“Doctrine and Covenants 57,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 57,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Independence, Jackson Co., MO, 20 July 1831. Featured version, titled “60 Commandment,” copied [ca. Sept. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 93–94; handwriting of John Whitmer; CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
A 6 June 1831 revelation instructed JS, Sidney Rigdon, and certain elders to travel to “the land of Missorie,” which God would “consecrate” to his people. It further stated that if JS and Rigdon remained faithful, God would reveal to them the land of their inheritance.1 Leaving Kirtland, Ohio, on 19 June 1831, JS reached Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, on 14 July.2 After arriving in Independence, JS dictated this revelation on 20 July 1831 identifying “the land of Missorie” as the “land of promise.” John Whitmer recorded it in Revelation Book 1 as the “first Revelation given in Missorie.”3 In Independence, JS and his group—Martin Harris, Edward Partridge, William W. Phelps, and Joseph Coe4—met Oliver Cowdery, Ziba Peterson, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Frederick G. Williams, who had reached Missouri by January 1831 to proselytize among the American Indians living just west of the Missouri state line.5 Some of the others assigned by the 6 June revelation to travel to Missouri arrived later in the month—apparently after the dictation of the 20 July revelation.6
According to a history JS initiated in 1838, JS spent time upon his arrival in Independence ruminating on the situation of the American Indians living in the “wilderness” across the border. Perhaps because an earlier revelation explained that the city of Zion was to be built “among the Lamanites,”7 these meditations prompted him to ask questions about when and where the city would be built: “When will the wilderness blossom as the rose; when will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will thy Temple stand unto which all nations shall come in the last days?”8 In another account, JS remembered “viewing the country” before “seeking diligently at the hand of God”; according to that account, God “manifested himself unto me, and designated to me and others, the very spot upon which he designed to commence the work of the gathering, and the upbuilding of an holy city, which should be called Zion.”9 The revelation designated Missouri as the “Land of Zion,” established Independence as the place at which to build the city of Zion, and designated the spot on which to build the temple.10 It also provided instruction to Partridge, who was appointed a bishop in February 1831, and Sidney Gilbert, who was designated in June 1831 as an agent to the church, on purchasing lands and distributing them to church members so that the members could gather in Missouri.11 It further assigned Gilbert to open a store and Phelps to establish a printing operation.
The original manuscript of this revelation is not extant. John Whitmer, who did not go to Missouri at this time, later copied it into Revelation Book 1, probably sometime after JS returned to Ohio from Missouri.12 In August 1831, Partridge wrote to his wife that “the commandments” given in Missouri would be “carr[ied] home” to Ohio by “our brethren.”13
Given in Missorie Independence Jackson Co July 20th. 1831 giving directions <to the Bishop & Agent> how to preceed concerning purchuseing Lands &c. &c.15
Hearken Oh ye Elders of my Church, saith the Lord your God, Who have assembelled yourselves together, according to my commandment in this land which is the land of Missorie which is the Land which I, have appointed & consecrated for the gethering of the Saints.16 Wherefore, this is the land of promise17 & the place for the City of Zion. yea thus saith the Lord your God, If ye will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold the place which is now called Independence is the centre place, & the spot for the Temple is lying westward upon a lot which is not far from the court-house.18 Wherefore it is wisdom that the land should be purchased by the saints19 & also every tract lying westward even unto the line runing directly betwen Jew & gentile20 And also every tract bordering by the Prairies21 in as much as my Deciples are enabled to buy lands. Behold this is wisdom that they may obtain it for an everlasting inheritance & let my Servent Sidney Gilbert stand in the office which I have appointed to receive moneys to be an agent unto the church to buy lands in all the regions round about in as much as can be in righteousness, & as wisdom shall direct.22 And let my servent Edward [Partridge] stand in the office which I have appointed him to [divide]23 unto the saints their inheritance even as I have commanded & also them whom he has appointed to assist him24 And again verily I say unto you let my servent Sidney Gilbert plant himself in this place, & establish a store that
his he may sell goods without fraud s that he may obtain money to buy lands for the good s of the Saints & that he may [p. 93] Obtain provisions25 & whatsoever things the Deciples may need to plant them in their inheritance26 & also let my servent s Sidney obtain license (behold here is wisdom & whoso readeth let him understand) that he may send goods also unto the lamanites even by whom he will as clerks employed in his service & thus the gospel may be preached unto them27 And again verily I say unto you let my servent William [W. Phelps] also be planted in this place & be established as a Printer unto the Church & lo. if the world receiveth his writings (behold this is wisdom) let him obtain whatsoever he can <obtain> in righteousness for the good of the saints. And let my servent s Oliver [Cowdery] assist him even as I have commanded in Whatsoever place I shall appoint unto him to copy & to correct & select &c28 that all things may be right before me as it shall be proved by the Spirit through him & thus let those of whom I have spoken be planted in the Land of Zion as speedily as can be with their families to do these things even as I have spoken And concerning the gethering let the bishop & the agent make preperations for th◊se families which have been commanded to come to this land as soon as posible & plant them in their inheritance29 & unto the residue of both Elders & members further directions shall be given hereafter even So Amen——