2 Ne 3:3 thy seed shall not utterly be destroyed
If the Nephites were destroyed in 385 AD, how could the desdendents of Joseph, presumably numbered with the Nephites, have survived this great battle?
It should be remembered that the division of the people into these two camps, the Nephites and the Lamanites, is a vast oversimplification. Jacob records, Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites. I, Jacob, shall not hereafter distinguish them by these names, but I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites, or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings (Jacob 1:12-13). The Book of Mormon record states that there were Lamanites among the Nephites and Nephites among the Lamanites. These had chosen their allegience based on religious and political lines and not racial lines. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the promise was given to Joseph that some of his seed would be preserved even after the final destruction of the Nephites. This means that some Josephites who had defected to the Lamanite side would merge with Lamanite society (see Alma 45:13) and the blood of Joseph would be preserved. DC 3:16-17 explains that the blood of Joseph, Jacob, Nephi and Zoram was preserved and that the testimony of the Book of Mormon was to come to their descendants in the last days.
2 Ne 3:4 I am a descendant of Joseph
It is not until Alma 10:3 that we learn that Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh, Joseph's son. Lehi's descent through Joseph is crucial to understanding the prophecies of Joseph regarding the family of Lehi. It is also crucial to the "stick of Joseph" doctrine found in Ezekiel 37:16.
2 Ne 3:5 Joseph truly saw our day
This conclusion cannot be drawn from reading the Old Testament alone. All that is clear from reading Genesis is that Joseph knew the Lord would deliver the Israelites from Egypt, God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob (Gen 50:24). Lehi was apparently reading from a version of the Old Testament in which the plain and precious prophecies of Joseph had not been removed. Joseph Smith restored these prophecies in the Joseph Smith Translation for Gen 50:24-48. In fact, Lehi's discussion of what Joseph saw as contained in 2 Ne 3:5-18 is very similar to the JST for Gen 50. Lehi was basically repeating the prophecies which had been previously recorded.
A conclusion which can be drawn from our version of the Old Testament is that Joseph's father, Jacob had seen Lehi's day. This is evident in the patriarchal blessings which Jacob gave to his 12 sons. When speaking to Joseph he said, Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well whose branches run over the wall (Gen 49:22). Lehi's family was this branch which ran over the wall. LeGrand Richards taught that "the wall," or great barrier in those ancient days was the ocean which separated the continental masses. Elder Richards also makes it clear that the phrase, "utmost boundaries of the everlasting hills" spoken of in Gen 49:26 has reference to the Rocky Mountains of North and South America (see A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 64).
2 Ne 3:5 Joseph...obtained a promise...that...the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch
This righteous branch was Lehi's family. JST for Gen 50:25 reads, a branch shall be broken off, and shall be carried into a far country.
Lehi continues to explain 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. One might be tempted to interpret this as having reference to the appearance of Christ to the Nephites and Lamanites. However, the Messiah is manifested "in the spirit of power," or by the Holy Ghost. In other words, the Lord would be manifested to the descendants of the branch of Lehi when the Gentiles of the last dispensation would take the gospel to the American Indians. The Lord can be made manifest to a people without physically appearing to them. The Gentiles of the early Christian era learned of the Messiah in this way, they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice-that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost (3 Ne 15:23). This interpretation is more consistent with the context of the next verse which speaks of the mission of Joseph Smith.
2 Ne 3:6 a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins
This choice seer is obviously Joseph Smith. The fact that he was raised up as a prophet for "the fruit of my loins" means that through his work the gospel would be preached to the Lamanites and that many of the early members of the church were actually part of scattered Israel, particularly of the tribe of Joseph.
That Joseph Smith was a descendant of Joseph of Egypt is clear from verse 7 as well as the teachings of the prophet himself. Joseph Smith taught that the patriarchal authority belonged to the blood of Joseph and he established his father, Joseph Smith, Sr. as the patriarch of the church. In a prophecy about his father, Joseph pronounced the same blessings on his father that Jacob had on Joseph, "he shall be as a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bought by a well whose branches run over the wall, and his seed shall abide in strength" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 39, 151).
"It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fullness of the keys and power of the Priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eyes upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father's father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, from the flood to Enoch, and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was fore-ordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 108 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.94)
2 Ne 3:6 he shall do a work...which shall be of great worth unto them
"Josiah Quincy, former mayor of Boston, had met the prophet Joseph Smith and was impressed with the fact that the world would yet have to account for his claims that he was a prophet sent of God:
"'It is by no means improbable that some future textbook, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is my no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet...' (Josiah Quincy, Figure of the Past, Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1883, p. 376)
"...To provide a brief summation, we will mention some of the great truths upon which the Lord has shed his divine light through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith:
- The true personality of God
- Man's true relationship to God
- The proper foundation of the gospel
- Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
- Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins
- Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost
- An understanding of the difference between the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods (Hebrews 7:11-12)
- An understanding of the different offices in these two priesthoods; the duties of each, the number required to form a quorum, etc.
- The proper organization of the Church and its purpose
- The correct name that the Church of Jesus Christ should bear
- That the followers of Christ's church were and should be called 'saints'
- Where we came from and that we lived before we were born
- Why we are here upon the earth
- The three degrees of Glory and what one must do to prepare for celestial glory
- Who are to come forth in the first resurrection, and that the rest of the dead are not to come forth until the end of the thousand years, which will be the great judgment day
- That obedience to the ordinances of the gospel is so necessary that the perfect plan of God provides for a vicarious work of the living for the dead, for the benefit of those to whom the gospel has not been preached or who have not accepted it in this life
- That the gospel is being preached to the dead, and for what purpose
- That the millennium of one thousand years has been provided to complete this work, without which the final judgment day should come at the beginning and not the end thereof
- That the condition and time of one's life here upon the earth is as much the result of a life previously lived as the life to come will be the result of how we live and what we do in this life
- That the church established by Christ in the meridian of time should fall into an apostate condition, of which fact both the ancient prophets and the apostles of the Master freely bore witness
- That the prophets of the Old testament and the apostles of the New Testament predicted a complete restoration of 'all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began' (Acts 3:21), rather than a reformation to correct the false teachings of the churches
- The meaning and fulfillment of the following prophecies:
- 'And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
'Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.' (Revelation 14:6-7.)
- 'And he shall send Jesus Christ,...Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.' (Acts 3:20-21.)
- 'Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.' (Malachi 3:1.)
- 'Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
'Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.' (Isaiah 29:13-14.)
- 'And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break into pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand for ever.' (Daniel 2:44.)
- 'And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
- That Elijah has been sent back to this earth, and for what purpose (Malachi 4:5-6)
- Why there has been such a marvelous change in the world with respect to genealogical record keeping, genealogical organizations, societies, libraries, and research work
- That marriage, according to the scriptures, was intended to be eternal
- That the family unit is to endure beyond the grave
- Why temples are erected unto the Most High, and for what purpose they are used
- Where the temple is that Isaiah saw that should be built in the tops of the mountains in the last days (Isaiah 2:2-3)
- That in case of sickness, we should call the elders of the Church to anoint the sick with oil (James 5:14-16)
- The command of God to Ezekiel that two sticks (or records) should be kept, one of Judah and his companions and one of Joseph and his companions, and [what] these two records are (Ezekiel 37:15-19)
- What people should speak out of the ground with a voice that hath a familiar spirit (Isaiah 29:1-4; 2 Nephi 25:7-8; 2Nephi 26:15-17)
- What the 'sealed book' is to which Isaiah refers (Isaiah 29:11-12; 2Nephi 27:5-26)
- To what people Jesus referred when he said, 'Other sheep I have which are not of this fold' (John 10:16; 3 Nephi 15:11-12)
- The promises made to Joseph by his father Jacob, and by Moses, when he was promised a new land in 'the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills' (Genesis 49:22-26; Deuteronomy 33:13-18), and where that new land and the everlasting hills are to which they referred." (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 406-411)
Elder Richards continues to list another 11 items restored through the instrumentality of the prophet, Joseph Smith. He concludes, "Joseph Smith, or any other man, could not have obtained all this information by reading the Bible or from studying all the books that have ever been written. It came from God." (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 411)
2 Ne 3:8 he shall do none other work, save the work which I shall command him
Joseph Smith only lived 38 years. He accomplished the translation of the Book of Mormon, the establishment of the Lord's kingdom, the establishment of cities and an army, and the foundation of a way of life for thousands of followers. He did all this in the span of only 15 years. He was able to accomplish this much because this was to be his sole endeavor, and because it was the work of the Lord. The Lord explained, in temporal labors thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling (DC 24:9).
2 Ne 3:9 Similarities between Moses and Joseph Smith
- Moses delivered the children of Israel from spiritual bondage-Joseph delivered the people from spiritual bondage.
- Moses gathered the children of Israel in a literal sense-Joseph gathered the children of Israel in a figurative, or spiritual sense.
- Satan tried to destroy Moses by having the Hebrew firstborn killed (Ex 1:16)-Satan tried to destroy Joseph Smith at the first vision and on many other occasions.
- Moses fought against the political forces of his day-Joseph fought the religious elements and bigotry of his day
- Moses gave a new law with its associated covenants, priesthood, and temple ordinances-Joseph restored the greater law with its covenants, priesthood, and temple ordinances
- Moses was given an assistant named Aaron-Joseph was given assistants who acted with the gift of Aaron (DC 8:6)
Reynolds and Sjodahl list the following similarities:
"(1) Both saw and spoke with Jehovah. (2) Both were liberators who led multitudes in exodus for the sake of liberty from oppression. (3) Both were law-givers by divine inspiration. (4) Both were prophets and seers. (5) Both performed mighty miracles. (6) Both encountered opposition, from "friends" and enemies. (7) Both depended largely on a brother for success: Moses on Aaron; Joseph on Hyrum." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 253)
2 Ne 3:12 the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write
The Bible was written primarily by those of the tribe of Judah. The Book of Mormon was written primarily by those of the tribe of Joseph. This doctrine is also taught in Ezekiel 37:16-17, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions; And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. Both Joseph and Ezekiel speak of these two great records, then speak of the gathering of the house of Israel. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon was a necessary prerequisite for the gathering of Israel. It is the primary tool through which the convert learns of the promises made to the house of Israel and begins to understand the ways in which they are currently being fulfilled. Ezekiel goes on in chapter 38 to talk about Gog of Magog and the destructions which will precede the Second Coming. This shows how closely related, both temporally and doctrinally, these events are.
2 Ne 3:12 the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace
Joseph Smith's statement, '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 Hist 1:12) couldn't be more accurately stated. Anyone who has had any religious discussion with someone of another faith, using the Bible only as a text, has experienced this amazing phenomenon. Nephi explained that because of the plain and precious things which were lost from the Bible, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them (1 Ne 13:29). God in his infinite mercy and wisdom has provided a solution for this confusion, For God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). The solution is the Book of Mormon.
2 Ne 3:13 out of weakness he shall be made strong
"Joseph Smith (as a young man)...could nether write for dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictate a book like the Book of Mormon, and though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, was present during the translation of the plates, and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me-a marvel and a wonder-as much as to anyone else....My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity-I have not the slightest doubt of it...when acting as his scribe, your father (she was being interrogated by her son) would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him. This was an unusual thing for him to do. It would have been improbable that a learned man could do this and for one so ignorant and unlearned as he was, it was simply impossible." (The Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, Preston Nibley, pp. 28-9 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 96)
2 Ne 3:14 they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded
Joseph Smith faced persecution from his days as a teenager, I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me...and though I was an obscure boy...and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects-all united to persecute me. (JS Hist 1:22) From their first meeting, Moroni made it clear to Joseph Smith that his life would not be a "cake walk." He...said...that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations (JS Hist 1:33). Joseph's life was only rarely punctuated by moments of peace and tranquility. His enemies sought after him like the scripture says, hell shall rage against thee (DC 122:1).
The fact that the enemies of Joseph Smith had no power over him unless granted them by the Lord is found in the D&C, Behold, thou wast called and chosen to write the Book of Mormon, and to my ministry; and I have lifted thee up out of thine afflictions, and have counseled thee, that thou hast been delivered from all thine enemies, and thou hast been delivered from the powers of Satan and from darkness! (DC 24:1) Joseph's power over his enemies was also a common theme of his later sermons:
"This generation is as corrupt as the generation of the Jews that crucified Christ; and if He were here to-day, and should preach the same doctrine he did then, they would put Him to death. I defy all the world to destroy the work of God; and I prophesy they never will have power to kill me till my work is accomplished, and I am ready to die." (1843, Teachings, p. 328)
"The Lord once told me that what I asked for I should have. I have been afraid to ask God to kill my enemies, lest some of them should, peradventure, repent." (1843, Teachings, p. 340)
"He that arms himself with a gun, sword, or pistol, except in the defense of truth, will sometime be sorry for it. I never carry any weapon with me bigger than my penknife. When I was dragged before the cannon and muskets in Missouri, I was unarmed. God will always protect me until my mission is fulfilled." (1844, Teachings, p. 365-6)
"The Prophet's Dreams on Conditions of Apostates at Nauvoo
"In the evening I attended meeting in the Seventies' Hall. George J. Adams preached and I made some observations afterwards, and related a dream which I had a short time since. I thought I was riding out in my carriage, and my guardian angel was along with me. We went past the Temple and had not gone much further before we espied two large snakes so fast locked together that neither of them had any power. I inquired of my guide what I was to understand by that. He answered, 'Those snakes represent Dr. Foster and Chauncey L. Higbee. They are your enemies and desire to destroy you; but you see they are so fast locked together that they have no power of themselves to hurt you.' I then thought I was riding up Mulholland street, but my guardian angel was not along with me. On arriving at the prairie, I was overtaken and seized by William and Wilson Law and others, saying, 'Ah, ah! we have got you at last! We will secure you and put you in a safe place!' and, without any ceremony dragged me out of my carriage, tied my hands behind me, and threw me into a deep, dry pit, where I remained in a perfectly helpless condition, and they went away. While struggling to get out, I heard Wilson Law screaming for help hard by. I managed to unloose myself so as to make a spring, when I caught hold of some grass which grew at the edge of the pit.
"I looked out of the pit and saw Wilson Law at a little distance attacked by ferocious wild beasts, and heard him cry out, 'Oh Brother Joseph, come and save me!' I replied, 'I cannot, for you have put me into this deep pit.' On looking out another way, I saw William Law with outstretched tongue, blue in the face, and the green poison forced out of his mouth caused by the coiling of a large snake around his body. It had also grabbed him by the arm, a little above the elbow, ready to devour him. He cried out in the intensity of his agony, 'Oh, Brother Joseph, Brother Joseph, come and save me, or I die!' I also replied to him, 'I cannot, William; I would willingly, but you have tied me and put me in this pit, and I am powerless to help you or liberate myself.' In a short time after my guide came and said aloud, 'Joseph, Joseph, what are you doing there?' I replied, 'My enemies fell upon me, bound me and threw me in.' He then took me by the hand, and drew me out of the pit, set me free, and we went away rejoicing. (June 13, 1844.) DHC 6:461-462." (Teachings, pp. 368-9)
2 Ne 3:15 his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father
Joseph of Egypt prophecies that the choice seer will be named Joseph and that his father will also. If this isn't referring to Joseph Smith, Jr. and Joseph Smith, Sr., who else could it be? Joseph of Egypt even says, he shall be like unto me. In this section Joseph Smith has already been compared to Moses. Now he is compared to Joseph of Egypt.
Joseph of Egypt was a savior to his brethren and father's house who were about to perish in a famine. Joseph Smith was a savior to the scattered of Israel and his family by restoring truths that saved them from spiritual famine. As Amos prophesied, the days come, saith the Lord God that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord (Amos 8:11).
2 Ne 3:17 I will not make him mighty in speaking
This phrase refers to Moses. In spite of the fact that Joseph Smith is compared to Moses and that both Moses and Joseph Smith were given spokesmen, the similarity between Moses and Joseph Smith does not include this phrase about being mighty in speaking. Joseph Smith was a great speaker. The saints loved to hear his sermons, and Joseph loved to preach. The recorded sermons of Joseph Smith are powerful, colorful, and full of incredible doctrinal insights. The Lord said of Joseph, I will give unto him power to be might in testimony (DC 100:10). The testimonies of the saints regarding Joseph's sermons are as follows:
"The Prophet then arose and poured forth a golden stream of words, many of which were verily pearls without price, setting forth the restoration of the gospel and the great work that had commenced on the earth. With power he exhorted everyone who was present to seek for the truth of his and his companion's words from the source of all light, all truth, and all religion, and a knowledge of the truth of the same should surely follow." (Lydia B. Knight, They Knew the Prophet, compiled by Hyrum and Helen Andrus, p. 44)
"I heard the Prophet discourse upon the grandest of subjects. At times he was filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking as with the voice of an archangel and filled with the power of God. His whole person shone, and his face was lightened until it appeared as the whiteness of the driven snow. Finally, I was convinced of the truth sufficiently to want to be baptized, to get a knowledge for myself of the testimony that Joseph Smith had seen God." (Lorenzo Snow, They Knew the Prophet, compiled by Hyrum and Helen Andrus, p. 34)
2 Ne 3:18 I will make for him a spokesman
The Lord provided Joseph Smith with the assistance of Oliver Cowdery. As soon as the prophet and Oliver became acquainted, the Prophet knew that Oliver had been sent to him by the Lord. If Joseph was compared unto Moses, Oliver was compared to Aaron. He was given to Joseph as a spokesman that would minister with the gift of Aaron. The Lord said to Oliver, you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you many things; Behold, there is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you. Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God (DC 8:6-8). See also DC 28:3.
Later on, the role of Joseph's spokesman was filled by Sidney Rigdon. Sidney was a great orator and preacher in another church before he was converted to Mormonism. Records of early church meetings show that Sidney spoke regularly and at great length. The Lord said, it is expedient in me that you, my servant Sidney, should be a spokesman unto this people; yea, verily, I will ordain you unto this calling, even to be a spokesman unto my servant Joseph (DC 100:9).
2 Ne 3:21 Because of their faith their words shall proceed forth out of my mouth unto their brethren
It was the faith of the righteous Nephites that guaranteed that the Lord would deliver the message of the Book of Mormon to the descendants of the Lamanites. The prophets longed for the day when the Lamanites would turn to the Lord. Enos recorded:
And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.
And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him--that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, and the Lamanites should not be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation--
For at the present our strugglings were vain in restoring them to the true faith. And they swore in their wrath that, if it were possible, they would destroy our records and us, and also all the traditions of our fathers. (Enos 1:12-14)