Revelation, 27 February 1833 [D&C 89]

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

A Word of Wisdom
A word of wisdom for the benefit of the Saints in these last days and also the Saints in Zion to be sent greeting, not by or Constraint, but by Revelation & the word of wisdom shewing forth the order & will of God in the temporal salvation of all Saints, given for a principle with promise, adapted to the Capacity of the weak & the weakest of all Saints who are or can be called Saints—
Behold verily thus Saith the Lord unto you in consequence of evils & designs which will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in these last days, I have warned you & forewarned you by giving unto you this word of wisdom by Revelation, that inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or Strong drink among you behold it is not good, neither mete in the sight of your Father, only in assembling your[s]elves in your Sacraments before him, & behold this should be wine of your own make & again Strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies, & Tobacco is not for man but is for bruises & all sick cattle to be used with judgement & skill.
And again hot drinks are not for the body or belly, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution & nature & use of man, every herb in the season thereof & every fruit in the season thereof, all these to be [p. [113]] used with prudence & thanksgiving, yea flesh also of beasts & of fowls, I the Lord hath ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving— Nevertheless they are to be used sparingly & it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used only in times of winter or of famine— All grain is for the use of man & of beasts to be the staff of life not only for man, but for the beasts & for the fowls, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth & these hath God [made] for the use of man only in times of famine or excess of hunger all grain is good for the use of man & of beasts as also the fruit of the vine that which beareth fruit whether in the ground or above ground. Nevertheless wheat for man & corn for the Ox & Oats for the horse. Rye for the fowls & the swine & for all beasts of the field and Barley for all useful animals & for mild drinks as also other grains— and all saints who remember to keep & do these sayings walking in obedience to the commands shall receieve health in their navel & marrow to their bones [p. [114]] & shall find wisdom & great treasures of wisdom & knowledge even hidden treasures & shall run & not be weary & walk & not faint. And I the Lord give unto them a promise that the destroying Angel shall pass them by as they did by the Children of Israel & not slay them [p. [115]]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    TEXT: “Word of Wisdom” is double underlined. This phrase or title does not appear in the copy of this revelation made in Revelation Book 2, which begins with the phrase “A Revelation for the benefit of the saints &c.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 49 [D&C 89:1].)  

  2. 2

    Instead of “of the Saints in these last days,” the copy of this revelation in Revelation Book 2 reads, “of the council of high Priests assembled in Kirtland and Church.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 49 [D&C 89:1].)  

  3. 3

    Before its association with this revelation, the phrase “word of wisdom” was understood as one of the “spiritual gifts.” (1 Corinthians 12:8; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 586 [Moroni 10:9]; Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–A [D&C 46:17].)  

  4. 4

    The Revelation Book 2 copy includes “in the last days” here. (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:2].)  

  5. 5

    Instead of “which will exist,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “which do and will exist.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:4].)  

  6. 6

    Instead of “these,” the Revelation Book 2 copy has “the.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:4].)  

  7. 7

    Instead of “forewarned,” the Revelation Book 2 copy has “forewarn.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:4].)  

  8. 8

    “Strong drink” probably refers to distilled drinks like whiskey and rum, which had an average alcohol content of forty-five percent. Wine and other fermented drinks like hard cider and beer had significantly lower alcohol content, ranging from about five percent for beer to around eighteen percent for wine. (Rorabaugh, Alcoholic Republic, 7, 9.)  

    Rorabaugh, W. J. The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.

  9. 9

    Instead of “in your Sacraments,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “together to offer up your sacrament.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:5].)  

  10. 10

    Instead of “wine of your own make,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “wine yea pure wine of the grape of the vine of your own make.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:6].)  

  11. 11

    Distilled drinks like whiskey were used topically to treat wounds and other injuries at the time. The extent to which they were used as a body wash is less clear, though JS and others washed themselves with whiskey on at least one occasion in January 1836 in order to “be clean before the Lord for the Sabbath.” Oliver Cowdery recorded that they confessed their sins and covenanted to be faithful as they washed and that their “minds were filled with many reflections upon the propriety of the same, and how the priests anciently used to wash always before ministering before the Lord.” (Whitney, Family Physician, 419, 421–422; Cowdery, Diary, 16 Jan. 1836.)  

    Whitney, Daniel H. The Family Physician; or, Every Man His Own Doctor. . . . New York: N. and J. White, 1835.

    Cowdery, Oliver. Diary, Jan.–Mar. 1836. CHL. MS 3429. Also available as Leonard J. Arrington, “Oliver Cowdery’s Kirtland, Ohio, ‘Sketch Book,’BYU Studies 12 (Summer 1972): 410–426.

  12. 12

    Instead of “& Tobacco is not for man,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “and again Tobacco is not for the body neither for the belly and is not good for man.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:8].)  

  13. 13

    Instead of “but is for bruises,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “but is an herb for bruises.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:8].)  

  14. 14

    In addition to being smoked, chewed, and used in snuff, tobacco had been used for centuries as a cure and preventative for scores of diseases, injuries, and conditions. Its use to treat bruises, for instance, dates back to at least 1633. By 1833, however, a growing number of physicians, educators, and clergy were questioning its medicinal use and effectiveness, and by 1860, most physicians had eliminated it from their pharmacopeia. Tobacco was also used extensively to treat a variety of maladies in cattle, sheep, swine, and horses. Users were cautioned to use it carefully, however, as its effects could be lethal, even in topical application. (Stewart, “History of the Medicinal Use of Tobacco,” 240, 244–247; Richardson, New-England Farrier and Family Physician, 37, 53, 254, 281, 307, 321; Clater, Every Man His Own Cattle Doctor, 193, 277, 342.)  

    Stewart, Grace G. “A History of the Medicinal Use of Tobacco, 1492–1860.” Medical History 11, no. 3 (July 1967): 228–268.

    Richardson, Josiah, comp. The New-England Farrier, and Family Physician. . . . Exeter, NH: By the author, 1828.

    Clater, Francis. Every Man His Own Cattle Doctor; Containing the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of All the Diseases Incident to Oxen, Sheep, Swine, Poultry, and Rabbits. 7th ed. London: Baldwin and Cradock, 1832.

  15. 15

    The Revelation Book 2 copy includes “and again verily I say unto you” here. Several other early nineteenth-century authors argued that any liquid taken at a high temperature could cause injury. (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:10]; Bush, “Word of Wisdom,” 170–171.)  

    Bush, Lester E. “The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective.” In The Word of God: Essays on Mormon Scripture, edited by Dan Vogel, 161–185. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990.

  16. 16

    Instead of “constitution & nature,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “constitution nature.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:10].)  

  17. 17

    At the time, herb could refer to “all the grasses, and numerous plants used for culinary purposes.” (“Herb,” in American Dictionary.)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

  18. 18

    Instead of “of beasts & of fowls,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “of beasts and of the fowls of the are [air].” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:12].)  

  19. 19

    One of the many ways only can be used is as a preposition meaning “except for.” In his 1842 discourse to church members in Nauvoo, Illinois, Hyrum Smith paraphrased this part of the revelation saying, “It is pleasing saith the Lord that flesh be used only in times of winter, or of famine.” (“Only,” in Oxford English Dictionary, 7:128; “The Word of Wisdom,” Times and Seasons, 1 June 1842, 3:801.)  

    Oxford English Dictionary. Compact ed. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  20. 20

    Many other contemporary authors similarly argued that meat was better for humans in the winter than in the summer. Thomas Tryon, for example, advised that meat be eaten sparingly, and especially avoided in the summer. (Tryon, Way to Health and Long Life, 8–9; see also Bush, “Word of Wisdom,” 168–169.)  

    [Tryon, Thomas]. The Way to Health and Long Life; or, A Discourse of Temperance; Shewing How Every Man May Know His Own Constitution and Complection. As Also Discovering the Nature, Method, and Manner of Preparing All Foods Used in This Nation; Taken from Divers Authors Ancient and Modern. Likewise That Every Man or Woman May Be Their Own Doctor, with Directions to Preserve the Eye Sight; and the Use of Herbs, and Divers Other Curious Matters. London: G. Conyers, 1726.

    Bush, Lester E. “The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective.” In The Word of God: Essays on Mormon Scripture, edited by Dan Vogel, 161–185. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990.

  21. 21

    Instead of “in times of winter or of famine,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “in times of winter or of cold or famine.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:13].)  

  22. 22

    Instead of “is for,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “is ordained for.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:14].)  

  23. 23

    Instead of “for the beasts & for the fowls,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “for the beasts of the feald and the fowls of heaven.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:14].)  

  24. 24

    The Revelation Book 2 copy has “made” here. (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:15].)  

  25. 25

    Instead of “or,” the Revelation Book 2 copy has “and.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:15].)  

  26. 26

    Instead of “use,” the Revelation Book 2 copy has “food.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:16].)  

  27. 27

    Instead of “beareth,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads “yealdeth.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:16].)  

  28. 28

    Instead of “above ground,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “above the ground.” At the time, fruit could mean “not only corn [grain] of all kinds, but grass, cotton, flax, grapes and all cultivated plants.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:16]; “Fruit,” in American Dictionary.)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

  29. 29

    “Mild drinks” could include barley water (a nonalcoholic drink made by the decoction of pearl barley and used as a remedy for a variety of conditions) or drinks made from malted barley. (“Barley-water,” in American Dictionary; Buchan, Domestic Medicine, 165; Richardson, New-England Farrier and Family Physician, 129.)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

    Buchan, William. Domestic Medicine; or, A Treatise on the Prevention and Cure of Diseases by Regimen and Simple Medicines. With an Appendix, Containing a Dispensatory for the Use of Private Practitioners. 11th ed. London: A. Strahan, T. Cadell, 1790.

    Richardson, Josiah, comp. The New-England Farrier, and Family Physician. . . . Exeter, NH: By the author, 1828.

  30. 30

    Instead of “commands,” the Revelation Book 2 copy has “commandments.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:18].)  

  31. 31

    See Proverbs 3:8.  

  32. 32

    Instead of “great treasures of wisdom & knowledge,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “wisdom and great treasure of knowledge.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:19].)  

  33. 33

    See Colossians 2:3.  

  34. 34

    Instead of “& walk,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “and shall walk.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:20].)  

  35. 35

    See Isaiah 40:31.  

  36. 36

    Instead of “shall pass them by as they did by the Children of Israel,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “shall pass by them as the Children of Israel.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:21].)  

  37. 37

    See Exodus 12:21–29. The Revelation Book 2 copy concludes the revelation with “Amen.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 51 [D&C 89:21].)