Urim & Thummim
Brigham Young about the Interpreters and the Urim and Thummim
Dec. 27, 1841: I met with the Twelve at Brother Joseph’s. He conversed with us in a familiar manner on a variety of subjects, and explained to us the Urim and Thummim which he found with the plates, called in the Book of Mormon the Interpreters. He said that every man who lived on the earth was entitled to a seer stone, and should have one, but they are kept from them in consequence of their wickedness, and most of those who do find one make an evil use of it; he showed us his seer stone. (Brigham Young, Mill. Star 26:118)
The Channels for God
Even those who accept the revelations of God are susceptible to deception. Perhaps the channels from God can be more easily doubted and rejected when those channels are more vivid and direct.
Some are not fully satisfied, but will doubt the revelation that God has given them. You think you would not. I have known many who have. Oliver Cowdery received revelations and wrote them; so did David Whitmer, and so did Thomas B. Marsh. (H. C. Kimball, J.D. 5:28)
THE URIM & THUMMIN:
The Prophet Joseph Smith was not the only individual in this dispensation to use the Urim and Thummim and to receive revelations from God. Heber C. Kimball testified that Brigham Young also used these sacred instruments.
Has Brother Brigham Young got the Urim and Thummim? Yes, he has everything that is necessary for him to receive the will and mind of God to this people. Do I know it? Yes, I know all about it. . . . (Heber C. Kimball, J.D. 2:111)
Bible Dictionary Urim and Thummim
Hebrew term that means “Lights and Perfections.” An instrument prepared of God to assist man in obtaining revelation from the Lord and in translating languages. See Ex. 28:30; Lev. 8:8; Num. 27:21; Deut. 33:8; 1 Sam. 28:6; Ezra 2:63;Neh. 7:65; JS—H 1:35.
Using a Urim and Thummim is the special prerogative of a seer, and it would seem reasonable that such instruments were used from the time of Adam. However, the earliest mention is in connection with the brother of Jared (Ether 3:21–28). Abraham used a Urim and Thummim (Abr. 3:1–4), as did Aaron and the priests of Israel, and also the prophets among the Nephites (Omni 1:20–21; Mosiah 8:13–19; 21:26–28; 28:11–20; Ether 4:1–7). There is more than one Urim and Thummim, but we are informed that Joseph Smith had the one used by the brother of Jared (Ether 3:22–28; D&C 10:1; 17:1). (See Seer.) A partial description is given in JS—H 1:35. Joseph Smith used it in translating the Book of Mormon and in obtaining other revelations.
This earth in its celestial condition will be a Urim and Thummim, and many within that kingdom will have an additional Urim and Thummim (D&C 130:6–11).
I trembled so with fear, lest all might be lost in consequence of some failure in keeping the commandments of God, that I was under the necessity of leaving the room in order to conceal my feelings. Joseph saw this, and said, “Do not be uneasy, mother, all is right–see here, I have got a key.”
I knew not what he meant, but took the article of which he spoke into my hands, and upon examination, found that it consisted of two smooth three-cornered diamonds set in glass, and the glasses were set in silver bows, which were connected with each other in much the same way as old-fashioned spectacles. He took them again and left me, but said nothing respecting the record. Joseph Smith, The Prophet And His Progenitors For Many Generations Chapter 23 by Lucy Smith (Mother Of The Prophet)
The Prophet Joseph alone knew the full process, and he was deliberately reluctant to describe details. We take passing notice of the words of David Whitmer, Joseph Knight, and Martin Harris, who were observers, not translators. David Whitmer indicated that as the Prophet used the divine instrumentalities provided to help him, “the hieroglyphics would appear, and also the translation in the English language … in bright luminous letters.” Then Joseph would read the words to Oliver (quoted in James H. Hart, “About the Book of Mormon,” Deseret Evening News, 25 Mar. 1884, 2). Martin Harris related of the seer stone: “Sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin” (quoted in Edward Stevenson, “One of the Three Witnesses: Incidents in the Life of Martin Harris,” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, 6 Feb. 1882, 86–87). Joseph Knight made similar observations (see Dean Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” BYU Studies 17 [Autumn 1976]: 35).
Oliver Cowdery is reported to have testified in court that the Urim and Thummim enabled Joseph “to read in English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the plates” (“Mormonites,” Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate, 9 Apr. 1831). If these reports are accurate, they suggest a process indicative of God’s having given Joseph “sight and power to translate” (D&C 3:12).
If by means of these divine instrumentalities the Prophet was seeing ancient words rendered in English and then dictating, he was not necessarily and constantly scrutinizing the characters on the plates—the usual translation process of going back and forth between pondering an ancient text and providing a modern rendering.
The revelatory process apparently did not require the Prophet to become expert in the ancient language. The constancy of revelation was more crucial than the constant presence of opened plates, which, by instruction, were to be kept from the view of unauthorized eyes anyway.
While the use of divine instrumentalities might also account for the rapid rate of translation, the Prophet sometimes may have used a less mechanical procedure. We simply do not know the details.
Whatever the details of the process, it required Joseph’s intense, personal efforts along with the aid of the revelatory instruments. The process may have varied as Joseph’s capabilities grew, involving the Urim and Thummim but perhaps with less reliance upon such instrumentalities in the Prophet’s later work of translation. Elder Orson Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said Joseph Smith told him that he used the Urim and Thummim when he was inexperienced at translation but that later he did not need it, which was the case in Joseph’s translation of many verses of the Bible (see Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, 11 Aug. 1874, 498–99).
One marvel is the very rapidity with which Joseph was translating—at an estimated average rate of eight of our printed pages per day! The total translation time was about 65 working days. (See “How long did it take Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon?” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 47.)
Emma Smith said of the inspired process: “After meals, or after interruptions, [Joseph] would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him” (“Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 290). One who has dictated and been interrupted must usually resume by inquiring, “Now, where were we?” Not so with the Prophet!
Fourth, we marvel that the Prophet Joseph Smith worked completely without referring to any other sources. None of the 12 people who either participated or merely observed mentioned Joseph’s having any reference materials present. (The 12 people were Emma Smith, Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, Elizabeth Ann Whitmer Cowdery, David Whitmer, William Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, Michael Morse, Sarah Hellor Conrad, Isaac Hale, Reuben Hale, and Joseph Knight Sr.) Since the Prophet dictated openly, these individuals would have been aware of any suspicious behavior or procedures. Emma was emphatic on this very point: “He had neither manuscript nor book to read from, [and] if he had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me” (“Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” 289, 290) “By the Gift and Power of God” By Elder Neal A. Maxwell Ensign, Jan 1997, 36
The two stones set in a bow of silver were about two inches in diameter, perfectly round, and about five-eighths of an inch thick at the centre; but not so thick at the edges where they came into the bow. They were joined by a round bar of silver, about three-eighths of an inch in diameter, and about four inches long, which, with the two stones, would make eight inches. The stones were white, like polished marble, with a few gray streaks. I never dared to look into them by placing them in the hat, because Moses said that “no man could see God and live,” and we could see anything we [Page 130]wished by looking into them; and I could not keep the desire to see God out of my mind. And beside, we had a command to let no man look into them, except by the command of God, lest he should “look aught and perish.”
“Martin Harris Interview with Joel Tiffany, 1859,” in Early Mormon Documents, 2:305.
He translated them by means of the Urim and Thummim, (which he obtained with the plates), and the power of God. The manner in which this was done was by looking into the Urim and Thummim, which was placed in a hat to exclude the light, (the plates lying near by covered up), and reading off the translation, which appeared in the stone by the power of God.
“William Smith, On Mormonism, 1883,” in Early Mormon Documents, 1:497.
Now the way he translated was he put the Urim and Thummim into his hat and darkened his eyes, then he would take a sentence and it would appear in bright Roman letters, then he would tell the writer and he would write it. Then that would go away, the next sentence would come, and so on. But if it was not spelled right it would not go away till it was right, so we see it was marvelous. Thus was the whole translated.
“Joseph Knight Sr., Reminiscence, Circa 1835–1847,” in Early Mormon Documents, 4, 17–18. Spelling and punctuation have been modernized for readability. Original spelling is as follows: “Now the way he translated was he put the urim and thummim into his hat and Darkned his Eyes than he would take a sentance and it would apper in Brite Roman Letters then he would tell the writer and he would write it[.] Then <that would go away> the next sentance would Come and so on But if it was not Spelt rite it would not go away till it was rite[,] so we see it was marvelous[.] thus was the hol [whole] translated. ” One item of interest here is Joseph Knight’s use of the term Urim and Thummim to describe the “glasses.” The question is whether Knight’s account was recorded in 1827, or whether it was recorded after 1833, when the termUrim and Thummim was in common usage. According to Dean Jessee, Knight’s account is “undated and unsigned,” with the words “22 Sept. 1827″ being “inserted by Thomas Bullock, a church clerk from 1843 to 1847.” Knight’s account, therefore, cannot be used to establish with any certainty that the term Urim and Thummim was applied to the Nephite interpreters (the glasses) in 1827. See Dean Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” BYU Studies 17/1 (1976), 2.
The book of Mormon, as a revelation from God, possesses some advantage over the old scripture: it has not been tinctured by the wisdom of man, with here and there an Italic word to supply deficiencies.-It was translated by the gift and power of God, by an unlearned man, through the aid of a pair of Interpreters, or spectacles-(known, perhaps, in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummim). W. Phelps, The Evening and The Morning Star, 1/8 (January 1833), 57
From April 12 to June 14, Joseph translated while Martin wrote, with only a curtain between them.[Page 141]On occasion they took breaks from the arduous task, sometimes going to the river and throwing stones. Once Martin found a rock closely resembling the seerstone Joseph sometimes used in place of the interpreters and substituted it without the Prophet’s knowledge. When the translation resumed, Joseph paused for a long time and then exclaimed, “Martin, what is the matter, all is as dark as Egypt.” Martin then confessed that he wished to “stop the mouths of fools” who told him that the Prophet memorized sentences and merely repeated them.33
Kenneth W. Godfrey, “A New Prophet and a New Scripture: The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, January 1988.
After breakfast Joseph called me in to the other room and he set his foot on the bed and leaned his head on his hand and says, “Well, I am disappointed.” “Well,” say I, “I am sorry.” “Well,” says he, “I am greatly disappointed. It is ten times better than I expected.” Then he went on to tell the length and width and thickness of the plates, and, said he, they appear to be gold. But he seemed to think more of the glasses or the Urim and Thummim than he did of the plates for, says he, “I can [Page 145]see anything. They are marvelous. Now they are written in characters and I want them translated.”
“Joseph Knight Sr., Reminiscence, Circa 1835-1847,” in Early Mormon Documents, 4:15. Spelling has been modernized and formatted for readability. Original spelling and formatting is as follows: “After Brackfist Joseph Cald me in to the other Room and he set his foot on the Bed and leaned his head on his hand and says well I am Dissop[o]inted. well, say I[,] I am sorrey[.] Well, says he[,] I am grateley Dissop[o]inted, it is ten times Better then I expected. Then he went on to tell the length and width and thickness of the plates[,] and[,] said he[,] they appear to be Gold But he seamed to think more of the glasses or the urim and thummem then [than] he Did of the Plates for[,] says he[,] I can see any thing[.] They are Marvelus[.] Now they are written in Caracters and I want them translated[.]”
“Those who believed that Joseph Smith’s revelations contained the voice of the Lord speaking to them also accepted the miraculous ways in which the revelations were received. Some of the Prophet Joseph’s earliest revelations came through the same means by which he translated the Book of Mormon from the gold plates. In the stone box containing the gold plates, Joseph found what Book of Mormon prophets referred to as “interpreters,” or a “stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light” (Alma 37:23–24). He described the instrument as “spectacles” and referred to it using an Old Testament term, Urim and Thummim (see Exodus 28:30).
He also sometimes applied the term to other stones he possessed, called “seer stones” because they aided him in receiving revelations as a seer. The Prophet received some early revelations through the use of these seer stones.”
Gerrit Dirkmaat, “Great and Marvelous Are the Revelations of God,”Ensign, January 2013, 45–46
Descriptions of the Urim and Thummim
[T]here were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim … and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times.(Joseph Smith-History 1:35)
After breakfast [on the day he received the plates and the urim and thummim] Joseph [Smith] called me into the other room and he set his foot on the bed and leaned his head on his hand and says,… “[I]t is ten times better then I expected.” Then he went on to tell the length and width and thickness of the plates, and said he, “they appear to be gold.” But he seemed to think more of the glasses or the urim and thummim than he did of the plates, for, says he, “I can see anything; they are marvelous.” (“Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” BYU Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1; spelling modernized; online version)
The two stones set in a bow of silver were about two inches in diameter, perfectly round, and about five-eighths of an inch thick at the centre; but not so thick at the edges where they came into the bow. They were joined by a round bar of silver, about three-eighths of an inch in diameter, and about four inches long, which, with the two stones, would make eight inches. The stones were white, like polished marble, with a few gray streaks. I never dared to look into them by placing them in the hat, because Moses said that “no man could see God and live,” and we could see anything we wished by looking into them; and I could not keep the desire to see God out of my mind. And beside, we had a command to let no man look into them, except by the command of God, lest he should “look aught and perish.” (Martin Harris’ 1859 Interview with Joel Tiffany on Early Events in Mormonism; see online version)
Lucy Mack Smith
I trembled so much with fear lest all might be lost again by some small failure in keeping the commandments, that I was under the necessity of leaving the room to conceal my feelings. Joseph saw this and followed me. “Mother,” said he. “Do not be uneasy. All is right. See here,” said he, “I have got the key.”
I knew not what he meant, but took the article in my hands and, examining it with no covering but a silk handkerchief, found that it consisted of two smooth three-cornered diamonds set in glass, and the glasses were set in silver bows connected with each other in much the same way that old-fashioned spectacles are made. He took them again and left me, but did not tell me anything of the record….
That of which I spoke, which Joseph termed a key, was indeed nothing more nor less than a Urim and Thummim by which the angel manifested those things to him that were shown him in vision; by which also he could at any time ascertain the approach of danger, either to himself or the record, and for this cause he kept these things constantly about his person. (History of Joseph Smith, Revised and Enhanced, p. 139, 145)
I have seen and felt … the Urim and Thummim. They resemble two large bright diamonds set in a bow like a pair of spectacles. My son puts these over his eyes when he reads unknown languages, and they enable him to interpret them in English. (in Henry Caswall, The City of the Mormons; or, Three Days at Nauvoo, in 1842, 2nd ed. revised and enlarged, (London: J. G. F. & J. Rivington, 1843), 26)
By pressing the head a little forward, the rod held the Urim and Thummim before the eyes much like a pair of spectacles. A pocket was prepared in the breastplate on the left side, immediately over the heart. When not in use the Urim and Thummim was placed in the pocket the rod being of just the right length to allow it to be deposited. This instrument could, however, be detached from the breastplate when away from home, but Joseph always used it in connection with the breastplate when translating, as it permitted him to have both hands free to touch the plates. The instrument was too large for Joseph’s eyes; they must have been used by larger men. Sometimes Joseph Smith resorted to the plan of covering his eyes with a hat to exclude the light in part to prevent eye strain. (Saints Herald, March 9, 1882, p. 258; Interview with William P. Smith).
The Urim and Thummim, used by Moses and Aaron, was attached to a breastplate. This was called the “breast plate of judgment,” and for significant reasons.
The reason of this was that Aaron was appointed to be a judge among the children of Israel, occupying a similar place among that people that the President of the Bishopric occupies in the Church. But he was blessed above those who have been ordained to the same calling in this dispensation, for he was in possession of the Urim and Thummim, and by virtue of this instrument he could inquire of the Lord in relation to every case that should be brought before him for adjudication. The judgment of man is naturally very weak and imperfect, and inasmuch as Aaron was required to judge the people of God, it was of the utmost importance that all his decisions should be given in righteousness, that there should be no imperfections connected with them, and for that reason the Lord gave express instructions to Aaron, through his brother Moses, to have a  breastplate. In this breastplate were twelve stones, representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and in the center of these rows of stones the Urim and Thummim was placed, and when he was required to render judgment upon any matter, he inquired of the Lord through it, and was enabled to give decisions according to the word of the Lord. (Orson Pratt, J.D. 19:206)
Noah, after having preached the Gospel and published glad tidings among the nations, was commanded to build an ark. He had a Urim and Thummim by which he was enabled to discern all things pertaining to the ark and its pattern. (J.D. 16:50)
THE URIM AND THUMMIM Doctrines of Salvation Volume 3 Chapter 11 Coming Forth of Book of Mormon
ABRAHAM, ISRAELITES, AND JAREDITES HAD URIM AND THUMMIM. The history concerning the Urim and Thummim, or Interpreters as they are called in the Book of Mormon, 29 is not very clear. Abraham had the Urim and Thummim by which he received revelations of the heavenly bodies, as he has recorded in the Book of Abraham. 30 What became of these after his death we do not know. Aaron also had the Urim and Thummim, and these were, evidently from the reading of the Bible, handed down among the priests of Aaron from generation to generation. 31The Lord gave to the Brother of Jared the Urim and Thummim which he brought with him to this continent. These were separate and distinct from the Urim and Thummim had by Abraham and in Israel in the days of Aaron.
The account of this set, in part, is as follows: “And behold, when ye shall come unto me, ye shall write them [revelations] and shall seal them up, that no one can interpret them; for ye shall write them in a language that they cannot be read. And behold, these two stones will I give unto thee, and ye shall seal them up also with the things which ye shall write. For behold, the language which ye shall write I have confounded; wherefore I will cause in my own due time that these stones shall magnify to the eyes of men these things which ye shall write….
“And the Lord said unto him: Write these things and seal them up; and I will show them in mine own due time unto the children of men. And it came to pass that the Lord commanded him that he should seal up the two stones which he had received, and show them not, until the Lord should show them unto the children of men.” 32
JAREDITE URIM AND THUMMIM HAD BY NEPHITES. We have no record of Lehi bringing with him to America the Urim and Thummim. The Lord did give to Lehi the Liahona, which was a ball which directed him the way he should go, and writing appeared on it from time to time, but this was not the Urim and Thummim. 33
King Mosiah possessed “two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow,” called by the Nephites Interpreters, with which he translated the Jaredite record, 34 and these were handed down from generation to generation for the purposes of interpreting languages. How Mosiah came into possession of these two stones or Urim and Thummim the record does not tell us, more than to say that it was a “gift from God.” 35 Mosiah had this gift or Urim and Thummim before the people of Limhi discovered the record of Ether. They may have been received when the “large stone” was brought to Mosiah with engravings upon it, which he interpreted by the “gift and power of God.” 36 They may have been given to him, or to some other prophet before his day, just as the Brother of Jared received them-from the Lord.
That the Urim and Thummim, or two stones, given to the Brother of Jared were those in the possession of Mosiah appears evident from Book of Mormon teachings. The Brother of Jared was commanded to seal up his writings of the vision he had when Christ appeared to him, so that they could not be read by his people. This vision was recorded in a language which was confounded, for it was not to go forth until after the resurrection of Christ. The Urim and Thummim were also sealed up so that they could not be used for the purpose of interpreting those sacred writings of this vision, until such time as the Lord should grant to man to interpret them. When they were to be revealed, they were to be interpreted by the aid of the same Urim and Thummim. 37
JOSEPH SMITH RECEIVED JAREDITE URIM AND THUMMIM. The people of Limhi brought to Mosiah a record, “engraven on plates of ore,” 38 which record Mosiah translated, by the aid of “two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow,” and which gave an account of the Jaredites. 39 In translating this record Mosiah kept from going forth to the people that particular part forbidden by the Lord to be revealed until after he was lifted up upon the cross. 40 These sacred revelations given to the Brother of Jared were kept from the Nephite people, as well as many other things, until after the resurrection of Christ. 41 After the appearing of the Savior to the Nephites, the vision of the Brother of Jared was revealed to the Nephites. When Moroni made his abridgment of the record of Ether, he copied on his record the vision of the Brother of Jared. 42
At the command of the Lord, however, Moroni also sealed up the greater things in this vision and also the interpreters-which were the same “two stones” had by the Brother of Jared-so that this vision should not be made known even in our day among the Gentiles, in the day of their wickedness; 43 it could not be revealed “until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.” 44 So we today do not have the fulness of the account written and sealed up by the Brother of Jared and again sealed by Moroni. This part of the record the Prophet Joseph Smith was forbidden to translate. We have, then, received but the “lesser part.” 45
Joseph Smith received with the breastplate and the plates of the Book of Mormon, the Urim and Thummim, which were hid up by Moroni to come forth in the last days as a means by which the ancient record might be translated, which Urim and Thummim were given to the Brother of Jared. 46
SEER STONE NOT USED IN BOOK OF MORMON TRANSLATION. We have been taught since the days of the Prophet that the Urim and Thummim were returned with the plates to the angel. We have no record of the Prophet having the Urim and Thummim after the organization of the Church. Statements of translations by the Urim and Thummim after that date are evidently errors. The statement has been made that the Urim and Thummim was on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated. The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is now in the possession of the Church. 47
While the statement has been made by some writers that the Prophet Joseph Smith used a seer stone part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that this stone was used for this purpose. The reason I give for this conclusion is found in the statement of the Lord to the Brother of Jared as recorded in Ether 3:22-24.
These stones, the Urim and Thummim which were given to the Brother of Jared, were preserved for this very purpose of translating the record, both of the Jaredites and the Nephites. Then again the Prophet was impressed by Moroni with the fact that these stones were given for that very purpose. 48 It hardly seems reasonable to suppose that the Prophet would substitute something evidently inferior under these circumstances. It may have been so, but it is so easy for a story of this kind to be circulated due to the fact that the Prophet did possess a seer stone, which he may have used for some other purposes. 49
Chapter 50: Ether 1–5 Book of Mormon Student Manual, (2009), 361–68
Two Stones of King Mosiah
The Prophet Joseph Smith used the same Urim and Thummim that was “given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face” (D&C 17:1). President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote a brief history regarding theUrim and Thummim:
“King Mosiah possessed ‘two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow,’ called by the NephitesInterpreters, with which he translated the Jaredite record [Mosiah 28:11–14], and these were handed down from generation to generation for the purposes of interpreting languages. How Mosiah came into possession of thesetwo stones or Urim and Thummim the record does not tell us, more than to say that it was a ‘gift from God’ [Mosiah 21:28]. Mosiah had this gift or Urim and Thummim before the people of Limhi discovered the record of Ether. They may have been received when the ‘large stone’ was brought to Mosiah with engravings upon it, which he interpreted by the ‘gift and power of God’ [Omni 1:20–21]. They may have been given to him, or to some other prophet before his day, just as the Brother of Jared received them—from the Lord.
“That the Urim and Thummim, or two stones, given to the Brother of Jared were those in the possession of Mosiah appears evident from Book of Mormon teachings. The Brother of Jared was commanded to seal up his writings of the vision he had when Christ appeared to him, so that they could not be read by his people. … The Urim and Thummim were also sealed up so that they could not be used for the purpose of interpreting those sacred writings of this vision, until such time as the Lord should grant to man to interpret them. When they were to be revealed, they were to be interpreted by the aid of the same Urim and Thummim [Ether 3:21–28]. …
“Joseph Smith received with the breastplate and the plates of the Book of Mormon, the Urim and Thummim, which were hid up by Moroni to come forth in the last days as a means by which the ancient record might be translated, which Urim and Thummim were given to the Brother of Jared [D&C 17:1]” (Doctrines of Salvation,3:223–25).
Other ways Joseph Smith utilized the Urim and Thummin
The Book of Martyrs, by John Foxe, is an account of Christian martyrs throughout Western history from the first century through the early sixteenth centuries, emphasising the sufferings of English Protestants and proto-Protestants from the fourteenth century through the reign of Mary I. Commonly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, one fuller title of the work is Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, Touching Matters of the Church.
Teach your children the true history of the lives, sufferings, and triumphant deaths of the early Christian martyrs. May it never be said that the blood of the saints has been spilled in vain and their testimonies forgotten. “And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11).
During the fall of 1834, the Prophet Joseph Smith paid a visit to the home of Edward Stevenson, a faithful member of the Church who would later become a prominent missionary and one of the seven presidents of the Seventy. While there he noticed a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by the sixteenth-century English cleric John Foxe. Brother Stevenson recorded the Prophet’s remarks in reference to Christian martyrs massacred during the Dark Ages:
“While looking over our copy of a large English Book of Martyrs, he expressed sympathy for the Christian martyrs and a hope for their salvation. He asked to borrow the book, promising to return it when he should meet us again in Missouri.
On returning it he said, ‘I have, by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, seen those martyrs. They were honest, devoted followers of Christ, according to the light they possessed. They will be saved.’” 1
What did Joseph Smith see? Who were these martyrs?
The Reformation was the fuel for the colonization of America and a study of this period brings a deeper appreciation for scripture. To understand this era of persecution, is to appreciate why the Lord established a government of liberty in America. To comprehend this era of “rebirth” in civilization through sacred scripture is to envision how Christians in the 21st century can rebuild a broken world and fragmented society. To remember the Reformation is to remember the captivity and deliverance of our fathers. (Alma 36:2, 29, 29:11-12, 60:20)