7. The Contribution of the JST to Understanding the Old Testament Prophets

By Monte S. Nyman

Monte S. Nyman, “The Contribution of the JST to Understanding the Old Testament Prophets,” in The Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Truths, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Robert L. Millet (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1985), 121–46.

The Contribution of the JST to Understanding the Old Testament Prophets

Monte S. Nyman

 

Monte S. Nyman was a professor of ancient scripture at BYU when this was published.


When the Savior visited the Nephites in A.D. 34, he proclaimed that the law of Moses was fulfilled, but added, “I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you shall all be fulfilled” (3 Nephi 15:5–6). The Savior also taught the Nephites that when the prophecies of Isaiah were fulfilled, covenants with the house of Israel would be fulfilled (see 3 Nephi 20:11). Later he commanded that the words of Isaiah be searched (see 3 Nephi 23:1).

Undoubtedly, the Prophet Joseph Smith was aware of these teachings as he worked on his translation of the Bible. This awareness may account for more than one hundred changes the Prophet made in the book of Isaiah. Many of these changes can be attributed to the extensive quoting of the book of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon. However, many of the differences between the Book of Mormon text and the KJV are not carried over into the JST, and a few are further changed.

A study of these differences and changes leads to the conclusion that Joseph Smith did not finish his work on the book of Isaiah. In fact, he left many areas untouched which obviously needed to be corrected. This was probably because he was not able to spend the time on the translation which he needed to spend. This conclusion is drawn from the fact that there are many significant changes made in the Book of Mormon text which are not carried over into the JST.

There are at least eighty-five significant differences between the KJV text and the Book of Mormon text of Isaiah. Many of these changes do not appear in the JST. Only those changes in the JST which are significantly different from the Book of Mormon text, or those which were obviously neglected by the Prophet, will be pointed out and discussed in this article.

The Book of Isaiah

One verse in chapter 4 of Isaiah needs some clarification. Verse 1 of chapter 4 is placed at the end of chapter 3 in the JST. This verse change is attributed to the printing of the JST by the Reorganized Latter Day Saints and not to the Prophet Joseph Smith. An examination of the original JST manuscripts confirms that the Prophet did not initiate the change. While it cannot be ascertained why they made the change, the context of the verse refers to a gentile condition and not the beautiful and glorious branch of the Lord mentioned in verse 2 of chapter 4. It would seem, therefore, that the verse is more appropriately placed in chapter 3. In further support of the placement of the verse in chapter 3, we find that this is its location in the Hebrew Bible as well. It should also be noted that the chapter divisions are man-made and thus are based upon interpretation.

There are seven significant differences between the Book of Mormon and the KJV texts in chapter 9, only four of which are carried over into the JST. There is one significant difference in chapter 10 and one significant difference in chapter 12 between the KJV and the Book of Mormon text, neither of which are carried over into the JST. While all of these differences are significant, they are not as significant as the ones which were carried over.

There are nine significant differences between the KJV and the Book of Mormon texts of chapters 13 and 14. Three of these differences are not carried over into the JST. One of these (13:10) was changed in the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon. The phrase, “The sun shall be darkened in her going forth” (found in the 1921 edition of the Book of Mormon), was changed to “his going forth,” making it consistent with the KJV and JST. There seems to be no explanation for the use of one gender or the other.

The JST contains another change (Isaiah 13:2) which is not in the Book of Mormon text. The Book of Mormon and the KJV both say, “Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain.” The JST changes it to say, “Lift ye up my banner.” This change seems necessary to ensure that the readers understand the banner to be of or from the Lord. While this is only implied in the other two texts, it is made certain in the JST.

Chapter 14 is the last of thirteen consecutive chapters quoted in 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. A comparison of these chapters with the JST indicates that the Book of Mormon was the primary source used by the Prophet to correct the biblical text, but he included only the majority of the differences at this time. Those changes which were less important were apparently left for a future time. That time never came because of other commitments and his tragic martyrdom.

The next thirteen chapters of Isaiah (15–27) are not quoted in the Book of Mormon. The Prophet made a few changes in verse 6 of chapter 16, but it is primarily a wording rearrangement. These chapters contain prophecies about the nations surrounding Israel and Judah. Perhaps the Prophet commenced work on these and determined that there were more important areas to work on. Whether he thought so is only speculation, but certainly the subsequent chapters of Isaiah are more important to our day.

The Prophet made some notes on chapters 26 and 27 of Isaiah in one of the manuscripts. All of the words which he copied down are italicized in the KJV. This suggests he was merely jotting words down for consideration. The italicized words in the KJV are words placed there by the translators to make the text more readable in English though there was no Hebrew equivalent in the original. In their honesty, they italicized these words to indicate the changes made. Joseph could have been aware of this fact, or at least may have been musing over them as possible areas of change, though no changes were made in the text.

The JST text of chapter 28 contains no changes from the KJV. However, here is an example of a change that could have been made:


KJV Isaiah 28:13

But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

2 Nephi 28:30–31

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.


The last part of the KJV text quoted above does not make sense. It is obvious that something is missing (plain and precious parts). While Nephi does not identify whom he is quoting, it is obvious that he is quoting Isaiah, and the fuller text is compatible with the corrupted end of the KJV text. Undoubtedly, Joseph Smith would have made this change in due time.

All but the first two verses of chapter 29 of Isaiah are quoted in the Book of Mormon. There are also many additional verses and parts of verses from this chapter that were retained in the Book of Mormon text. Nineteen verses in the Book of Mormon, the original text taken from the plates of brass, had been reduced to only two short verses in the Masoretic text from which the KJV was translated. This was obviously the work of the great and abominable church. There are also ten other significant retentions in the other eighteen verses of the KJV which are quoted in the Book of Mormon. Most of these retentions are carried over in the JST, but a few of them are not. The first eight verses of JST chapter 29 are included in the longer excerpts of the JST found at the back of the new LDS edition of the Bible (1979). The Prophet’s change in the second verse is best illustrated by comparison:


KJV Isaiah 29:1–2

Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices.

Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel.

JST Isaiah 29:1–2

Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices.

Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow; for thus hath the Lord said unto me, It shall be unto Ariel;


The added phrase in the JST, “For thus hath the Lord said unto me,” does not affect the meaning, but the deletion of the two words me as out of the KJV does affect it. As written in the KJV, there was an obvious shift of subject; as changed, the subject is still Ariel or Jerusalem. This affects the interpretation of the next several verses. Nephi interpreted the verses as being fulfilled through the destruction of the Nephite nation, whose record would speak out of the ground to the Gentiles of the latter days through the Book of Mormon. It is unfortunate that Nephi did not quote verse 2 so that the wording from the plates of brass would be included. As corrected by the Prophet, the interpretation would be limited to Jerusalem. In the following verses, the pronouns in the JST are all changed to her, implying Jerusalem, and the word Ariel, which has been translated as Zion in the Book of Mormon text is left as Ariel in the JST.

There are several possible explanations of these differences. First, perhaps the Prophet did not complete his work and eventually would have made these changes. Second, Nephi was merely applying the scriptures to the known destiny of his people. Third, it is a dual prophecy, representing all of the house of Israel. The first possibility has been given general support throughout this paper; it is quite evident that there was much more Joseph Smith could have done, and would have done, if the time had been available to him. There is not much support for the second possibility other than Nephi’s statement, “I did liken all scriptures unto us” (1 Nephi 19:23). There is much evidence against this idea. Nephi’s quoting of Isaiah 29 included many verses which had been retained from the text of the plates of brass and definitely speaks of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. All of this material has been carried over into the JST.

The third possibility probably has the most evidence in its favor. Jacob, the brother of Nephi, said that “Isaiah spake concerning all the house of Israel” (2 Nephi 6:5; emphasis added), and he quoted the same verses out of Isaiah chapter 49 to describe the Jews in Jerusalem (see 2 Nephi 6) that Nephi had quoted earlier to explain what would happen to the Nephites (see 1 Nephi 21–22). Certainly Jacob was aware of Nephi’s interpretation. Jesus quoted the same verses in Isaiah 52 regarding the Nephites (see 3 Nephi 16:17–20) that he later quoted regarding the Jews (see 3 Nephi 20:32–34). Thus, verses 1 through 8 of chapter 29 concerns the Jews and the Nephites. Just as the Nephites were brought down to speak out of the dust, so were the Jews brought down by the Romans in A.D. 70.

The fact that there were many sacred records stored in Jerusalem is confirmed by the Jewish historian, Josephus, who wrote his record from them. Perhaps these records may still be in existence, protected by the Lord, and will someday be brought forth as was the Book of Mormon, and as will other records of the Nephites. If this is the correct interpretation, the transition verse in the JST is verse 8 instead of verse 2 where the Prophet changed it to read, “Yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.” Perhaps we have a combination of theories number one and number three: dual prophecy and the reality that the Prophet could not complete the text.

The next eighteen chapters of Isaiah are not quoted in the Book of Mormon, except for one verse (40:3). The Prophet made very few changes in these chapters, but most of the changes he made are very significant. In one verse, he substituted one word and added another, making it read “the houses of the city [instead of the multitude] shall be left desolate” (Isaiah 32:14). This description of the destruction of Israel is certainly more accurate than the KJV text. Chapter 34 has an interesting change in verse 7: the mythical unicorn is changed to a re’em, which is a wild ox in Hebrew. Apparently the Prophet was attempting to restore the literalness of the text. It is also significant that the Prophet separated the syllables of the word when he wrote it in the manuscript. This was before the Prophet had studied Hebrew; yet he restored it as it would have been pronounced in Hebrew. Here is an example of another type of change made in this chapter:


KJV Isaiah 34:16–17

Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.

And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.

JST Isaiah 34:16–17

Seek ye out of the book of the Lord and read the names written therein; no one of these shall fail; none shall want their mate; for my mouth it hath commanded, and my Spirit it hath gathered them.

And I have cast the lot for them, and I have divided it unto them by line; they shall possess it for ever; from generation to generation they shall dwell therein.


This is a clearer rendering of those who have their callings and elections made sure. It also implies (correctly) through the change of the pronoun her to their that this is a joint experience of husband and wife. The other pronoun changes also verify this as the Lord’s personal program. Chapter 35 also has a similar change to the last one made in chapter 34:


KJV Isaiah 35:8

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

JST Isaiah 35:8

And a highway shall be there; for a way shall be cast up, and it shall be called the way of holiness. The unclean shall not pass over upon it; but it shall be cast up for those who are clean, and the wayfaring men, though they are accounted fools, shall not err therein.


This additional information makes the text more consistent with Doctrine and Covenants 133:27–28 and Isaiah 11:16.

Chapters 36 through 39 of Isaiah are quotations of 2 Kings 18–20 about Isaiah and were not written by him. There are a few changes in the JST in these chapters. Verse 5 of chapter 36 is slightly different from the text which it was taken from (2 Kings 18:20). The awkward wording in the KJV is changed in the JST to be closer to the 2 Kings account. No meaning is altered. Chapter 37 has two changes. One of these verses, also changed in the 2 Kings account (v. 36), was discussed there. The other one was not changed in the 2 Kings account, which is further evidence that the Prophet did not complete his work on the historical books. The Isaiah account was changed as below:


KJV Isaiah 37:32

For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.

JST Isaiah 37:32

For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant; and they that escape out of Jerusalem shall come up upon mount Zion; the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.


This was interpreted by Elder Orson Pratt to be a prophecy about the Mulekites coming to America, as recorded in the Book of Mormon. Certainly the JST verifies such an interpretation. Chapter 38 has three verses which the Prophet clarified to make it more readable:


KJV Isaiah 38:15–17

What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly. all my years in the bitterness of my soul.

O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit; so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live.

Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

JST Isaiah 38:15–17

What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath healed me. I shall go softly all my years, that I may not walk in the bitterness of my soul.

O Lord, thou who art the life of my spirit, in whom I live; so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live; and in all these things will I praise thee.

Behold, I had great bitterness instead of peace, but thou hast in love to my soul, saved me from the pit of corruption, for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.


This testimony of Hezekiah concerning the Lord’s healing of him is certainly more pronounced in the JST.

One of the great contributions of the JST to the understanding of Isaiah is in chapter 42. The majority of the verses changed are in the back of the new Church publication of the Bible. The significance of the changes is more apparent when compared to the KJV:


KJV Isaiah 42:19–25

Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf? as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant?

JST Isaiah 42:19–25

For I will send my servant unto you who are blind; yea, a messenger to open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf;

And they shall be made perfect notwithstanding their blindness, if they will hearken unto the messenger, the Lord’s servant.

Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.

Thou art a people, seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears to hear, but thou hearest not.

The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.

The Lord is not well pleased with such a people, but for his righteousness’ sake he will magnify the law and make it honorable.

But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.

Thou art a people robbed and spoiled; thine enemies, all of them, have snared thee in holes, and they have hid thee in prison houses; they have taken thee for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.

Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?

Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.

Who among them will give ear unto thee, or hearken and hear thee for the time to come? and who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the Lord, he against whom they have sinned?

For they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law;

Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.

therefore he hath poured upon them the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle; and they have set them on fire round about, yet they know not, and it burned them, yet they laid it not to heart.


These changes illustrate that it is not the servant who is blind, but those to whom the servant is sent. The servant’s message will make these people perfect if they will hearken to it. The JST also identifies the people who will not hear as those people with whom the Lord is not pleased and, therefore, those to whom the servant is sent.

Beginning with chapter 48, the next seven chapters are quoted in the Book of Mormon, though they are not quoted consecutively as were the earlier chapters. It seems evident that the Prophet did not spend as much time on this section as he did on the earlier section. For example, in chapter 48, although every verse quoted in the Book of Mormon is different from the KJV text, the Prophet made no changes in the JST. Similarly, there are no changes in the first twenty-two verses of chapter 49 and only one significant change in the whole chapter, that one being carried over from the Book of Mormon (see 2 Nephi 6:18)—even though there are many changes that are important.

The identification of the house of Israel as the Lord’s servant in the Book of Mormon in this chapter is extremely important. Verse 1 has seven lines retained in the Book of Mormon describing Israel as being scattered abroad. Verses 12 and 15 also retain the identification of the house of Israel. The servant is identified in verse 8 and the location of Israel is declared to be in the “isles of the sea.” Such important information would take top priority in the devil’s plan to take away plain and precious parts from the Bible.

There is one change in the JST in chapter 50 which is not attributable to the Book of Mormon. In verse 5, the KJV and the Book of Mormon read, “The Lord God hath opened mine ear.” The JST changes it to read, “The Lord hath appointed mine ear.” With the other retentions in the Book of Mormon, it can be interpreted to be the servant Israel whom the Lord has “appointed.” The JST change does not alter the meaning, but amplifies it. The servant’s ear was opened but he was also appointed. Apparently, the Prophet was inspired to assure this concept.

There is one change in chapter 52 which is not in the Book of Mormon or the KJV. The last verse states, “So shall he sprinkle many nations.” The JST changes the word sprinkle in the first phrase to gather. The explanation given by the Savior in the Book of Mormon is preceded by the declaration that he (the Lord) will gather his people in from their long dispersion (see 3 Nephi 21:1). Following a further amplification of this gathering, the Savior quotes the second phrase of the last verse. This implies that he has been interpreting the first phrase of the verse. The word sprinkle is certainly related to the word gather in that both imply a scattered condition. The context, as interpreted by the Savior himself, is that the Lord’s servant will bring forth a marvelous work and a wonder (the Book of Mormon). This is to be the instrument used to gather the house of Israel; to do so, the Book of Mormon must be sprinkled among the nations where Israel has been scattered. Again, Joseph Smith may have changed the word to amplify the desired outcome rather the means of attaining that outcome.

The last two complete chapters of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon are typical of the other chapters in this section. Some of the differences in the Book of Mormon text are carried over into the JST and some are not. For example, in 53:9, the word violence in the KJV is retained as evil in the Book of Mormon. This Book of Mormon difference is consistent with New Testament passages (see Hebrews 4:15). The first two verses in chapter 55 are also quoted in the Book of Mormon, the last time the book of Isaiah is quoted. There is a significant change in the second verse which is not carried over in the JST, another evidence that Joseph did not complete his work in this area of his translation.

In the last twelve chapters of Isaiah, which are not quoted in the Book of Mormon, there are seven significant changes. The first is in Isaiah 60:22 where the KJV reads, “I the Lord will hasten it in his time.” The JST changes his to my time, which is in keeping with the context of the statement. In chapter 62, the meanings of two words Hephzibah and Beulah in the marriage of the land are changed to Delightful and Union (see 62:4–5). This interpretation is given in the subsequent clause of the KJV. In 63:17, the JST makes it clear that the people were responsible for the hardening of their hearts, rather than the Lord, as stated in the KJV. This traces back to a concept corrected in Genesis and Exodus. In 64:5–6, a text is rearranged to clarify the real meaning:


KJV Isaiah 64:5–6

Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.

JST Isaiah 64:5–6

Thou meetest him that worketh righteousness, and rejoiceth him that remembereth thee in thy ways: in righteousness there is continuance, and such shall be saved.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, taken us away.

But we have sinned; we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and have our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.


The Doctrine and Covenants also rearranges other verses in chapter 64. This was not done in the JST, which is further evidence that Joseph Smith did not complete his work. The first two verses of the next chapter were also changed:


KJV Isaiah 65:1–2

I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.

JST Isaiah 65:1–2

I am found of them who seek after me, I give unto all them that ask of me; I am not found of them that sought me not, or that inquireth not after me.

I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;

I said unto my servant, Behold me, look upon me: I will send you unto a nation that is not called after my name, for I have spread out my hands all the day to a people who walketh not in my ways, and their words are evil and not good, and they walk after their own thoughts.


The concept of the need for someone to seek the Lord—whether Jew or Gentile—is clearer in the JST than the KJV. In addition, the italicized word things in Isaiah 65:4 of the KJV is changed to beasts in the JST, a change that is consistent with the context. The last JST change made in the book of Isaiah is in 65:20.


KJV Isaiah 65:20

There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

JST Isaiah 65:20

In those days there shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days; for the child shall not die, but shall live to be an hundred years old; but the sinner, living to be an hundred years old, shall be accursed.


These clarifying conditions of the Millennium are implied in the KJV but made certain in the JST.

The Prophet Joseph Smith certainly worked a great deal upon the Old Testament book of Isaiah. It should be emphasized, however, that his work was far from completed. There are many significant changes contained in his work but many more which could have been made.

The Book of Jeremiah

There are eight chapters in the book of Jeremiah where significant changes were made by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Four of these eight chapters had only one verse changed in them. Most of the changes in all eight chapters centered around two topics: the false concept of the Lord repenting, and the commanding of prophets to rise up early and warn the people. It seems probable that the Prophet had his attention drawn to the clarification of the rising up of the prophets as he was searching out the verses concerning the Lord repenting.

For an object lesson regarding the house of Israel, the Lord directed Jeremiah to the potter’s house. Just as marred clay in the potter’s hand was put back into the large batch of clay to be reworked, so would the house of Israel be reworked by the Lord, enabling them to become a chosen vessel. In describing the Lord’s actions, the KJV twice states that the Lord “will repent of the evil that [he] thought to do unto them.” The JST substitutes the word withhold for repent of in both verses (see 18:8, 10). This is another example of a variant meaning of the Hebrew word. The Lord has no need of repentance because he does no evil, but he can and does change his judgments according to people’s reactions to the conditions of his prophecies.

While making this change, the Prophet’s attention was apparently drawn to verse 14, which taught that even the heathen’s reasoning was better than theirs, because the heathen utilized the ways of nature, while Judah was not doing what was natural for her to do. The rearrangement by the Prophet makes this verse much more understandable.


KJV Jeremiah 18:14

Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?

JST Jeremiah 18:14

Will you not leave the snow of the fields of Lebanon; shall not the cold flowing waters that come from another place from the rock, be forsaken?

Chapter 26 of Jeremiah has three verses in the KJV which state that the Lord will repent. Verses 3 through 6 give a conditional prophecy that if they will turn from their evil ways the Lord “may repent me of the evil,” but if they do not hearken to his prophets, he will make this city like Shiloh (a central city of northern Israel which was destroyed). The JST changes verse 3 to read that if “they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, and repent, I will turn away the evil which I purpose to do unto them.” The JST also changes verse 5 from “. . . the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them” to “commanding them to rise up early, and sending them.” The KJV implies that the Lord was the one who rose up early, but the JST clarifies that the Lord commanded the prophets to rise.

The JST also adds this phrase to the end of verse 6: “For ye have not hearkened unto my servants the prophets,” thus verifying that the Lord does not destroy a nation before they are warned by the prophets (see 2 Nephi 25:9). This clarification by the Prophet Joseph probably led him to the other areas of the book of Jeremiah where the record spoke of rising up early. In each instance, the Prophet changed the text to read that the Lord commanded the prophets to rise, rather than simply stating that he himself rose early. The Lord’s spirit is immortal, and obviously is not in need of sleep as are mortal beings. These changes were made in 29:19; 35:14–15; and 44:4. Verse 14 of chapter 35 is slightly different from the other verses, in that the Lord says “commanding you to” rather than “commanding them.”

Verse 13 of chapter 26 also changes the KJV “and the Lord will repent him of the evil” to “and repent and the Lord will turn away the evil,” thus again placing the responsibility upon the people. Verses 18 through 20 are also changed to correct the false concept of the Lord repenting. These verses are the words of the elders who defended against putting Jeremiah to death:


KJV Jeremiah 26:18–20

Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and saying, Thus saith the Lord of spake to all the people of Judah, hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.

JST Jeremiah 26:18–20

Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of

hosts; Zion shall be ploughed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house of the Lord as the high places of a forest.

Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the Lord, and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls.

Did Hezekiah, king of Judah, and all Judah put him at all to death? Did he not fear the Lord and beseech the Lord and repent? and the Lord turned away the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus by putting Jeremiah to death we might procure great evil against our souls.

And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath-jearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah:

But there was a man among the priests, rose up and said, that, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath-jearim, prophesied in the name of the Lord, who also prophesied against this city, and against this land, according to all the words of Jeremiah.


The changes not only correct the erroneous idea of God repenting, but also make the text more understandable and historically consistent with the subsequent verses. Verse 10 of chapter 42 has the same kind of change, substituting the KJV “for I repent me of the evil” to “and I will turn away the evil.”

There are two places in Jeremiah where the Prophet clarified or emphasized the meaning through altering and sometimes rearranging the wording, the first in 2:24. The Prophet moved the word not from the next to the last phrase to the last phrase. The Lord is comparing Judah to a wild ass who has learned the way of the wilderness and is free to follow the desires of her heart. He then asks, “In her occasion who can turn her away?” The question seems to be, “Who can take away her freedom?” The KJV marginal note reads, “Or, reverse it?” The JST renders the answer, “All they that seek her will weary themselves; in her month they shall not find her.” If she follows her natural instincts for freedom, she will not be caught.

Other commentators, following the corrupted text, suggest that in her occasion and in her month refer to the male animals seeking her out in the time of her periodic breeding seasons, during which time she will be caught. The JST fits the context of the following verses better. The Lord admonishes the wild ass (Judah) to “withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst.” In other words, she is invited to maintain her freedom by avoiding those who are seeking to capture her as she satisfies her thirst at the waterhole.

The other change of wording comes in chapter 30 of Jeremiah:


KJV Jeremiah 30:12–15

For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous.

There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines.

All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased.

Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee.

JST Jeremiah 30:12–15

For thus saith the Lord, thy bruise is not incurable, although thy wounds are grievous.

Is there none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up? Hast thou no healing medicines?

Have all thy lovers forgotten thee, do they not seek thee? I For have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquities; because thy sins are increased.

Why criest thou for thine affliction? Is thy sorrow incurable? It was for the multitude of thine iniquities, and because thy sins are increased I have done these things unto thee.


The JST reverses the meaning of these verses, showing that Israel’s condition is curable and she is now ready (in the latter days) to be restored to her promised blessings. The fact that the scriptural statements in the KJV are changed to questions in the JST further points to this meaning. The first word of verse 16 is changed from therefore to but, which also fits the context better.

It seems that the Prophet did not spend a great deal of time on the book of Jeremiah. He made some significant changes and undoubtedly would have made many more if the time had been available to him. For instance, in Matthew 27:9, we have reference to Jeremiah’s prophecy about Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Christ for thirty pieces of silver. While Zechariah actually made such a prophecy, it is very possible that Jeremiah had earlier recorded the same prophecy.

In Jeremiah 8:8, the KJV marginal note suggests an alternate reading that “the false pens of the scribes worketh for falsehood.” Other translations also support this alternate reading. There is little evidence that Joseph Smith corrected many of these types of errors. The confused chronological order of the various chapters of Jeremiah suggests that there are several arrangements which he could have corrected. Someday, when the plates of brass are returned or the translation of the Bible commenced by Joseph Smith is completed, as has been promised, we’ll know the answer to this question.

The Books of Ezekiel and Daniel

It seems apparent that the Prophet did not spend much time on the books of Ezekiel and Daniel. Only five verses are changed significantly in Ezekiel, three of them in chapter 23. Only one word is changed in the book of Daniel. All of the changes in these two books are of a historical nature, making the account consistent with the established practices or actions of the Lord, or internally consistent with itself.

In Ezekiel 14:9, the KJV reads, “And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.” Joseph Smith corrected this verse to say, “And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have not deceived that prophet; therefore I will stretch out my hand. . . .” The Lord does not deceive his prophets.

In chapter 23 of Ezekiel, the Lord uses an allegory to teach that Samaria and Jerusalem, the capital cities of the two nations of Israel, had alienated themselves from the Lord by committing whoredoms or worshipping other gods. The KJV represents this alienation as being in their minds and from their symbolic lovers (other nations). Joseph Smith made changes in verses 17, 22, and 28 showing that the nations of Israel were alienated in their minds from the Lord by these symbolic lovers. These changes make the verses consistent with the rest of the allegory.

Chapter 48 describes the gates of the city seen in vision by Ezekiel. In the KJV verse 35 gives the name of the city, saying, “And the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there.” The JST says, “And the name of the city from that day shall be called, Holy; for the Lord shall be there.” The sentence in the KJV makes little sense, but the JST makes it consistent with Isaiah 60:1–2, 14 and Revelation 21:2–3.

Chapter 5 of Daniel gives the account of a message from God being written upon the wall of the palace of the king of Babylon. Verses 25–28 give the message that was written and the interpretation of each word. The last word of the message, Upharsin is rendered Peres in the interpretive verse. Joseph changed the word in the interpretive verse to be the same as the word in the message, thus restoring consistency.

The Twelve Prophets

Of the twelve books of the so-called minor prophets (Hosea through Malachi), only five have any changes made in them. These are mostly in Zechariah (five) and in Amos (seven). Hosea has one change, Jonah two, and Joel three. Again, it seems that the Prophet did not have time to do much work on this section. Seven of the eighteen changed verses deal with the false concept of the Lord repenting. Apparently the Prophet went through the entire Old Testament endeavoring to correct this false idea.

The first of the seven changes regarding the Lord repenting occurs in Hosea 11:8. The KJV reads, “Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.” The Prophet changed this verse to read, “Mine heart is turned toward thee, and my mercies are extended to gather thee.” While Joseph’s attention was undoubtedly drawn to this verse by the false concept of the Lord repenting, his correction also teaches another great concept-the gathering of Ephraim or Israel in the latter days. The gathering is implied in the beginning of the verse, and so the change makes for consistency within the verse as well as within the book of Hosea (see Hosea 1:10–11; 2:23; 3:4–5). It is also consistent with the teachings of other prophets (see Isaiah 6:13; Jeremiah 3:14; Ezekiel 6:8–10; Amos 9:8–9; Micah 2:12). This is the only verse changed in Hosea.

The book of Joel has two verses changed regarding the Lord repenting.


KJV Joel 2:13–14

And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

JST Joel 2:13–14

And rend your heart, and not your garments, and repent, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and he will turn away the evil from you.

Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?

Therefore repent, and who knoweth but he will return and leave a blessing behind him; that you may offer a meat offering, and a drink offering, unto the Lord your God?


These verses encourage or invite the people to repent and escape the destruction of the Second Coming. The verses following in Joel speak of the gathering of the righteous to Jerusalem and Zion, thus further validating the change made by the Prophet.

There is only one other change made in the book of Joel. The context is the description of a nation which will come upon the Lord’s land “whose teeth are the teeth of a lion” (1:6). The JST shows this to be a symbolic description by adding “whose teeth are as the teeth of a lion.” Quite obviously a symbolic representation, this is typical of many changes which Joseph apparently made to insure that the reader would be able to understand the difference between the literal and the symbolic.

The book of Amos has more changes in it (seven) than any of the twelve prophets, and these changes seem to center around the same problem, the Lord’s repenting.


KJV Amos 7:3, 6

The Lord repented for this: It shall not be, saith the Lord.

JST Amos 7:3, 6

And the Lord said, concerning Jacob, Jacob shall repent for this, therefore I will not utterly destroy him, saith the Lord.

The Lord repented for this:

This also shall not be, saith

the Lord God.

And the Lord said, concerning Jacob, Jacob shall repent of his wickedness; therefore I will not utterly destroy him, saith the Lord God.


These verses tell of Amos seeing a series of three visions from the Lord. In the first two, Amos pleads for his people, the descendants of father Jacob. Besides correcting the idea that the Lord repents, the changes make another important point. The KJV would lead one to believe that the Lord changed his mind or his actions at the time of Amos’ ministry. This is not historically accurate—Israel was captured and destroyed shortly thereafter, as the rest of chapter 7 foretells. The JST shows that Jacob will later repent, and therefore, the Lord will not utterly destroy them, but will leave a remnant so this future repentance can take place. This is a constant theme throughout the text of the Old Testament prophets.

Other changes in chapter 3 of Amos are also related to the false concept of the Lord repenting. The KJV reads, “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6). This is inconsistent with the teachings of the Book of Mormon, “All things which are good cometh of God; and all which is evil cometh of the devil” (Moroni 7:12). This same concept is taught in the New Testament (see James 1:17; 3 John 1:11). As worded in the JST, this problem is removed, “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not known it?” The omniscience of God prevents the hiding of evil from him.

The next verse, Amos 3:7, shows what the Lord does about his knowledge of evil. There are two words changed in the JST which at that time fit better in the context. The KJV says, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” The JST says, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, until he revealeth the secret unto his servants the prophets.” This, of course, is a famous missionary scripture in the Church. Understood in this context, it is even more important. The word until is consistent with 2 Nephi 25:9, which teaches that the Lord will not destroy a nation until he warns them by the prophets. Amos, along with others such as Isaiah and Micah, is warning Israel prior to her destruction. The words the secret instead of his secret make it consistent with the previous verse wherein it is attempted to keep the evil in the city hidden.

Had the Prophet had the time, he would have undoubtedly made a similar change concerning evil in Isaiah 45:7 where it states that the Lord creates evil. The Lord does not create evil, but will bring destruction upon a people ripened in iniquity (see Genesis 15:16; 1 Nephi 17:35), which is the context of the Isaiah verse and is supported by other translations such as the RSV, “I make weal (prosperous) and create woe (calamity).” This is strong evidence that the Prophet did not complete the work.

There are three other changes in the book of Amos, all of them in chapter 4. These are not as significant as other changes in the book, but make the text more understandable.


KJV Amos 4:3

And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the Lord.

JST Amos 4:3

And ye shall go out at the breaches, every one before his enemy; and ye shall be cast out of your palaces, saith the Lord.


These verses are usually interpreted as a rebuke against the women of Samaria, particularly those whose husbands are in leadership positions. The italicized words in the KJV imply the uncertainty of the text. The use of the masculine pronoun by the Prophet is a little troublesome. Perhaps the rebuke is not limited to the women but the cow is a symbolic representation of the leaders. Perhaps verse 3, in speaking of the coming conquest, expands the group to include all of the people. Verse 5 changes another phrase to a more sensible reading. The KJV reading “for this liketh you” is changed in the JST to “thus do ye.” Verse 6 changes the first word from and to therefore, thus showing more clearly that the following judgment spoken of in the verse is a result of wickedness. Many more clarifications probably could have been made by the Prophet had he thoroughly studied the book of Amos.

The two verses changed in the book of Jonah both concern the false concept of the Lord repenting:


KJV Jonah 3:9–10

Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

JST Jonah 3:9–10

Who can tell, if we will repent, and turn unto God, but he will turn away from us his fierce anger, that we perish not?

And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way and repented; and God turned away the evil that he had said he would bring upon them.


These verses describe how the people of Nineveh heeded Jonah’s message and repented. These changes are based upon a misunderstanding of the Hebrew word, as are many earlier changes of this nature.

The remaining changes in the twelve prophets are in the book of Zechariah. A total of five verses are changed in three chapters. Four of these changes clarify a meaning either symbolically or literally. The eyes of the Lord (4:10) in the KJV is changed to servant in the JST. It is a clarification of the vision shown to Zechariah. In another vision shown to him (6:5), the four spirits of the KJV are identified as four servants in the JST. In chapter 8, both verses 7 and 13 state that the Lord will save his people in the last days. The Prophet Joseph changed the word to gather which is more consistent with the context. In the explanation of the vision spoken of above (4:14), the KJV tells of two anointed ones standing by the Lord, while the JST represents them as standing before the Lord. That is the end of the vision and no further comment is given. The change seems to be a clarification of the supremacy of the Lord, however, this line of reasoning is only supposition.

There are seven books of the twelve prophets which had no changes made in them, but there probably would have been many more alterations had the Prophet worked further on this section. This conclusion is drawn from the Savior’s quotation of Malachi, chapters 3 and 4, to the Nephites in the meridian of time. There are several differences in the two texts, but only one is significant. The KJV speaks of the Sun of righteousness and the Book of Mormon text speaks of the son of Righteousness (see 3 Nephi 25:2). A discussion of this difference will be left to a more appropriate time when the Book of Mormon retentions are being considered.

Further evidence of Joseph not spending large amounts of time on this text is given in his account of the angel Moroni appearing to him in September 1823 and quoting these same two chapters. Chapter 4, verse 1 has two significant changes in it, and verses 5 and 6 as quoted were drastically different. The first change is a wording change to clarify the Second Coming. The last verses changed may have been a paraphrase by the angel (see D&C 2) to make certain that the Prophet Joseph Smith understood them. This conclusion is drawn from the fact that they are quoted exactly the same in the Book of Mormon and the KJV. Furthermore, in writing an epistle to the Saints, Joseph also quoted these verses exactly as they are found in the Malachi text and then added: “I might have rendered a plainer translation than this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purposes as it stands” (D&C 128:18). It seems logical that Malachi’s original words were translated correctly, but with the passage of time, the meanings of words change; therefore, the angel Moroni clarified the meaning to Joseph.

The purpose of changes in all of the twelve prophets seems to have been primarily to correct the idea portrayed in the KJV that God repents. As Joseph discovered these false statements, his reading of surrounding passages—to determine the context of the verses and thus enable him to make a proper correction—also pointed up other errors. This can be concluded because the changes are clustered in certain sections. Most changes would fit this explanation. The exceptions may have been from questions raised by others or from the Prophet’s own study. Nevertheless, it seems obvious that the Prophet did not complete his study and we can assume that some changes which should have been made have not been made.

On the other hand, one must not overlook the importance of the changes which were made. Through the efforts of Joseph Smith, the Church and the world, if they will heed his words, can come to a greater knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament prophets. The footnoting in the new publication of the Bible by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has done a great service for its members by making available many of these significant changes.

The challenge given to us repeatedly by the Savior and the prophets throughout time is to search the scriptures. The meaning of the word search is to look in every possible place. One of the most important places to look for an understanding of the Old Testament prophets is the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.