Moses 1: The Visions of Moses

Aaron P. Schade and Matthew L. Bowen, "Moses 1: The Visions of Moses," in The Book of Moses: from the Ancient of Days to the Latter Days (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book), 71‒90.


The coming forth of the content of Moses 1 in June 1830 may have been signaled in a series of April 1829 revelations that mention scriptural records containing the Lord’s gospel that were to be brought to light.[1] The Book of Mormon indicated that plain and precious parts of the gospel that had been “taken away” and “kept back” would be restored (1 Nephi 13:28, 32). Notably, Joseph Smith “dictated these passages in the spring of 1829 and may have understood them as calling for a reexamination and new ‘translation’ of the Bible,” although we cannot be certain of this.[2] Although these restorative translations may not have been in his immediate plans, Joseph would learn that they certainly were in the Lord’s plans.

In October 1829 Joseph and Oliver purchased an H. and E. Phinney Cooperstown Bible. Joseph wrote on the flyleaf, “The Book of the Jews and the property of Joseph Smith junior and Oliver Cowdery Bought October the 8th 1829 at E. B. Grandins Book Store Palmyra Wayne County New York Price $3.75 H[o]liness to the L[ord].”[3] As Joseph Smith began working his way through the Bible, revelation would flow.[4] In fact, the heading to the Moses 1 manuscript, written in Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting, includes the defining description “a revelation given to Joseph the Revelator June 1830.”[5] This description accurately characterizes and defines the work of the Joseph Smith Translation. The reception of Moses 1 was a revelatory experience that may well have involved Joseph seeing visions of the processes and events recorded in the book of Genesis and the visions, experiences, and life events of Moses.[6] We are thus taken back in time through Joseph’s revelations to the visions and experiences of Moses.[7] Moses 1 thus becomes an introductory text to the creation accounts found in Genesis 1 and appears to reveal the workings and the doings of the Lord through Moses. Moses 1 also gives us a window into how the Lord was working through the Prophet Joseph Smith in bringing these revelations to light.

Environment of Its Reception

Moses 1 was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith amid physical persecutions directed at him and spiritual trials for the infant church.[8] Of one such incident, Joseph recalled that when he was under arrest on spurious charges and in the custody of a constable, some men “used every means to abuse, ridicule and insult me. They spit upon me, pointed their fingers at me, saying, ‘Prophesy, prophesy!’ and thus did they imitate those who crucified the Savior of mankind, not knowing what they did.”[9] In this tribulation Joseph did indeed prophesy, and he performed what came to be known as the first miracle in the restored Church. This miracle occurred when the Prophet cast an evil spirit out of Newel Knight, who was being tossed about by the spirit that possessed him:

In the same month in which the Church was organized, Newell Knight was possessed by an evil spirit. So severe and agonizing were the circumstances that the afflicted believer’s “visage was distorted, and his limbs were twisted out of shape in a frightful manner,” and “he was caught up from the floor and tossed about the room.” The Prophet “rebuked the evil spirit in the name of Jesus Christ and commanded him to depart.” Brother Knight then “saw the evil spirit leave him and vanish from his sight.” Then all was peace.[10]

Such was the environment of persecution, struggle, and oppression when the Joseph Smith received his visions and revelations from the Lord, now constituting Moses 1.

The account of Moses’s encounter with and expulsion of the adversary must have been of special interest to the early Saints who witnessed or learned of Newell Knight’s assault by an evil spirit. Of course, as a youth Joseph himself had been seized by an evil power that he described as “some actual being from the unseen world” (see Joseph Smith—History 1:15–17).[11] In light of Moses’s struggle with the adversary, Joseph’s similar experience may have made more sense to him. Later he would receive a revelation explaining how to detect evil spirits in order to avoid being deceived (see Doctrine and Covenants 129).[12] Through the mercy and grace of God, who was diligently watching over the establishment of his Church, the revelations kept flowing and Joseph and the members were strengthened. A note recorded in the hand of William W. Phelps assessed the Saints’ situation thus: “Amid all the trials and tribulations we had to wade through, the Lord, who well knew our infantile and delicate situation, vouchsafed for us a supply of strength, and granted us ‘line upon line of knowledge—here a little and there a little,’ of which the following was a precious morsel [Moses 1].”[13]

Moses 1 was indeed a “precious morsel.” It explains the nature of God and our relationship to him, the reality of the adversary, and the absolute power of God and Christ over him; and it demonstrates how willing God is to rescue, save, exalt, and care for his children. Its doctrinal and theological significance cannot be overstated. This theologically rich material had been taken from the revelations of Moses, some of which appear to have originally been written down (compare Moses 1:40–42) and some version of which may have been available to Lehi and his family on the plates of brass.[14]

Joseph’s reception of this revelation thus constitutes a restoration of lost truth and depicts important aspects of Moses’s experiences.[15] The text itself explains this as the Lord foretells of its deliberate removal:

41 And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take away many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men—among as many as shall believe.

42 (These words were spoken unto Moses in the mount, the name of which shall not be known among the children of men. And now they are spoken unto you. Show them not unto any except them that believe. Even so. Amen).[16]

Ancient Near Eastern languages and compositions employed literary devices and alliteration to convey a persuasive mode of communication.[17] Ancient scripture deriving from this region is no different. Although we do not know the exact dialect in which the Lord communicated this revelation to Moses, if we make a comparison with the later Hebrew of the Bible, we may witness in the following literary construction the Lord revealing the “raising up” of the Prophet Joseph Smith, through whom He would restore lost truths:

A And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught

B and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write,

C behold, I will raise up another like unto thee;

B′ and they shall be had again

A′ among the children of men—among as many as shall believe. (Moses 1:41)

If this comparison is accurate, not only does the Lord reveal the “raising up” of Joseph Smith and his Moses-like prophetic role, but he may also be alluding to Joseph’s name. The name of the patriarch Joseph, after whom Joseph Smith Jr. and Sr. were both named,[18] means “may He [God] add.” The patriarchal narrative in Genesis explains the meaning of the name Joseph in terms of the concepts of divine “taking away” and “adding”:

A And she conceived, and bare a son;

B and said, God hath taken away [ʾāsap ʾĕlōhîm] my reproach:

C And she called his name Joseph [yôsēp];

B′ and said, The Lord shall add [yōsēp yhwh] to me

A′ another son. (Genesis 30:23–24)

Just as Rachel’s explanation for the naming of Joseph the patriarch is centered in divine “taking away” and “adding,” we may be witnessing a similar type of literary execution with the Lord’s promise of the “rais[ing] up” of “another like unto” Moses in Moses 1:41, which is centered in the human “taking” away of the Lord’s words to Moses and their latter-day re-adding (“they shall be had again”).[19] A common way of expressing “to do something again” in biblical Hebrew is by employing the causative verb form yôsîp, the source of the name Joseph (yôsēp). Perhaps we are witnessing something similar in the Lord’s revelation to Moses, in a language and literary structure familiar to Moses.[20]

In any case, it is clear from JST Genesis 50:23 and 2 Nephi 3 that, before Moses, Joseph in Egypt knew that the “another like unto thee” would be named Joseph. Although Joseph Smith most likely did not hear the Semitic echoes of his name in Moses 1:41, it must have been tremendously moving for him to have read the revelation regarding his prophetic role of re-adding lost scripture. Joseph was hearing and seeing what Moses had heard and seen. And in the very process of hearing and seeing them, he was recording and re-adding them for the world to once again know of God’s dealings with that great prophet and his experience with the Lord’s covenant purposes.

The Ancient Setting and Context of Moses 1: Moses on the Mountaintop

Moses 1 immediately situates us in a dramatic opening scene as we encounter Moses atop an unnamed mountain speaking with the Lord face-to-face. This was not Moses’s first such experience (see his initial call from the burning bush at Horeb, “the mountain of God,” in Exodus 3), nor would it be his last (see Exodus 19–20; 32:20; compare Moses 1:25, pointing to his future mission). Again, this was an experience Joseph Smith could relate to with his own face-to-face encounter with the Father and Son in his first vision. For Joseph Smith, this revelation on Moses’s theophany must have felt extremely personal and poignant, reminding him of what it had felt like to be in the presence of God and of the Lord’s intention to prepare others for that glorious opportunity.[21] Moses 1 explains such significant concepts as the relationship of God to his children, the purpose of creation, and the role Moses would play in salvation history—God’s ongoing work to bring to pass the salvation of his children. The chapter provides an explanation of the “why” of creation and acts as a springboard into the details of creation as they occur in the subsequent chapter (Genesis 1/Moses 2). In Moses 1 the Lord helps Moses grasp the purpose of his calling to work on the Lord’s behalf. God’s words to Moses will inspire and empower him to do the otherwise impossible: lead Israel out of Egyptian bondage and into the wilderness to receive and make covenants with God. Because he knows that it is God commanding him to do it and why God is asking him to do it, Moses, through many personal and external struggles, will do his utmost to accomplish his mission with the Lord’s help.

The Revelation

1 The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain,

2 And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.

3 And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?

4 And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.

5 Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.

6 And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior,[22] for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.

7 And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee.

8 And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered.

9 And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.

10 And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.

11 But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.

map of egypt depicting a possible exodus routeMap 1: Egypt and Surrounding Area. In this map depicting a possible route of the Exodus, the circle on the left depicts the general location of the Israelites in Egyptian captivity, and the circle on the right marks a general geograhpic location where Moses encounters Jethro and the Midianites.

We do not know the exact time or location of this experience on the mountain, but it happened sometime after the “burning bush” experience (see Exodus 3:2–7; Moses 1:17) and sometime before the Exodus (see Moses 1:25–26).[23] This shows that the Lord was continually instructing Moses, helping him fulfill his calling beyond his initial call. Perhaps Moses received more and even frequent instruction from the Lord while in the wilderness, preparing him before he was to be sent to Egypt to confront Pharaoh.[24] The biblical text describes Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law, as “the priest of Midian” (Exodus 2:16; 3:1; 18:1). The Joseph Smith Translation of Exodus 18:1 clarifies that Jethro was “the high priest of Midian,” suggesting that he was a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. Given the type of administrative guidance that we see Jethro giving Moses in Exodus 18:13–27, it is reasonable to suppose that instruction in the priesthood and priestly duties under the tutelage of Jethro constituted at least part of Moses’s earlier forty-year period of preparation for what lay ahead.[25] Perhaps it was during this crucial time of Moses’s life that the Lord helped him overcome his fears and doubts (see Exodus 3:11). In fact, when Moses experienced his own theophany, the Lord promised him that those whom he would lead out of Egypt would “serve God upon this mountain” (Exodus 3:12), and this was to be a “token” to Moses.[26] God’s promise to Moses that others would also experience his presence foreshadows the grand purposes the Lord had for his people and accentuates and clarifies the purpose behind Moses’s calling. God would eventually lead Moses and the children of Israel into the wilderness where he intended to make them a “peculiar treasure” and a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:3–6). Here the Hebrew text uses the word sĕgullâ, clarifying that the people would become the Lord’s,[27] his “sealed”[28] possession. The implication is that this will happen through priestly functions and ordinances, resulting in the Israelites becoming a “kingdom of priests.”[29]

Becoming a “peculiar treasure” and a “kingdom of priests” directly pertains to the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–25 details the blessings that God was extending to Israel when he sent Moses to deliver his people. They would receive the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood and see God’s face. Brigham Young taught, “If they had been sanctified and holy, the Children of Israel would not have traveled one year with Moses before they would have received their endowments and the Melchizedek Priesthood.”[30] What God wanted for ancient Israel Moses was then experiencing: being restored to the presence of God, an essential component of the “eternal life” that constitutes his “work to [his] glory” (OT1) or his “work and [his] glory” (Moses 1:39). Moses received the necessary divine guidance, encouragement, and preparation to help him succeed, including the daunting tasks of confronting Pharaoh, sending the plagues on Egypt, and delivering Israel from bondage. The Lord provided this assistance through personal visitations and consistent communication with his newly called prophet.

To enable Moses to endure His immediate, physical presence, God effected a change in Moses’s physical body, a process the text describes as the “glory of God [being] upon Moses.”[31] Moses calls it a transfiguration,[32] a temporary change in appearance and nature that enables a person to stand in the presence of divine beings, ending shortly after the events of the experience have transpired. This short-term physical change differs from the longer-term physical change known as translation, which occurs when a special work is required of a person with a tangible body.[33] The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that translation constitutes an extended yet temporary terrestrial state:

Many may have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God and into an Eternal fullness, but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order and a place prepared for such characters, he held in reserve to be ministering Angels unto many Planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fulness as those who are resurrected from the dead.[34]

The physical reason for the transfiguration of Moses in chapter 1 is explained in the text: “Mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him” (Moses 1:11).[35] Withering can be associated with drying and shriveling up, a process often facilitated by intense heat. Notably, God is sometimes described in scripture as dwelling in “everlasting burnings” (Isaiah 33:14; Doctrine and Covenants 29:12; 130:6–7; 133:41; 137:2–3), which accords well with Moses’s experience of encountering God speaking from a burning bush (see Exodus 3:3). That bush was not necessarily on fire, but the radiance and appearance of flames represented the glory of God and is consistent with Ezekiel’s visions that describe the light and glory of God amid flames and light (see Ezekiel 1–2). The expressions “pillar of light” and a “pillar of fire” attempt to describe the same phenomenon in limited human language: the awe-inspiring appearance of celestial glory in the telestial world. In accounts of the First Vision, Joseph Smith states that a pillar of fire descended on him (see 1 Nephi 1:6 for Lehi’s similar experience)—rather than the pillar of light described in our current 1838 text of the Joseph Smith History—and expresses surprise that the sacred grove was not consumed:

a pillar of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon my <me> head, and filled me with joy unspeakable, a personage appeard in the midst, of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God; <and I saw many angels in this vision> [36]

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:

God Almighty himself dwells in Eternal fire, flesh and blood cannot go there, all corruption is devoured by the fire—Our God is a consuming fire [Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29]—when our flesh is quickened by the Spirit, there will be no blood—some dwell in higher glory than others. . . . Immortality dwells in everlasting burning.[37]

Accounts from the School of the Prophets also describe such burnings and sensations during visitations from heavenly beings and underscore a concept we might not always think about while reading of theophanies—namely, what it feels like to be in the presence of divine beings.

About the time the school was first organized some wished to see an angel, and a number joined in the circle and prayed. When the vision came, two of the brethren shrank and called for the vision to close or they would perish; they were brothers Hancock and Humphries. When the Prophet came in they told him what they had done and he said the angel was no further off than the roof of the house, and a moment more he would have been in their midst.[38]

Isaiah’s self-described fear of perishing in the Lord’s presence in Isaiah 6:5 is similar to what some early Church members felt upon witnessing theophanies. The following account about Zebedee Coltrin provides a vivid example:

At one of these meetings after the organization of the school, . . . when we were all together, Joseph having given instructions, and while engaged in silent prayer, kneeling, with our hands uplifted each one praying in silence, no one whispered above his breath, a personage walked through the room from east to west, and Joseph asked if we saw him. I saw him and suppose the others did and Joseph answered that is Jesus, the Son of God, our elder brother. Afterward Joseph told us to resume our former position in prayer, which we did. Another person came through; he was surrounded as with a flame of fire. He (Brother Coltrin) experienced a sensation that it might destroy the tabernacle as it was of consuming fire of great brightness. The Prophet Joseph said this was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I saw Him.

When asked about the kind of clothing the Father had on, Brother Coltrin said: I did not discover his clothing for he was surrounded as with a flame of fire, which was so brilliant that I could not discover anything else but his person. I saw his hands, his legs, his feet, his eyes, nose, mouth, head and body in the shape and form of a perfect man. He sat in a chair as a man would sit in a chair, but this appearance was so grand and overwhelming that it seemed I should melt down in his presence, and the sensation was so powerful that it thrilled through my whole system and I felt it in the marrow of my bones. The Prophet Joseph said: Brethren, now you are prepared to be the apostles of Jesus Christ, for you have seen both the Father and the Son and know that they exist and that they are two separate personages.[39]

In the opening verses in the Book of Moses, Moses speaks with the Lord face-to-face and learns the purpose of his calling. He feels what it is like to be with God, and that inevitably had a profound effect on how he moved forward in his calling. As in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s 1838 account of his first vision and his subsequent interviews with the angel Moroni (see Joseph Smith—History 1:20, 48), Moses describes being completely drained of energy following his conversation with the Lord:

9 And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.

10 And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.[40]

Moses truly came to understand his and humankind’s nothingness in comparison to God, and he learned an essential truth in relation to participating in the work of the Lord:

The Lord has made it very clear that no man can assist with this work unless he is humble and full of love (see D&C 12:8). Humility does not mean timidity. Humility does not mean fear. Humility does not mean weakness. You can be humble and still be courageous. You can be humble and still be vigorous and strong and fearless. . . . Humility is an acknowledged recognition of our dependence on a higher power.[41]

Moses gained this humility when he came to know God on a very personal basis. What is more, the Lord affirmed that Moses was anything but “nothing”:

4 And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.

5 Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.

6 And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.

Moses heard the precious declaration “Moses, my son”—his own personal name followed by a precise relational declaration—teaching him of his relationship to God and of his own divine potential.[42] What a life-changing and soul-expanding discovery for one called to the work! What a precious pearl of great price! The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that we cannot understand our own nature without understanding the nature of God:

If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves. . . .

If the vail was rent to-day, and the Great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible; I say, if you were to see Him to-day, you would see him like a man in form— like yourselves, in all the person, image, and very form as a man;— for Adam was created in the very fashion, image, and likeness of God, and received instruction from and walked, talked, and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another. . . . Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer. When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, He is ready to come to us.[43]

Hearing the words “my son” must have instilled Moses with dignity, confidence, and assurance as the Lord further informed him that He had a work for him to do. Moses would also learn the more specific, related truth that he was “in the similitude of the only begotten” who “shall be the Savior,” possibly a reference beyond being a son of God to the role Moses would play in saving and delivering Israel from Egyptian bondage.[44] This truth connected him more deeply to Jesus Christ and his role as Redeemer of Israel and Savior of the world. These truths must have been staggering for Moses to learn, but learning them invited his trust in the Lord. In the face of his Egyptian, polytheistic upbringing in the Egyptian royal household whose members were believed to be “begotten” incarnations of deities, Moses learned that there is “no God besides me” and that “all things are present with me, for I know them all” (Moses 1:6).

What happens next serves as a poignant lesson for Moses as he comes to understand the omniscience of God and the nature of his omnipresence (“all things are present before me,” v. 6). He not only hears these crucial truths that will help him in his calling, but he will also now see and be shown what God has told him:

7 And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee.

8 And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered.

Moses is beginning to see what God sees.[45] He witnesses God’s children on earth (at least those of the past and present, if not more). The Lord introduces Moses to the purpose of creation and his role on this earth. Moses learns the important truth that we are required to trust in the Lord as we navigate our way through life, including through the difficult assignments and callings we are asked to accomplish, and during which we may often feel are far beyond our own capabilities to accomplish.[46]

Moses also learns that the Lord can do a lot more with our lives than we can and that he is willing to share knowledge with us to help us accomplish his purposes. And we, with Moses, learn that we can trust in the Lord’s omniscience. He has created and saved “worlds without number” (Moses 1:33). We can trust him. Our Heavenly Father did not and does not leave the accomplishment of his plan of salvation to chance, hoping that things go well as he encounters situations he did not see coming. Elder Neal A. Maxwell underscores this reality:

There is a vast difference, therefore, between an omniscient God and the false notion that God is on some sort of post-doctoral fellowship, still searching for additional key truths and vital data. Were the latter so, God might, at any moment, discover some new truth not previously known to Him that would restructure, diminish, or undercut certain truths previously known by Him. Prophecy would be mere prediction. Planning assumptions pertaining to our redemption would need to be revised. Fortunately for us, however, His plan of salvation is constantly underway—not constantly under revision.[47]

The personal nature of Moses’s encounter with God and what he was learning must have infused Moses with confidence.

The Conversation

Moses’s face-to-face conversation with the Lord in the opening verses of the Book of Moses may give one the impression that Moses is speaking with God the Father. Indeed, the words “Moses, my son; . . . thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:6) seem to indicate as much. Such wording, however, may be an example of what has been termed divine investiture of authority—that is, Jehovah, who is Christ, is speaking on behalf of the Father. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught this principle:

All revelation since the fall has come through Jesus Christ, who is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. In all of the scriptures, where God is mentioned and where he has appeared, it was Jehovah who talked with Abraham, with Noah, Enoch, Moses and all the prophets. He is the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel; the one who led that nation out of Egyptian bondage, and who gave and fulfilled the Law of Moses. The Father has never dealt with man directly and personally since the fall, and he has never appeared except to introduce and bear record of the Son.[48]

Of the pattern of divine investiture of authority, Elder Robert E. Wells offered this summary: “Jesus Christ was and is Jehovah of the Old Testament, the God of Adam and of Noah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jehovah appeared to and talked to the ancient prophets. When He spoke, He did so on behalf of the Father, and He said what His Father would have said. Jehovah of the Old Testament became Jesus Christ of the New Testament when He was born into mortality.”[49] Thus we should not find it strange that Jesus (Jehovah), as the Son of God, often speaks on behalf of his Father. The same pattern of authorized, delegated speech in the first person occurs throughout the scriptures, especially in the form of prophets speaking for the Lord.

The following example comes from instruction that Jeremiah received from the Lord. Notice the first-person declaration that Jeremiah is commanded to speak to the people of his day—speech that is unquestionably the Lord’s but is uttered by Jeremiah:

4 And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you,

5 To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened;

6 Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.

7 So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord. (Jeremiah 26:4–7)

This type of delegation of first-person speech is not uncommon; we are just more accustomed to hearing the Old Testament language of the preceding introductory clause, “Thus saith the Lord.”

That said, we do not negate the possibility that the Father is present at some point during the conversations with Moses as they are described in Moses 1. In view of what the Prophet Joseph Smith stated in relation to the “Second Comforter,” or “the Lord Jesus Christ himself” (Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Comforter”), it is possible that the Father was present or appeared at some point during the events described in Moses 1. The Savior himself, during those tender discussions associated with the Last Supper before his travails in Gethsemane and on the cross, described that he and the Father would come and make his abode with his disciples (see John 14). He spoke of a Second Comforter. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained the nature of this Second Comforter:

Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ himself & this is the sum & substance of the whole matter, that when any man obtains this last Comforter he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him or appear unto him from time to time. & even he will manifest the Father unto him & they will take up their abode with him, & the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him & the Lord will teach him face to face & he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. & this is the state & place the Ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious vision Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of patmos, St. Paul in the third heavens, & all the saints who held communion with the general Assembly & church of the Firstborn.[50]

While there is no conclusive evidence that the Father was present on the mountain during these conversations with Moses, it remains a possibility. Elder Alvin R. Dyer suggested that the Father and the Son were present on both occasions of these divine manifestations to Moses and Joseph Smith.[51] What is clear, in any case, is that Moses comes to better understand who God is, who he himself is, and what God is asking him to do. These experiences prepare Moses to learn more about God, but also about the nature of Satan, who will vigorously oppose and attempt to thwart the work God calls Moses to do. These divine manifestations and spiritual experiences will sustain Moses through a terrifying encounter with Satan. God and his love for Moses are the anchor that will stabilize Moses throughout that ordeal.


[1] See Revelation, April 1829–A [D&C 6], pp. 36–37, The Joseph Smith Papers; and Doctrine and Covenants 6:26–27. Some of the revelations feature Oliver Cowdery, who would be instrumental in helping to bring forth the Book of Mormon as scribe, but the revelations may also indicate further scribal activity beyond the Book of Mormon. According to Revelation Book 1, Joseph dictated four revelations in April 1829, all of them associated with translation, potentially alluding to the revelation of the Book of Moses the following year. See Revelation, April 1829–B [D&C 8], p. 13, The Joseph Smith Papers; and Matthews, “Plainer Translation,26–27.

[2] See Visions of Moses, June 1830 [Moses 1], “Historical Introduction,” The Joseph Smith Papers. Robert J. Matthews, in “Plainer Translation,” 26, suggests that Joseph and Oliver may have had some understanding of their future translation activities.

[3] Visions of Moses, June 1830 [Moses 1], “Historical Introduction,” note 4, The Joseph Smith Papers. See Jackson, “Joseph Smith’s Cooperstown Bible,” 41–70.

[4] “Many Latter-day Saints still do not know that the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price is an excerpt from the JST. It includes the vision Moses experienced before God revealed to him the creation account (now Moses 1), and it includes the JST of Genesis 1:1–6:13 (now Moses 2–8).” Jackson, “New Discoveries in the Joseph Smith Translation,” 175. Richard L. Bushman, in Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction, 64, notes that Moses 1 was not “an independent revelation that evolved into a retranslation of the Bible” but an important component of the translation project as a whole.

[5] Visions of Moses, June 1830 [Moses 1], p. 3, The Joseph Smith Papers. As noted in the historical introduction to that document, “The June 1830 revelation began a new episode in Joseph’s involvement with ancient texts, becoming as it did the opening portion of a much larger Genesis-related manuscript. Joseph and Oliver likely saw the ‘Visions of Moses’ as providing insight into a biblical figure and event; in this case, the revelation expands the view of Moses but also records narratives at best hinted at in biblical texts.” See Draper, “Remarkable Book of Moses,” 15.

[6] See MacKay and Frederick, Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones, 126–27; and Flake, “Translating Time,” 506. On many occasions Joseph described what he “saw” in vision. See, e.g., the heading to Doctrine and Covenants 76; Dibble, “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, May 15, 1892, 303–4; Discourse, 16 April 1843, as Reported by Wilford Woodruff, p. [27], The Joseph Smith Papers; and Book of Commandments, 1833, p. 18, The Joseph Smith Papers. Speaking of some of the visions Joseph had in which he witnessed ancient events, his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, recorded that “Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing [interesting] recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent; their dress, mode of travelling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, and their buildings, with every particular; he would describe their <mode of> warfare, as also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them.” Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, p. 87, The Joseph Smith Papers. Throughout his ministry as a prophet, seer, and revelator, Joseph Smith would see glorious visions of eternity, including events, episodes, and peoples associated with ancient scripture.

[7] Terryl Givens and Brian Hauglid, in Pearl of Greatest Price, 37, see in Moses 1 a possible fulfillment of events described in Numbers 12:8, an account they believe may have included seeing the similitude of the Lord and other things that are now removed from that account.

[8] For more information about the persecution faced by Joseph and Church members, see the entry for June 1830 in History, 1838–1856, volume A–1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834], p. 41–48, The Joseph Smith Papers. The list of persecutions included tearing down dammed-up streams where baptisms were performed, seeking to prevent baptisms and disrupt confirmations, ridiculing early converts, and making physical threats against the prophet and others. Knight, “Autobiography and Journal. Throughout the summer and fall of 1830, mobs combined against Church members and overturned wagons, and Joseph Smith was arrested and chased by a mob as he was being escorted to a courthouse, where he was subsequently acquitted. See Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 116–18.

[9] History, 1838–1856, volume A–1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834], p. 45, The Joseph Smith Papers.

[10] McConkie, “Joseph Smith: The Mighty Prophet of the Restoration.” This should be added to the bib. See History, circa June–October 1839 [Draft 1], pp. 12–13, The Joseph Smith Papers. Roy Doxey provided the following summary of this account and the faithfulness of Newel Knight throughout his life thereafter:

Newell Knight was the subject of the first miracle performed in the Church. The Prophet persuaded him to pray in public, whereupon he said, “he would try and take up his cross, and pray vocally during meeting.” He failed, but retired to the woods the next morning and was overcome by an evil power. Upon reaching home, he summoned the Prophet, who, when he arrived, found “his visage and limbs distorted and twisted in every shape and appearance.” The Prophet commanded the evil spirit to come out of him, and Brother Knight said “he saw the devil leave him and vanish from his sight.” Brother Knight remained a faithful, devoted member of the Church until his death January, 1847, on the plains of Nebraska, leaving his wife, Lydia, and their seven children. When she and her family were confronted with the trek across the plains alone, she cried out in her loneliness: “Oh Newel, why hast thou left me?” As she spoke, he stood by her side, and said: “Be calm, let not sorrow overcome you. It was necessary that I should go. I was needed behind the veil to represent the true condition of this camp and people. You cannot fully comprehend it now; but the time will come when you shall know why I left you and our little ones. Therefore, dry up your tears. Be patient. I will go before you and protect you in your journeyings. And you and your little ones shall never perish for lack of food. Although the ravens of the valley should feed you and your little ones, you shall not perish for the want of bread.” Doxey, Prophecies and Prophetic Promises, 64–65.

[11] History, 1838–1856, volume A–1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834], p. 3, The Joseph Smith Papers. Richard Bushman, in Rough Stone Rolling, 135–36, compares Joseph’s struggle with the power of evil before his first vision with the alternation of light/truth and evil/darkness as described in Moses 1.

[12] The future revelation of temple ritual would further explain the nature of the adversary, and some of the events found in the early chapters of Moses would be ritually reenacted in the temple through drama. The early chapters of Moses touching on the existence and origin of the devil would have a profound influence on the Saints and increase their ability to expel evil influences from their lives. For the development of temple ritual in the Restoration and the effect of the Book of Moses on it, see chapter 22 herein.

[13] History, 1838–1856, volume A–1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834], p. 48, The Joseph Smith Papers.

[14] See Lindsay and Reynolds, “ Case for Ancient Roots in the Book of Moses,” 1–92.

[15] See, History, 1838–1856, volume E–1 [1 July 1843–30 April 1844], p. 1755, in The Joseph Smith Papers,

[16] This reading follows OT1. OT2 has the phrase following “children of men” crossed out. Throughout this volume we will use the 2013 canonized text of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unless otherwise noted. For the manuscript editions and the variations on this verse contained therein, see Jackson, Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts, 57–66; Faulring, Jackson, and Matthews, Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 86. For a discussion on extra-biblical writings that preserve traditions of the visions Moses received on mountain peaks with a command not to write them but to keep them secret, see Bradshaw, In God’s Image, 36–37. Bradshaw, in Image and Likeness, 33, describes Moses 1 as a restoration of “an authentic core of primeval traditions in its stories of Satan’s rebellion in the premortal existence, and of his dramatic confrontation with Moses.”

[17] See, i.e., Avishur, Phoenician Inscriptions and the Bible; Avishur, Studies in Biblical Narrative; and Moor and Watson, Verse in Ancient Near Eastern Prose.

[18] See 2 Nephi 3:15 (14–16); JST Genesis 50:33.

[19] See Bowen, “Onomastic Allusions to Joseph in Moses 1:41,” 297–304.

[20] It is unclear what language(s) Moses would have spoken (Egyptian, Canaanite, etc.). The Hebrew language developed after Moses, but he probably spoke a language and dialect similar to it and from which Hebrew would eventually derive (along with the literary conventions that would develop into Hebrew scribal traditions).

[21] In Joseph Smith’s 1832 account of his first vision, he described the peace he felt after his initial fear and the comfort that came after God called him by name, as well as the effect it had on him in the following days: “and my soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great Joy and the Lord was with me but could find none that would believe the hevnly vision nevertheless I pondered these things in my heart.” History, circa Summer 1832, p. 3, The Joseph Smith Papers. We will learn later in this chapter that the events of Moses 1 occur after the burning bush incident in Exodus 3 but before the Exodus. In Exodus 3 Moses is told that his theophany is what the Lord intended for all the children of Israel. In fact, the Lord says of his appearance to Moses, “This shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye [plural] shall serve God upon this mountain” (Exodus 3:12). The entire purpose of the Exodus was to prepare the people to see and converse with God (compare Doctrine and Covenants 84:23–24; JST Exodus 3:11–12). Subsequently, this theme of preparing to see God continued throughout the Restoration (see Doctrine and Covenants 67:10, 13; 93:1). All of this is paving the way for the Lord’s explanation in Moses 1:39 that his work and glory is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life” of his children. We witness this up through the events of Exodus 19–20.

[22] The title “Savior” was not present in OT1 but was added by an undetermined scribe in OT2. Jackson, Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts, 59. In this context the title helps clarify the role of God’s Only Begotten Son. This will be in stark contrast to the polytheistic world in which Moses was raised. A major point of contention, and the backdrop of the entire exodus story, is the confrontation between Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt (see Exodus12:12; 9:29). See Muhlestein, “‘What I Will Do to Pharaoh.’” This shifting template for Moses is now based on what he is learning from his revelations and theophanies that have come to help him see and hear the words of God.

[23] Although unknown, the location of Moses’s theophany is traditionally located somewhere on Mount Sinai (also known as Mount Horeb throughout Exodus and Deuteronomy). At least twelve mountainous locations have been proposed as the site. Olson, New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 280. Based on geographical descriptions in the Bible and the association with Midianite peoples, many see the interaction of Moses with his father-in-law Jethro plausibly located in the region of Midian in northwestern Arabia, just east of the Sinai Peninsula. Others, in view of elevation and biblical descriptions of travel times throughout the Exodus, follow Byzantine traditions that situate the events at Jebel Musa (Arabic for “mountain of Moses”) at the southern end of the Sinai Peninsula. See Olson, New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 280–81. See also Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Sinai, 131; and Finkelstein, “Raider of the Lost Mountain,” 46–50.

[24] On multiple occasions Moses receives his training from the Lord on high mountaintops (see Exodus 3:1; Moses 1:1, 42). There are several high mountain peaks in the Sinai Peninsula and very few surrounding Pharaoh’s cities, which, according to the book of Exodus, suggests that the Israelites and Moses were around the cities of Pithom and Raamses (see Exodus 1:11). The sites referred to as biblical Goshen are in the region of the old Hyksos capital of Avaris/Tell El-Dab’a (see map). Moses also seems to have received his early training in the company of his father-in-law Jethro, priest of Midian (see Exodus 2:16, 3:1—also named Ruel in Exodus 2:18 and Hobab), from whom Moses received the Melchizedek Priesthood (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:6) and who lived in the region at this time with his Midianite people (see map of Midianites). The Midianites’ story is an interesting one. Midian was the son of Abraham and Keturah (see Genesis 25:2), and here several centuries later in the fringes of the Sinai or Arabian Peninsula, we find his descendants holding the Melchizedek Priesthood and exercising it (see Exodus 18:12; Doctrine and Covenants 84:6). This gives us a much greater perspective of priesthood operation in the Old Testament world and opens interesting possibilities about the scope of God’s plan in that day and age. While we tend to focus on Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac, there are descendants of Abraham and Keturah who held the Melchizedek Priesthood and exercised its authority in this relatively unknown story defining the priesthood lineage/heritage of the ministry of Moses. The use of the priesthood seems to have been more widespread than we sometimes assume. From some early Late Bronze Age texts in the region of Midian, the epigraphic evidence includes a divine name YHW, which some believe was an early form of the God Jehovah. See Blenkinsopp, “Midianite-Kenite Hypothesis Revisited,”131–53; and Booij, “Mountain and Theophany in the Sinai Narrative,” 1–26.

[25] Moses’s life is traditionally broken down into three forty-year periods: forty years in Egypt, forty years pre-Exodus, and forty years post-exodus (see Acts 7:20–36). The recorded events in the life of Moses may not have happened in close succession; the Lord seems to have been training Moses for decades in his priestly duties in preparation for his prophetic calling and the events described in the Book of Moses and as well as in Exodus. This training seems to have come, at least in part, at the hands of Jethro. Moses could have had numerous significant preparatory experiences before Exodus 3 and the burning bush. Moses perhaps felt prophetic stirrings even before leaving Egypt and before his contact with the Midianites: “And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not” (Acts 7:23–25). These stirrings may have been the Lord guiding Moses in his early preparations to become God’s prophet.

[26] The word token (אוֹת “sign, pledge, token”) constitutes a pledge between God and Moses. Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon, 16 (hereafter BDB). “A sign (ʾôt) is a concrete object or event that signifies something else. . . . It can also be used of things that humans are to do to remind themselves of God, his works, and his relationship with them (e.g., Gen 17:11; Exod 31:13). . . . References often function pedagogically as a means of instructing Israel to remember what God has done for them and to trust in him accordingly.” “Miracles,” in Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook. This covenantal type pledge is also found within the flood story, the token of the rainbow, the Sabbath as a promise and covenant made to God, and the Cain and Abel story (see Exodus 3:12; Genesis 9:11–13; Exodus 31:13, 16; Genesis 4:15/Moses 5:40).

[27] סְגֻלָּה (segullâ) means “possession, valued property, peculiar treasure” (BDB, 688); and segullâ may have parallels with Akk. sikiltu(m), which in various inscriptions means “to acquire a private fortune” and can designate “the king as the ‘special, personal property,’ as a ‘worshiper,’ of the deity.” Jenni and Westermann, Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament, 791. This seems to help highlight how much we mean to God and how far he is willing to go to ensure we enjoy his presence. We are his treasures.

[28] Nibley, “On the Sacred and the Symbolic,” 559.

[29] See Schade and Seely, “Writings of Malachi in Third Nephi,” 261–79; and Belnap and Skinner, “Promise and the Provocation.”

[30] See Doctrine and Covenants 84:23; and Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 6:100 (November 29, 1857).

[31] We do not know the original word translated here, but often in the Hebrew Bible the word is כָּבוֹד (kābôd), “glory, honor, divine presence.” It often “refers to manifestations of the presence of God in the tabernacle or temple; can also refer to the reputation or character of God or, occasionally, men.” G. R. Lanier, “Glory,” in Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook. The context here seems to situate Moses in personal communication with God.

[32] “The English word transfiguration stems from the KJV, which translated the aorist passive form of the Greek verb μεταμορφόω (metamorphoō) as “he was transfigured” (Matt 17:2; Mark 9:2).” T. R. Hatina, “Transfiguration,” in Barry et al., Lexham Bible Dictionary. Transfiguration is the “name given to that singular event recorded in all the Synoptic Gospels (Matt 17:1–8; Mark 9:2–8; Luke 9:28–36), when Jesus was visibly glorified in the presence of three select disciples. The name is derived from the Latin term used to translate the Greek metamorphoō, meaning ‘to change into another form.’ The accounts portray the transformation as outwardly visible and consisting in an actual physical change in the body of Jesus: ‘The appearance of his face changed’ (Luke 9:29), ‘his face shone like the sun’ (Matt 17:2), while ‘his clothes became dazzling white’ (Mark 9:3). The glory was not caused by the falling of a heavenly light on him from without but by the flashing forth of the radiant splendor within. He had passed into a higher state of existence.” Douglas and Tenney, New International Bible Dictionary, 1032.

[33] See Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:111, 271–272.

[34] History, 1838–1856, volume C–1 [2 November 1838–31 July 1842], p. 17 [addenda], The Joseph Smith Papers. A translated person is taken from the realms of mortality but can tarry on earth, not tasting of death until the time of the Resurrection (see McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 806–7), when that person will be changed in “the twinkling of an eye” (3 Nephi 28:8; Doctrine and Covenants 43:32; 63:51; 101:31) without feeling the pains of death. At the end of his mortal life, Moses was translated (see Deuteronomy 34:5–6; Alma 45:19; Doctrine and Covenants 84:25). In that state he appeared with Elijah, another translated being (see 2 Kings 2:9–12), on the Mount of Transfiguration to bestow priesthood keys on Peter, James, and John (see Matthew 17:3–4; Mark 9:4–9; Luke 9:30). See Matthews, “Tradition, Testimony, Transfiguration, and Keys,” 305. Moses also returned in this dispensation as a resurrected being and again bestowed priesthood keys as part of the Restoration (see Doctrine and Covenants 110:11).

[35] The 1843 account in the Times and Seasons reads “strengthened before him” rather than “transfigured before him” (Jackson, Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts, 14), perhaps emphasizing the extinguishing of strength that Moses experienced (see Moses 1:9–10). The idea of being strengthened may reinforce the concept of transfiguration and its effects that enabled Moses to dwell in the presence of God. Moses 1:11 also mentions glory, a word that in Hebrew is etymologically related to “be heavy,” “the distinctive feature of the presence of God, often compared to power, weight or brightness.” Manser, Dictionary of Bible Themes, s.v. “glory.” Such a nuance may help highlight the physical condition associated with being transfigured.

[36] Conversations with Robert Matthews, 9–11 November 1835, p. 24, The Joseph Smith Papers.

[37] Discourse, 12 May 1844, as Reported by Thomas Bullock, p. [2], The Joseph Smith Papers. See also Doctrine and Covenants 67:10–13; 76:117–118. Interestingly, Doctrine and Covenants 84:21–22 associates seeing God with the priesthood and its ordinances. See Brown, Joseph Smith’s Translation, 100–1.

[38] Coltrin, “Minutes of the Salt Lake City School of the Prophets,” 66.

[39] Coltrin, “Minutes of the Salt Lake City School of the Prophets,” 56–57; emphasis added. For a similar sacred experience, see the account cited in Ballard, Sermons and Missionary Services, 156–57.

[40] OT1 and OT2 read here “for this once I know,” following the 1843 Times and Seasons publication. See Jackson, Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts, 14. Sidney Rigdon was exhausted after the vision he and Joseph Smith had upon receiving the revelation now recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 76. During that vision Joseph and Sidney conversed back and forth about what they were seeing of the three degrees of glory. Philo Dibble wrote what he had witnessed in observing that experience: “Joseph sat firmly and calmly all the time in the midst of a magnificent glory, but Sidney sat limp and pale, apparently as limber as a rag, observing which Joseph remarked, smilingly, ‘Sidney is not used to it as I am.’” Cannon, “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” 303–4. Such spiritual experiences helped people like Moses, Joseph Smith, and Sidney Rigdon “for this once” to comprehend the majesty of God. Moses’s experience recorded in Moses 1 taught him about God’s glory and the devil’s lack thereof. That knowledge would be pivotal in Moses’s subsequent experiences and ministry.

[41] Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 119, 369.

[42] “Moses grew up essentially an orphan in pharaoh’s house with a name that meant ‘son of no one.’ . . . How marvelous it must have been . . . to have the Savior appear to him and say, ‘You are my son.’” Marsh, Precious Truths Restored, 78. The name Moses etymologically derives from the Egyptian mss, “begotten of.” Many Egyptian names derive from this etymology followed by a theophoric or nominal element (Rameses, Thutmose, etc). If Moses ever had a theophoric or other descriptive element attached to his name, it is impossible to retrieve it based on the extant textual evidence. In the scriptural texts we simply know him as Moses.

[43] History, 1838–1856, volume E–1 [1 July 1843–30 April 1844], pp. 1969, 1970, 1972–1973, The Joseph Smith Papers. When Moses received his revelations on creation, he learned more about being created in the image of God and what that meant.

[44] With only the English translation, and without knowing the original word, similitude is difficult to interpret in this passage. In English it can refer to the quality of, or being similar to, something. However, in the KJV where the word similitude occurs, multiple Hebrew words are employed, ranging from the meaning of “to be similar” to “image,” used in the creation account to describe the physical characteristics of God. Therefore, the meaning here may elicit multiple meanings reflecting Moses as a son of God, but also the necessity for Moses to minister like the Son of God. It is interesting that in Deuteronomy 18:15 we read of one who will be raised up like unto Moses: “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” In 1 Nephi 22:21, Nephi describes this prophet as “the Holy One of Israel.” In the New Testament, Peter declares Jesus as a fulfillment of this prophet (see Acts 3:22), and in the Restoration, Moroni told Joseph that this passage in Acts 3:22 referred to Christ (see Joseph Smith—History 1:40). Thus, Moses was going to be in similitude of the Savior in his day as a deliverer of God’s people, and Jesus, in his own day, was going to be a fulfillment of the “prophet” whom the people were to follow in Christ’s day and whom Moses commanded that they should follow. Perhaps this is at least partially referenced in John 5:39, 46 when Jesus tells the people to “search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” and “for had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.”

[45] Doctrine and Covenants 76:94 states, “They who dwell in his [God’s] presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace.” Moses is beginning to learn in some small measure what it is like to see through the eyes of God, not only how he views himself but how he views others.

[46] See for example, Doctrine and Covenants, 1835, p. 47, The Joseph Smith Papers; and Smith, Lectures on Faith, 4:43.

[47] Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, 15.

[48] Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:27. The identification of Jesus as Jehovah is significant here and may be reflected in the designation “Endless is my name” (Moses 1:3). The name Jehovah (yhwh) is known as the tetragrammaton (Greek for “four letters”) and constitutes the divine, sacred name of God. To this day it is not vocalized in Judaism (nor do we know the original pronunciation from ancient sources alone); instead, it is replaced with words meaning “the name” (hashem) or “Lord” (Adonai). The name is possibly reflected in the Semitic root meaning “to be” (hyh, the older root hwh), i.e., existing with no designation of a beginning or end. The original pronunciation of the word has been lost, but variant spellings and writings of this deity occur in hypocoristic, abbreviated names in epigraphic material (some possibly as early as the 11th century BC), as well as in Greek transcriptions from early Christian writers such as Clement of Alexandria. See Van der Toorn, Becking, and Van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 910. The name Jehovah originates from the same root used in Exodus 3:14, where the Lord, speaking to Moses, refers to himself as “I Am”; this is also the same root word that underlies the language the Savior in the New Testament used when he declared, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58), thereby linking himself to that God of the Old Testament. (In John 8:58, Jesus’s declaration “I am” is preserved in Greek with the words egō eimi. John’s recording events uses the Septuagint (LXX) translation of Exodus 3:14, egō eimi ho ōn, to capture Jesus’s allusion to the divine name). See Jackson, Restored Gospel and the Book of Genesis, 16n6.

[49] Wells, “Our Message to the World.”

[50] Discourse, between circa 26 June and circa 2 July 1839, as Reported by Willard Richards, pp. 20­–21, The Joseph Smith Papers. In the 1835 account of the First Vision, two beings are depicted as appearing, one before the other. See Journal, 1835–1836, pp. 23–24, The Joseph Smith Papers. Perhaps something similar happened in Moses 1.

[51] Dyer, Meaning of Truth, 12. Moses 1:31 describes that the “glory of the Lord was upon Moses,” a phrase found in this passage originally in the 1902 edition of the Pearl of Great Price. See Jackson, Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts, 45. Both OT1 and OT2 read in that verse “the glory of God,” perhaps “implying more clearly that Moses stood in the presence of the Father rather than the Son.” Bradshaw, In God’s Image, 1:45. This statement is made in reference to verse 31 but may highlight or be applicable to the context under discussion here. What is interesting is that in the first few chapters of Genesis an alternation of the titles of God occurs. This variation has caused consternation for Bible scholars attempting to resolve why these different names occur. “While Gen 1 uses God, ʾělōhîm, consistently throughout, in Gen 2–3 we encounter right away the compound designation yhwh ʾělōhîm, Yahweh/the Lord God, which occurs nowhere else in Genesis. The synoptic reading produced by the editor quite naturally invites us to identify the God of Gen 1 with Yahweh God of Genesis 2–3. By reading them together, we are thrust at once into the heart of Israelite theology, which equates the God of the ancestors of Genesis 12–36 with the God of Moses and Sinai, whose name is Yahweh (Exodus 3:15–16; 6:2–8). Israel’s covenant God is also the sovereign Creator of the universe. The simple juxtaposition of Yahweh and Elohim as a compound name for God ensures that we read Genesis 1 and Genesis 2–3 together, in binocular fashion, and that we understand that the God of Israel’s covenant is also the God of creation.” Arnold, Genesis: New Cambridge Bible Commentary, 56. See Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary, 1:56–57.

The shift between the names of God in these chapters is perhaps attempting to highlight that Elohim and Jehovah are two separate beings and that Elohim is involved in the events of Genesis 1. The compound name that is formed in Genesis 2–3 is perhaps a conflation of Elohim and Jehovah as redactors of the Bible attempted to sort out how the two interacted and became conflated into confusion. The Restoration and its scripture, along with prophetic commentary on the subject, help to restore meaning to confusion and instill the existence of Elohim back into the events associated with creation. Perhaps Moses 1 also underscores Elohim’s participation in the events while defining the interconnected role of his son in these episodes, theophanies, and creative endeavors described in Moses 2/Genesis 1. It is interesting that Elohim is consistently used in Genesis 3:1–5 in the conversation between Eve and the serpent. See Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 56. Perhaps this usage emphasizes Elohim’s participation in the events rather than just being the general term for “God.”