Horite Priest-Kings, the New and Everlasting Covenant, & the Succession Crisis of 1844

Tall Tales & Many Wives

In the late Spring of 1888, the American imagination was alive with stories of cowboys and Indians battling in the untamed frontier. Many larger-than-life stories came out of the prairies and mountains during that time, which would go on to create an entire genre of Americana called “the Wild West.” Among these tall tales were also the Mormons who had wielded the gun to win the west in the conquest to settle the frontier. The head of this group of intrepid pioneers was himself a character of tall tales with his long beard, his blood-stained coffin-wood cane, and his several wives, Brigham Young was considered by his followers as the mouthpiece of Jesus Christ on earth, a prophet, priest, and king possessing the oracles of revelation. Despite his formidable traits, Brigham Young was himself only following in the footsteps of the originator of Mormonism, Joseph Smith Jr., whom he sought earnestly to emulate. And he was only one among a number of other claimants who attempted to lead the Mormons after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith in 1844. Was Brigham the rightful successor and if so how could we know it?

In recent days, many sophisticated arguments have arisen against Brigham Young’s succession claims. These typically boil down to the idea that Brigham Young planned to takeover the church in order to institute plural marriage (the argument also states that Joseph Smith opposed polygamy). Of course this line of thinking breaks down with the fact that plural marriage was expressly a system of increased responsibility and a resource strain on the men involved as opposed to a system of sexual gratification (as articulated in my blog post, Plural Marriage and the Parable of the Talents). But besides this, a letter by Wilford Woodruff may shed additional doctrinal insight into why plural marriage is itself the key by which Joseph Smith’s rightful successors can be known.

The letter in question came in response to an inquiry by a Bishop among the Mormons in 1888 that had been addressed to the then-acting President of the church, Wilford Woodruff. The Bishop was Samuel Amos Woolley and he received his answer as follows:

President’s Office
Salt Lake City, Utah
May 22, 1888

Dear Brother:

You asked whether a person who has once been married in the Endowment House or Temple, and is left a widow or a widower, commits adultery by marrying again when the ceremony is performed by a justice of the peace or a civil officer.

There is a manifest impropriety, which every Latter-day Saint who has had his or her endowments should perceive, in such a person going to a civil officer to have a ceremony of marriage performed.  The fact that such a person does so is in evidence that he or she is falling away, because if in good standing a recommendation could be obtained for the temple, where the ceremony could be performed, should be performed according to the order which God has instituted.  But a person marrying under such circumstances does not commit adultery.

You ask some other questions concerning how many living wives a man must have to fulfill the law.

When a man, according to the revelation, married a wife under the holy order which God has revealed and then married another in the same way, he enters into the new and everlasting covenant, so far as he has gone he has obeyed the law.  I know of no requirement which makes it necessary for a man to have three living wives at a time.

With kind regards,
I remain,
Your Brother,

W. Woodruff.

What was Wilford Woodruff meaning when he stated that a man needed two wives to enter ‘the new and everlasting covenant’? It turns out that the answer is far more ancient than one would suspect. So ancient, in fact, the only way that the early Mormons could have known it was by revelation. So to answer the question, let’s first take a look at what the term ‘new and everlasting’ actually means.

Both New & Everlasting?

The term “everlasting covenant” as a description of a working promise between God and man occurs 14 times in the Old Testament (18 with the JST included). At least nine of those references are about this covenant being established afresh. For example:

“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
“And Abram fell on his face:
“And God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:1 – 7).

“Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David” (Isa. 55:3).

“And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Ezekiel 37:25 – 27).

The first instance of the term “everlasting covenant” shows up in the King James Bible in Genesis 9 with Noah. This might make the reader conclude that this covenant’s first introduction to the earth was with Noah, but as it turns out this is only one among a number of instances where God re-established this “everlasting covenant” with the descendants of those with whom the original covenant was established. Additional scripture restored through Joseph Smith shows that the original covenant proceeded even Noah:

“And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, which I made unto thy father Enoch, that, when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch, which I have caught up unto myself. And this is mine everlasting covenant: that when thy posterity shall embrace the truth and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy” (Gen. 9:21 – 22, JST).

The Book of Moses describes the covenant to Enoch as an unspecified restoration of the apocryphal Book of Enoch literature:

“Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying: I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods.
“And the Lord could not withhold; and he covenanted with Enoch, and sware unto him with an oath, that he would stay the floods; that he would call upon the children of Noah; and he sent forth an unalterable decree, that a remnant of his seed should always be found among all nations, while the earth should stand; and the Lord said: Blessed is he through whose seed Messiah shall come” (Moses 7:50 – 53).

The terms of this covenant that appear in each instance of its restoration or re-confirmation upon the earth include the following:

  • The covenantee agrees to obey his God and be faithful in all things. In return:
    • The world on which the covenantee lives will not be forever destroyed but will be inherited as an eternal estate, the covenantee obtaining kingship rights within the Celestial kingdom of the Elohim;
    • Posterity is guaranteed to the covenantee, which will continue into the eternities; and
    • A portion of the posterity upon this world in subsequent mortal generations is to be afforded the right to the same covenant up until the end of temporal human history, which heirs will bless the rest of humanity who are not given the same right.

Part of what makes God a God to us is his own adherence as a covenantee to this same covenant when he lived in a mortal world. According to his faithfulness, he was granted kingship over a posterity on an eternal world, which had once been his mortal world. His posterity on that mortal world also obtained the same promises and are processing in his footsteps to obtain the blessings to which he has already advanced. This is, in short, the terms of the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood as revealed through Joseph Smith:

“Whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken [the Melchizedek and Aaronic priesthoods], and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
“And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; for he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; and he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
“And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved” (D&C 84:33 – 40).

Note in the above passages the continued theme of posterity (this will be important shortly). Each instance of this peculiar phrase, “everlasting covenant,” found in the scriptures appears consonant with God re-establishing a covenant made from at least the days of Enoch—and likely the days of Adam—down to the present day. This makes sense given that the Hebrew word for ‘everlasting’ is עולם (‘ō-w-lām; ostensibly the same root as the Egyptian word gnolaum, meaning “eternal,” given by Joseph Smith in Abraham 3:18) is elsewhere translated as ancient, perpetual, or “successive” (see for example Gen 9:12, NAS). Thus this covenant could be conceptualized as something that extends into the ancient past but that also pertains to all generations of time (and perhaps even all eternity).

Thus when God revealed the new and everlasting covenant to Joseph Smith, it was then new again upon the earth but everlasting inasmuch as it had been on the earth in times of old. As Heber C. Kimball succinctly summarized:

“The Lord says in one place, ‘All old covenants have I caused to be done away; and this is a new and and everlasting covenant. It is even that which was in the beginning‘ [see D&C 22:1]; it is that covenant which was made in the days of Jesus. It is that same covenant which the Almighty revealed to Father Adam in the garden of Eden; but it has been renewed in these last days, and hence it is a new and an everlasting covenant. If you would only think of it for a little while, you would remember that we imitate many of those things that were done in former dispensations.”1

The everlasting covenant is a single covenant with God but it is re-established anew upon the earth by righteous patriarchs, each touchpoint upon the earth through them being necessary to the whole.

The Hebrew word for “covenant” used throughout these verses is ברית (berith). The etymology of this word is related to ברא (bara’, “create”), which means to organize out of preexisting materials—it is the word used for the creation of the world in Genesis. Thus, just as the world was “made” (bara’) out of matter that was already in existence, God uses covenants to “make” new societal units out of separate pre-existing parties. Thus ברית (berith, “covenant”) is the most accurate word to describe marriage, among other types of treaties.

If we recall how that “everlasting covenant” is repeatedly associated with posterity, the linkage of this term to the purposes of marriage begin to come into focus: God brings man and woman into his work by covenant, which work is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

Considering that one cannot have immortality without first passing through mortality, and that one cannot have eternal life without being proven through temporal life, it becomes obvious how that the covenant of marriage opens the sacred gate of birth to continue the work of God upon the earth. As the Lord later stated succinctly:

“[Wives] are given unto [a husband] to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and…for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified” (D&C 132:63).

So when God uses this terminology in our day in reference to marriage, he is referencing the powers and blessings of increased posterity, which naturally can only come through marriage. In the Old Testament verses cited above, God uses language about these blessings as context for the covenant:

  • ‘I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly,’
  • ‘My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations,’ or
  • I will make thee exceeding fruitful…. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed.’

Though this everlasting covenant has to do with the promulgation of posterity, it is not concerned only with the random proliferation of a population; instead, the scriptures show that this covenant also pertains to the right to priesthood among certain lineages. As the Book of Mormon succinctly states regarding why the Lord instituted the practice of plural marriage, it is not merely to raise up seed but to “raise up seed unto me” (Jacob 2:26, emphasis added). This is illustrated, for instance, in the difference in blessings between Abraham’s sons, Ishmael and Isaac:

“God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with [Isaac] for an everlasting covenant, and with [Isaac’s] seed after him.
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed [Ishmael], and will make [Ishmael] fruitful, and will multiply [Ishmael] exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make [Ishmael] a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac” (Gen 17:19 – 21).

These verses show that both Ishmael and Isaac were to have a promised, numerous posterity, but only one lineage—that of Isaac—would have a covenant right to the priesthood. This covenant was the same covenant as was made with the Fathers before the flood—even Noah and Enoch, as described above—but re-instituted upon chosen branches of their posterity. Hence it was both a new and yet an everlasting covenant. And the return of this marital covenant in the latter-days would be required to save the world as prophesied by Malachi. When Moroni recited the prophesies of Malachi to Joseph Smith, he modified it in the following way:

“The day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch…. Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord…. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming” (Joseph Smith—History 1:37 – 39; see also D&C 2).

Clearly, ‘the promises made to the fathers’ was not a reference to the immediate ancestors of the early Mormons but to the ancient patriarchs going back through to Abraham, Enoch, etc.—the promises of the new and everlasting covenant. That Malachi had reference to this covenant when he mentioned ‘promises made to the fathers’ is manifest when he states that those who ‘do wickedly’ (reject the covenant) will be left with neither ‘root nor branch,’ which terminology is covenant wording for ancestors and descendants. Thus those who turn to the promises of the new and everlasting covenant will have an abundance of posterity while those who do not will have none. The key to the promises, according to Malachi, is in the priesthood held by Elijah.

Elijah & the Melchizedek Order

Who was Elijah and why was he required to return the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage to the earth? Joseph Smith answers the question succinctly:

Elijah was the last Prophet that held the keys of the Priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and deliver the keys of the Priesthood, in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness. It is true that the Savior had authority and power to bestow this blessing; but the sons of Levi [in his day] were too prejudiced…. Why send Elijah? Because he holds the keys of authority to administer in all the ordinances of the Priesthood; and without the authority is given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness.” 2

In other words, Elijah was the last prophet to hold the sealing power associated with the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and therefore it was his role to return it to the earth to fulfill the words of Malachi as quoted above. This ‘sealing power’ has reference to the sealing up to eternal life promised to those who enter into the new and everlasting covenant. As D&C 132 states:

“Verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths” (D&C 132:19).

Joseph Smith linked this power to Elijah through the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood. This is notable because Elijah lived in Israel at a time when they did not have access to the Melchizedek Priesthood. This must mean that Elijah received the Melchizedek Priesthood from an embodied messenger himself (perhaps explaining why Moses, the last person before Elijah to hold the full priesthood, did not taste of death but was translated at the end of his life). Though Christ too held the full priesthood, it was not his mission to restore any keys to the earth himself—this was a mission left to Elijah:

“What was the power of Melchizedek? ’Twas not the Priesthood of Aaron which administers in outward ordinances, and the offering of sacrifices. Those holding the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings. In fact, that Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam…. Salvation could not come to the world without the mediation of Jesus Christ. [But] how shall God come to the rescue of this generation? He will send Elijah the prophet. The [full] law revealed to Moses in Horeb never was revealed to the children of Israel as a nation. [So] Elijah shall reveal the covenants to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers…. The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother….”3


The Lord appears to be especially mindful of these covenantal fathers who have in epochs past obtained and entered into the new and everlasting covenant through the Melchizedek Priesthood. He names these outstanding men as the “redeemed” in verses such as the following:

“[The] redeemed…shall mention the loving kindness of their Lord, and all that he has bestowed upon them according to his goodness, and according to his loving kindness, forever and ever. In all their afflictions he was afflicted. And the angel of his presence saved them; and in his love, and in his pity, he redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old; yea, and Enoch also, and they who were with him; the prophets who were before him; and Noah also, and they who were before him; and Moses also, and they who were before him; and from Moses to Elijah, and from Elijah to John, who were with Christ in his resurrection, and the holy apostles, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, shall be in the presence of the Lamb” (D&C 133:52 – 55).

We will explore these names and their linkage to one another more later. For now it is important to note that when the Lord describes who will enter into full Celestial glory, he says they “are priests and kings…after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son” (D&C 76:56 – 57). In other words, those who have entered into the new and everlasting covenant in the Melchizedek Order become priest-kings. Historically, it has always been the full order of heaven for a righteous king to reign in establishing Zion. The Book of Mormon admits this grand ideal, saying:

“If it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments…I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you” (Mosiah 29:13).

In fact, Melchizedek is said to have been one of the few to succeed at becoming a righteous king and thereby exalting his people (like Enoch and his order before him):

Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore, he obtained peace in Salem and was called the prince of peace. And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world…” (Gen. 14:33 – 36, JST).

Where some few priest-kings have succeeded, many others have failed and their attempts devolved into the kingdoms and fiefdoms of the earth, Jew and Gentile alike. The governments of all kingdoms in human history—from ancient Mesopotamia to medieval times—may each be traced to inspired yet failed attempts for a Zion priest-king theocracy. Successful attempts don’t leave a trace since those kingdoms are taken from the earth! As the Lord told Joseph Smith:

“I will that all men shall repent, for all are under sin, except those which I have reserved unto myself, holy men that ye know not of. Wherefore, I say unto you that I have sent unto you mine everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning” (D&C 49:8 – 9).

Twain One Flesh

Now that the question of how this covenant can be called both new and everlasting simultaneously has been addressed, painting for us a picture of a ‘perfect law of theocracy’ reconnecting to the earth through certain chosen individuals scattered in history, we can now turn back to the question of why polygyny specifically constitutes this full order of heaven for those chosen to live it.4

The foregoing discussion demonstrates the crucial role that posterity plays in the fulfilling of the terms of the covenant and how that the descendants of a chosen man may be emphasized in a population through plural marriage (recall the distinction noted above on how the Lord told Jacob the purpose of polygamy is not just to ‘raise up seed’ but to raise it ‘unto him‘, a distinction which calls to mind the analogy of leaven in the lump [see Matt. 13:33 and Gal. 5:9]). Modern sentiment would advise dropping the subject there saying plural marriage may further the ends of the new and everlasting covenant but that it is not a defining requirement of entering into said covenant, but that would ignore historical and anthropological evidence to the contrary.

To begin with, there is scriptural evidence that further corroborates that plural marriage is not just the means to the end of the covenant but in fact the substance of the covenant itself. Every instance of the term “new and everlasting covenant” that occurs in modern revelation falls within two sections (except one instance in D&C 22, which was quoted by Heber C. Kimball above). Those two sections are: 131 and 132. Let us briefly analyze each instance to further understand how this covenant was presented to the saints in these latter days:

D&C 131

“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase” (D&C 131:1 – 4).

This revelation was received in Ramus, Illinois, at the home of Benjamin F. Johnson, a bosom friend of the prophet Joseph Smith. Excepting the insertion in the brackets, the text actually comes from the notes of Joseph Smith’s scribe, William Clayton, as he recorded the notable utterances of the prophet on that night of May 15th, 1843. The insertion was added by Orson Pratt in preparation for the publication of the 1876 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. As manifest by Wilford Woodruff’s letter to Samuel Woolley quoted at the top of this essay, the contemporary understanding of the meaning of the term ‘new and everlasting covenant’ was one of plural marriage. Pratt’s insertion was well informed not only on that basis but also on the corroboratory one of Benjamin F. Johnson’s own statements about what transpired that night in 1843:

“On the 15th of May…[Joseph Smith] sealed to me my first wife for eternity, and gave to me my first plural wife, Mary Ann Hale, an orphan girl raised by my mother then living with us….”5

Thus the historicity of the scriptural episode itself vindicates Pratt’s explanatory insertion that the subject of plural marriage was the ‘order of priesthood’ discussed, plural marriage being a requirement of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood to which the new and everlasting covenant pertains.

D&C 132

The scriptures in many places talk about the sanctity of a man and his wife, such as:

“He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh…. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4 – 5).

“[With] the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:22 – 24).

“Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else. And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out. Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out” (D&C 42:22 – 24).

Verses such as these amount to instruction that a man should marry heterosexually and not engage in group sex, but they make no restrictions against a man having multiple wives so far as he cherishes his current wives and does not act wantonly with other women. Each marriage that a polygamous man enters into becomes a new unit of one male and one female, which couple may be counted together as one covenant flesh. The mechanics of monogamy apply to polygamy but under circumstances that are far more trying and difficult to rightly and responsibly execute. D&C 132 provides the Lord’s instructions on how to do so.

There has been much ado about this section from both LDS supporters and detractors of plural marriage alike. Most detractors now find it fashionable to argue that the entire section was a fabrication by Brigham Young and that it was not original to Joseph Smith. A rebuttal to such claims will not be entered into here since I have already written at length how the section internally attests to its faithful origins by analyzing its contents against contemporary evidence (see Plural Marriage & the Parable of the Talents). The other argument is that the new and everlasting covenant is itself not exclusive to polygamy but includes monogamy, that monogamy is the standard of the covenant and polygamy is the exception.

Verses cited to defend a monogamous interpretation include the following:

If a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world. Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven….
“And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass….
“And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection…. [Their] glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end” (D&C 132:15 – 16, 18 – 20).

Monogamist apologists take these verses that specify a one-man-one-woman marital condition as proof that the new and everlasting covenant is principally applicable to monogamy and that polygamy is an exceptional circumstance that happens to also be covered by the terms of the covenant.

This reasoning fails to recognize, however, that a plural marriage arrangement is not a covenant between a man and multiple women at once, as if with each additional wife the entire covenant would be replaced. Plural marriage covenants treat the husband’s covenant with each wife as a distinct unit; when a new wife enters the family, she is given to the husband by the other wives’ consent but the new covenant is between the husband and his new wife alone. Therefore the above verses are often misconstrued as signifying monogamy when it is merely a technicality that when a man marries plural wives he is in reality marrying ‘a wife’ upon those same stated conditions serially.

In fact, the next verse after those conditions, verse 21, follows with a very important caveat: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.” What is the Lord referring to when he speaks of ‘my law’ and why is exaltation in the highest degree of heaven limited to those who abide by it despite the stated conditions thus far in the revelation? If a covenant between a man and a woman has already been established, what is additionally meant by his ‘law’? (For a hint, look back to D&C 131!)

To answer this question we need only turn to the very first verses of section 132, which provide all the context needed for the rest of the section:

“Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter.
“Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same. For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world. And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God” (D&C 132:1 – 6).

At this point we know that the Lord is presenting the rest of the section in the context of ‘the principle and doctrine’ of plural marriage. He then states that he is revealing a law pertaining to the fulness of the new and everlasting covenant (as revealed by Elijah in Kirtland where Joseph Smith first sought a plural wife [see footnote 5]). Fainlly, the Lord provides a thematic clue as to the nature and purpose of this doctrine, which will be important to note for future references: ‘it was instituted for the fulness of my glory.’

The section repeatedly uses the two terms new and everlasting covenant and my law to describe the covenant and a stipulation pertaining to the fulfilling of that covenant, or worded more directly, it is explaining the law of the covenant. The covenant is for the purposes of becoming kings and queens—gods and goddesses—of the Melchizedek Order, but this outcome is conditioned upon the terms of the law of the covenant. Note later in the section the terms and conditions of this law (and again the thematic connection to glory):

“I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood, as was ordained by me and my Father before the world was…. By this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself. Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved. But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham. God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfillingthe promises…..
“Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods. David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me….
“For they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified” (D&C 132:28 – 38, 63).

There’s a lot to unpack here, but something stunning to note is that God’s promises regarding chosen posterity actually go back to before the creation of this world.

The ‘promise which was given by [the] Father before the foundation of the world’ is fulfilled in this life through the fulfillment of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage by righteous Priest-Kings.

Marriage and the birthing of children to priest-kings of the Melchizedek Order fulfills not only the new and everlasting covenant here on earth but also pre-earth promises made to individuals who had then proved their faithfulness to God. As the Book of Mormon states:

“I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son…. Being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such. And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren. Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son” (Alma 5:3 – 5).

This is fundamentally the same doctrine as that of election presented by Paul (which puts an interesting spin on making one’s calling and election sure—another pre-mortal motif). Paul taught that belonging to Israel and having the ability to recognize and hear truth out of the doubting masses of humanity are traits of a pre-mortal preparation and promise:

“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God…. But to Israel he saith,
All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
“I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew…. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace…. Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (according as it is written, “God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear) unto this day…. Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written,
“There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
“As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Romans 10:17, 21; 11:1 – 2, 5, 7 – 8, 25 – 28).

Note how in that last line those who have been elected to receive the truth of God are ‘beloved’ for the sake of the fathers! A less careful reading would read this as the sake of the Father, or God, but it is actually another reference to those priest-king patriarchs who entered into the new and everlasting covenant anciently that they and we might together be blessed. Paul masterfully ties this thread into the grafting of the gentiles as the prophesied route this covenant would take in accomplishing the goal of the promised lineages obtaining the blessings in the end.

Returning to D&C 132, the topic of the new and everlasting covenant is also connected to plural marriage by way of the theme of God’s glory. It states that God’s glory is furthered through the birthing of children (women ‘bear the souls of men’); and the birthing of certain children fulfills promises made by God before the world was created (‘the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world’). Thus the lineages born to chosen righteous patriarchs in plural marriage arrangements enables certain souls to come to the earth to inherit the covenant blessings. We can summarize these things as follows:

  • Before men were born, certain spirits were elected to certain lineages (including Christ);
  • These elected spirits had to come through certain men who obtained the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and entered the New and Everlasting Covenant that their heirs might receive the promises;
    • Thus Enoch was promised Noah who was promised Abraham who was promised Isaac, etc., down to the ‘hearts of the children’ of the latter days;
    • Thus Elijah, who last held these keys before Christ, was sent to restore the needed keys for this covenant to continue and connect the righteous spirits of this dispensation to ‘the fathers’ who participated in the promises;6
  • In order for the promises to be fulfilled, the man of the covenant had children through multiple mothers to pass his name (and covenant) through as many lines of descent as possible, should the descendants qualify;
  • In the eternal world, the man and his wives continue to expand their kingdoms as covenant kings and queens of the covenant, which is the definition of exaltation.

These doctrines all weaved together in the mind of the Prophet Joseph Smith in and around the time he had dictated D&C 132 in Nauvoo. A resident at the time recalled:

“The Prophet used to hold meetings in a log house of his, sometimes twice a week. I don’t remember missing one when I had a chance. At one of these he said he wished he had a people that he could reveal to them what the Lord had shown to him, ‘But one thing I will say, there are thousands of Spirits that have been waiting to come forth in this day and generation, their proper channel is through the Priesthood. A way has to be provided, but the time has come and they have got to come anyway.’ And thus left me in a fix. Sometime after this William Clayton told me if I would come down into the basement of the Nauvoo Temple he wanted to show me something and that I might bring Stephen Hales with me. We went into a little place boxed off for a paint shop for William Pitt, he being present there. Brother William Clayton read unto us the revelation on plural marriage. This explained the above.”7

To further establish that D&C 132 is saying that the law of the new and everlasting covenant pertains to plural marriage exclusively, the Lord included a set of conditions by which adultery could be defined. Not surprisingly, the rules are remarkably similar those that govern the adjudicating cases of adultery as outlined within the law of Moses (even including the commencement of the “vow” or engagement to be married as the moment whereafter adultery is possible; see Deut. 22:22 – 30; also see Is Looking at Pornography Adultery?):

“And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, [1] if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.
[2] If she be not in the new and everlasting covenant, and she be with another man, she has committed adultery.
“And [3] if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery…” (D&C 132:41 – 43).

A few verses later the justification for polygyny as opposed to polyandry is given, effectively restating the first condition (‘1’) given above:

“Again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.
“But [1] if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery…” (D&C 132:61 – 63).

Using the referent insertions above, we find three situations wherein adultery is the result:

  1. A woman enters the new and everlasting covenant and cheats,
  2. A women does not enter the new and everlasting covenant and cheats, or
  3. A man is under a vow and cheats.

Thus in the Lord’s eyes a man is able to marry a wife either within or without the new and everlasting covenant though the man is under the same conditions relative to adultery either way. Why is the distinction only made upon the woman? It is per the clarification made in the subsequent verses relative to ‘the law of the priesthood’ wherein a wife is either a plural wife or the sole wife of the man.

Priest-Kings & the Horite Order

An anthropological assessment of Biblical genealogy reveals that an ancient marital system actually existed among ‘the Fathers’ for promulgating the rights and powers associated with the covenantal priest-king order of Melchizedek only to worthy heirs and candidates. As only a revelator could have known, this ancient system mandated polygyny. The work of Alice C. Linsley has done a great deal to shed light on the structures hidden in plain sight in the Bible as relates to the priest-caste of Abraham’s lineage. Linsley designates this group as Horite Priest-Kings, but in light of additional revelation it is obviously nothing less than the Melchizedek Order, or Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God (as we will see later, Horite connections to worship of Horus are not an accident). Suffice it here to demonstrate a few rules that Linsley has discovered that govern the marital practices of nearly the entire Old Testament:

  1. A Priest-King could only ascend to the throne with at least two wives;
  2. Those two wives were typically a half-sister and a cousin;
  3. The firstborn son of the half-sister wife was the proper heir of the father;
  4. The firstborn son of the cousin wife became the vizier or vice-heir to the the cousin wife’s father, after whom this son would be named;
  5. Subsequent sons from any of the wives were “sent away” to bordering territories to establish their own kingdoms;
  6. Sons through concubines became residents and servants of the estate inherited by the heir.

The constraints of point 2 are anthropologically inferred as best as possible by Linsley in her efforts to apply the principles of primitive kinship patterns identified by Claude Levi-Strauss and also by E.L. Schusky in his Manual for Kinship Analysis. Modern revelation, however, can more precisely capture the reason for this particular endogamic restriction:

  1. Those two wives had to be from lineages not restricted from priesthood rights.

In Abraham’s day, this reduced the pool of available, local candidates to those of his own household as he lived in the borders of the Hamites, who had been restricted from priesthood rights by the governing patriarch Noah (see also the blog posts Priesthood and Lineage and A Fugitive in the Earth):

“Noah…said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant, and a veil of darkness shall cover him, that he shall be known among all men. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant” (Gen. 9:29 – 30, JST).
“Noah, his father,…blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood” (Abraham 1:36).

Thus in Abraham’s day, the requirement for a priest-king to have at least two wives meant that intermarrying among close relations would have been a necessity where many neighbors were ‘of that lineage by which [they] could not have the right of Priesthood’ (Ibid., v. 37), such as the Canaanites. The complex family trees of Genesis (such as this small snippet below) begin to make sense in this context, going from odd artifacts of a savage and ignorant past to evidence of a faith-filled heritage:

Old Testament family lines are as foreign as they are complex with confusing marital customs; a closer look, however, reveals patterns of faith and filiality.

As mentioned above in point 5, the other sons who did not receive the birthright are ‘sent away’ to other locales to expand the reach of the kingdom under the headship of the principle heir. This is demonstrated in a few places and explains the comings and goings of certain people in the covenant family:

“And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country” (Gen. 25:5 – 6).

Applying the above rules, the reason why Abraham sent a servant to the family of his cousin to find a wife for Isaac begins to make more sense as well: Isaac was not to leave the territory of his father, Abraham, since he was the heir to Abraham’s immediate kingdom; however, without a second wife, Isaac would not be qualified to rule, hence the servant was sent to find a worthy second wife urgently before Abraham’s death and Isaac’s intended ascension to his throne:

“And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had…I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
“And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest? And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence” (Gen. 24:1 – 7).

Inasmuch as Abraham was himself not the firstborn son of his father, he was ‘sent away’ from his father to establish his own kingdom (‘the LORD God of heaven…took me from my father’s house’). The ‘eldest servant’ was likely the firstborn of a concubine and hence part of the estate that Isaac was to inherit (yet still loved by Abraham as his son). But Isaac’s inheritance was preconditioned on his fulfilling the law of the new and everlasting covenant required under the Melchizedek or Horite Order. Hence the son-servant asks what should be done with Isaac if he does not find a wife for him of the proper lineage (a wife of ‘daughters of the Canaanites,’ Abraham’s neighbors, would have cut Isaac’s posterity off from the right to rule)—should Isaac be ‘sent away’ to his grandfather’s kingdom (presumably as a servant at that point) if a proper second wife could not be found? To this Abraham responds by trusting the promises of God that his kingdom would go in his posterity, therefore a second wife would be miraculously provided (‘the LORD God of heaven…sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from [the land of my kindred]’).

This information helps complete a picture of just who the ‘redeemed’ of the Lord are as listed to Joseph Smith by the Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants. As quoted above, the following individuals are specifically named in D&C 133 and who are principally ‘the fathers’ or patriarchs of the Bible (the minor prophets of Judah, for example, are notably absent):

  • Enoch
  • Noah
  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Jacob
  • Moses
  • Elijah
  • The Holy Apostles
  • John
  • Christ

As priest-kings of the Melchizedek Order, these individuals complied with the law of the new and everlasting covenant that required them to have at least two wives of a non-restricted lineage. Let us briefly review what evidence suggests this for each person listed:


For a couple of the men on the list, we have no data or hint as to their marital situation directly. For these it is presumed that they married in the covenant given their inclusion in a list with other priest-kings of the Melchizedek Order. The marital situation of Enoch is unknown, however, it is certain that he was married since his participation in the new and everlasting covenant entailed posterity and the Bible specifies that Methuselah was his one of his sons: “Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat [additional] sons and daughters” (Gen. 5:22); thus, given the priest-king requirement to have plural wives, his ‘sons and daughters’ are likely the product of plural marriages. Besides this, the progeny terms of the covenant made with Enoch specifically included that Noah would be his heir:

“And it came to pass that Methuselah, the son of Enoch, was not taken [into heaven], that the covenants of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to Enoch; for he truly covenanted with Enoch that Noah should be of the fruit of his loins. And it came to pass that Methuselah prophesied that from his loins should spring all the kingdoms of the earth (through Noah), and he took glory unto himself. And there came forth a great famine into the land, and the Lord cursed the earth with a sore curse, and many of the inhabitants thereof died.
“And it came to pass that Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and begat Lamech; and Methuselah lived, after he begat Lamech, seven hundred and eighty-two years, and begat sons and daughters; and all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died. And Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and begat a son, and he called his name Noah, saying: This son shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed” (Moses 8:2 – 9).

The only other appeal that can be made is that the Lord makes it clear in D&C 132 that the law of the new and everlasting covenant had been obeyed since the “beginning of creation” (D&C 132:38).


1 Peter 3:20 states that “eight souls were saved” at the time of Noah’s flood upon the ark. Naturally this would appear to be Noah and his three sons and their monogamic wives; however, modern revelation in the Book of Moses contains a very curious statement regarding the matrilineal pedigree of Noah’s sons:

“And Noah was four hundred and fifty years old, and begat Japheth; and forty-two years afterward he begat Shem of her who was the mother of Japheth, and when he was five hundred years old he begat Ham” (Moses 8:12).

This intentional line appears to indicate that whereas Shem and Japheth had the same mother, the last of the three sons, Ham, was born to another. If it were not so, why the inclusion in the modernly revealed verse that the second son’s mother was explicitly the same as she who bore the first?

At this point it is pertinent to look back to the statement of Wilford Woodruff cited at the start of this essay wherein he indicates that to obey the law of the new and everlasting covenant a man must have two ‘living wives’ at one time. This fact in light of the verse above presents Noah at the time of the flood as being a partial widower since at an earlier time he would have had at least two living wives to comply with the law and become a true priest-king of the Melchizedek Order.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Of these three, Abraham and Jacob are clearly identified in the Bible as polygamists and thus as qualifying priest-kings of the Melchizedek Order; Isaac’s participation, however, is not clearly stated, which has resulted in speculation that he was not involved in the marital practice of his father or his son (a strange situation). The research of Linsley has been invaluable in correcting this out-of-sorts error by exposing the rich tradition of endogamic polygamy used by the ancients.

Something revealing in the Biblical text is the contrast in the way Isaac treats Jacob when compared to the way Abraham treated Isaac. Recall that above it was demonstrated that Abraham took great care to ensure that Isaac remain within the territory he was to inherit since he was the proper heir, even going so far as to send a trusted servant to the place where the wife should be found. This is not how Isaac treats Jacob or Esau when giving them their blessings, and this even though Jacob’s blessing was Esau’s birthright.

Applying the same anthropological lens to this situation reveals that Isaac had a wife before Rebekah and that this prior wife bore Isaac a son before Rebekah bore Jacob and Esau. This elder son would have thus been the proper inheritor of the estate (Linsley identifies “Ishbak” as the likely name of this son, named after his matrilineal grandfather, the eponymous son of Abraham through Keturah [see Gen. 25:2]). Thus Isaac could only admonish his two other sons to go to other parts of the kingdom to establish their own subdivisions of Abraham’s land though they would be as strangers in it since the principle territory was being inherited by their older sibling:

“And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham. And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padan-aram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother….
“Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife” (Gen. 28:1 – 5, 8 – 9).

These verses clearly show that according to the Horite or Melchizedek Order, the intended blessings for neither Jacob nor Esau included inheritance of the patriarchal territory. The switching of Esau and Jacob’s birthrights and blessings pertained to many other things, but no the principle kingdom of Abraham that Isaac had himself inherited.

Above and beyond these probably considerations, the most convincing argument for believers in Joseph Smith’s revelations is that the Lord himself indicates that Isaac practiced plural marriage (itself a highly significant yet overlooked addition to Biblical knowledge by the prophet!):

I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines” (D&C 132:1).


Citing the verse just quoted, modern revelation affirms that Moses indeed had living plural wives in accordance with law of the new and everlasting covenant. But who were they?

Moses had a monogamous wife in the daughter of the priest of Midian, Jethro, when he obtained the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Lord revealed through Joseph Smith that Moses received the priesthood not from any Israelite but by Jethro, his father-in-law (see D&C 84:6). This would indicate that during the period of the passover and initial exodus from Egypt, Moses held the Melchizedek Priesthood but he had not yet entered the new and everlasting covenant associated with its fulness.

Numbers 12:1 tells us that Moses took a second wife while in the wilderness, but it does not indicate when in the order of the book of Exodus this occurs. An assessment of the camps of Israel surrounding this entry, however, places it just after Israel rebelled against God and Moses when they were invited to enter into the presence of God upon the mount. This is significant for it marks the time when the nation of Israel was denied the Melchizedek Priesthood en masse:

“Without the ordinances…and the authority of the [Melchizedek] priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; for without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; but they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
“Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; and the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel; which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb” (D&C 84:21 – 27).

Though the law of Moses given to Israel in the absence of the Melchizedek Priesthood did provide rules for plural marriage situations, the absence of the sealing power meant that exaltation by way of compliance with the law of the new and everlasting covenant could not be attained. Jesus had to explain to the proud leaders of the Jews in his day that without Melchizedek Priesthood, their marriages, even plural ones, would end, saying, “They neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matt 22:30). As Paul and Barnabas boldly declared to them after Jesus’ death, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but…ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life” (Acts 13:46).

In short, Israel as a nation was not given to enter the new and everlasting covenant to become priest-kings in the Melchizedek Order; Moses, however, was granted this privilege. The timing of his second marriage points to Moses’ personal ascent into this fullest order just after Israel denied themselves the opportunity for the same.

One thing that must be addressed given the endogamic restrictions noted above is the question of who Moses’ second wife was. The King James Bible says that she was an “Ethiopian,” or at least that Aaron and Miriam, Moses’ siblings, called her that (Numbers 12:1). In modern terms, someone from Ethiopia would clearly be an African of descent from Ham; but what was Ethiopia in ancient times? We get a clue from another place in the Bible:

“I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble” (Habakkuk 3:7).

The word used for Cushan (כושן [ḵū·šān]) and the word for Ethiopian (הכשית [hak·ku·šîṯ]) share in Hebrew the same root: כוש (Kush or Cush, the eldest son of Ham). The term may have either reference to someone descended from Kush or someone who lives in the land originally appointed to Kush and his descendants. In the Hellenistic period, which is when the Septuagint translators lived from whom the King James translators borrowed for culture understanding, Ethiopia included much of the Saudi Arabian Peninsula,8 hence the verse in Habakkuk cited above equates in parallel language the land of ‘Cushan’ and the land of ‘Midian.’ Midian was of course the fourth son of Abraham through his wife Keturah, hence those people, who happened to settle in the land of Kush (somewhere in the Sinai desert), would anciently have been called Ethiopians without being confused for actual descendants of Kush. After all, Moses was the same person who instructed the Priests of Levi (of whom he was one) not to intermarry with outside lineages (note in the verses that follow the striking resemblance to regulations of the law of the covenant in D&C 132):

“He shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife. Neither shall he profane his seed among his people: for I the LORD do sanctify him” (Leviticus 21:13 – 15).


Like Enoch, Elijah is one of the men listed for whom we have no scriptural record of marriage. The only indication that he is involved in marriage—and that specifically plural marriage—is the prophet Joseph Smith’s statements that Elijah was the last to hold ‘the keys of authority to administer in all the ordinances of the Priesthood.’ In connection with Joseph Smith’s further revelation on the law of the new and everlasting covenant of the Melchizedek Priesthood (D&C 132), Elijah must have himself entered into the fulness of that order to possess the keys of it.

What needs to be highlighted in Elijah’s case is how that he apparently obtained the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood, including the new and everlasting covenant, from a translated being since no one else was on the earth who held that authority. Being that Moses was the last person to hold these keys, it may have been Moses who was sent, providing another compelling reason for his translation without tasting death (so he could pass on keys with a body before the resurrection). As the Book of Mormon, citing additional scripture from the plates of brass, states regarding the end of Moses’ life:

“Behold, this we know, that [Alma] was a righteous man; and the saying went abroad in the church that he was taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses. But behold, the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself; therefore, for this cause we know nothing concerning his death and burial” (Alma 45:19).

The Holy Apostles

Chronologically speaking, I have chosen to address in brief the apostles before continuing on to John the Baptist and Christ. Though the scriptures are silent in terms of direct references to the marital practices of the apostles, if we apply a faith-filled lens to certain passages, believing that the ancient apostles, of all people, would have had passed upon them the rights and ordinances associated with the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood (evinced no less by Peter, James, and John bestowing this authority upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in 1829, although the fulness of that authority would not come until 18369). The most interesting example comes to us in the references made by John the Beloved in one of his epistles:

“The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth…. I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.… Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of thy elect sister greet thee” (2 John 1:1, 4, 12 – 13).

Modern scholars have debated whether this passage refers to an individual woman who has a sister or a pair of church congregations through metaphor. Mainstream Christian scholars now prefer the latter interpretation because otherwise the first person plural possessive pronouns make no sense (e.g., ‘we have received’)—unless, of course, the woman was joined to John as a wife through covenant. Anciently, this passage was understood to be literally a letter to a woman; Athanasius even proposed that the woman’s name was Kyria (the word translated as ‘lady’). In light of the knowledge of the law of the new and everlasting covenant and the requirement the ancient apostles would have been under to enter into that order, viewing the apostle John as a Melchizedek priest-king gives us all the context we need to understand that the epistle was an intra-familial one.

This was the position of the latter-day apostle, Jedidiah M. Grant, who said, speaking at the Salt Lake Tabernacle in 1853:

“[Celsus] says they were both John’s wives. Paul says, ‘Mine answer to them that do examine me is this…. Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas‘ [1 Cor. 9:3, 5]. He, according to Celsus, had a numerous train of wives.”10

John the Baptist

John the Baptist is often considered as someone who was confined only to the Aaronic Priesthood, but is this view fully justified? Though it is true that as the rightful descendant of Aaron he had the right to the levitical priesthood, and though it is also true that he was sent to restore the Aaronic priesthood in this dispensation (see D&C 13), does this indicate in any way that John never obtained the Melchizedek Priesthood or that he did not marry into the new and everlasting covenant? Is it possible that being possessed of the spirit of Elias he was confined to a certain outward work despite personally being given to enter into the fulness of the glory associated with the fulness of the priesthood?

In John 3:26, the disciples of John call him “Rabbi.” This is a term that loosely equates with the modern word “master” but has, since the first century, become a formal title within Judaism. Rabbis were anciently considered to be wise teachers, masters of the law and authoritative figures. Among other things, Rabbis were compliant with the law, including marriage. Though the written requirement that a Rabbi should be married and have children has to-date been discovered in a codified form only as early as the end of the first century A.D.,11 the undercurrent of ancient thought and culture that would have led to such a pronouncement seems rooted in the very first verses of the Torah itself when Adam and Eve, the primordial ancestors of Israel and all the world, were given a standing order by God: “Multiply, and replenish the earth” (Gen. 1:28), and, “A man [shall] leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Therefore it seems highly unlikely that a believing Israelite would call a grown man a “master” who had not complied with these basic tenets of the scriptures.

After calling John a Rabbi, his disciples alert him that Jesus, after being baptized by John, is now himself baptizing and drawing the crowds away from John. To this John celebrates, saying it is in fulfillment of his mission: “Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him…. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:28, 30). Here John explains that his public ministry would dwindle and give way for that of Jesus. This pronouncement in no way indicates that John would lose power or authority as clearly attested by his transference of the Aaronic Priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on May 15th, 1829 (see D&C 13). Therefore it likewise does not restrict John from subsequently receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood in natural pursuit of his exaltation (per D&C 131:1 – 4, discussed above).

Joseph Smith explained that John in his public office and ministry had strict limits to what he could do as a legal administrator with the spirit and calling of Elias, or forerunner, to Christ:

“John held the Aaronic Priesthood and was a legal administrator, and the forerunner of Christ, and came to prepare the way before him. Christ was the head of the Church, the chief corner stone, the spiritual rock upon which the church was built, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. He built up the Kingdom, chose Apostles, and ordained them to the Melchizedek Priesthood, giving them power to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel. John was a priest after the order of Aaron before Christ…. The Savior said unto John, ‘I must be baptized by you.’ Why so? ‘To fulfil all righteousness.’ John refuses at first, but afterwards obeyed by administering the ordinance of baptism unto him, Jesus having no other legal administrator to apply to. There is no salvation between the two lids of the Bible without a legal administrator. Jesus was then the legal administrator, and ordained His Apostles….
“[John] told the people that his mission was to preach repentance and baptize with water; but it was He that should come after him that should baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost. If he had been an impostor, he might have gone to work beyond his bounds, and undertook to have performed ordinances which did not belong to that office and calling, under the spirit of Elias. What I want to impress upon your minds is the difference of power in the different parts of the Priesthood, so that when any man comes among you, saying, ‘I have the spirit of Elias,’ you can know whether he be true or false; for any man that comes, having the spirit and power of Elias, he will not transcend his bounds. John did not transcend his bounds, but faithfully performed that part belonging to his office; and every portion of the great building should be prepared right and assigned to its proper place; and it is necessary to know who holds the keys of power, and who does not, or we may be likely to be deceived. That person who holds the keys of Elias hath a preparatory work.”12

Again, nothing in those pronouncements regarding the office John publicly filled has a bearing on his final state as a candidate for exaltation by subsequently and privately obtaining the Melchizedek Priesthood and entering the new and everlasting covenant by way of his authoritative cousin, Jesus. Indeed, the Lord includes some fascinating language regarding John in the additional, modern revelations:

The lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel; which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb. For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power” (D&C 84:26 – 28).

The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost was not administered publicly until Christ came in the office and spirit of Elijah, as the quote from Joseph Smith states above. Yet in these verses the Lord says that John was ‘filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb,’ a description not dissimilar to apocryphal ones applied to the great patriarchs such as Enoch and Noah, perhaps indicative of John’s holy and sanctified nature from his earliest days. That portion of the revelation aside, the above verses also state that the lesser priesthood continued with Israel ‘until John,’ meaning that John marks the beginning of the return of the higher priesthood. This does not necessarily indicate that John received the higher, or Melchizedek, priesthood before Christ, but inasmuch as John is Christ’s senior in age, it may indicate that when John obtained it he was the eldest person in Israel to do so at the time.

The argument that John the Baptist held the Melchizedek Priesthood by virtue of his inclusion in a list of others who all clearly did so (see D&C 133:55) is admittedly a weak one, explored here in the least concrete of terms. Nevertheless, John is included in that curious list as a seeming outlier. The scriptural silence regarding John’s family life, as with any other potential priest-king noted here, is not a statement on the nature of the family life but instead a statement on the nature of the scriptures. References to wives and children are nearly uniform in the Torah, but the New Testament and and even modern revelation, such as the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price, are comparatively silent. D&C 131 and 132, as discussed above, at least provide possible context for the silence on such an important subject: marriage is one of “the mysteries of the kingdom,” an ordinance pertaining to “the power of godliness” (D&C 84:19 – 20) without which no man can become a God (see D&C 132:20). As Joseph Smith stated, angels—being they who did not attain to the new and everlasting covenant—failed themselves to understand the law that governs it and it is therefore a mystery to them who have not entered into it:

“What was the design of the Almighty in making man? It was to exalt him to be as God. The scripture says yet ‘[ye] are Gods,’ and it cannot be broken—heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, equal with him possessing all power &c. The mystery power and glory of the priesthood is so great and glorious that the angels desired to understand it and cannot. Why? Because of the tradition of them and their fathers in setting up stakes and not coming up to the mark in their probationary state.”13

The mystery of ‘mirrored bridal chamber’ may well explain the silence about marriages in the scriptures. But one thing is clear, whether he entered into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage or not, John the Baptist did not hold the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood if he obtained it (see Joseph Smith—History 1:72). But this discussion is not about the keys; it’s about the likelihood of John complying with the terms of exaltation established from the ‘beginning of creation,’ which seems very likely indeed given his mission and status.

Jesus Christ

If it seems controversial to say that John the Baptist obtained the station of priest-king in the Melchizedek Priesthood by entering into the new and everlasting covenant in a polygamous marriage, then it will be truly shocking to make the same claim about Jesus Christ. Yet, Jesus, like John, was also one called “Rabbi” (see Matt. 26:25, 49; Mark 9:5, 11:21, 14:45; John 1:38, 49, 2:2, 4:31, 6:25, 9:2, 11:8). Additionally, the simple fact of the matter is that if Christ set the example in all things for us to emulate, would not this also include how to enter the highest heaven, the “holiest of all” (Heb. 9:3, 24)? Logically, Christ sets it up for us. For example, he tells the disciples in America, “The works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do” (3 Ne. 27:21). This is parallel to what he told his disciples in Jerusalem before he died: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). If the Father is a God due to marriage (the mystery of godliness pertaining to marriage as described above per D&C 132), then the Son too would have followed in these footsteps.

In introducing the law of the new and everlasting covenant, which is to be married to at least two living wives as described above, Christ repeatedly and consistently refers to it as his law:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory. For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me. But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also. This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law…. By this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself. Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved. But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham” (D&C 132:21 – 24, 31 – 33).

The above verses are excessively clear that if a man does not obey the law of the new and everlasting covenant, he cannot obtain the blessing of that ancient promise and covenant. That Christ would style the law as being his would be a strange thing if he himself were not in compliance with that law. If anyone was qualified to continue the works of the Father and inherit eternal ‘lives,’ it would surely be Jesus Christ.

Scripturally there are two obvious candidates for the wives of Christ: Mary and Martha. Apocryphal sources, such as Joseph and Asenath or the Gospel of Phillip, hint at and overtly state, respectively, that Jesus was indeed in a romantic relationship with at least Mary. Most scholars on the subject are non-Mormon and thus wholly uninformed regarding the law of the new and everlasting covenant, so research or speculation regarding a polygamous marital arrangement and the Savior is obviously lacking in religious academia. This is further unsurprising given the widely-accepted Christian position that Jesus never married (historically peddled by the Catholic church). But for those who do read in the gospels a possibly married Lord, the most obvious clue is the miracle at the wedding in Cana.

Ancient Israelite wedding customs must first be understood from a high level before decoding this event:

  1. Marriage Agreement A man would approach a woman’s father about an agreement of marriage. Typically at the father’s house this agreement would be put into writing.
  2. The Dowry Part of the agreement included a price to be paid for the woman. This price was usually made up of goods, hence the analogy of Christ as the bridegroom purchasing the church as the bride and the saying, “Ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20). This payment essentially marked the beginning of the vow or engagement and marked the start of the time after which the woman could be guilty of adultery if she was with another man.
  3. The Betrothal After paying the dowry, the bridegroom would return to his dwelling place alone. Despite being legally married, the man and his intended spent the next year separated from one another where the woman would prove her loyalty and virginity. Their next meeting would be at the wedding feast.
  4. The Wedding Feast When the year was over, the man, along with his family and friends, would return to the town where his betrothed lived in order to “carry her away.” The scheme would be to surprise her (in terms of exact timing—sometimes even in the middle of the night), though she needed to be ready to meet him at a moment’s notice, and take her to the wedding site where people would visit and participate in the festivities for up to a week. The party was hosted by the parents of the newlyweds who arranged the marriage though it was the choice of the groom to keep the wedding going or not up to the point of the feast, meaning he could choose to not show up and cancel the whole thing.

Cana is still an Israelite village located a mile from Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown. The site is also only a couple miles from modern day Migdala, the town from which Mary and Martha likely hailed (rendered in the King James as Magdala, from which we get also Mary Magdalene). Although geographically this supports the possibility that the wedding was Jesus’, there is yet another argument in favor of this position that comes from the fact that the person concerned with the feast meal was Jesus’ mother. This responsibility normally rested upon the parents of the newlyweds. As James E. Talmadge noted in his famous book, Jesus the Christ:

“She manifested concern and personal responsibility in the matter of providing for the guests. Evidently her position was different from that of one present by ordinary invitation. Whether this circumstance indicates the marriage to have been that of one of her own immediate family, or some more distant relative, we are not informed.” 14

So far, the geography and the involvement of Jesus’ family in the marriage event all support the idea that the wedding at Cana was in fact Jesus’ own wedding. But could it have been a wedding to two women at once (i.e., the sisters, Mary and Martha)? Historically, there is no impediment to the possibility, but scripturally there is actually striking support from the words of Jesus himself:

“And then, at that day, before the Son of Man comes, the kingdom of heaven shall be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five of them were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Lest there be not enough for us and you, go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, Ye know me not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 25:1 – 12, JST).

Several outstanding facts show that the ten virgins of the famous parable quoted here were the intended brides of the bridegroom. For one, the concept of a bridesmaid is completely anachronistic to the historical context of the sermon. The modern tradition of bridesmaids stems from a Roman law that did necessitate ten witnesses at a wedding, but during the Roman Empire, such as it was in Christ’s time, that law required that all the witnesses be males. That Christ would have cited and mutilated a Roman custom to preach to his Israelite audience is incredulous to say the least. This would mean that the women were either brides, attendants/servants, or guests; however, only brides would be ‘taken away’ by the bridegroom to the wedding feast. Furthermore, the women are specifically called αρθένοις (parthenois, “unmarried daughters” or “virgins”) as opposed to guest or some other term. Why the specificity that they be unwed maidens? For the purpose of the parable, it appears self-evident that Christ’s intention with the kingdom is to “marry” it to himself forever; if the women were only guests, then the application of the parable to the kingdom is that the relationship is incidental and that they will leave when the wedding feast has ended. Clearly the ten virgins were to be ten wives at the same wedding to one groomsman, but half of them were unworthy of their husband. Not coincidentally, the Lord in D&C 132 makes an illusion to this interpretation when explaining the rules of plural marriage:

“And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood…if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified” (D&C 132:61 – 62).

Historically and doctrinally, therefore, we see that every possibility exists for the wedding at Cana to be that of Jesus to the sisters, Mary and Martha. Can it be proved by the content of the verses alone that the wedding at Cana was Jesus’ or that it was to more than one bride at a time? No. But given the Lord’s personal attribution of the law of the new and everlasting covenant that stipulates plural marriage as a requirement for the highest heaven, the Biblical narrative takes on a deeper shade of meaning regarding this mystery of godliness and Jesus’ involvement in it.

One more point needs to be considered in relation to scriptural proof of Jesus’ marital status. In the Gospel of John we get this curious story regarding Mary and Martha:

“Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment…. Said Jesus…Against the day of my burying hath she kept this” (John 12:1 –3, 7).

The accounts in Matthew and Mark add that Mary poured the ointment over Jesus’ head and that he further stated, “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her” (Matt. 26:13; see also Mark 14:9). To those uninitiated in the full mysteries, this story appears as a mere expression of worshipful devotion; to those with eyes to see, however, it is clearly part of a sacred, crowning marital ordinance.15 Other facts go on to build upon this theme: Mary and Martha, attending to Christ ‘against the day [his] burying,’ possessed advanced knowledge of Christ’s death that even the apostles did not comprehend (see Luke 18:34 for example); later, they go to the tomb with the intention of taking care of his dead body, a thing which no Jewish woman would do who was not intimately associated with a man through marriage in life; at this junction Christ appears first—of all people—to Mary who anointed him; and, when she attempts to touch him there, the Joseph Smith Translation takes the far more physical translation of “hold me not” instead of the King James “touch me not” (see John 20:17, JST).

These facts all tie together and lead us back to the land of Jesus’ early childhood: Egypt.

Exaltation & the Osirian Order

The Egyptians were zealous to imitate and claim the true priesthood despite their genealogical restriction against holding it. As noted in another blog post, this affected everything from their government (not surprisingly, kingship) to their architecture (see If You Could Hie to Sirius B). What truth they possessed is obscured not only by their lack of a right to revelation on important subjects but also the inability of scholars separated by thousands of years of history from correctly understanding the fragmented and dusty remains of a complex culture. Even by the time Jesus lived there, the culture, religion, and even government of Egypt had endured some 2,000 years of evolution.

Nevertheless, some gems can still be picked out and appreciated, especially with the aid of modern revelation. For example, it has already been described in this blog how that Osiris (pronounced “Asar”) is the same being as אשר (Asher) or God the Father (see If You Could Hie to Sirius B); now we shall see how that the Osirian Order is the same as the Horite or Melchizedek Order. This notion is borne out through the fact that the son of Osiris is Horus, the Egyptian archetype of the Son of God. Horus describes himself in messianic ways in several passages with the Coffin texts, such as:

“I am Horus, the great Falcon upon the ramparts of the house of him of the hidden name. My flight has reached the horizon. I have passed by the gods of Nut. I have gone further than the gods of old. Even the most ancient bird could not equal my very first flight. I have removed my place beyond the powers of Set [Satan], the foe of my father Osiris. No other god could do what I have done. I have brought the ways of eternity to the twilight of the morning. I am unique in my flight. My wrath will be turned against the enemy of my father Osiris and I will put him beneath my feet in my name of ‘Red Cloak.'”16

This passage alone has several Biblical parallels, such as:

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?… what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” (Prov. 30:4);
“Because that Satan rebelled against me…, by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down” (Moses 4:3); or,
“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1).

This is no mere coincidence. Horus worship had spread throughout Egypt and the middle east in ancient times and manifest in many people and place names, such as Mount Horeb—fittingly also called the “Mountain of God”—where Moses encountered the burning bush and also received the ten commandments (Exo. 3:1; see also Deut. 5:2), Mount Hor where Aaron died (see Num. 20:22 – 29), and even the name of the Horite Hebrews themselves, mentioned above. These references further confirm that ancient connections to Horus are in fact references to God the Son, who was manifest in the flesh as Jesus Christ. Though many false traditions also anciently degenerated away from the truth into a form of idol worship centered on a caricature of Horus, the ancient confluence of Horus and Jesus as the same figure serves to further confirm that Horite marital and naming practices are nothing less than the law of new and everlasting covenant of the Melchizedek Priesthood, or ‘the Priesthood after the Order of the Only Begotten Son’ (i.e., Horus!). This is further corroborated by the fact that Osiris has two wives: Isis and Nephtys.

Of the pair of wives, Isis birthed Horus but was also the brother of her husband, Osiris. Isis is frequently styled as Hathor. The connection between Isis and Hathor is important to note inasmuch as Hathor is a potent symbol for Eve. Given the Adam-God doctrine taught publicly by Brigham Young (see Progression & Probations), Isis being Eve makes sense since Osiris would be Adam, or God the Father (Nephtys having a possible corollary in the legend of Lilith). In summary, these teachings reveal the following connections:

  • Osiris = Father in Heaven
  • Isis = Mother in Heaven
  • Horus = Only Begotten Son
Osiris, seated, communes with his son, Horus, depicted with a falcon head, as his mother, Isis, depicted with the bull horns of Hathor, stabilizes her little son.

Thus the Horite Order becomes the natural extension of the Osirion Order, or in other words, they are the same order under different guises. Using the language of modern revelation:

“All they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord…; and he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; and he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved” (D&C 84:35 – 40).

Oils and Ordinances

Horus’ role in the Osiris mythology was to avenge and assume the throne of his father, which was usurped by the evil brother of Osiris, Set (sometimes written as Seth). Representing sin, death, and dissolution, Set is the prototypical arch nemesis to seekers of immortality and eternal life (the corollary of Satan in the Christian tradition). In the Egyptian mythology, Set manifests this purpose through his murder of Osiris, thus causing a seemingly irreparable rift between him and his wives Isis and Nephtys. Converting this context to the Christian tradition, Jesus’ self-stated purpose in completing his portion of the Plan of Salvation as found within the apocryphal Book of Phillip is to fix the rift between Adam and Eve (like Osiris and Isis) who too were separated in death:

“Great is the mystery of marriage! Without it, the world would not be. The existence of the world depends on marriage…. This power resides in the mirrored bridal chamber…. When Eve was in Adam there was no death. When she was cut from him, death came into being…. Baptism is the holy building. Redemption is the holy of the holy. The holy of the holies is the bridal chamber…. If the woman and man had not come apart, they would not know death. Christ came to repair the split, there from the beginning, and join the two and give them life who had died because of separation. Now the woman and man are one in the chamber with the bed, and those so joined will not come apart again. Eve and Adam separated because when they joined it was not in the chamber with the bed.”17

Note the remarkable parallel to the revelation spoken by Joseph Smith in D&C 131 that marriage is required for the highest level of the third heaven (‘the bridal chamber’ is accessed only through ‘the holy of holies’). It is through Christ’s atonement that man and woman (archetypically, Adam and Eve) can become united as a unit for all eternity, which is represented through the imagery of death being overcome that Adam and Eve might be re-joined. This is expressly the mission of Horus as well through his conquering Set who had attempted to separate Osiris and Isis through death.

But in the Egyptian mythology, the resurrection of Osiris is intriguingly not accomplished by Horus. Protologically speaking, this is simply another affirmation of the connection between Osiris and Adam-God. Adam, as a being possessing the keys of the resurrection from an older world, did not need to wait for Christ’s attainment of those same keys before affecting his own return to immortality. As Joseph E. Taylor said in a lecture in the Logan, Utah, temple in 1888:

“All that Father Adam did upon this earth, from the time that he took up his abode in the Garden of Eden, was done for His posterity’s sake and the success of His former mission as the Savior of a world, and afterwards, or now, as the Father of a world only added to the glory which he already possessed. If, as the Savior of a world, he had the power to lay down his life and take it up again, therefore as the Father of a world which is altogether an advanced condition, we necessarily conclude that the grave was powerless to hold him after that mission was completed.”18

The specific details of exactly how a resurrection is executed is not described in the Egyptian mythology, but it’s plain that Osiris’ post-resurrection status is that of a fully exalted God where he presides over the judgement and resurrection of all others. The Egyptian Book of the Dead shows many instances of candidates for resurrection being brought before Osiris that they might obtain his merciful judgements. Consider his typical post-resurrection appearance as illustrated by the below image: he is arrayed in white robes, wears the crown of truth and justice (the atef crown, which Joseph Smith said represents “the grand Presidency in Heaven” [Abr. Fac. 3: Fig. 1 note]), and his feet rest upon a depiction of the earth (the four sons of Horus, which Joseph Smith indicated represented, among other things, “this earth in its four quarters” [Abr. Fac. 2: Fig. 6 note]), which blossoms as a lotus upon the primordial waters of unorganized matter in the expanses of the heavens (see Abr. Fac. 1: Fig. 12 note):

Osiris, seated, is commonly depicted supported by his two wives, Isis and Nephtys, standing so close to one another that a cursory glance may miss that there are two individuals and not one standing.

Unsurprisingly, these motifs are exactly consistent with scriptures extolling the virtues of God the Father:

He ruleth high in the heavens, for it is his throne, and this earth is his footstool. And he loveth those who will have him to be their God. Behold, he loved our fathers, and he covenanted with them, yea, even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (1 Ne. 17:39 – 40).

What the Egyptian mythology does communicate, however, is that Osiris could not have attained to that exalted state without the aid of his two wives, Isis and Nephtys. The story goes that Osiris was tricked into death by Set and his body cut into several pieces. Isis and Nephtys work to reassemble his body—each piece bearing symbolic import—and they speak forth a spell (i.e., a priesthood ordinance), anoint his body, to bring his spirit back into his body and restore him to life. Their words include the following:

Anubis anointing the body of Osiris per the directions of Isis who is shown wearing the horns of Hathor.

Isis speaks, she says:
Come to your house, come to your house!
You of On, come to your house,
Your foes are not!
O good musician, come to your house!
Behold me, I am your beloved sister,
You shall not part from me!
O good youth, come to your house!
Long, long have I not seen you.
My heart mourns for you, my eyes seek you,
I search for you to see you!
Come to your beloved, come to your beloved!…

Nephthys speaks, she says:…
King, our Lord, drive all pain from our hearts.
Your court of gods and men beholds you,
Show them your face, King our Lord!
Our faces live by seeing your face!
Let your face not shun our faces!
Our hearts are glad to see you, King.
Our hearts are happy to see you!
I am Nephthys, your beloved sister!
Your foe is fallen, he shall not be!
I am with you, your body-guard,
For all eternity.

Isis speaks, she says:…
Your sacred image, Orion in heaven,
Rises and sets every day;
I am Sothis [Sirius] who follows him,
I will not depart from him!…
Come to your courtiers, King our Lord!
Do not part from them!

Lo, He Comes!19

Osiris lying dead but in possession of the crook and flail, symbols of his priesthoods, flanked by his wives, Nephtys and Isis, whose wings represent their bringing to him air or his life. Each woman holds a feather of Ma’at, which later adorn his crown.
Osiris, vertical and resurrected, stands encircled by his wives, Nephtys and Isis, as they complete his restoration to life (resurrection to eternal life). The winged scarab above his head represents a completed transformation.

The Egyptian mythology surrounding the resurrection of Osiris follows very closely with the apocryphal Adam literature as follows his death and restoration to life. Hugh Nibley noted that in ancient traditions Adam was said to perish by way of several “blows of death” that he incurred by way of his transgression at the hands of Satan in the Garden of Eden. Similarly, Osiris was subject to numerous blows or cuts to different parts of the body when he endured death. To repair the damage done by these several wounds, Adam asks his wife, Eve, to administer to him with oil, which she seeks in company with her son, Seth (himself a messianic symbol like Horus):

“[W]hen at the end of his life Adam felt the accumulating effect of these mortal blows upon him and sensed the approach of death, he implored Eve, ‘Go with my son Seth near to Paradise… and pray God to… send his angel to Paradise, and give me of the tree out of which the oil floweth, and bring it me, and I shall anoint myself and shall have rest from my complaint.’ He was asking for the ‘oil of mercy,’ which alone could reverse the seven ‘blows of death’ inflicted as a result of the Fall…. According to the Clementine Recognitions, [Christ] provided that all who come to His kingdom should be anointed with the oil of the Tree of Life, the very oil with which the Father had anointed Him to be the initium omnium. The final culmination of the whole plan of salvation, according to a very old Judeo-Christian writing, will be when Michael opens the gates and bestows the healing oil on the righteous as ‘the hundred-fold reward of those who have worked and toiled diligently.'”20

Of course no one should ever take literally the parables of old when attempting to interpret the meaning of their dramatic narratives. That Adam suffered many blows of death and wanted oil from his wife shows that without the ordinances of marriage in the new and everlasting covenant, a man and a woman will fall short of their potential glory as heirs of Jesus Christ; and that Osiris was cut into many pieces and required his two wives to anoint him with oil and resurrect him through a ceremony shows that he could not attain to the status of an exalted being without certain ordinances involving their joint sustainment. Indeed, the scriptural requirement that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:1; see also D&C 6:28) may find no better fulfillment than in the law of the new and everlasting covenant as embodied in the oils and ordinances of Osiris, Isis, and Nephtys; Adam, Eve, and Lilith; Jesus, Mary, and Martha; etc.

King & Councilors

Parallels in the prototypical lives of the Fathers with their plural wives and ancient traditions such as the Osiris mythology enable the careful student of scripture to grasp hidden concepts left in the open by the historical record (when interpreted correctly). Such clues can be additionally sifted by comparing Osiris and Abraham, which makes perfect sense if Osiris embodied the false copy of the true priesthood and Abraham embodied the true. As Hugh Nibley again noted:

“The very first line of the hieratic text bears a remarkable resemblance to Abraham’s words in both Genesis and the Book of Abraham: ‘Here begins the writing which Isis made for her brother Osiris to cause his ba [soul] to live.’ In the Book of Abraham and the Bible, Abraham says to his wife (and sister), Sarah, ‘and my soul shall live because of thee’ [Abr. 2:25]…. Why not simply, ‘I shall live’? Why the awkward Egyptian idiom, ‘My ba shall live’? That is an Egyptian doctrine…. What is going on here? Abraham and Sarah identified with Isis and Osiris? That is just the beginning of the parallels that affirm their identity.”21

Besides both Osiris and Abraham having a sister (or half-sister) for a wife (recall the above discussion on the need for endogamy in a sparsely populated world), both Abraham and Osiris go on to have a second spouse (and in Abraham’s case, a third). The similarities continue, however, as reflected in Facsimile 3 in the Book of Abraham.

First some context: it was the custom of the Pharaoh to style himself as Osiris when officiating upon his throne in the royal court, representing that he was the highest authority. Part of his royal costume would then include the feathered atef crown and the crook and flail. His councilors—whether male or female—would then style themselves Isis and Nephtys, again by wearing masks and costume, in order to represent their subordination to, dependency upon, and closeness to the king. Foreign dignitaries if viewed with sufficient respect would be invited to share knowledge in the court where the visiting lecturer would be allowed to sit upon Pharaoh’s throne in the style and costume of Osiris while the Pharaoh and other high-ranking Egyptians would take the part of the dependent attendants, Isis and Nephtys. This is precisely what Joseph Smith observed in Facsimile 3 of the Book of Abraham:

“Fig. 1. Abraham sitting upon Pharaoh’s throne, by the politeness of the king, with a crown upon his head, representing the Priesthood, as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven; with the scepter of justice and judgment in his hand.
“Fig. 2. King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters above his head….
“Fig. 4. Prince of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, as written above the hand” (Abr. Fac. 3).

Facsimile 3 of the Book of Abraham depicting Abraham arrayed as Osiris on his throne, wearing the dual-feathered version of the atef crown, flanked by Pharaoh, dressed as Isis—who is again shown with the horns of Hathor upon her head—and an Egyptian prince, dressed as Nephtys-Ma’at.

As Abraham noted, it was the object of the Egyptians to imitate the order of the antediluvian fathers (see Abr. 1:26), with the true order actually being preserved in northern Canaan by the Horite priest-kings, as has been discussed above. Thus when Abraham learned that the Egyptian order was a hollow imitation of the real thing, he departed northward to Canaan to seek out the true order. At length, Abraham would return to Egypt to teach the truth of the cosmos to them (see Abr. 3:15). Joseph Smith’s explanation of the figures reveals that Pharaoh—at the time of Abraham—modeled his highest court and council on that of the Horite or Melchizedek priest-kings with two wives as councilors. Hugh Nibley noted that in the Egyptian court setting, the two women councilors are no less than “Isis the venerable and Nephthys the maiden…(figures 2 and 4 respectively).”22 Other Egyptian researchers have noted the same regarding the unique status of these two goddesses in scenes were Osiris is presented as the supreme authority:

“The Osirian Hall of Judgment is also known as the Hall of the Two Truths. Twin Goddesses, the Ma’ati (the Two Truths), presided over it. Very often, the Ma’ati were specifically identified as Isis and Nephthys…. Without Her twin, Isis was identified with Ma’at’s singular form. The Coffin Texts tell us that Isis comes before the deceased as Ma’at.”23

This is an important insight for Facsimile 3 since it presents Nephtys with the feather of Ma’at upon her head (Isis bears the horns of Hathor). That the two women could be interchanged with the likes of Hathor or Ma’at is not very surprising given the fluid application of Egyptian deific attributes to mortals who simply call themselves by the various names of the gods as titles when needed (more on that in my blog post, If You Could Hie to Sirius B). What’s key to note in this scene is the order of the court executed by the Egyptians in Abraham’s day, which he says was specifically modeled after the full order of heaven. For Abraham to wear the symbolic vestments of Osiris was fitting inasmuch as he truly had obtained the priesthood of God and had entered into the new and everlasting covenant that he symbolized.

Eighteen centuries later, God the Father would call his “son out of Egypt” in the person of Jesus Christ (Hosea 11:1; see Matt. 2:25). As the author of the ancient order espoused by Enoch, Melchizedek, and all others who ascended thrones to become priest-kings, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would enact the symbolic prophecy of Horus in the flesh, qualifying for his Father’s throne by following in his footsteps and establishing his own wife-councilors as the righteous fathers before him had done in obedience to his very command:

“Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods” (D&C 132:37).

Brigham & The Restored Order

The mission of Elijah was to ensure that the same order that existed in the beginning of the world would exist in the end of it. Some hundreds of years after Christ and his Apostles died, the order and authority of the new and everlasting covenant was finally broken, ushering in an era of global apostasy. Beginning in 1829 with the restoration to the earth of the Aaronic Priesthood (see D&C 13), the terms and conditions of the ancient order was returned to the earth “line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:10; see also D&C 128:21) until in 1836 Elijah placed the capstone upon the restored powers of the Priesthood, as Joseph Smith taught:

“The spirit of Elias is first, Elijah second, and Messiah last. Elias is a forerunner to prepare the way, and the spirit and power of Elijah is to come after, holding the keys of power, building the Temple to the capstone, placing the seals of the Melchizedek Priesthood upon the house of Israel, and making all things ready; then Messiah comes to His Temple, which is last of all. Messiah is above the spirit and power of Elijah, for He made the world, and was that spiritual rock unto Moses in the wilderness. Elijah was to come and prepare the way and build up the kingdom before the coming of the great day of the Lord, although the spirit of Elias might begin it.”24

In other words, without the law of the new and everlasting covenant of the Melchizedek Order restored to the earth, Zion could not be built up according to “principles of the law of the celestial kingdom” to receive the Lord at his coming (D&C 105:5). Prior to 1829, the earth had sat in darkness devoid of this power for 1,260 years. Joseph Smith obtained the fulness of the priesthood from Elijah to cause that Satan’s kingdom should fail and the Lord have a righteous people to receive him lest the earth be “utterly wasted at his coming” (D&C 2:3).

Joseph Smith fulfilled prophecy and complied with all that the Lord commanded him, including restoring plural marriage for the fulness of the Melchizedek Order, that a Zion people could be established as at the first and Satan’s kingdom finally thrown off.

When Joseph Smith sealed his testimony, or covenant, by his blood, many claimants came forward claiming to have the right to lead off the kingdom of God on the earth. Among them was principally Sidney Rigdon, Brigham Young, and James Strang. Though an argument can be made that the keys of the mysteries and first presidency (see D&C 43:2 – 4; 64:5) followed the contested appointment letter to James Strang, most of the saints received a witness of and consequently followed Brigham Young, the then-President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. With or without the keys of presidency and of the mysteries, Brigham Young possessed a unique qualification that made him a legitimate bearer of the kingdom: he was a Melchizedek priest-king, having complied with the law of the new and everlasting covenant by taking a plural wife in 1842.

Thus Brigham’s involvement in polygamy is not a figment of an errant and chaotic power transfer after Joseph Smith’s death; it is the proof, in fact, of his legitimacy inasmuch as he had entered into the highest and most ancient of covenants available to men on earth.25 Were Brigham not a polygamist, the mission of Elijah to restore the new and everlasting covenant would have failed.26 Brigham not only faithfully perpetuated the new and everlasting covenant in its entirety, but he also understood clearly the doctrinal reasons for its existence:

“I will say that the principle of patriarchal marriage is one of the highest and purest ever revealed to the children of men. I do not say that it will not injure a great many. I heard brother Joseph Smith say a number of times, ‘There is no question but it will be the means of damning many of the Elders of Israel; it is nevertheless true and must be revealed; and the Lord designs that it shall be revealed and go forth, and that this people must receive the oracles of truth, and they must receive this holy ordinance, and that [it] pertains to the celestial world; and they will retrograde if they do not embrace more of the celestial law than they have yet.’
“I say, with regard to this principle, if it was good in the days of Abraham and of the Patriarchs and Prophets or at any other period of the world’s history, and the fact that the Lord commanded His servants anciently to observe it, is conclusive proof that it was so considered by Him, why is it not good now?”27
“Women are entitled to salvation if they live according to the word that is given to them; and if their husbands are good men, and they are obedient to them, they are entitled to certain blessings, and they will have the privilege of receiving certain blessings that they cannot receive unless they are sealed to men who will be exalted.
“Now, where a man in this Church says, ‘I don’t want but one wife, I will live my religion with one, [outside the law of the covenant]’ he will perhaps be saved in the celestial kingdom; but when he gets there he will not find himself in possession of any wife at all [i.e., he will not be a God]. He has had a talent that he has hid up. He will come forward and say, ‘Here is that which thou gavest me, I have not wasted it, and here is the one talent,’ and he will not enjoy it, but it will be taken and given to those who have improved the talents they received, and he will find himself without any wife, and he will remain single forever and ever. But if the woman is determined not to enter into a plural-marriage, that woman when she comes forth will have the privilege of living in single blessedness through all eternity.
“Well, that is very good, a very nice place to be a minister to the wants of others. I recollect a sister conversing with Joseph Smith on this subject. She told him: ‘Now, don’t talk to me; when I get into the celestial kingdom, if I ever do get there, I shall request the privilege of being a ministering angel; that is the labor that I wish to perform. I don’t want any companion in that world; and if the Lord will make me a ministering angel, it is all I want.’ Joseph said, ‘Sister, you talk very foolishly, you do not know what you will want.’ He then said to me: ‘Here, brother Brigham, you seal this lady to me.’ I sealed her to him. This was my own sister according to the flesh.
“Now, sisters, do not say, ‘I do not want a husband when I get up in the resurrection.’ You do not know what you will want. I tell this so that you can get the idea. If in the resurrection you really want to be single and alone, and live so forever and ever, and be made servants, while others receive the highest order of intelligence and are bringing worlds into existence, you can have the privilege. They who will be exalted cannot perform all the labor, they must have servants and you can be servants to them.”28


  1. Journal of Discourses [JOD] 8:330.↩︎

  2. Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [STPJS], p. 172.↩︎

  3. Ibid., pp. 322 – 344.↩︎

  4. Joseph Smith wrote a letter to Nancy Rigdon trying to assuage her feelings toward plural marriage after she rebuffed his proposals to her. The letter has famously been called the “happiness letter” (the opening line is “Happiness is the object and design of our existence”) and is often quoted for its quotable principles though never fully in the context of polygamy. In this letter, and with this context in mind, Joseph describes plural marriage as a tenet of the ‘full order of heaven’ by way of corollary where he mentions that those who consider polygamy abominable “understand the order of heaven only in part.” The fuller quote reads:

    “Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. So with Solomon: first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation” (STPJS, p. 256)↩︎

  5. Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life’s Review (Independence, Missouri: Zion’s Printing and Publishing Co., 1947), pp. 7-107.

    Benjamin F. Johnson also provided key insight into the Kirtland church’s rampant apostasy after a period of success, stating that, “Suspicion or knowledge of the Prophet’s plural relation was one of the causes of apostasy and disruption at Kirtland although at the time there was little said publicly on the subject.” It is indeed interesting to note the order of events: in April of 1836, Elijah restored the New and Everlasting Covenant and the sealing keys to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple; sometime in the Spring of 1836, Joseph’s plural marriage to Fanny Algers was discovered; the subsequent years of 1837 and 1838 saw the community completely upended by jealousies and apostasy. Indeed, the restoration of the New and Everlasting Covenant quietly unravelled the saints who were not ready to be tried in all things. The same occurred in Nauvoo but with a more public showing. Also see footnote 26.↩︎

  6. It is interesting to note that multiple participants of the New and Everlasting Covenant subsequent to Jacob or Israel came through one or another of his plural wives. Elijah is said to have come from Benjamin the son of Rachel, whereas Moses came from Levi the son of Leah, and Christ came through Judah also the son of Leah.↩︎

  7. Autobiography of Charles Lambert (1816-1892), LDS Church Archives.↩︎

  8. “[W]e find Chaldea, Assyria, Persia, &c., styled Ethiopia by some very good authors ; nay, it must he allowed, that the ancients called all those countries, extending themselves beyond each side of the Red sea, indifferently India or Ethiopia” (T. G. Tomlins, A Universal History of the Nations of Antiquity).↩︎

  9. See “Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood,” subsection “Restoring the Fulness”, Church History Topics, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/restoration-of-the-melchizedek-priesthood accessed 13 Jan 2023).↩︎

  10. JOD 1:346.↩︎

  11. “The insistence on marriage as a religious obligation characterizes the rabbinic literature in a consistent fashion. But the earliest document of that literature was not codified until the beginning of the third century C.E…. Probably the earliest rabbis quoted on this issue are from the second generation of the Tannaim, i.e., from the end of the first century and the beginning of the second…. While the attributions in this literature are not always reliable, the cumulative effect suggests that the motifs were present before the second Jewish-Roman War, i.e., before 135 C.E. This conclusion concerning the time frame is supported by the anonymous passage in m. Yebam. 6:6 which affirms the religious obligation to marry and have children but then reports the dispute between the Schools of Shammai and Hillel as to whether two sons or a son and daughter fulfilled the obligation. Although the discussion cannot be precisely dated, it is plausible that the decision about the obligation to marry and have children came first and that subsequently the two Schools argued about the details. Thus, it is highly probable that the stress on marriage as a religious obligation was present by the end of the first century C.E” (Harvey McArthur, Andrews University Seminary Studies, Summer 1987, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 173 – 174).↩︎

  12. STPJS, pp. 318 – 319, 335 – 336.↩︎

  13. “Sermon delivered at Nauvoo temple grounds on Sunday August 27, 1843.” James Burgess notebook, grammar and spelling modernized.

    Joseph Smith was also recorded as saying on this occasion: “Angels desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes. God cursed the children of Israel because they would not receive the last law from Moses” (STPJS, p. 322).↩︎

  14. Talmadge, James E., Jesus the Christ, p. 144.↩︎

  15. Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal: “Joseph F Smith spoke One hour & 25 M. He spoke upon the Marriage in Cana at Galilee He thought Jesus was the Bridgegroom and Mary & Martha the brides. He also refered to Luke 10 ch 38 to 42 verse. Also John 11 ch 2 & 5 vers John 12 ch 3d vers, John 20 8 to 18. Joseph Smith spoke upon these passages to show that Mary & Martha manifested much closer relationship than Merely A Believer which looks consistent He did not think that Jesus who decended throug Poligemous families from Abraham down & who fulfilled all the Law even baptism by immersion would have lived and died without being married” (“22 July 1883,” Journal of Wilford Woodruff, p. 289, emphasis added).↩︎

  16. R.T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt, p. 216.↩︎

  17. Barnstone, Willis, and Marvin W. Meyer. “The Gospel of Phillip (Nag Hammadi Codex II, 3)”. The Gnostic Bible. Boston, Mass.: Shambhala, 2003.↩︎

  18. Taylor, Joseph E. “The Resurrection” a transcript from a lecture delivered 2 Jun 1888. Deseret News Weekly, 29 Dec 1888, p. 21.↩︎

  19. R. O. Faulkner as quoted by Joshua J. Mark, “The Lamentations of Isis and Nephtys,” World History Encyclopedia, https://www.worldhistory.org/article/878/the-lamentations-of-isis-and-nephthys/ accessed 21 Jan 2023.↩︎

  20. Nibley, Hugh W. 1975. The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, p. 174.↩︎

  21. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, “The Book of Breathings Bears Witness,” pp. 148, 151.↩︎

  22. Hugh Nibley, Abraham in Egypt (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company; Provo: UT, FARMS, 1981, 2000), p. 424.↩︎

  23. Forrest, M. Isidora. “Isis-Ma’at, Lady of Truth”, Isiopolis: A votive Work in honor of the Goddess Isis, https://isiopolis.com/2014/04/06/isis-maat-lady-of-truth/ accessed 16 Jan 2023.↩︎

  24. STPJS, p. 340.↩︎

  25. “Those who have come in here [the Nauvoo Temple] and have received their washing & anointing will be ordained Kings & Priests, and will then have received the fulness of the Priesthood, all that can be given on earth, for Brother Joseph said he had given us all that could be given to man on the earth” (Brigham Young, as quoted in Heber C. Kimball’s Journal, 26 December 1845, CHL).↩︎

  26. Joseph hesitated in his time to reinstate the law of the covenant after the related debacle at Kirtland and in consequence a messenger was sent to remind him of his mission. Could it be that the angel sent was that one who had a vested interest in ensuring the earth would not be ‘utterly wasted’ by the hearts of the latter-day children of the ancient fathers not turning to the promises made of old? Could Elijah have been sent a second time with a more forceful version of his first message in Kirtland? As Benjamin F. Johnson recalled:

    “It was Sunday morning, April 3rd or 4th, 1843, that the Prophet was at my home in Ramus, and after breakfast he proposed a stroll together, and taking his arm, our walk led toward a swail, surrounded by trees and tall brush and near the forest line not far from my house. Through the swail ran a small spring brook, across which a tree was fallen and was clean of its bark. On this we sat down and the Prophet proceeded at once to open to me the subject of plural and eternal marriage and he said that years ago in Kirtland the Lord had revealed to him the ancient order of plural marriage, and the necessity for its practice, and did command him then to take another wife, and that among his first thoughts was to come to my mother for some of her daughters. And as he was again required of the Lord to take more wives, he had come now to ask me for my sister Almira.
    “[His] words astonished me and almost took my breath. I sat for a time amazed and finally, almost ready to burst with emotion, I looked him straight in the face and said: ‘Brother Joseph, this is something I did not expect, and I do not understand it. You know whether it is right, I do not. I want to do just as you tell me, and I will try, but if I ever should know that you do this to dishonor and debauch my sister, I will kill you as sure as the Lord lives.’
    “And while his eyes did not move from mine, he said with a smile, in a soft tone: ‘But Benjamin you will never know that, but you will know the principle in time, and will greatly rejoice in what it will bring to you.’
    “‘But how,’ I asked, ‘Can I teach my sister what I myself do not understand, or show her what I do not myself see?’
    “‘But you will see and understand it,’ he said, ‘And when you open your mouth to talk to your sister, light will come to you and your mouth will be full and your tongue loose, and I will today preach a sermon to you that none but you will understand.’
    “Both of these promises were more than fulfilled. The text of his sermon was our use of the ‘one, five and ten talents,’ and as God had now commanded plural marriage, and was exaltation and dominion of the saints depended upon the number of their righteous posterity, from him who was then but with one talent, it would be taken and given him that had ten….
    “I now bear an earnest testimony that his other prediction was more than fulfilled, for when with great hesitation and stammering I called my sister to a private audience, and stood before her shaking with fear, just so soon as I found power to open my mouth, it was filled, for the light of the Lord shone upon my understanding, and the subject that had seemed so dark now appeared of all subjects pertaining to our gospel the most lucid and plain; and so both my sister and myself were converted together, and never again did I need evidence or argument to sustain that high and holy principle. And within a few days of this period my sister accompanied me to Nauvoo, where at our sister Delcena’s, we soon met the Prophet with his brother Hyrum and [William] Clayton, as his private secretary, who always accompanied him. Brother Hyrum at once took me in hand, apparently in fear I was not fully converted, and this was the manner of his talk to me:
    “‘Now Benjamin, you must not be afraid of this new doctrine, for it is all right. You know Brother Hyrum don’t get carried away by worldly things, and he fought this principle until the Lord showed him it was true. I know that Joseph was commanded to take more wives, and he waited until an angel with a drawn sword stood before him and declared that if he longer delayed fulfilling that command he would slay him.’
    “This was the manner of Brother Hyrum’s teaching to me, which I then did not need, as I was fully converted” (Johnson, My Life’s Review).↩︎

  27. JOD 13:239.↩︎

  28. JOD 16:166 – 167.↩︎

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