Category:Book of Mormon/Doctrine/Prophecy of Joseph

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Prophecy of Joseph in the Book of Mormon

Parent page: Book of Mormon/Doctrine

Joseph's Prophecy

According to 2 Nephi 3:5–15, the Old Testament patriarch Joseph foresaw that the Lord would raise up a man named Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. This great prophecy is also found in the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 50:24–38, which contains the words uttered by Joseph on his deathbed. This translation adds, in Genesis 50:35, that Joseph also prophesied of Aaron as Moses' companion, saying, "And I will make a spokesman for him, and his name shall be called Aaron."

The antiquity of the story is confirmed in Jewish tradition, notably in one of the second-century AD targumim, or translations of the Bible into Aramaic.26 In a lengthy addition to Genesis 40:12, Targum Neofiti has Joseph interpreting the three branches of the butler's dream as follows: "The three branches are the three fathers of the world: namely; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the sons of whose sons are to be enslaved in the slavery of the land of Egypt and are to be delivered by the hands of three faithful leaders: Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, who are to be likened to the clusters of grapes."27 Similarly, the Talmud has Rabbi Eleazar explaining that "the 'vine' is the world, the 'three branches' are [the patriarchs] Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," with Rabbi Joshua correcting him by saying, "The 'vine' is the Torah, the 'three branches' are Moses, Aaron and Miriam" (TB Hillun 92a).

From the standard account in Genesis 50:24–25, it is clear that Joseph was aware that the Israelites would someday leave Egypt, though he says nothing about the bondage they would endure in the meanwhile. But Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 48 (attributed to Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyr-qanos, who lived in the latter half of the first century AD through the first decades of the second century), citing the Genesis passage, has Joseph prophesying the bondage of the Israelites and their deliverance by God. The second-century AD Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Genesis 50:24 has Joseph telling his family, "Behold you will be enslaved in Egypt, but do not make plans to go up out of Egypt until the time that two deliverers come and say to you, 'The Lord surely remembers you.'"28 This suggests that he knew about the coming of Moses and Aaron to liberate Israel and confirms the accuracy of Joseph Smith's addition to that verse and the one that follows.

In this case, we have confirmation from early Jewish texts not only for the Book of Mormon account of Joseph's prophecy but also for the account of that prophecy found in Joseph Smith's revision of Genesis 50.[1]


  1. John A. Tvedtnes, "Ancient Texts in Support of the Book of Mormon," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), Chapter 8, references silently removed—consult original for citations.

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