Posted by: isaiahsfan | May 1, 2007

What was on the Brass Plates?

posted by Isaiah’s Fan

Brass Plates

In 1 Nephi 5:11-16 we are given a tantalizing glimpse of the contents of the Brass Plates.  There are a few other places in the Book of Mormon which describe what is found written upon these plates, namely 1 Ne 13:23,  1 Ne 22:1, 2 Ne 4:1-2, Alma 37:3-5, 3 Ne 10:17, and others.  The Brass Plates contained:

  • The five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
  • A record of the Jews from the beginning down to the reign of Zedekiah
  • Prophecies of the Holy Prophets, including the prophecies of Joseph, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zenos, Zenoch, Ezias, and Neum
  • Genealogical records connecting Lehi to Joseph
  • Testimony of the remnant of the seed of Joseph
  • The mysteries of God

An angel told Nephi that the Bible was very similar to the plates of brass, in that they both contained the covenants of the Lord and the prophecies of the holy prophets.  The angel also said that there were not as many records in the Bible as there were upon the brass plates.  Book of Mormon scholars postulate that the Brass Plates are related to one of the sources from which the Bible came.  It is clear that the Bible and the Brass Plates differed in many respects.  Some of the prophets mentioned in the Book of Mormon when quoting the Brass Plates do not appear in the Bible. 

With the information that Lehi descended from Joseph comes a connection to the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  This Kingdom consisted of ten tribes, headed by the tribe of Joseph.  The capital of the Northern Kingdom was Samaria.  The tribe of Judah was the leader and major tribe of the Southern Kingdom, with their capital in Jerusalem.  When the Northern Kingdom was carried away captive by the invading Assyrian army in 721 BC, portions of each of the tribes fled south to Jerusalem, bringing their sacred records with them.  It is postulated that the Brass Plates belong to this scriptural tradition.  The prophetic books mentioned above were perhaps written by prophets who directed their teachings to the Northern Kingdom.  The genealogical records would focus more on Joseph’s lineage than those in the Bible, which was primarily a record for the Southern Kingdom.

The connection of the Brass Plates to Joseph of Egypt and the Northern Kingdom might also explain why the record was written in “reformed Egyptian.”  It also identifies the Brass Plates as the beginnings of the “Stick of Joseph” which is continued in the Book of Mormon and complements the Bible, the “Stick of Judah.”

Finally, this information gives credence to modern Biblical scholarship which describes separate scriptural records maintained by the Northern and Southern Kingdoms (the J and E sources).  Our modern day Bible, they explain, was taken from several different sources.  The scriptural record which the Ten Tribes took with them when they were carried away captive was most likely the very same record Lehi and his sons obtained from Laban and brought with them to the New World.

Further information on this subject can be found in the following articles:

The Brass Plates and Biblical Scholarship, John L. Sorenson

The Book of Mormon Brass Plates and their Prophets, Richard G. Grant

The Divided Kingdom of Israel


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