What Mormons Know About Moses

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Qur’an, and Baha’i scripture, Moses (Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה) was a religious leader, lawgiver, and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed.  He is also called Moshe Rabbenu in Hebrew (מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ, Lit. “Moses our Teacher/Rabbi”), and is considered the most important prophet in Judaism.

The Old Testament record found in the Book of Exodus reveals that Moses was born in a time, when his people, the Children of Israel, were increasing in number which caused the Egyptian Pharaoh great concern, as he envisioned that they would join forces with Egypt’s enemies. When the Pharaoh issued a decree that all newborn Hebrew boys were to be killed, Moses’ Hebrew mother, Jochebed, hid him in the bulrushes, and he was drawn out of the water and adopted by the Egyptian royal family. After Moses murdered an Egyptian slave master, he fled across the Red Sea and took refuge in Midian. It was there that he encountered the God of Israel in the similitude of a “burning bush.”

Many plain and precious gospel truths once taught by Moses have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith - Todd B. ParkerGod would send Moses back to Egypt to request the release of the Children of Israel. After the  Pharaoh hardened his heart many times without allowing the Israelites to go free and after the ten plagues, Moses was finally able to lead the Israelite Exodus out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, and to Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Because of their continual disobedience, the Children of Israel were left to wander in the desert for forty arduous years. At the end of their wandering, Moses was not allowed to cross into the Promised Land, and died with it in sight.

Joseph Smith and the Book of Moses

The Book of Moses is part of the scriptural canon that is used by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church by the media and others). It is included as part of the Pearl of Great Price, one of four volumes of scripture that make up the standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ, with the Holy Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants being the other three.

In June 1830, Joseph Smith, the first Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ, began a new Bible translation that was intended to restore “many important points touching the salvation of men [that] had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled” (Joseph Smith, Jr., “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, 16 February 1832, pp. 10-11).

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 [Moses] 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” (Moses 1:41).

Through his translation of the vision of the Prophet Nephi as recorded in 1 Nephi 13:26-29 in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith had learned that many “plain and precious things [had been] taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God” (1 Nephi 13:28). “And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 13:27).

34 And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel—and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy father—wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment, and smitten them by the hand of the Gentiles, and after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb—I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb (1 Nephi 13:34).

39 And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true (1 Nephi 13:39).

40 And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved (1 Nephi 13:40).

The eight chapters that now comprise the Book of Moses were first published in the Church newspapers Evening and Morning Star and Times and Seasons in the 1830s and 1840s. Through a series of events following the martyrdom of Joseph Smith in the Carthage Jail, in Carthage, Illinois, on 27 June 1844, the eight chapters were selected and included as a separate book within the Pearl of Great Price.

The Book of Moses begins with a prologue to the story of the Creation and the Fall of Man (Moses 1), or what is referred to as the “Vision of Moses.” It continues with the Prophet Joseph Smith’s revision (JST) of the first six chapters of the Old Testament Book of Genesis (Moses 2-5, 8), interrupted by two chapters of extracts from the prophecy of Enoch (Moses 6: 43 -7:69).

What Latter-day Saints Know About Moses

The following are truths concerning the life of Moses which were revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith and given to us in these the latter-day days to enhance the precious truths that we already learn from the accounts recorded in the Bible.

Moses was raised as a prince in Egypt. He was well educated and revered as a great organizer and leader (see Acts 7:22; JST, Gen. 50:24–36, Bible appendix). However, as a result of his mountaintop experience he comprehended new concepts that he had never before considered: “For this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” (Moses 1:10). This transfiguration and vision that the Lord gave to Moses elevated his view of many things. He saw a new eternal perspective with “spiritual eyes” (Moses 1:11). He understood that worlds without number were created by the Father’s Only Begotten Son, that many worlds had passed away, many now stood, and other worlds would yet come into existence (see Moses 1:35, 38). The vistas of Moses’ vision were expanded to behold God’s intended purpose for mankind’s existence: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Blessed with this broader vision, this panoramic perspective, this “God’s eye view” of the Lord’s entire plan and purpose, Moses was better prepared to lead covenant Israel from spiritual darkness and Egyptian bondage into light and freedom in the land of their fathers.

To the spiritual eyes of Moses also came a vision of a premortal council held in heaven, wherein the Father presented the plan of salvation. Jesus Christ was willing to come to earth, give his life for us, and take upon himself our sins while preserving the honor for the Father and the agency of man. [1]

An Honorable Death – A Future Mission

Hence, we learn that Moses’ ministry did not end in the wilderness as he watched his successor, Joshua, lead the Children of Israel over Jordan. The Bible text may lead some to believe that after all that Moses had done in his ministry, he died disgraced as he was not permitted to enter the Promised Land that lay just before him. However, through the instrument of God’s Prophet, Joseph Smith, and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we learn that Moses died an honorable death. We learn that the Lord had an important future mission for him to accomplish.

If we can but comprehend that Jesus Christ, the creator of the universe, is the master teacher, that the universe is his classroom, and that his curriculum is the Atonement and all things pertaining to it, then the rich symbolism of the scriptures can come alive for us. In such a study, Moses’ life and ministry are excellent examples that “all things” testify of Christ. Moses’ life is a type, or symbol, of the Savior’s life, and Moses’ ministry is a symbol of Jesus Christ’s teachings and the plan of salvation, the avenue by which we may return to our Father’s presence. [1]

About Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as a Ward Missionary for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward, and as the Stake Public Affairs Specialist for the Annapolis, Maryland Stake. He is a 30-year honorably retired Navy veteran.

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