Chapter 6: The Words of Moses
Assuming you know the backstory of Moses’ life, only a nutshell version will be given here. He was born to Hebrew slaves, reared as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter—Hebrew by DNA, Egyptian by culture. He killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, fled to Midian, married the priest’s daughter, was ordained to the priesthood by his father-in-law. He experienced a vision he described as a burning bush, where Jehovah called him as the prophet to lead the children of Israel out of their Egyptian bondage. (As a note of interest, compare Exodus 3:2 to 1 Nephi 1:6–9). God called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt and God called Lehi to lead his family out of Jerusalem; both via grueling experiences in the wilderness.) In (Moses 1:25–26), God foreshadows Moses parting the Red Sea by telling him he will be made stronger than many waters and that the waters will obey him.
Moses returns to Egypt and delivers God’s message to Pharaoh: “Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me” (Exodus 8:20). Pharaoh said no nine times, scoffing at Moses’s brazen impudence, and with each no, God punished the Egyptians with intensifying plagues. After the tenth plague, the death of all firstborn sons, Pharaoh agreed to let the children of Israel leave Egypt but then changed his mind and pursued them to the Red Sea. Moses, acting in his role of God’s prophet, commanded the Red Sea to part, allowing safe passage for the Israelites. When the Egyptians followed, the Red Sea closed in on them, leaving the Israelites safely on the other side. However, the shore of the Red Sea was a long way from the promised land. Entering the land of Canaan was forty years away in a circuitous route that the Lord used as a weeding-out process. Those who had the taint of Egypt in their souls and were of insufficient faith never saw the promised land. A new, more faithful generation followed under the leadership of Moses’s successor, Joshua.
The relationship between God and Moses was not only God to prophet but also Father to son. This familial connection is emphasized three times by God when He said: “I have a work for thee, Moses, my son” (Moses 1:6; italics added). “This one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son” (Moses 1:7; italics added). “Moses, my son, I will speak unto thee concerning this earth upon which thou standest” (Moses 1:40; italics added). After God outlined the work He assigned to Moses, Moses humbly accepted by referring to himself as “thy servant” (Moses 1:36).
With that brief background, the question arises, who wrote the words in the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, Moses or Joseph Smith. As I shared earlier, my great concern when I began this project was that perhaps all I would find in the Pearl of Great Price was Joseph Smith’s vocabulary. Thankfully, my apprehensions were unwarranted. The Pearl of Great Price is full of unique vocabularies, providing another impossible-to-explain-away evidence that Joseph Smith is indeed a prophet of God.
Now, I share with you the first two lists of unique words, the words of Moses in his own first-person voice and in his voice as redactor of the book of Moses. (A redactor in written material is similar to a narrator in a play who makes personal appearances throughout to guide, explain, and transition.) The words in capital letters mean that specific word or phrase is found nowhere else in all scripture, not in the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants. The other words are unique to Moses as compared to the rest of the Pearl of Great Price.
Words of Moses in first person (15 words or phrases are unique to him): altogether, burning, BURNING BUSH, content, denied, DEPART HENCE SATAN, get thee hence Satan, judge, madest, natural eyes, natural man, spiritual eyes, transfigured, withdrawn, withered.
Words of Moses as redactor: (112 unique words or phrases are unique to his narration)
Acceptable, administering, aprons, ascend, atoned, bitterness, black, bloodshed, book of remembrance, carnal sensual devilish, carried, caught, chain, chains, conceived, confirmed, conversed, cool, covenanted, covenants, crowns, damned, declared, depth, despised, discerned, discerning, displeased, doings, enemies, everywhere, failing, feared, firm decree, firstlings, flourish, fought, genealogy, giants, gloried, groaned, guilt, hide, high places, hills, imagination, inner, keeper, laughed, led, lions, loud, mark, marveled, meridian, mixture, mourned, named, natural, numberless, numerous, oath’s, ordinance, ORIGINAL, particle, powerful, prevail, prison, quickened, raged, RANTED, READ AND WRITE, rebelled, rent, reserved, residue, respect, roar, rocks, rose, secret combination, sewed, shook, shut out, smiled, speech, swallowed, sware, swelled, taught, tempting, tent-keepers, testifying, thenceforth, thoughts, tiller, to write by the spirit of inspiration, trembled, tribulations, unalterable, undefiled, VEILED, wailing, walked, wept, wide, wilderness, withhold, wondered, wroth, yearned, yonder.
(c) Marilynne Todd Linford, 2017
(c) Marilynne Todd Linford, 2017