“Behold These Thy Brethren!”

Deeply Seeing All of Our Brothers and Sisters

Joshua M. Sears

Joshua M. Sears is an assistant professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.

In October 2019, columnist David Brooks addressed the student body at Brigham Young University and identified one of the world’s great challenges:

Somehow we have entered an age of bad generalizations. We don’t see each other well. “Liberals believe that.” “Evangelicals believe that.” “Latter-day Saints believe that.” All groups, all stereotypes, all bad generalizations—we do not see the heart and soul of each person, only a bunch of bad labels. To me, this is the core problem that our democratic character is faced with. Many of our society’s great problems flow from people not feeling seen and known: Blacks feeling that their daily experience is not understood by whites. Rural people not feeling seen by coastal elites. Depressed young people not feeling understood by anyone. People across the political divides getting angry with one another and feeling incomprehension. Employees feeling invisible at work. Husbands and wives living in broken marriages, realizing that the person who should know them best actually has no clue. . . .

When you think about it, there is one skill at the center of any healthy family, company, classroom, community, university, or nation: the ability to see someone else deeply, to know another person profoundly, and to make them feel heard and understood.[1]

The ability to see other people “deeply” is desperately needed in our society, and Brooks’s suggestions are very helpful.[2] However, the challenge of truly understanding and appreciating others is not new, and we can find additional insights in the holy scriptures. The story of Enoch in the Pearl of Great Price offers a powerful example of a righteous individual who was tutored by God to deeply see other people and thus was able to experience God’s own compassion and empathy. A careful reading of this narrative suggests that Enoch began his ministry with an inclusive mandate to reach out to all people but that over time he excluded groups of people from his ministry. Below, I will begin by recounting God’s gentle rebuke of Enoch’s limited perspective and then review the history that helps explain how Enoch came to that point. I will then examine God’s two attempts to help Enoch more deeply see those people for whom he had stopped showing concern. Enoch’s spiritual journey to recognize and correct the blind spots in his love has much to teach us as we seek to recognize and correct our own.[3]

God Gently Rebukes Enoch

Enoch’s story is unfortunately limited to just four verses in the Old Testament (see Genesis 5:21–24), but a greatly expanded account was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith and appears in Moses 6:21–7:69.[4] By way of overview, Enoch received the Spirit of God (Moses 6:26), heard a voice command him to preach repentance to the people (6:27–30), became a seer (6:31–36), taught the people (6:37–47), and spoke of the Fall of Adam and Eve and the redemption available through Jesus Christ (6:48–68). He saw and spoke with the Lord (7:4), prophesied (7:7), and was commanded to baptize the repentant (7:10–11). His faith was so great that when enemies came to fight against the people of God, “[Enoch] spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled” (7:13). Enoch “built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion,” a place whose inhabitants “were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (7:18–19).

At that point, Enoch has another conversation with the Lord in which Enoch declares, “Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever!” (Moses 7:20).[5] And surely everything that has happened to the people of Zion has been wonderful, miraculous. Zion is now the jewel of the earth, the very model of an ideal society. However, the narrative clause introducing the Lord’s reply begins with the word but, indicating that the Lord will somehow critique what Enoch just said.[6] “But the Lord said unto Enoch: Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed” (7:20). God agrees with Enoch’s assessment of Zion. But, God then adds by way of “gentle rebuke”[7] that the residue of the people are not so fortunate.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines residue as “that which remains after a part is taken, separated, removed or designated.”[8] What does residue mean in this context? In the next verse, Enoch sees “all the inhabitants of the earth” and observes that “Zion, in process of time, [would be] taken up into heaven” (Moses 7:21). Then, “the residue of the people” is specifically defined as “the sons of Adam” (7:22).[9] Given Zion’s departure, the “residue” refers to all descendants of Adam and Eve who remain after the righteous city of Zion is taken up into heaven. Enoch’s declaration had focused on Zion’s blessed status without mentioning all the other people, an omission that the Lord draws attention to.

But why direct Enoch’s attention to those outside of Zion? I believe it has to do with the way Enoch’s preaching had transformed over his prophetic ministry. Over the course of Moses 6 and 7, we observe that there has been a gradual narrowing of the kinds of people that Enoch has been serving.

Enoch’s Narrowing Audience

Enoch had been raised in the land of Cainan, a “land of righteousness” (Moses 6:41) named after his great-grandfather (6:17). Enoch and all his ancestors back to Seth (6:10–22) were “preachers of righteousness” and “called upon all men, everywhere, to repent; and [they taught] faith . . . unto [all] the children of men” (6:23). Enoch had been called to leave his homeland of Cainan to preach repentance to other people, who for “many generations” had “gone astray . . . and [had] not kept the commandments” (6:27–28).[10] Given the righteousness ascribed to Seth’s line (6:23, 41), this people who had been living in wickedness for generations likely included the descendants of Cain.[11] Whatever the ancestry of Enoch’s wicked audience, the Lord had reinforced the universal nature of the “decree” Enoch was to share by declaring that it would “be sent forth in the world, unto the ends thereof” (6:30). At that early point in his prophetic career, Enoch had drawn attention to their common ancestor, “our father Adam” (6:51), and had pointed out to his wicked audience that “ye are my brethren” (6:43).

Later, however, Enoch’s preaching began to narrow in scope. First, the Lord had showed Enoch a vision and instructed him to prophesy of what would happen in coming generations (Moses 7:2–4). Enoch had seen two peoples, the people of Shum and the people of Canaan, and prophesied that the people of Canaan would completely destroy the people of Shum.[12] Their land would become “barren and unfruitful, and none other people [would] dwell there . . . ; for behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat” (7:7–8). Enoch then saw that “there [would be] a blackness [that would come] upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people” (7:8).[13] Following this vision and prophecy, the narrative reports that Enoch excluded the people of Canaan from his preaching, not even calling them to repent (7:12). As Jeffrey Bradshaw and David Larsen point out, “The restricted scope of Enoch’s ministry outlined here is in contrast to the universal extent of the teachings of the ‘preachers of righteousness’ [Moses 6:23] that preceded him.”[14]

Second, the Lord had then showed Enoch several lands—Sharon, Enoch, Omner, Heni, Shem, Haner, and Hanannihah—and had commanded him to preach repentance and baptize (Moses 7:9–11). Enoch called upon “all [these] people,” excepting those of Canaan, as already noted (7:12). In Moses 7:13, the converts that Enoch had gained are identified as a new group known as “the people of God” (7:13, 14, 19; called “his [God’s] people” in verses 16–18), and later designated “Zion” (7:18–21, 23, 27, 31, 47, 53, 68–69).[15] The narrative at this point describes a series of contrasts between the people of God and other people, particularly the “enemies” of God’s people who “came to battle against them” (7:13). Among “all nations” that were not part of the people of God, there was “fear,” “a curse,” and “wars and bloodshed” (7:13–17). At the conclusion of its report of such sharp contrasts, the narrative then informs us that Enoch “continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God” and that he “built a city that was called the City of Holiness” (7:19). The implication seems to be that Enoch at some point stopped preaching to all peoples and instead focused his preaching and society-building efforts on the converts he already had.[16] This interpretation is strengthened by the parallel language at two key points in the narrative: following the report in Moses 7:12 that “Enoch continued” to preach to all people (except those of Canaan), Moses 7:19 reports that “Enoch continued” to preach to the people of God (and apparently only them).

Thus we see that over the course of Enoch’s ministry, he had in stages gone from preaching to all people, to preaching to all people but the people of Canaan, to preaching to only the righteous people of God. It is difficult to determine what motivated this narrowing of his audience. While the text does not preclude the possibility that Enoch was following God’s express instructions, it is worth noting that neither does the text ever credit God with these changes. Tellingly, every statement that is attributed to God himself regarding the scope of the gospel message stresses the universality of that message:

  • “[My] decree . . . shall be sent forth in the world, unto the ends thereof” (Moses 6:30).
  • “God hath made known . . . that all men must repent” (Moses 6:50).
  • All men, everywhere, must repent” (Moses 6:57).
  • “I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely” (Moses 6:58).
  • “This is the plan of salvation unto all men” (Moses 6:62).
  • “And thus may all become my sons” (Moses 6:68). [17]

This pattern makes it all the more striking that, after his vision in Moses 7:6–8, Enoch, according to the narrative, “continued to call upon all the people, save it were the people of Canaan, to repent” (Moses 7:12; emphasis added). Although the Lord had cursed the land of the people of Canaan—not by any means a unique action in the Book of Moses (compare 5:25, 56; 7:10, 15; 8:4)—no explicit recorded instructions deny its people the opportunity to repent. Similarly, the narrative records no instructions from the Lord that Enoch stop preaching widely and instead focus solely on building up Zion.

God’s First Attempt to Help Enoch Deeply See the Residue

And that brings us once again to Enoch’s confident words to the Lord, “Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever!,” followed by the Lord’s rebuttal, “Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed” (Moses 7:20). In response to Enoch’s narrow focus, the Lord then literally expands Enoch’s vision by showing him “all the inhabitants of the earth. . . . And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; . . . and lo, all the nations of the earth were before him; and there came generation upon generation” (7:21–24).

This panoramic perspective quickly turns dark: “And behold, the power of Satan was upon all the face of the earth. And he saw angels descending out of heaven; and he heard a loud voice saying: Wo, wo be unto the inhabitants of the earth. And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it[18] veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced” (Moses 7:24–26).

What is Enoch’s response to this horrific scene of evil and darkness? As far as the text records—nothing. The residue of the people are living and dying on an earth shrouded in darkness while the devil laughs over them, but Enoch has apparently not internalized whatever God has been trying to show him. God, however, does react: “And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept” (Moses 7:28).[19]

But not Enoch. After all he’s seen, the message does not seem to have sunk in. As he saw generations wasting away in iniquity and despair, did he think they deserved it? Was he resentful of their violent actions against the people of Zion? Had he decided not to concern himself with their problems, as long as his own people “dwel[t] in safety forever”? We cannot know exactly what was in his mind, but it’s telling that when Enoch sees God weeping, Enoch reacts with surprise.

“How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?” Enoch asks, perplexed.

How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity? And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; . . . and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever; and thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end. (Moses 7:28–31; emphasis added)

Enoch seems to assume that divine beings should be immune to such sadness.[20] He points to God’s eternal nature and his vast creations—shouldn’t those please him? Enoch draws attention to the fact that God is the perfect embodiment of all that is merciful, kind, peaceful, just, truthful, and enduring—shouldn’t he then be satisfied? He even points out that God has the righteous Saints in Zion—shouldn’t the presence of these wonderful people bring God enough joy? In all his reasoning, however, Enoch fails to even mention the residue and the awful conditions in which they live. It seems not to have occurred to him that there is a connection.[21] Utterly confused, Enoch repeats his query, “How is it thou canst weep?” (Moses 7:31).

God’s response begins with four words. Together they are a command, a rebuke, and a sermon: “Behold these thy brethren!” (Moses 7:32).[22] Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines behold as “to fix the eyes upon; to see with attention; to observe with care.”[23] God’s command is to look, to really look—or to use David Brooks’s phrase, to “deeply see.” Enoch’s attention had been selective, but now he is commanded to widen his perspective to include everyone else.

The Lord’s identification of the residue as Enoch’s “brethren”—we would say “brothers and sisters” today—is crucial. Early in his prophetic career Enoch had told the wicked that they were “[his] brethren” (Moses 6:43), and he had stressed their common link to “[their] father Adam” (6:51). Had Enoch lost sight of that? His relationship with other people had certainly become more complicated since that early preaching. The people of Canaan were guilty of great violence and had become “despised among all people” (7:8). Some among those who did not convert and join Enoch’s “people of God” came out “to battle against them” as “enemies” (7:13). “There were wars and bloodshed among them” (7:16), in contrast to Zion, where there was peace (7:17). If Enoch experienced a hardening toward those people guilty of such great crimes, including attempts to destroy his beloved converts, we could hardly blame him—such a reaction is only too human.

But the Lord needed Enoch to be better than human.

Behold these thy brethren!” the Lord commands (Moses 7:32). His thunderous reply sweeps aside all the other possible labels for these non-Zionists—such as “people of [X]” (7:6–7, 12), “enemies” (7:13–14), “nations” (7:13, 17, 23), “residue” (7:20, 22, 28), or “inhabitants” (7:9, 21, 25). Emphasizing the point, “brethren” is repeated twice more in the verses that follow. The Lord’s use of a familial term, used long before by Enoch himself, can be read as a reminder, redirecting Enoch back to the inclusive approach that had been the hallmark of his ancestors (compare 6:23). The people out there are full of violence and wickedness, yes, and they have even come up to battle the people of God, but they are still Enoch’s brothers and sisters and deserving of his attention, and they should still have a claim upon his heart—just as they do upon God’s, as demonstrated by the divine tears that fall “as the rain upon the mountains” (7:28).

“And unto thy brethren,” the Lord continues, “have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father.” Then he explains in palpable agony, “But behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood” (Moses 7:33). The Lord continues to lament the “great wickedness” of Enoch’s “brethren” (7:36), but in highlighting their lack of “affection” and their “hate”—the only specific crimes they are charged with—can we not also detect a subtle rebuke against Enoch? “I have commanded my children to love one another,” the Lord seems to say, “so why aren’t you loving as fully as you should? How can you complacently point to the peace, prosperity, and righteousness of your own people and not react to the violence, the poverty, and the wickedness of everyone else? They may be without affection, but you shouldn’t be.”

God himself abhors the great wickedness of the residue and is rightfully moved to “indignation,” “hot displeasure,” and “fierce anger.” He must act against such depravity, so he promises to “send in the floods upon them” (Moses 7:34). And yet, despite the necessity of stopping such terrible sin and suffering, God takes no pleasure in the “misery [that] shall be their doom” (7:37).[24] “Wherefore,” he concludes, responding to Enoch’s earlier question, “should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?” (7:37; emphasis added). To underscore the point, the Lord repeats that inasmuch as Enoch’s brothers and sisters must experience “torment” (7:39), the heavens will weep over them, but not just the heavens: “and [also] all the workmanship of mine hands” (7:40; emphasis added). That surely includes Enoch, who ought to have been weeping as well.

God’s Second Attempt to Help Enoch Deeply See the Residue

With that stirring explanation, the Lord once again begins to educate Enoch, showing him a vision of “[all] the children of men” (Moses 7:41) and essentially restarting the process that Enoch had already experienced back in Moses 7:21–26. But this time, Enoch saw these things differently. This time, “Enoch knew” (7:41; emphasis added). This time, Enoch “looked upon their wickedness, and their misery”—that is, not just their wickedness, but also their misery, in contrast to his earlier focus.

The effect of this empathy was profound. No longer puzzled by tears, Enoch himself “wept,”[25] and he “stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook” (Moses 7:41).[26] His capacity to feel for others had truly become godlike.[27] It had taken the Lord two visions and a series of explanations, but Enoch now deeply saw his enemies for who they really were—his siblings, people of such worth in the eyes of God that the heavens themselves wept over them. That understanding, coupled with the divine empathy that came with it, changed Enoch forever.

A Path for Us to Follow

Enoch’s journey toward divine compassion for all people is immediately relevant to us. Fiona and Terryl Givens recognize the implications of his experience:

What transpires . . . to the prophet may be the only—it is surely the most vivid—example given in scripture of what the actual process of acquiring the divine nature requires. . . . His experience of the love that is indiscriminate in its reach and vulnerable in its consequences takes him to the heart of the divine nature. This is the mystery of godliness that Enoch does not just see, but now lives for himself.

Enoch’s encounter with God, his vicarious experience of infinite love, serves as a template for the path to heaven he—and all of us—hope to follow.[28]

Enoch’s story has much to teach us as we follow his same path. Enoch was reminded of the inclusive mandate he had initially received to reach out to “all men, everywhere” (Moses 6:23). We have observed that over time Enoch’s attention narrowed, both by excluding certain peoples and by focusing only on his fellow Saints in Zion. We cannot know for certain what motivated these shifts in his preaching, but regardless of whether the Lord directed the shifts, he still wanted Enoch to come to the point where he loved and sorrowed over even the wicked who had rejected him. The Lord’s repeated affirmation to Enoch that the residue of the people were “thy brethren” was not new information, but a reminder that Enoch had once identified with them as “my brethren” (7:32–33, 36; compare 6:43).

The latter-day restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith similarly burst upon the world with an expansive vision of all people, everywhere, as children of God.[29] New scripture described an inclusive God that “denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female . . . , both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26:33). “I the Lord am willing to make these things known unto all flesh,” God declared, “for I am no respecter of persons” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:34–35). This gospel was to “be free unto all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people they may be” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:51). Even in the next life, the opportunity for salvation was revealed to be so widely available that it scandalized many who first heard of it (see Doctrine and Covenants 76).[30] In 2020 the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a proclamation that opened by affirming this expansive vision: “We solemnly proclaim that God loves His children in every nation of the world.”[31]

Despite the inclusivity built into the DNA of the Restoration, we Latter-day Saints have not always lived up to the ideals set forth in our own scriptures.[32] Like Enoch, there have been times when, despite our inclusive mandate, our vision has been selective or obscured.[33] Some, at times, have adopted cultural perceptions of racial superiority or inferiority.[34] Some, at times, have restricted opportunities for women.[35] Some, at times, have demeaned those of other faiths or downplayed the beauty and truth in their religious experiences.[36] Some, at times, have given up on “the world” and its inexhaustible problems, preferring to concentrate exclusively on helping those inside the Church.[37] As the Restoration enters its third century, we can take stock, individually and collectively, to see if there are people the Lord would have us deeply see better than we do now. As with Enoch, this does not require radical redirection as much as a return to our roots.

Although we, like Enoch, must “behold” our brothers and sisters outside of Zion with the same love and concern we would extend to those inside, we face an additional challenge that he may not have had. In Enoch’s day, the people of God filled a city, but today the people of our Zion community are spread across the globe, with different languages, cultures, political persuasions, and life experiences. While Enoch only had to learn to see and love those outside his community, we may have to work just as hard to truly see and love those inside our own wards.

As the Church’s membership has become increasingly diverse, modern prophets have increasingly stressed the need for us to come together in unity. January 2021 saw the debut of a new Liahona magazine, redesigned specifically for all Latter-day Saints to use regardless of their country or language. Whatever our differences, the First Presidency declared that “we are united in our efforts to follow the Savior and rejoice in knowing that we are all children of God.”[38] Later in that issue, the new Liahona affirmed:

Creating belonging is an essential part of our journey to become like the Savior. . . . God’s love for His children is not exclusive, but rather all-inclusive. . . . He knows and cherishes:

  • The sister, recently divorced, who hurts during discussions about marriage.
  • The young adult struggling with questions, pleading for answers.
  • The sister suffering from anxiety, feeling deep loneliness and fear.
  • The young black brother, uncomfortable as his class discusses incorrect understandings about race and priesthood.
  • The sister who has not yet married and feels it means she has no value.
  • The mother of a child with disabilities, worried that his involuntary movements are distracting to others.
  • The brother with same-sex attraction, contemplating leaving the Church as he struggles to understand his future.
  • The sister who worries how she’ll be judged by others as she takes her first tentative steps back to church.

No circumstance, no situation, no individual is forgotten.[39]

If the Lord “knows and cherishes” those among us who are divorced, questioning, mentally ill, Black, single, disabled, gay, less active, or in whatever other circumstances, then surely Enoch’s experience suggests that we must do so also.[40] Unity is not achieved by excluding those who are different, but rather by including them.[41] “These [are] thy brethren [and sisters],” the Lord reminds us, “they are the workmanship of mine own hands. . . . Love one another” (Moses 7:32–33).

Whether we are seeking to love those outside the Church or inside, Enoch’s story also demonstrates that we need God’s help. Enoch could not have come to the point where he could sincerely weep for his enemies had God not granted him that capacity as a spiritual gift—and even for Enoch, it took multiple sessions of divine tutoring to get there! But all of us can “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love” (Moroni 7:48). This is the only way to build Zion and shine its light to build a better world for all. “We need God’s help,” Elder Gerrit W. Gong taught, “to create lasting justice, equality, fairness, and peace in our homes and communities. Our truest, deepest, most authentic narrative, place, and belonging come when we feel God’s redeeming love.”[42]

Finally, Enoch’s story demonstrates that seeing others deeply can be deeply painful, while also showing us how to overcome that pain. When Enoch saw the terrible fate that would fall upon the wicked, “he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren” (Moses 7:44). It had been easier to ignore the residue and focus on the happiness of Zion, but once Enoch fully confronted the extent of human suffering, he declared to God in agony, “I will refuse to be comforted!” (7:44).[43] For how could he ever again even want to be happy when so many others must suffer so much? I know I have felt that way—and so has everyone confronted with empathetic pain. Sometimes it seems that loving deeply and loving widely comes at the price of shared sorrow without end.

But God, who himself is full of empathy, has a different perspective and a reason for hope. “But the Lord said unto Enoch: Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look. And it came to pass that Enoch looked” (Moses 7:44–45). Enoch saw what we should all fix our gaze upon with an eye of faith: “the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh. . . . And he looked and beheld the Son of Man lifted up on the cross, after the manner of men; and he heard a loud voice; and the heavens were veiled; and all the creations of God mourned; and the earth groaned; and the rocks were rent; [but then] the saints arose, and were crowned at the right hand of the Son of Man, with crowns of glory; and as many of the spirits as were in prison came forth, and stood on the right hand of God” (7:47, 55–57).

Jesus and the cross. Atonement and Resurrection. Triumph and glory. Release and relief and reunions. And Enoch, who did not feel that he could be comforted, who did not even want to feel comforted, now “rejoiced,” exclaiming, “The Righteous is lifted up, and the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world; and through faith I am in the bosom of the Father, and behold, Zion is with me” (Moses 7:47). The Lord responded, “I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven, which is broad as eternity; whoso cometh in at the gate and climbeth up by me shall never fall; wherefore, blessed are they of whom I have spoken, for they shall come forth with songs of everlasting joy” (7:53).

David Brooks suggests that “we all have to get a little better at . . . seeing each other deeply and being deeply seen.”[44] Ultimately, Jesus Christ helps us do both. He makes it possible for us to understand, appreciate, and love all people more deeply, and he provides comfort and hope when love leads to sorrow. In the days of Enoch, “God received [Zion] up into his own bosom” (Moses 7:69), and as we await the prophesied return of Enoch’s city, we can continue to build Zion among ourselves by seeing all our brothers and sisters, all over the world, more deeply—until we are of one heart and one mind and dwell in righteousness, with no poor among us.


[1] David Brooks, “Finding the Road to Character” (Brigham Young University forum address, October 22, 2019), www.speeches.byu.edu. I have added emphases and quotation marks to help clarify Brooks’s meaning.

[2] A year after Brooks’s address, his words were quoted in Michelle D. Craig, “Eyes to See,” Ensign, November 2020, 16.

[3] Enoch’s story is most often invoked for what it tells us about the nature of God. See Eugene England, “The Weeping God of Mormonism,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 35, no. 1 (2002): 63–80; Daniel C. Peterson, “On the Motif of the Weeping God in Moses 7,” in Reason, Revelation, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, ed. Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and Stephen D. Ricks (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002), 285–317; Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Grandeur of God,” Ensign, November 2003, 70–73; and Terryl Givens and Fiona Givens, The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life (Salt Lake City: Ensign Peak, 2012). I will instead take a less common approach of reading Enoch’s story to track what it says about Enoch himself. For previous analyses that foreground Enoch’s perspective, see Daniel Belnap, “‘Ye Shall Have Joy in Me’: The Olive Tree, the Lord, and His Servants,” Religious Educator 7, no. 1 (2006): 43–44; and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Jacob Rennaker, and David J. Larsen, “Revisiting the Forgotten Voices of Weeping in Moses 7: A Comparison with Ancient Texts,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 2 (2012): 41–71.

[4] The Book of Moses comes from Joseph Smith’s new translation of the Bible and is the equivalent of the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of Genesis 1:1–6:13. Our earliest source for Joseph Smith’s dictation of this part of the JST is a manuscript known as Old Testament Manuscript 1, abbreviated OT1. John Whitmer later copied all of OT1 onto a second manuscript, known today as Old Testament Manuscript 2, or OT2. Transcriptions of OT1 and OT2 were published in Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds., Joseph Smith's New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004), 75–152 and 583–851, respectively. Images of the manuscript pages themselves are available at https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/old-testament-revision-1 and https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/old-testament-revision-2.

OT2 became the working manuscript that Joseph and his scribes worked from as they continued to make refinements to the text. However, because of a variety of historical circumstances, the version that was used for the Pearl of Great Price drew upon OT1, which means that some of the revisions intended by the Prophet and his scribes are not reflected there. See Kent P. Jackson, “How We Got the Book of Moses,” in By Study and by Faith: Selections from the Religious Educator, ed. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Kent P. Jackson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009), 136–47. I will quote from the canonical text used in the Pearl of Great Price, but in the notes I will occasionally draw attention to important alternate readings reflected in OT2.

[5] I have added an exclamation point to express the confident sentiment I read in Enoch’s words.

[6] OT1 reads “but,” which continues through the 2013 edition of the Pearl of Great Price, but in OT2 that “but” is replaced with “and” (in Sidney Rigdon’s handwriting). See Kent P. Jackson, The Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005), 121, https://rsc.byu.edu/book/book-moses-joseph-smith-translation-manuscripts. The Lord’s statement is still a critique without the narrator’s “but,” given that the Lord’s statement itself contains its own “but,” even in OT2.

[7] Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation; Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2014), 105, 137.

[8] See http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/residue.

[9] Moses 7:22 goes on to break down “the sons of Adam” into two categories. First is “a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain,” and second is “the seed of Cain” themselves, which the text reports “were black, and had not place among them,” meaning the general mixture of Adam and Eve’s descendants. Unfortunately, “the text does not clarify what [‘black’] means.” Kent P. Jackson, “Cain,” in Pearl of Great Price Reference Companion, ed. Dennis L. Largey (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2017), 84. The description of Cain’s descendants as “black” has often been understood as a physical trait (skin pigmentation), but some scholars have suggested that other meanings are possible, given that colors are often used symbolically to describe nonphysical qualities. See Bradshaw and Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2, 139.

[10] That Enoch’s preaching occurred at a distance from his homeland in Cainan is suggested by the fact that Mahijah is unfamiliar with Enoch and demands to know where he comes from (Moses 6:40–41). See Bradshaw and Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2, 69.

[11] Bradshaw and Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2, 57. On p. 67, Bradshaw and Larsen reinforce this identification by pairing the reference to “tents” among Enoch’s audience (Moses 6:38) with the reference to “tents” among Cain’s descendants (Moses 5:45).

[12] Neither the people of Shum nor the people of Canaan are known outside the Pearl of Great Price. The people of Canaan described in Moses 7 are not the descendants of Cain, despite the similarities of the names in English (see Bradshaw and Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2, 130). Likewise, there is no apparent link between the people of Canaan described in Moses 7 and the Old Testament Canaanites—the ones among whom Abraham sojourned and whom the children of Israel conquered; see Kent P. Jackson, “Canaan, people of,” in Pearl of Great Price Reference Companion, 85; and Bradshaw and Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2, 130–31, 139. They do, however, appear to be the same “Canaanites” mentioned in Abraham 1:21–22.

[13] As punctuated in the current (2013) edition of the Pearl of Great Price, the words “there was a blackness . . . all people” (Moses 7:8) read as a continuation of Enoch’s prophecy, which begins with the words “Behold the people of Canaan” (Moses 7:7). However, because the items of the prophecy otherwise are described in the future tense, in contrast to these clauses in the past tense (“there was,” “they were”), I think it is better to understand the words of the prophecy as concluding with “go forth forever” (Moses 7:8) and then the remaining words as a return to Enoch’s narration of what he observed in his vision. This understanding is reflected in the revised punctuation found in Jackson, Book of Moses, 164. Separating observation from prophecy affects the meaning of the text: whereas Enoch’s prophecy indicates that the Lord will “curse the land” of the people of Canaan, the “blackness” that “came upon all the children of Canaan” is reported in the passive voice, as is the fact that “they were despised among all people.” “The text does not state whether that [the Lord’s cursing of the land] was the cause” of the blackness or despising (Jackson, “Canaan,” 85), but it is significant that, grammatically, the Lord is not depicted as actively producing those conditions. At the same time, the idea that the Lord was the agent cannot be ruled out since scripture sometimes uses the passive voice (the “divine passive”) to indicate God’s influence on nature, people, or events.

[14] Bradshaw and Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2, 133.

[15] Earlier in the narrative, in the days of Enoch’s great-great-grandfather Enos, the righteous who lived in the land of Cainan are also designated “the people of God” (Moses 6:17). The text does not make clear whether there is any connection between the groups described in Moses 6:17 and Moses 7:13.

[16] See Bradshaw and Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2, 105, 137.

[17] The emphasis in each of these verses has been added.

[18] OT1 reads “it,” suggesting the chain veiled the earth, but OT2 changes this to “he,” suggesting the antecedent is Satan himself. See Jackson, Book of Moses, 123.

[19] This is the reading from OT1 (https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/old-testament-revision-1/18). When OT2 was first copied it read just like OT1, but a subsequent revision in Sidney Rigdon’s handwriting crossed out some of the words and inserted new ones (https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/old-testament-revision-2/26). The revised text reads, “Enock looked upon the residue of the people & wept.” It then deletes the next line indicating that “Enock bore record of it,” since there is no need to bear record of his own weeping.

Some scholars believe that Enoch’s weeping, as described in OT2, should be considered the definitive reading. See Jackson, Book of Moses, 166; and Colby Townsend, “Returning to the Sources: Integrating Textual Criticism in the Study of Early Mormon Texts and History,” Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies 10, no. 1 (2019): 77–79. Others, however, have argued that this revision cannot be definitively traced to Joseph Smith, and that it disrupts certain literary features and narrative elements that are smoother in the original version in which God weeps. See Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and Ryan Dahle, “Textual Criticism and the Book of Moses: A Response to Colby Townsend’s ‘Returning to the Sources,’ Part 1 of 2,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 40 (2020): 99–162.

Given that the purpose of my study is homiletic, I will follow the canonical reading based on OT1. The question of whether Enoch wept in Moses 7:28 certainly impacts my reading, but even if one prefers OT2, it is not fatal to my presentation of Enoch’s character arc. OT1 indicates that Enoch did not weep in verse 28 and does weep in verse 41. In contrast, OT2 indicates that Enoch already wept in verse 28, but we can still see a change in Enoch’s weeping by the time he arrives at verse 41. There, not only does Enoch weep, but he also “stretched forth his arms. And he beheld eternity, and his bowls yearned, and all eternity shook” (as worded in OT2, and as punctuated in Jackson, Book of Moses, 167). This would still represent significant character development, as Enoch’s capacity for compassion appears to have grown to divine capacity through the vision he has experienced.

[20] “Enoch does not ask, why do you weep, but rather, how are your tears even possible, ‘seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?’” Givens and Givens, God Who Weeps, 24–25.

[21] “Enoch has ignored [the residue]. . . . Up to this point, Enoch’s only concern has been Zion.” Belnap, “‘Ye Shall Have Joy in Me,’” 44.

[22] I have added the exclamation point to highlight what I interpret as the imperative nature of God’s statement. The italics are also added.

[23] See http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/behold.

[24] “It is not their wickedness, but their ‘misery,’ not their disobedience, but their ‘suffering,’ that elicits the God of Heaven’s tears. . . . In the vision of Enoch, we find ourselves drawn to a God who prevents all the pain He can, assumes all the suffering He can, and weeps over the misery He can neither prevent nor assume.” Givens and Givens, God Who Weeps, 25.

[25] As noted earlier, emendations to OT2 describe Enoch already weeping back in Moses 7:28. However, Bradshaw and Dahle, who argue that the original OT1 readings are often superior to the later emendations, observe that in OT2 “Enoch weeps prematurely, thus defusing the deliberate forestalling of the dramatic moment of Enoch’s sympathetic resonance with the heavens until after the conclusion of God’s poignant speech.” Bradshaw and Dahle, “Textual Criticism,” 119.

[26] This follows OT1 and the reading in the current Pearl of Great Price. OT2 emends the text to say, “[he] stretched forth his arms. And he beheld eternity, and his bowels yearned, and all eternity shook.” Jackson, Book of Moses, 128, 167.

[27] Belnap observes, “By witnessing God’s lament, Enoch came to understand the true nature of his stewardship, which in turn allowed him to become even more like God and progress into something greater” (“‘Ye Shall Have Joy in Me,’” 44). Similarly, England writes, “Enoch here sees into God’s heart, changes his concept of God, and, very significantly, is moved to new compassion himself” (“Weeping God of Mormonism,” 64).

[28] Givens and Givens, God Who Weeps, 105.

[29] This is not to say, of course, that the values of inclusion and respect for all people are not part of faith traditions outside of the Restoration. “[God] has inspired not only people of the Bible and the Book of Mormon but other people as well to carry out His purposes through all cultures and parts of the world. God inspires not only Latter-day Saints but also founders, teachers, philosophers, and reformers of other Christian and non-Christian religions.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Church in a Cross-Cultural World,” in Global Mormonism in the 21st Century, ed. Reid L. Neilson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2008), 298–99. But while Restoration scriptures did not invent these aspirations, it is striking how forcefully they declare them and how insistently they call upon people to act on them.

[30] See Matthew McBride, “The Vision: D&C 76,” in Revelations in Context: The Stories behind the Sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2016), 148–54.

[31] “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World,” April 5, 2020, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/the-restoration-of-the-fulness-of-the-gospel-of-jesus-christ/a-bicentennial-proclamation-to-the-world.

[32] “To be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Come, Join with Us,” Ensign, November 2013, 22.

[33] See M. Russell Ballard, “Doctrine of Inclusion,” Ensign, November 2001, 35–38.

[34] See “Race and the Priesthood,” Gospel Topics Essays, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics-essays/race-and-the-priesthood; and Saints, vol. 2, No Unhallowed Hand, 1846–1893 (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2020), 69–72, 181–82, 588–91.

[35] See Neylan McBaine and Thomas A. Wayment, “Discussing Difficult Topics: The Representation of Women in Today’s Church,” Religious Educator 17, no. 2 (2016): 106–17.

[36] See Mauro Properzi, “Learning about Other Religions: False Obstacles and Rich Opportunities,” Religious Educator 16, no. 1 (2015): 129–49; and Patrick Q. Mason, Restoration: God’s Call to the 21st-Century World (Meridian, ID: Faith Matters, 2020), 39–54.

[37] See Mason, Restoration, 1–9, 73–90.

[38] “A New Publication for a Worldwide Church,” Liahona, January 2021, 3.

[39] Tracy Browning, “Including Everyone,” Liahona, January 2021, 32–33.

[40] “Without diluting the doctrine or compromising the standards of the gospel, we must open our hearts wider, reach out farther, and love more fully. By so doing, we can create more space for love, testimony, mourning, and agency. . . . Whether [their] different realities mean [other people] look, act, feel, or experience life differently than we do, the unchanging fact is that they are children of loving Heavenly Parents and that the same Jesus suffered and died for them and for us.” Eric D. Huntsman, “Hard Sayings and Safe Spaces: Making Room for Struggle as Well as Faith” (Brigham Young University devotional, August 7, 2018), www.speeches.byu.edu.

[41] “The Lord expects us to teach that inclusion is a positive means toward unity and that exclusion leads to division.” Gary E. Stevenson, “Hearts Knit Together,” Liahona, May 2021, pg.

[42] Gerrit W. Gong, “All Nations, Kindreds, and Tongues,” Ensign, November 2020, 40.

[43] Emphasis and exclamation point added.

[44] Brooks, “Finding the Road to Character.”