The Sons of Moses and of Aaron

The oath and covenant of the priesthood, contained in Doctrine and Covenants 84:33-41, summarizes the blessings and responsibilities associated with receiving the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods. The first two verses read:

For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.

“The renewing of their bodies” and “they become the sons of Moses and of Aaron…” are usually thought of as two separate things. For example, President Faust stated

As part of the oath and covenant of the priesthood, the Lord makes several promises to His faithful sons “which he cannot break.” First, the priesthood holders “are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.” I think President Hinckley is a great example of this. He has been renewed in body, mind, and spirit in a most remarkable manner. Second, “they become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham.” (The Key of the Knowledge of God)

However, I have long felt that the concepts should be tied together. I felt like it should be understood like this: “unto the renewing of their bodies [so that] they become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham…” Imagine my shock, then, when reading the newest volume of the Joseph Smith Papers I discovered that the original manuscript for the revelation read “unto the renewing of their bodies that they become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham…” (p. 279 of The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations). Somehow, intentionally or not, in a later copy the word “that” was removed.

What are your thoughts? What are the implications?

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4 thoughts on “The Sons of Moses and of Aaron

  1. This is, of course, part of the Oath and Covenant of the High Priesthood. By entering into this covenant, promises are exchanged and obligations created. These promises and obligations, in turn, establish a relationship of reliance between the two parties. The priesthood holder relies upon God for the spirit (v.33) and, eventually, for exaltation (v.38). God relies on the priesthood holder to help establish his church and kingdom (v.34). This reliance draws them together in a mutual effort.

    I guess I’m not sure how a renewal of one’s body would result in one becoming a son of Moses and Aaron, unless that simply means a recipient of the priesthood. Thus, the renewal may have reference to sanctification, where one is made holy in preparation for the priesthood.

  2. Jeremy,

    Great insights. I’m not sure what to think of the becoming sons of Aaron and Moses, but here are some ideas/questions to toss around:

    What blessings would be associated with being a son of Aaron? Of Moses? What relationship does this have with the priesthood?

  3. Andrew, I would assume that those who magnify their callings in the Aaronic Priesthood become sons of Aaron, while those who magnify their callings in the Melchizedek Priesthood become the sons of Moses. Each are the seed of Abraham and, therefore, are the “elect of God” who recieve all the blessings that Abraham was promised.

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