When. one considers the doctrine of reincarnation his mind will naturally reflect not only on who he may have been, but also others in history who have held high esteem in his eyes. One may consider the good guys such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, , Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the bad guys such as Nero, Hitler, Boggs and others. One wonders what other roles they played in history and even more interestingly – Are they here on the earth again with us now?
One clue as to possible past lives may lie in some of the substitute names given in the Doctrine and Covenants. For instance Joseph Smith is referred to as Enoch, Gazelam, and Baurak Ale. (See D&C 78:1, 82:11 & 103:21) Newell K. Whitney called Ahashdah, (D&C 96:2j John Johnson is Zombre (D&C 96:9), Sidney Rigdon is Pelogoram (104:22), Oliver Cowdery is Olihah (104:22), Martin Harris is Mahemson (104:24), and Frederick G. Williams is Shederlaomach (104:27).
All of these names except for Enoch are original names. Instead of being merely code names could the/Lord have actually been giving out their previous identities in some ancient land such as Egypt, Israel, or America? On the other hand, just because Joseph was called Enoch here is not iron clad proof that he was Enoch who built the city, but it is quite possible that all of our famous Mormon brethren could have lived in numerous ancient civilizations of which we have no record. Perhaps Joseph as Baurak Ale was quite famous at some ancient time, but is now forgotten to history.
More impressive is the Lord’s associating the brethren with certain Biblical characters. For instance there is a strong indication that Oliver Cowdery was Aaron. Oliver was told: “You have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold it hath told you many things; Behold there is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you. Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God; and you shall hold it in your hands.” D&C 8:6-8.
This scripture is even more striking when one considers that a very important word has been changed. In the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants it reads: “Rod of Aaron” instead of “Gift of Aaron”. The word “gift” does not make sense because Oliver was told that he would hold it in his hands. It is interesting then that Oliver was given a rod just as Aaron was, and his rod generated power just as Aaron’s did.
Oliver was the first with Joseph to receive the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist, and he was ordained in an earthly ordinance to this priesthood, even before Joseph Smith, by the Prophet. Oliver was told that he was “called and ordained EVEN AS AARON”. D&C 27:8.
Concerning Edward Partridge it was written that “he is like unto Nathaniel of old, in whom there is no guile.” D&C 41:11 Could this be the Lord’s way of hinting that he was Nathaniel in a previous incarnation?
Was Hyrum, Hiram, King of Tyre from the Old Testament? Could it be that Brigham Young was King Solomon? Just as King Solomon built the temple without the sound of a hammer (I Kings 6:7) so did Brigham construct the tabernacle in Salt Lake without hammer or nails. Both are famous for having many wives and furthermore, Solomon had sculptured lions on both sides of his throne and ornamenting his house just as Brigham had two of them guarding the entrance of his home he called “the Lion House”. Brigham was often referred to as “the lion of the Lord.” You will also notice that many of Brigham’s sermons sound amazingly like the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastics written by Solomon.
One would naturally wonder what place in history Joseph Smith would have played. Perhaps it was a longer one than one would even dream for Hyrum said: “There were prophets before Adam, and JOSEPH HAS THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ALL THE PROPHETS”. Mill Star Vol. 23; Page 406.
In revealing a few elementary mysteries Joseph said: “would to God I had forty days and nights to tell it all.” DHC 6:313 A short time later in the same speech he said: “No man knows my history. I cannot tell it. I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame anyone for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself… When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then. I add no more. God bless you all. Amen.” DHC 6:317.
This was a strange statement for the Prophet to make, for many were quite acquainted with his history in that life He usually had a scribe at his side at all times just for the purpose of keeping a historical record. There were quite a number of saints familiar with the ministering of angels and visions that he experienced so the question naturally arises as to what history he was referring to that he could not disclose? He also indicated that the saints did not know him at that time, but would when the archangel would call him forth and weigh him in the balance. Is it not obvious then that the history he was referring to was before his birth?
This is indicated in another quote: “Would to God, brethren, I could tell you who I am! Would to God I could tell you what I know! But you would want to call it blasphemy and want to take my life.” Life of Heber C. Kimball Page 333.
When one reads between the lines here it is obvious that Joseph Smith had a knowledge of some of his past lives and was very hesitant to reveal them.
The Lord, however, gave several hints in various revelations: “He shall be blessed unto eternal life; and his name is Joseph.” D&C 18:8 Also:: “THOU ART JOSEPH, and wast called to do the work of the Lord.” D&C 3:9 Was the Lord here identifying him in a dual manner, not only as Joseph Smith, but as a previous Joseph such as the one who was sold into Egypt? Is this why Joseph of old, when prophesying of the mission of Joseph Smith, wrote of him: “He shall be like unto me.” II Nephi 3:15.
Why was Joseph Smith told that he was “called and chosen to WRITE the Book of Mormon”? We know that as Joseph Smith he did not write the book, but translated it. The one most responsible for compiling and writing it as it reads was Mormon. Could this be a clue that Joseph was once this ancient hero? This would mean that Moroni was no stranger to Joseph for they had worked together before (Since Mormon was his father)..
His mother gives an interesting account of Joseph’s early childhood that indicates that Joseph had flashbacks to lives on the ancient American continent: “During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He could describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, AS IF HE HAD SPENT HIS WHOLE LIFE WITH THEM.” LUCY SMITH BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, Pg. 85.
It is interesting that this occurred when he was a young boy before he ever met Moroni in this life and before he was supposed to know anything about those ancient inhabitants. It sounds as if he were merely recalling his past life experiences just as numerous young people do today to an ever increasing degree.
We shall try here to verify Joseph’s past lives by some amount of reasoning process for we realize that the reader cannot be expected to accept all that is written on intuition alone.
The most obvious past life of Joseph Smith is that of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. Several years before his death Joseph Smith prepared for himself an elaborate tomb and he insisted it be called: “The tomb of JOSEPH, a descendant of Jacob.” DHC 5:127 He was indeed a descendant of Jacob, for Jacob was once his father.
Joseph evidently had Brigham Young convinced that he was going to reenact the performance of ancient Joseph for Brigham said: “Yet he (Joseph) will lay a plan to speculate as large as ancient Joseph did; he will have power to buy up all the rest of the world.” DHC 6:16.
Now if we could find evidence as to the other lives of ancient Joseph we would have a clue as to other lives of Joseph Smith. Fortunately there is one clue in the scriptures in the Psalms of David: This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I (David living as Joseph) HEARD A LANGUAGE THAT I UNDERSTOOD NOT. I (the Lord) removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots. Thou callest in trouble, and I delivered thee; and answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I PROVED THEE AT THE WATERS OF MERIBAH.” Psalms 81:5-7
Here we are told quite plainly that David was both Joseph and later Moses. David clearly said that as Joseph he had heard a language that he understood not, that being the language of the Egyptians after he was taken into captivity. The Lord here also told David that he was proved or tested at “the waters of Meribah”. This is a flashback to his life as Moses where he smote the rock at the place he named Meribah arid brought forth water for Israel to drink, but at that time Moses failed the test and did not give glory to the Lord; thus he was not allowed to enter the promised land. (See Exodus 17:5-7) Seeing then that the Lord was aware of David’s valiant lives as Moses and Joseph he called David “a man after his own heart” (I Sam 13:14) when he was yet but a lad. We can also see why “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him” (Ex 13:19) when he left Egypt, for Moses was once Joseph. In another way Moses was taking the bones of Joseph by merely bringing himself out of Egypt. It was quite fitting for this entity to deliver Israel, for it was because of him that Israel moved to Egypt in the first place.
Since we have an indication here that Joseph Smith was once ancient Joseph, Moses and David one may ask how this could be so since Moses appeared to Joseph Smith. (See D&C 110:11) This is easily explained since .Moses as a head of a dispensation could also be represented as an office just as the Christ, Elijah and Elias are. For instance the one who spoke to Nephi several hours before the birth of Christ identified himself as the savior, but it could very well have been an angel representing Christ since his birth was a mere few hours away.
Also the God that appeared to Moses said: “And worlds without number have I created…and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.” Moses 1:33.
It is fairly obvious that one being did not make all there is nor is there only one Only Begotten. Joseph Smith said: “The heads (Plural) of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take that view of the subject, it sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods.” DHC 6:476.
Joseph stated: “Jesus is one of a grand order of Saviors. Every world has its distinctive Savior and every dispensation its Christ.” Women in Mormondom by Edward W. Tullidge; Page 192.
Thus we see that when a being achieves the position of the Father or a Christ that he can identify with the creators of all there is just as the Being did who appeared to Moses.
There is quite a lot of evidence that Joseph Smith could have been Moses for not only did he receive writing of ancient Joseph but received the Book of Moses. When he received the Book of Moses could it have been a mere recalling of something previously written?
Concerning Moses Joseph Smith said: “Moses was a stammering sort of boy like me.” DHC 6:478
Interestingly Joseph was told that the Lord would raise up one like Moses: “Behold, I say unto you, the redemption of Zion must needs come by power; therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man who shall lead them LIKE AS MOSES led the children of Israel. For ye are the children of Israel, and the seed of Abraham, and ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched out arm. And as your fathers were led at the first, even so shall the redemption of Zion be.” D&C 103:15-18
An elaboration of the redemption of Zion is given in the Doctrine and Covenants 101:44-62 and here the Lord talks about a servant who will redeem Zion “after many days”. Then the Lord says: “My servant Baurak Ale (Joseph Smith, Jun.) is the man to whom I likened the servant to whom the Lord of the vineyard spake in the parable which I have given unto you.” D&C 103:2
It is obvious then that Joseph Smith and the one like Moses are the same person for they are both prophesied to redeem Zion.. Also read D&C 105: 26-27,37. Joseph said that his father in a blessing “anointed my head, and sealed upon me the blessings of Moses, to lead Israel in the latter days, even as Moses led them in the days of old.” DHC 2:380
In speaking of this future Moses the Book of Mormon says: “And the Lord hath said: I will raise up a Moses; and I will give power unto him in a rod; and I will give judgment unto him in writing.” II Nephi 3:17-18
This is also in harmony with the prophesy of the one Mighty and Strong: “And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God.” D&C 85:7
Here the One Mighty and Strong is like unto Moses for he will have a “scepter of power” or a rod like Moses. Next he will have light for a covering just as Moses did numerous times and his mouth shall utter words, eternal words (words that shall not pass away, or be forgotten) like Moses did.
The Lord gives a strong indication that Joseph Smith will be this mighty and strong one to set the kingdom in order for he told him: “And this shall be your business and mission IN ALL YOUR LIVES, to preside in council, AND SET IN ORDER ALL THE AFFAIRS OF THIS CHURCH AND KINGDOM.” D&C 90:16
If Joseph Smith is to be the one like unto Moses it is small wonder that the Lord told him: “But a small moment and thy voice shall be more terrible in the midst of thine enemies than the fierce lion.” D&C 122:4 This never happened in his lifetime but the scripture would certainly be fulfilled if Joseph was given powers similar to ancient Moses.
There are many indications that Joseph Smith will be sent to dwell with us again. After he was commanded to mentally prepare himself the Lord told him the reason was “that ye may be prepared in all things WHEN I SHALL SEND YOU AGAIN to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.” D&C 88:80
Joseph Smith himself prophesied of his second coming for in speaking to the Nauvoo Legion he said: “You have faithfully performed your duty, in preserving the lives of the people as well as mine. You shall be called the first elders of this church…And your mission will be to the nations of the earth to preach the gospel, and to gather many people to the fastness of the rocky mountains, and many of those who will come in under your ministry because of their learning will seek for position and they will gain eminence over you, and you will walk in low places unnoticed. Yet you will know all that transpires in your midst. Those who are your friends are my friends AND I PROMISE YOU WHEN I COME AGAIN I WILL LEAD YOU FORTH, SO THAT WHERE I AM YOU SHALL BE WITH ME.” LIFE STORY OF WANDLES MACE, by himself; pages 131-132.
We also have a similar promise given in a revelation to Parley P. Pratt that Joseph would come again in the flesh; Just after Joseph and Hyrum were shot Parley was pondering in his heart as to how he was going to explain his death to the saints. He was quite concerned because it appeared to him that all of the promises made to Joseph were not yet fulfilled and he prayed thus: “O Lord! In the name of Jesus Christ I pray thee, show me what these things mean, and what I shall say unto thy people? On a sudden the Spirit of God came upon me, and filled my heart with joy and gladness indescribable; and which the spirit of revelation glowed in my bosom with as visible a warmth and gladness as if it were a fire. The Spirit said unto me: ‘Lift up your head and rejoice; for behold! It is well with my servants Joseph and Hyrum. My servant Joseph still holds the keys of my kingdom in this dispensation, AND HE SHALL STAND IN DUE TIME ON THE EARTH IN THE FLESH, AND FULFILL THAT TO WHICH HE IS APPOINTED.” Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt; Page 333.
After one has studied the chapter called PROMISES UNFULFILLED he can see why God made this statement for we see here that there are many promises made to Joseph that he did not fulfill in that life.
Unfortunately, the average Mormon will merely think that the above two quotes has reference to Joseph’s return as a resurrected immortal being. Anything that cannot be explained by the normal reasoning process he will feel will be explained in the resurrection. This is partially true since reincarnation is the resurrection of KRISIS as explained in the Bible, but it is not the resurrection to immortality.
There are several obvious reasons why Joseph will not come back as an immortal being among which are:
(1) There is no precedent. Never in history has God sent a resurrected being to accomplish what can be done by mortal men.
(2) The scriptures indicate that Joseph will live to be eighty-five years of age when the Lord comes. To fulfill this he would have to be born here in the flesh.
(3) Brigham Young said Joseph Smith would be able to buy up the world as ancient Joseph did. Can you imagine the Lord sending a resurrected being to do this?
(4) Joseph was told that he would lead his people as Moses. To be as Moses he would have to be a mortal as Moses was.
(5) Joseph was promised that he would be the one to redeem Zion. The one who will do this is refereed to as the marred servant “marred more than the sons of men”. (See Isa 52:24 & III Nephi 20:44.) Does it make sense that Joseph Smith would appear to lead the saints to Zion in a resurrected body that is also marred?
(6) Joseph was promised that he would restore all things. (See D&C 132:40&45) There are many things yet to be restored which was left unfinished when he died. Some things yet to be restored are: (a) The sealed portion of the gold plates. (b) The fullness of the record of John. Joseph Smith was specifically promised that he would restore this. (See D&C 93:6) (c) The ten lost tribes. (d) The Bible and lost scriptures are yet to be restored in their original form. (e) Joseph said the fullness of the priesthood is yet to be restored.
(7) Joseph is to reveal all the mysteries until the Lord comes: “And I have given unto him the keys of the mystery of those things which have been sealed, even things which were from the foundation of the world, AND THE THINGS WHICH SHALL COME FROM THIS TIME UNTIL THE TIME OF MY COMING, if he abide in me.” D&C 35:18. Also see DHC 2:32
(8) Joseph commented on several occasions that he would go to hell to redeem his wayward wife Emma for when he received the revelation on plural marriage and later presented it to her she was furious. Hyram tried to break the revelation to her gently and he returned to Joseph commenting that he had never received such a tongue lashing in his life. Later he presented it to Emma in person and Emma was so upset she took the revelation into the other room and burnt it in the fireplace thinking it was the only copy. (See JD 17:159.)
Brigham Young once said that she was more full of the devil than any woman he ever met. Even so Joseph loved her despite her opposition for she seemed to undergo some personality change after the revelation on plural marriage. Joseph once said to Benjamin Johnson: “Benjamin, look at these children, how could I help loving their mother. If necessary I would go to hell for such a woman.” Johnson to Gibb page 4. Brigham Young commented on this and said that if Joseph wanted Emma then he would have to go to hell to get her, but where is hell? We have already concluded and proven from the scriptures that it is right here on this earth. Thus it is logical that he would come back to this earth as a mortal and keep his promise to find his estranged wife again.
(9) Finally, Joseph is to be the one mighty and strong and “set in order the house of God.” This is expanded in another article, but it is obvious that Joseph Smith is to be this particular person for he was told: “And this shall be your business and mission in ALL YOUR LIVES, to preside in council, AND SET IN ORDER ALL THE AFFAIRS OF THIS CHURCH AND KINGDOM.” D&C 90:16
Most people who believe in this coming one expect some great display of power to identify him, such as perhaps a resurrected being appearing to the General Authorities commanding them to repent, but such will not be the case. Perhaps a clue as to what to expect may be gained from Isaiah: “Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephriam, shall be trodden under foot… The priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink (doctrine), they are swallowed up of wine (knowledge) they are out of the way; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.” Isa 28:2-3,7
The Hebrew for “mighty and strong” can also be translated here “determined and resolute”. Whoever this one is he will certainly be this, but he will also eventually display power as Moses did, but let us remember that Moses was eighty years old before he was given much power and Joseph Smith was told that he would see the face of the Son of Man if he lived to the age of eighty-five. It is quite possible that the one like Moses, this determined and resolute one, may even be a little older than Moses before he becomes the one like Moses. On the other hand this one may display quite a lot of spiritual power before he sees the face of the Son of Man.
Joseph Smith had a particular mission that required the vigors of youth, but the one like Moses will have a mission that will require the wisdom of experience, acquired knowledge, and the mellowing of age under his belt.
There are several other indications of the past lives of Joseph Smith. For instance we have established the indication that he was Joseph who was sold into Egypt. If this is so then the scriptures also hint he was also Seth: “For he is a descendant of Seth (Joseph) and a partaker of the blessings of the promise made unto his fathers.” D&C 96:7
The prophet Daniel also received the promise: “But go your way to the end and rest, and you shall arise to your destiny at the end of the age.” Dan 12:13 (New English). Here we have a strong indication that Daniel will be reborn at the end of the age to fulfill his destiny. The prophet Joseph has been described as having the wisdom of Daniel. If not he then some other entity will come forward to fulfill this prophesy.
Joseph had numerous past lives that we cannot prove by the scriptures, as well as the other brethren and the rest of humanity.
Copyright 1996 by J J Dewey