Evidence #252 | October 12, 2021

Esteemed Highly

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Scripture Central


As prophesied in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was and is “esteemed highly” by the fruit of the loins of Joseph who was sold into Egypt.

A Prophecy from Joseph in Egypt

When giving counsel to one of his sons, Lehi quoted prophecies from the ancient patriarch Joseph “who was carried captive into Egypt” (2 Nephi 3:4). One of these prophecies given to Joseph by the Lord concerned the raising up of a seer and a description of how that seer would be viewed among Joseph’s descendants: “A choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and he shall be esteemed highly among the fruit of thy loins” (2 Nephi 3:7). As one reads further (see vv. 8–15), the context clearly establishes that the seer mentioned in this prophecy is none other than Joseph Smith himself.

Lehi and Sariah teaching their family. Image via churchofjesuschrist.org.

This means the Book of Mormon predicts that Joseph Smith would be “esteemed highly” as a seer by the “fruit” of Joseph’s loins. What peoples or societies in the latter days are most directly descended from Joseph who was sold into Egypt cannot be known with certainty. It is questionable, though, if the prophecy was meant to be interpreted in a strictly literal sense in the first place. What can be said with confidence is that many of those who accept the restored gospel in the latter days can be viewed as the “fruit” (i.e., descendants) of Joseph, either because they are literally of his seed or because they have been adopted into the house of Israel and are helping fulfill the responsibilities given to the tribe of Ephraim in the last days.1

Joseph Smith Held in High Esteem

Photo of John Taylor, who wrote the eulogy for Joseph and Hyrum Smith found in D&C 135.  

Both during and after his mortal ministry, Joseph Smith was unquestionably held in high esteem by those who accepted his prophetic calling. Brigham Young declared, “I honor and revere the name of Joseph Smith. I delight to hear it; I love it.”2 John Taylor proclaimed, “I testify before God, angels, and men, that [Joseph Smith] was a good, honorable, virtuous man.”3 Wilford Woodruff said that Joseph “manifested a greatness of soul which I had never seen in any other man.”4 These sentiments are echoed in dozens of other accounts from those who personally knew Joseph Smith.5

Shortly after Joseph’s martyrdom, John Taylor wrote: “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. … He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people” (D&C 135:3). President Ezra Taft Benson stated that Joseph Smith was “one of the greatest prophets that has ever lived upon the earth.”6 Gordon B. Hinckley called him the “the great prophet of this dispensation.”7 In a recent seminar for new mission leaders, President Russell M. Nelson declared that “Joseph Smith is the prophet of this last dispensation” and that a “testimony of the Prophet Joseph’s pivotal role in the Restoration is crucial for all of us who are preaching the Lord’s gospel.”8

As embodied in the beloved hymn “Praise to the Man,”9 views similar to those expressed by Joseph Smith’s prophetic successors have been shared by millions of Latter-day Saints throughout the world in weekly sacrament services, Sunday school classes, family home evenings, and missionary experiences. President Thomas S. Monson explained, “Although those who sought to take [Joseph Smith’s] life felt that the Church would collapse without him, his powerful testimony of truth, the teachings he translated, and his declaration of the Savior’s message go on today in the hearts of over 12 million members throughout the world, who proclaim him a prophet of God.”10


Not every religious leader has been so beloved and revered by his followers. In fact, the emphasis on and enthusiasm for Joseph Smith’s pivotal prophetic calling has sometimes led to misunderstandings. Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “We do not, as some occasionally charge, worship Joseph Smith, nor place him on a par with Jesus. But we do venerate him, remembering, hopefully, that the highest and best form of veneration is emulation.”11

Joseph Smith. Image via churchofjesuschrist.org. 

This great sense of veneration was predicted in the Book of Mormon long before Joseph Smith had any prominence. His attempts to gather a following could have easily fizzled out, as happened to so many other would-be religious revolutionaries or reformers. Or his life and legacy could have been quickly forgotten after his death. Yet, against all odds, high esteem for Joseph Smith’s name and legacy live on today in the minds and hearts of millions of Latter-day Saints, just as prophesied by Joseph who was sold into Egypt.

R. Eric Smith, Matthew C. Godfrey, Matthew J. Grow, eds., Know Brother Joseph: New Perspectives on Joseph Smith’s Life and Character (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2021).

Davis Bitton, Knowing Brother Joseph Again: Perceptions and Perspectives (Salt Lake City, UT: Kofford Books, 2011).

Mark L. McConkie, ed., Remembering Joseph: Personal Recollections of Those Who Knew the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, UT: Shadow Mountain, 2003).

Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate Jr., eds.,  Joseph Smith: The Prophet, the Man (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, 1993).

2 Nephi 3:7

2 Nephi 3:7

Fulfilled Prophecies
Book of Mormon

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