The Book of Mormon mentions other sacred writings to come forth in the end-time from a hidden cave in
Hill Cumorah (Cerro Rabon) in Mexico. These include the Large Plates of Nephi abridged by Mormon, the
Twenty-four Gold Plates abridged by Moroni, and the Plates of Brass quoted from in The Book of Mormon.
Since The Book of Mormon plates that were translated by Joseph Smith are also there, including the Sealed
Plates, their rediscovery will enable scholars, by comparing Joseph Smith's translation with the characters
on those plates, to translate the entire collection of Nephite writings. The Plates of Brass and the Small
Plates of Nephi (1 Nephi through Omni) were engraven with characters that Egyptian language scholars
already know how to translate. Translating the Twenty-four Gold Plates may require some use of the Urim
and Thummim, also in the cave, unless King Mosiah's translation of them (Mosiah 28:10-20) is found
engraven on plates.
the Sealed Plates
by John McDonnell
This study employs LDS chapter and verse numberings of The Book of Mormon.
Grant Hardy is one of my favorite Book of Mormon scholars. His The Book of Mormon: A Reader's Edition
(2003), his "Introduction" to Royal Skousen's The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (2009), and his
Understanding the Book of Mormon (2010) are all useful to persons interested in The Book of Mormon.
On page 586 of Hardy's The Book of Mormon: A Reader's Edition, footnote "a" comments on Ether 4:1,
which, in the 1920 text that Hardy employs, reads:
And the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to go down out of the mount from the presence of the Lord, and
write the things which he had seen; and they were forbidden to come unto the children of men until after that
he should be lifted up upon the cross; and for this cause did King Mosiah ["King Benjamin" in The Earliest
Text] keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his
Footnote "a" states: "Apparently Mosiah [the younger] only gave his people an oral summary, at Mosiah
28:11-18." The error here is that Hardy assumed that the sealed writings of brother of Jared were included
in the Twenty-four Gold Plates.
chronology concerning the sealed writings of the brother of Jared
and the Twenty-four Gold Plates written by Ether
1. The Lord showed himself to the brother of Jared (Ether 3:6-20).
2. The Lord gave the brother of Jared two stones, which constitute the Urim and Thummim, showed "all
things" to the brother of Jared, and commanded him to write what he saw and then seal it up with the Urim
and Thummim (Ether 3:21-28). We don't know whether or not the writings were on metallic plates. We
only know that they were written in the language of the Jaredites, which was the unconfounded language
of Adam, and that they were in some manner sealed. Any physical seal could be removed. Translating what
would later become a lost language would require using the accompanying Urim and Thummim.
3. At the end of the Jaredite civilization, Ether produced his summary of it on Twenty-four Gold Plates
(Ether 1:1-6). None of the Twenty-four Gold Plates were sealed. Therefore, they did not contain the writings
of the brother of Jared that were sealed.
4. Omni 20-22 states: And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah [the elder], there was a large stone brought
unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God. And they
gave an account of one Coriantumr [a contemporary of Ether], and the slain of his people. And Coriantumr
was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons. It also spake
a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord
confounded the language of the people. Mosiah the elder's ability to interpret the engravings "by the gift
and power of God" suggests that he had access to the Urim and Thummim. Were they given to him by Ether?
5. King Mosiah the elder's son King Benjamin must have been given (perhaps by Ether) the sealed writings
of the brother of Jared, for King Benjamin kept them for revealment "after Christ should show himself
unto his people" (Ether 4:1).
6. The Twenty-four Gold Plates engraven upon by Ether were discovered by a search party sent out by King
Limhi and were taken to King Limhi in the land of Nephi (Mosiah 8:5-19; 21:25-27).
7. King Mosiah the younger, in the land of Zarahemla, translated and published what was engraven by
Ether on the Twenty-four Gold Plates (Mosiah 28:10-20). The only portion of the Twenty-four Gold Plates
not published may have been the secret oaths and covenants used by wicked Jaredites to gain power over
people. For when Alma the younger turned over all of the sacred records to his son Helaman, Alma
ordered that the secret oaths and covenants engraved upon the Twenty-four Gold Plates be withheld from
publication (Alma 37:21-32).
8. Jesus Christ revealed to the surviving Nephites what was written and sealed up by the brother of Jared
(3 Nephi 26:3-5 with Ether 4:1-3). Notice especially Ether 4:2: And after Christ truly had showed himself
unto his people he commanded that they [the sealed writings of the brother of Jared] should be made
manifest. The act of making them manifest would have required presenting them in the Nephite language.
9. Mormon's abridgment of the plates of Nephi included two unabridged sets of plates, the Small Plates
of Nephi (1 Nephi through Omni), and a transcription or translation of the writings of the brother of
Jared, which Moroni would later quote from. The transcription or translation of the writings of the
brother of Jared was included to fulfill 2 Nephi 27:10-11: For the book shall be sealed by the power of
God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord,
that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end
thereof. And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house
tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of
men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the
earth. The Small Plates of Nephi would have been made to conform to the dimensions of the Large Plates
of Nephi, which are the same dimensions that Mormon used in his abridgment of the Large Plates of
Nephi. Since the Sealed Plates included in the Book of Mormon were the same physical size as the other
plates, it is unlikely that they would have been on the same writing material used by the brother of Jared.
The Sealed Plates included with The Book of Mormon plates are probably a transcription or translation
of the original writings of the brother of Jared, which are probably preserved separately in Hill Cumorah
in Mexico, where other sacred plates are kept.
And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents round
about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope
to gain advantage over the Lamanites. And when three hundred and eighty and four years had passed
away, we had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land Cumorah. And it came to pass
that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold, I, Mormon, began to
be old; and, knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord
that I should not suffer that the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred,
to fall into the hands of the Lamanites (for the Lamanites would destroy them), therefore, I made this
record out of the plates of Nephi and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been
entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.
Cerro Rabon (Hill Cumorah) in Mexico
2005 Neil Steede testimony .
2005 expedition report .
2005-04-11 news article .
2005-04-12 news article
10. Within Moroni's Book of Ether, which summarizes what was engraved by Ether on the Twenty-four
Gold Plates, Moroni also quoted from the formerly sealed writings of the brother of Jared, which were not
included in Ether's Twenty-four Gold Plates. Ether 4:4-5 states: Behold, I have written upon these plates
the very things which the brother of Jared saw [Ether 3:6-27]; and there never were greater things made
manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared. Wherefore the Lord hath
commanded me to write them; and I have written them. Moroni then sealed the transcription or
translation of writings by the brother of Jared and ordered the future translator of The Book of Mormon
not to unseal them (Ether 5:1). As for the Twenty-four Gold Plates, they were not included in The Book
of Mormon plates found and translated by Joseph Smith. When the sacred records in Hill Cumorah in
Mexico are discovered, it will be obvious which among the many engraved plates are the Twenty-four
Gold Plates. Moroni engraved this promise: whoso findeth them [the Twenty-four Gold Plates], the same
will have power that he may get the full account (Ether 1:4), which may indicate that the finder will be
granted a sacred use of the Urim and Thummim in order to translate the account. This would mean that
the one allowed to find them must be accounted worthy of it.
Now Ammon said unto him, I can assuredly tell thee, O King, of a man that can translate the records; for
he has wherewith that he can look and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from
God. And the things are called interpreters; and no man can look in them, except he be commanded, lest
he should look for that he ought not, and he should perish.
an 1833 description of the Book of Mormon plates published in The Evening and the Morning Star 1:8
These plates were generally made from the sixteenth to the thirty second part of an inch thick (of metal)
and something like six by eight inches square, and fastened at the back with three rings through which
a rod was put to carry them, or hang them. The word of the Lord, the history of the doings of the
children of God, and their genealogy was engraved in a nice workmanlike manner, upon them, in
Hebrew, reformed Egyptian, &c. Such was the condition of the plates, from which came the book of
Mormon. As may be seen by an allusion in the book of Ether, all that was on them is not translated;
wherefore, as they are sacred, when the book of Mormon was translated from them, they were again hid
up to the Lord, to come forth again in his own due time.
Joseph Smith's 1842 description of the Book of Mormon plates published in Times and Seasons 3:707
These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide
and eight inches long and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in
Egyptian characters and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book with three rings running
through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed.
The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited
many marks of antiquity in its construction and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records
was found a curious instrument which the ancients called "Urim and Thummim," which consisted of
two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate.
an 1833 description of the Urim and Thummim published in The Evening and the Morning Star 1:8
It was translated by the gift and power of God, by an unlearned man, through the aid of a pair of
Interpreters, or spectacles—(known, perhaps, in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummim) ...
from Book of Commandments (1833)
1 A Revelation given to Joseph, in Harmony,
Pennsylvania, May, 1829, informing him of the
alteration of the Manuscript of the fore part of
the book of Mormon.
Now, behold I say unto you, that because you
delivered up so many writings, which you had
power to translate, into the hands of a wicked man,
you have lost them, and you also lost your gift at the
same time, nevertheless it has been restored unto
you again: therefore, see that you are faithful and
go on unto the finishing of the remainder of the work
as you have begun. Do not run faster than you
have strength and means provided to translate, but
be diligent unto the end, that you may come off con-
querer; yea, that you may conquer satan, and those
that do uphold his work.
from Doctrine and Covenants (1835)
Revelation given to Joseph Smith, jr. May, 1829, informing
him of the alteration of the Manuscript of the fore part of the
book of Mormon.
1 Now, behold I say unto you, that because you delivered up
those writings which you had power given unto you to trans-
late, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands
of a wicked man, you have lost them; and you also lost your
gift at the same time, and your mind became darkened; never-
theless, it is now restored unto you again, therefore see that
you are faithful and continue on unto the finishing of the re-
mainder of the work of translation as you have begun: do
run faster, or labor more than you have strength and
means provided to enable you to translate; but be diligent un-
to the end: pray always, that you may come off conqueror;
yea, that you may conquer satan and that you may escape the
hands of the servants of satan, that do uphold his work.
from Doctrine and Covenants (1835)
Revelation to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, June, 1829, given previous to their viewing
the plates containing the book of Mormon:
1 Behold I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do, with full purpose of heart, you shall
have a view of the plates, and also the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were given
to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors
which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness, on the borders of the red sea; and it is by your faith that you
shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old.
from RLDS Compendium of the Scriptures (1951)
Lucy Smith, Joseph Smith's mother, quotes from him and describes the Urim and Thummim as follows:
" 'Do not be uneasy, Mother, all is right—see here, I have got a key.' I knew not what he meant, but took
the article of which he spoke into my hands, and, upon examination, found that it consisted of two smooth
three-cornered diamonds set in glass, and the glasses were set in silver bows, which were connected with
each other in much the same way as old-fashioned spectacles." —Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith
the Prophet, and his Progenitors, Edition of 1880, chapter 23, page 107.
line drawing of "Caractors" copied from The Book of Mormon plates
Since Mormon wrote in "Reformed Egyptian" (Mormon 9:32) based on known Demotic Egyptian, enough of these "Caractors"
have been translated by researchers to indicate that they are from Mormon's, not Moroni's, introduction to The Book of
Mormon. The translation of that introduction was probably on the first of the 116 pages of translation stolen in 1828.
This old logo of Yale University Press has the Hebrew words
urim and thummim and Latin words meaning light and truth.
Juxtapositioning those phrases with Yale's 2009 publication
of The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text is amusing.