“Moses 3:1–25,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual (2017)
“Moses 3:1–25,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual
Some of the significant events that occurred in the premortal existence were:
Those who chose to follow Heavenly Father’s plan chose to follow Christ and continued to grow and progress; some of them participated in the Creation of the earth (see D&C 138:55–56; Abraham 3:22–24; 4:1).
A paradisical earth was created and immortal, paradisical bodies were prepared for Adam and Eve, the first of all of God’s spirit sons and daughters to come to this earth.
The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) said: “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 511).
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught:
“The Lord informed Abraham that he had chosen rulers from among the intelligences that were organized, to be given in various capacities down the ages; and Abraham was one of these who was so chosen [see Abraham 3:22–23].
“It is reasonable to believe that in the beginning, before the earth was prepared, the Lord would have all things organized from the beginning to the end of time. It is written in the scriptures: ‘Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the hosts of them.’ This is equivalent to the Lord’s saying that everything was in preparation to be placed on the earth in its due course when mankind should be placed upon it” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. , 5:182).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“The Sabbath was blessed and sanctified as a holy day, a day of rest (Genesis 2:3; Moses 3:3; Exodus 20:9–11). But this sanctification and commandment of rest was for a purpose—not that man should refrain from work in order to pursue his own pleasure, but that man should serve God and worship him. …
“President Spencer W. Kimball put our teaching on Sabbath observance in a nutshell when he suggested that we ‘measure each Sabbath activity by the yardstick of worshipfulness’ (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Edward L. Kimball, ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], p. 219)” (Pure In Heart , 27–29; see also Isaiah 58:13–14; Joseph Smith Translation, Mark 2:26–27 [in the Bible appendix]; and D&C 59:9).
The Hebrew word for “generations” is towldah (to-led-aw), which in this verse simply means “accounting” or “story.”
President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:
“There is no account of the creation of man or other forms of life when they were created as spirits. There is just the simple statement that they were so created before the physical creation. The statements in Moses 3:5 and Genesis 2:5 are interpolations [parenthetical explanations] thrown into the account of the physical creation, explaining that all things were first created in the spirit existence in heaven before they were placed upon this earth.
“We were all created untold ages before we were placed on this earth. We discover from Abraham 3:22–28, that it was before the earth was formed that the plan of salvation was presented to the spirits, or ‘intelligences.’ This being true, then man, animals and plants were not created in the spirit at the time of the creation of the earth, but long before” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie , 1:75–76).
In 1925 the First Presidency taught: “Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal body to undergo an experience in mortality” (“‘Mormon’ View of Evolution,” Improvement Era, Sept. 1925, 1090; see also D&C 77:2).
President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) said: “Man became a living soul—mankind, male and female. The Creators breathed into their nostrils the breath of life and man and woman became living souls. We don’t know exactly how their coming into this world happened, and when we’re able to understand it the Lord will tell us” (“The Blessing and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 72).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote: “Those natural elements that make up the physical earth are sometimes referred to in the scriptures as dust. Thus Adam was created from the dust of the ground meaning that the physical body which he received was created from the elements of the earth. (Gen. 2:7; Moses 3:7; Abra. 5:7; D&C 77:12.) Similarly all men are created from the dust of the earth; that is, the elements organized into a mortal body are assembled together through the birth process [Moses 6:59]” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 209).
In the physical creation, man became a “living soul” (see Moses 2:26–27; see also D&C 88:15). This means his spirit body gained a physical body of flesh and bones. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that the bodies of Adam and Eve were at first “quickened [made alive] by spirit and not by blood. … After the fall, which came by a transgression of the law under which Adam was living, the forbidden fruit had the power to create blood and change his nature and mortality took the place of immortality, and all things, partaking of the change, became mortal” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:77). Thus, in the Fall, Adam and Eve became the first beings upon the earth who were mortal flesh, or subject to death.
In 1909 the First Presidency stated: “It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was ‘the first man of all men’ (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race” (“The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, 80).
President Brigham Young (1801–77) taught: “In the beginning, after this earth was prepared for man, the Lord commenced his work upon what is now called the American continent, where the Garden of Eden was made” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 102).
President Heber C. Kimball (1801–68) of the First Presidency said: “The spot chosen for the garden of Eden was Jackson County, in the State of Missouri, where [the city of] Independence now stands; it was occupied in the morn of creation by Adam” (“Discourse,” Deseret News, Aug. 5, 1863, 33).
Moses 3:9 indicates that “every tree … became also a living soul.” Man, animals, and birds “were also living souls” (see Moses 3:7, 19). Doctrine and Covenants 88:15 teaches that a soul is a spirit and a body combined. On the subject of living things having souls, President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The idea prevails in general, I believe, in the religious world where the gospel truth is misunderstood, that man is the only being on the earth that has what is called a soul or a spirit. We know this is not the case, for the Lord has said that not only has man a spirit, and is thereby a living soul, but likewise the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea have spirits, and hence are living souls” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:63).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “The scriptures set forth that there were in the Garden of Eden two trees. One was the tree of life, which figuratively refers to eternal life; the other was the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which figuratively refers to how and why and in what manner mortality and all that appertains to it came into being” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 86).
When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, He commanded him not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He also told Adam that he could choose for himself, “for it [agency] is given unto thee” (Moses 3:17). But if Adam ate it, he would “surely die.” President David O. McKay (1873–1970) explained that to man “is given a special endowment not bestowed upon any other living thing. When the Creator ‘breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul,’ God gave him the power of choice. ([Genesis] 2:7.) Only to the human being did the Creator say: ‘… thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee. …’ (Moses 3:17.) As God intended man to become as [H]e, it was necessary that He should first make him free.
“Thus man was endowed with the greatest blessing that can be given to mortal beings—the gift of free agency. Without this divine power to choose, humanity cannot progress” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 5; see also 2 Nephi 2:11–16).
President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “Now this is the way I interpret [Moses 3:16–17]: The Lord said to Adam, here is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you want to stay here, then you cannot eat of that fruit. If you want to stay here, then I forbid you to eat it. But you may act for yourself, and you may eat of it if you want to. And if you eat it, you will die” (“Fall—Atonement—Resurrection—Sacrament,” in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. , 124).
In their proclamation on the family, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared: “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129; see also Hebrews 13:4; D&C 49:15). A fulness of joy in this life and the highest degree of exaltation in the celestial kingdom are obtained by entering into the new and eternal covenant of marriage (see 1 Corinthians 11:11; D&C 131:1–4; see also Boyd K. Packer, “For Time and All Eternity,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 21–24). God joined Adam and Eve together in marriage before the Fall. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “Marriage as established in the beginning was an eternal covenant. The first man and the first woman were not married until death should part them, for at that time death had not come into the world. The ceremony on that occasion was performed by the Eternal Father himself whose work endures forever. It is the will of the Lord that all marriages should be of like character, and in becoming ‘one flesh’ the man and the woman are to continue in the married status, according to the Lord’s plan, throughout all eternity as well as in this mortal life” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie , 2:71).
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in their proclamation on the family, taught: “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).
President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95) said the following about the relationship between a husband and wife: “A man who holds the priesthood accepts his wife as a partner in the leadership of the home and family with full knowledge of and full participation in all decisions relating thereto. … The Lord intended that the wife be a helpmeet for man (meet means equal)—that is, a companion equal and necessary in full partnership” (“Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 50–51).
God gave Adam dominion over all living things (see Moses 2:26–28). As an example of his righteous dominion, Adam named all of the animals, male and female. Unlike the animals he named, Adam did not have a companion.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught that Eve was not literally created from Adam’s rib. He said: “The story of the rib, of course, is figurative” (“The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 71).
The word cleave means to be closely united. Adam and Eve were commanded to be “one flesh,” meaning to be one mentally, socially, sexually, and spiritually. This oneness was a command with which they could not fully comply until after the Fall. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:
“Human intimacy is reserved for a married couple because it is the ultimate symbol of total union, a totality and a union ordained and defined by God. From the Garden of Eden onward, marriage was intended to mean the complete merger of a man and a woman—their hearts, hopes, lives, love, family, future, everything. Adam said of Eve that she was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and that they were to be ‘one flesh’ in their life together [see Genesis 2:23–24]. This is a union of such completeness that we use the word seal to convey its eternal promise. The Prophet Joseph Smith once said we perhaps could render such a sacred bond as being ‘welded’ [see D&C 128:18] one to another.
“But such a total union, such an unyielding commitment between a man and a woman, can only come with the proximity and permanence afforded in a marriage covenant, with solemn promises and the pledge of all they possess—their very hearts and minds, all their days and all their dreams” (“Personal Purity,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 76).
Referring to the charge for a man to leave his parents and cleave to his wife, President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Do you note that? She, the woman, occupies the first place. She is preeminent, even above the parents who are so dear to all of us. Even the children must take their proper but significant place” (“Womanhood,” 72).
Adam and Eve were innocent in the Garden of Eden, not knowing good and evil and not feeling any shame or embarrassment over their nakedness. These are emotions that came after the Fall. Adam and Eve were much like little children who are naturally naive and trusting and lacking self-consciousness and knowledge of good and evil because they are innocent.