Information of Interest to Latter-day Saints

Church Archives House Major Joseph Smith Collection

An extensive collection of legal and financial records, letters, and diaries of the Prophet Joseph Smith are being kept in a special section of the Church archives.

The records are open for research by “qualified and approved researchers,” whether or not they are members of the Church, according to Earl Olsen, Church archivist.

Included in the collection are books containing copies of the Prophet’s letters, including counsel given to Church leaders in communities away from Church headquarters, and answers to inquiries from curious nonmembers.

Also included in the collection are formal pleas to the federal government requesting assistance in righting the wrongs inflicted on the Church. Most of the petitions are from the periods when the Saints were driven from Missouri and when they encountered difficulty in Illinois.

The judicial and legal papers in the collection detail the numerous civil and criminal cases brought against Joseph Smith during times of heavy persecution. The scope of the Prophet’s work is suggested by his financial papers. He served simultaneously as mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois, as President of the Church, and as owner of a general store.

After Church members moved to Utah, an extensive effort was made to gather the Prophet’s speeches in one location, where they are now contained in the Joseph Smith Collection.

Three important areas of the Prophet’s life are also represented elsewhere in the archives.

The first major area is the Book of Mormon manuscript in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, in poor condition due to moisture damage and mold caused by storage in the Nauvoo House cornerstone. The Church collection contains most of the known existing pages of the manuscript.

Also in the archives are records of a number of revelations given to the Prophet and retained entirely in the handwriting of scribes. It is not definite that these documents are original, however.

The final area pertaining to Joseph Smith’s life is a collection of manuscripts used in writing the Documentary History of the Church.

Students Turn Teacher, Provide Reading Assistance

Can children teach each other how to read?

Research being conducted in Provo, Utah, city schools in cooperation with Brigham Young University indicates that the answer may be a very emphatic “yes.”

For the past five summers, fifth and sixth graders have been used as tutors for first and second graders with reading difficulties.

“I just act like them, and teach them,” was the way one young tutor explained her success.

Before being assigned a younger child to work with, the new tutors are given training, where they are taught proven tutoring techniques, according to Dr. Grant V. Harrison, director of special reading clinics for the Provo District.

When they complete their training, each tutor is assigned a student, and they work together for one-half hour daily for several weeks under the supervision of Brigham Young University students.

Using the younger tutors seems to be an effective way to provide tutoring with very little tension between the helper and the younger student. “We have found it a very effective way to give very personal attention to the reading habits of beginning readers,” Dr. Harrison said.

Teachers of the beginning readers report a considerable improvement in reading skill following a summer of concentrated work with the tutors.

Dr. Harrison is working on techniques to utilize the tutors with students who have difficulty with mathematics and expressive writing. Eventually he hopes to expand the program and use tutors to assist in teaching a second language.

[Trumbo House]

Latter-day Saints in the San Francisco area know that one president of the Church passed away while visiting their city, but perhaps few know that the home in which President Wilford Woodruff died still stands. In this house, located at the corner of Octavia and Sutter Streets in San Francisco, President Woodruff died September 2, 1898.

This house, which belonged to Colonel Isaac Trumbo who helped Utah gain statehood in 1896, survived the famous San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.

President Woodruff, who was vacationing in California at the time of his death, had been invited by Colonel Trumbo, a close friend, to be a guest in his home.

Colonel Trumbo later lost his fortune, and his mansion was sold in 1911. He died in 1912.

A Biblical Quiz

Discover how much you know about the Bible. Here are eight people talking to or about friends. Match the statements with their speaker; answers are on this page.

1. “Now when ______’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place … to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.”

2. “I behaved myself as though he had been my friend . …”

3. “Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide. …”

4. “… Though he will not rise and give him [loaves of bread], because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.”

5. “… whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

6. “… the friend of the bridegroom … rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. …”

7. “… Abraham believed God … and he was called the Friend of God.”

8. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

Match with:

  1. a.

    John

  2. b.

    James

  3. c.

    Christ

  4. d.

    Micah

  5. e.

    Christ

  6. f.

    James

  7. g.

    David

  8. h.

    Job

Answers

1. Job—Job 2:11

2. David—Ps. 35:14

3. Micah—Micah 7:5

4. Christ—Luke 11:8

5. James—James 4:4

6. John—John 3:29

7. James—James 2:23

8. Christ—John 15:14

Who Is an Arab?

Who is an Arab? The answer varies according to the person giving the reply. One who considers himself an Arab would say that an Arab is someone who speaks Arabic, but he probably would not mention his historical background. Most Westerners would think of a Muslim as an Arab. Yet the Iranians, Turks, Pakistanis, Indonesians, and many others are Muslims—but don’t speak Arabic. Moreover, some Arabic-speaking peoples are Christian, while others are Druze (an offshoot of Islam).

Perhaps the most historically accurate answer is that most often given by Christians and Jews: the Arabs are descendants of Ishmael, the firstborn son of Abraham. This highly oversimplified definition no doubt stems from the fact that Muhammed was of the Ishmaelite tribe of Quraish. But not all Arabs are Ishmaelites.

The earliest Arabians, according to the Bible, were the descendants of Joktan, who lived five generations after the flood. 1 The Joktanites lived in the fertile regions of southern Arabia, and were the “Arabians that were near the Ethiopians.” 2 They were traders, some of whom in later years actually crossed the Red Sea to settle in Ethiopia. One of the sons of Joktan was Sheba, ancestor of the Queen of Sheba who visited Solomon. 3

The northern Arabian tribes were, for the most part, descended from Abraham through Ishmael, son of his Egyptian wife, Hagar. His descendants inhabited the coastal area of western Arabia. 4

By his third wife, Keturah, Abraham had six sons, whom he sent to dwell in the east so that Isaac could inherit Canaan. 5 Because they lived in an essentially desert land, they were nomads, and hence we read of the “travelling companies of Dedanim,” 6 and of “the Arabian in the wilderness.” 7 Some of them pitched their tents as far away as Babylon, it would seem. 8

Perhaps the best-known tribe was the Midianite tribe. Moses’ father-in-law Jethro was a Midianite, and his descendants, the Kenites, settled in Palestine with the Israelites under Joshua. 9

The Edomites, located in the mountainous region southeast of the Dead Sea, were descendants of Abraham and Isaac through Esau or Edom. 10 They mingled with the Horites or children of Seir, 11 but acknowledged their close relationship to Israel as descendants of Jacob’s brother. 12 They often warred with Israel, 13 and were never included within the Israelite borders. 14 In Maccabean times, their land was called Idumea, and hence, King Herod the Great, an Idumean convert to Judaism, was a descendant of Esau.

The trans-Jordanian Arabs of today are all related to Abraham as well. The Aramaeans, or Syrians, are perhaps descendants of Aram, the great-nephew of Abraham. 15 Or they may be descended from Aram, son of Shem. 16 It was to Syria that the patriarchs traveled to find wives in their own families. 17 Though the early seat of the Aramaeans was beyond the Euphrates, by the time of David they had moved south to Damascus and Beth-Rehob. 18 They became subject to David, but gained independence in Solomon’s time.

The Moabites and Ammonites are descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. When Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, Lot’s two daughters, believing that the world had come to an end, intoxicated their father and deceived him into fathering children by them. 19 The Ammonites lived east of Mount Gilead, from the Jabbok southwards. 20 They were subject to King David 21 and although they later became independent, they nevertheless presented gifts to King Uzziah. 22 Their brethren, the Moabites, lived along the eastern bank of the Jordan River and east of the Dead Sea. They warred constantly with Israel. 23 Their language, known from the Moabite Stela, erected by King Mesha in honor of his victories over Israel, 24 was almost identical to Hebrew.

Except for those living in the Arabian peninsula, however, none of these peoples spoke Arabic prior to the seventh century A.D., and only those living in Arabia would have termed themselves Arabs. When Muhammed made his famous journey to Medina in 621 as the first step in the establishment of a Muslim Arab state, even the Arabs were far from united. Broken into many factions throughout the peninsula, most were idolators, while those in the north tended to be Christians; there were even numerous Arabic-speaking Jewish tribes.

From Arabia, the Arabs moved outward to conquer most of the Middle East (Asia Minor remained Greek until the Turkish invasion some 850 years later), all of North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula. Arabic became the new language for all of the conquered lands; and over the years, the natives came to consider themselves Arabs. Thus, the Egyptians, Libyans, and Phoenicians, all descendants of Ham, 25 were assimilated with the invading Arabs. So were the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Berbers of North Africa. We can also say that the Arabs of the Gaza Strip are, to a great extent, descendants of the Philistines, after whom the land of Palestine was named. Palestine has perhaps seen more mixing of peoples than most areas of the world, due to its strategic position on trade and military routes. The Israelites took control of the land under Joshua, but were unable to completely destroy the Canaanites. 26 Then, subsequent invasions brought the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Medes and Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans, some of whom, in each case, remained and intermarried with the local population. Byzantium inherited the scepter from Rome, and it was against Byzantine Palestine that the Arabs moved in 638. Later invasions by the Crusaders, Mongols, Turks, etc., brought about further mixtures.

Incongruous as it may seem in the light of the modern conflict in the Holy Land, many of the Palestinian Arabs of today are descendants of the Jews who inhabited the land some 2,000 years ago. Many important Palestinian families can trace their genealogy back to Judah or another of the tribes of Israel. Christian communities of Palestinian Arabs are mostly descended from the original Jewish inhabitants who were converted to Christianity soon after Christ. Those who are still Christian are not usually converts of the Crusaders, but rather descendants of Christians who resisted conversion to Islam in the seventh century. An example is the Maronite Christian community. They speak Arabic but use Aramaic—the language spoken by the Jews of Jesus’ time—in their liturgy. 27

The historical answer to the question, “Who is an Arab?” is therefore very complex. It is easy to see why the Arab himself generally takes a linguistic sidestep to: “An Arab is someone who speaks Arabic.”

John Tvedtnes is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He serves as counselor in the Jerusalem Branch presidency.

  1.   1.

    Gen. 10:26–30.

  2.   2.

    2 Chr. 21:16; 2 Chr. 22:1.

  3.   3.

    2 Chr. 9:1–12.

  4.   4.

    Gen. 16; Gen. 21:9–21; Gen. 25:12–18.

  5.   5.

    Gen. 25:1–6.

  6.   6.

    Isa. 21:13.

  7.   7.

    Jer. 3:2; Jer. 25:24.

  8.   8.

    Isa. 13:19–20.

  9.   9.

    Judg. 1:16.

  10.   10.

    Gen. 25:30; Gen. 36:1; 1 Chr. 1:35–54.

  11.   11.

    Gen. 14:6; Gen. 32:3; Gen. 36:9, 20; Deut. 2:5, 12, 22.

  12.   12.

    Deut. 2:4–5; Deut. 23:7.

  13.   13.

    Num. 20:14; Num. 21:4; Judg. 11:17; 1 Sam. 14:47; 2 Sam. 8:13–14; Jer. 27:3; Jer. 49:7–22; Ezek. 35:3–15.

  14.   14.

    Deut. 2:5; Josh. 24:4.

  15.   15.

    Gen. 22:21.

  16.   16.

    Gen. 10:22.

  17.   17.

    Gen. 24; Gen. 27:42–46; see also chaps. Gen. 26–29.

  18.   18.

    2 Sam. 8:3; 2 Sam. 10:6.

  19.   19.

    Gen. 19:30–38; Deut. 2:19.

  20.   20.

    Judg. 11:13.

  21.   21.

    2 Sam. 10; 2 Sam. 11:1; 2 Sam. 12:9, 26, 31.

  22.   22.

    2 Chr. 26:8.

  23.   23.

    Num. 22–25; Judg. 3:12–30; Judg. 11:17; 2 Sam. 8:2; 2 Kgs. 13:20; 2 Kgs. 24:2; 1 Chr. 18:2; 2 Chr. 20:1–25.

  24.   24.

    See 2 Kgs. 3:4–27.

  25.   25.

    Gen. 10:6–20.

  26.   26.

    Judg. 1:19, 21, 27–36; Judg. 3:5–6; Josh. 15:63; Josh. 16:10; Josh. 17:12–13; Ps. 106:34–35.

  27.   27.

    This most unusual and interesting situation has brought about several new movements in the modern state of Israel. Those who contend that a “Jew” is a descendant of Judah or of Israel, rather than one of the Jewish religion, hold that the promises of God regarding the gathering of Israel must apply equally well to the Palestinian Arabs. They point out that most Israelis are nonreligious, yet they are considered Jews. Logically, a descendant of Judah, though he might be a Christian or a Muslim, is as much a Jew as the nonreligious Jew.