Doctrine and Covenants Study
Joseph Smith’s Revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 12

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“Doctrine and Covenants 12,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)

“Doctrine and Covenants 12,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers

Doctrine and Covenants 12

Revelation, May 1829–B

Source Note

Revelation, Harmony Township, Susquehanna Co., PA, to Joseph Knight Sr., May 1829. Featured version, titled “Chapter XI,” typeset [between 1 Nov. and 31 Dec. 1832] for Book of Commandments, 31. This revelation is not extant in Revelation Book 1, nor is it listed in the index to that volume. The version found in the Book of Commandments and featured below is the earliest extant version. For more information, see the source note for the Book of Commandments on the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Historical Introduction

This revelation addressed Joseph Knight Sr., a Colesville, New York, resident and early supporter of JS. In late 1826, Knight began employing JS as a day laborer, and JS soon gained enough favor with Knight that he loaned JS his “horse and Cutter to go and see his girl,” Emma Hale, whom JS soon married. In September 1827, Knight was at the Joseph Smith Sr. home the night JS obtained the plates, and he later reported that JS gave him a detailed description of the plates and the Urim and Thummim. That winter JS and Emma, who had returned to Harmony, Pennsylvania, fell on hard times and asked Knight for assistance. “I let him have some little provisions and some few things out of the store a pair of shoes and three Dollars in money to help him a little,” wrote Knight.1

Knight provided support that helped JS recommence the translation after Martin Harris lost the initial manuscript in July 1828. In January 1829, Joseph Smith Sr. and Samuel Smith stopped at Knight’s home on their way from Manchester, New York, to visit JS in Harmony. Knight took them the rest of the way in his sleigh, and once they arrived in Harmony he gave Joseph Sr. a half-dollar and also gave JS money to buy paper for the translation.2 Knight may have also returned to Harmony to aid JS at other times between January and May 1829: Joseph Knight Jr. wrote, “Father and I often went to see him [JS] and carry him something to live upon.”3 In April 1829, the Knight family may have supplied all or part of the fifty-dollar payment that JS made on a thirteen-and-a-half-acre lot and small house purchased from his father-in-law, Isaac Hale.4

When JS and Oliver Cowdery were running low on provisions in May 1829, they temporarily stopped translating and journeyed to Colesville to see Knight. Although absent at the time, Knight soon traveled to Harmony with more paper and with “provisions enough to Last till the translation was Done.”5 JS may have dictated this revelation during that visit. Introducing the revelation, JS’s history stated that Knight was “very anxious to know his duty as to this work. I enquired of the Lord for him, and obtained as follows.”6

This text addresses the same themes, largely in the same wording, as earlier revelations directed to Joseph Smith Sr. and Cowdery, alerting them to the emerging “great and marvelous work” and commanding them to “bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.” The revelation for Knight also broadened its potential audience by stating that it applied to “all those who have desires to bring forth and establish this work.”7 That the text itself does not specify Knight as its recipient also suggests that the call to work could have been to all who were willing to accept the responsibility.

The Book of Commandments contains the earliest copy of this revelation. John Whitmer did not include a copy in Revelation Book 1, indicating that JS may not have kept a copy or may have lost his copy. The editors of the Book of Commandments included the revelation, however, perhaps relying on a personal copy of the text kept by an early believer.8 When in May 1829 this revelation was dictated is unknown, in part because it is unclear how many times and when Knight traveled to Harmony to assist JS. The revelation dates from the same general period as the revelation for Hyrum Smith and may have preceded it.9 It is possible that Knight gave Hyrum a ride to Harmony, as he had done for Joseph Sr. and Samuel a few months earlier, and that the two revelations came during this trip.10 Neither Knight’s history nor other accounts give exact dates as to when Knight arrived.


1 A Revelation given to Joseph (K.,) [Joseph Knight Sr.] in Harmony, Pennsylvania, May, 1829, informing him how he must do, to be worthy to assist in the work of the Lord.11

[1]A GREAT and marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men: [2]behold I am God, and give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow: therefore, give heed unto my word.

[3]2 Behold the field is white already to harvest, therefore whoso desireth to reap, let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God: [4]Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God: [5]therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.

[6]3 Now as you have asked, behold I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.12

[7]4 Behold I speak unto you, and also to all those who have desires to bring forth and establish this work, [8]and no one can assist in this work, except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be intrusted to his care.13

[9]5 Behold I am the light and life of the world,14 that speaketh these words: therefore, give heed with your might, and then you are called: Amen. [p. 31]