Revelation, , Susquehanna Co., PA, to , [July] 1830. Featured version, titled “27th. Commandment AD 1830,” copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 34–35; handwriting of ; CHL. Includes redactions. For more complete source information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1.
JS dictated this revelation for , his wife, in July 1830. As with the other two July 1830 revelations, the precise date of the revelation is unknown. The earliest manuscript copy noted only the year, but its first printing in 1833 included the July 1830 date that has been carried forward in all subsequent editions. That the revelation discusses much of the same subject matter found in the other two July 1830 revelations strengthens this July 1830 identification. The period from April to mid-July 1830 involved a flurry of activity that included the organization of the , meetings in three different locations, and many convert baptisms. Emma was one of those baptized on 28 June at , New York, but the confirmations were delayed because of opposition.
The 1833 Book of Commandments placed the revelation directed to between the other two July 1830 texts, but when , who was in in July and was the recipient of one of these revelations, originally copied all three into Revelation Book 1, he placed this one last, the order accepted here. In addition to the Revelation Book 1 copy, private copies also were made, such as ’s. This was also one of the few revelations reproduced in ’s Mormonism Unvailed in 1834.
By July 1830, JS had dictated almost thirty revelations for individuals or small groups, but no women are known to have been included among the recipients. This revelation reflected the vital role that played in JS’s life and also foreshadowed a larger role for her in his work. The revelation called her “an Elect Lady” and charged her to comfort JS in his afflictions, select hymns for the church, preach to church members, and write for JS so that could serve elsewhere.
When copied this text into Revelation Book 1, he described it as a to “to select Hymns.” In 1835, she, along with , compiled the church’s first hymnal, A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints, one of the few church publications at the time and a book that played an important part in the church’s worship practices. The revelation also explained to Emma, “Thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound & exhort the Church.” When the was founded in 1842 and the members selected Emma as the president, JS read this revelation to those who were present and explained that Emma had been “ at the time, the Revelation was given, to expound the scriptures to all; and to teach the female part of community.”
See Revelations, July 1830–A through C, in Book of Commandments 25–27 [D&C 24–26]. Oliver Cowdery, a recipient of the other two July revelations, left for Fayette, New York, around the middle of July and apparently did not return until the end of August to help JS and Emma move to New York. Therefore, if the order in the Book of Commandments is correct, the featured text was likely dictated before Cowdery’s departure. However, if the order in Revelation Book 1 is correct, this revelation could have been dictated later in the month.
Howe, Eber D. Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time. With Sketches of the Characters of Its Propagators, and a Full Detail of the Manner in Which the Famous Golden Bible Was Brought before the World. To Which Are Added, Inquiries into the Probability That the Historical Part of the Said Bible Was Written by One Solomon Spalding, More Than Twenty Years Ago, and by Him Intended to Have Been Published as a Romance. Painesville, OH: By the author, 1834.
Relief Society Minute Book, 17 Mar. 1842. At the founding of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, John Taylor recognized Emma Smith’s former ordination when he “laid his hands on the head of Mrs. Smith and blessed her, and confirm’d upon her all the blessings which have been confer’d on her, that she might be a mother in Israel and look to the wants of the needy, and be a pattern of virtue.” The minutes of the meeting state that Taylor then ordained Emma Smith’s two counselors. (Relief Society Minute Book, 17 Mar. 1842.)
A Revelation to given at 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 Lady 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 come & 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 whithersoever I will & thou shalt be under his hand to expound Scriptures & exhort the according as it shall be given thee by my spirit for he shall lay his hands upon the[e] & thou shalt & thy time shall be [p. 34]
See 2 John 1:1; see also Relief Society Minute Book, 17 Mar. 1842. In 1842, JS commented on the meaning of “Elect Lady,” explaining that “Elect meant to be Elected to a certainwork &c, & that the revelation was then fulfilled by Sister Emma’s Election to the Presidency of the Society.” (JS, Journal, 17 Mar. 1842, underlining in original.)
In early nineteenth-century America, women’s participation as exhorters or teachers in Protestant churches was generally limited to informal meetings; women customarily were barred from the pulpit on worship days. No extant sources indicate that Emma acted as a teacher either publicly or privately in this early period of the Church of Christ. (See Brekus, Strangers and Pilgrims, chap. 3.)
Brekus, Catherine A. Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740–1845. Gender and American Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.