Moses 3

Moses 3:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them

"All the host of them" means all the human souls destined for this earth.  It could also mean all the animal souls destined for this earth.  If so, how were they finished already?  The answer is that chapter 1 of Genesis speaks of the spiritual creation, "For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were created naturally upon the face of the earth." (Moses 3:5)  All humankind was born spiritually to divine parentage before the earth was created temporally, "the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created." (D&C 77:2.)  

The Lord asked Job about this saying, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding... When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job. 38:4-7)  Where was Job?  He was one of the billions of the hosts of men, one of the morning stars, one of the sons of God who shouted for joy that God had laid the spiritual foundations of the earth.

Joseph Fielding Smith

From this we learn that all the hosts of the heavens and the earth that were finished, (i.e. created.) were created in the spirit and were in heaven where they remained until the earth was prepared to receive them. From this we learn of the pre-existence, not only of plants and herbs, but of animals and mankind. (Man, His Origin and Destiny [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 285)

Rulon S. Wells

We lived in another world before this world was made, as the children of God, the spirit children of God.

Let us visualize, if we can, the scenes in heaven in that first estate of man, before the world was when the Lord had looked out upon this great expanse, and darkness covered the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and God said, "Let there be light," and there was light, and the universe was ablaze with it. First, the creation spiritual, which of necessity must precede the natural creation...

And now let us visualize the Lord standing in the midst of his assembled sons and daughters, unfolding to them his almighty purposes with regard to the salvation and exaltation of his children, the plan covering both their spirit life in heaven and the natural life on earth in bodies of flesh and bones; the two estates of man. (Conference Report, October 1937, Afternoon Meeting 117)

Moses 3:2 I God, ended my work... and I rested on the seventh day

If God needs a break after six days of work, then surely we need one as well!  Often, those who don't want to rest on the seventh day are those who didn't really work the last six.  Man needs the rest more than God does; man also needs the work more than God does. 

Moses 3:3 I, God, blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it

"There are two marks of the Sabbath, as set forth in the divine command. It should be a day of rest; and it should be kept holy. These two requirements, coming with such emphasis, must have special significance in the life of man." (Improvement Era, 1940, Vol. Xliii. August, 1940. No. 8)

Spencer W. Kimball

In Hebrew the term Sabbath means "rest." It contemplates quiet tranquility, peace of mind and spirit. It is a day to get rid of selfish interests and absorbing activities.

The Sabbath day is given throughout the generations of man for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between the Lord and his children forever. It is a day in which to worship and to express our gratitude and appreciation to the Lord. It is a day on which to surrender every worldly interest and to praise the Lord humbly, for humility is the beginning of exaltation. It is a day not for affliction and burden but for rest and righteous enjoyment. It is a day not for lavish banqueting, but a day of simple meals and spiritual feasting; not a day of abstinence from food, except fast day, but a day when maid and mistress might be relieved from the preparation. It is a day graciously given us by our Heavenly Father. It is a day when animals may be turned out to graze and rest; when the plow may be stored in the barn and other machinery cooled down; a day when employer and employee, master and servant may be free from plowing, digging, toiling. It is a day when the office may be locked and business postponed, and troubles forgotten; a day when man may be temporarily released from that first injunction, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground." (Genesis 3:19.) It is a day when bodies may rest, minds relax, and spirits grow. It is a day when songs may be sung, prayers offered, sermons preached, and testimonies borne, and when man may climb high, almost annihilating time, space, and distance between himself and his Creator. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 215)

Joseph F. Smith

Thou shalt honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Do we do it? Is it necessary to do it? It is absolutely necessary to do so in order that we may be in harmony with God's law and commandments; and whenever we transgress that law or that commandment we are guilty of transgressing the law of God. And what will be the result, if we continue? Our children will follow in our footsteps; they will dishonor the command of God to keep one day holy in seven; and will lose the spirit of obedience to the laws of God and his requirements, just as the father will lose it if he continues to violate the commandments. (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 402)

Ezra Taft Benson

I believe in honoring the Sabbath day. I love a sacred Sabbath. I am grateful that as a boy I had a constant example and sound parental counsel as to the importance of keeping the Sabbath day a holy day. My memories of the Sabbath from infancy have been joyful, uplifting, and spiritually profitable, for which I am deeply grateful.

I am grateful for the Sabbath day. I sometimes wonder what I would do without it. I mean that literally. A day of rest, but more than a day of rest-a day of prayer, a day of worship, a day of devotion, a day to be spiritually fed, a day to reflect on the purpose of life and the privileges, opportunities, and obligations which are ours as members of the Church. (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 440)

Ezra Taft Benson

Sunday is a wonderful day, but how much more wonderful might it be if honored as a sacred Sabbath. Man has tried on several occasions to change God's law of the Sabbath, but each attempt has resulted in failure.

In the 19th century, England and France decided to observe the Sabbath only every twenty-one days in order that they might have time to build up their war-torn countries. After a trial period, however, a careful check showed that they had accomplished less total work than when they had rested every seventh day as the Lord prescribed. ("Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy," Ensign, May 1971, 5)

Moses 3:5 Every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew

Brigham Young

They [the Gods] came here, organized the raw material, and arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth. The thistle, and thorn, the brier, and the obnoxious weed did not appear until after the earth was cursed. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 1: 51)

Parley P. Pratt

A Royal Planter now descends from yonder world of older date, and bearing in his hand the choice seeds of the older Paradise, he plants them in the virgin soil of our new-born earth. They grow and flourish there, and, bearing seed, replant themselves, and thus clothe the naked earth with scenes of beauty and the air with fragrant incense. Ripening fruits and herbs at length abound. (Key to the Science of Theology/A Voice of Warning [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1965], 54 - 55)

Moses 3:5 I... created all things... spiritually before they were naturally upon the face of the earth

 "This teaching that spirits were created in heaven before they gained bodies on earth should instruct Christians, who usually assume that the spirits or souls of men are created at the time of birth." (Keith Meservy, "Four Accounts of the Creation," Ensign, Jan. 1986, 52)

Bruce R. McConkie

Clearly he is speaking of the premortal existence of all things. This earth, all men, animals, fish, fowls, plants, all things-all lived first as spirit entities. Their home was heaven, and the earth was created to be the place where they could take upon themselves mortality. ("Christ and the Creation," Ensign, June 1982, 13)

Joseph Fielding Smith

All were created before the foundation of this world was prepared-created spiritually-and existed in the kingdom of God. When the earth was formed and ready to receive them they were clothed with bodies that were physical and thus not only man, but the animals and the plants upon the face of the earth, became living souls, because they were composed of the spirit and the body combined. I like to believe this. I know it is true. It appeals to my reason, it appeals to my spirit, I accept it as the truth which God has revealed, and I rejoice in the knowledge that I have received regarding it. There is no theory in the world that can compare with it. These ideas of men, their foolish doctrines regarding the origin of life... are taught in many of the schools. (Conference Report, October 1917, Third Day-Morning Session 71)

Moses 3:5 I... had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground

Boyd K. Packer

No more profound truth has been conveyed to us in the restoration than the knowledge of our premortal existence. No other church knows or teaches this truth. (Todd B. Parker and Robert Norman, "Moses: Witness of Jesus Christ," Ensign, Apr. 1998, 29)

Boyd K. Packer

The doctrine is so logical, so reasonable, and explains so many things that it is a wonder that the Christian world rejected it. It is so essential a part of the equation of life that, if it is left out, life just cannot add up; it remains a mystery.

The doctrine is simply this: Life did not begin with mortal birth. We lived in spirit form before we entered mortality. We are spiritually the children of God.

This doctrine of premortal life was known to ancient Christians. For nearly five hundred years the doctrine was taught, but it was then rejected as a heresy by a clergy that had slipped into the Dark Ages of apostasy.

Once they rejected this doctrine, the doctrine of premortal life, and the doctrine of redemption for the dead, they could never unravel the mystery of life. It was as if they were trying to assemble a strand of pearls on a string that was too short. There was no way they could put them all together.

Why is it so strange a thought that we lived as spirits before entering mortality? Christian doctrine proclaims the resurrection, meaning that we will live after mortal death. If we live beyond death, why should it be strange that we lived before birth?

The Christian world in general accepts the idea that our condition in the resurrection will be determined by our actions in this life. Why can they not believe that some circumstances in this life were determined by our actions before coming into mortality?

The scriptures teach this doctrine, the doctrine of premortal life. For His own reasons, the Lord provides answers to some questions with pieces placed here and there throughout the scriptures. We are to find them; we are to earn them. In that way sacred things are hidden from the insincere. (Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991], 225)

Moses 3:7 the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground

This statement, that God formed man "from the dust of the ground" becomes more and more significant as time passes.  It implies that God took elements and material from this earth to form the physical tabernacle of Adam.  The doctrine has been disregarded by some members of the church.  For instance, William E. Evenson, in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism states, "The scriptures tell why man was created, but they do not tell how." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 478)  "Some Mormons propose that the natural body could have been prepared through the process of evolution."  (Trent D. Stephens and D Jeffrey Meldrum, Evolution and Mormonism, [Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 2001], p. 10)  Others have taught that man was transplanted from another sphere. (Ibid, 34-40)

These ideas are heady and thought provoking, but they conflict with the scriptural record.  It is not just the book of Genesis that states that man was formed of the dust of the ground.  The same language is used in the books of Moses and Abraham (Moses 3:7; Abraham 5:7).  The temple ceremony also teaches this doctrine.  Therefore, we have 4 doctrinal witnesses that man was formed of the dust of the earth.  If a doctrine is established in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses, then can we discount a doctrine that is established by the mouth of 4 separate witnesses?

Do the scriptures tell how man was created?  Yes.  The account may be abbreviated but it tells the story, "God formed man of the dust of the ground."  Hence the significance of the phrase, "dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Gen. 3:19) Consider the alternative scriptural renditions, "the Lord God brought forth man as the offspring of the most perfect of the beasts of the field."  Or would you prefer the scripture to read, "the Lord God brought man from nigh unto Kolob and placed him in the Garden of Eden."  How about, "the Lord God descended into the Garden and begat a son he named Adam."  If these scriptures sound ridiculous, then how can we accept the theories of men that teach these doctrines?

Bruce R. McConkie

Those natural elements that make up the physical earth are sometimes referred to in the scriptures as dust. Thus Adam was created from the dust of the ground meaning that the physical body which he received was created from the elements of the earth. (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 209)

Harold B. Lee

I was somewhat sorrowed recently to hear someone, a sister who comes from a Church family, ask, "What about the pre-Adamic people?" Here was someone who I thought was fully grounded in the faith.

I asked, "What about the pre-Adamic people?"

She replied, "Well, aren't there evidences that people preceded the Adamic period of the earth?"

I said, "Have you forgotten the scripture that says, 'And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also'? (Moses 3:7.)"  I asked, "Do you believe that?"

She wondered about the Creation because she had read the theories of the scientists, and the question that she was really asking was: How do you reconcile science with religion? The answer must be, If science is not true, you cannot reconcile truth with error.

Missionaries going out into the field often ask how we reconcile the teachings of the scriptures with the teachings of the scientists in accordance with the temple ordinances. In reply I occasionally refer to the revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Kirtland in 1833, concerning the great event that is to take place at the commencement of the millennial reign when the Lord shall come; the Lord said: "Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things-things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof-things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven" (D&C 101:32-34). Then I say, "If you and I are there when the Lord reveals all this, then I'll answer your questions-how the earth was made, how man came to be placed upon the earth. Until that time all we have is the support and security that we have in the scriptures, and we must accept the rest by faith."  (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 346)

Moses 3:7 man became a living soul

Rudger Clawson

Our earthly parents furnish our bodies, and our Heavenly Parents furnish our spirits, and the spirit and the body joined together constitute the soul of man. Hence the children of men are living souls. It so appears from the very beginning, at the time of man's creation. The record says: "God created man of the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living soul." He was never a living soul until that moment. What was he? A living spirit-whose habitation was in heaven. But when the body was created from the dust of the earth God put the spirit into the body, and man became a living soul, a child of God. (Conference Report, October 1930, Afternoon Meeting 76)

Thomas S. Monson

God made a computer once, constructing it with infinite care and precision exceeding that of all the scientists combined. Using clay for the main structure, he installed within it a system for the continuous intake of information of all kinds and descriptions, by sight, hearing, and feeling; a circulatory system to keep all channels constantly clean and serviceable; a digestive system to preserve its strength and vigor in perpetuity; and a nervous system to keep all parts in constant communication and coordination. Lying there on the ground in the Garden of Eden, it far surpassed the finest modern computer and was equally dead. It was equipped to memorize and calculate and work out the most complex equation, but there was something lacking.

Then God drew near and "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7.)

This is why man has powers no modern computer possesses or ever will possess. God gave man life and with it the power to think and reason and decide and love. With such power given to you and to me, mastery of self becomes a necessity if we are to have the abundant life. (Pathways to Perfection [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], 130)

Moses 3:8 I, the Lord God, planted a garden eastward in Eden

The significance of the geographical description "eastward in Eden" is lost.  We are unfamiliar with the differences between the eastern and western parts of Eden, except perhaps that there was a garden in the eastern part.  We at least know that Eden was located in the American continent, before the flood, and before the continents separated (D&C 116).

Moses 3:9, 19 every tree... became also a living soul... every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air... were also living souls

The Doctrine and Covenants teaches us the definition of the soul, "the spirit and the body are the soul of man" (D&C 88:15).  If the dual nature of spirit and body in man constitutes the soul, then the same principle should apply to the rest of God's creations.  To rephrase, "the spirit and the body are the soul" of all trees and plants; "the spirit and the body are the soul" of all the beasts, fowls, etc.

Joseph Fielding Smith

Question: "Do animals have spirits? If so, will they obtain the resurrection, and if so, where will they go?"

Answer: The simple answer is that animals do have spirits and that through the redemption made by our Savior they will come forth in the resurrection to enjoy the blessing of immortal life. The Bible as it has come to us through numerous translations and copies does not contain the information concerning the immortality of the animal world in the clearness which, without any doubt, it was invested with the pure inspiration of the revelations of the Lord. However, there are some passages which still remain bearing witness to the eternal nature of the animal world. Among these are the following:

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. . . .
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. (Genesis 2:1, Gen. 2:54-5.)

Then, before death came upon the world, the Lord planted a garden for Adam and Eve and placed all manner of cattle and living creatures on the earth, as well as vegetation. When Adam transgressed the commandment, all things upon the earth became subject to death, as well as Adam and Eve, and the earth itself partook of this fall.

In the restoration of the original scriptures to the Prophet Joseph Smith we are given a clearer picture of conditions both before and after the fall. This is the account as it was written by Moses:

And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and of the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and the earth.
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;
But I, the Lord God, spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. (Moses 3:4-6.)

Then to make the matter perfectly clear, the Lord added this:

And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it. And it became also a living soul. For it was spiritual in the day that I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God created it, yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man; and man saw that it was good for food. . . . (Ibid., 3:9.)

When the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith many things concerning the millennium and the events which should precede and follow it, he gave the following:

 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you that when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season;
And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.
For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea;
And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand. (D. & C. 29:22-25.)

(Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 2: 50)

Moses 3:9  I, the Lord God, planted the tree of life

Is the tree of life literal or just figurative?  Does it have any significance for our eternal destiny?  In Lehi's dream, the tree he saw was discussed in more detail (1 Ne. 8:11-12).  It was white in color, sweet to the taste, joyous to the soul, and representative of the love of God (1 Ne. 11).  The partakers who don't fall away are the recipients of eternal life. The tree seems just figurative at this point.  In the garden, however, we must believe there was in reality a literal "tree of life."

After Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden, they are restricted from partaking of the fruit of this tree.  It would have made them immortal in a sinful state. "For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever... having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated" (Alma 41:5).  Had Adam partaken of the tree of life after his fall, he would have had instant immortality. On the surface, this sounds great! But he would have been immortal in a fallen state. He would have condemned himself to eternity in a telestial existence with its spontaneous thorns and thistles and food supply contingent upon the sweat of the brow (Moses 4:23-25). This was not according to the Lord's plan and could not be allowed.

What about before the Fall?  Before the Fall, it would seem Adam and Eve regularly ate the fruit of the tree of life.  Perhaps even the immortal body requires sustenance and replenishment.  This idea is expounded upon in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

"From earliest times, people in many cultures have venerated trees because they are majestic and, compared to a person's life span, seemingly immortal... The most important attribute ascribed to the Tree of Life by those for whom such a symbol existed was its ability to provide immortality to those who ate its fruit. The Tree of Life was present in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9) and is a standard symbol in ancient temples, as well as in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It will be present at the end and its fruit available to eat 'for him that overcometh' (Rev. 2:7)." (Martin Raish, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 1486)

Recipients of the celestial glory may need to eat of this tree in a very literal way.  Why else would the tree be present in the holy city, "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." (Rev. 22:2)

There was a literal tree in the Garden of Eden.  Surely, Adam and Eve freely partook of its fruit prior to the Fall.  They will partake of it again when enthroned in celestial glory as the primal father and mother of our race.  If we overcome as promised in the book of Revelation, then we too may enjoy the sweetness and joy of its immaculate fruit.

"Had Adam and Eve partaken of the fruit of the Tree of Life, the sentence of death brought upon them by partaking of the Tree of Knowledge would have been reversed. They would have lived forever in a sinful condition, separated from God. So he took the two away from Eden, away from the Tree of Life.

"We might suppose that Adam and Eve and their posterity, distracted by the labor necessary to support themselves outside the garden, would have eventually forgotten the life-giving tree in paradise. Quite the contrary. The tree of life seems to have continued throughout antiquity as a major religious symbol. In fact, man's quest to return to the tree of life in the paradise of God has never ceased." (C. Wilfred Griggs, "The Tree of Life in Ancient Cultures," Ensign, June 1988)

Moses 3:9  the tree of knowledge of good and evil

Sterling W. Sill

A flaming sword was placed in the Garden of Eden to guard the tree of life, but fortunately for us there is no flaming sword guarding the tree of knowledge, and everyone may eat to his heart's content. One of the distinguishing characteristics of our world is that it is full of opposites that must be decided, and one reason for having opposites is that we can always see light things best on a dark background. We have the contrasts of knowledge and ignorance, good and bad, success and failure, right and wrong, struggle and ease.

The great prophet Lehi said: "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so . . . righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad." (2 Nephi 2:11.)...

Above almost every other thing it is important that we be able to distinguish between good and evil. To help us to do this, God has given us a mind and a conscience as well as his own written direction on almost every important question in life.  (Principles, Promises, and Powers [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], 292)

Charles W. Penrose

The history of the fall is placed before us that we might understand this great principle of agency; the tree of life and the tree of death, the tree of light and the tree of darkness. The Lord has said to us in substance, "I have placed before you truth and error, choose which you will receive. You can receive the light or the darkness, you can receive the truth or the error as you please; but by and by you must give an account of your acts." We find ourselves here on this planet that God has created for us, a branch of his great family, and he has given us certain principles to govern ourselves by. He does not force them upon us. God will force no man to heaven or to hell; but if we choose we can lay hold of these principles and be governed thereby, and by doing that we will be improved in our nature in proportion to our reception of light and truth, and exaltation will come to us on this principle and no other. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 21: 354 - 355)

Bruce C. Hafen

In the beginning, the Lord God taught [His] vision of life's nature and purpose to Adam and Eve. To symbolize these teachings, he placed two trees in the Garden of Eden: the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. The fruit of the first tree seemed desirable, but it became bitter as it led to the knowledge of good and evil. The second tree was sweet, and it led to a fulness of Godlike life. We, like Adam and Eve, taste the bitter fruit of the first tree that we may know to prize the sweet fruit of the second tree.

The tree of knowledge (learning through mortal, sometimes bitter, experience) and the tree of life (the Father's sweet bestowal of forgiveness and a divine character) are both necessary for us to find fulfillment and meaning. Neither tree-neither force-is sufficient unless completed by the other.

The mortal learning experience, represented by the tree of knowledge, is so necessary that God placed cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the way of the tree of life until Adam and Eve completed, and we, their posterity, complete this preparatory schooling. Our tutorial is the gospel, a schoolmaster that brings us to Christ. But he cannot fully receive us and give us the gift of celestial life-partaking of God's very nature-until we have learned by our own experience to distinguish good from evil. In multiplied sorrow we must bring forth children. We must walk the earth through sharp thorns and poison thistles. The ground is cursed for our sakes. By the sweat of our faces must we eat bread until we return to the ground from whence we were taken.

This treacherous path led Adam and Eve through the valley of death and pain. It weighed them down with the toil of earthly experience, until they knelt before God in the depths of humility. Through faithful obedience and sacrifice, they learned, they repented, and they reached out to God through the veil of mortality with all the energy of their hearts.

Thus the tree of knowledge symbolizes the entire process by which Adam and Eve-and we-learn through the dreary loneliness of earthly experience. Partaking of the forbidden fruit was only the beginning of that process...

All of us, like Adam and Eve, must leave God's presence in the quest for knowledge and growth through personal experience. Our exploration will not cease until we return to his presence, prepared at last to grasp, to comprehend-to receive with full understanding of life's meaning-the endowment of a Godlike nature. This sacred gift, the greatest of all the gifts of God, transcends infinitely the limits of man's own power. Knowledge without obedience leads not to a final understanding of life's meaning, but to "sound and fury, signifying nothing." On the other hand, knowledge constrained by obedience to God and then fulfilled by the grace of God leads to meaning, sanctification, and eternal joy. (The Broken Heart: Applying the Atonement to Life's Experiences [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 30-33)

Moses 3:10-14 The rivers around Eden

"The Flood and subsequent cataclysms drastically changed the topography and geography of the earth.  The descendants of Noah evidently named some rivers, and perhaps other landmarks, after places they had known before the Flood.  This theory would explain why rivers in Mesopotamia now bear the names of rivers originally on the American continent.  It is also possible that some present river systems are remnants of the antediluvian river systems on the one great continent that existed then."  (Old Testament Institute Manual, Gen. - 2 Sam., [Salt Lake City, 1981], 33)

"These streams were named, beginning at the first: Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates. The River Gihon, the record says, 'encompassed the whole Land of Ethiopia' (v. 13), also that 'the fourth river was the Euphrates.' (v. 14.) It must be remembered that these names, or their Hebrew or Assyrian equivalents, are of great antiquity; greater, perhaps, than the story of the dispersion of mankind at the Tower of Babel. Is it not possible that both these names and the others mentioned-Pison and Hiddekel-were handed down by the immediate descendants of Noah who certainly were familiar with the story of the Garden? It is strictly in accord with human customs everywhere to name a new home after the old from which a wanderer may have been forced to flee, or to commemorate an important incident, as in the case at point, that occurred in the Patriarchal Dispensation." (George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1965], 131)

"It is likely that the four rivers of Eden (see Genesis 2:10-14) flowed outward from Eden toward the four cardinal directions-north, east, south, and west. Eden is depicted as being established at the center of the four rivers, perhaps providing the water source for the four rivers. The etymological meaning of the word templum (English "temple") has a direct connection with the four cardinal directions, a concept that has been well established by a number of authors.  Of special note in the narrative description of the rivers is that all four rivers are mentioned by name-Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, Euphrates-but only one of the four directions is mentioned by name. River number three flowed eastward, writes the author of Genesis. The directional flow of the other three rivers is unknown." (Donald W. Parry, ed., Temples of the Ancient World: Ritual and Symbolism [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., FARMS, 1994], 132 - 133)

Moses 3:15 the Lord God, took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep it

Apparently even in paradise, you still have to do some yard work.  The garden needed dressing and keeping.  In other words, Adam's care in the garden could make it more beautiful and pleasing to the eye than would the spontaneous eruption of life.  

Moses 3:17 in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die

Orson F. Whitney

Earth has labored six days but they are not days of twenty-four hours each. Joseph taught that there is a great planet named Kolob, nearest the Celestial Throne, and that it revolves once in a thousand years. That is a day with God. It was such a day that Adam was warned of when told: "The day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die;" for Adam, after eating of the forbidden fruit, lived to the age of nine hundred and thirty years. It was such a day that Peter had in mind when he wrote: "A day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (Conference Report, April 1920, Afternoon Session 123)

Bruce R. McConkie

The first death, in point of time, was spiritual. Spiritual death is to die as pertaining to the things of the Spirit; it is to die as pertaining to the things of righteousness; it is to be cast out of the presence of the Lord, in which presence spirituality and righteousness abound. Adam died this death when he left Eden, and he remained dead until he was born again by the power of the Spirit following his baptism.

Temporal death is the natural death. It consists of the separation of the body and the spirit, the one going to the grave, the other to a world of waiting spirits to await the day of resurrection. Adam died temporally within a thousand years, which is a day unto the Lord. (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 224)

Moses 3:18 it was not good that the man should be alone

Recent sociology confirms what the Lord revealed from the beginning of man-that man was never meant to be alone.  Since Adam, men have been both happier and healthier when married.

"A study earlier this year (2006) led by Linda Waite, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, showed that happily married couples tend to live longer than unwed individuals. Married men were found to live, on average, 10 years longer than non-married men, and married women lived about four years longer than non-married woman." (http://www.livescience.com/10468-extending-human-life-progress-promises.html)  Posted 24 May 2006 "Extending Human Life:  Progress and Promises"

"Significantly better health and lower stress are two more areas where married men outperform singletons. Not only does stress contribute to disease, but married men are less likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors like binge drinking and smoking. Married men eat healthier meals and are more likely to consult a doctor about worrisome symptoms. Marriage also lowers testosterone levels in men, which not only improves a man's response to environmental challenges, but reduces the tendency for risky behaviors as well, thereby making the consequences of acting like a macho idiot less of an issue.

More Money

"Married men [are] more likely to be promoted and receive higher performance appraisals at work, and earn between 10 and 40 percent more money than their single peers. The reason for this discrepancy is not clear, but it could have something to do with the major health benefits that come with marriage. After all, if a man is healthier, he's less likely to miss work and more able to follow through on career goals...

Happiness

"Humans do better emotionally when in a long-term, committed relationships, which is why more married men report being happy with their lives than their single counterparts. In fact, 40% of married men said they were happy, compared to only 25% of singles, which makes sense given the better health, better sex, lower stress, and more money. You'd probably be happier, too." (http://nakedhealth.avvo.com/2011/03/7-surprising-differences-between-single-and-married-men/) Posted March 21, 2011 in Men's Health

Neal A. Maxwell

The scriptures tell us: "It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18) and that is confirmed by volumes of sociological and behavioral data. The isolated individual is not only miserable himself but often seeks to make others as miserable as he. (A Time to Choose [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], 67)

Robert D. Hales

Those who are alone and lonely should not retreat to the sanctuary of their private thoughts and chambers. Such retreat will ultimately lead them into the darkening influence of the adversary, which leads to despondency, loneliness, frustration, and to thinking of themselves as worthless. After one thinks of himself as worthless, he then ofttimes turns to associates who corrode those delicate spiritual contacts, rendering their spiritual receiving antennas and transmitters useless. What good is it to associate with and ask advice of someone who is disoriented himself and only tells us what we want to hear? Isn't it better to turn to loving parents and friends who can help us reach for and attain celestial goals?

...When you attempt to live life's experiences alone, you are not being true to yourself, nor to your basic mission in life. Individuals in difficulty often say: "I'll do it alone," "Leave me alone," "I don't need you," "I can take care of myself." It has been said that no one is so rich that he does not need another's help, no one so poor as not to be useful in some way to his fellowman. The disposition to ask assistance from others with confidence, and to grant it with kindness, should be part of our very nature.

...I have also found in life that there is none too great to need the help of others. There is none so great that he can "do it alone." ("We Can't Do It Alone," New Era, Jan. 1977, 38; quote courtesy Brad Minick)

Spencer W. Kimball

Recently I met a young returned missionary who is 35 years old. He had been home from his mission for 14 years and yet he was little concerned about his bachelorhood, and laughed about it.

I shall feel sorry for this young man when the day comes that he faces the Great Judge at the throne and when the Lord asks this boy: "Where is your wife?" All of his excuses which he gave to his fellows on earth will seem very light and senseless when he answers the Judge. "I was very busy," or "I felt I should get my education first," or "I did not find the right girl"-such answers will be hollow and of little avail. He knew he was commanded to find a wife and marry her and make her happy. He knew it was his duty to become the father of children and provide a rich, full life for them as they grew up. He knew all this, yet postponed his responsibility. So we say to all youth regardless of what country is your home, and regardless of the customs in your country, your Heavenly Father expects you to marry for eternity and rear a good, strong family. ("The Marriage Decision," Ensign, Feb. 1975, 2)

Robert D. Hales

When we return to our Heavenly Father, he does not want us to come back alone. He wants us to return with honor with our families and those whom we have helped along the road of life. In preparing this message, it has become very clear to me that the true nature of the gospel plan is the interdependence we have upon one another in this life and the estate in which we now live. ("We Can't Do It Alone," New Era, Jan 1977, 35-37; quote courtesy Brad Minick)

Moses 3:18 I will make him an help meet for him

"The Lord, after creating Adam, saw that he was alone in the garden, and declared, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.' (Gen. 2:18.) As indicated in a footnote to Genesis 2:18 in the LDS edition of the Bible (note 18b), the Hebrew term for the phrase 'help meet for him' ('ezer kenegdo) literally means 'a helper suited to, worthy of, or corresponding to him.' The King James translators rendered this phrase 'help meet'-the word meet in sixteenth-century English meaning 'fitting' or 'proper.' It might be clearer if there were a comma after 'help'-'I will make him an help, meet for him.'

"The American Heritage Dictionary further explains: 'In the 17th century the two words help and meet in this passage were mistaken for one word, applying to Eve, and thus helpmeet came to mean a wife. Then in the 18th century, in a misguided attempt to make sense of the word, the spelling helpmate was introduced.' (Second college edition, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982, p. 604)

"Thus the original meaning of the phrase has been obscured." (David Rolph Seely, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Jan. 1994, 54)

Boyd K. Packer

It was declared in the very beginning that it was not good for man to be alone. A companion, or "helpmeet," was given him. The word meet means equal. Man and woman, together, were not to be alone. Together they constituted a fountain of life. While neither can generate life without the other, the mystery of life unfolds when these two become one.

From the very beginning the power to beget life was unlawful to express except there be a marriage between the man and the woman. Marriage is a covenant of lifelong fidelity and devotion which, by ordinance, may last for eternity.

The whole physical universe is organized in order that man and woman might fulfill the full measure of their creation. It is a perfect system where delicate balances and counter-balances govern the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual in mankind. ("A Tribute to Women," Ensign, July 1989, 73)

Moses 3:19 out of the ground I, the Lord God, formed every beast of the field

This statement argues against evolutionists who assert that God's method of creation included evolution.  If the scripture is true, it did not.  God made the beasts from the dust of the earth just as he made Adam and Eve.  Evolution has undoubtedly occurred, but it has occurred after the creation and not before.  Evolution is God's tool of adaptation and diversification for animal life.  It is not the explanation for the origin of man or beast.  It is the explanation for the variety of living organisms that have reproduced within the genetic bounds the Lord has set.  Yet, many have argued evolution was God's means for creation. 

The idea is called "Theistic Evolution."

"Theistic evolution or evolutionary creation is a concept that asserts that classical religious teachings about God are compatible with the modern scientific understanding about biological evolution. In short, theistic evolutionists believe that there is a God, that God is the creator of the material universe and (by consequence) all life within, and that biological evolution is simply a natural process within that creation. Evolution, according to this view, is simply a tool that God employed to develop human life... Proponents of this view are sometimes described as Christian Darwinists...

"This view is generally accepted by major Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and some mainline Protestant denominations; some Jewish denominations; and other religious groups that lack a literalist stance concerning some holy scriptures. Various biblical literalists have accepted or noted openness to this stance, including theologian B.B. Warfield and evangelist Billy Graham.

"With this approach toward evolution, scriptural creation stories are typically interpreted as being allegorical in nature. Both Jews and Christians have considered the idea of the creation history as an allegory (instead of a historical description) long before the development of Darwin's theory." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theistic_evolution) Updated 12 April, 2011

Moses 3:21 I, the Lord God, caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam

Charles A. Callis

Dr. Crawford W. Long declared that it was while reading this very passage in Genesis that the idea of the anesthetic ether occurred to him. (Conference Report, October 1934, Third Day-Morning Meeting 104 - 105)

Moses 3:21-22  the Lord God... took one of his ribs, and... made he a woman

Do you prefer a literal or figurative interpretation of creation events?  For the author, literalism should be taken as far as reason will allow.  For example, the supreme genetic Engineer knows that a single human rib has plenty of marrow, blood, and DNA material for manipulation. If a scientist were to try to clone another mammal, they could use the marrow DNA as a template for the clone.  The genetic engineer, with a few changes here and there, including a special addition to the 23rd chromosome, could produce a similar female counterpart.  The material is all there in one rib.  Whether or not this was God's means is debatable, but the DNA is there.

John A. Widtsoe

This statement was long and diligently interpreted, or misinterpreted, to mean that men had one rib fewer than women. It became a doctrine of the schools as well as of the church; and was taught for hundreds of years. It was, therefore, a shock to the people when Vesalius reported, from actual dissection, that men and women had the same number of ribs. In fact, the discovery cast considerable doubt upon Vesalius' theological orthodoxy!

The "rib" story is clearly a figure of speech, with a sound, reasonable meaning. Freed from false interpretation, it is a sensible statement, acceptable to thinking men. Every child born on earth is begotten by an earthly father. (An Understandable Religion [Independence, Mo.: Zion's Printing and Publishing Co., 1944], 134)

Harold B. Lee

In defining the relationship of a wife to her husband, the late President George Albert Smith put it this way: "In showing this relationship, by a symbolic representation, God didn't say that woman was to be taken from a bone in the man's head that she should rule over him, nor from a bone in his foot that she should be trampled under his feet, but from a bone in his side to symbolize that she was to stand by his side, to be his companion, his equal, and his helpmeet in all their lives together."

I fear some husbands have interpreted erroneously the statement that the husband is to be the head of the house and that his wife is to obey the law of her husband. Brigham Young's instruction to husbands was this: "Let the husband and father learn to bend his will to the will of his God, and then instruct his wives and children in this lesson of self-government by his example as well as by his precept." (Discourses of Brigham Young, Deseret Book Co., 1925, pp. 306-307)

This is but another way of saying that the wife is to obey the law of her husband only as he obeys the laws of God. No woman is expected to follow her husband in disobedience to the commandments of the Lord. (Ye Are the Light of the World: Selected Sermons and Writings of Harold B. Lee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974], chap. 34)

Moses 3:23 she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man

Gerald N. Lund

"This [I know] now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman." What is he doing? He's naming the last of God's creations, the crowning creation, and what does he call her? Woman, "because she was taken out of man" (v. 23). In Hebrew, the meaning is "female man." Adam seems to be saying, "It's a female me, literally." (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 99)

Moses 3:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother

"Referring to this scripture, President Spencer W. Kimball commented, 'Do you note that? She, the woman, occupies the first place. She is preeminent, even above the parents who are so dear to all of us. Even the children must take their proper but significant place.

"'I have seen some women who give their children that spot, that preeminence, in their affection and crowd out the father. That is a serious mistake.' (Ensign, Mar. 1976, p. 72.)

"It is all too common in modern times for husbands and wives to place various people or activities-work, recreation, extended family, even Church service-above their marital bond. This is not necessarily a conscious decision. However, the covenant made by Adam and Eve to leave parents and be one teaches us that successful couples will be careful to place each other first." (James M. Harper, " 'A Man ... Shall Cleave unto His Wife': Marriage and Family Advice from the Old Testament," Ensign, Jan. 1990, 28-29)

Moses 3:24 and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh

James E. Faust

The most sacred, intimate, and blessed relationship of life is between husband and wife. I do not love anybody like I love my wife. My mother has father, and my children have their companions, but Ruth is me. Our wives become part of us, and they become like our own flesh-and as Paul counseled, we should love them as such. (See Eph. 5:28-33.) The simple truth is that it is not good for man to be alone. The greatest sustaining influence in my mature life has been the constant supporting, unqualified, unreserved love I have felt for my wife. The sacred relationship with my wife has been the supreme benediction of my life. I just can't imagine what my life would have been like without having had that blessing.

Without our wives we would never be privileged to be fathers and grandfathers, and enjoy all the blessings that that entails. This relation has to come first in all of our relationships with other people. It is the glue that brings together all of the parts of the jigsaw puzzle of eternal joy and fulfillment and happiness.

One of the greatest blessings of having a good wife is that she can be the source of the most basic of all human needs-love. ("Brethren, Love Your Wives," Ensign, July 1981, 35)

Henry B. Eyring

Our Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be knit together. That union in love is not simply an ideal. It is a necessity.

The requirement that we be one is not for this life alone. It is to be without end. The first marriage was performed by God in the garden when Adam and Eve were immortal. He placed in men and women from the beginning a desire to be joined together as man and wife forever to dwell in families in a perfect, righteous union. He placed in His children a desire to live at peace with all those around them.

But with the Fall it became clear that living in unity would not be easy. Tragedy struck early. Cain slew Abel, his brother. The children of Adam and Eve had become subject to the temptations of Satan. With skill, hatred, and cunning, Satan pursues his goal. It is the opposite of the purpose of our Heavenly Father and the Savior. They would give us perfect union and eternal happiness. Satan, their enemy and ours, has known the plan of salvation from before the Creation. He knows that only in eternal life can those sacred, joyful associations of families endure. Satan would tear us from loved ones and make us miserable. And it is he who plants the seeds of discord in human hearts in the hope that we might be divided and separate. ("That We May Be One," Ensign, May 1998, 66)

N. Eldon Tanner

It is important for us to understand, as we can learn from the scriptures, that God is eternal, that his creations are eternal, and that his truths are eternal. Therefore, when he gave Eve to Adam in marriage, that union would be eternal. Marriage as ordained of God and performed in his holy temples is eternal-not just until death. In Ecclesiastes we read:

"I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever" (Eccl. 3:14). ("Celestial Marriages and Eternal Families," Ensign, May 1980, 16)

Gordon B. Hinckley

Surely no one reading the scriptures, both ancient and modern, can doubt the divine concept of marriage. The sweetest feelings of life, the most generous and satisfying impulses of the human heart, find expression in a marriage that stands pure and unsullied above the evil of the world.

Such a marriage, I believe, is the desire-the hoped-for, the longed-for, the prayed-for desire-of men and women everywhere. ("What God Hath Joined Together," Ensign, May 1991, 71)