Church History: Joseph Smith Raises a Dead Man

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healing joseph smith mormon history
A depiction of Joseph healing another early Church member, Elijah Fordham

There are few things in life that I find more intriguing than stories of people being raised from the dead — and this story about Joseph Smith and early Church member William Huntington did not disappoint.

William Huntington related the story of this miracle to Levi Curtis, another early member of the Church, and Levi recorded the following:

“He said he had been sick some weeks and kept getting weaker, until he became so helpless that he could not move. Finally he got so low he could not speak, but had perfect consciousness of all that was passing in the room. He saw friends come to the bedside, look at him a moment and commence weeping, then turn away. He further stated that he presently felt easy, and observing his situation found that he was in the upper part of the room near the ceiling, and could see the body he had occupied lying on the bed, with weeping friends, standing around as he had witnessed in many cases where people had died under his own observation.

About this time he saw Joseph Smith and two other brethren come into the room. Joseph turned to his wife Emma and asked her to get him a dish of clean water. This she did; and the Prophet with the two brethren accompanying him washed their hands and carefully wiped them. Then they stepped to the bed and laid their hands upon the head of his body, which at that time looked loathsome to him, and as the three stretched out their hands to place them upon the head, he by some means became aware that he must go back into that body, and started to do so. The process of getting in he could not remember; but when Joseph said “amen,” he heard and could see and feel with his body. The feeling for a moment was most excruciating, as though his body was pierced in every part with some sharp instruments.

As soon as the brethren had taken their hands from his head he raised up in bed, sitting erect, and in another moment turned his legs off the bed. At this juncture Joseph asked him if he had not better be careful, for he was very weak. He replied, “I never felt better in my life,” almost immediately adding, “I want my pants.” His pants were found and given him, which he drew on, Joseph assisting him, although he thought he needed no help. Then he signified his intention to sit in a chair at or near the fireplace. Joseph took hold of his arm to help him along safely, but William declared his ability to walk alone, notwithstanding which, the help continued.

Astonishment had taken the place of weeping throughout the room. Every looker-on was ready to weep for joy; but none were able or felt inclined to talk. Presently William said he wanted something to eat. Joseph asked him what he would like, and he replied that he wanted a dish of bread and milk. Emma immediately brought what he called for, as one may easily comprehend, every hand was anxious to supply the wants of a man who, a few moments before was dead, really and truly dead!

Brother Huntington ate the bowl of bread and milk with as good a relish as any he ever ate. In a short time all felt more familiar, and conversation upon the scene that transpired followed. William related his experiences, and the friends theirs. Joseph listened to the conversation and in his turn remarked that they had just witnessed as great a miracle as Jesus did while on the earth. They had seen the dead brought to life.

At the close of his narrative to me William Huntington remarked: ‘Now I have told you the truth, and here I am a live man, sitting by the side of you on this log, and I testify that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.'”

William Huntington was right! While Joseph certainly wasn’t perfect — as none of us is — he was indeed a prophet of God who, through God’s power, was able to help, uplift, and heal the faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

Amy Keim is the site manager and editor for LDSBlogs.com. She served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denver, Colorado, where she learned to love mountains and despise snow. She has a passion for peanut butter, dancing badly, and most of all, the gospel.