Chapter 24: The Scattering and the Gathering of Israel

“Chapter 24: The Scattering and the Gathering of Israel,” Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual (2000), 64–66

“24: Scattering and Gathering of Israel,” Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, 64–66

Chapter 24

The Scattering and the Gathering of Israel


President Joseph F. Smith spoke of the purposes of the Church: “We proclaim the objects of this organization to be, the preaching of the gospel in all the world, the gathering of scattered Israel, and the preparation of a people for the coming of the Lord” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:145).

Doctrinal Outline

  1. Ancient Israel was scattered throughout the earth because the people rejected God’s covenant.

    1. It was prophesied that Israel would be scattered among the nations of the earth because of the people’s wickedness (see Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 4:23–27; 28:25, 37, 64; 1 Nephi 10:12–13; 21:1; 22:3–4).

    2. The scattering began when the Assyrians carried the ten tribes away into captivity (see 2 Kings 15:29; 17:6).

    3. The scattering continued when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, carried Judah away into captivity (see 2 Kings 25:1, 7, 11; 1 Nephi 10:3).

    4. Lehi and his descendants were a branch of Israel, broken off and scattered (see 1 Nephi 15:12; 19:24; 2 Nephi 3:5).

    5. After the death of Jesus, the Jews were scattered among the gentile nations (see 2 Nephi 25:15; Luke 21:24; D&C 45:18–21, 24).

    6. The scattering of the Jews is likened in scripture to a sifting, a divorce, and the sale of a man to pay his debts (see Amos 9:8–9; Isaiah 50:1).

  2. Through His prophets God promised to gather scattered Israel once again.

    1. The gathering of scattered Israel is a result both of God’s mercy and also of Israel’s repentance (see Isaiah 54:7; Ezekiel 11:17; Jeremiah 50:4–5; 2 Nephi 10:7; 30:7).

    2. According to God’s prophets, the redemption of scattered Israel shall be accomplished in the latter days (see Deuteronomy 4:27–31; D&C 113:6).

    3. The raising of an ensign to the nations is the signal for Israel to be gathered home in the latter days (see Isaiah 5:26; 11:12).

    4. Moses delivered to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the keys of the gathering of Israel (see D&C 110:11).

    5. All nations will eventually deliver up the scattered peoples of the Lord, who will return to the lands of their forefathers’ inheritance (see Deuteronomy 30:3; Psalm 107:1–3; Isaiah 43:5–6).

    6. Of the twelve tribes, the tribes of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, will be gathered first and then direct the other tribes in their gathering (see JST, Genesis 48:5–11; Deuteronomy 33:16–17; D&C 133:30–39).

    7. Known as the remnant of the Lord, gathered Israel is likened to the ransomed or redeemed from captivity, the lost sheep sought out, or the outcasts taken back (see Isaiah 10:21–22; 11:11–12; Ezekiel 34:11–16; 2 Nephi 8:11).

Supporting Statements

  1. Ancient Israel was scattered throughout the earth because the people rejected God’s covenant.

    • “If you will read the 26th chapter of Leviticus and the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy—there are many other chapters also in the Bible but these two especially—you will find recorded many things by way of covenant and promise and admonition that the Lord gave to Israel. He told them what would happen if they kept his commandments. He told them the consequences of breaking his commandments. All that was clearly set forth in these scriptures before the Israelites entered the promised land. …

      “As time went on they violated these covenants. They turned away from the admonitions, the commandments, the instructions that the Lord gave them through the Prophet Moses, and eventually, because of that rebellion, the curses came upon them and they were scattered among the nations of the earth” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:165).

    • “We have something in the Book of Mormon that, if we did not have any other truth expressed in it, would be sufficient evidence of the divinity of this book. I have reference to the fifth chapter of Jacob. In this chapter we have a parable that nobody could have written unless he had the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord. It would have been impossible. … No greater parable was ever recorded. It is a parable of the scattering of Israel. The Lord revealed to Jacob that he would scatter Israel, and in this figure, Israel is a tame olive tree. …

      “… In its native land it began to die. So the Lord took branches like the Nephites, like the lost tribes, and like others that the Lord led off that we do not know anything about, to other parts of the earth. He planted them all over his vineyard, which is the world” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:203–4).

    • “It has been said, that ‘if a complete history of the house of Israel were written, it would be the history of histories, the key of the world’s history for the past twenty centuries.’ Justification for this sweeping statement is found in the fact that the Israelites have been so completely dispersed among the nations as to give to this scattered people a place of importance as a factor in the rise and development of almost every large division of the human family. This work of dispersion was brought about by many stages, and extended through millenniums. It was foreseen by the early prophets; and the spiritual leaders of every generation prior to and immediately following the Messianic era predicted the scattering of the people, as an ordained result of their increasing wickedness” (James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 316).

    • “Israel was scattered because she apostatized; because she broke the Ten Commandments; because she rejected the prophets and seers and turned to wizards that peep and mutter; because she forsook the covenant; because she gave heed to false ministers and joined false churches; because she ceased to be a peculiar people and a kingdom of priests. When she became as the world, the Lord left her to suffer and live and be as the world then was” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, 186).

    Israel taken away captive
  2. Through His prophets God promised to gather scattered Israel once again.

    • “The sufferings of Israel have been but necessary chastening by a grieved yet loving Father, who planned by these effective means to purify His sin-stained children. …

      “Though smitten of men, a large part of them gone from a knowledge of the world, Israel are not lost unto their God. He knows whither they have been led or driven; toward them His heart still yearns with paternal love; and surely will He bring them forth, in due time and by appointed means, into a condition of blessing and influence befitting His covenant people. In spite of their sin and notwithstanding the tribulations that they were bringing upon themselves, the Lord said: ‘And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: I am the Lord their God.’ As complete as was the scattering, so shall be the gathering of Israel” (Talmage, Articles of Faith, 328–29).

    • “The restoration of the kingdom to Israel—that was the thing uppermost in the minds of Jewish Israel in our Lord’s day. …

      “And so even the Twelve—after spending three years with Jesus in his mortal ministry; after associating with him for forty days as a resurrected being; and after being taught all that it was expedient for them to know to perform the labor that then was theirs—even the apostles sought yet to learn of the fulfillment of the prophetic word concerning Israel the chosen. ‘When they therefore were come together,’ at the time appointed for the ascension of Jesus into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, ‘they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ …

      “… The kingdom was not to be restored to Israel in their day. Let them preach the gospel and save souls before the dire day of darkness that soon would cover the earth. The promised day of restoration, the day of Israel’s triumph and glory, the day of millennial glory—all this lay ahead. It was scheduled for the last days” (McConkie, Millennial Messiah, 309–10).

    • “Many ancient prophecies foretold that in the last days the Lord would set up an ensign to the nations, a standard to which Israel and the righteous of all nations might gather. (Isa. 5:26; 11:10–12; 18:3; 30:17–26; 31:9; 49:22; 62:10; Zech. 9:16.) This ensign is the new and everlasting covenant, the gospel of salvation (D. & C. 49:9); it is the great latter-day Zion (D. & C. 64:41–43); it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 228).

    • “Now, we are concerned with the gathering of Israel. This gathering shall continue until the righteous are assembled in the congregations of the Saints in the nations of the world. This reminds us of the tenth article of faith, wherein the Prophet Joseph Smith said to his inquirer, ‘We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the new Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.’ …

      “Now, the gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church and their coming to a knowledge of the true God. … Any person, therefore, who has accepted the restored gospel, and who now seeks to worship the Lord in his own tongue and with the Saints in the nations where he lives, has complied with the law of the gathering of Israel and is heir to all of the blessings promised the Saints in these last days” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 438–39).

      Spencer W. Kimball

      President Spencer W. Kimball

    • “By and by the Jews will be gathered to the land of their fathers, and the ten tribes, who wandered into the north, will be gathered home, and the blood of Ephraim, the second son of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, which is to be found in every kingdom and nation under heaven, will be gathered from among the Gentiles, and the Gentiles who will receive and adhere to the principles of the Gospel will be adopted and initiated into the family of Father Abraham, and Jesus will reign over his own and Satan will reign over his own” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 121–22).

    • “Why is it that you are here to-day? and what brought you here? Because the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four quarters of the earth have been committed to Joseph Smith, and he has conferred those keys upon others that the gathering of Israel may be accomplished, and in due time the same thing will be performed to the tribes in the land of the north. It is on this account, and through the unlocking of this principle, and through those means, that you are brought together as you are to-day” (John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses, 25:179).

    • “It is essential in this dispensation that Ephraim stand in his place at the head, exercising the birthright in Israel which was given to him by direct revelation. Therefore, Ephraim must be gathered first to prepare the way, through the gospel and the priesthood, for the rest of the tribes of Israel when the time comes for them to be gathered to Zion. The great majority of those who have come into the Church are Ephraimites. It is the exception to find one of any other tribe, unless it is of Manasseh.

      “It is Ephraim, today, who holds the priesthood. It is with Ephraim that the Lord has made covenant and has revealed the fulness of the everlasting gospel. It is Ephraim who is building temples and performing the ordinances in them for both the living and for the dead. When the ‘lost tribes’ come—and it will be a most wonderful sight and a marvelous thing when they do come to Zion—in fulfilment of the promises made through Isaiah and Jeremiah, they will have to receive the crowning blessings from their brother Ephraim, the ‘firstborn’ in Israel” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:252–53).