The Mormon ‘Ezekiel 37’ Claim
“The Book of Mormon and the Bible Support Each Other.”
“The LDS English edition of the King James Version of the Bible and the Book of Mormon have cross-references and study aids that make the stick of Judah (the Bible) and the stick of Joseph (the Book of Mormon) one in our hands (see Ezekiel 37:15–17; also 1 Nephi 13:34–41; 2 Nephi 3:12; 29:8). Give priority to Book of Mormon passages when you teach, but also show how the Book of Mormon and the Bible teach the same principles.” (Emphasis added) (‘Preach my Gospel: a Guide To Missionary Service’ – Mormon Missionary Lesson Manual. p.105. Available online).
Mormon missionaries are firmly instructed to “give priority to Book of Mormon passages when you teach.” The idea that the Book of Mormon and the Bible support each other is somewhat short lived in many ways when you discover that the Book of Mormon claims Jesus Christ was known in Old Testament times and all the prophets prayed to God in the name of Jesus. Naturally, the Bible does not support that idea, or indeed many other Mormon concepts, at all. Nevertheless, the Mormon Church continues to maintain each book supports the other. Members do not see through the many obvious contradictions.
Not least of the liberties taken with the Bible by the Mormon Church is the concept that the Bible is the ‘stick of Judah’ and the Book of Mormon is the ‘stick of Joseph’ in Ezekiel 37:15-17. Thus the Bible and Book of Mormon can be one in our hands. I just accepted this as a member and found great comfort in my ‘quad’ when the Church started to produce them. That is, a quadruple combination of all the ‘scriptures’, including the King James Bible, The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, all in one handy volume – ‘one in our hands’.
Let’s look at what Ezekiel says and what it really means.
Ezekiel 37:15. The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,
- Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
- And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. (Emphasis added). (See also: NIV below).
The above is from the KJV which Joseph Smith had access to. He used the idea to justify the existence of the Book of Mormon in an 1830 Doctrine and Covenants revelation (D&C 27:5).
Only now do I begin to understand the real meaning of Ezekiel and what nonsense the Mormon claim is. Ezekiel was not speaking about books at all in the way the Mormon Church claims. It is actually quite clear when you read more of Chapter 37, even in the KJV, but as Mormons, we just don’t put it all together. Ironically, v. 18 actually asks what the previous verses really mean and then an explanation is provided. The truth is right there in black and white.
Ezekiel 37:18. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?
- Say unto them, Thus saith the LordGod; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.
- And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.
- And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
- And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: (Emphasis added).
So, we see that rather than remotely speaking about two ‘books’ (one not published until 1830), it relates to two kingdoms being brought together under one king. So, what was the writing all about? A clearer translation gives a much better idea. The New International Version of the Bible helps with this:
New International Version (NIV). Ezekiel 37.
One Nation Under One King.
- The word of the Lord came to me:
- “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Ephraim’s stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.’
- Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.
- “When your countrymen ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’
- say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’
- Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on
- and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.
- I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.
The Mormon Church would have it that the two ‘sticks’ were scrolls or books; one being the Bible and the other, the Book of Mormon. However, the scripture clearly states that it was Ezekiel who was to do the writing in both cases. (See emphasised text in KJV Ezekiel 37:15-17 on p. 337 above). He was also told exactly what to write on each stick and the above NIV translation tells it all really.
One stick of wood was to have written on it the words:
“For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions.”
The other stick of wood was to say:
“For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions.”
In each case, in the KJV of Ezekiel 37:16, the letter ‘F’ in the word ‘For’ is capitalised, signifying the start of what to actually write on each stick of wood. It is not an indication of what is to be written ‘for’, or on behalf of, the tribes in books, as is the Mormon claim.
There are forty writers and sixty-six scrolls forming the Bible, and many authors supposedly contributed to the Book of Mormon. It is Ezekiel who is to write on both sticks in Ezekiel 37. It is only the Mormon Church that disagrees.
The Mormon Church claims ‘stick’ means ‘scroll’ in Ezekiel. Never mind that the Book of Mormon was supposedly written on gold plates and not scrolls. In any event, Ezekiel clearly identifies that he knows the difference between a stick of wood and a scroll. In an entirely different context, Ezekiel writes:
Ezekiel 2:9. And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein;
From what I now understand, following some research, the Hebrew word translated as ‘stick’ in Ezekiel is pronounced ‘ets’. There are quite a variety of English words appearing in the Old Testament translated from ‘ets’, depending on the context. Alphabetically, these are: gallows, helve, plank, staff, stalk, stick, stock, timber, tree and wood. It is never translated as: book, roll, scroll, parchment or papyri, let alone metal plates of gold, brass or any other material.
The word stick did not mean ‘scroll’ in Ezekiel 37 as the Mormon Church claims. As a Mormon, a cursory glance at Ezekiel leaves one feeling warm and fuzzy due to the trust placed in church leaders; that the Lord has revealed the truth to them. In fact, it can bolster a testimony. Likewise, an investigator may be convinced by a Mormon missionary ‘explanation’ of Ezekiel 37, much in the same way that someone investigating Jehovah’s Witnesses may be influenced by their unconvincing ‘circle of the earth’ explanation. (See Appendix C).
However, an objective review of the real meaning, correct translation and explanation provides, once again, quite an opposite conclusion to the Mormon claim. If you read the whole book of Ezekiel, it is about God and his tortured relationship with Israel. Ezekiel 37 confirms how he would eventually bring them together – in that era; and it had nothing to do with books at all.