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Vort

Significance of the name Joseph Smith

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I've played with the nomen est omen idea on this forum before, the thought that a person's name tells his function somehow. Mostly I use it in a humorous context, but I think there are true applications of the idea. One might have to do with the name "Joseph Smith".

Joseph was the favorite son of Israel (Jacob) and the savior of his brothers and their families. When the scriptures talk of "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob", in every case they indicate the God of covenants. That covenant made to Abraham, that through Abraham's seed all the earth would be blessed, continued through Isaac and Jacob, and seems to have been especially prominent in Joseph. If there was one of the twelve tribes that carried on the covenant line, I think Joseph would be a strong contender for the position.

A smith is, of course, a creator, one who takes raw materials and forges or otherwise shapes them into great works. 3 Nephi 22:16 quotes Isaiah 54:16 in telling us, "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work..."

I don't expect anyone to take my word for it, but I strongly suspect that Joseph Smith's name was not merely foreordained, but that it was chosen because of the significance of the words that make up the name. Not to get too woo-woo or anything. It just seems the type of understated elegance that so often grace the works of God. Just an idea for consideration as anyone might see fit.

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3 minutes ago, laronius said:

And what about him being a Jr?

I thought about writing some silly thing about "Junior", but I decided against it. The post is kind of non-traditional and maybe a little bit weird, so I didn't want to give people reason to think I was just joking. I was not.

Plus, the man's name was not "Junior". His name was "Joseph Smith". The "Junior" was included to distinguish him from his same-named father, who was called "Senior" (but that wasn't his name, either).

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6 hours ago, laronius said:

And what about him being a Jr?

I'll take a stab at this.  I realize this is pretty weak and not fully fleshed out.  But this is off the top of my head without a lot of pondering and research.  So, take it as you will.

One thing that many people notice about the covenant line from Abraham was that there was the first born, and there was another who was the heir.  The Biblical examples, however, point to some loss of birthright due to unrighteousness for that transfer to take place.  Such was not the case with Joseph Smith.  Why?

First off, Alvin died fairly early on in the process of the restoration.  So, he couldn't do it.  Why not Hyrum? I think that maybe he could have.  But Joseph needed protectors when he was younger.  And Hyrum was in a perfect position to do so.

Additionally, each of Joseph's counselors (with the sole exception of Hyrum) eventually betrayed him (and the Lord).  Hyrum was the only one who remained constant.  As young as Joseph was, would it have made much sense to have an even younger brother be his counselor?  No, usually, we have counselors who have enough wisdom to... you know... give counsel to the presiding officer.

So Hyrum, as an older brother, provided a very important role to the one who would be the prophet of this dispensation.  And the birthright went to Joseph out of necessity rather than righteousness.

What does this have to do with "Jr."?  Well, I always found it odd that a father would name his THIRD son after himself, rather than his firstborn son.  Does that seem strange to anyone else?

----

To summarize, I believe there was a pattern repeated throughout these covenant lines.  There was a birthright that was lost (for unrighteousness in ancient times -- incl. Lehi's sons).  And there was the final disposition of the birthright to a younger son.  For some reason this pattern keeps repeating.  I don't fully know why this pattern is so prominent.  But it seems that when a pattern repeats so much when the issue of birthright is brought up, there must be some significance to it.

Edited by Carborendum

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2 hours ago, Carborendum said:

I always found it odd that a father would name his THIRD son after himself, rather than his firstborn son.  Does that seem strange to anyone else?

I agree it's unusual, but not unprecedented. I did not give a son my own exact name, but my third son's middle name is my first name. His first name is the masculine form of his mother's name. Can you tell we struggled with agreeing on a name for him? His original due date was December 23, and I was all for—prepare for it—Joseph. But his mother would not hear of it.

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13 hours ago, Vort said:

I've played with the nomen est omen idea on this forum before, the thought that a person's name tells his function somehow. Mostly I use it in a humorous context, but I think there are true applications of the idea. One might have to do with the name "Joseph Smith".

I played with this idea based on the formula Jesus gave when passing keys to Peter. "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock...." etc.

It shows up multiple times in the Doctrine and Covenants, but I could only get it to work for Joseph, Oliver, and Hyrum (but some seemed a bit stretched to me).

Quote

Behold, thou art Joseph (asaph, with roots suggesting both to add and to take away - both of which can be tied to his work of restoration, and God promises to add or take away Joseph's work based on his faithfulness), and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall. But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work;

Quote

Behold, thou art Oliver (olive worker? - perhaps in contrast to Jesus the anointed one? or suggesting Oliver is a Christ-figure (lesser light)?), and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own, and mine own received me not. I am the light (like oil lamps?) which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

Quote

Behold thou art Hyrum (exalted brother, perhaps even my brother is exalted - relevant to his relationship with Joseph but not these verses), my son; seek the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added according to that which is just. Build upon my rock, which is my gospel;

Quote

And behold, thou art David (Beloved), and thou art called to assist; which thing if ye do, and are faithful, ye shall be blessed both spiritually and temporally, and great shall be your reward.

And as a bonus, here's a Book of Mormon example

Quote

Behold, thou art Nephi (good, pleasant, well, beautiful), and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people. Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.

I'm aware of articles describing Mormon's and Nephi's wordplay with "Nephi" for good and fair, but I don't think this passage has ever been showcased.

I think @Vort may be on to something here. When the formula "thou  art {name}" is used by the Lord, the first inclination should be to look to prominent historical examples - such as Joseph of Egypt who was chosen by God and shown tremendous mercy to the point that he became the salvation of his family ("thou wast chosen ... God is merciful"); and Hiram (Hyrum) who's skilled builders constructed David's palace and Solomon's temple ("build upon my rock"); and David who served Saul as a calming musician and then rose to be king over united Israel ("called to assist ... great shall be thy reward"); and even Nephi who spoke of the ocean making a path for them to travel to the promised land ("whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven"). And where there is no precedent the name itself is the play - as in Peter and Oliver.

I'm not fully sold on this, but as a model it's a better fit than what I had before.

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On 5/31/2021 at 10:19 PM, Vort said:

A smith is, of course, a creator, one who takes raw materials and forges or otherwise shapes them into great works. 3 Nephi 22:16 quotes Isaiah 54:16 in telling us, "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work..."

To be even more literal:. A smith smites.

On 6/1/2021 at 6:37 AM, Carborendum said:

What does this have to do with "Jr."?  Well, I always found it odd that a father would name his THIRD son after himself, rather than his firstborn son.  Does that seem strange to anyone else?

Not necessarily.  I have my dad’s first name, but I’m the second (and youngest) son.  My dad is a “Jr”, named for his father—but he was his parents’ third son.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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On 5/31/2021 at 10:19 PM, Vort said:

I've played with the nomen est omen idea on this forum before, the thought that a person's name tells his function somehow. Mostly I use it in a humorous context, but I think there are true applications of the idea. One might have to do with the name "Joseph Smith".

Joseph was the favorite son of Israel (Jacob) and the savior of his brothers and their families. When the scriptures talk of "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob", in every case they indicate the God of covenants. That covenant made to Abraham, that through Abraham's seed all the earth would be blessed, continued through Isaac and Jacob, and seems to have been especially prominent in Joseph. If there was one of the twelve tribes that carried on the covenant line, I think Joseph would be a strong contender for the position.

A smith is, of course, a creator, one who takes raw materials and forges or otherwise shapes them into great works. 3 Nephi 22:16 quotes Isaiah 54:16 in telling us, "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work..."

I don't expect anyone to take my word for it, but I strongly suspect that Joseph Smith's name was not merely foreordained, but that it was chosen because of the significance of the words that make up the name. Not to get too woo-woo or anything. It just seems the type of understated elegance that so often grace the works of God. Just an idea for consideration as anyone might see fit.

There was a talk given at BYU a few years back where he talks about this and expounds a little more of Joseph’s name as well as Hyrum’s.

This is actually a very good talk. Listen to it, he is very engaging and has some great insights and stories

https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/todd-b-parker/true-doctrine-understood-changes-attitudes-behavior/

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On 5/31/2021 at 10:19 PM, Vort said:

I don't expect anyone to take my word for it, but I strongly suspect that Joseph Smith's name was not merely foreordained, but that it was chosen because of the significance of the words that make up the name. Not to get too woo-woo or anything. It just seems the type of understated elegance that so often grace the works of God. Just an idea for consideration as anyone might see fit.

The talk referenced by @Fether is interesting and the significance of the name is profound.  I would highlight a couple of things that I believe apply directly to this discussion but mostly towards foreordination and prophesy.  First I will turn to Danial chapter 2.  This is the prophesy given by G-d through Danial concerning the Last-days and the kingdom of G-d that will be established.  But before Danial talks about the restoration he talks about the great kingdoms that will contribute to the culture from which G-d will establish his kingdom.   All this is done symbolically through a figure of a man.  The final kingdom given in the prophesy is represented with hips of iron.  This kingdom will be a very brutal kingdom that will crush others - thus the symbol of iron.  I have not encountered a Bible scholar that does not believe this final kingdom was not the Roman empire.

But then this great empire is first divided into two kingdoms (the two legs of the figure) and then is weakened as symbolized by the mixing of clay with iron.  Eventually the kingdom is divided into 10 kingdoms, symbolized by the ten toes.  Now look at verse 44:

Quote

44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

This prophesy tells us quite precisely when this will take place.  There is only one time in the history of this world that can possibly correspond to this prophesy and it points to about 1830 when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established.  There is only a small window then the Roman empire was ruled by 10 disjointed kings that has been replaced be democracies. 

The second prophesy is a little more difficult to explain - I believe this is because Satan has done all in his power to prevent it from being understood and referenced.  In the Old Testament there is a very wide gap in time between Joseph in Egypt and the rise of Moses.  Anciently there were scriptures that filled that gap and provided prophesies.   These scriptures were anciently known as "The Testaments of the Patriarchs".  There is one for each of the Patriarchs of Israel's 12 tribes.  These scriptures were excluded from our modern scriptures - both Christian and Jewish.  The arguments were that these scriptures were forgeries that were created much later and do not belong in the modern Bible.  The problem is that when the Dead Sea Scriptures were discovered "The Testaments of the Patriarchs" were revered as scripture as much as Genesis and Exodus and predate the time when it was claimed that these scriptures were created as forgeries . 

Why is this important?  One of the most important themes of these scriptures and their prophesies concerns the restoration and a special prophet of that era.  This prophet is referenced as a prophet to the gentiles.  There are hints of a prophet to the gentiles in other scriptures of the Old Testament.  The last book of "The Testaments of the Patriarchs" is the "Testament of Benjamin".  This scripture testifies that the prophet to the gentiles will be a descendent (come from the genealogy) of Joseph of Egypt and that his name will be Joseph and his father will also be named Joseph.

Obviously I have personally sought information about the restoration.  I have not found anywhere in the books by LDS scholars that reference the "Testament of Benjamin".  I have speculated that this is because many scholars (Christian and Jewish) doubt their own history and hold fast to notions created during the great Apostasy when our modern scriptures were established - not by command of G-d but the notions of men that at best were laying the foundations of the restoration.  When I encountered the witnesses of the "Testaments of the Patriarchs"; I sought out and asked of these things were true and accurate.  I received assurances through the Holy Ghost that in reference to the restoration and Joseph Smith that Joseph is indeed the prophet to the gentiles and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the stone from the mountain prophesied by Danial and that these are the Last-days.

 

The Traveler

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On 5/31/2021 at 10:19 PM, Vort said:

I've played with the nomen est omen idea on this forum before, the thought that a person's name tells his function somehow. Mostly I use it in a humorous context, but I think there are true applications of the idea. One might have to do with the name "Joseph Smith".

Joseph was the favorite son of Israel (Jacob) and the savior of his brothers and their families. When the scriptures talk of "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob", in every case they indicate the God of covenants. That covenant made to Abraham, that through Abraham's seed all the earth would be blessed, continued through Isaac and Jacob, and seems to have been especially prominent in Joseph. If there was one of the twelve tribes that carried on the covenant line, I think Joseph would be a strong contender for the position.

A smith is, of course, a creator, one who takes raw materials and forges or otherwise shapes them into great works. 3 Nephi 22:16 quotes Isaiah 54:16 in telling us, "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work..."

I don't expect anyone to take my word for it, but I strongly suspect that Joseph Smith's name was not merely foreordained, but that it was chosen because of the significance of the words that make up the name. Not to get too woo-woo or anything. It just seems the type of understated elegance that so often grace the works of God. Just an idea for consideration as anyone might see fit.

Joseph is reported to have once said,

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 call it blasphemy, and there are men upon this stand who would want to take my life."
Quoted by Orson F. Whtiney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Kimball Family, 1888), 322

He must be a pretty important figure.

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