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Revelation, July 1830 (Doctrine and Covenants 25)

Revelation to Emma Smith, [July] 1830. Featured version, titled “27th. Commandment AD 1830,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 34–35, in Michael Hubbard MacKay et al., eds., Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, vol. 1 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee et al. (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2013), 161–164.1

See images of the original document at josephsmithpapers.org.


Emma Hale married Joseph Smith on January 18, 1827, at South Bainbridge, New York.2 According to Joseph’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, Emma accompanied her husband that fall to an upstate New York hill and waited in a wagon while he retrieved the metal plates from which he would translate the Book of Mormon.3 Emma assisted as a scribe in the early translation work.4 The couple first lived with Joseph’s family at Manchester, New York, until late 1827, when they moved to Harmony in northeastern Pennsylvania to live with Emma’s parents.5 There, in 1828, Joseph and Emma buried their first child, a son who “died the same hour” he was born.6 Over the next two years, as the couple tried to evade threats to the work of translation, they moved several times between Harmony and upstate New York. From these early years onward, Emma experienced the force of opposition to Joseph’s revelations through recurring verbal, physical, and legal attacks against him.

Joseph dictated the following revelation to Emma in early July 1830, a few months after the Church of Christ was officially organized on April 6, 1830.7 On June 28, 1830, Oliver Cowdery, the church’s “second elder,” baptized Emma at Colesville, New York.8 With others baptized that morning, Emma anticipated her confirmation that evening,9 but her husband’s arrest disrupted the meeting. Charged with “being a disorderly person; of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon,” Joseph was tried and acquitted in one county, immediately arrested a second time, and then tried and discharged in a neighboring county.10 After several days in custody and court, Joseph rejoined Emma, who—while “awaiting with much anxiety the issue of those ungodly proceedings”—had gathered with other women to pray for his deliverance.11

Portrait of Emma Hale Smith

Emma Hale Smith. 1842. A July 1830 revelation to Joseph Smith addressed his wife, Emma, by name, called her an “Elect Lady,” and instructed her to “expound Scriptures & exhort the Church.” She became the first president of the Relief Society twelve years later, around the time she posed for this portrait. Portrait by David Rogers. (Courtesy Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, MO.)

This revelation was one of three Joseph Smith dictated in early July 1830 at Harmony after this period of harassment.12 Each of these three revelations (now known in Latter-day Saint scripture as Doctrine and Covenants sections 24, 25, and 26, respectively) included instructions to specific individuals regarding prayer, learning, and the call to expound scriptures or to preach. The revelation directed to Emma Smith called her “my daughter in Zion” and an “Elect Lady,” and addressed both her domestic and public responsibilities.

It is uncertain how widely known or distributed this revelation was among the church membership in the early 1830s. In one of his denunciatory letters written to an Ohio newspaper in the fall of 1831, Ezra Booth claimed to have a copy of the “27th commandment to Emma my daughter in Zion” in his possession. Additionally, Eber D. Howe included the revelation in its entirety in his 1834 critique of the church, Mormonism Unvailed.13 The revelation was first published by the church in the Book of Commandments (1833) and subsequently in the Doctrine and Covenants (1835).14 Church historian John Whitmer copied the revelation into an official manuscript book known as Revelation Book 1 in about March 1831; as his is the earliest recorded version of the revelation, Whitmer’s text appears below, as it was published in Documents, Volume 1, of The Joseph Smith Papers.

Through the 1830s, as the community of Saints grew and moved from New York to Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, Emma Smith ministered to her husband, their children, the extended Smith family, and sick and needy Saints. Her surviving letters to Joseph reveal her affection for him as well as her involvement in his private business concerns.15 In 1835, as directed in this revelation, she completed the church’s first hymnal, published early the next year as A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints.16 In 1842, at the founding meeting of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, Joseph Smith read this 1830 revelation to the twenty women assembled. He also read 2 John 1:1, a verse that references an “elect lady,” in order to “show that respect was then had to the same thing; and that why she [Emma] was called an Elect lady is because, [she was] elected to preside.” Emma Smith, elected as president at the meeting, was not ordained to the new office because, Joseph Smith stated, she had been “ordain’d at the time, the [1830] Revelation was given.”17


27th. Commandment AD 1830

A Revelation to Emma [Smith] given at Harmony Susquehan[na] County state of Pennsylvania giving her a command to select Hymns &c

A Revelation I give unto you concerning my will Behold thy sins are for given thee & thou art an Elect Lady18 whom I have called murmer not because of the things which thou hast not seen for they are withheld from thee & the World which is wisdom in me in a time to come19 & the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my Servent Joseph thy husband in his afflictions with consoleing words in the spirit of meekness & thou shalt go with him at the time of his going & be unto him a Scribe that I may send Oliver [Cowdery] whithersoever I will & thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound Scriptures & exhort the Church20 according as it shall be given thee by my spirit for he shall lay his hands upon the[e] & thou shalt receive the Holy Ghost & thy time shall be [p. 34] Given to writings & to Learning & thou needest not fear for thy husband shall support thee from the Church for unto them is thy his calling that all things might be revealed unto them whatsoever I will according to their faith & verily I say unto you thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world & seek for the things of a better & it shall be given thee also to make a selection of Sacred Hymns as it shall be given thee which is pleasing unto me to be had in my Church for my Soul delighteth in the song of the heart yea the song of the heart righteous is a prayer unto me & it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads wherefore lift up thy heart & rejoice & cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made continue in the spirit of meekness & beware of Pride let thy soul delight in thy husband & the glory which shall come upon him keep my commandments continually & a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive & except thou do this where I am thou ye cannot come & verily I say unto you that this is my voice unto all even so amen

Footnotes

  1. [1]In Documents, Volume 1, this revelation is labeled “Revelation, July 1830–C [D&C 25].” The use of the letter “C” after the date distinguishes this revelation from two other July 1830 revelations.

  2. [2]For biographical information on Emma Smith, see, for example, Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994); and Mark L. Staker, “‘A Comfort unto My Servant, Joseph’: Emma Hale Smith (1804–1879),” in Women of Faith in the Latter Days, vol. 1, 1775–1820, ed. Richard E. Turley Jr. and Brittany A. Chapman (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 343–362.

  3. [3]Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, 18 books, CHL, bks. 5, 6–7.

  4. [4]Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bks. 7, 11; Edmund C. Briggs, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1856,” Journal of History 9, no. 4 (Oct. 1916): 454; Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, Oct. 1, 1879, 289–290.

  5. [5]Joseph Smith et al., History, 1838–1856, vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy), CHL, vol. A-1, 8–9 (hereafter JS History).

  6. [6]Karen Lynn Davidson et al., eds., Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844, vol. 1 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee et al. (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2012), 28.

  7. [7]For more detail on the dating of this revelation, see the introduction to this document in Michael Hubbard MacKay et al., eds., Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, vol. 1 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee et al. (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2013), 161 (hereafter JSP, D1).

  8. [8]JS History, vol. A-1, 30, 43.

  9. [9]After baptism, converts were confirmed members of the church “by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 44; Doctrine and Covenants 20:41.)

  10. [10]JS History, vol. A-1, 43–48; JSP, D1:115.

  11. [11]JS History, vol. A-1, 48; “Some of the Remarks of John S. Reed,” Times and Seasons, June 1, 1844, 5:551.

  12. [12]See JSP, D1:156–161.

  13. [13]Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. II,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), Oct. 20, 1831, [3]; Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, OH: By the author, 1834), 101–102.

  14. [14]A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ, Organized according to Law, on the 6th of April, 1830 (Zion [Independence, MO]: W. W. Phelps, 1833), 58–59; Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, comp. Joseph Smith Jr. et al. (Kirtland, OH: F. G. Williams, 1835), 178–179.

  15. [15]For example, see Emma Smith to Joseph Smith, Apr. 25, 1837; May 3, 1837; Mar. 7, 1839; and Dec. 6, 1839, all in the Documents series at josephsmithpapers.org.

  16. [16]A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints, ed. Emma Smith (Kirtland, OH: F. G. Williams, 1835). Emma Smith compiled the hymns in collaboration with William W. Phelps, who edited and published the hymnal. See also Michael Hicks, Mormonism and Music: A History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), 10–23.

  17. [17]Document 1.2, entry for Mar. 17, 1842.

  18. [18]See 2 John 1:1; and Document 1.2, entry for Mar. 17, 1842.

  19. [19]“Things which thou has not seen” may be a reference to the gold plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. Eleven men, including several who had served as Joseph Smith’s scribes, stated that they saw the plates. Emma Smith, although she also acted as scribe, did not see the plates but later recalled, “The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen table cloth, which I had given [Joseph] to fold them in. I once felt of the plates, as they thus lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metalic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book.” (Testimony of Three Witnesses, Late June 1829; Testimony of Eight Witnesses, Late June 1829, in JSP, D1:378–387; Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, Oct. 1, 1879, 290; see also Newell and Avery, Mormon Enigma, 25.)

  20. [20]In contemporary American Protestant denominations, women sometimes served as teachers and exhorters in informal meetings, though they were generally not allowed to preach in formal worship services. No records indicate that Emma Smith functioned as an exhorter or a teacher until the establishment of the Relief Society in 1842. (See Catherine A. Brekus, Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740–1845, Gender and American Culture [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998], chap. 3.)