In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A remnant of the garment of Joseph, Jasher, Captain Moroni and Pre-Islamic Prophet Stories

Joseph and his brothers at Pharoah's Court
The Bible presents us with an interesting view of the story of Joseph(son of Jacob) and his garment. From what we read in the Book of Genesis in the Bible chapter 37:3 we find: Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And later in verse 23 is says, And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him. Later we read that after selling Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver that his brothers took Joseph’s coat and killed a goat and dipped it in the blood. They later sent the coat to their father Jacob who confirmed it was his sons coat and that he surely must have been killed by the beast (spelling incorrections all part of KJV of Bible).

In the Book of Mormon in Alma 46:24 we read, a part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed. And he said—Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself. This is an interesting insight because nowhere in the Bible to we read that there was a portion of the coat or garment that was preserved. This version or addition of the story is only found in a few places most of which would be considered Apocryphal writings. The first place we find anything even near to this insight is in the 13th century document known as the Book of Jasher that mentions that Joseph’s brothers tore his garment. John A. Tvedtnes points out that this document was not published until 1840 after the publishing of the Book of Mormon this would lead us to believe that both renditions must be influenced from an earlier account.

The second account was pointed out by Hugh Nibley in his book “An Approach to the Book of Mormon” as a group of stories written by a tenth century compiler of legends concerning biblical and non-biblical pre-Islamic prophets. The compilers name was Al- Tha’labi and the compilation of these Jewish stories were called the Qisas al-anbiya or “Stories of the Prophets”. This is the way that Hugh Nibley explained the text of that document,

And when Joseph had made himself known unto them [his brethren] he asked them about his father, saying, "What did my father after [I left]?" They answered, "He lost his eyesight [from weeping]." Then he gave them his garment [qamis, long outer shirt]. According to ad-Dahak that garment was of the weave [pattern, design] of Paradise, and the breath [spirit, odor] of Paradise was in it, so that it never decayed or in any way deteriorated [and that was] a sign [omen]. And Joseph gave them that garment, and it was the very one that had belonged to Abraham, having already had a long history. He said to them, "Go, take this garment of mine
and place it upon the face of my father so he may have sight again . . . and when he brought the garment he laid it upon his face, so that his sight returned to him.

Jacob and the Garment of Joseph
The insights added by the “Stories of the Prophets” are also influenced by an earlier account. Jacob was able to feel by the weave and by the signs in the garment that it was the very garment that would have been passed down from Abraham and already had a long history and was surely that of his son Joseph. This would explain the jealousy of his brothers. The garment worn by Joseph was that of the priesthood.

The final example of the remnant of Joseph’s garment is found in the Book of Mormon as stated above in Alma 46:23,24 where we read,

23 Moroni said unto them: Behold, we are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; yea, we are a remnant of the
seed of Joseph, whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces; yea, and now behold, let us remember to keep the commandments of God, or our garments shall be rent by our brethren, and we be cast into prison, or be sold, or be slain.
24 Yea, let us preserve our liberty as a remnant of Joseph; yea, let us remember the words of Jacob, before his death, for behold, he saw that a part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed. And he said—Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of his garment.

So here we have brought together three accounts of the remnant of the garment of Joseph all of which have added additional insights. Because these accounts were not available to Joseph Smith during his time of translating the Book of Mormon each of these stands as an additional witness to its authenticity.  This is personally one of my favorite bits of evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon.

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