What did Joseph Smith do with the plates when he finished translating them? Prophets and Apostles tell us that there is a cave near the Hill Cumorah, filled with other ancient records.
"Sixteen Square Feet"
William Horne Dame, Journal of the Southern Exploring Company, 1854-1858, Iron County, UT, 14 January 1855, Della Edwards Papers, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
Attended meeting a discourse from W. W. Phelps. He related a story told him by Hyrum Smith which was as follows: Joseph, Hyrum, Cowdery and Whitmer went to the hill Cumorah. As they were walking up the hill, a door opened and they walked into a room about 16 ft. square. In that room was an angel and a trunk. On that trunk lay a Book of Mormon and gold plates, Laban’s sword, Aaron’s breastplate.
"A Cave in the Hill Cumorah"
Wilford Woodruff Journal, 11 December 1869
In his journal, Wilford Woodruff recounted what he had heard Brigham Young say about the cave: “President Young said in relation to Joseph Smith returning the Plates of the Book of Mormon that He did not return them to the box from wh[ence?} he had received [them]. But he went [into] a cave in the hill Cumorah with Oliver Cowdery and deposited those plates upon a table or shelf. In that room were deposited a large amount of gold plates containing sacred records and when they first visited the room the sword of Laban was hanging upon the wall and when they last visited it the sword was drawn from the scabbard and [laid?] upon a table and a Messenger who was the keeper of the room informed them that the sword would never be returned to its scabbard until the kingdom of God was established upon the earth and until it reigned triumphant over every enemy. Joseph Smith said that cave contained tons of choice treasures and records.”
"Not in the Same Place"
Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 14:331-332, February 11, 1872
“Mormon, one of the prophets of the Nephites, who had the records in his possession, being commanded of the Lord, hid up the records in the hill Cumorah before the battles commenced. I mean all the records except an abridgment. The gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was taken are only an abridgment from vast numbers of other plates which were hidden up by Mormon in that hill. This abridgment, reserved and not hid up by Mormon, he gave to his son Moroni. He and Moroni both surveyed the destruction of their nation; they fell, wounded among the vast numbers on that hill, but their wounds were not fatal and they survived and for a short time kept themselves hid. Mormon, however, was afterwards discovered and destroyed by the Lamanites. Moroni continued from three hundred and eighty−four years, the date of the destruction of his nation, until four hundred and twenty years after Christ, that is the last date given in this record. Moroni tells us, as a prophet of God, that he was commanded of the Lord to hide up these records in the hill Cumorah, not in the same place where the other records had been hidden by his father Mormon, but in another place, for the Lord had promised the prophet Moroni that he would bring these records to light in the latter days, when he should bring forth a great and powerful nation upon this land. The Lord showed all these things to these ancient prophets, and they understood our history and wrote about it before ever Columbus discovered America. Moroni informs us that after the Lord should establish in the latter days a great and powerful nation of the Gentiles on the face of this land, and should deliver them by his power out of the hands of all other nations, then the Lord would bring forth this abridgment, these plates which Moroni was commanded to hide up; that the records should be revealed, that the individual who should discover them should, by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, be able to translate the records from the language in which they were written into our language, that these records should be brought forth expressly to accomplish the great purposes of the Lord in the last days in regard to warning all the nations of the Gentiles first, and that they might have the Gospel preached unto them in its ancient purity, as it was preached on this great western hemisphere, in order that the fulness of the Gentiles might be brought in, then their times should be fulfilled. After the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled by the coming forth of these records, the prophet informs us that the records should be sent to all the scattered remnants of the house of Israel in the four quarters of the earth, and that then the Lord would set his hand in power to deliver his people Israel from all the nations and kingdoms under the whole heaven, and that he would bring them back to the land of their fathers.
Numerous Records Deposited
Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 15:182-183, September 22, 1872
Some four years passed away from this time, making this boy not quite nineteen years of age, and on one Sunday evening he returned to his bed−room, pondering upon the promise that had been given to him, and he began praying earnestly again that the Lord would show him the true Gospel of his son, according to the promise; and while he was thus praying in his father's house in his chamber, a light burst into the room, becoming brighter by degrees, shining and then partially withdrawing, so that fear did not take possession of his bosom to any great degree. As he continued praying the light became brighter and brighter, and finally a personage clothed in a white robe stood before him. This personage was a little above the size of common men at the present day, and his arms and feet were partially bare. His feet did not stand on the floor of the room, but a certain distance above, and his countenance shone like lightning. This Angel appeared so pleasant, beautiful and glorious, and his countenance radiated such happiness on the mind of this young lad that all fear was taken from him as on the former occasion. This personage told him that he was an Angel of God, and that he had been sent, in answer to his prayer, with a very important message to deliver to him; that God designed to accomplish a great work on the earth, and that he was to be a chosen instrument in laying the foundation of, and establishing this work. He commenced telling him about the ancient inhabitants of this continent. He told him that the present American Indians were the descendants of Israel; that their forefathers were brought here from Jerusalem about six centuries before Christ; that when they came they were a righteous people and had Prophets among them; that when they landed on this continent they commenced, by the commandment of the Lord, keeping a record of their history, their prophecies and sacred doings upon metallic plates; that that nation, after having dwelt here about a thousand years, fell into great wickedness; that they divided themselves into two great nations; that the portion that had these plates, the Nephites, had so far apostatized from the Lord, that he threatened their overthrown, and to destroy them if they did not repent; that the Prophets went forth among them prophesying that if they did not repent, the other nation, called Lamanites, would destroy them from the face of the land. But they would not repent, and Mormon, a Prophet who lived at that time, was commanded of the Lord to take all the plates that were kept of the records of his fathers, and make an abridgment of them upon a new set of plates. So he commenced and abridged their history, from the time they left Jerusalem until that period, incorporating therein many of the prophesies and revelations given during that thousand years. After having made this abridgment he committed it into the hands of his son Moroni, knowing that his nation would be destroyed, and that Moroni, according to the revelations God had given him, would be spared to keep the records, and to behold the downfall of his nation Mormon hid the records from which he made this abridgment in a hill, called the hill Cumorah, that being its ancient name, and this hill was about three miles from where this young man resided, in the town of Manchester, Ontario County, State of New York. There all the records were deposited, and according to the Book of Mormon they must have been very numerous indeed. The history of the ancient inhabitants of this land was kept by their kings, and the records became very voluminous; and they were all deposited by the Prophet Mormon in that hill; but the abridgment from which the Book of Mormon was taken was given into the hands of his son Moroni, to finish out the record. The last date given on these records was 420 years after Christ.
"Slumbering in the hill"
Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 16:57, May 18, 1873
But will these things be brought to light? Yes. The records, now slumbering in the hill Cumorah, will be brought forth by the power of God, to fulfill the words of our text, that "the knowledge of God shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the great deep."
"More than a Six Mule Team..."
Jesse Nathaniel Smith Journal, February 1874
A southern Utah Saint, Jesse Nathaniel Smith, heard Brigham Young speak in Cedar City, Utah, and recorded: “I heard him [Brigham Young] at an evening meeting in Cedar City describe an apartment in the Hill Cumorah that some of the brethren had been permitted to enter. He said there was great wealth in the room in sacred implements, vestments, arms, precious metals, and precious stones, more than a six-mule team could draw."
"All the balance of them"
Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 17:31, April 6, 1874
Before this decisive battle the Nephites, who had kept records of their nation, written on gold plates, hid them up in the hill Cumorah, where they have lain from that day to this. Mormon committed a few plated to his son Moroni, who was a Prophet, and who survived the nation of the Nephites about thirty−six years, and he kept these few plates, while all the balance of them were hid up in that hill; and then, Moroni, being commanded of God, hid up the few plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.
"The Original Records"
Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 17:281-282, September 20, 1874
In the year 1823, Mr. Smith, being not quite eighteen years old, was meditating in his heart concerning the former vision, and was feeling great anxiety that the promise might be fulfilled to him, that he should, at some future time, have revealed to him the Gospel in all its fulness. He retired to his room one Sunday evening, in September (1823,) and commenced to pray with all the earnestness and faith that he could possible obtain, that the Lord would fulfill the promise that he had made to him. While thus praying, he discovered that a light seemed to be breaking into his room, growing brighter by degrees, until he saw a personage, apparently an angel, standing before him. This personage wore a white robe, and his countenance had the appearance of lightning, but yet appeared of an innocent expression. This personage did not stand upon the floor of the room, but his feet were a short distance above the floor. He informed this boy that the Lord had sent him as a messenger, in answer to his prayer, in order to impart unto him further information. And then he commenced telling him that this great American continent was once occupied by a numerous people, the descendants of the house of Israel, most of them the descendants of a remnant of the tribe of Joseph; that they came here from Jerusalem by the direct guidance of the Almighty, some six centuries before Christ; that in a vessel, which they built by the command of God, they came round the Gulf of Arabia, crossed the Great Pacific Ocean, and landed on the western coast of South America, that the descendants of these people had many Prophets among them, and that after they had been on this continent about a thousand years, during the progress of which they had become divided into two distinct nations, they fell into great wickedness, and that God threatened them with overthrow; the people of one of these nations were called Lamanites, for Laman, one of the colony which came out of Jerusalem; that the people of the other nation were called Nephites, taking their name from Nephi, the brother of Laman, that between three and four centuries after Christ these two nations occupied the two great wings of this continent, the Lamanites occupying South America, and the Nephites North America; but the Nephites at this time, having apostatized from the religion of their fathers, and many of them having become exceedingly wicked, the Lord threatened them with an overthrow. And he commanded one of the last Prophets, named Mormon, to make an abridgment of all the records of former Prophets who had been raised up on this land, an abridgment of the history of the nation from the time that they left Jerusalem until that time. He did so, and committed the abridged record, written on plates of gold, into the hands of another Prophet, his son Moroni. The original records, from which the abridgment was made, were hid up by Mormon in a hill called Cumorah, in the interior of what is now called the State of New York, but the abridgment was still in possession of the Prophet Moroni. About this time, or a little before this time, there had been a fifty years war between the inhabitants of North and South America; and finally the Lamanites of South America drove the Nephites from the Isthmus, and continued to burn their towns, cities and villages, and they destroyed hundreds and thousands of the Nephites; and ultimately they were driven into what we now call the State of New York. Three hundred and eighty years after the birth of Christ they entered into terms of peace, or, in other words, an armistice, for the space of four years, during which time the two nations gathered together all their forces into one vicinity, near the hill Cumorah. And when the four years of peace, or armistice, had expired, they came together in battle, in which the Nephites were overpowered, and hundreds of thousands of them killed, including women and children. Moroni, who was among the few Nephites who were spared, and in whose possession was the abridgment which had been made by his father, Mormon, was commanded to hide up that abridgment in the hill Cumorah, near the town of Manchester, Ontario County, State of New York. The Lord commanded him not only to hide up the record, but also to deposit the Urim and Thummim, an instrument used by the ancient seers who dwelt on this Continent. The Lord promised Moroni that, in the latter days, he would bring forth that book out of the ground, that it should whisper out of the dust; that it should speak unto the living as if it were from the dead, and when he should bring it forth this Urim and Thummim, deposited with it, should enable the finder to translate it into the language of the people who should then inherit the land.
"The Hill Opened..."
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 19:40, June 17, 1877
“I believe I will take the liberty to tell you of another circumstance that will be as marvelous as anything can be. This is an incident in the life of Oliver Cowdery, but he did not take the liberty of telling such things in meeting as I take. I tell these things to you, and I have a motive for doing so. I want to carry them to the ears of my brethren and sisters, and to the children also, that they may grow to an understanding of some things that seem to be entirely hidden from the human family. Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not translate all of the plates; there was a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: ‘This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ.’ I tell you this as coming not only from Oliver Cowdery, but others who were familiar with it, and who understood it just as well as we understand coming to this meeting, enjoying the day, and by and by we separate and go away, forgetting most of what is said, but remembering some things. So is it with other circumstances in life. I relate this to you, and I want you to understand it. I take this liberty of referring to those things so that they will not be forgotten and lost. Carlos Smith was a young man of as much veracity as any young man we had, and he was a witness of these things. Samuel Smith saw some things, Hyrum saw a good many things, but Joseph was the leader”
"No Rochester Adventurers..."
Edward Stevenson, Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet, and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon, 1877
It was likewise stated to me by David Whitmer in the year 1877 that Oliver Cowdery told him that the Prophet Joseph and himself had seen this room and that it was filled with treasure, and on a table therein were the breastplate and the sword of Laban, as well as the portion of gold plates not yet translated, and that these plates were bound by three small gold rings, and would also be translated, as was the first portion in the days of Joseph. When they are translated much useful information will be brought to light. But till that day arrives, no Rochester adventurers shall ever see them or the treasures, although science and mineral rods testify that they are there.
"Not Far from that Place"
P. Willhelm Poulson letter of August 13, 1878 to Editor of Deseret News, August 16, 1878
David Whitmer Interview by P. Willhelm Poulson
Poulson: Where are the plates now?
Whitmer: In a cave, where the angel has hidden them up till the time arrives when the plates, which are sealed, shall be translated. God will yet raise up a mighty one, who shall do his work till it is finished and Jesus comes again.
Poulson: Where is that cave?
Whitmer: In the State of New York.
Poulson: In the Hill of Cumorah?
Whitmer: No, but not far from that place.
"Another Department of the Hill"
Orson Pratt, the Contributor, September 1882
“But the grand repository of all the numerous records of the ancient nations of the western continent, was located in another department of the hill, and its contents put under the charge of holy angels, until the day should come for them to be transferred to the sacred temple of Zion."
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