“Doctrine and Covenants 103,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 103,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Kirtland Township, OH, 24 Feb. 1834. Featured version copied [possibly ca. late Apr. 1834 but before 18 Aug. 1834] in Orson Hyde and Orson Pratt, Notebook of Revelations, pp. [7–18]; handwriting of Orson Pratt; Revelations Collection, CHL. Includes redactions. For more information, see source note for Orson Hyde and Orson Pratt, Notebook of Revelations, on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
JS dictated a revelation on 24 February 1834 that instructed the church how to restore Missouri members to their Jackson County lands, from which they had been driven in the fall of 1833.1 The same day that this revelation was dictated, Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight, who had traveled from Missouri to Kirtland, Ohio, reported to the Kirtland high council on the condition of the Missouri members, most of whom had taken refuge in Clay County.2 Pratt and Wight also asked the high council “how and by what means Zion was to be redeemed from our enemies.” JS then volunteered to lead an expedition to Missouri to assist in Zion’s redemption, and thirty or forty others stated they would go with him. Before adjourning, the council appointed JS as “Commander in Chief of the Armies of Israel and the leader of those who volunteered to go.”3
Extant records do not state whether this revelation was dictated before, during, or after the high council meeting. The revelation is addressed to the Lord’s “Friends,” a term other revelations used to refer to high priests, suggesting that it may have been dictated in a gathering such as the high council. A September 1832 revelation, for example, explained that “Gods High priests” were the “friends” of Jesus Christ.4 Yet it is difficult to determine whether the revelation motivated the decisions of JS and others in the high council or whether those decisions were affirmed by the revelation’s dictation. Regardless, the revelation addressed many of the issues discussed in the high council meeting.
The revelation also reiterated promises made in a 16–17 December 1833 revelation that the Lord would allow church members to return to Zion and the lands of their inheritance if they hearkened to his counsel. It also reemphasized the December revelation’s message that Zion would be redeemed when the Lord’s servant—designated in this February 1834 revelation as JS—led “the strength of mine house,” which was the Lord’s “wariors my young men and they that are of middle age,” to Missouri, where they would “break down the walls of mine enemies th[r]ow down their tower and scatte[r] their watchmen.”5 In addition, the revelation gave instructions on how to recruit men for such an expedition and stated that between one and five hundred men would be necessary to redeem Zion.
JS and others quickly acted on the revelation’s directions. Just two days later, he and Parley P. Pratt “started from home to obtain volenteers for Zion,” and Orson Pratt and Orson Hyde did the same.6 Lyman Wight and Sidney Rigdon, also appointed in the revelation as recruiters, apparently left Kirtland on 28 February. It is not clear when Hyrum Smith and Frederick G. Williams, the other pair assigned in the revelation to recruit members for the expedition, departed, but John Murdock reported that Hyrum Smith was at Edmund Bosley’s home in Livonia, New York, on 15 March 1834.7 For the next several weeks, these eight men held meetings in which they preached, recruited volunteers, and raised funds to help restore the refugees to their homes in Jackson County.8 These activities ultimately resulted in the formation of the Camp of Israel, an expedition of more than two hundred individuals that marched to Clay County, Missouri, in the summer of 1834.9
By May 1834, the 24 February revelation was apparently known among those outside of the Church of Christ as well. For example, a Norwalk, Ohio, newspaper article stated that “in obedience to a revelation communicated to their great Prophet, Joseph Smith, three hundred young men are to ‘go well armed and equipped to defend the promised land in Missouri.’”10
Three early manuscript copies of the revelation exist. One—the text featured here—was inscribed by Orson Pratt, probably not long after the revelation was dictated and possibly before Pratt left on 26 February 1834 for New York.11 Orson Hyde made the second version when he copied the text into Revelation Book 2 in August 1834.12 John Whitmer also made a copy of the revelation in Revelation Book 1, possibly sometime in the summer of 1834 after JS and the Camp of Israel had reached Clay County.13 The three copies are identical except for minor differences in punctuation and capitalization.
Verily I say unto you my Friends behold, I will give unto you a revelation & commandment, that you may know how to act in the discharge of your duties concerning the salvation & redemption of your brethren who have been scattered from the land of Zion: being driven & smitten by the
r hands of mine enemies14 on whom I will pour out of my wrath without measure in mine own time;15 for I have suffered them thus far. that they might fill up the measure of their iniquities that their cup might be full, & that those who call themselves after my name might be chastened for a little season,16 with a sore & grievous [p. ] chastisement; because they did not hearken all together unto the precepts & commandments which I gave unto them.17 But verily I say unto you, that I have decreed a decree which my people shall realize inasmuch as they hearken from this hour unto the counsel which <I> the Lord their God shall give unto them. Behold, they shall, for I have decreed it, begin to prevail against mine enemies;18 from this verry hour, & by hearkening to observe all the words which I the Lord their God shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail untill the kingdoms of the world, are subdued under my feet,19 [p. ] & the earth is given unto the saints to possess it forever, & ever.20 But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments & hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them; for they were set to be a light unto the world, & to be the Saviours of men: & a inasmuch as they are not the Saviours of men they are as salt that has lost its its savor, & is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out & to be trodden under the feet of men.21 But verily, I say unto you, I have decreed that your brethren who have been scattered [p. ] shall return to the lands of their inheritances & build up the waste places of Zion;22 for after much tribulation, as I have said unto you in a former commandment, commeth the blessing:23 behold this is the blessing which I promised after your tribulations, & the tribulations, of your brethren; your redemption & the redemption of your brethren, even their restoration to the land of Zion, to be established no more to be thrown down.24 Nevertheless if they shall pollute their inheritances they shall be thrown down; for I will not [p. ] spare them if they shall pollute their inheritances.25 Behold I say unto you, that the redemtion of Zion must needs come by power; therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel;26 for ye are the children of Israel, & & of the seed of Abraham;27 & ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, & with a stretched out arm.28 And as your Fathers were led at the first even so shall the redemtion of Zion be. Therefore let not your hearts be faint; for I say not unto you as I said [p. ] unto your fathers, mine Angel shall go up before you, but not my presence;29 but I say unto you, mine Angel shall go up before you, & also my presence. And in time ye shall possess the goodly land. verily, verily, I say unto you, that my servant Joseph is the man to whom I likened the servant to whom the Lord of the vinyard spake in the parable which I have given unto you.30 Therefore, let my servant Joseph, say unto the strength of my house, my young men, & the middle aged, Gather ye together unto the land of [p. ] Zion, upon the lands which I have bought with moneys that have been consecrated unto me; a & let all the churches send up wise men with their moneys & purchase lands, even as I have commanded them.31 And inasmuch as mine enemies come against you to drive you from my goodly land which I have consecrated to be the land of Zion; even from your own lands after these testimonies which ye have brought before me against them, ye shall curse them; & whomsoever ye curse I will curse, And ye shall avenge me of mine enemies;32 and my [p. ] presence shall be with you even in avenging me of mine enemies, unto the third & fourth generation of them that hate me.33 Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my my sake sake shall find it again; & whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my dissiple.34 It is my will that my servant Sidney [Rigdon] should lift up his voice in the congregations in the eastern countries in preparing the churches to keep the commandments which [p. ] I have given unto them concerning the restoration & redemption of Zion,35 It is my will that my servant Parley [P. Pratt], & my servant Lyman [Wight] should not return to the land of their brethren until they have obtained companies to go up unto the land of Zion, by tens, or by twenties or by fifties, or by <a> hundred, until they have obtained unto the number of five hundred of the strength of my house. Behold, this is my will; ask & ye shall receive; but men do not always do my will; therefore [p. ] if ye cannot obtain five hundred, seek diligently, that peradventure ye may obtain three; & if ye cannot obtain three hundred, seek diligently that peradventure ye may obtain one hundred: But verily I say unto you, a commandment I give unto you that you shall not go up unto the Land of Zion until you have obtained a hundred of the strength of my house, to go up with you unto the land of Zion. Therefore as I said unto you, ask & you shall receive; pray earnestly, that peradventure my [p. ] servant Joseph may go up with you36 & preside in the midst of my people37 & organize my kingdom upon the consecrated land, & establish the children of Zion upon the laws & commandments which have been given & which shall be given unto you. All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, & prayers of faith. Let my Servant Parley journey with my servant Joseph; let my servant Lyman Journey with my servant Sidney: let my servant Hyrum [Smith] [p. ] journey with my servant Frederick [G. Williams]: let my servant Orson Hyde journey with my servant Orson Pratt, whithersoever my servant Joseph shall counsel them in obtaining the fulfillment of these commandments which I have given unto you, & leave the residue in in my hands; even so, Amen. [p. ]