26046

Book of Mormon Manuscript Excerpt, circa June 1829 [1 Nephi 2:2b–3:18a]

Book of Mormon Manuscript Excerpt, circa June 1829 [1 Nephi 2:2b–3:18a]

aer ereth that he Should take his family & depart into the wilderness and it came to pass that he was obediant unto the word of the Lord wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him & it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness & he left his house & the land of his in heritance and his gold & his silver & his precious things & took nothing with him save it were his family & provisions & tents & he departed into the wilderness & he came down by the border near the shore of the Red Sea & he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which was nearer the Red Sea and he did traveld in the wilderness with his family which consisted of my mother Sariah & my elder Brethren which were Laman Lemuel & Sam & it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness he pitched his tent in a vally beside a river of water & it came to pass that he built an altar of stones & he made an offering unto the Lord & gave thanks unto the Lord our God & it came to pass that he called the name of the River Laman & it empted into the Read Sea & the vally was in the borders near the mouth thereof & when my father saw that the waters of the River empted into the fountain of the Red sea he spake unto Laman saying O that thou mightest be like unto this River continually running into the fountain of all righteousness & he also spake unto Lemuel saying O that thou mightest be like unto this vally firm & steadfast & immoveable in keeping the commandments of the Lord now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman & Lemuel for behold they did murmur in many thinngs against their father because that he was a visionary man & that he had lead them out of the land of Jerusalem to leave the land of their in heritance & their gold & their silver & their precious things & to perish in the wilderness & this they said that he had done because of the foolish immagionations of his heart & thus Laman & Lemuel being the eldest did murmur against their father & they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them neither did they believe that Jerusalem that great City could be destroid according to the words of the prophets & they were like unto the Jews which were at Jerusalem which saught to take away the life of my father & it came to pass that my father did speak unto them in the vally of Lemuel with power being filled with the spirit untill their frames did shake before him & he did confound them that they est durst not utter against him wherefore they did do as he commanded them & my father dwelt in a tent & it came to pass that I Nephi being exceding young nevertheless being large in stature & also haveing great desires to Know of the mysteries of God wherefore I cried unto the Lord & behold he did visit me & did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father wherefore I did not rebell against him like unto my Brothers & I spake unto Sam makeing known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy spirit & it came to pass that he believed in my words but behold Laman & Lemuel would not hearken unto my words & being grieved because of the heardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them & it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me saying blessed art thou Nephi because of thy faith for thou hast saught me diligently with lowliness of heart & in as much as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper & shall be lead to a land of promise yea even a land which I have prepared for you a land which is choice above all other lands & in as much as thy Brethren shall rebell against thee they shall be cut off from the presance of the Lord & in as much as thou shalt keep my commandments thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy Brethren for behold in that day that they shall rebell against me I will curse them even with a sore curse & they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall [p. [3]]
<aer◊◊◊◊ ereth◊◊ [illegible]>

Insertion in unidentified handwriting. This largely illegible line was added to describe the content of the page and was not part of the original dictation. (See Skousen, Original Manuscript, 25.)  


Oliver Cowdery handwriting begins. This excerpt begins midnarrative because the previous leaf of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon is missing.  


[that he Should]1

TEXT: Portions of text are missing or illegible because of fading, water damage, or page tears. Supplied text in this transcript comes from the Book of Mormon, 1830 edition.  


ta[k]e his family & dep[a]rt into the wilder[n]ess [and it ca] me to [p]ass that he was obediant unto the word of the Lord wherefo[re he]  did as the Lord commanded him & it came to pass that he depart[e]d  into the wilderness & he left his house & the land of his in heritance [and]  his gold & his silver & his precious things & took nothing with him save  it were his family & provisions & tents & he departed into the wilder[n] ess & he came dow[n] by the borders near the shores of the Red Sea & he trav eled in the wilderness in the borders which was nearer the Red Sea  [and] he did travel<d> in the wilderness with his family which consisted of my  mother Sariah & my elder Brethren which were Laman Lemuel &  Sam & it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness  he pitched his tent in a vally beside a river of water & it came to pass  that he built an altar of stones & he made an offering unto the Lord & gave  thanks unto the Lord our God & it came to pass that he called the name of the  River Laman & it empted into the Read Sea & the vally was in the borders  near the mouth thereof & when my father saw that the waters of the River  empted into the fountain of the Red sea he spake unto Laman saying O  that thou mightest be like unto this River continually runn [in]g into <the fountain of> all righteousness & he also spake unto Lemuel saying O that thou  mightest be like unto this vally firm & steadfast & immoveable in keeping  the commandments of the Lord now this he spake because of the stiffneck edness of Laman & Lemuel for behold they did murmur in many thin ngs against their father because that he was a visionary man & that he had lead  them out of the land of Jerusalem to leave the land of their in heritance &  their gold & their silver & their precious things & to perish in the wilder ness & this they said that he had done because of the foolish immagionations of  his heart & thus Laman & Lemuel being the eldest did murmur against  their father & they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God  who had created them neither did they believe that Jerusalem that great City  could be destroid according to the words of the prophets & they were like unto  the Jews which were at Jerusalem which saught to take away the life of  my father & it came to pass that my father did speak unto them in the vally of  Lemuel with power being filled with the spirit untill their frame[s] di[d]  [sh]ake before him & he did confound them that they e◊◊st [durst] not utte[r] ag[a]inst him where[for]e they did do as he commanded them & my father dwelt in a tent & it came  [to] [p]as[s] that I Nephi being exceding young nevertheless being large in sta ture & also haveing great desires to Know of the mysteries <of God> wherefore I cried  unto the Lord & behold he did visit me & did soften my heart that I did  believe all the words which ha[d] been spoken by my father wherefore I  did not rebell against him like unto my Brothers & I spake unto Sam  makeing known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested  unto me by his Holy spirit & it came to pass that he believed in my wo rds but behold Laman & Lemuel would not hearken unto my words  & being grieved because of the heardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord fo[r] th em & it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me saying blessed art thou <[N]ephi> beca use of thy faith for thou hast saught me diligently with lowliness of heart  & in as much as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in & sh all be lead to a land of promise yea even a land which I have prepared fo r you a land which is choice above all other lands & in as much as thy Br ethren shall rebell against the<e> they shall be cut off from the presance  of the Lord & in as much as thou shalt keep my commandments thou  [s]halt be made a ruler [and a] teacher over thy Brethren for behold in that  day that they shall rebell against me I will curse them even with a so r[e] curse & they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall [p. [3]]
Next
JS’s history recounts that on the night of 21–22 September 1823, “a messenger sent from the presence of God” visited JS and “said there was a book deposited written upon gold plates

A record engraved on gold plates, which JS translated and published as the Book of Mormon. The text explained that the plates were an abridgement of other ancient records and were written by an American prophet named Mormon and his son Moroni. The plates ...

View Glossary
, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent.” JS found the plates in a stone box embedded in a hill not far from the Smith residence, “under a stone of considerable size.”1

JS History, vol. A-1, 5, 7; see also Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VI,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1835, 1:108–112; and Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VII,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, July 1835, 1:155–159.  


On 22 September 1827, after yearly visits to the spot, JS obtained the plates. He moved from Palmyra

Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...

More Info
, New York, to Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

More Info
, Pennsylvania, a few months later, and his wife Emma

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

View Full Bio
and her brother Reuben Hale began recording JS’s dictation from the plates. From mid-April to mid-June 1828, Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

View Full Bio
, a supporter from Palmyra, was JS’s primary scribe and finished a considerable portion of the translation

To produce a text from one written in another language; in JS’s usage, most often through divine means. JS considered the ability to translate to be a gift of the spirit, like the gift of interpreting tongues. He recounted that he translated “reformed Egyptian...

View Glossary
, but he then lost the transcription.2

Knight, Reminiscences, 4; Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289; JS History, vol. A-1, 9–10. JS and Harris stopped translating on 14 June, the day before Emma Smith gave birth to a son who either was stillborn or died shortly after birth.  


A messenger sent from God chastised JS for allowing the manuscript to be lost and took the plates from JS, but returned them “in a few days.”3

JS History, vol. A-1, 11.  


Rather than retranslating the lost pages, JS was directed to finish “the remainder of the work”4

Revelation, Spring 1829 [D&C 10:3]; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, July 1828 [D&C 3].  


and apparently picked up where he and Harris had stopped, in the book of Mosiah. Although Emma Smith, JS’s brother Samuel Smith

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

View Full Bio
, and possibly others served as scribes for JS over the next several months,5 progress was slow and sporadic. JS moved forward in earnest only after Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
arrived to serve as his full-time scribe in early April 1829. During April and May 1829, JS and Cowdery apparently translated the portion of the Book of Mormon from Mosiah through the concluding book of Moroni.6

Not all of the plates were translated. According to Oliver Cowdery, a heavenly messenger had previously told JS that “a part of the book was sealed, and was not to be opened” until “the people of the Lord are prepared, and found worthy” to receive it. (Oliver Cowdery, “Letter IV,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1835, 1:80; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 111 [2 Nephi 27:21–22].)  


JS and Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
relocated to the Peter Whitmer Sr.

14 Apr. 1773–13 Aug. 1854. Farmer. Born at Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer and likely Maria Salome. Member of Presbyterian church. Married Mary Musselman, before 1798, in Pennsylvania. Lived in Lebanon Township, Dauphin Co., by...

View Full Bio
home in Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

More Info
, New York, in early June 1829 and promptly resumed the translation. “It was a laborious work,” recalled David Whitmer

7 Jan. 1805–25 Jan. 1888. Farmer, livery keeper. Born near Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Raised Presbyterian. Moved to Ontario Co., New York, shortly after birth. Attended German Reformed Church. Arranged...

View Full Bio
, “for the weather was very warm, and the days were long and they worked from morning till night.”7

James H. Hart, “About the Book of Mormon,” Deseret News (Salt Lake City), 9 Apr. 1884, 190.  


While the timetable of the translation is not known with certainty, analysis of the manuscript suggests that JS translated the portion from the first book of Nephi through Words of Mormon—what became the first part of the Book of Mormon—at the Whitmer home during June. This was in accordance with a revelation that had instructed JS to translate “the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi,”8

Revelation, Spring 1829 [D&C 10:41]; see also JS History, vol. A-1, 21–22. Most scholars of the Book of Mormon believe that JS and Cowdery translated the portion from Mosiah to Moroni first, and the portion from the first book of Nephi to Words of Mormon second. (See, for example, Welch, Opening the Heavens, 100–101, 115–117; and Metcalfe, “Priority of Mosiah,” 396–399.)  


which covered the same time period as the pages lost by Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

View Full Bio
, a manuscript that JS made no effort to retranslate. The representative sample selected for inclusion in this volume is taken from this portion of the manuscript JS and Cowdery produced, now known as the “original manuscript.”9

A complete transcript of the extant parts of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon has been published as Royal Skousen, ed., The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University, 2001).  


The featured text is primarily in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
, but it also contains short passages inscribed by John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

View Full Bio
and one unidentified scribe, who replaced Cowdery for brief periods. This selection exhibits the traits typical of the original Book of Mormon manuscript, most noticeably a lack of punctuation. After the translation, scribes added chapter numbers and the typesetter added paragraph breaks and punctuation to the printer’s manuscript as it was being prepared for publication.10

Skousen, “Translating the Book of Mormon,” 75–82, 85–87; Skousen, Original Manuscript, 1:25. Decades later, eyewitnesses Emma Smith, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer recalled details about the translation process, mentioning, for example, that JS spelled out difficult proper names when necessary. (Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289–290; Edward Stevenson, “One of the Three Witnesses,” Deseret News [Salt Lake City], 28 Dec. 1881, 762–763; “Mormonism,” Kansas City Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, 1; see also “Joseph Smith Documents Dating through June 1831.”)  


The text transcribed here, as with other extant portions of the original manuscript, exhibits very few signs of editing. It contains spelling errors characteristic of each particular scribe. The Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers will extend this analysis and present the complete text of the extant portions of the original manuscript and the complete text of a second manuscript, the “printer’s manuscript” that was copied from the original for use by the typesetter.
The text featured here begins on the third manuscript page (second leaf) of what in the published Book of Mormon was titled “The First Book of Nephi: His Reign and Ministry.” The first leaf is no longer extant. Page 3 picks up the narrative of the record at the point when Nephi’s father, Lehi, acting under inspiration, departs the Jerusalem area with the assurance that if he and his family are righteous they will be led to a promised land. This is the inaugural event in the multigenerational family saga that dominates most of the Book of Mormon. In the lost manuscript, the story was presumably told from the perspective of the father, Lehi, whereas here it is told from the perspective of the son, Nephi.

Facts