Sunday, September 19, 2010

Did Moroni Hide the Plates in the Hill Cumorah?

This Post given in answer to a comment relating to the last post. After completing all his writings, Moroni hid the record upon which he wrote (Mormon 8:14), though he does not say where he hid them, though he seems to have known that someone, in some future time, would find the record in the earth (buried?) and translate it (Mormon 8:15-16) by the means the Lord provided (Mormon 8:34), and that he, Moroni, would yet speak to this future people “as though I spake from the dead; for I know that ye shall hear my words” (Mormon 8:30).

The plates upon which Moroni was writing were a few of those his father, Mormon, gave to him (Mormon 6:6; Moroni 9:24), after hiding up all the other records in the Hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:6). This Hill Cumorah, in the Land Northward, far north of the Hill Shim where Ammaron hid them and from which Mormon retrieved them (Mormon 4:23), may or may not be the place where Moroni later hid the records upon which he wrote—we only know that Mormon hid them there, on a Hill the Jaredites called Ramah, and the Nephites called Cumorah (Ether 15:11).

We also know that Moroni knew where Mormon had buried the sacred records (Ether 15:11). We also know that the last great battle between the Lamanites and the Nephites took place around 384-385 A.D. (Mormon 6:5). It also seems evident that Mormon was killed in this last battle (Mormon 8:5), and that Moroni spent some 15 years after this battle and his father’s death being alone (Mormon 8:5), and in some type of hiding for he does not start to write Mormon 8 and 9 (concluding his father’s record) until about 401 A.D. (Mormon 8:6). For about the next 20 years, Moroni spends hiding from the Lamanites and writing, including the translation and abridgement of the Book of Ether.

Around 421 A.D. or later, Moroni concludes his writing with an epistle “unto my brethren, the Lamanites,” stating that “more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ” (Moroni 10:1). At the beginning of his last writings, somewhere between 400 and 421 A.D., Moroni is still hiding from the Lamanites, knowing that if they find him, they would destroy him for “they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ” (Mormoni 1:1-2). During this time Moroni has been wandering, evidently hiding and keeping out of sight of the Lamanites (Moroni 1:3).

How far Moroni wandered is not known. However, it might be assumed that his wandering, or moving about, was not just in the Land of Cumorah, but likely to be far from there since even at this time the Lamanite wars were “exceedingly fierce among themselves” (Moroni 1:2) “and the whole face of the land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8) with only “Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land” (Mormon 8:9).

During this wandering it is likely that Moroni was visited by, or had as companions for a time, the three witnesses, “the disciples of Jesus, who did tarry in the land until the wickedness of the people was so great that the Lord did not suffer them to remain with the people” (Mormon 8:10), for Moroni saw them and was ministered to by them (Mormon 8:11).

The fact is, as you so adequately stated, we do not know where Moroni buried or hid the records upon which he wrote. We do not know if he moved them. We do not know if his writings were hid in the same area as the other sacred records his father hid. We simply do not know. Because he was hiding and wandering, trying to keep one step ahead of the Lamanites, it is very unlikely that at the close of his life, he was still at the Hill Cumorah.

More likely, he was elsewhere and had been assured by the Spirit that wherever he hid his writings, they would at some future time be together with the other sacred records in an area where Joseph Smith could find them. After all, at the conclusion of Ether’s life, he “hid them in a manner that the people of Limhi did find them” (Ether 15:33).

After all, the Lord knows all things from the beginning. The movement of some records from one place to another is certainly not beyond his ability. The one who has created worlds without number would not be troubled moving records a few hundred or thousands of miles to accomplish his future purposes.


  1. Del,

    It is sometimes interesting that people forget just how powerful God is. The idea that God would "move" the plates at all seems ridiculous for many. It seems that often he always has man do the moving. So in that light, many assume that it was Moroni who just had to deposit the plates exactly where Joseph had retrieved them.

    Perhaps he did.. perhaps he did not. We don't know. But this we do know... it is conceivable that God did do the moving of the plates.

    In Joseph Smith's testimony concerning the plates.. it has been told that the first time he was at the hill.. he took the plates from the box, put them on the ground next to him, and then covered the box that was still in the ground with a stone to protect the other treasures it contained. Nevertheless, when he looked back at where he has set the plates.. they were gone. They had disappeared. And Joseph found them once again inside the box with the rock on top of it.

    So here.. the plates moved from outside the box next to Joseph.. to back inside the box buried in the ground.

    Do we now disbelieve this account because God does not move objects? Or do we realize that this account is true and the Lord can do whatsoever he wants... even to have the plates move from one location to another.

    I think people get too caught up in the particulars that don't have a clear answer.. and dismiss other things that really do.

    For example.. I was surprised to find the tales in your book about the people who currently live in then area of the promise land and the legends they speak about and how close it is to the story line in the Book of Mormon. Now some critic will be saying that Joseph had access to these legends and wrote a book based on them. :-( You can't win even when you are winning.

  2. Del,

    In reading your book (LNSM)page 367 you state: "The 2nd language was Egyptian. Both Lehi and Nephi knew this language which was used solely for the purpose of keeping the written record on the plates, including being the language of the brass plates."

    My question is if the brass plates were written in this reformed Egyptian.. why do they not have records of this kind of writing in Israel?

    I guess no one has been able to translate the Anthon transcript that has a sample of the characters from the Book of Mormon. If it is similar to the plates of brass then there should also be other documents out there that are very similar?

  3. The Book of Mormon does not give us a lot of information about the origins of the plates of brass. Nephi said that: “Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records” (21 Nephi 5:16). Since the plates in the north would have been kept by the senior family, the Ephraimites, this would make Laban an Ephraimite. We know that tribes of Ephraim, as well as Menassah, were in the northern kingdom so how did they come to be living in Jerusalem? First of all, the brass plates, on which may be found lost scripture, may have been the official scripture of the ten tribes.The Brass Plates contained the following:

    • The record of the Jews down to the days of Zedekiah, including the genealogies of the people and the prophecies of the holy prophets, among which are the words of Isaiah and portions of Jeremiah.
    • The law of Moses, in its perfect form, and the five books of Moses–Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
    • They contain the writings of Joseph who was sold into Egypt, than which few have been greater, and on them is found the mysteries of God and the commandments he has given to the children of men.
    • They contain books of holy scripture of which the world does not dream, including the writings of Zenock, Neum, And Zenos.

    What interests us more than the books included on the brass plates is the tone and tenor and general approach to the gospel and to salvation that they set forth. They are gospel oriented and speak of Christ and the various Christian concepts, which the world falsely assumes to have originated with Jesus and the early apostles. Sidney B. Sperry suggests that “the prophets in both nations probably paid little attention to the political lines of division, but it is improbable that all of them had their words recorded in the scriptures of both nations. … The Brass Plates may well have been the official scripture of the Ten Tribes. It is probable that some prophets wrote on these plates whose writings may not have been recorded on the records kept in Judah. Were Zenos, Zenock, Neum, and Ezias … among them?” Also, other migrations occurred before the destruction, and Laban’s ancestors may have settled in Jerusalem during one of those. The Old Testament mentions one particular migration during the reign of Asa, one of the most righteous Judean kings. Many from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon left the northern kingdom for Judah when they saw that God was with King Asa 2 Chronicles 15:9).

    As to how these plates of the northern kingdom came to be in Jerusalem, scholars now believe that a significant number of Israelites fled the Northern Kingdom, seeking refuge in Judah. Their evidence is consistent with Dr. Sperry's speculation–they brought Scriptures with them and those Scriptures were different from the Scripture of Judah. A further insight regarding the brass plates prophets is found in a comment of Mormon, in 3 Nephi 10:16. There had been great persecution of the believers prior to the crucifixion of Christ and his appearance to the Nephites. Mormon, acknowledging that this was a fulfillment of prophecy, declared, "Yea, the prophet Zenos did testify of these things, and also Zenock spake concerning these things, because they testified particularly concerning us, who are the remnant of their seed.”
    Note Mormon's identification of the Nephites as remnants of the seed of the Brass Plate prophets, Zenos and Zenock. These were tribe of Joseph prophets. Sperry assumes that there must have been separate records and suggests the outlandish, yet almost obvious possibility, "the brass plates may well have been the official scripture of the ten tribes." That is, the brass plates may have been the master copy, the original, of the Northern Kingdom scripture.

    (See next comment – too large for one comment post)

  4. In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin's identification of the language of this record as Egyptian (Mosiah 1:4) introduces a further line of speculation. Could this record have originated as the family record of Joseph the son of Jacob. His wife was Egyptian. His sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were Egyptian. That may have been the only language they knew. Of course, Joseph would have had a copy of the then extent scriptural record in Egyptian. Might not his family have continued to maintain that Egyptian (maybe reformed Egyptian) language record?

    Our Old Testament is the record of the tribe of Judah–it's the "Stick of Judah." Are the brass plates not at least part of the "Stick of Joseph"? If this view of the Brass Plates as the record of the tribe of Joseph is correct, then the Book of Mormon is but the continuation of a family history, which may have been begun by Joseph himself. The Book of Mormon would be the middle chapters of this history. Are not the Doctrine and Covenants and current church history the final chapters of this great family epoch?

    Nephi makes another statement about the brass plates that arrests our attention. He says, "And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records" (1 Nephi 5:16). These words seem to indicate that the recording of the Hebrew scriptures on the brass plates had begun many generations before Laban's time. Furthermore, it would be kept in the senior tribe of Israel, that is to say, in the tribe of Ephraim (see Genesis 48:5, 13—20; 1 Chronicles 5:1—2). Laban may well have been a descendant of Joseph through Ephraim. We may properly ask ourselves how it happened that Laban—and Lehi's family, for that matter, inasmuch as they were descendants of Joseph through Manasseh—happened to be living in Jerusalem. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, as the reader is well aware, had been allied generations before with the northern kingdom of Israel, not with Judah in the south.

    The northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians when its capital of Samaria capitulated to Sargon II in 721 B.C., just over 120 years before Lehi left Jerusalem. The forebears of Laban may well have fled to Jerusalem to prevent the sacred records from falling into alien hands. Lehi's grandfather or great-grandfather may have left his northern home for Jerusalem in order to prevent his children from intermarrying or making religious compromises with the foreigners brought into the land by the Assyrians. Such a course would not be unreasonable on the part of many devout families.

    If the brass plates had been kept by Laban's ancestors in the tribe of Ephraim as early as the united kingdom under Saul, David, and Solomon, it would be of great interest to know their history and that of any other sacred records subsequent to the division which took place after Solomon's death; it will be remembered that the northern confederation of tribes followed Jeroboam, and the southern kingdom of Judah remained under Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:29; 12:24). What happened to the keeping of sacred records when the Israelites became sharply divided on political grounds—so much so that the two nations were enemies?

    (see following comment for conclusion—too long for a single post)

  5. It is also possible that the writings of some prophets in Judah were not placed on the brass plates during the period under consideration, but of this we have no way of knowing. After the fall of Samaria, in 721 BC, it is very probable that most Jewish prophetical writings were engraved on the brass plates, assuming, of course, that Laban's immediate forebears came to Jerusalem as we has already been stated. It is a fact of considerable importance in biblical studies that the Book of Mormon indicates the presence on the brass plates of more scripture than that contained in our entire Bible (1 Nephi 13:23—26). Considering the fact that these plates recorded Hebrew scripture written only before the year 600 B.C., we have ample testimony to the loss of much scripture between that date and the present time.

    When Lehi had searched the brass plates, he was filled with the Spirit and began to prophesy to the effect that the day would come when they should be made known unto all kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed (1 Nephi 5:17-18). Moreover, he prophesied that the brass plates should never perish or be dimmed by time (1 Nephi 5:19). We know, therefore, that many unknown or hitherto corrupted texts of Hebrew scripture will be restored to the world in correct form. To those of us who are interested in the study of the Bible, this is a comforting and even a thrilling prospect.

    And finally, your last question: "My question is if the brass plates were written in this reformed Egyptian.. why do they not have records of this kind of writing in Israel?" can be seen in that the Egyptian language was used in the northern kingdom as a carry over from Ephraim and Menassah (both Egyptian born) bringin those plates into Israel. What else might have existed in the northern kingdom before they were destroyed and led captive off to where no one today knows (Lost 10 Tribes) can only be conjectured. However, it would seem reasonable that other writings in Egyptian would have been then extant, but lost since the captivity and dispersement of the northern kingdom. Maybe some will return with the 10 tribes when they return. Who knows.

    I hope this answers your questions.