬†Their barrier was that¬†they had been¬†cast out of the synagogue by the oppressive order of the priests,¬†too poor and ill-dressed to be admitted where God would be worshiped. Their barrier was physical, but it may have had spiritual and emotional barriers as well. Perhaps they felt like their poverty was in part their fault, that if they only worked harder and earning money then they would be worthy of worshiping God.¬†

Obviously, they had misunderstood the character of their God and their relationship to Him. Alma and Amulek taught them that they had completely misunderstood the scriptures (or forgot to read them entirely), because they teach clearly that God can hear us anywhere. His example of Zenos not only includes fields and houses, but speficially when he was are “cast out” and “despised.” Alma went on to teach them that God reaches out to them so thoroughly that if they only “desire to believe” or have just enough faith to plant a small seed about Christ, God will bless them with growth and swelling experiences in the Spirit.

We, like the Zoramites, struggle at times to talk to our Father. We aren’t too likely to be barricaded by our priests from entering one of our chapels. But¬†there are plenty of other (perceived) barriers that keep us from worshiping God fully. The poor Zoramites were concerned about their poverty getting in their way of worshipping God. That might actually be a real concern for some young women. Further, many struggle with feeling unworthy even when they have repented. Some women want to be perfect in all those little things we stress about before they approach God. Some worry that if they really began to open up to God, their weak selves would be on display and they don’t want to think about that side of themselves. All these (and many more!) are barriers to real, sincere, joyful communication with God.

And I imagine all of these problems could be overcome in same way Alma and Amulek did it – by looking at the stories in the scriptures that our auidence is already committed to. Alma the Younger prayed, even though he clearly wasn’t worthy (Alma 36). Or was he in that moment? What does it mean to be worthy? That might be an important tangent for a lesson sometime. What about the Lamanite king in Alma 22 who said, ”¬†O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee.” What was it that grabbed his attention away from his sins and to God? Moroni was concerned about his weakness in writing (Ether 12) but God not only worked with him as a weak human being, but He was patient enough to explain to Moroni why it was that Moroni had nothing to be concerned about. Joseph Smith was only a poor farm boy with little education. What do we learn about prayer from him? Many, many scriptural passages are available to help us understand prayer and overcome the barriers we (and our young women) perceive between us and God.

Such are a few thoughts on this lesson. What are yours?

Thoughts on Emma Smith

I’ve had my attention called to D&C 25 several times lately. It is, of course, often considered the “women’s” section in scripture. In some sense I appreciate lessons directed to women. On the other hand, those sorts of lessons (especially when it’s meant to be scriptural) always seem to be a bit forced and awkward. In imagine there are probably fantastic insights having to do with women in the scriptures, but we ought to be a bit more careful than we usually are.

In any case, I would like to spend some time in D&C 24 and 25. I’ll be sharing some ideas and exploring what possibilities I see in these verses.

D&C 25:4 – poor Emma is usually labeled as “a righteous women, strongheaded, but of course she murmured. And then there’s that unfortunate event of not going west….” Poor Emma. I think we so misread her. But to get to this verse specifically:

It seems plausible to me (without any training or experience in the history books, mind you!) that Emma wasn’t so much murmuring against God, but wondering if she was being left out due to mortal opinions. I am very aware now that there are some practices in the Church that are part of God’s plan, and some that are just mortal opinions turned into policies. I suppose we could call them the “precepts of men.” At times, I have wondered if something I was asked to do was by revealed assignment, or out of “habit” or “tradition” or “cultural opinions” etc. Perhaps Emma had similar experiences. Maybe she didn’t, as the institute manual suggests, think she was “entitled to some special favors.” Perhaps she, with whatever she saw firsthand, wondered if she was being left out because of mortal opinions rather than God’s direction. I wonder what may have been said by others around her about why she didn’t see the plates. Did some criticize her? Suggest she was unworthy? Suggest that this was just for men? This revelation may have provided her with some much-needed reassurance.

The word “murmur” reminds me of Sariah. It seems in her case, she was having trouble by separating Lehi the father and Lehi the prophet. Did God really communicate with Lehi? There was a bit of doubt. She knew when her sons returned that she could trust him.

It is always calming to know that what someone says is actually from God. How can we gain that trust? We would like to assume that all priesthood holders were faithful and full of the spirit. But to be honest there are great numbers of them that aren’t living with the spirit. (Beyond my own observations, see D&C 121!) Does God still communicate through them? If I have concerns that they aren’t living with the Spirit, how do I respond to their direction? What about a blessing – a sort of personal revealed will for me?

I can sympathize with these two women in scripture. I am fortunate to have several priesthood holders that I trust completely. I realize more all the time that the absolute trust I have in them is rare. I am happy Emma and Sariah received reassurance, as needed, that their husbands were indeed communicating with the divine. We count women like them lucky, that they are married to such great men. And they are very blessed and they themselves are great women. But to be so close to revelation, where it is both common and real, does challenge faith in a unique way.

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