“Meet the Four Josephs of 2 Nephi 3,” New Era, Feb. 2020, 34–35.
See if you can keep track of all the Josephs mentioned in 2 Nephi 3: Lehi tells his son Joseph about some of the prophecies that Joseph of Egypt made about Joseph Smith, who was named after his father, Joseph.
Take a look at the time line below to better understand who those Josephs were and when they lived.
About 1700 BC
Joseph, son of Jacob (who was renamed Israel), lived in Egypt. He had two sons, named Ephraim and Manasseh.
About 600 BC
Lehi, a descendant of Manasseh, left Jerusalem and traveled in the wilderness for several years. There, he and his wife, Sariah, had a son named Joseph.
Joseph Smith Sr. was born in Massachusetts.
Joseph Smith Jr. was born on December 23, 1805, in Vermont. In the First Vision in 1820, he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He translated and published the Book of Mormon several years later, just as Joseph of Egypt said he would (see 2 Nephi 3:11).
The Lord inspired Joseph of Egypt to see many centuries into the future. He shared the following truths about Joseph Smith:
“A seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins [descendants]” (verse 6).
“He shall be great like unto Moses, whom I have said I would raise up unto you, to deliver my people” (verse 9).
“Unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins—and not to the bringing forth my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them [such as the Bible]” (verse 11).
“Out of weakness he shall be made strong, in that day when my work shall commence among all my people, unto the restoring thee, O house of Israel, saith the Lord” (verse 13).
“That seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded” (verse 14).
“His name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father” (verse 15).
Joseph of Egypt was appointed by the pharaoh to oversee the stockpiling of food to prepare for a famine. When the famine came, people in Egypt and elsewhere came to Joseph to buy food. Even his brothers came to Egypt from the Holy Land for food. The pharaoh allowed Joseph’s brothers and father to have food and to live in Egypt. This saved them from starvation.
In Joseph Smith’s day, people were facing a “famine” of the word of God; they were starving for the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was the prophet the Lord called to save us from that famine—by restoring His gospel and priesthood so we could receive the ordinances necessary for our spiritual salvation.