To whom is Moses speaking in Moses 1?

Is it God the Father or His Son, Jehovah?

The scriptures seem to imply that Moses is speaking to God the Father:

6 And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the asimilitude of mine bOnly cBegotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the dSavior, for he is full of egrace and ftruth; but there is gno God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I hknow them all.

In addition, we have the following:

32 And by the aword of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of bgrace and truth.

33 And aworlds without number have I bcreated; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the cSon I dcreated them, which is mine eOnly Begotten.
It would seem awfully strange for the Son to refer to himself in the third person.
On the other hand, we are led to believe that Jehovah (the Son) is the god of the Old Testament.  We also know that God the Father and his Son are the same in purpose.  Is it possible Jehovah was referring to Himself, speaking with his Father’s voice, and that Jehovah appears to Moses in Moses 1?
I found some interesting links on this issue that may be worth reading before commenting on this issue.
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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

29 thoughts on “To whom is Moses speaking in Moses 1?

  1. Funny thing is there was a stand up “discussion” in the foyer about this by two high priests on their way to class this Sunday. I interjected with the opinion that it is the Son speaking on behalf of the Father, as I have always been taught (and believe) that the Father does not directly interact with mankind in any way save to introduce and bear witness of the Son, as this keeps “all judgment” with the Son. I cited the precedent in Revelation, where the vision begins by the messenger declaring that he is Alpha and Omega, i.e Jesus Christ, and end with the messenger prohibiting John worshiping him, because he was actually a “fellowservant” speaking in the first person on behalf of the Lord. An argument along the lines of Jehovah being vested with all the Father’s authority and power could be made as well. I believe the general teaching is that it was Jehovah that appeared to Moses on the mount and I don’t have a problem with Jehovah speaking as the Father in the first person. It is one of the “peculiarities” of their relationship after all.


  2. In our GD class the teacher stated (based on Jesus the Christ) that Moses was speaking with Jehovah = premortal Christ. The person sitting next to me asked me whether that was true, and I whispered back “It’s complicated…”

    The post-Talmagian equation of Elohim = Father and Jehovah = Son is useful for many purposes, but it’s a moddern convention, and cannot be applied across the board to either the Bible or 19th century LDS literature.

  3. Kevin, I don’t know if you read the two links I attached, but that’s what they say also, ie, it’s a lot more complicated than Elohim=Father and Jehovah=Son.

    David Wills, I tend to agree with your interpretation.

  4. This is interesting, Geoff. As someone who sometimes feels a little sheepish about my lack of scriptural prowess compared to some other Nacle denizens, I like to see these posts educating about scripture topics like this. (not meant as backhanded criticism of other content, just an observation about this particular post)

  5. We had a lengthy discussion on this topic today in our sunday school class, which took most of the time. It was interesting as, strangely enough, there were many long-time members of the church there that were unfamiliar with the doctrine of Divine Investiture of Authority. In fact, a member of the high council in class appeared as if it was the first time he’d ever heard of such a doctrine and was confused by who exactlyMoses was speaking with. In 1916, James E. Talmage penned a document that became a full official statement by the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles entitled “The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Twelve”. I searched for it on Google, and could find quotes from it, but no full version of it. My GospeLink software came up with the full copy of it. I suppose I could copy and paste it in a comment here, but it would be a bit lengthy for that. This was the first time in “Mormondom” that I know of that the phrase “Divine Investiture of Authority” is mentioned.

  6. I asked this precise question in Sunday School today and was told that Moses was indeed speaking with Jehovah. I asked how that consistent with Moses 1:6 and the many other verses where Christ is referenced in the third person. And the teacher mentioned the Divine Investiture of Authority and the same document that Joshua @ 5:33 references. It’s the first time, in my memory, that I have heard of that doctrine. It makes sense to me.

  7. Sister Blah, I kinda feel like you, ie I feel like there are a lot of Bloggernaclites who have deeper knowledge on these issues than I do. I use posts like these to help gather some of that knowledge. 🙂

  8. If you would like, I would happily include that First Presidency document in a comment here. I just wasn’t sure if I should because there is a bit of length to it. Not so much that it would overtake the entire page, but it is a bit long. Just let me know and I will share.

  9. Joshua, perhaps you could cut and paste the key paragraphs? Thanks, I think that would be appropriate for this discussion.

  10. We also have the very clear doctrinal assertion by Jesus Christ that “no man cometh to the Father but by me” and as a) Moses was a man and b) Moses began the vision straight away with no apparent form of introduction by the Son (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, I know…) I think the balance of probability is it is Jehovah as the pre-existant Christ speaking with Moses on behalf of the Father.


  11. That doctrinal exposition about the Father and the Son is included as an index in Elder Holland’s excellent book, “Christ and the New Covenant.” I recommend everyone find it there, if only because that’s such a great book. I also seem to remember it being a “gospel classics” feature in the Ensign a few years ago, but I can’t find it now, so maybe I’m remembering wrong.

    Just to add to the chorus of unison here, when I brought this question up in an institute class back in college, to a teacher who’s in a stake presidency now, he also explained the Divine Investiture of Authority.

  12. Personally I don’t believe the whole divine vesture of authrity applies to Moses and here is why-

    If we are to state that it really is Jesus speaking and not the Father, then we must assume it accross the entire board tot he book of Moses as found in the PoGP. This runs into some very heavy problems however because when Moses states that the Father came and spoke to Adam we must assume that it really is the Father who speaks to Adam and Eve in the garden and not Jesus. The implications are thus-

    If we can reasonably assume that Moses wrote the original text at the same time, then he would be referring to his past encounters from a point later in his life as he makes his recollections. He obviously knows who both the Father and the Son are as supported by the text. He knows they are separate beings and that both beings interact face to face with man, not just Jesus. So, when Moses is recollecting his experience who he claims is the Father, we must assume that Moses is referring to the actual Father and not the Son. This is why Moses words it the way he does.

    The second part of it is that Joseph Smith who re-translated Genesis in part would make the correction and not let it be confusing. What does Joseph do? He re-transaltes it adding text not found in a lot of Genesis on the very nature of the Father himself and his relationship to the Son.

    The third part is all logic and ties it all together. When we pray who do we directly address? Is it the Father or the Son? Of course it is the actual Father we address. We communicate to the Father and ask him for blessings and do so in the Sons name in hope of the Fathers grace falling upon us in light of his love for his Son Jesus Christ.

    As was mentioned on another board-

    Why the big push in the manuals to infer some divine investure of authority? Would the belief that the Father actually speaks with man disrupt or hurt the plan of salvation, especially if the Father and the Son are both one in thought and purpose?

  13. It is true that the manual cites the appendix of Talmage’s Articles of Faith, which is in fact an appendix that includes the 1916 Doctrinal Exposition. However, it it notable that the section under Divine Investiture of Authority makes no reference to the book of Moses at all. In fact, the whole Exposition only refers to the Book of Moses twice and for reasons completely unrelated to the topic at hand. The origin of this interpretation cannot be traced to the Exposition. Therefore, it’s unclear exactly what sources the curriculum writers had in mind when they drafted their note.

  14. I personally believe in the Divine Investiture of Authority theory. In the Garden of Eden, the world was in a higher sphere than in its current telestial state. God the Father had not yet given Christ all authority, as the earth was not fallen out of His presence. Adam DID see the Father and Son, as he was still in a higher state of existence. After the Fall, Adam was just like the rest of us, having to receive instruction from angels, until he was ready to return back into the presence of the Son (which occurred 3 years before his death, according to D&C 107:53-54).

    The Book of Revelation clearly shows this same Divine Investiture of Authority, as it has an angel representing and speaking as if he were the Messiah.

    Ancient belief also shows that Yahweh was the Divine Angel of the Presence of God, or the “Name.” Margaret Barker gives some interesting insight into this.

  15. The 1916 FP statement was not written in a vacuum. One of its antecedents was a great deal of confusion in the Church regarding divine names: who was Jehovah, who was The Father, who was Adam, etc. The Divine Investiture is an attempt to rationalize seemingly inconsistent verses and doctrines – such as The Son clearly being referred to in the 3rd person in Moses 1, while doctrine posits that the speaker is Jehovah – God of the Old Testament.

  16. Pingback: Old Testament Lesson #1 - LDS Mormon Forums

  17. I believe the figure is a literary composite, and is not exclusively the Son or the Father. (Another way of saying that is also true: It is both the Son and the Father). It’s only when you need to interpret this as an exactly detailed historical reporting of a specific event that the exact identity needs to be nailed down. I find this unnecessary, and out of character with a majority of the JST emmendations.

  18. To me the passage is clear and easy to understand: it is the Father speaking. If we can turn this simple passage around to say it really is the Saviour speaking when the plain text says otherwise, what else can we make the scriptures say? How is an ordinary person, i.e. a nonscriptorian like myself, supposed to have any confidence reading and understanding the scriptures if this conversation can be turned on its head to include someone who is clearly not speaking as the actual speaker-at least according to the text as translated by JS. (Maybe we need to include the PoGP in the AoF about believing the Bible so long as it is translated correctly.) Perhaps it would be more simple and productive to skip the scriptures altogether and go straight to a scripture commentary or treatise which explains all the instances when the scriptures don’t really mean what the text plainly says.

    We lose nothing, imo, by reading the text as translated and conclude it is the Father speaking. Why all the mental gymnastics to try and show 2+2 really equals something else besides 4.

  19. Geoff: “I feel like there are a lot of Bloggernaclites who have deeper knowledge on these issues than I do. I use posts like these to help gather some of that knowledge.”

    That’s reason #4,519 that you rock.

    There was a discussion of this on my blog where Jim F defends the position that (paraphrasing) “It doesn’t really matter whether it was the Father or the Son because they are One, but the text at least presents itself as being words from the Father; thus, we should ask why the text presents itself that way and not who was actually speaking.”

  20. This is one of the dangers of using the scriptures as text, when their clear meaning has been altered by commentary. I agree with rbc: we might just as well go directly to the commentary.

  21. Paul B and rbc, I want to cheerfully and respectfully disagree. I think we are meant to ponder second and third meanings in the scriptures and think about things like, “who is Jehovah and who is Elohim, and who is speaking, and why does Elohim only speak (usually) when confirming that Jehovah is the God of this world (think about the mount of transfiguration, Jesus’ baptism, the First Vision, and 3 Nephi 11)”

    In other words, I think we’re supposed to study and ponder the scriptures, and sometimes the first meaning may not be correct or complete. If we were only intended to think of the most obvious meaning, then why does Isaiah write in such coded language and even boast that he is writing in coded language so that only the elect can understand him?

    You may be correct, it may be God the Father speaking in Moses 1, but I just want to point out that the scriptures usually have several layers of meaning.

  22. 22 — I think there’s a difference between Isaiah, where the surface meaning of the text is less than clear, and Moses 1, where the surface meaning contradicts the proposed meaning on the question of who is speaking. I can accept that God wants us to dig in to a question to gain deeper understanding of principles, but I can’t accept that God wants me to challenge the clear statements of the text to actually get to the correct meaning. If we’re supposed to be ready to contradict what the text says to get to the meaning, where are the traffic signals that warn us about these U-turns?

    This is way more problematic than having God the Father talking to Moses. These machinations seem to be proof-texting gone wild of the same sort that brought the doctrine of the Trinity. Why is it easier to contradict 180° one scriptural reference than it is to accept that other statements here or there is an overgeneralization?

  23. Geoff B,

    Fair point, but anyone reading Isaiah and other prophets knows there has to be something more in order to grasp what’s being said. The text itself screams multiple interpretations/meanings or a deeper message(s). What signs or clues are there that the simple passage in Moses 1 is not what is plainly appears to be? Perhaps the scriptures are capable of being deconstructed declarative statement by declarative statement. How is an average reader to understand what’s what in the scriptures if this simple passage isn’t what it really appears? (I agree with someone above, there are plenty of smart, thinking people in the bloggernacle who can supply the proper commentary, but not everyone is as fortunate to have bloggernacle scriptorians to consult.)

    It seems to me opening this passage to reinterpretation on such a simple point opens all the scripture up to a similar re-examination. More importantly, though, if this passage can be re-read to include someone who’s plainly not there, what’s stopping anyone from reading into the scriptures almost whatever he or she wants. Shading the truth or outright lying? No problem; Nephi,Abraham and JS did it. Says so right in the scriptures. We’ve had this problem for centuries, so it’s nothing new or necessarily bad. After all, it gave us JS and the restoration.

  24. The unity of the Father and the Son (“I and my Father are one”, John 10:30) give the Son the right to speak in the Father’s name.

    Another example of “Divine Ivestiture”, but “one level down” so to speak, is when an angel speaks to Nephi “on the morrow come I into the world”, 3 Nephi 1:13, as if that angel were Christ.

    In a similar vein, Mormons speak in the Savior’s name all the time, “and-I-say-these-things-in-the-name-of-Jesus-Christ-Amen.”

    Perhaps the covenant to take upon us the name of Christ (baptism, sacrament) is to be modeled after the oneness of the Father and the Son.

    Evidence that the oneness we should have with Christ should be patterned after the oneness that Christ has with the Father is in the great intercessory prayer, John 17: 11, 21-22.,21-22#11

    11 … Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

    21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
    22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

  25. My understanding is that the interpretation of Moses 1:6, that Jesus is speaking for the Father is based on the writing of Joseph Fielding Smith, based on his opinion that the only communication to us from the Father has been to introduce the Son. (see PofGP institute manual available online). The First Presidency 1916 statement and Talmage’s writings are referenced in the manual but neither proclaims that the only communication from the Father has been to introduce the Son or that Jesus is speaking in Moses 1:6. That Jesus is the God of the old testament is true but unless the president of the Church has spoken, it is opinion to interpret that to mean the Father has never spoken except to introduce the son. As far as I know a president (the only one who can interpret scripture for the Church) has never said these statments by smith are Church doctrine. While these statements may be true, unless the president has made them they are only opinion. That smith’s opinion is stated as doctrine in the study guide does not mean it is accepted as official Church doctrine as church study guides sometimes state opinion as doctrine, for instance, they have taught as doctrine the opinion that there was no death in the world prior to the fall of Adam.

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