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Publication TypeEncyclopedia Entry
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsS. Kent Brown, Douglas A. Stewart, David L. Bollinger, and Terry L. Niederhauser
Secondary AuthorsLudlow, Daniel H.
Secondary TitleEncyclopedia of Mormonism
Place PublishedNew York
KeywordsCovenant; Gathering of Israel; Israel; Lost Ten Tribes; Scattering of Israel
Citation Key579

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Four articles are clustered under this entry:

Israel: Overview

Israel: Scattering of Israel

Israel: Lost Tribes of Israel

Israel: Gathering of Israel

The first article is a general introduction of the distinctive LDS concept of Israel. The second article is a review of the scriptural scattering of Israel. The third article treats the scriptural promises of the restoration of the tribes to their homelands. The fourth article constitutes a review of the scriptural promises concerning the latter-day gathering of Israel. They reflect the breadth of interest in the topic among Latter-day Saints and the doctrinal and historical foundations of this interest. Other articles with a related historical component are Abrahamic Covenant; Covenant Israel, Latter-Day; Ephraim; Jerusalem; Moses; Promised Land, Concept of a; and Zionism. Articles that incorporate doctrinal aspects of LDS interest are Allegory of Zenos; Law of Adoption; New and Everlasting Covenant; and New Jerusalem.

Israel: Overview

Author: BROWN, S. KENT

The name Israel (Hebrew for "God rules" or "God shines") has two particularly distinctive modern applications to Latter-day Saints. First, it refers to members of the Church. Second, it points to modern descendants of ancient Israelite stock, who, because of God's fidelity to ancient covenants made with their forebears, are to become recipients of his blessings in the latter days.

HISTORY OF THE NAME. The name Israel first appears in the Bible as the divinely bestowed second name of Jacob (Gen. 32:28;35:10). "Sons of Israel" or "children of Israel" initially meant Jacob's sons and their families (Gen. 50:25; Ex. 1:1) and, more distantly, all of Jacob's descendants (e.g., Ex. 1:7, 9). After Jacob's posterity settled in the land of Canaan, the name Israel referred to the league of tribes bound together by a covenant with the Lord (Josh. 24). Later, the united monarchy of Saul, David, and Solomon was known as Israel (e.g., 1 Sam. 9:16; 13:13; 2 Sam. 5:3). After the breach following Solomon's death, the name Israel denoted the northern kingdom (1 Kgs. 11:34-39;12:3, 16), while the name Judah designated the southern realm (1 Kgs. 12:23, 27). After the northern kingdom fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C., the name Israel became a spiritual designation for the southern kingdom (e.g., Isa. 5:7; Micah 3:1; Zech. 12:1; 1 Macc. 1:11, 62). The term "Jew" was first applied by outsiders to those living in the kingdom of Judah and first appears in 2 Kings 16:6.

In the New Testament, the name Israel refers to the people of God, not usually in a nationalistic sense but designating those who are, or will be, gathered to Jesus Christ by obeying the word of God (e.g., Matt. 10:6-7; Luke 24:21; John 1:31, 49; Acts 2:22, 36). It also refers to Christ's kingdom (Matt. 27:42; Mark 15:32), into which Gentiles will be grafted as if into an olive tree (Rom. 11:17-21). Two passages in Galatians clearly equate Israel with the early Christian church (Gal. 3:27-29;6:15-16), and the connection is also affirmed by Jesus' statement that his apostles will judge the tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28; cf. 1 Ne. 12:9; D&C 29:12).

In the Book of Mormon, several phrases appear with distinctive applications. The phrase "children of Israel" regularly refers back to Jacob's descendants in the Mosaic era, echoing the language of the Exodus account (e.g., Ex. 19:1; 1 Ne. 17:23; Jacob 1:7; Mosiah 7:19; cf. 3 Ne. 29:1-2). God's title Holy One of Israel, drawn from Isaiah (e.g., 48:17; 1 Ne. 20:17), appears in discussions of God's covenants, affirming him to be the faithful God who made covenants with ancient Israel (e.g., 1 Ne. 19:14-17). This title also appears in prophecies concerning God's future "reign in dominion, and might, and power, and great glory" (1 Ne. 22:24-25). The Holy One of Israel is identified as Jesus Christ (2 Ne. 25:29). "House of Israel" refers to the lineal posterity of Jacob and is frequently used in prophetic utterances that have to do with their scattering or latter-day gathering. Moreover, Book of Mormon people saw themselves as a "remnant" or "branch" of the house of Israel whose descendants would receive the blessings promised to Israel in the latter days (1 Ne. 19:24; 3 Ne. 20:16).

For two major reasons, Latter-day Saints today apply the name Israel to themselves. First, Moses appeared to Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836, and conferred on them the keys, or authorization, for "the gathering of Israel" (D&C 110:11; cf. PWJS, pp. 145-46). This gathering consists not only in restoring people of Israelite ancestry "to the lands of their inheritance" but also in bringing them "out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that the Lord is…the Mighty One of Israel" (1 Ne. 22:12). This action means bringing them into the Church. Second, Latter-day Saints have often learned from their patriarchal blessings that they are literally of the lineage of Israel (D&C 86:8-9), primarily the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. The Lord has revealed that it is the particular responsibility of Israel to carry the message of the restored gospel to the world, and Ephraim has the responsibility of directing this work (D&C 133:26-34; cf. TPJS, p. 163). Those who are not of Israel's lineage become such through adoption at the time of their baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost (TPJS, pp. 149-50; Rom. 8:15-17; Gal. 4:5-7; Abr. 2:10; see also Law of Adoption).

LINEAL ISRAEL. Israel's consciousness of lineal distinction was related at least in part to God's formal adoption of it by covenant at the holy mount. "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people…and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Ex. 19:5-6). As the chosen people of God, Israel was under a divine obligation to bear the covenant and its promises to others, an obligation established earlier with Abraham and his seed (Abr. 2:9-11; see also Abrahamic Covenant).

The Book of Mormon Peoples were literally of Israel. Those who journeyed to the Western Hemisphere from Jerusalem with Lehi around 600 B.C. were descended from Joseph of Egypt through his sons Manasseh and Ephraim (Alma 10:3; cf. 1 Ne. 5:14-16; JD 23:184-85). A second group had links to the royal house of Judah through mulek, son of Zedekiah (Hel. 6:10; Omni 1:14-16). Several prophecies deal with the eventual restoration of God's covenant among the descendants of these peoples (e.g., 1 Ne. 22:3-12; 3 Ne. 20:22-27;21:1-7). As a natural corollary, several prophecies focus on the scattering and eventual return of many of the Jews to Jerusalem and the blessings that await them there (e.g., 2 Ne. 6:10-14; 3 Ne. 20:29-46; Ether 13:5). As with other covenants, promises are fulfilled only when people-whether Gentiles or Israelites-obey the commandments of God (e.g., 1 Ne. 14:5-6;22:17-22).

Today, members of the Church-latter-day Israel, largely Joseph's descendants either by blood or adoption-are to seek out the other descendants of Israel and those who would become Israelites through adoption by baptism. The Prophet Joseph Smith observed that "as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; …while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost" (TPJS, pp. 149-50; cf. Rom. 6:4;12:2).

SPIRITUAL ISRAEL. In both ancient and modern times, keeping God's covenants has been the heart of becoming and remaining the people of God (e.g., Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 4:32-40; D&C 100:15-16). At the physical center of Israel, so to speak, stood the house of God's spiritual blessings, where covenants were made and remade, first the tabernacle in the camp and later the temple in Jerusalem. Almost immediately after giving the Ten Commandments and other terms of the covenant (Ex. 20-23), God gave directions for fashioning the tabernacle (Ex. 24-27), the most sacred structure of Moses' Israel, "that I [God] may dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8). Latter-day Saints have also been commanded by the God of Israel to build temples for worship and for making covenants, so that the lives of men and women will be enriched through eternal family sealings (D&C 110:6-10; cf. TPJS, p. 186; WJS, p. 212; see also Temples).

In the New Testament era Gentiles were offered a broad opportunity to become full partakers of Israel's blessings. While Jesus limited his personal ministry to Israelites (Matt. 15:24; cf. 3 Ne. 15:23) and told the Twelve to proselytize only among Israel (Matt. 10:5), he visited Gentiles in the Decapolis, near Galilee (Matt. 8:28-34), and sent his seventy disciples into areas where there were many Gentiles (Luke 10:1-17). He prophesied that many "shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 8:11). John the Baptist proclaimed that "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham" (Matt. 3:9), evidently referring to the adoption of Gentiles into the house of Israel (TPJS, p. 319). Peter learned that the righteous in "every nation" who hearken to God are "accepted with him" (Acts 10:35). Even so, Paul reminded readers to "boast not against the branches" of the tree of Israel when they falter because "all Israel shall be saved" (Rom. 11:18, 26).

The Book of Mormon preserves a prophecy of Joseph of Egypt (2 Ne. 3:5-21) wherein the Lord promised Joseph that "a choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins…[to bring] them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers" (2 Ne. 3:7). The "work" of this seer includes bringing forth a record written by Joseph's descendants that will be joined to a record from the tribe of Judah, to bring Israelites "to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord" (2 Ne. 3:11-12). The record from Joseph's lineage is the Book of Mormon and that from Judah's is the Bible (cf. Ezek. 37:15-23; see also Book of Mormon, Biblical Prophecies About). The prophecy states that the seer "shall be called after me [Joseph]; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me" (2 Ne. 3:15). For Latter-day Saints, this seer is Joseph Smith. Moreover, the Book of Mormon is an instrument for bringing about the restoration of gospel covenants and Israel's gathering. About 600 B.C. the Lord spoke to Nephi 1 concerning both the Gentiles and Nephi's posterity: "I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; …behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb. And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb" (1 Ne. 13:35-36). On the title page of the Book of Mormon, one finds these words written about A.D. 400 stating the purpose of the work: "Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever" (see Book of Mormon: Title Page From Book of Mormon).

The gathering of Israel could not proceed until the restoration of the keys or authorization for this effort. On April 3, 1836 (Passover time), both Moses and Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple, Elijah restoring the sealing powers for turning the hearts of the children to the promises made to their ancestors (cf. Mal. 4:5-6; D&C 2:1-3; JS-H 1:38-39) and Moses the keys for gathering Israel (D&C 110:11, 13-16; cf. TPJS, pp. 337-38; PWJS, pp. 186-87).

LAND OF ISRAEL. While the phrase "land of Israel" is used relatively infrequently in the earlier parts of the Old Testament and is likely the work of a later hand (e.g., 1 Sam. 13:19; 2 Kgs. 5:2), the concept of a definable land given to Israel as an inheritance is at least as old as Abraham (e.g., Gen. 12:7; Abr. 2:6; see also Promised Land, Concept of a). Furthermore, it is clear that continued obedience was required for retaining possession of it. For the Lord promised Abraham-with a caution-that his descendants would receive a "land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice" (Abr. 2:6; cf. also Lev. 18:25-28; Jer. 16:12-13).

The concept of multiple lands of inheritance is taught in the Book of Mormon. This plurality of territories is joined to the notion of inheritance, as expressed by Isaiah. In most cases, the Book of Mormon writer cites Isaiah about the gathering of Israel to its lands. For instance, Jacob predicted that the house of Israel "shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise" (2 Ne. 9:2,after quoting Isa. 49:24-52:2; cf. 2 Ne. 6:11;10:7-8). Significantly, in each instance a spiritual transformation of Israel is to accompany the gathering to lands: "And they shall be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel" (1 Ne. 22:12). Again, God "has spoken unto the Jews, by the mouth of his holy prophets, even from the beginning [and will continue]…until the time comes that they shall be restored to the true church and fold of God" (2 Ne. 9:2; cf. 30:2; 3 Ne. 16:4;20:13, 31).

The resurrected Jesus stated that there are at least two lands to which descendants of the house of Israel are to be gathered. To hearers of the lineage of Joseph in the Western Hemisphere, he declared that "the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance" (3 Ne. 20:14; cf. 20:22; Ether 13:6-10). Concerning the Jews, the risen Jesus said, "I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people…[that] I would give unto them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance, which is the land of Jerusalem, which is the Promised Land unto them forever, saith the Father" (3 Ne. 20:29; cf. Ether 13:5, 11). Latter-day scripture indicates that the ten tribes will come first to the Americas, where they will "be crowned with glory, even in Zion" (D&C 133:26-34) and then will inherit the land of their ancestors (3 Ne. 20-21).

STATE OF ISRAEL. LDS leaders have viewed the creation of the modern state of Israel in the Middle East as a consequential world event but not as the complete fulfillment of prophecy. After noting the glory of God's work yet to be done among all branches of Israel and after discussing the redemption promised to Judah, Bruce R. McConkie, an apostle, wrote of the present immigration of a few million Jewish people to the Holy Land, "Is this the latter-day gathering of which the scriptures speak? No! It is not…. [It] is nonetheless part of divine plan" of a more complete gathering yet to occur (p. 229).


Hunter, Howard W. "All Are Alike unto God." Ensign 9 (June 1979):72-74.

McConkie, Bruce R. The Millennial Messiah, pp. 182-329. Salt Lake City, 1982.

Nelson, Russell M. "Thanks for the Covenant." Devotional and Fireside Speeches [BYU], 1988 -89, pp. 53-61. Provo, Utah, 1989.

Toronto, James A. Review of Abraham Divided: An LDS Perspective on the Middle East, by Daniel C. Peterson. BYU Studies 34:1 (1994):103-111.



Israel: Scattering of Israel


The scattering of Israel, as foretold throughout the Bible and the Book of Mormon, is evidence of fulfilled prophecy. On the one hand, Abraham received promises that his children would possess a dwelling place as long as they remained faithful to God's commands (Abr. 2:6); on the other, prophets from Moses on warned that spiritual rebellion would lead to their removal from the Promised Land (Lev. 18:26-28;26:21-33). During the divided monarchy, Israelite prophets pled for a return to neglected covenants to assure the Lord's promised protection (e.g., Hosea 6:1-3; Amos 5:4-9; Isa. 49;50:1-3;51-52; Jer. 3:12-19;18:11). After they rejected prophetic warnings, both Israel and Judah were scattered.

The scattering occurred in three primary phases: (1) the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom of ten of the tribes of Israel (c. 722 B.C.); (2) the Babylonian captivity of the kingdom of Judah (c. 587 B.C.); and (3) the destruction of the Judean state and second temple by Rome (A.D. 66-70). While other cases of scattering occurred, these phases accomplished the Lord's purposes of punishing his covenant people by scattering them; but he mercifully made preparation for gathering their descendants in the latter years when they "come to the knowledge of their Redeemer" (2 Ne. 6:8-14).

Numerous references to Israel's scattering appear in scripture. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nephi 1, and others wrote much concerning it (e.g., Isa. 50-53; Jer. 3;18; Ezek. 6:8-10;11-12;36; 2 Ne. 10). Perhaps the most notable of these is the prophecy of Zenos given "unto the house of Israel" and cited in the Book of Mormon by Jacob, son of Lehi (Jacob 5). In language similar to Isaiah 5:1-7 and echoed in Romans 11:17-24, Zenos compared the history of the house of Israel to an olive tree planted in a vineyard, likening it to a "tame olive tree" that begins to decay. Gentiles, represented in Zenos' allegory as branches from a wild olive tree, were grafted onto the tame tree to preserve its natural fruit. Servants assisted the lord of the vineyard in providing the best conditions for growth-digging, pruning, fertilizing, and finally transplanting, grafting, and pruning. Meanwhile, they planted branches of the mother tree in remote parts of the orchard. In three "visits" to the vineyard (Jacob 5:4, 16, 30), the lord and his servants labored to produce desirable olives that could be stored for "the season, which speedily cometh" (5:76). Finally, the desired fruit appeared, which greatly pleased the lord of the vineyard (5:38-75).

Joseph Fielding Smith, a modern apostle, summed up this allegory thus: "It records the history of Israel down through the ages, the scattering of the tribes to all parts of the earth; …or in other words the mixing of the blood of Israel among the Gentiles by which the great blessings and promises of the Lord to Abraham are fulfilled" (Answers to Gospel Questions, Salt Lake City, 1963, Vol. 4, pp. 141-42).

Book of Mormon prophets and the resurrected Savior also spoke of the scattering. Reflecting on his people's situation in a new land, Nephi 1 noted that they were part of scattered Israel that would one day be gathered (1 Ne. 22:3-5, 7-12). Jacob observed, "We have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land" (2 Ne. 10:20-22). The resurrected Jesus told hearers in the Americas that though the prophesied scattering was not yet complete, the promised gathering was certainly forthcoming (3 Ne. 20:11-18, 29-46;21:1-9, 26-29).

The scattering of Israel interests Latter-day Saints because of the promise of the latter-day gathering, which began in 1829 when the Lord restored the priesthood through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Then, on April 3, 1836, Moses appeared and gave the keys, or authorization, of gathering to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple. Today, commissioned by those with priesthood authority, missionaries gather latter-day Israel back to the covenant, to acceptance of their Redeemer, teaching them in the nations to which their ancestors were long ago dispersed.


Jackson, Kent P. "Nourished by the Good Word of God." In Studies in Scripture, ed. K. Jackson, Vol. 7, pp. 185-95. Salt Lake City, 1987.

Richards, LeGrand. Israel, Do You Know? Salt Lake City, 1982.



Israel: Lost Tribes of Israel


Events leading to the separation of the ten tribes of Israel-later known as the ten lost tribes-are linked to the division of the Israelite monarchy (c. 930 B.C.). Following their upstart king, Jeroboam, the northern kingdom of Israel apostatized from covenants they had made with the Lord (1 Kgs. 12:26-30). Isaiah warned that the Assyrian army would become "the rod of [God's] anger" (Isa. 10:5); the prophecy was fulfilled when the Assyrians took most of the people in the northern tribes into captivity (2 Kgs. 17:23). For latter-day saints, the lost tribes are Israelites other than either the Jewish people or the Lamanites of the Book of Mormon (2 Ne. 29:13). LDS sources provide some information about their situation and announce that descendants of these lost tribes will be vitally involved in events of the last days.

The Lord revealed through Old Testament prophets that the ten tribes would return and receive promised blessings. Isaiah prophesied "that the Lord shall set his hand again…to recover the remnant of his people" (Isa. 11:11). Jeremiah declared that "remnants" would come from "the land of the north" (Jer. 3:18;16:14-15; cf. 23:7-8; 31:8) and that the Lord would "make a new covenant" with them (Jer. 31:31).

Book of Mormon prophets affirmed that the Lord had not forgotten the ten tribes, and that they are keeping records that will yet be revealed (2 Ne. 29:12-14). When the resurrected Jesus Christ appeared in the Americas, he spoke of being commanded of the Father to minister unto the lost tribes, "for they are not lost unto the Father" (3 Ne. 17:4). Jesus also promised that the Lord's redemptive work in the last days would include "the tribes which have been lost" (3 Ne. 21:26).

For the lost tribes to receive their promised blessings in the last days, priesthood keys or authorization had to be restored. On April 3, 1836, Moses appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple and committed to them the "keys of the gathering of Israel…and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north" (D&C 110:11). These keys still rest with the president of the church. In time, the ten tribes are to be "crowned with glory…by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim" (D&C 133:26-34). Elder James E. Talmage also affirmed that "the tribes shall come; they are not lost unto the Lord; they shall be brought forth as hath been predicted" (CR [Oct. 1916]:76). Plainly, according to scripture and teachings of LDS leaders, descendants of the lost tribes-wherever they may be-have continued to receive divine attention and will receive future blessings.


Smith, Joseph Fielding. The Way to Perfection, chap. 20. Salt Lake City, 1968.

Talmage, James E. "The Dispersion of Israel." In AF, pp. 314-29.



Israel: Gathering of Israel


Latter-day Saints "believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; [and] that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent" (A of F 10). In the LDS perspective, gathering Israel in the latter days consists of the following: (1) the spiritual gathering, which includes coming to know that Jesus is the Christ and joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; (2) the assembling of Church members to organized stakes; and (3) the gathering of the descendants of Jacob's twelve sons-including the lost ten tribes (D&C 110:11)-to the lands of their inheritance. These gatherings are necessary because of ancient apostasies that resulted in the dispersion of Israel into all nations (Deut. 4:27;28:64; Jer. 16:13; Hosea 9:17).

Israelite prophets, foreseeing Israel's scattering, also foretold her gathering in the last days (1 Kgs. 22:17; Jer. 31:7-12;32:37-40; Ezek. 36:24; etc.). According to isaiah, Israel will come to know that the Lord is Savior, be gathered again, direct her own affairs, and rebuild Jerusalem (Isa. 52:1-2; D&C 113:7-10). Anciently, the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and Isaiah prophesied a future recovery of Israel from many lands (Isa. 11:11-13; cf. 2 Ne. 6:14; TPJS, pp. 14-15; Benson, 1977, pp. 137-38).

The spiritual gathering of Israel through conversion to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is to be accomplished by the elders of the Church (D&C 133:8) who are set apart and sent out as "fishers" and "hunters" to "hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks" (Jer. 16:16) and to call them to Zion and her stakes (D&C 133:4-9; Isa. 54).

The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants are seen as tools "to gather out mine elect" from all the earth (Moses 7:62; Benson, Ensign 16 [Nov. 1986]:78-80). The risen Jesus declared "that when the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled…then is the fulfilling of the covenant" that the Father made to gather Israel (3 Ne. 20:11-13). Further, he proclaimed that the Book of Mormon would come forth as a sign that scattered Israel was about to be gathered (3 Ne. 20-21). Nephi 1 quoted Isaiah 48 and 49, which he regarded as a herald of Israel's future gathering and glory (1 Ne. 20-22).

The priesthood keys, or authorization, to gather Israel were restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple. "Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north" (D&C 110:11). This authority is now held by the president of the church. That portion of Israel known as the Ten Tribes will yet be led from the north. Their gathering will be accomplished in part as they are converted to the Lord, receive the blessings of the gospel, and return to "the land of their ancient inheritance" (McConkie, 1982, pp. 321, 324-26).

Both the spiritual and the literal characteristics of gathering were emphasized by the Lord in the following interpretation of the parable of the wheat and tares: "I must gather together my people, according to the parable of the wheat and the tares, that the wheat may be secured in the garners to possess eternal life, and be crowned with celestial glory" (D&C 101:65; also 86:7-10). Joseph Smith declared that in all ages the divine purpose of gathering is to build temples so that the Lord's children can receive the highest ordinances and thereby gain eternal life (TPJS, pp. 307-308, 314).

The gathering of Israel continues in the post-earthly spirit world where Christ "organized his forces and appointed messengers…and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men" so that they too may be gathered (D&C 138:30, 34; cf. 1 Pet. 3:18-19). In the implementation of this gathering, ordinances such as baptism and confirmation are performed in latter-day temples by Church members on behalf of the dead (cf. 1 Cor. 15:29).

The physical gathering of Israel is a concomitant of the spiritual gathering. The Lord's servants are to unite and "come forth to Zion, or to her stakes, the places of thine appointment" (D&C 109:39). In 1830 the Lord commanded the Saints to gather into "one place" (D&C 29:8), the first place being in Ohio. In July of 1831 he revealed that "the land of Missouri" was "appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints" and independence, Missouri, was established as the "center place" (D&C 57:1-3). In 1838, after the Church had expanded, the Lord spoke of "gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes" (D&C 115:6; cf. Isa. 54:2-3; D&C 101:21-22).

Missionaries were sent out after the Church was organized (1830) to gather both spiritual and bloodline Israel. In the spirit of gathering, many converts immigrated from the eastern states, Canada, Britain, and Western Europe, first to Ohio, then Missouri, Illinois, and eventually the Great Basin. Between 1840 and 1890, more than eighty thousand converts came from continental Europe and fifty-five thousand from Great Britain (P. A. M. Taylor, Expectations Westward [Edinburgh, 1965], p. 144).

At the turn of the century and thereafter, converts were no longer asked to immigrate to America and the West. As Spencer W. Kimball reemphasized, converts were to remain in their own lands, where stakes of Zion would be established and temples built, allowing members all the privileges of the gospel in their native countries. He urged the Saints to establish "multiple Zions" and to gather together in their own "culture and nation" (Kimball, pp. 438-40; cf. Palmer, pp. 33-42).

The gathering of Israel includes the Lamanites. To their ancestors in the Americas, the resurrected Jesus promised: "This people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob" (3 Ne. 20:22, 25;21:1-7).

The gathering of Jews to the state of Israel will continue. Joseph Smith's associates and successors predicted that their initial gathering would be in unbelief (JD 4:232; 11:245; 18:64-66; cf. 16:352; 18:225). Elder Bruce R. McConkie calls this a "gathering of the unconverted to Palestine…a political gathering" (1982, pp. 229-30). This "preliminary gathering" is to precede Christ's coming to the Jews on the Mount of Olives, when he will personally manifest himself to them (2 Ne. 6:14; cf. Zech. 13:6; D&C 45:48-53; JS-M 1:37).

The land of Canaan was promised to Abraham and his posterity on condition of their righteousness (Abr. 2:6), a promise later reiterated to Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 12:7;26:3;35:12). Of the descendants of Jacob, the Jews have maintained their identity throughout the ages. As descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the people of Judah are to return to their ancestral lands (D&C 109:64). At the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith pled with the Lord that "the children of Judah may begin to return to the lands which thou didst give to Abraham, their father" (D&C 109:62-64). Orson Hyde, an early apostle, was called and ordained by Joseph Smith to dedicate Palestine for the return of the Jews. On October 24, 1841, Hyde climbed the Mount of Olives, prayed to "dedicate and consecrate this land…for the gathering together of Judah's scattered remnants," and erected a mound of stones to commemorate the event (HC 4:456-59).

The Book of Mormon states that the Jews "shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth" (2 Ne. 10:8; cf. 25:15-17). Moreover, Mormon, editor and compiler of the Book of Mormon, declared that "ye need not any longer hiss, nor spurn, nor make game of the Jews, nor any of the remnant of the house of Israel; for behold, the Lord remembereth his covenant unto them, and he will do unto them according to that which he hath sworn" (3 Ne. 29:8). [See also Zionism.]


Benson, Ezra Taft. "A Message to Judah from Joseph." Ensign 6 (Dec. 1976):67-72.

Benson, Ezra Taft. This Nation Shall Endure. Salt Lake City, 1977.

Kimball, Spencer W. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball. Salt Lake City, 1982.

McConkie, Bruce R. "Come: Let Israel Build Zion." Ensign 7 (May 1977):115-18.

McConkie, Bruce R. The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man. Salt Lake City, 1982.

Palmer, Spencer J. The Expanding Church. Salt Lake City, 1978.

Talmage, James E. "The Gathering of Israel." In AF, pp. 328-44.

Van Dyke, Blair G. and LaMar C. Berrett. "In the Footsteps of Orson Hyde: Subsequent Dedications of the Holy Land." BYU Studies 47:1 (2008):57-94.