When Joseph and Emma moved to Harmony, Pennsylvania, who was determined to see the plates, so much so that Joseph was required to hide the plates in the forest bordering their home?
a. Emma’s father
c. Emma’s mother
d. Emma’s brother
H. Donl Petersen explained in a January 1992 Ensign article his account of the experience as follows:
On the west side of the Hill Cumorah, near the top, Joseph located the large stone he was seeking. When he pried this stone lid away, he saw, inside a box, the sacred items spoken of by Moroni. He tried three times to take them out of the box, but suffered progressively stronger shocks that deprived him of much of his natural strength, until he exclaimed in frustration, “Why can I not obtain this book?”
“Because you have not kept the commandments of the Lord,” was the answer. For a fifth time within 24 hours, Moroni stood before him. “In an instant,” Oliver recorded “all the former instructions, the great intelligence concerning Israel and the last days, were brought to his mind. . . but he had failed to remember the great end for which [the gold plates] had been kept, and in consequence could not have power to take them into his possession and bear them away.
Joseph proceeded to pray, and the pall of darkness that had blurred his spiritual vision was dispelled. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. Joseph saw a vision of contrasts. Initially, the heavens were opened and “the glory of the Lord shone round about and rested upon him,” Oliver Cowdery’s account continues: As Joseph “Stood gazing and admiring,” Moroni abruptly changed the scene. Joseph “beheld the prince of darkness, surrounded by his innumerable train of associates” Then Moroni explained the contrasts:
“All this is shown, the good and the evil, the holy and impure, the glory of God and the power of darkness, that you may know hereafter the two powers and never be influenced or overcome by that wicked one. Behold, whatever entices and leads to good and to do good, is of God, and whatever does not is of that wicked one: It is he that fills the hears of men with evil, to walk in darkness and blaspheme God; and you may learn from henceforth, that his ways are to destruction, but the way of holiness is peace and rest.”
Joseph was told to return to the hill one year later, when Moroni would again meet him and teach him more.
When Joseph returned to Cumorah Sept. 22, 1824, he once again dislodged the stone lid on the box containing the plates. While extracting the plates, he wondered if there might be anything else of material worth in the box, so he laid the plates on the ground to check. Finding nothing, he replaced the stone lid and concealed evidence that the ground had been disturbed. When he reached for the plates, they were gone. In great alarm, he knelt down “and asked the Lord why the record had been taken from him.” Moroni appeared and reminded him that he had not done as he had been commanded. Joseph had been told in a former revelation, according to his mother’s account, “not to lay the plates down, or put them for a moment out of his hands, until he got into the house and deposited them in a chest or trunk, having a good lock and key.” But “contrary to this he had laid them down with the view of securing some fancied or imaginary treasure that remained.”
Moroni instructed Joseph to dislodge the stone cover, and there the Prophet, reassured, saw the plates again. He reached to get them, but “he was hurled back upon the ground with great violence.” When he recovered, he was alone. Lucy Mack Smith reported that Joseph returned home “weeping for grief and disappointment.” His expectations shattered, he was afraid his family would question his story, since all were expecting him to return with the plates.
Joseph related the incidents at Cumorah. His family believed him, his mother wrote, “We, therefore, doubled our diligence in prayer and supplication to God, in order that he might be more fully instructed in his duty, and be preserved from all the wiles and machinations of him ‘who lieth in wait to deceive.’”
Palmyra & Nauvoo Study Guide (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University), 10-12.