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Come, Follow Me (Genesis 42-50)

This is one in a series of reviews of the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here. Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence written in the curriculum is being reviewed.)

March 14-20 (Genesis 42-50)

It had been about 22 years since Joseph was sold into Egypt by his brothers. He had suffered many trials, including being falsely accused and imprisoned. When he finally saw his brothers again, Joseph was the governor of all Egypt, second only to the pharaoh. He could easily have taken revenge on them, and considering what they had done to Joseph, that might seem understandable. And yet Joseph forgave his brothers. Not only that, but he helped them see divine purpose in his suffering. “God meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20), he told them, because it put him in a position to save “all his father’s household” (Genesis 47:12) from famine.

In many ways, Joseph’s life parallels that of Jesus Christ. Even though our sins caused Him great suffering, the Savior offers forgiveness, delivering all of us from a fate far worse than famine. Whether we need to receive forgiveness or extend it—at some point we all need to do both—Joseph’s example points us to the Savior, the true source of healing and reconciliation.

This could have been written by an Evangelical Christian. The only issue I have is ask what is meant by “the Savior offers forgiveness.” What does that mean according to Mormonism?

Twelfth President Spencer W. Kimball explained the requirements:

Your Heavenly Father has promised forgiveness upon total repentance and meeting all the requirements, but that forgiveness is not granted merely for the asking. There must be works–many works–and an all-out, total surrender with a great humility and “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” It depends upon you whether or not you are forgiven, and when. It could be weeks, it could be years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you. That depends on your humility, your sincerity, your works, your attitudes (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 324-325).

There are many other citations I could site to show that Mormonism’s view of forgiveness is different from what the Bible teaches.

To read more on this issue, go to Crash Course Mormonism: Forgiveness.

Genesis 45:1–8; 50:20

“God sent me before you to preserve you.”

As you have read about Joseph, have you noticed any similarities between his story and the atoning mission of Jesus Christ? You might ponder how Joseph’s role in his family is similar to the Savior’s role in God’s family. What parallels do you see between Joseph’s experiences and the mission of the Savior, who was sent “to save [us] by a great deliverance”? (Genesis 45:7).

Of course, Joseph did nothing wrong but had to go through many hardships, just as Jesus did. The major difference, though, is that Joseph did not have to die in order to redeem his family from certain death from the famine. Jesus, however, had to die in order to be the atoning sacrifice.

Hebrews 2:9 reads,

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

Hebrews 9:22 states,

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

And Hebrews 10:14 adds,

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Genesis 45; 50:15–21

Forgiveness brings healing.

Reading about Joseph forgiving his brothers for the terrible things they did to him may prompt you to think about someone you are currently struggling to forgive. Or perhaps a difficult test of forgiveness is in your future. Either way, it might help to ponder why Joseph was able to forgive. What clues about Joseph’s character and attitude do you find in Genesis 45; 50:15–21? How might his experiences have influenced him to be more forgiving? What does Joseph’s example suggest about how you can become more forgiving with the Savior’s help?

Notice also the blessings that came to Joseph’s family because of his forgiveness. What blessings have you seen from forgiveness? Do you feel inspired to reach out to someone who has wronged you?

Again, paragraphs that, on the surface at least, I can agree with.

Genesis 49

What does the symbolism in Jacob’s blessings mean?

Jacob’s blessings to his posterity contain vivid imagery, but some readers may also find them difficult to understand. Thankfully, the restored gospel gives us some additional understanding. When you read the blessing to Joseph in Genesis 49:22–26, read the following verses too, and see what insights they provide: 1 Nephi 15:12; 2 Nephi 3:4–5; Jacob 2:25; Doctrine and Covenants 50:44.

Here we go again, as the church provides extrabiblical scripture into the mix that is rejected by Bible-believing Christians.

With that said, this is a very difficult passage to translate from the original. As one commentator pointed out,

Indeed, it is probably the most difficult chapter in Genesis. Just a glance at many footnotes in the New International Version, which suggest alternative readings, will bear this out (Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, 36).

Joseph Smith certainly did not provide any additional help in his “Inspired Version” since he translated Genesis 49 the same. Even if he would have made changes, he was no expert on Hebrew and could anything he have added been any help here?

Genesis 50:24–25; Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:24–38 (in the Bible appendix)

“A seer shall the Lord my God raise up.”

Through Joseph’s dreams (see Genesis 37:5–11) and his interpretations of others’ dreams (see Genesis 40–41), the Lord revealed things that would happen days or years in the future. But the Lord also revealed to Joseph what would happen in the coming centuries. Specifically, he learned about the prophetic missions of Moses and Joseph Smith. 

The Latter-day Saint who is reading this review needs to do him or herself a favor and go look up the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

This version is a fraud. And I don’t think many Latter-day Saints even know much about Genesis 50. Of course, the original King James Version only has 26 verses, but Smith added an additional 12 verses starting at verse 24.

In addition, he added in prophecies about himself. For instance, consider verse 26:

A seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins.

Or verses 32-33:

And out of weakness shall he be made strong, in that day when my work shall go forth among all my people, which shall restore them, who are of the house of Israel, in the last days. And that seer will I bless, and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise I give unto you; for I will remember you from generation to generation; and his name shall be called Joseph, and it shall be after the name of his father; and he shall be like unto you; for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand shall bring my people unto salvation.

Who is this choice seer? None other than Joseph Smith Jr.!

There is no biblical manuscript, even anything from the Dead Sea Scrolls, to support any of the additions to Genesis 50. It is quite convenient that Joseph Smith was able to add a prophesy about himself that was also inserted into the Book of Mormon.

But, ladies and gentlemen, this is all added in by Smith, yet the church writers have the audacity to suggest that Genesis 50 supports the life of a man named after his father, namely Joseph Smith Jr.

As you read Joseph’s words in Genesis 50:24–25 and in Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:24–38 (in the Bible appendix), ask yourself how knowing these things might have blessed Joseph and the children of Israel. Why do you think it was important for the Lord to restore this prophecy through Joseph Smith? (see also 2 Nephi 3).

 Does the Bible contain Prophecies of Joseph Smith?

If you come to the text presupposing that he was who he claimed to be, I can see how you might be convinced that this passage is really an ancient text and that Smith was prophesied 3,400 years ago. But for those who enter from the outside, this is such a case of outright fraud that there can be no reconciliation with the facts.

Conclusion

Most of this chapter is benign, but the section of chapter 50 where the claim is made that Joseph Smith was prophesied goes way too far. Since there is no evidence that Moses ever wrote any of these verses, the Latter-day Saint must decide: Is Joseph Smith written about in the Old Testament? Is he someone ordained by God? Did he fulfill what was said about this “seer” through the translation of the Book of Mormon and his founding of the LDS Church?

Or was he someone quite creative who made up so much that is contradicted when the facts are considered?

Every person needs to decide what they will do with Joseph Smith. In my estimation, Smith’s translation of Genesis 50 along with the Book of Mormon is proof that he is not who he claimed to be.

For more on Smith, consider the following articles:

The History of Joseph Smith

The First Vision of Joseph Smith

The Killing of Joseph Smith

The Lifting up of Joseph Smith

The plural marriages of Joseph Smith

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