“Doctrine and Covenants 99,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 99,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Hiram Township, OH, 29 Aug. 1832. Featured version copied [ca. 29 Aug. 1832] in Revelation Book 2, pp. 19–20; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams; CHL. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 2 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
On 29 August 1832, JS dictated this revelation calling John Murdock on a preaching mission to the “eastern countries.” Following his conversion and baptism in Kirtland, Ohio, on 30 November 1830, Murdock spent much time as a traveling missionary, baptizing around seventy people in four months in Orange, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and Warrensville, Ohio. In early 1831, Murdock decided to devote himself “full time to the ministry” and moved his family in with another family so that he could do so.1 In June 1831, a revelation instructed him to go to Missouri, “preaching the word by the way.”2 Murdock followed this instruction and departed for Missouri, despite the recent death of his wife, Julia Clapp Murdock, during childbirth, which left him with five children under the age of seven, including newborn twins. Before leaving, he arranged for several individuals to watch over his older children; JS and Emma Smith adopted the twins. For the rest of 1831 and the first half of 1832, Murdock preached in Michigan Territory, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio, among other places. When he returned to Hiram, Ohio, in June 1832, suffering from the effects of a months-long bout with ague, he found that one of the twins had died in March.3 In addition, those with whom he had left his three older children demanded payment for their help.
Despite these challenging circumstances, Murdock recorded in his journal that he “continued with the church in Cuyahoga & Geauga Co’s confirming & strengthning the church & regaining my health.”4 This 29 August 1832 revelation instructed him to resume his preaching, this time in the eastern United States. The revelation also told him to continue preaching until his death, unless he desired to go to Zion “after a few years.” Perhaps because of the problems Murdock experienced with his children’s caretakers, the revelation told him not to leave until he made arrangements to send his children to Bishop Edward Partridge in Zion. This revelation’s call for Murdock to continue as a missionary until his death, notwithstanding his family responsibilities, was an unusual sacrifice apparently not expected of other early church members and may have resulted from his earlier determination to devote himself “full time to the ministry.”5
Upon receiving these instructions, Murdock “provided for” his children and “sent them up to the Bishop in Zion.”6 Murdock paid Caleb Baldwin to take his three oldest children—Orrice, John, and Phebe—to Missouri. Once there, Orrice lived with George and Amanda Egglestone Pitkin, John with Morris and Laura Clark Phelps, and Phebe with Sidney and Elizabeth Van Benthusen Gilbert.7 Julia, the surviving twin, remained in the care of JS and Emma Smith in Hiram. Murdock then left on his mission on 24 September 1832.8
The original manuscript of the revelation, which is not extant, was apparently inscribed by Frederick G. Williams. The copy he made in Revelation Book 2 bears the notation “by Joseph the seer and writen by— F.G. Williams Scribe.”9
Hiram Portage County Ohio August 29th. 183210
Behold thus saith the Lord unto you my servant John [Murdock]11 thou art called to go unto the eastern countries12 from house to house and from Village to Village and from City to City13 to proclaim mine everlasting Gospel unto the in habitants thereof in the midst of persicution and wickedness and whos[o] receiveth you receiveth me14 and you shall have power to declare my word in the demonstration of my holy Spirit and whoso receiveth you [p. 19] as a little child receiveth my Kingdom and blessed are they for they shall obtain mercy,15 and whoso rejecteth you shall be rejected of my Father and his house and you shall cleanse your feet in the secret places by the way for a testamony against them16 and behold and lo I come quickly to judgment to convince all of their ungodly deeds which they have commited against me as it is writen of me in the volum of the book17 and now verely I say unto you that it is not expedient that you should go untill your children are provided for and kindly sent up unto the Bishop in Zion, and after a few years if thou desirest of me thou mayest go up also unto the goo[d]ly land to possess thine in heritence otherwise thou shalt continue proclaiming my gospel untill thou be taken Amen—
by Joseph the seer and writen by—
F[rederick] G, Williams Scribe