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Josef Stone

Josef Stone


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Josef Stone, the son of a salesman, was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1921. His parents were Jewish. "We were liberal Jews; we were not Orthodox. I had neither sisters nor brothers; I was the only son. Germans looked at Jews in a sort of bad way.... Children always gave me a hard time. They wouldn't hit me, they just annoyed me with words and yelled obscene things at me. But, at that time, I was too young to even fathom the whole idea."

The situation became much worse after Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party took power in 1933. "I remember when they (the Nazis) were having their big parades in the evening, their flags, their music, and torchlight parades at night. We all stayed in and we knew they were having parades. Nobody went outside. No one felt secure, no one. You didn't trust your next-door neighbor because you didn't know what they were going to do to you. Neighbors who formerly came to your house, and were neighborly and friendly, all of a sudden refrained from even saying hello to you. They acted as if they didn't know you. I can't say that they were really trying to do something to you, but they were afraid that if they would show you any kind of friendliness that they would have a problem." (1)

The hostility towards Jews increased in Nazi Germany. This was reflected in the decision by many shops and restaurants not to serve the Jewish population. Placards saying "Jews not admitted" and "Jews enter this place at their own risk" began to appear all over Germany. In some parts of the country Jews were banned from public parks, swimming-pools and public transport. (2)

Josef Stone remembers how the attitudes of neighbours changed after Hitler gained power. "The owner of the building (where they lived) had a cafe. Before 1933 we very often went downstairs into the cafe and had coffee and cake. But later on, even though they didn't throw us out, there was no feeling of friendship. Again, whether it was forced on them, we don't know. But we didn't go back, we didn't go into their cafe anymore. I didn't feel ashamed to be a Jew, of course not. But it was very dangerous. I have always been conscious of it. I would never make a secret out of it. I have sometimes wondered how they could tell who I was. Especially in the city of Frankfurt with over half a million inhabitants, how could they tell who was Jewish? But people still found out." (3)

Ernst vom Rath was murdered by Herschel Grynszpan, a young Jewish refugee in Paris on 9th November, 1938. At a meeting of Nazi Party leaders that evening, Joseph Goebbels suggested that night there should be "spontaneous" anti-Jewish riots. (4) Reinhard Heydrich sent urgent guidelines to all police headquarters suggesting how they could start these disturbances. He ordered the destruction of all Jewish places of worship in Germany. Heydrich also gave instructions that the police should not interfere with demonstrations and surrounding buildings must not be damaged when burning synagogues. (5)

Heinrich Mueller, head of the Secret Political Police, sent out an order to all regional and local commanders of the state police: "(i) Operations against Jews, in particular against their synagogues will commence very soon throughout Germany. There must be no interference. However, arrangements should be made, in consultation with the General Police, to prevent looting and other excesses. (ii) Any vital archival material that might be in the synagogues must be secured by the fastest possible means. (iii) Preparations must be made for the arrest of from 20,000 to 30,000 Jews within the Reich. In particular, affluent Jews are to be selected. Further directives will be forthcoming during the course of the night. (iv) Should Jews be found in the possession of weapons during the impending operations the most severe measures must be taken. SS Verfuegungstruppen and general SS may be called in for the overall operations. The State Police must under all circumstances maintain control of the operations by taking appropriate measures." (6)

On 11th November, 1938, Reinhard Heydrich reported to Hermann Göring, details of the night of terror: "74 Jews killed or seriously injured, 20,000 arrested, 815 shops and 171 homes destroyed, 191 synagogues set on fire; total damage costing 25 million marks, of which over 5 million was for broken glass." (7) It was decided that the "Jews would have to pay for the damage they had provoked. A fine of 1 billion marks was levied for the slaying of Vom Rath, and 6 million marks paid by insurance companies for broken windows was to be given to the state coffers." (8)

An estimated 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps. (9) Up until this time these camps had been mainly for political prisoners. Josef Stone's father was sent to Dachau but with help from relatives he was released after it was arranged for him to emigrate to the United States. "He was away for about four or five weeks... I remember that when he came home, it was late in the evening. I remember when he rang the doorbell he looked strange to us. Although he never had much hair... now he was completely bald." (10)

In 1939 Josef and his parents emigrated to the United States. The rest of the family failed to find countries willing to take them and suffered at the hands of the Nazis: "My entire family, except for my parents, perished. My parents were the only people of my family who managed to get out." (11)

Josef Stone became a U.S. citizen in 1943. Soon after he joined the United States Army and saw action in North Africa and Italy. In an interview he gave to the authors of the book, What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany (2005), he was highly critical of the way that Germans behaved during the war: "They did nothing to stop it. Guilt by omission is as bad as guilt by commission. You can be just as guilty by not doing something as you are guilty of doing something." (12)

I had been in a Jewish school from the very first day in school in 1928. We were liberal Jews; we were not Orthodox. Germans looked at Jews in a sort of bad way. A Jew was always a Jew in Germany. I remember that even before 1933 when I went to my grandparents who lived in the country, that the general population when I came there knew I was Jewish and always made remarks. Especially children made the remarks to me. It was in such a way that I never walked alone on the streets, even in the little town where my grandparents lived. They wouldn't hit me; they just annoyed me with words and yelled obscene things at me. But, at that time, I was too young to even fathom the whole idea. I didn't really get involved until I would say thirteen or fourteen. By that time I started realizing what really was going on, and my parents started to say that eventually we would all have to leave, except it was a couple of years more until we finally found our relatives here who gave us the necessary affidavit.

We never felt comfortable. At least I didn't. And then after November 10, 1938, nobody felt comfortable and we all had to leave. My entire family, except for my parents, perished. My parents were the only people of my family who managed to get out.

I remember when they (the Nazis) were having their big parades in the evening, their flags, their music, and torchlight parades at night. I can't say that they were really trying to do something to you, but they were afraid that if they would show you any kind of friendliness that they would have a problem. And yet, I would have to say that after the war, after everything was over, a friend of my father's and a friend of my wife's tried everything possible to get in touch with us, and they succeeded. They had to reestablish connections after the war. But during the Nazi regime, no one would have dared to do anything.

The owner of the building... had a cafe. But we didn't go back, we didn't go into their cafe anymore.

I didn't feel ashamed to be a Jew, of course not. Especially in the city of Frankfurt with over half a million inhabitants, how could they tell who was Jewish? But people still found out.

I remember on November 10, 1938, at the Kristallnacht, that I didn't know anything about it that morning. Early in the morning I was walking down the street and two SA men came to me and stopped me. "Come with us," they said. I didn't know them; they didn't know me, but they must have known I was a Jew. I don't know how they knew, but they knew...

They lined them up and just said, "Stand there." Nobody said anything. Nobody did anything. They didn't give us food or anything. We just stood there for the whole day. And I'm sure the others stood there longer. But by late evening or early evening, I don't remember the time, they called me and asked, "How old are you?" At that time in 1938, I was sixteen and I was able to get out and go home. And that was that...

I never got hit. At first when they combed the street, they took us to some sort of assembly point where they already had another twenty, thirty, or forty people. I don't remember exactly how many they marched there. It really wasn't that far away. While we walked there, and, of course, after the walk, all the people on the sidewalks started yelling at us-normal Germans, children and adults, and women also. There were no exceptions: man, woman, and child. They knew who we were because they walked us down as a group of forty or fifty people [and because those who marched us] wore uniforms, SA uniforms. The people just walking down the streets who saw us coming just let loose with insults. Maybe they were told that we were marching through the streets and that they should just yell at us. But I don't know, it could have been spontaneous. But who can tell?

My father was arrested a couple of days later and taken to Dachau. While he was away, I went to the American consulate in Stuttgart and checked out our papers and I was assured at that time that our number, our registration number, would be called in early 1939. With that information, and with the fact that my father was a Frontkdmpfer [frontline soldier] from World War I, I went to the police and gave them all the information, and they said that on that basis he would be released shortly. It still took a couple of weeks. I imagine that he was away for about four or five weeks and then he came home. While we were in ,Germany, my father never spoke about it. He never said a word. He said, "I'm not talking about it. It's forgotten now." But look, we were all glad. Once he came home, we made our entire efforts to get out, to get rid of our things, and to make sure that our relatives who lived in a small town in Warttemberg could take over our apartment. We left the furniture; we left everything for them to take over. We left it for them because they had nothing. They had smashed their furniture and what not. But that was a small town - everybody knew everyone. They moved in there as we moved out.

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(1) Josef Stone, What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany (2005) page 35

(2) Richard Grunberger, A Social History of the Third Reich (1971) page 575

(3) Josef Stone, What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany (2005) page 36

(4) James Taylor and Warren Shaw, Dictionary of the Third Reich (1987) page 67

(5) Reinhard Heydrich, instructions for measures against Jews (10th November, 1938)

(6) Heinrich Mueller, order sent to all regional and local commanders of the state police (9th November 1938)

(7) James Taylor and Warren Shaw, Dictionary of the Third Reich (1987) page 67

(8) Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich (1998) page 201

(9) Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (1996) page 100

(10) Josef Stone, What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany (2005) page 38

(11) Josef Stone, What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany (2005) page 35

(12) Josef Stone, What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany (2005) page 40


Joseph (Genesis)

Joseph ( / ˈ dʒ oʊ z ɪ f , - s ɪ f / Hebrew: יוֹסֵף ‎, lit. "he will add", [1] Standard: Yosef, Tiberian: Yôsēp̄ Arabic: يوسف ‎ Yūsuf or Yūsif Ancient Greek: Ἰωσήφ Iōsēph) is an important figure in the Bible's Book of Genesis.

    (half-brother) (half-brother) (half-brother) (half-brother) (half-brother) (half-brother) (half-brother) (half-brother) (half-brother) (half-brother) (brother) (half-sister) (grandmother) (grandfather) (uncle) (stepmother) (grandfather and great-uncle) (great-grandfather) (great-grandmother) (father-in-law)

In the biblical narrative, Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and rose to become vizier, the second most powerful man in Egypt next to Pharaoh, where his presence and office caused Israel to leave Canaan and settle in Egypt. Pharaoh gave him the name "Zaphnath-Paaneah" (Hebrew צָפְנַת פַּעְנֵחַ Ṣāfnaṯ Paʿnēaḫ, LXX Ψονθομφανήχ (p)sontʰ-(ŏm)pʰanêkʰ Genesis 41:45). The composition of the story can be dated to the period between the 7th century BCE and the third quarter of the 5th century BCE, which is roughly the period to which scholars date the Book of Genesis. [2]

In rabbinic tradition, Joseph is considered the ancestor of another Messiah called "Mashiach ben Yosef", according to which he will wage war against the evil forces alongside Mashiach ben David and die in combat with the enemies of God and Israel. [3]


Contents

Early years (1805–1827)

Smith was born on December 23, 1805, on the border between South Royalton and Sharon, Vermont, to Lucy Mack Smith and her husband Joseph Smith Sr., a merchant and farmer. [13] [14] He was one of 11 children. At the age of seven Smith suffered a crippling bone infection and, after receiving surgery, used crutches for three years. [15] After an ill-fated business venture and three successive years of crop failures culminating in the 1816 Year Without a Summer, the Smith family left Vermont and moved to western New York, taking out a mortgage on a 100-acre (40 ha) farm in the townships of Palmyra and Manchester.

The region was a hotbed of religious enthusiasm during the Second Great Awakening. [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] Between 1817 and 1825, there were several camp meetings and revivals in the Palmyra area. [21] [22] Smith's parents disagreed about religion, but the family was caught up in this excitement. [23] Smith said that he became interested in religion by age 12. As a teenager, he may have been sympathetic to Methodism. [24] With other family members, Smith also engaged in religious folk magic, which was a relatively common practice in that time and place. [25] Both his parents and his maternal grandfather reportedly had visions or dreams that they believed communicated messages from God. [26] Smith said that, although he had become concerned about the welfare of his soul, he was confused by the claims of competing religious denominations. [27]

Years later, Smith wrote that he had received a vision that resolved his religious confusion. [28] He said that in 1820, while praying in a wooded area near his home, God and Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him his sins were forgiven and that all contemporary churches had "turned aside from the gospel." [29] Smith said he recounted the experience to a preacher, who dismissed the story with contempt. [30] This first vision would later grow in importance to Smith's followers, who now regard it as the first event in the restoration of Christ's church to Earth. Until the 1840s, however, Smith's accounts of the vision were largely unknown to most Mormons, [31] and Smith himself may have originally considered it a personal conversion. [32]

According to his later accounts, Smith was visited by an angel named Moroni, while praying one night in 1823. Smith said that this angel revealed the location of a buried book made of golden plates, as well as other artifacts, including a breastplate and a set of interpreters composed of two seer stones set in a frame, which had been hidden in a hill near his home. [33] Smith said he attempted to remove the plates the next morning, but was unsuccessful because the angel returned and prevented him. [34] Smith reported that during the next four years, he made annual visits to the hill, but, until the fourth and final visit, each time he returned without the plates. [35]

Meanwhile, the Smith family faced financial hardship, due in part to the death of Smith's oldest brother Alvin, who had assumed a leadership role in the family. [36] Family members supplemented their meager farm income by hiring out for odd jobs and working as treasure seekers, a type of magical supernaturalism common during the period. [37] Smith was said to have an ability to locate lost items by looking into a seer stone, which he also used in treasure hunting, including several unsuccessful attempts to find buried treasure sponsored by a wealthy farmer in Chenango County, New York. [38] In 1826, Smith was brought before a Chenango County court for "glass-looking", or pretending to find lost treasure. [39] The result of the proceeding remains unclear as primary sources report various conflicting outcomes. [40]

While boarding at the Hale house in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Smith met and began courting Emma Hale. When Smith proposed marriage, Emma's father, Isaac Hale objected, in part because he believed Smith had no means to support Emma. [41] In his sworn testimony, Isaac Hale wrote that, in addition, he had other reasons for not giving consent to Smith to marry his daughter, one of which was that Smith's "appearance at this time, was that of a careless young man -- not very well educated, and very saucy and insolent to his father." [42] Smith and Emma eloped and married on January 18, 1827, after which the couple began boarding with Smith's parents in Manchester. Later that year, when Smith promised to abandon treasure seeking, Hale offered to let the couple live on his property in Harmony and help Smith get started in business. [43]

Smith made his last visit to the hill on September 22, 1827, taking Emma with him. [44] This time, he said he successfully retrieved the plates. He said the angel commanded him not to show the plates to anyone else, but to translate them and publish their translation. Smith said the translation was a religious record of Middle-Eastern indigenous Americans, [45] and were engraved in an unknown language, called reformed Egyptian. He also told associates that he was capable of reading and translating them. [46]

Although Smith had left his treasure hunting company, his former associates believed he had double crossed them and taken the golden plates for himself, which they believed should be joint property. [47] After they ransacked places where they believed the plates could be hidden, Smith decided to leave Palmyra. [48]

Founding a church (1827–1830)

In October 1827, Smith and Emma moved from Palmyra to Harmony (now Oakland), Pennsylvania, aided by a relatively prosperous neighbor, Martin Harris. [49] Living near his in-laws, Smith transcribed some characters that he said were engraved on the plates and then dictated a translation to Emma. [50]

In February 1828, Harris arrived to assist Smith by transcribing his dictation. Harris also took a sample of the characters to a few prominent scholars, including Charles Anthon. Harris said Anthon initially authenticated the characters and their translation, but then retracted his opinion after learning that Smith claimed to have received the plates from an angel. [51] Anthon denied Harris's account of the meeting, claiming instead that he had tried to convince Harris that he was the victim of a fraud. In any event, Harris returned to Harmony in April 1828, and continued as Smith's scribe. [52]

However, by June 1828, Harris began having doubts about the project, fueled in part by his wife's skepticism. Harris persuaded Smith to let him take the existing 116 pages of manuscript to Palmyra to show a few family members, including his wife. [53] Harris lost the manuscript, of which there was no other copy. Smith was devastated not only by the loss of the manuscript but the loss of his first son who had died shortly after birth. [54] As punishment for losing the manuscript, Smith said that the angel returned and took away the plates, and revoked his ability to translate. During this period, Smith briefly attended Methodist meetings with his wife, until a cousin of hers objected to inclusion of a "practicing necromancer" on the Methodist class roll. [55]

Smith said that the angel returned the plates to him in September 1828. [56] In April 1829, he met Oliver Cowdery, who replaced Harris as his scribe, and resumed dictation. [57] They worked full time on the manuscript between April and early June 1829, and then moved to Fayette, New York, where they continued to work at the home of Cowdery's friend, Peter Whitmer. [58] When the narrative described an institutional church and a requirement for baptism, Smith and Cowdery baptized each other. [59] Dictation was completed about July 1, 1829. [60]

Although Smith had previously refused to show the plates to anyone, he told Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer that they would be allowed to see them. [61] These men, known collectively as the Three Witnesses, signed a statement stating that they had been shown the golden plates by an angel, and that the voice of God had confirmed the truth of their translation. Later, a group of Eight Witnesses — composed of male members of the Whitmer and Smith families — issued a statement that they had been shown the golden plates by Smith. [62] According to Smith, the angel Moroni took back the plates once Smith finished using them.

The completed work, titled the Book of Mormon, was published in Palmyra on March 26, 1830, by printer E. B. Grandin. Soon after, on April 6, 1830, Smith and his followers formally organized the Church of Christ, and small branches were established in Palmyra, Fayette, and Colesville, New York. [63] The Book of Mormon brought Smith regional notoriety and opposition from those who remembered the 1826 Chenango County trial. [64] After Cowdery baptized several new church members, the Mormons received threats of mob violence before Smith could confirm the newly baptized members, he was arrested and brought to trial as a disorderly person. [65] He was acquitted, but soon both he and Cowdery fled to Colesville to escape a gathering mob. In probable reference to this period of flight, Smith said that Peter, James, and John had appeared to him and had ordained him and Cowdery to a higher priesthood. [66]

Smith's authority was undermined when Oliver Cowdery, Hiram Page, and other church members also claimed to receive revelations. [67] In response, Smith dictated a revelation which clarified his office as a prophet and an apostle, and which declared that only he held the ability to give doctrine and scripture for the entire church. [68] Shortly after the conference, Smith dispatched Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and others on a mission to proselytize Native Americans. [69] Cowdery was also assigned the task of locating the site of the New Jerusalem. [70]

On their way to Missouri, Cowdery's party passed through northeastern Ohio, where Sidney Rigdon and over a hundred followers of his variety of Campbellite Restorationism converted to Mormonism, more than doubling the size of the church. [71] Rigdon soon visited New York and quickly became Smith's primary assistant. [72] With growing opposition in New York, Smith gave a revelation stating that Kirtland was the eastern boundary of the New Jerusalem, and that his followers must gather there. [73]

Life in Ohio (1831–1838)

When Smith moved to Kirtland, Ohio in January 1831, he encountered a religious culture that included enthusiastic demonstrations of spiritual gifts, including fits and trances, rolling on the ground, and speaking in tongues. [74] Smith brought the Kirtland congregation under his own authority and tamed these outbursts. Rigdon's followers had also been practicing a form of communalism, which Smith adopted, calling it the United Order. [75] Smith had promised church elders that in Kirtland they would receive an endowment of heavenly power, and at the June 1831 general conference, he introduced the greater authority of a High ("Melchizedek") Priesthood to the church hierarchy. [76]

Converts poured into Kirtland. By the summer of 1835, there were fifteen hundred to two thousand Mormons in the vicinity, many expecting Smith to lead them shortly to the Millennial kingdom. [77] Though his mission to the Indians had been a failure, Cowdery reported that he had found the site of the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri. [78] After Smith visited in July 1831, he agreed, pronouncing the frontier hamlet of Independence the "center place" of Zion. [79] Rigdon, however, disapproved, and for most of the 1830s the church remained divided between Ohio and Missouri. [80] Smith continued to live in Ohio, but visited Missouri again in early 1832 to prevent a rebellion of prominent church members who believed the church in Missouri was being neglected. [81] Smith's trip was also hastened by a mob of Ohio residents who were incensed over the United Order and Smith's political power the mob beat Smith and Rigdon unconscious, tarred and feathered them, and left them for dead. [82]

In Jackson County, existing Missouri residents resented the Mormon newcomers for both political and religious reasons. [83] Tension increased until July 1833, when non-Mormons forcibly evicted the Mormons and destroyed their property. Smith advised them to bear the violence patiently until after they were attacked multiple times, after which they could fight back. [84] After armed bands exchanged fire, killing one Mormon and two non-Mormons, the old settlers brutally expelled the Mormons from the county. [85]

Smith ended the communitarian experiment and changed the name of the church to the "Church of Latter Day Saints", before leading a small paramilitary expedition called Zion's Camp, to aid the Missouri Mormons. [86] As a military endeavor, the expedition was a failure the men were outnumbered and suffered from dissension and a cholera outbreak. [87] Nevertheless, Zion's Camp transformed Mormon leadership, and many future church leaders came from among the participants. [88]

After the Camp returned, Smith drew heavily from its participants to establish five governing bodies in the church, all originally of equal authority to check one another. Among these five groups was a quorum of twelve apostles. [89] Smith gave a revelation saying that to redeem Zion, his followers would have to receive an endowment in the Kirtland Temple. [90] In March 1836, at the temple's dedication, many participants in the endowment reported seeing visions of angels, speaking in tongues, and prophesying. [91]

In late 1837, a series of internal disputes led to the collapse of the Kirtland Mormon community. [92] Smith was blamed for having promoted a church-sponsored bank that failed. He was also being accused by Assistant President of the Church Oliver Cowdery [93] of engaging in a sexual relationship with a teenage servant in his home, Fanny Alger. [94] Building the temple had left the church deeply in debt, and Smith was hounded by creditors. [95] Having heard of a large sum of money supposedly hidden in Salem, Massachusetts, Smith traveled there and received a revelation that God had "much treasure in this city". [96] After a month, however, he returned to Kirtland empty-handed. [97]

In January 1837, Smith and other church leaders created a joint stock company, called the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, to act as a quasi-bank the company issued bank notes capitalized in part by real estate. [98] Smith encouraged the Latter Day Saints to buy the notes, and he invested heavily in them himself, but the bank failed within a month. [99] As a result, the Latter Day Saints in Kirtland suffered intense pressure from debt collectors and severe price volatility. Smith was held responsible for the failure, and there were widespread defections from the church, including many of Smith's closest advisers. [100] After a warrant was issued for Smith's arrest on a charge of banking fraud, Smith and Rigdon fled Kirtland for Missouri in January 1838. [101]

Life in Missouri (1838–39)

By 1838, Smith had abandoned plans to redeem Zion in Jackson County, and after Smith and Rigdon arrived in Missouri, the town of Far West became the new "Zion". [102] In Missouri, the church also took the name "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", and construction began on a new temple. [103] In the weeks and months after Smith and Rigdon arrived at Far West, thousands of Latter Day Saints followed them from Kirtland. [104] Smith encouraged the settlement of land outside Caldwell County, instituting a settlement in Adam-ondi-Ahman, in Daviess County.

During this time, a church council expelled many of the oldest and most prominent leaders of the church, including John Whitmer, David Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, and Oliver Cowdery. [105] Smith explicitly approved of the expulsion of these men, who were known collectively as the "dissenters". [106]

Political and religious differences between old Missourians and newly arriving Mormon settlers provoked tensions between the two groups, much as they had years earlier in Jackson County. By this time, Smith's experiences with mob violence led him to believe that his faith's survival required greater militancy against anti-Mormons. [107] Around June 1838, recent convert Sampson Avard formed a covert organization called the Danites to intimidate Mormon dissenters and oppose anti-Mormon militia units. [108] Though it is unclear how much Smith knew of the Danites' activities, he clearly approved of those of which he did know. [109] After Rigdon delivered a sermon that implied dissenters had no place in the Mormon community, the Danites forcibly expelled them from the county. [110]

In a speech given at the town's Fourth of July celebration, Rigdon declared that Mormons would no longer tolerate persecution by the Missourians and spoke of a "war of extermination" if Mormons were attacked. [111] Smith implicitly endorsed this speech, [112] and many non-Mormons understood it to be a thinly veiled threat. They unleashed a flood of anti-Mormon rhetoric in newspapers and in stump speeches given during the 1838 election campaign. [113]

On August 6, 1838, non-Mormons in Gallatin tried to prevent Mormons from voting, [114] and the election-day scuffles initiated the 1838 Mormon War. Non-Mormon vigilantes raided and burned Mormon farms, while Danites and other Mormons pillaged non-Mormon towns. [115] In the Battle of Crooked River, a group of Mormons attacked the Missouri state militia, mistakenly believing them to be anti-Mormon vigilantes. Governor Lilburn Boggs then ordered that the Mormons be "exterminated or driven from the state". [116] On October 30, a party of Missourians surprised and killed seventeen Mormons in the Haun's Mill massacre. [117]

The following day, the Latter Day Saints surrendered to 2,500 state troops and agreed to forfeit their property and leave the state. [118] Smith was immediately brought before a military court, accused of treason, and sentenced to be executed the next morning Alexander Doniphan, who was Smith's former attorney and a brigadier general in the Missouri militia, refused to carry out the order. [119] Smith was then sent to a state court for a preliminary hearing, where several of his former allies testified against him. [120] Smith and five others, including Rigdon, were charged with "overt acts of treason", and transferred to the jail at Liberty, Missouri, to await trial. [121]

Smith's months in prison with an ill and whining Rigdon strained their relationship. Meanwhile, Brigham Young, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, rose to prominence when he organized the move of about 14,000 Mormon refugees to Illinois and eastern Iowa. [122]

Smith bore his imprisonment stoically. Understanding that he was effectively on trial before his own people, many of whom considered him a fallen prophet, he wrote a personal defense and an apology for the activities of the Danites. "The keys of the kingdom," he wrote, "have not been taken away from us". [123] Though he directed his followers to collect and publish their stories of persecution, he also urged them to moderate their antagonism toward non-Mormons. [124] On April 6, 1839, after a grand jury hearing in Davis County, Smith and his companions escaped custody, almost certainly with the connivance of the sheriff and guards. [125]

Life in Nauvoo, Illinois (1839–1844)

Many American newspapers criticized Missouri for the Haun's Mill massacre and the state's expulsion of the Latter Day Saints. Illinois accepted Mormon refugees who gathered along the banks of the Mississippi River, [126] where Smith purchased high-priced, swampy woodland in the hamlet of Commerce. [127] Smith also attempted to portray the Latter Day Saints as an oppressed minority, and unsuccessfully petitioned the federal government for help in obtaining reparations. [128] During the summer of 1839, while Latter Day Saints in Nauvoo suffered from a malaria epidemic, Smith sent Brigham Young and other apostles to missions in Europe, where they made numerous converts, many of them poor factory workers. [129]

Smith also attracted a few wealthy and influential converts, including John C. Bennett, the Illinois quartermaster general. [130] Bennett used his connections in the Illinois legislature to obtain an unusually liberal charter for the new city, which Smith renamed "Nauvoo" (Hebrew נָאווּ, meaning "to be beautiful"). [131] The charter granted the city virtual autonomy, authorized a university, and granted Nauvoo habeas corpus power—which allowed Smith to fend off extradition to Missouri. [132] Though Mormon authorities controlled Nauvoo's civil government, the city promised an unusually liberal guarantee of religious freedom. [133] The charter also authorized the Nauvoo Legion, an autonomous militia whose actions were limited only by state and federal constitutions. "Lieutenant General" Smith and "Major General" Bennett became its commanders, thereby controlling by far the largest body of armed men in Illinois. [134] Smith made Bennett Assistant President of the church, and Bennett was elected Nauvoo's first mayor. [135]

In 1841, Smith began revealing the doctrine of plural marriage to a few of his closest male associates, including Bennett, who used it as an excuse to seduce numerous women wed and unwed. [136] When embarrassing rumors of "spiritual wifery" got abroad, Smith forced Bennett's resignation as Nauvoo mayor. In retaliation, Bennett left Smith's following and wrote "lurid exposés of life in Nauvoo". [137]

The early Nauvoo years were a period of doctrinal innovation. Smith introduced baptism for the dead in 1840, and in 1841, construction began on the Nauvoo Temple as a place for recovering lost ancient knowledge. [138] An 1841 revelation promised the restoration of the "fulness of the priesthood" and in May 1842, Smith inaugurated a revised endowment or "first anointing". [139] The endowment resembled rites of freemasonry that Smith had observed two months earlier when he had been initiated "at sight" into the Nauvoo Masonic lodge. [140] At first, the endowment was open only to men, who were initiated into a special group called the Anointed Quorum. For women, Smith introduced the Relief Society, a service club and sorority within which Smith predicted women would receive "the keys of the kingdom". [141] Smith also elaborated on his plan for a millennial kingdom. No longer envisioning the building of Zion in Nauvoo, Smith viewed Zion as encompassing all of North and South America, with Mormon settlements being "stakes" of Zion's metaphorical tent. [142] Zion also became less a refuge from an impending tribulation than a great building project. [143] In the summer of 1842, Smith revealed a plan to establish the millennial Kingdom of God, which would eventually establish theocratic rule over the whole Earth. [144]

By mid-1842, popular opinion had turned against the Mormons. After an unknown assailant shot and wounded Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs in May 1842, anti-Mormons circulated rumors that Smith's bodyguard, Porter Rockwell, was the shooter. [145] Though the evidence was circumstantial, Boggs ordered Smith's extradition. Certain he would be killed if he ever returned to Missouri, Smith went into hiding twice during the next five months, before the U.S. district attorney for Illinois argued that Smith's extradition to Missouri would be unconstitutional. [146] (Rockwell was later tried and acquitted.) In June 1843, enemies of Smith convinced a reluctant Illinois Governor Thomas Ford to extradite Smith to Missouri on an old charge of treason. Two law officers arrested Smith, but were intercepted by a party of Mormons before they could reach Missouri. Smith was then released on a writ of habeas corpus from the Nauvoo municipal court. [147] While this ended the Missourians' attempts at extradition, it caused significant political fallout in Illinois. [148]

In December 1843, Smith petitioned Congress to make Nauvoo an independent territory with the right to call out federal troops in its defense. [149] Smith then wrote to the leading presidential candidates and asked them what they would do to protect the Mormons. After receiving noncommittal or negative responses, Smith announced his own independent candidacy for President of the United States, suspended regular proselytizing, and sent out the Quorum of the Twelve and hundreds of other political missionaries. [150] In March 1844 — following a dispute with a federal bureaucrat — Smith organized the secret Council of Fifty. Smith said the Council had authority to decide which national or state laws Mormons should obey. [151] The Council was also to select a site for a large Mormon settlement in Texas, California, or Oregon, where Mormons could live under theocratic law beyond other governmental control. [152]

Death

By early 1844, a rift developed between Smith and a half dozen of his closest associates. [153] Most notably, William Law, Smith's trusted counselor, and Robert Foster, a general of the Nauvoo Legion, disagreed with Smith about how to manage Nauvoo's economy. [154] Both also said that Smith had proposed marriage to their wives. [155] Believing the dissidents were plotting against his life, Smith excommunicated them on April 18, 1844. [156] These dissidents formed a competing church and the following month, at Carthage, the county seat, they procured indictments against Smith for perjury and polygamy. [157]

On June 7, the dissidents published the first (and only) issue of the Nauvoo Expositor, calling for reform within the church and appealing to the political views of the county's other faiths as well as those of former Mormons. [158] The paper decried Smith's new "doctrines of many Gods", alluded to Smith's theocratic aspirations, and called for a repeal of the Nauvoo city charter. [159] It also attacked Smith's practice of polygamy, implying that Smith was using religion as a pretext to draw unassuming women to Nauvoo in order to seduce and marry them. [160]

Fearing the newspaper would bring the countryside down on the Mormons, the Nauvoo city council declared the Expositor a public nuisance and ordered the Nauvoo Legion to destroy the press. [161] Smith, who feared another mob attack, supported the action, not realizing that destroying a newspaper was more likely to incite an attack than any libel. [162]

Destruction of the newspaper provoked a strident call to arms from Thomas C. Sharp, editor of the Warsaw Signal and longtime critic of Smith. [164] Fearing an uprising, Smith mobilized the Nauvoo Legion on June 18 and declared martial law. Officials in Carthage responded by mobilizing their small detachment of the state militia, and Governor Thomas Ford appeared, threatening to raise a larger militia unless Smith and the Nauvoo city council surrendered themselves. [165] Smith initially fled across the Mississippi River, but shortly returned and surrendered to Ford. [166] On June 23, Smith and his brother Hyrum rode to Carthage to stand trial for inciting a riot. [167] Once the Smiths were in custody, the charges were increased to treason, preventing them from posting bail. [168]

On June 27, 1844, an armed mob with blackened faces stormed Carthage Jail where Joseph and Hyrum were being held. Hyrum, who was trying to secure the door, was killed instantly with a shot to the face. Smith fired three shots from a pepper-box pistol that his friend, Cyrus Wheelock, had lent him, wounding three men, [169] [170] before he sprang for the window. [171] He was shot multiple times before falling out the window, crying, "Oh Lord my God!" He died shortly after hitting the ground, but was shot several more times before the mob dispersed. [172] Five men were later tried for Smith's murder, but were all acquitted. [173] Smith was buried in Nauvoo, and is interred there at the Smith Family Cemetery. [174]

After his death, non-Mormon newspapers were almost unanimous in portraying Smith as a religious fanatic. [175] Conversely, within Mormonism, Smith was remembered first and foremost as a prophet, martyred to seal the testimony of his faith. [176]

Impact and assessment

Smith attracted thousands of devoted followers before his death in 1844, and millions in the century that followed. [177] Among Mormons, he is regarded as a prophet on par with Moses and Elijah. [178] In a 2015 compilation of the 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time, Smithsonian magazine ranked Smith first in the category of religious figures. [179]

Mormons and non-Mormons have produced a large amount of scholarly work about Smith, and to a large extent the result has been two discordant pictures of very different people: a man of God on the one hand, and on the other, a fraud preying on the ignorance of his followers. [180] Believers tend to focus on his achievements and religious teachings, deemphasizing his personal defects, while detractors focus on his mistakes, legal troubles, and controversial doctrines. During the first half of the 20th century, some writers suggested that Smith might have suffered from epileptic seizures or from psychological disorders such as paranoid delusions or manic-depressive illness that might explain his visions and revelations. [181] Many modern biographers disagree with these ideas. [182] More nuanced interpretations include viewing Smith as: a prophet who had normal human weaknesses a "pious fraud" who believed he was called of God to preach repentance and felt justified inventing visions in order to convert people [183] or a gifted "mythmaker" who was the product of his Yankee environment. [184] Biographers – Mormon and non-Mormon alike – agree that Smith was one of the most influential, charismatic, and innovative figures in American religious history. [185]

Memorials to Smith include the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Joseph Smith Building on the campus of Brigham Young University, and a granite obelisk marking his birthplace.

Religious denominations

Smith's death resulted in a succession crisis. [186] Smith had proposed several ways to choose his successor, but had never clarified his preference. [187] Smith's brother Hyrum, had he survived, would have had the strongest claim, followed by Smith's brother Samuel, who died mysteriously a month after his brothers. [188] Another brother, William, was unable to attract a sufficient following. [189] Smith's sons Joseph III and David also had claims, but Joseph III was too young and David was yet unborn. [190] The Council of Fifty had a theoretical claim to succession, but it was a secret organization. [191] Some of Smith's chosen successors, such as Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, had left the church. [192]

The two strongest succession candidates were Brigham Young, senior member and president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sidney Rigdon, the senior member of the First Presidency. In a church-wide conference on August 8, most of the Latter Day Saints elected Young, who led them to the Salt Lake Valley as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). [193] Membership in Young's denomination surpassed 16 million members in 2018. [194] Smaller groups followed Sidney Rigdon and James J. Strang, who had based his claim on an allegedly forged letter of appointment. [195] Others followed Lyman Wight and Alpheus Cutler. [196] Many members of these smaller groups, including most of Smith's family, eventually coalesced in 1860 under the leadership of Joseph Smith III and formed what was known for more than a century as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now the Community of Christ), which now has about 250,000 members. As of 2013 [update] , members of the denominations originating from Smith's teachings number approximately 16.3 million. [197]

The first of Smith's wives, Emma Hale, gave birth to nine children during their marriage, five of whom died before the age of two. The eldest, Alvin (born in 1828), died within hours of birth, as did twins Thaddeus and Louisa (born in 1831). When the twins died, the Smiths adopted another set of twins, Julia and Joseph, whose mother had recently died in childbirth Joseph died of measles in 1832. [198] In 1841, Don Carlos, who had been born a year earlier, died of malaria. In 1842, Emma gave birth to a stillborn son. Joseph and Emma had four sons who lived to maturity: Joseph Smith III, Frederick Granger Williams Smith, Alexander Hale Smith, and David Hyrum Smith. [199] Some historians have speculated—based on journal entries and family stories—that Smith may have fathered children with his plural wives. However, all DNA testing of potential Smith descendants from wives other than Emma has been negative. [200]

Throughout her life, Emma Smith frequently denied that her husband had ever taken additional wives. [201] Emma said that the very first time she ever became aware of a polygamy revelation being attributed to Smith by Mormons was when she read about it in Orson Pratt's periodical The Seer in 1853. [202] Emma campaigned publicly against polygamy, and was the main signatory of a petition in 1842, with a thousand female signatures, denying that Smith was connected with polygamy. As president of the Ladies' Relief Society, Emma authorized publishing a certificate in the same year denouncing polygamy, and denying her husband as its creator or participant. [203] Even on her deathbed, Emma denied Joseph's involvement with polygamy, stating, "No such thing as polygamy, or spiritual wifery, was taught, publicly or privately, before my husband's death, that I have now, or ever had any knowledge of . He had no other wife but me nor did he to my knowledge ever have". [204]

After Smith's death, Emma Smith quickly became alienated from Brigham Young and the church leadership. [205] Young, whom Emma feared and despised, was suspicious of her desire to preserve the family's assets from inclusion with those of the church, and thought she would be even more troublesome because she openly opposed plural marriage. [206] When most Latter Day Saints moved west, she stayed in Nauvoo, married a non-Mormon, Major Lewis C. Bidamon, [207] and withdrew from religion until 1860, when she affiliated with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, first headed by her son, Joseph Smith III. Emma never denied Smith's prophetic gift or repudiated her belief in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. [208]

According to the American historian and Mormonism expert Richard Bushman, the "signal feature" of Smith's life was "his sense of being guided by revelation". Instead of presenting his ideas with logical arguments, Smith dictated authoritative scripture-like "revelations" and let people decide whether to believe. [209] Smith and his followers treated his revelations as being above teachings or opinions, and Smith acted as though he believed in his revelations as much as his followers. [210] In fact Smith's first recorded revelation was a rebuke chastising Smith for having let Martin Harris lose 116 pages of Book of Mormon manuscript. [211] The revelation was written as if God were talking rather than as a declaration mediated through Smith and subsequent revelations assumed a similar authoritative style, often opening with words such as "Hearken O ye people which profess my name, saith the Lord your God." [212]

Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon has been called the longest and most complex of Smith's revelations. [213] It is organized as a compilation of smaller books, each named after its main named narrator or a prominent leader. It tells the story of the rise and fall of a religious civilization beginning about 600 BC and ending in 421 AD. [214] The story begins with a family that leaves Jerusalem, just before the Babylonian captivity. [215] They eventually construct a ship and sail to a "promised land" in the Western Hemisphere. [216] There, they are divided into two factions: Nephites and Lamanites. The Nephites become a righteous people who build a temple and live the law of Moses, though their prophets teach a Christian gospel. The book explains itself to be largely the work of Mormon, a Nephite prophet and military figure. The book closes when Mormon's son, Moroni, finishes engraving and buries the records written on the golden plates. [217]

Christian themes permeate the work for instance, Nephite prophets in the Book of Mormon teach of Christ's coming, and talk of the star that will appear at his birth. [218] After the crucifixion and resurrection in Jerusalem, Jesus appears in the Americas, repeats the Sermon on the Mount, blesses children, and appoints twelve disciples. The book ends with Moroni's exhortation to "come unto Christ". [219]

Early Mormons understood the Book of Mormon to be a religious history of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Smith's followers view it as a companion to the Bible and an additional witness of Christ, akin to a large apocryphal work. [220] Modern historian Fawn Brodie has called the Book of Mormon a response to pressing cultural and environmental issues of Smith's times, saying that Smith composed the Book of Mormon drawing from scraps of information available to him. Dan Vogel, another historian, says that the work is autobiographical in nature. [221]

Smith never said how he produced the Book of Mormon, saying only that he translated by the power of God and implying that he had transcribed the words. [222] The Book of Mormon itself states only that its text will "come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof". [223] As such, considerable disagreement about the actual method used exists. For at least some of the earliest dictation, Smith is said to have used the "Urim and Thummim", a pair of seer stones he said were buried with the plates. [224] Later, however, he is said to have used a chocolate-colored stone he had found in 1822 that he had used previously for treasure hunting. [225] Joseph Knight said that Smith saw the words of the translation while he gazed at the stone or stones in the bottom of his hat, excluding all light, a process similar to divining the location of treasure. [226] Sometimes, Smith concealed the process by raising a curtain or dictating from another room, while at other times he dictated in full view of witnesses while the plates lay covered on the table. [227] After completing the translation, Smith gave the brown stone to Cowdery, but continued to receive revelations using another stone until about 1833 when he said he no longer needed it. [228]

Although the Book of Mormon drew many converts to the church, Fawn Brodie argued that the "book lives today because of the prophet, not he because of the book." [229] Smith had assumed a role as prophet, seer, and apostle of Jesus Christ, and by early 1831, he was introducing himself as "Joseph the Prophet". [230] The language of authority in Smith's revelations was appealing to converts, and the revelations were given with the confidence of an Old Testament prophet. [231]

Moses and Abraham

Smith said that in June 1830, he received a "revelation of Moses" in which Moses saw "the world and the ends thereof" and asked God questions about the purpose of creation and man's relationship to God. This revelation initiated a revision of the Bible on which Smith worked sporadically until 1833 and which remained unpublished at his death. [232] Smith said that the Bible had been corrupted through the ages, and that his revision worked to restore the original intent it added long passages rewritten "according to his inspiration". [233] While many changes involved straightening out seeming contradictions or making small clarifications, other changes added large "lost" portions to the text. [234] For instance, Smith's revision nearly tripled the length of the first five chapters of Genesis in what would become the Book of Moses. [235]

The Book of Moses begins with Moses' asking God about the purpose of creation. Moses is told in this account that God made the Earth and heavens to bring humans to eternal life. The book also provides an enlarged account of the Genesis creation narrative and expands the story of Enoch, the ancestor of Noah. In the narrative, Enoch speaks with God, receives a prophetic calling, and eventually builds a city of Zion so righteous that it was taken to heaven. [236] The book also elaborates and expands upon foreshadowing the coming of Christ, in effect Christianizing the Old Testament. [237]

In 1835, Smith encouraged some Latter Day Saints in Kirtland to purchase rolls of ancient Egyptian papyri from a traveling exhibitor. Smith said they contained the writings of the ancient patriarchs Abraham and Joseph. Over the next several years, Smith worked to produce what he reported was a translation of one of these rolls, which was published in 1842 as the Book of Abraham. [238] The Book of Abraham speaks of the founding of the Abrahamic nation, astronomy, cosmology, lineage and priesthood, and gives another account of the creation story. [239] The papyri from which Smith dictated the Book of Abraham were thought to have been lost in the Great Chicago Fire. However, several fragments were rediscovered in the 1960s, were translated by Egyptologists, and were determined to be part of the Book of Breathing with no connection to Abraham. [240] The LDS Church has proposed that Smith might have been inspired by the papyri rather than have been translating them literally, [241] but prominent Egyptologists note that Smith copied characters from the scrolls and was specific about their meaning. [242]

Other revelations

According to Parley P. Pratt, Smith dictated revelations orally, and they were recorded by a scribe without revisions or corrections. [244] Revelations were immediately copied, and then circulated among church members. Smith's revelations often came in response to specific questions. He described the revelatory process as having "pure Intelligence" flowing into him. Smith, however, never viewed the wording to be infallible. The revelations were not God's words verbatim, but "couched in language suitable to Joseph's time". [245] In 1833, Smith edited and expanded many of the previous revelations, publishing them as the Book of Commandments, which later became part of the Doctrine and Covenants. [246]

Smith gave varying types of revelations. Some were temporal, while others were spiritual or doctrinal. Some were received for a specific individual, while others were directed at the whole church. An 1831 revelation called "The Law" contained: directions for missionary work rules for organizing society in Zion a reiteration of the Ten Commandments an injunction to "administer to the poor and needy" and an outline for the law of consecration. [247] An 1832 revelation called "The Vision" added to the fundamentals of sin and atonement, and introduced doctrines of life after salvation, exaltation, and a heaven with degrees of glory. [248] Another 1832 revelation "on Priesthood" was the first to explain priesthood doctrine. [249] Three months later, Smith gave a lengthy revelation called the "Olive Leaf" containing themes of cosmology and eschatology, and discussing subjects such as light, truth, intelligence, and sanctification a related revelation given in 1833 put Christ at the center of salvation. [250]

Also in 1833, at a time of temperance agitation, Smith delivered a revelation called the "Word of Wisdom", which counseled a diet of wholesome herbs, fruits, grains, a sparing use of meat. It also recommended that Latter Day Saints avoid "strong" alcoholic drinks, tobacco, and "hot drinks" (later interpreted to mean tea and coffee). [251] The Word of Wisdom was not originally framed as a commandment, but a recommendation. As such, Smith and other Latter Day Saints did not strictly follow this counsel, though it later became a requirement in the LDS Church. [252] In 1835, Smith gave the "great revelation" that organized the priesthood into quorums and councils, and functioned as a complex blueprint for church structure. [253] Smith's last revelation, on the "New and Everlasting Covenant", was recorded in 1843, and dealt with the theology of family, the doctrine of sealing, and plural marriage. [254]

Before 1832, most of Smith's revelations dealt with establishing the church, gathering his followers, and building the City of Zion. Later revelations dealt primarily with the priesthood, endowment, and exaltation. [255] The pace of formal revelations slowed during the autumn of 1833, and again after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. [256] Smith moved away from formal written revelations spoken in God's voice, and instead taught more in sermons, conversations, and letters. [257] For instance, the doctrines of baptism for the dead and the nature of God were introduced in sermons, and one of Smith's most famed statements about there being "no such thing as immaterial matter" was recorded from a casual conversation with a Methodist preacher. [258]

Cosmology and theology

Smith taught that all existence was material, including a world of "spirit matter" so fine that it was invisible to all but the purest mortal eyes. [259] Matter, in Smith's view, could neither be created nor destroyed the creation involved only the reorganization of existing matter. Like matter, Smith saw "intelligence" as co-eternal with God, and taught that human spirits had been drawn from a pre-existent pool of eternal intelligences. [260] Nevertheless, spirits could not experience a "fullness of joy" unless joined with corporeal bodies, according to Smith. The work and glory of God, then, was to create worlds across the cosmos where inferior intelligences could be embodied. [261]

Though Smith initially viewed God the Father as a spirit, [262] he eventually began teaching that God was an advanced and glorified man, [263] embodied within time and space. [264] By the end of his life, Smith was teaching that both God the Father and Jesus were distinct beings with physical bodies, but the Holy Spirit was a "personage of Spirit". [265] Through the gradual acquisition of knowledge, according to Smith, those who received exaltation could eventually become like God. [266] These teachings implied a vast hierarchy of gods, with God himself having a father. [267] In Smith's cosmology, those who became gods would reign, unified in purpose and will, leading spirits of lesser capacity to share immortality and eternal life. [268]

In Smith's view, the opportunity to achieve exaltation extended to all humanity those who died with no opportunity to accept saving ordinances could achieve exaltation by accepting them in the afterlife through proxy ordinances performed on their behalf. [269] Smith said that children who died in their innocence would be guaranteed to rise at the resurrection and receive exaltation. Apart from those who committed the eternal sin, Smith taught that even the wicked and disbelieving would achieve a degree of glory in the afterlife. [270]

Religious authority and ritual

Smith's teachings were rooted in dispensational restorationism. [271] He taught that the Church of Christ restored through him was a latter-day restoration of the early Christian faith, which had been lost in the Great Apostasy. [272] At first, Smith's church had little sense of hierarchy his religious authority was derived from visions and revelations. [273] Though Smith did not claim exclusive prophethood, an early revelation designated him as the only prophet allowed to issue commandments "as Moses". [274] This religious authority encompassed economic and political as well as spiritual matters. For instance, in the early 1830s, he temporarily instituted a form of religious communism, called the United Order, that required Latter Day Saints to give all their property to the church, which was divided among the faithful. [275] He also envisioned that the theocratic institutions he established would have a role in the worldwide political organization of the Millennium. [276]

By the mid-1830s, Smith began teaching a hierarchy of three priesthoods—the Melchizedek, the Aaronic, and the Patriarchal. [277] Each priesthood was a continuation of biblical priesthoods through patrilineal succession or ordination by biblical figures appearing in visions. [278] Upon introducing the Melchizedek or "High" Priesthood in 1831, Smith taught that its recipients would be "endowed with power from on high", thus fulfilling a need for a greater holiness and an authority commensurate with the New Testament apostles. [279] This doctrine of endowment evolved through the 1830s, until in 1842, the Nauvoo endowment included an elaborate ceremony containing elements similar to Freemasonry and the Jewish tradition of Kabbalah. [280] The endowment was extended to women in 1843, though Smith never clarified whether women could be ordained to priesthood offices. [281]

Smith taught that the High Priesthood's endowment of heavenly power included the sealing powers of Elijah, allowing High Priests to effect binding consequences in the afterlife. [282] For example, this power would enable proxy baptisms for the dead and priesthood marriages that would be effective into the afterlife. [283] Elijah's sealing powers also enabled the second anointing, or "fulness [sic] of the priesthood", which, according to Smith, sealed married couples to their exaltation. [284]

Theology of family

During the early 1840s, Smith unfolded a theology of family relations called the "New and Everlasting Covenant" that superseded all earthly bonds. [285] He taught that outside the Covenant, marriages were simply matters of contract, and that in the afterlife individuals married outside the Covenant or not married would be limited in their progression. [286] To fully enter the Covenant, a man and woman must participate in a "first anointing", a "sealing" ceremony, and a "second anointing" (also called "sealing by the Holy Spirit of Promise"). [287] When fully sealed into the Covenant, Smith said that no sin nor blasphemy (other than the eternal sin) could keep them from their exaltation in the afterlife. [288] According to Smith, only one person on Earth at a time—in this case, Smith—could possess this power of sealing. [289]

Smith taught that the highest level of exaltation could be achieved through "plural marriage" (polygamy), which was the ultimate manifestation of this New and Everlasting Covenant. [290] Plural marriage, according to Smith, allowed an individual to transcend the angelic state and become a god, accelerating the expansion of one's heavenly kingdom. [291]

Polygamy

By some accounts, Smith had been teaching a polygamy doctrine as early as 1831, and there is unconfirmed evidence that Smith was a polygamist by 1835. [292] [293] Although the church had publicly repudiated polygamy, in 1837 there was a rift between Smith and Oliver Cowdery over the issue. [294] Cowdery suspected Smith had engaged in a relationship with his serving girl, Fanny Alger. [295] Smith never denied a relationship, but insisted it was not adulterous, presumably because he had taken Alger as an additional wife. [296]

In April 1841, Smith wed Louisa Beaman. During the next two-and-a-half years he married or was sealed to about 30 additional women, [297] ten of whom were already married to other men. Some of these polyandrous marriages were done with the consent of the first husbands, and some plural marriages may have been considered "eternity-only" sealings (meaning that the marriage would not take effect until after death). [298] Ten of Smith's plural wives were between the ages of fourteen and twenty others were over fifty. [299] The practice of polygamy was kept secret from both non-Mormons and most members of the church during Smith's lifetime. [300]

Polygamy caused a breach between Smith and his first wife, Emma. [301] Although Emma knew of some of her husband's marriages, she almost certainly did not know the extent of his polygamous activities. [302] In 1843, Emma temporarily accepted Smith's marriage to four women boarded in the Smith household, but soon regretted her decision and demanded the other wives leave. [303] In July 1843, Smith dictated a revelation directing Emma to accept plural marriage, [304] but the two were not reconciled until September 1843, after Emma began participating in temple ceremonies. [305]

Political views

While campaigning for President of the United States in 1844, Smith had opportunity to take political positions on issues of the day. Smith considered the U.S. Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights, to be inspired by God and "the [Latter Day] Saints' best and perhaps only defense." [306] He believed a strong central government was crucial to the nation's well-being, and thought democracy better than tyranny—although he also taught that a theocratic monarchy was the ideal form of government. [307] In foreign affairs, Smith was an expansionist, though he viewed "expansionism as brotherhood". [308]

Smith favored a strong central bank and high tariffs to protect American business and agriculture. He disfavored imprisonment of convicts except for murder, preferring efforts to reform criminals through labor he also opposed courts-martial for military deserters. He supported capital punishment but opposed hanging, preferring execution by firing squad or beheading. [309]

On the issue of slavery, Smith took different positions. [310] Initially he opposed it, but during the mid-1830s when the Mormons were settling in Missouri (a slave state), Smith cautiously justified slavery in an anti-abolitionist essay. [311] Then in the early 1840s, after Mormons had been expelled from Missouri, he once again opposed slavery. During his presidential campaign of 1844, he proposed ending slavery by 1850 and compensating slaveholders for their loss. [312] Smith said that blacks were not inherently inferior to whites, and he welcomed slaves into the church. [313] However, he opposed baptizing them without permission of their masters, and he opposed interracial marriage. [314]

Smith declared that he would be one of the instruments in fulfilling Nebuchadnezzar's statue vision in the Book of Daniel: that secular government would be destroyed without "sword or gun", and would be replaced with a "theodemocratic" Kingdom of God. [315] Smith taught that this kingdom would be governed by theocratic principles, but that it would also be multidenominational and democratic, so long as the people chose wisely. [316]


Hidden Gems: Lost Hollywood Jewelry Trove Uncovered in Burbank Warehouse

Oh. My. God. I’ve just been given the location of the largest stash of Golden Age Hollywood jewelry in the world. Worn by stars like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and Greta Garbo, thousands of gems have apparently been gathering dust in an unmarked warehouse, unmolested for half a century. It sounds too good to be true.

What are the chances, I wonder, that the treasures are still there? Wouldn’t they be in the world’s biggest museums by now? Worn by the stars’ great-granddaughters? Divided up and sold at auction?

I have to see for myself, so I book a flight to L.A. Here’s my story.

First Impressions

This entrance doesn’t do justice to the treasures found inside.

As the cab drops me off deep in industrial land, I wonder if I’m in the right place. This is purportedly the longtime studio of Joseff of Hollywood, jewelry maker to the biggest Golden Era movie stars.

Could this really be it? From the outside, it looks like any other drab warehouse. Then, I notice the weathered door and spy the metal lettering bearing the signature “Joseff” logo. There’s no doorbell, so I knock.

Tina Joseff, the daughter-in-law of company founder Eugene Joseff, greets me at the door with a hug. An old-fashioned chime sounds as I step into the lobby. The humble gray entry only hints at the treasures inside: Movie stills hang in frames. To me, it feels as though nothing has changed since 1940.

We explore Joseff’s original workshop. Click image for a larger view.

Tina leads me to the studio, and—whoa! The tiny space, maybe 100 square feet, is entirely painted a startling turquoise blue. A crowned Buddhist-inspired god of jewels welcomes me from the back-wall mural, where he is portrayed dusting the sky with stars (real Swarovski crystals). Another wall is lined with bright blue drawers, topped with golden and bejeweled crowns, tiaras, scepters, and armor, some of which peep out of pirate’s chests. As I walk onto the faded palm-tree carpet, it dawns on me that I am entering a truly magical space.

Michele (left) and Tina Joseff in front of trays housing thousands of famous jewelry pieces.

Tina’s daughter, Michele, and her assistant, Dawn, meet us there, and soon we are joined by Cameron Silver, co-owner of the famous L.A. vintage shop, Decades Inc. I don’t know why I am surprised the studio is so small jewelry doesn’t take up a lot of space.

Here, thousands of pieces of Hollywood history are crammed into drawers and trays. Open up one blue drawer, and you might find snakes another could be all bejeweled daggers. The opposite wall is stacked floor to ceiling with black velvet-lined trays. This is where the most coveted pieces have been carefully catalogued, ordered first by type, and then by gem color.

The “most spectular necklace in the world,” a giant bib worn by Ona Munson in “Shanghai Gesture.”

With all the pieces of history around me, I feel completely overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start or what to ask to see, but Tina and Michele know where to begin. They take out the breathtaking “topaz” bib necklace first worn by Ona Munson in 1941’s “Shangai Gesture.” Dubbed “the most spectacular necklace in the world,” this “wow” piece has appeared in more movies than any piece in the whole collection. I can see why. I can’t take my eyes off it.

The Crown Jewels

The crown jewels of Hollywood, including the snake bracelets worn by Rita Hayworth in 1947’s “Down to Earth,” the leaf brooch worn by Jean Harlow in 1936’s “Libeled Lady,” and the bird bracelets worn in 1944’s “Desert Hawk.” Click on the image to take a closer look.

“This is where we keep the most famous pieces,” says Michele, pointing to a circular glass display case in the corner. There’s Elizabeth Taylor’s serpent belt from “Cleopatra,” Marilyn Monroe’s pearl earrings from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” Scarlet O’Hara’s necklace, and Rhett Butler’s cigar case. Not to mention Jean Harlow’s glamorous “Libeled Lady” brooch, Judy Garland’s “Ziegfeld Follies” lariat necklace, and the exotic bird bracelets from “Desert Hawk.”

The reason this stuff is all here, I think to myself, is a testament to Joseff’s business savvy. Instead of letting the studios keep the best pieces, he held on to them and rented them over and over across the decades. Moreover, since it is “only” costume jewelry, it wasn’t regarded as particularly valuable until very recently.

Open one of the turquoise blue drawers at the Joseff studio, and you might find bejeweled daggers.

I want to absorb everything, to drink it all in. This is my only chance to see all these glimmering bits of history and hear the stories straight from the mouths of the family. Tina and Michele bring me back to earth, offering to let me have a closer look at items in the case. They even let me try a couple of pieces on, including the snake bracelets worn by Rita Hayworth when she played a goddess in 1947’s “Down to Earth.” Right away, I can tell those were definitely made for tiny wrists, as I can barely get them on.

Next, I take a closer look at the snake belt famously worn by Liz Taylor in 1963’s “Cleopatra.” Tina explains that Joseff and his wife and business partner, Joan Castle Joseff, worked mostly with the costume designers. But at times, they got to fit the stars directly, as with this belt.

Elizabeth Taylor insisted that this Joseff of Hollwood snake belt, which she wore in 1963’s “Cleopatra,” had been measured wrong. It now lives in the glass display with other Joseff treasures.

“Joan had gone out to the studios and measured Liz Taylor for a belt for one of the costumes,” Tina recalls. “By the time the belt was created and she took it back for the fitting, it was about 2 1/2 inches too small. Liz Taylor was known for her fluctuating weight back then. But she blamed it on Joan and said that Joan had not measured her correctly. Of course, Joan didn’t argue with her, but she told me, ‘I know I measured right.’ The rule is measure twice, cut once, and Joan was very thorough.

“Those are things that happen in Hollywood,” Tina continues. “She would go with the flow and do whatever was needed to make it work. That was the way both of them were.”

At left, the giant nine-strand faux pearl necklace worn by Bette Davis in 1939’s “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.” At right, the choker Greta Garbo refused to wear for 1936’s “Camille.”

Going back to the black velvet trays, Tina and Michele bring out a tremendous necklace, worn by Bette Davis in 1939’s “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex” and the manly Tyrone Power in 1939’s “The Rains Came,” which may be my favorite thing I’ve seen so far. It has nine long strands of faux-pearls, connected down the middle by crystals set in Joseff’s trademark golden-plated filigree. It’s just so classy, and with a backless gown, it could definitely be red-carpet worthy. I start to wonder: If today’s stars knew about Joseff of Hollywood, would they dare wear it in the spotlight?

With all the pieces of history around me, I feel completely overwhelmed.

As I’m pondering this, the Joseffs take out the elaborate “emerald” and “diamond” necklace that Greta Garbo refused to wear in 1936’s “Camille.” It’s beautiful, but I can see her objections: It appears to be a tight-fitting choker, with uncomfortably pointy sterling silver leaves. “In the scene where she was going to wear the necklace, she was required to have a cape over it,” Tina says. “The necklace cut her from the weight of the cape, so she wouldn’t wear it. The scenes filmed with the necklace ended up on the cutting room floor.”

One thing I don’t see was the single pearl drop Errol Flynn wore in “The Adventures of Don Juan.” Top costume jewelry expert and antique book publisher Judith Miller had told me a particularly amusing story Joan Castle Joseff relayed to her about Flynn, who was rumored to be gay, and this particular earring.

Katharine Hepburn wore this Joseff dual brooch, meant to look like an arrow going through her heart-shaped dress, in 1947’s “Sea of Grass.” The set is one of Tina Joseff’s favorites in the collection.

“Joan told me, ‘No, he really did love the gals, especially between takes,’” Miller said. “They ended up making him 22 of those earrings. Apparently, he lost 21 with the ladies in his dressing room.”

Joseff didn’t mind the hard work. Some movies required hundreds of pieces, Tina explains. “In ‘Anna and the King of Siam,’ the king had multiple wives and 67 children, and they all had to have jewelry,” she says. In fact, 1942’s live-action “The Jungle Book” demanded Joseff provide thousands of pieces.

A thief’s armor for 1942’s “The Jungle Book.”

From the top of the ledge of drawers, Tina and Michele take down a large, red breastplate from “The Jungle Book,” with swirling bejeweled strips of golden metal and golden faces, and put it on the mannequin. This is from one of the sets of armor made for the three thieves in the movie. Tina says that several times a day during the filming, someone from Joseff would have to replace rhinestones that had fallen off the armor due to all the jumping and wrestling the actors had to do.

“For ‘The Jungle Book,’ there were metal vests, large cuffs, and big, heavy belts with a lot of chains that were created specifically for that movie,” she says. “But then, for the treasure trove the thieves discover in the cave, it was full of scrap or broken jewelry pieces and regular coins that were plated to look bright and shiny.”

Michele explains that the jewelry in the trays wasn’t all made by Joseff. Some of it is Trifari. “When he couldn’t make it or even when he just was out somewhere, he bought jewelry just to have it in the rental collection,” she says. ”There were thousands of pieces that are ours. There’s probably hundreds of pieces that are by other makers.”

Eugene Joseff dons the crown and scepter worn by Ronald Colman in 1937’s “The Prisoner of Zenda.” Seventy-some years later, Decades Inc. co-owner Cameron Silver poses in the same crown.

Cameron Silver, a big player in the current Hollywood vintage scene, says he walked in having no idea about Joseff of Hollywood—which tells you something about how out of the spotlight the company’s been in recent decades. But as the magnificent pieces come out, one by one, he gets more and more excited, and begins to bubble with ideas about how to make the company’s legacy known.

Silver dons the crown and scepter worn by Ronald Coleman in 1937’s “The Prisoner of Zenda.” Amusingly enough, an old image of Eugene Joseff shows him looking regal in that very same crown. When Silver puts it on, he resembles Joseff an uncanny amount. “I’m going to call this one “Crowning Around,” Silver declares.

From left: Tina and Michele Joseff, me, and Cameron Silver. I’m thinking, “Please don’t let Shirley Temple’s crown fall off my head!”

Inspired by Silver, we decide to get a picture of all of us in crowns, everyone picking one from the stash on the ledge. Michele says to me, “Here, do you want to wear Shirley Temple’s crown?” and hands me the tiara and scepter the child star wore in 1939’s “The Little Princess.” It feels very precarious on my head. I nervously imagine it crashing to the ground, but it doesn’t.

How It All Started

Crowns and scepters were probably the last things on Eugene Joseff’s mind when he started working in the advertising business in Chicago, where he also did an apprenticeship in an art foundry. There, he learned how to forge statuettes and other decorative items out of bronze. He left in 1928 to make his future in California, specifically, Hollywood.

Thanks to his “outgoing and wild personality,” Eugene Joseff quickly fell into the movie-making crowd when he landed in Hollywood in the late 1920s. “He just was the type that attracted people to him,” says Tina, who started working for the company in 1972.

Joseff and his brother Jimmy Glaser look at their wares. The huge acrylic headpiece was worn by Virginia Bruce in 1936’s “The Great Ziegfeld.”

The year after his move, the Great Stock Market Crash sent the economy into a devastating tailspin that left a large number of Americans broke and jobless. Fortunately for Joseff, Hollywood was the place to be during the ’30s and ’40s, when impoverished Americans found refuge in films. For a couple dimes, they could fantasize about times of wealth and glamour.

“Eugene Joseff revolutionized the way jewelry was used in movies.”

Joseff’s Hollywood-insider friends, like costume designer Walter Plunkett, would take him to the movies they made or invite him to visit their movie sets. Instead of being intimidated, Joseff would loudly mock the jewelry the costumers put on the actresses.

“He wasn’t shy,” Tina says. “He was criticizing the use of modern jewelry in period films. It became a challenge—what can you do to make it better?—and he did.”

Joseff accepted this challenge, and set out to make the most historically accurate costume jewelry possible. He dug into historical books and piles of bound magazines like “Ladies Field” and “Harper’s Bazar” from the Victorian Era. He traveled, visited museums, and studied pieces from the Renaissance and ancient times in detail.

“He wasn’t shy. He was going on set and criticizing that they were using modern jewelry on period films.”

At his Sunset Boulevard home in Hollywood, Joseff began experimenting with processes for making costume jewelry in his garage. With his brother Jimmy Glaser, he founded Sunset Jewelry Manufacturing. After a couple years Jimmy—who was married to Hollywood costume designer Leah Rhodes—left the company, and Eugene began to look for jewelry craftsmen to work with, while continuing to tinker on his own.

“He did a lot self-taught and through trial and error,” Tina says. “He had a creative mind, and he didn’t mind making mistakes. When he first started out, he was gathering leaves and little acorns and bugs and cabinet knobs, turning those into castings. He was doing a lot of experiments with what he could accomplish with pouring metal.”

Groundbreaking Innovations

Grace Kelly wore Joseff of Hollywood chandelier earrings in 1956’s “High Society”

According to Tina, he started perusing industry publications like “Hollywood Reporter” or “Variety” to find out what films were in the works. Then he’d call up the studios to say, “I think I can provide jewelry for this. Give me a script,” or “Give me some sketches.”

“Jewelry didn’t really appear in movies too much before he came along,” Tina says. “I think the costumers had either just gone to a department store and bought the jewelry, or in many cases, it probably belonged to the star herself and she just accessorized her own outfit.”

At first, Joseff was working with a limited budget, making pieces to order, which inspired him to start renting his jewelry to studios, a concept he pioneered.

Vivian Leigh wears Joseff in a dining scene with Clark Gable in 1939’s “Gone With the Wind.”

“When he started out, he didn’t have a collection he only had pieces as he made them.” Tina explains. “So he thought, ‘I spent so much money making this piece how am I going to get my money back?’ Then it occurred to him, ‘I can make it once, and rent it 10 times.’ If he had just sold it, he would’ve been out the piece, he wouldn’t have developed a collection, and everything would’ve been back to square one.”

In the ’30s and ’40s, Joseff was supplying over 90 percent of the jewelry in the movies. according to Michele. “Antiques Roadshow” appraiser Rosalie Sayyah, a costume jewelry expert who goes by the name “Rhinestone Rosie,” agrees that Joseff, who employed between 35 and 70 during his company’s peak years, made an impact on Hollywood and fashion that cannot be underestimated.

Rhett Butler’s one-of-a-kind cigar case from “Gone With the Wind” will never be rented to a movie studio again. Same goes for his belt buckle and Scarlett O’Hara’s jewelry.

“Hands down, Eugene Joseff revolutionized the way jewelry was used in movies,” Sayyah says. “He was also a marketing genius and a perfectionist. He manufactured his own jewelry because the manufacturers told him, ‘You can’t make this look as good as you want it to be,’ so he did his own thing.”

Not only did he set high standards for himself, Joseff was also thrifty and resourceful, Sayyah says. “He would make a piece for one movie and then it might be disassembled and reassembled in another way for another movie,” she explains. “He was very organized, so he could either re-create something using parts he already had, or he would say, ‘Yes, I can have that for you,’ and he would build the piece from the ground up.”

Where It’s Still Made

Jewelry parts are still stored in cigar boxes, as they were in Joseff’s time. The writing on the boxes has yet to be decoded, but Tina and Michele know the numbers have to do with the dealer Joseff bought his parts from and the price he paid. Click image for a larger view.

“When he first started out, he cast leaves, acorns, bugs, and cabinet knobs in metal.”

The workshop where Joseff kept all of his parts and forged his famous pieces is still there, in the room behind the studio. Tina and Michele take me there next. We greet Lucy Koch, who’s been with the company for 50 years and still puts the jewelry together by hand.

This room has a wall stacked floor to ceiling with old cigar boxes—the same ones used by Joseff all those years ago. They’re filled with large metal findings shaped like flowers, skulls, and animals like snakes or elephants. Small findings are kept in a card catalog, while a rainbow of Swarovski crystals are stored in clear glass jars and chains hang from the ceilings and walls.

Joseff and actress Katherine Wilson look over his supply of chains. Joseff always kept plenty of chains on hand to meet emergency studio orders. The cigar boxes behind Wilson are the same ones used today.

I’m shocked at the cluttered, messy state of the two work tables. As I study the jumble on a table, I find it hard to believe this is where those exotic pieces worn by Hollywood’s biggest stars were born. It’s like a woodshop, but instead of sawdust, the table is covered with glittery rhinestones, and a Bunsen burner is still aflame.

A work station where jewelry has been made for Hollywood’s biggest stars. Click image for a larger view.

After we leave the studio, Tina takes me and Silver outside and then to the manufacturing plant, where Joseff’s trademark metal jewelry findings are cast. As World War II began brewing in 1939, Joseff also turned his metalworking talents toward developing techniques for manufacturing airplane parts for McDonnell Douglas, and founded Precision Investment Castings, the successful jet-parts company the Joseffs are still running today. At the same time, the Joseff of Hollywood retail and Hollywood rental businesses were flourishing.

Surprisingly, the process for making airplane parts isn’t all that different from making jewelry. All the jewelry findings are cast in pot metal while the plane parts are cast in stainless steel. Tina says it doesn’t make much difference to the workers whether they’re casting jewelry or jet pieces. “It basically goes down the same assembly line,” Tina explains.

Rows of Swarovski rhinestones (Joseff uses no other) adorn the walls of the tiny Joseff workshop.

“It’s so ironic that these two things are being made the same way and are so different,” Silver says later, in the studio. “It just is kind of bizarre.”

Michele agrees, “One is so beautiful and the other is so utilitarian.”

One reason Joseff was so successful in Hollywood was that he developed a special plating technique known as the “antique” or “Renaissance look” that gave his jewelry a veneer of authenticity, Tina says. Even better, his pieces didn’t reflect the bright lights used during the filming.

“Today, people are still trying to figure out his plating technique that creates that Renaissance feel, which gives a piece a look like it has an age about it,” Tina says. “It isn’t just bright and shiny—it has depth. No one else has actually figured out that process yet. I’ve seen some people try to replicate it, and so far they’ve been unsuccessful. The pieces that they make are sort of muddy looking, almost like they’ve got dirt on them. His movie pieces were quite vibrant. That antique look was his signature in Hollywood.”

The Joseff manufacturing plant is in the small building behind the studio. This is where the pieces are cast, before they become the beautiful baubles we see onscreen.

After casting, the jewelry bits are brought to the plating area. Tina points it out: This is where the Joseff magic happens. Each piece is plated with Joseff’s “secret sauce,” a recipe and technique that will forever remain a Joseff family secret. This plating sauce used to simmer in much larger pots, Tina explains. But because it involves cyanide, the company switched to these surprisingly small Pyrex dishes, the sort you’d make soup in.

After casting, pieces are brought to the plating area. Each piece of metal is plated with Joseff’s “secret sauce,” which gives Joseff pieces their signature antique look.

In addition to this “antique look,” Joseff made his period jewelry even more authentic by employing ancient setting techniques, says “Antiques Roadshow” appraiser Rosalie Sayyah.

“He used a lot of what we call a bezel set,” she says. “In other words, it was not simply prongs holding the stones in. It was a smooth crown that encased the stones. He used a bezel setting because that’s how a lot of the older period pieces he was emulating were set.”

Going Retail

Joseff is pictured delivering his wares to Buffums department store in a newspaper ad from 1948.

Thanks to his cunning and innovative approach to movie jewelry, Joseff became something of a celebrity in his own right. He went as far as to legally change his name to just Joseff.

“Before Cher, before Madonna, there was Joseff,” Tina says. “He worked side-by-side with famous Hollywood costume designers including Walter Plunkett, Rene Hubert, Milo Anderson, Orry-Kelly, and Charles LeMaire, creating the pieces along with their costumes.”

Carole Lombard wears Joseff on the January 1940’s “Photoplay,” and Joan Crawford flaunts a Joseff brooch on the February 1948 issue of “Motion Picture.” February 1948’s “Movie Show,” with Tyrone Power and Ann Blyth on the cover, features an article penned by Joseff entitled, ”Let’s Be Glamorous!”

In the mid-’30s, many actresses asked Joseff for copies of the pieces they wore in their films. “Actresses wore Joseff on the set, and then they wore it when they went out,” says costume jewelry expert Judith Miller. “People felt that anybody who was wealthy could buy precious jewelry. There was a bit of a Hollywood cachet to wearing costume.”

Regular women, in turn, would see photos of their favorite stars in magazines like “Coronet,” “Movie Stars Parade,” or “Movie Secrets” and covet them. And it struck Joseff, “Why shouldn’t we make every woman in the world feel like a movie star?” And so he expanded his business to retail around 1937, offering pieces for as much as $2.50, a steep price for the time. The line was sold at Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus, Bullock’s, Macy’s, Saks, all over.

“The women in the movies of the ’30s and ’40s were very brassy and bold,” Sayyah says. “It changed after that. But with those Golden Era women, there was something different going on. Even if you weren’t that type of woman, it made you feel proud and a little sassy yourself when you would wear something you saw in a movie. These women are solving crimes, they’re newspaper reporters, they’re running around. They usually end up in the lead. They were ahead of the liberated woman craze in the ’60s and ’70s. These were women that rose above the commonplace, so we also associate the jewelry with that.”

Love and Tragedy

While he was great at designing the jewelry, as well as socializing and networking, Joseff found the demands of managing a retail business overwhelming. So in the late 1930s, he made a call to Sawyer’s Business College for a secretary to help him manage the retail side. The school sent a sharp business-minded young woman by the name of Joan Castle, or “J.C.,” who was also working on a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA.

Newlyweds Joan Castle Joseff and Eugene Joseff at Lake Mead, Nevada, for their 1942 honeymoon. Joan wears the 10 bells necklace from the retail line.

“She fell in love with him immediately, and I’m sure he was attracted to her also,” Tina says. “As they worked close for hours and hours a day, their personalities clicked. What one lacked, the other had, and so they just fell in love. She married the boss in 1942, and they had a son, Jeff, in 1947. They worked hand-in-hand, creating the pieces. They just had a marvelous relationship. They both were vivacious personalities, and very self-confident. Both of them had this great aura about them that they were destined to do greater things.”

Unfortunately, as Joseff of Hollywood was reaching its peak in the late 1940s, tragedy struck. When he was 42 years old, flying his own plane out of Newhall, California, in 1948, Joseff crashed his aircraft, and everyone on the plane was killed. Joan, his surviving wife and partner, took over his businesses, which she stayed involved with until her death at age 97 in 2010. All three still operate out of the Burbank studio I’m visiting.

Joan is pictured in the Joseff library in 1937, wearing a Joseff sun brooch. The necklace shown in the book was replicated for Norma Shearer in 1938’s “Marie Antoinette.”

“Our family is so proud and happy that Joan continued the businesses after he passed away under such tragic circumstances,” Tina says. “To be a businesswoman running three businesses in the ’40s was just unheard of. She wasn’t a quitter. She just kept it going, and if it hadn’t been for her, it wouldn’t be here today.”

Why Joseff Lost Its Crown

Joan was a savvy businesswoman, so she recognized that tides were turning in the 1950s: As Americans became prosperous and had more access to precious metals and gemstones, regular women wanting glamour began to turn their noses up at over-the-top costume jewelry in favor of more discrete fine jewelry. In 1956, Prince Rainer III of Monaco adorned his bride, Hollywood star Grace Kelly, with a real diamond tiara and necklace by Cartier, and that seems to have snowballed into the current trend of celebrities wearing only fine jewelry on the red carpet.

“In Hollywood’s Golden Age, stars would wear our necklaces and earrings to the Academy Awards, but these days they get lent the real stuff worth millions,” Michele says.

Joan Castle Joseff looks on, horrified, as Shirley Jones, who starred in many Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, pretends to touch a Christmas tree made of Joseff jewelry during a company holiday party.

As tastes changed in the 1950s, Joan adapted the retail line to focus on cute, figural brooches, which were tremendously popular. At the same time, Joseff of Hollywood was making its mark on the young medium of television, on shows like “I Love Lucy” and “Queen for a Day,” while Joan became active in the Republican Party. Meanwhile, the airplane-parts side of business, Precision Investment Castings, got a contract making military plane parts for the Korean War, employing as many as 240 people at its peak.

Movie studios themselves are partially to blame for the end of Joseff’s reign. For decades, while they rented and returned Joseff pieces, the studios had also been building their own permanent costume jewelry collections. By the late ‘60s, they didn’t have to rely on Joseff as much. But the ‘70s delivered the most devastating blow to Joseff’s reign, thanks to the newfound taste for realism and naturalism in film. Suddenly, the grandiose escapism of the Golden Era was gone.

However, Joan kept the companies afloat. She found a new niche for Joseff of Hollywood in ‘80s primetime soap operas like “Dallas” and “Dynasty” that reveled in ostentatious displays of wealth. As Joseff jewelry faded into obscurity, Precision Investment Castings—for airplanes and now NASA space crafts as well—thrived.

Lucille Ball wears a Joseff of Hollywood necklace and bracelet set. The company provided much of the jewelry seen in “I Love Lucy” and was even a plot point in an episode.

These days, Tina runs the jet-part sales side, which dominates the family business by a ratio of 95 to 5 percent. But Joseff of Hollywood costume jewelry still sells in specialty boutiques, for prices ranging from $100 to $2,000. And it pops up occasionally on the Nickelodeon kids’ TV show, “Supah Ninjas,” as well as movies like the first “Pirates of the Caribbean,” 2011’s “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1,” and the Harvey Keitel mob-movie spoof, “The Last Godfather.”

Joseff of Hollywood also remains a favorite of costume jewelry fanatics, who mobbed Tina and Michele’s booth at the last Costume Jewelry Collectors International Convention and snapped up every piece of Joseff they could get their hands on.

How Little Has Changed

Joan shown at her desk at the Joseff of Hollywood studio in 1953.

Back in the studio, Tina and Michele show me several of Koch’s latest pieces. It’s impossible to tell the difference between what’s new and what’s vintage because many pieces are made from those same vintage findings we’d seen earlier in the workshop.

From the looks of the file cabinet stuffed to the gills with archives, it’s obvious that Joan also had an obsessive side, which most collectors can appreciate. There’s a file of just photos from the fabulous Christmas parties they used to throw. Not only do they have the memory, but they also have the proof.

One studio wall is lined with trays of Joseff jewelry. The pieces are organized by type and by color. This is funny because the movie stills the Joseffs have to identify pieces are in black-and-white.

“We also have a whole building that’s nothing but storage, and it’s box after box after box of papers, newspaper articles, and magazine articles,” Tina Joseff says. “She saved things like airline tickets and matchbooks from hotels, so I know where she’s been and I know how long she stayed. She kept just all sorts of odd, little things that you wouldn’t even know people collect, but she did. She just saved everything. She really left behind quite an archive.”

“In the 󈧢s and 󈧬s, it made you feel a little sassy when you wore something you saw in a movie.”

Tina Joseff’s daughter, Michele, is currently working on photographing and archiving the whole collection to post it on the company web site, in hopes of making the studio rental process smoother, and breathing new life into the once-bustling movie rental business.

That said, the Joseffs are particular about who they rent their jewelry to. Not just any Joe can walk in off the street and walk away with a historic piece of jewelry.

“There are people that we work with all the time that we trust and that I know take very good care,” Tina says. “If it’s somebody new that I’ve never met, I’m a little more leery about renting to them. When I see how they treat the jewelry after they bring it back—if it’s all in the trays, it’s laid out nice, and they’ve got the covers on it—I know they respect the jewelry for what it is.”

This turquoise vault of Hollywood treasures has been meticulously preserved through half a century.

But some pieces, naturally, can never be rented, because they’re irreplaceable historical film artifacts. They’ve traveled the world appearing in museum shows in Barcelona, Paris, Milan, and London, as well as the L.A. County Museum of Art, and the Academy of Motion Pictures, but they’ll never see the bright studio lights again.

“There’s only one of the Clark Gable cigar case from ‘Gone With the Wind,’” Tina explains as we wrap up the tour. “That piece will never leave our studio except maybe as a museum exhibit. Its rental days are over.”

Which makes this visit to the hidden Joseff of Hollywood studio all the more magical. Rarely would someone like me get the chance to see—much less touch or try on—these valuable Hollywood treasures, without a personal invitation from Tina Joseff herself.

Don’t even think of asking me for the address—I’ll never tell!

Joan poses wearing her company’s crown jewels on her voluminous skirt.

(All movie stills and archival photos courtesy Joseff of Hollywood. Contemporary photos of the Joseff studio and workshop by Joanna Mangan. Special thanks to Cameron Silver of Decades Inc. for crowning around with me.)


The Shore Blog

The barrier island on which Stone Harbor is located was once a juniper forest occupied by the Leni-Lenape Indians. In 1722, the 2725-acre island was purchased for the equivalent of $380 by Aaron Leaming who thereafter named it Leaming’s Island. The Leaming family owned the island for approximately 100 years, during which time it was used as a cattle range and a source of timber. The island was sold by the Leamings, passed through several different owners and finally renamed “Seven Mile Island”.

In 1848 a coastal life-saving service was created and stations were erected along the Atlantic coast to assist swimmers and shipwreck survivors. The U.S. Coast Guard Station #35, known as Tatham’s Life Saving Station, was built in 1895 on what would later become 2nd Avenue in Stone Harbor. In 2008 the building, which still exists, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today it serves as an American Legion Post and museum where war memorabilia and maritime artifacts are displayed.

In 1887 the island was purchased by the Seven Mile Beach Company with the intention of creating a seaside resort. The developers referred to it as the “Jewel of the Jersey Coast” when promoting the island to prospective, wealthy visitors.

Two years later, the company gave permission to the West Jersey Railroad Company to build tracks to run the length of the island, joining up with tracks that already ran from Philadelphia to Ludlam’s Island. To allow trains to continue south onto Seven Mile Island, a newly constructed railroad bridge had to be built across Townsends Inlet.

Once the bridge was completed, the tracks ran to 37th Street in Avalon but stopped because, beyond that point, the remaining island terrain consisted of only sand dunes and maritime forest lands.

In 1891 a development company bought the land south of Avalon. They named it Stone Harbor after a mariner named Captain Stone sought harbor here during a storm.

The first residential building was constructed in 1892, a five-story hotel called the Abbotsford Inn. It was located near 80th Street. Shortly thereafter seven cottages were constructed from 80th to 83rd Streets.

In 1907, the sand dunes that surrounded the newly developing community of Stone Harbor were levelled off, marshes were filled in and streets were paved. Dune Drive, which ran along the coast on the eastern side of the island starting in Avalon, was eventually extended and renamed “Second Avenue” at the border of Stone Harbor.

Likewise, Ocean Drive in Avalon, which runs along the western side of the island, was extended into Stone Harbor and named “Third Avenue”. Two basins were dredged along the waterway, and seawalls and bulkheads were built to protect the land. Eight jetties were also built to protect the beaches. It worked – over the next several years, Stone Harbor’s beaches

In 1910, a series of beach bungalows were built 109th to 111th Streets between 2nd and 3rdAvenues – this area became known as the “Bungalow Colony”.

The railroad was the primary mode of transportation for visitors to the island until roadways were constructed in the early 1900s. However, in 1911 it is said that then-Governor of New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson, drove the first spike in the railroad connection that was being built between Cape May Courthouse and Stone Harbor – two years before he would become a two-term President. The railroad was completed in 1912, but not before a highway at 96th Street opened, allowing visitors to arrive on the island by way of automobile.

The year of 1912 was important in Stone Harbor’s history as it was when many firsts occurred in the growing community. The first lifeguard and first police man were hired and the first volunteer fire department formed.

The original Shelter Haven Hotel was built at southwest corner of 96th, and it was the first time that coastal air mail delivery was made by a Wright Brothers plane when mail was flown between Ocean City and Stone Harbor. The town saw many advancements in growth during these years, and by 1914 it was incorporated as a borough.

Within the next few years, a boardwalk was constructed with a theater and motion picture building, as well as a fishing pier at 106th Street. However, both of these structures, along with several beachfront homes, were destroyed in the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944. In 1920, Springer’s began a tradition of delighting families with its famous homemade ice cream, a tradition that continues today.

In 1937, Villa Maria By the Sea Convent opened a summer retreat home for the sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary Congregation at 111th Street. The huge building faced a beautiful stretch of private beach. Years ago, noting that it would be a perfect surfing location, some local surfers approached the nuns and respectfully requested to use the beach for surfing. Since the nuns only used it for a couple hours each afternoon, they readily agreed. Today, it is known as “Nun’s Beach”. In 1996, the surfers organized a surfing competition as a way to thank the Sisters for their generous use of their beach and to raise funds for the religious summer retreat. The competition, which is held each September, became so popular that its original purpose as a small-town event was lost. Now the event is by invitation only with some spots reserved for newcomers. It is a day-long event with concession stands selling food, drinks and merchandise and a dinner follows the day’s events. Each summer a new Nun’s Beach tee shirt is designed and sold. The motto of the event is “Pray for Surf”.

The Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary, a 21.5-acre nature preserve where birds of many species can feed and nest, was established in 1947. The area is registered as a National Landmark by the National Park Service.

In 1969, the Wetlands Institute was established. In addition to educational exhibits, classes and tours, the Institute includes more 6,000 acres of natural wetlands with a trail and observation deck.

In the 1940s, the Harbor Theater was built on 96th Street. It was renovated and reopened in 2016 to include food and drink service from the adjoining Harbor Burger Bar. Today, the Harbor Square Theater is only movie theater still operating on the South Jersey coast.

Throughout the years, 96th Street in Stone Harbor has developed into a popular, quaint shopping district with unique shops, boutiques and restaurants. In 2013 the luxury resort, The Reeds at Shelter Haven, opened at the corner of 96th Street and Third Avenue to provide upscale accommodations to overnight guests. With several restaurants and a beautiful location overlooking the bay, Reeds has become a popular destination for wedding parties and relaxing getaway weekends. It was built at the same location as the original Shelter Haven hotel operated for decades as a popular vacation destination.

With beautiful beaches, various overnight lodging options, a popular shopping district and an active waterfront, Stone Harbor has become what its original planners hoped it would – the seashore at its finest.

Do you, or does your family or business, have a history in Stone Harbor? We’re interested in hearing from people whose families were original or early settlers, or who own or owned a business, or who have other historical information to share such as living or working here in past summers, meeting your significant others, getting engaged or married here or any other human interest story. If so, and if you would like to share your story, please contact us by clicking here. The information you provide us is through this link is confidential and we will contact you to gain more information, as well as your full permission, before we disclose any information you provide. Thank you, and please don’t hesitate to contact us! (Note: for your privacy, do not include your information in the Leave A Reply box below unless you wish others to see your information).

Note: The information contained within this historical account has been gleaned from various resources. If you notice any inaccuracies, please do not hesitate to reach out to us so that we may correct the information.

To learn more Stone Harbor, please follow the links below:


Anthropoid (2016)

Prepared in early October of 1941 by the British Special Operations Executive and approved by the Czechoslovak government-in-exile, Operation Anthropoid was a Czechoslovakian-led mission to assassinate the Nazi's third in command, SS officer Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution and the head of Nazi forces in Czechoslovakia. In order to carry out the assassination, soldiers from the Czechoslovakian army-in-exile, including Josef Gab&ccaroník (Cillian Murphy in the film) and Jan Kubi&scaron (portrayed by Jamie Dornan), parachuted into their occupied homeland of Czechoslovakia during the night of December 28-29, 1941. In a city on lockdown, the paratroopers recruited the help of local loyalists in order to blend in and lay low while figuring out how to carry out the assassination.

Were the Nazis aware of the arrival of the Czechoslovak parachutists?

Did Josef Gab&ccaroník really injure himself when he parachuted into his occupied homeland?

Yes. Like in the movie, the real Josef Gab&ccaroník injured himself during the jump, and he received medical attention through a reliable member of the resistance movement. -Assassination book

Was Jan Kubi&scaron really so terrified that his hands shook whenever he aimed his pistol?

No. In the Anthropoid movie, Jan Kubi&scaron (Jamie Dornan) is initially so scared of his assignment that his hands shake whenever he aims his weapon. While fact-checking Anthropoid, we learned that this is an entirely fictional character trait given to Dornan's character to make him seem even more courageous in the movie's climax. -The A.V. Club

Did some members of the Czechoslovakian resistance really oppose the plan to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich?

Yes. After learning of the plan to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich (the Nazis' third in command behind Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler), members of the resistance attempted to contact London to tell them to call off the operation or to pick a target that would result in less German retaliation. One such warning from the resistance, which was intercepted by the Gestapo, stated that the "assassination would not help the Allies and would bring immense consequences upon our nation. we ask you to give an order through SILVER not to carry out the assassination."

In the movie, Czech resistance figure Ladislav Van&ecaronk (Marcin Dorocinski) is vocal in his opposition to Operation Anthropoid after learning the details of the mission. In researching the Anthropoid true story, we learned that after the real Ladislav Van&ecaronk was arrested by the Gestapo on September 4, 1942, he turned on his fellow countrymen, giving the Gestapo a full confession and helping to indict other members of the resistance. -Assassination book

Did Gab&ccaroník's machine gun really fail during the assassination attempt?

Yes. As SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich's black Mercedes 320 C convertible (chauffeured by SS-Oberscharführer Johannes Klein) slowed down to round a sharp curve leading into V Hole&scaronovi&ccaronkách Street, Josef Gab&ccaroník jumped in front of the vehicle holding a STEN machine gun. As he was about to fire at Heydrich, his machine gun failed. Resorting to plan B, Jan Kubi&scaron pulled a special bomb from his briefcase that had a highly sensitive impact fuse. He pulled the pin and with an underhand motion he attempted to toss it into the Reich Protector's convertible. Instead, the bomb exploded above the car's running board, just forward of the right rear fender. It punctured the body and blew open the right door, but seemingly did nothing else (Assassination book). Watch a recreation of the Reinhard Heydrich assassination attempt.

Did Josef Gab&ccaroník and Jan Kubi&scaron not realize that Reinhard Heydrich had been wounded in the blast?

Yes. After the grenade-style bomb thrown by Jan Kubi&scaron exploded next to the convertible and not in it, Kubi&scaron and Josef Gab&ccaroník quickly made their escape as Reinhard Heydrich and his driver began to fire at them, not realizing that the blast had caused a small portion of the car's shell to puncture the right front seat, critically injuring the Nazis' third in command. A passing supply truck stopped and took the injured Heydrich to nearby Bulovka Hospital, while his driver pursued Gab&ccaroník on foot. -Assassination book

What were the extent of SS officer Reinhard Heydrich's injuries from the assassination attempt?

The May 27, 1942 assassination attempt left Reinhard Heydrich with critical but seemingly survivable injuries. At 3:26 pm on the day of the blast, SS-Standartenführer Horst Böhme reported the results of Heydrich's first operation to Berlin via teleprint: "&hellipa lacerated wound to the left of the back vertebrae without damage to the spinal cord. The projectile, a piece of sheet metal, shattered the 11th rib, punctured the stomach lining, and finally lodged in the spleen. The wound contains a number of horsehair and hair, probably material originating from the upholstery. The dangers: festering of the pleura due to pleurisy. During the operation the spleen was removed." Roughly eight days later, Heydrich died from sepsis after infection had set in. -Assassination book

How long did the paratroopers remain in hiding?

All seven paratroopers involved in carrying out the May 27, 1942 assassination eventually sought refuge in the Orthodox Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius (also known as the Karel Boromejsky Church) on Resslova Street in Prague. The paratroopers included the primary assassins, Jan Kubi&scaron and Josef Gab&ccaroník, in addition to Josef Val&ccaroník, Josef Bublík, Jan Hrubý, Jaroslav &Scaronvarc and Adolf Opálka. The true story reveals that they hid in the church until the morning of June 18, 1942, when SS forces had the building surrounded and began searching its grounds. The battle began when the Gestapo and SS made their way into the inner section of the church, where they encountered Jan Kubi&scaron, Adolf Opálka and Josef Bublík keeping guard in the choir and gallery. -Assassination book

Was young A&tcarona Moravec really tortured and shown his mother's head?

Yes, like in the movie, the Gestapo tortured A&tcarona Moravec and stupefied him with alcohol. He broke after they showed him his mother's head floating in a fish tank. A&tcarona revealed the whereabouts of the parachutists when he told the Gestapo that his mother had instructed him to go to the catacombs of the Karel Boromejsky Church if he was ever in trouble. -The Killing of Reinhard Heydrich

Did the Nazis retaliate for the death of Reinhard Heydrich?

Yes. In fact-checking the Anthropoid movie, we learned that the Nazis massacred the Czechoslovakian villages of Lidice and Le&zcaronáky, literally wiping Lidice from the map. A false lead had led the Nazis to believe that two Czech pilots from Lidice had been involved in the assassination of Heydrich. Even after learning the truth, the fate of Lidice had been decided. All men between ages 15 and 84 were executed (173 total). 53 Lidice woman died in concentration camps. 81 children who were deemed racially inappropriate for Germanization were murdered by the exhaust fumes of modified trucks at the Nazi extermination camp in Chelmno on Ner. The village houses were burned to the ground, along with the Lidice shop buildings and St. Martin's church. The town's cemetery was completely destroyed, the village trees were cut down, and the village pond was filled in with debris, leaving nothing to remain of the town.

German retaliation for Reinhard Heydrich's assassination didn't end there. Hundreds of Czech patriots were condemned to death following the May 27, 1942 assassination attempt (which ultimately proved fatal). In under a month's time, from May 28 to June 24, the Nazis condemned 695 Czech loyalists to death, including 589 men and 106 women. In the end, more than 13,000 were arrested and as many as 5,000 were murdered in reprisals. Jan Kubi&scaron' girlfriend Anna Malinová was one of those arrested. She subsequently died in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. -Assassination book

Did the Nazis really attempt to flush the paratroopers out of the church crypt using teargas and water?

Yes. As the Nazis swarmed the inside of the church, the battle shifted to the church crypt, with the only visible entrance being a small ventilation opening on the outside of the church. By now, Adolf Opálka and Josef Bublík had shot themselves in order to prevent capture after being wounded. Jan Kubi&scaron eventually bled to death from multiple wounds from grenade blasts. The Nazis then attempted to use teargas and fire brigade water hoses to fill the crypt. Before long, a secret door to the underground chamber was discovered under a carpet near the altar. The Germans blew up the stone slab door with explosives, revealing a steep staircase leading down to the crypt. Before the Germans could reach them, the four remaining paratroopers took their own lives with their pistols. -Assassination book

Did paratrooper Karel &Ccaronurda really betray his fellow countrymen, leading to them being discovered at the church?

Yes. Karel &Ccaronurda, who had left Prague immediately after the assassination and hid out with his mother, eventually succumbed to his fear of being caught and decided to betray his fellow soldiers (he claims he did it for the reward money - 1,000,000 Reichsmarks). He first tried sending a letter in which he pointed out Jan Kubi&scaron and Josef Gab&ccaroník as being the assassins of Reinhard Heydrich. When the letter failed to get the Nazis' attention, Karel &Ccaronurda went to Prague on June 16, 1942 and reported his information directly to the Gestapo (as shown in the movie). He not only betrayed his fellow paratroopers, he also told the Gestapo the names of everyone who had helped them. The information resulted in the deaths of dozens of Czech patriots and their families, including the Moravec family, whose Prague apartment had been the paratroopers' main sanctuary. Brutal interrogations of patriots the following day led to the Gestapo discovering where the paratroopers were hiding.

During our investigation into the Anthropoid movie true story, we discovered that, like in the film, Karel &Ccaronurda was present with the Nazis at the church on the day of the attack and identified the paratroopers' bodies when they were brought out. He was given a new identity (Karl Jerhot). He married a German woman and collaborated with the Nazis for the remainder of the war. After Germany fell to the Allies and the war ended, &Ccaronurda was hunted down and hanged for treason on April 29, 1947. -Assassination book

Watch a short documentary detailing the day of the assassination, then view a Reinhard Heydrich biography that features home movie footage of the high-ranking Nazi official with his wife and children.


Joseph in Ancient Egyptian History

It’s rather amazing how historians and archaeologists have managed to “explain away” evidences which validate the Biblical account. Myths and legends derived from actual events of Biblical times are found all over the world, such as the multitude of “flood” stories, but to the unbeliever, these only “prove” that the Bible was influenced by these myths. The fact is that these myths are satanic corruptions of the truth- designed by Satan to convince man that, in his own cleverness, he is smarter than God. And ultimately, this kind of thinking leads a person to deny entirely the existence of God and the truth of the Bible.
Yet, no one seems to think it strange that every known civilization has had some type of religious system. If there is no God, where did this idea of “religion and gods” come from? It came from the original truths known by the original post-flood family of Noah. And the facts are that the evidences found validate the Biblical account, not the myths and legends. But there will always be those who simply will not see.

Some of these great evidences relate to the story of Joseph in ancient Egypt. Inscriptions on a monument to Horemheb, a pharaoh several years after the Exodus, provide evidence of the story of Joseph’s pharaoh’s invitation to Jacob’s family to come to Egypt and live. It tells of a community of shepherds from the “north” asking Egypt to allow them to pasture their cattle “as was the custom of the father of their fathers from the beginning”.

There is also a picture in the tomb of Tehuti-hetep in Bersheh which has a picture of a herd of Syrian cattle entering Egypt with the inscription: “Once you trod the Syrian sands. Now, here in Egypt, you shall feed in green pastures. (Light from the Ancient Past, by Jack Finegan.)

The evidences which parallel the story of Joseph in more detail are the focus of this newsletter. But first, we must set the stage. According to our chronology, taken from the Biblical record, the flood was in about 2348 BC. Abraham left Haran in about 1921 BC, about 427 years later.

Soon after this (we don’t know exactly how soon) he and Sarah went to Egypt because of a famine in Canaan. The Biblical account is extremely short on the subject of Abraham’s visit to Egypt (Gen. 12:10-20) but we do learn that Abraham misled the pharaoh about who Sarah was- he told him she was his sister. This was partially true since she was his half-sister, but she was also his wife.

The pharaoh, because of her beauty, took her to his palace. (Gen. 12:12-15). The king paid Abraham well for Sarah (verse 16) but God intervened, causing some types of plagues to fall upon the pharaoh. (verse 17). When the pharaoh figured out the cause for these inflictions, he called Abraham to account, asking him why he lied to him about Sarah. (verse 18, 19). He then ordered his men to escort Abraham and his entourage out of Egypt. (verse 20). Egypt at this time was already a rich nation, for it was at this time that Abraham became rich in cattle, gold and silver, given to him as payment for Sarah. (Gen. 13:1,2).

And there is good evidence that it was at this time that the regulation prohibiting the Egyptians from eating, drinking or fraternizing with foreign shepherds was instituted. (Gen. 46:34). Josephus relates that Abraham was responsible for bringing the knowledge of arithmetic and astronomy to the Egyptians, which may also be true. We believe the time of Abraham’s visit to Egypt was early in the 1st Dynasty. It would be about 200 years later when Joseph would be elevated to his high position in Egypt, second only to the pharaoh. And in the 3rd Dynasty, there appears on the scene a most incredible individual in the ancient records- a man called “Imhotep”.

For many years, Egyptologists had doubted that Imhotep had been a real person- they found it rather difficult to believe the various accomplishments credited to him in the accounts written over a thousand years after he was supposed to have lived.

At times, Imhotep has been termed the “Leonardo da Vinci” of ancient Egypt, but in fact he was more than that. Da Vinci gained the reputation of a genius- Imhotep was eventually elevated to the status of a god.

In Egypt’s long list of “gods”, very few were ever once living among them. Imhotep was. Manetho wrote that “during his [Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty] reign lived Imouthes [i.e., Imhotep], who, because of his medical skill has the reputation of Asclepius [the Greek god of medicine] among the Egyptians and who was the inventor of the art of building with hewn stone.” It was this statement that caused the specialists to doubt the existence of a real man named Imhotep. But in 1926, the question was settled once and for all- Imhotep was a real man.

When excavations were carried out at the Step Pyramid at Sakkara, fragments of a statue of pharaoh Djoser were found.

The base was inscribed with the names of Djoser and of “Imhotep, Chancellor of the King of Lower Egypt, Chief under the King, Administrator of the Great Palace, Hereditary Lord, High Priest of Heliopolis, Imhotep the Builder, the Sculptor, the Maker of Stone Vases…”.

Does this fit what we know of Joseph? The Bible is quite clear on his high rank under the pharaoh:

GEN 41:40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. 43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. 44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

In fact, it sounds as if Joseph was the first person ever given such honor by a pharaoh, which is confirmed by evidences in Egypt. If this man, Imhotep, was Joseph, surely there must be some evidence tieing him with the Biblical account. Let’s take a look…

Inscription of the 7 Year Famine
Joseph’s main position was that of a prime minister and Imhotep appears to be the first who could boast of such a broad range of authority in ancient Egypt. There are records of many, many viziers throughout Egyptian history- but the first evidence which connects Imhotep with Joseph is an amazing inscription found carved on a large rock on the island of Sihiel just below the First Cataract of the Nile.

This inscription claims to be a copy of a document written by Djoser in the 18th year of his reign,- this copy being written over 1,000 years after the events it claims to be relating. It goes on to tell of a 7 year famine and 7 years of plenty. Let’s look at a few passages from this inscription and compare them with the Biblical account, keeping in mind that this was written a millenium after the events it claims to be describing:

1. It begins with the great distress of the pharaoh: “I was in distress on the Great Throne…”

GEN 41:8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled

2. In the inscription, the pharaoh is troubled about a famine and asks Imhotep who the god of the Nile is, so he can approach him about the drought: “… I asked him who was the Chamberlain,…Imhotep, the son of Ptah… `What is the birthplace of the Nile? Who is the god there? Who is the god?'” Imhotep answers: “I need the guidance of Him who presides over the fowling net,…”

GEN 41:16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace. In the Egyptian text, Imhotep is termed “the son of Ptah”, who was the Egyptian god known as the “creator” of everything else, including the other gods.

3. In the inscription, Imhotep answers the pharaoh about the god of the Nile and tells him where he lives. In the Bible, Joseph interprets the pharaohs dream. But, the next thing in the inscription tells that when the king slept, the Nile god Khnum, revealed himself to him in a dream and promised the Nile would pour forth her waters and the land would yield abundantly for 7 years, after a 7 year drought. This passage reflects the fact of a dream by the pharaoh of 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine, although reversed.

4. The inscription then goes on to record Djoser’s promise to the Nile god, Khnum, in which the people were to be taxed 1/10 of everything, except for the priests of the “house of the god”, who would be exempted.

GEN 47:26 And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part, except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh’s.

So here we have an inscription which tells a story of pharaoh Djoser asking his vizier, Imhotep, to help him with the problem of a great 7 year famine. Imhotep tells him he must consult the god because the answer is not in him. Then, the pharaoh dreams a dream which foretells the event.

Next follow 7 years of plenty, which is reverse from the Biblical account.

The pharaoh levies a tax of 10% on all of the population except for the priesthood. The Biblical account tells of a 1/5, or 20% tax, with the priesthood exempt. All of the components of the Biblical account are present in this inscription, except that the story has been “Egyptianized” to fit their religious beliefs.

It is believed that this inscription was written during the 2nd century BC, by the priests of Khnum for the purpose of justifying their claim of some land privileges. Part of the inscription states the pharaoh dedicated some of the land and taxation to the god.

But, this isn’t the only inscription with this “tale”- there is a similar inscription on the Isle of Philae, only this one has the priests of Isis stating that Djoser made the same gift to their god for the same purpose. Just as the story of the flood is found in almost every ancient culture but is twisted to fit their own purposes and gods, here we find the story of Joseph, only it is twisted to fit the needs of the priests of the various gods in substantiating their claims to certain land.

“Imhotep, the Voice of the God, Im (I AM)”
The name, Imhotep, in ancient Egyptian is translated to mean “the voice (or mouth) of Im” however, there is no record of a god in Egypt called “Im”. But, we all know the God, “I AM”:

EXO 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

JOH 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

God told Moses to tell the pharaoh that “I AM” had sent him because “I AM” was the name by which the Egyptians had known Joseph’s God. Could “Im” have been “I AM”?

The name the Bible states that was given to Joseph by the pharaoh, “Zaphenath-paneah”, has been translated by some to mean, “the God lives the God speaks”. Since we do not fully understand the meaning of the Egyptian “hotep”, it is quite possible that the translation of Imhotep (“The voice of I AM) is identical to the Biblical name of Joseph (“the God lives the God speaks).

Imhotep, the Physician
Imhotep is the earliest physician whose historical records survive, and although Joseph isn’t mentioned as being a physician, the Bible gives one very important clue to this:

GEN 50:2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. Here, the physicians are specificly stated to be under Joseph.

But later, when Imhotep became established as the “god of healing”, it is the manner in which he healed that ties him directly to Joseph. Ancient Greek writings mention a great sanctuary at Memphis where people came from everywhere to seek cures from Imhotep. They would pray to him, make offerings and then spend the night in this sanctuary, which was a sort of Lourdes of ancient Egypt. While sleeping, the god, Imhotep, was said to come to people in their dreams and cure them. Is there a connection between Joseph and dreams?

GEN 37:8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

Remember, it was Joseph’s dream about he and his brothers binding sheaves- their sheaves stood up and bowed to his- that was one of the causes of their great jealousy of him.

GEN 37:20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

The Wisdom of Imhotep
The Biblical account also speaks of Joseph’s wisdom: GEN 41:39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:.

Again, the evidence points to Imhotep. Imhotep was also revered for his wisdom. In several inscriptions from much later times, reference is made to the “words of Imhotep”. For example, in “Song from the Tomb of King Intef”, we read:

“I have heard the words of Imhotep and Hardedef…”,

and it goes on to explain that their “sayings” were recited in his day. To date, nothing has been found of Imhotep’s works, however there are several works of “wise sayings” attributed to one “Ptahotep”, who is only known as a vizier of a king from the 5th dynasty.

However, there are 5 known “Ptahoteps”, all viziers to pharaohs of the 5th dynasty, all priests of Heliopolis, or “On”. Evidence seems to indicate that after Imhotep, the trend among viziers became patterned after him, with these later viziers taking credit for Imhotep’s actual deeds and his writings- a practice which the Egyptians, among others, were notorious for.

Now, let’s do some assuming for a moment- let’s assume that Joseph wrote a collection of wise sayings, of course, inspired by God. Because of his great favor with the king, these came to be revered by the scribes and people. His fame as a sage spread throughout Egypt and became the standard of wisdom. We know that his wisdom came from the true God of Abraham. Would it not be expected that Joseph would pass on his wisdom from God to those around him? In fact, the Bible says that he did:

PSA 105:17 He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:󈻬 The king sent and loosed him even the ruler of the people, and let him go free. 21 He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: 22 To… teach his senators wisdom.

After Joseph’s death, others copied his wise sayings and took credit for them, perhaps adding a bit of their own and changing things to suit them. As these sayings were passed down through several generations, instead of being attributed to Imhotep, they were attributed to Ptahotep, “the voice of” the Egyptian creator, “Ptah”. Thousands of years later, several papyruses are found which purport to be copies of “The Instruction of Ptahotep”. Could this scenario have happened?

There are 2 particular statements in Ptahotep’s writings which indicate that this is exactly what happened. At the end of these manuscripts, the writer states that he is near death, having lived 110 years and that he received honors from the king exceeding those of the ancestors,- in other words, he received the most honors ever given a man by a pharaoh. And, we know that Joseph died at the age of 110 years.

Well, it gets even more familiar as we examine the text of these manuscripts. They begin as Solomon’s Proverbs begin, as instructions to his son, with the admonition they are “profitable to him who will hear” but “woe to him who would neglect them”. Keep in mind that the Originator of Joseph’s wisdom was also the Originator of Solomon’s wisdom, and the parallels between the 2 are undeniable. We are told in the Bible that Solomon knew many, many proverbs:

1KI 4:30 And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser… and his fame was in all nations round about. 32 And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.

This statement indicates that the concept of a “proverb” was known to the ancient peoples. We aren’t told if Solomon was the author of all of these proverbs or whether they were passed down to him from his ancestors. There are examples of proverbs in many ancient civilizations, but the only ones which Solomon recorded by inspiration and today appear in the Bible are very similar to the ancient Egyptian “wisdom literature” which can be traced back to Imhotep. This doesn’t mean that Solomon copied from the ancient Egyptians- it means that the God of His Fathers gave the same wisdom to his ancestors, who included Joseph, that He gave to Solomon.

We’ll compare a few passages of Ptahotep’s writings to the Bible:

1) “Don’t be proud of your knowledge”

PRO 3:7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

2) “One plans the morrow but knows not what will be”.

PRO 27:1 Boast not thyself of to morrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

3) “If you probe the character of a friend, don’t enquire, but approach him, deal with him alone,…”

PRO 25:9 Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself and discover not a secret to another”.

4) “If you are a man of trust, sent by one great man to another, adhere to the nature of him who sent you, give his message as he said it.”

PRO 25:13 As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.

5) “Teach the great what is useful to him.”

PRO 9:9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

We also find parallels in other Books, such as Psalms and Ecclesiastes:

6) “If every word is carried on, they will not perish in the land.”

PSA 78:5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: 6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born who should arise and declare them to their children:

7) “Guard against the vice of greed: a grievous sickness without cure. There is no treatment for it.

ECC 6:2 A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.

8) “If you are a man of worth who sits in his master’s council, concentrate on excellence, your silence is better than chatter… gain respect through knowledge…”

ECC 9:17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.

9) “The wise is known by his wisdom, the great by his good actions his heart matches his tongue…”

PRO 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

10) “If you are one among guests at the table of one greater than you, take what he gives as it is set before you.”

PRO 23:1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:

God used Joseph to establish in Egypt a safe haven for the growth and development of the “seed of Abraham” until they were ready to be delivered into the land God had promised them. And while in Egypt, surrounded by paganism, God would not leave His people nor the Egyptians without access to His Truth. The Bible records the fact that Joseph even taught the pharaoh’s “senators”.

And while this wisdom was revered by the Egyptians and carried down through the ages by their sages who copied some of his writings, (claiming it as their own), some of these same “wisdom sayings” were recorded by some of Joseph’s descendants over 700 years later, and ultimately were preserved for us in the Book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Psalms. But Joseph’s wisdom didn’t originate with him- it was divinely inspired, as was Solomon’s wisdom, David’s wisdom and the wisdom of all of God’s people.

Imhotep Appointed Later in Djoser’s Reign
There are several other items concerning Imhotep which continue to fit the Biblical account. We know that the pharaoh of Joseph had been king for an unknown period of time when Joseph was finally brought to him to interpret his dream.

And the evidence shows that Imhotep was not Djoser’s vizier earlier in his reign- in fact, no mention is made at all of Imhotep on Djoser’s earlier monuments. Imhotep was not the architect of Djoser’s tomb built at Beit Khallaf, which was probably undertaken soon after he became king. In this earlier tomb, which is similar to the preceding dynasties as Sakkara, there are clay sealings of jars which record Djoser’s name, his mother’s name, and the names of numerous other officials from his reign- but not Imhotep’s, which indicates that he hadn’t been appointed to his position yet. The standard practice was for the pharaoh always to appoint men to office as soon as he took the throne, with family members being the highest ranked.

All available information about Imhotep continues to point to his identification with Joseph. For example, in some inscriptions, his titles indicate that he was not a member of the royal family, but a “self-made man”. This was unique because the son of the pharaoh was usually the vizier.

Imhotep was also the “priest of Heliopolis”, the Biblical “On”. Now in the story of Joseph, we learn that his father-in-law was the “priest of On” at the time of Joseph’s marriage:

GEN 41:45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

Since Asenath was old enough to marry Joseph at this time, it follows that her father was probably at least in his forties. And in ancient Egypt, the people didn’t live too much longer than about 50. At his death or disability, it follows that his son-in-law would be assigned his position, especially if that son-in-law were so highly regarded by the pharaoh as Joseph was.

If Joseph became the “Priest of On”, was he being unfaithful to the true God? Absolutely not- the pharaoh had recognized the power of the God of Joseph, and even though the Egyptians remained idolaters, Joseph made them aware of his God and was unswerving in his loyalty to Him. The “Priest of On” was not termed the priest of a particular god- but the title instead seems to indicate a position of high honor and political importance.

Imhotep, the Architect of the 1st Pyramid
It was Imhotep who is credited with having designed the first pyramid and began building with hewn stone instead of all mud brick. If we look at ancient Egyptian history, we can see evidence which shows that it was during the time of Djoser that Egypt became a truly great nation- after all, it had gathered the wealth of all the surrounding nations by selling them grain during the famine.

And during the 7 years of plenty, the people, under Joseph’s wise guidance, began to organize a great administrative center which would handle the selling of the grain to all the surrounding nations.

A large complex was built which contained the future burial site of the pharaoh but also included a walled in center which contained huge grain bins. There was only one entrance into this center and there was an outside entrance into the system of storage bins. The Step Pyramid complex at Sakkara is the complex which we will now discuss.

Grain Storage Bins
Surrounding the Step Pyramid, the first ever built, and its complex is a very beautiful and elaborate wall.

At the main entrance on the east wall at the southern end, one enters a long hall of 40 columns- 20 on each side. Each column is connected to the main wall by a perpendicular wall, forming small “rooms” between each column.

As you exit this colonade and walk straight ahead, you come to a series of very large pits which extend deep into the earth. These are extremely large in size- much larger than any burial chambers they are all centrally accessible by a connecting tunnel, extend to well above ground level, and one has a staircase extending down to the bottom. For this reason, weknow that they were not built as tombs- if they were, they would have been constructed underground and they certainly would not have been so incredibly large.

These massive structures extend to well above ground level, which indicates that they were not hidden, as were tombs. Because the ancient Egyptians buried their dead with so much valuable material and provisions for their “afterlife”, plundering of tombs was always their biggest fear. Therefore, we know that these massive pits had another purpose.

Also, in all the other ancient cities, whenever large bins such as these were uncovered, they were recognized as “storage bins”, but in Egypt, the scholars tend to term everything they find a “tomb”.

However, in the pharaoh’s burial complex under the pyramid, we find matching bins for the king and his family’s afterlife- and in these bins were found grain and other food stuffs.

In the Biblical account, we learn that Joseph appointed men throughout the land of Egypt to oversee the gathering and storing of the grain in all the cities:

GEN 41:34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. 35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.

Joseph had given this plan to the pharaoh prior to his appointment as vizier or prime minister, and since it would be impossible for him to oversee the gathering and storing for the entire country, we know he implemented this plan. We also know that when the famine began and the Egyptians began to cry for food, they were told to go to Joseph and do whatever he said, which indicates that he gave the orders for the distribution of the grain:

GEN 41:55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph what he saith to you, do. 56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.

But when the foreign peoples came to purchase grain, we learn that they went directly to Joseph:

GEN 42:6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

Joseph’s brothers came directly to Joseph in person. We believe it is Sakkara to which they came- where the remains of this fantastic complex are preserved. And it was here that Djoser had 11 extremely large pits constructed which can only be grain storage bins.

Every city had stored grain from its region, but at this complex at Sakarra, we have these massive pits which would have stored an incredible amount of grain- more than a single city would have needed. At the entrance to this complex, as we described earlier, there are 40 small cubicles, each just the right size to hold a single person who could administer the receipt of payment from people coming to purchase grain. There could have been several “cashiers” of each language group to handle the purchases of those who spoke the various languages. Of course, the Egyptologists think all these little cubicles were for statues, however, no pedestals were found in the remains, which is a very important point, because these statues were always erected on pedestals. Statues may vanish, but pedestals remain.

The design of the 11 pits is impressive. There are 11 of them, with only one containing a very elaborate stairway extending all the way to the bottom. All the pits are connected to each other by a subterranean tunnel- the pits were filled and the tops were sealed with wooden timbers and stone. And, all of the grain could be accessed from one entrance- and there is one entrance into the pits from outside the wall enclosure of the complex. Last of all, grain was found in the floor of these pits, which has been explained by Egyptologists as having been from foods buried with deceased who were buried there- however, no evidence of burials was ever found in these pits.

Does this fit the Biblical account? When Joseph’s brothers came to him for grain, they talked to Joseph and paid for the grain. When they received the grain, it was already in sacks:

GEN 42:25 Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them. 26 And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence. 27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money for, behold, it was in his sack’s mouth.

The complex at Sakkara is unique- nothing like it has ever been found. It was described by William Hayes as being a “veritable city in itself, planned and executed as a single unit and built of fine white limestone from the near-by Mukattam Hills.” (The Scepter of Egypt, Vol. 1, p. 60.) In fact, Egyptologists tend to term everything they find as a royal “tomb”, which is what they have called this complex.

But it in fact exhibits every feature indicative of being a center of great activity, a feature which again fits with the story of Joseph. When Joseph’s brothers came to get grain, they came face to face with Joseph who was overseeing the distribution. Where did they go to get the grain? They went to wherever the grain was stored, and this was where Joseph was.

And the storage of such a massive amount of grain would have required a large storage area, such as the extremely large pits found in this complex. It is also reasonable to expect to find the storage pits within an enclosure such as this complex, with an area for the payment of the grain. This was a “business” and would have required a center of administration.

A great deal has been written about this complex, and most mention the uniqueness of it- something they cannot explain. In fact, when you ask the Egyptians what the huge pits were for, they admit that they just don’t know.

Some ancient historians have written of the fact that the pyramids were once believed to be “Joseph’s storage bins” for the grain, and perhaps this story has its roots in the fact Joseph designed the first pyramid in the same complex in which the grain was stored. But regardless of what the “experts” want to believe about the Step Pyramid complex, the circumstantial evidence fits the story of Joseph perfectly. And, it is one of the best preserved site in Egypt- certainly of the very old structures- and this is consistent with God’s preservation of important evidences which confirm the total accuracy of His Word.

The Search for Imhotep’s Tomb
We know from the Bible that Joseph died in Egypt and was embalmed and placed in a coffin.

GEN 50:26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

But, when the children of Israel left during the Exodus, his bones were taken with them:

EXO 13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.

This leads us to think that Joseph would have had a royal tomb in Egypt, but that it was possibly taken over and used by someone else, we just don’t really know. But one of the big mysteries for Egyptologists has been the tomb of Imhotep- they simply can’t find it although they know it should be somewhere in Sakkara. So important is Imhotep to Egyptology, that in the Guidebook to Sakkara by Jill Kamil, “The Tomb of Imhotep” is listed as a subject heading, only to explain that it has not been found.

In our discussion of “Imhotep, the Physician”, we mentioned that ancient Greek texts speak of a place near Memphis where people came to worship “Imhotep” and be healed. When excavators continued to search for Imhotep’s tomb very near the Step Pyramid, they found an incredible labyrinth of underground tunnels, full of mummified ibis (birds) and bulls (in separate galleries). Inscriptions and coins found here show that people came here to be healed! They had found this “sanctuary to Imhotep” written of by the Greeks.

After the deification of Imhotep as “god of medicine” , he was given the title, “Chief One of the Ibis”- and this was the connection of this labyrinth with Imhotep. These hundreds of thousands of ibis were mummified and brought here as tribute to Imhotep, filling these tunnels.

It was later discovered that these galleries connected to a pit that extends down to a funerary chamber which contains an empty coffin. They also discovered that this chamber belonged to a very large mastaba tomb which contained a second chamber full of broken stone vessels, and in the tomb’s storerooms were jars whose clay-stoppers had the seal impression of Djoser! Here is absolute proof that this was the tomb of a very important person of Djoser’s reign. No inscriptions were found on the walls and the sarcophagus was empty. But even more importantly, this mastaba is oriented to the north instead of the east, as the other pyramids and mastabas are. This was an important tomb of someone from Djoser’s time- but the sarcophagus was empty.

There was even found an inscription by an anonymous Greek who came here, telling how he was cured- and it was through a dream! Once again, the evidence speaks loudly of a wonderful story from the Bible- the story of Joseph.


Josef Stone - History

Is the ancient Egyptian named Imhotep the same person as the biblical Joseph? Here is a compilation of BC items bearing on this question, in order of publication date.

The following is from Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993) pages 80--82.

Joseph and Joseph's Pharaoh

  1. A united Egypt ruled by a single pharaoh,
  2. An administrative assistant to this pharaoh (usually called a vizier),
  3. Possibly some record of a severe famine during this pharaoh's reign, and
  4. Possibly some surviving material evidence of this pharaoh's newly acquired wealth.

Next is from Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Chronology of Egypt in Relation to the Bible: 3000--1000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 2.2 (March/April 1996) pages 4--5.

Old Kingdom

The pyramids which today symbolize ancient Egypt in the minds of many people were built during the Old Kingdom. The Old Kingdom appears to have been a period of stability and great prosperity for Egypt.

Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt (Genesis 39:1) during the early years of the Old Kingdom, probably during Dynasty 3. His promotion to vizier (Genesis 41:38-45) raises the possibility of identifying him in the secular Egyptian sources. However, all attempts to do so at the present time must be regarded as uncertain and speculative because of the limited secular data bearing on the problem. To illustrate the limitations of our knowledge of this early period consider a few of Grimal's observations: [Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1992), pages 49, 63, 66, and 67]

The Thinite [Early Dynastic Dynasties 1 and 2] period is a poorly known phase, essentially because of a lack of surviving texts. .

I have previously suggested --- with suitable caveats --- the possibility that the vizier Imhotep may be the Egyptian equivalent of Joseph, and Djoser the pharaoh whom he served. [Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993), 80--82.] (I have received several interesting letters from subscribers regarding this possibility. I hope to share some of their comments in the next issue.) Djoser ruled early in Dynasty 3, whereas Figure 1 shows the end of Dynasty 3 coincident with Joseph's rise to prominence in Egypt. This seems to imply either that Imhotep is not Joseph or that the chronology of the Old Kingdom should be shortened by about 50 years to bring its beginning closer to 2900 B.C. An unequivocal identification of Joseph with a known Egyptian vizier would resolve this question and provide another synchronism between the chronologies of Egypt and the Bible, further reducing the uncertainty in the chronology of Egypt at this early time.

The devastating seven year famine which caused Jacob's entire family to relocate to Egypt (Genesis 41--47) finds ready support geophysically, archaeologically, and historically. [Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993), 68--72 Gerald E. Aardsma, ``Evidence for a Lost Millennium in Biblical Chronology,'' Radiocarbon 37.2 (1995): 267--273 Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1992), 64.] An interesting possibility is that the building of the great pyramids was a consequence of the enormous wealth which accrued to the reigning Pharaoh and his heirs as a result of Joseph's administration of this famine (Genesis 47:13--26).

And next are several letters from the "Readers Write" column of The Biblical Chronologist 2.3 (May/June 1996) pages 6--8.

Is Imhotep Joseph?

It would certainly be fascinating to be able to identify Joseph in Egyptian historical sources his high position in Egypt gives one high hopes of being able to do so.

I have previously broached the possibility that the Biblical "Joseph" may be the same as the vizier of king Djoser called "Imhotep" in Egyptian sources. [Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993), 80--82 Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Chronology of Egypt in Relation to the Bible: 3000 -- 1000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 2.2 (March/April 1996): 4--5.] But, as I have previously pointed out, this identification is complicated by secular chronological uncertainties so that it must be regarded as a tentative possibility only.

Dr. David Noel Freedman has also expressed the need for caution in identifying Imhotep with Joseph. After reviewing an early manuscript of mine containing this tentative suggestion he wrote to me in a personal letter dated December 2, 1991 as follows: While there may well be parallel features in the careers and life-stories of the two men, it would be very risky to identify them. Analogies are one thing, equations are another. There is no hint anywhere that Imhotep was anything but a real Egyptian, which is exactly what Joseph was not. And Joseph's Egyptian name [Zaphenath-paneah (Genesis 41:45)] is totally different [from Imhotep], in fact a name that doesn't find any similarities in Egyptian onomastica before the Saite period [ca. 675--525 B.C.], I believe.

But this is not to say the matter is closed, by any means. What is needed at this stage are in-depth, deliberate investigations of the question using available Biblical data and Egyptian source documents in light of the new synthesis of Biblical and Egyptian history discussed last issue. [Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Chronology of Egypt in Relation to the Bible: 3000 -- 1000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 2.2 (March/April 1996): 1--9.]

There are several angles from which such investigations might be launched. For example, the Bible records that Joseph instituted a twenty percent tax during his administration, which (in common with most government taxes) appears to have persisted for a very long time.

As I lack the time to carry such investigation forward myself, I am hoping this suggestion and the following two letters, from lay readers, will encourage other readers to take up aspects of this research project and perhaps share what they learn with us in future issues.

The first letter presents information opposing the identification of Joseph with Imhotep the second is supportive of the identification. The possibilities raised in both letters seem to me to merit further investigation.

There was a time when I thought Imhotep, vizier of Djoser, could have been Joseph. Further research quickly altered this view. There existed, in the Egyptian workshops, lists and family trees of the famous chiefs of works. (See Pierre Montet, Eternal Egypt, 1964 for background.) The name of Imhotep's father is known from these lists, as recorded by Egyptian archaeologist, Ahmed Fakhry: [Ahmed Fakhry, The Pyramids (University of Chicago Press, 1961), 24--26.]

Fakhry adds (pages 4 and 5), Imhotep was an architect, whose father also had been an architect. This fact alone rules out the identification of Imhotep as Joseph.

Pierre Montet wrote that as the King's architect, Imhotep constructed sanctuaries of stone for the gods and goddesses of Egypt --- the first beneficiaries being Nekhebet, the god of Memphis, Thoth of Khnum, and Horus of Edfu. [See Peter Tompkins, Secrets of the Great Pyramid, (Harper & Row, 1971).] An inscription in a crypt of the temple of the goddess Hathor, at Dendera, indicated it had been built according to the plans of Imhotep.

Imhotep's greatest achievement was the step pyramid, which was identical in design to the ziggurats of Babylon. There is every indication that he was a devotee of the Mystery Babylon religion, which had been adopted by the Egyptians. One of Imhotep's titles was High Priest of Heliopolis, city of the sun [god]. Joseph, the man of God, would have had no part in any of the activities ascribed to Imhotep.

Mrs. Beverly J. Neises
Rainier, OR

The major thesis of your monograph, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, strikes me as very convincing and important, and I wish you every success in developing and popularizing it for the glory of God.

After reading your suggestion (pp. 81--82) that Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel, may actually correspond to Imhotep, the vizier of Pharaoh Djoser, I became fascinated with the idea that the Egyptian name might have been adopted by Joseph at least partly because of its phonological similarity to the name his mother gave him (Gen. 30:24).

Now if Joseph were a foreign king, I suppose he would have been known in Egypt by a name that was as similar as possible to his Hebrew name within the constraints of Egyptian phonology. In this case, his name would have had little or no significance in the Egyptian language --- the Egyptians would have recognized its foreign origin, and Joseph's older brothers would surely have suspected his identity without having to be told.

Since Joseph really needed a name that would pass as quite Egyptian, perhaps an Egyptian variant of Joseph simply would not do. I think it should have been more like a case I came across recently at a Wycliffe banquet. The missionary speaker that evening was named Larry in English, but while serving in Latin America, he went by the Spanish name Hilario. That is, I propose that Joseph would have chosen a name for himself that was entirely Egyptian, yet phonologically similar to his Hebrew name. He might even have done this some time after his reunion with his family, using the name selected by the pharaoh in the interim, but of course, I can only speculate about this point.

The similarity at first glance may not seem all that striking, but a little investigation reveals that there may be more to it than what is immediately apparent. First, there is a Hebrew variant of Joseph, used only in Psalm 81:5, which inserts one more consonant. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance describes this variant as "a fuller form" of the usual name.

It should be mentioned that the point of articulation of H may be a bit different in the two languages, glottal in Hebrew while pharyngeal in Egyptian, but the similarity is still close enough to be striking. Note also that P and PH are both written with the same basic letter in Hebrew. Moreover, it turns out that the contrast between the T and the S may not be so great either. Loprieno (1995: 29) notes that Northwest Semitic * s o p e r ``scribe'' was written as < t u-pa-r> in Egyptian. Now this t is a palatal (not dental) stop, but again, the similarity seems rather noteworthy. Loprieno went on to suggest that the samekh, which occurs in both * s o p e r and Joseph "originally must have been an affricate [ts] in Semitic" (1995: 29). This leaves only the M without a mate in the "fuller form" of Joseph.

There is another concern that should be addressed, however. As Hurry observed, "personal names ending in the word htp and compounded with the names of certain, but not of all, gods, were common in Egypt in all periods" (1928: 190). Surely, if the Joseph we know had anything to do with it, the name would not mean "Im is pleased" in Egyptian, where Im would be the name of some pagan deity. Once again, we are not disappointed.

It is admittedly a subjective and speculative piece of circumstantial evidence, but it does seem quite reasonable to me that the Joseph we know from Genesis, who was himself summoned by the troubled pharaoh to bring him peace of mind and who invited his own family to come in peace to Egypt, might have chosen such a name as Come in Peace, especially in view of the close similarities it bears to the name he first brought to Egypt.

Thomas James Godfrey
Blacksburg, VA

Hurry, Jamieson B. 1928. Imhotep: The Vizier and Physician of King Zoser and Afterwards the Egyptian God of Medicine. Second and revised edition. New York: AMS Press.

Loprieno, Antonio. 1995. Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge University Press.


Psencik Cemetery

The following is taken from Psencik Cemetery, copyrighted 1999, with the permission of the author, Norman C. Krischke.
The full text can be viewed at the Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.

Psencik Cemetery was established about 1888 according to tombstone inscriptions. The first grave was that of Marie Stasny, born 20 September 1887 and died 5 April 1888. The second grave is that of Julia Stasny, born 20 June 1888 and died 8 July 1889. Marie and Julia were probably sisters as both names are on the same stone. Mollie Ziegelbauer was the last to be buried here. She died 28 March 1964.

There are twenty-five "Unknowns" whose graves are marked with a Funeral Home Marker only, any one of which could have been the first grave.

The first Catholic settlers at Cistern in about 1881 were mostly Czechs and they had no church or priest. They made do with visiting priests who held masses at someone's home. At one time mass was said at the Psencik School which, it is believed, was at the cemetery. The first Catholic burials were at this cemetery and it is referred to as the "Old Catholic Cemetery". It was later that the cemetery at the church in Cistern was opened.

There are twelve Psenciks buried here after whom the cemetery gets its name. There are, at least, six Germans in the cemetery, however, the majority of burials are of Czech Catholics.

The tombstones on the north face south toward the central cemetery cross. Those on the south face north. Four tombstones face to the west. The cemetery crucifix shows dates 1888-1943.

Psencik Cemetery is located at roadside on Rosanky Road 1.6 miles north of Jeddo Road which goes west from State Highway 95 out of Cistern, Texas.

The cemetery is enclosed with a chain-link fence 109 feet x 135 feet with the gate on the west side. It is maintained in an excellent condition.

LIST OF BURIALS

Barina, Frank R., 30 Apr 1888 - 8 Feb 1911. Born Kobily, Morave. Faces west.

Brdecko, Anton F., 31 Apr 1889 - 10 Dec 1918. Born in Kobyli, Morave, died at Camp Travis, Tx. USAL and VFW emblems.

Brdecko, Josef, 1 May 1884 - 28 Jan 1907. Born Kobylina, Morave. Dual stone with Terezie Brdeckova. Czech verse. Died of poisoning. Lived two miles west of Cistern.

Brdecko, Maria, . - Aug 1917. No Marker.

Brdeckova, Terezie. 31 Oct 1863 - 11 Nov 1902. Born Kobylina, Morave. Czech verse: Terezie, cozena byla uprimna co Malka Laskava co prilelkyne verna.

Breitschopf, Louise, 6 Feb 1907 - 6 Nov 1917. Died probably of heart failure after diptheria. Daughter of Wencil and Josefa (Hower) Breitschopf.

Brosch, Georege. 11 Feb 1914 - 8 Nov 1915. From church record: Jiri Brosch, son of Frank and Marie (Janca) Brosch.

Charba, Antonin, 1835 - 1915. Footstone: "A.C.".

Charba, Juliana, 1835 - 1916. Wife of Antonin Charba. Footstone: "J.C.".

Charba, Mary, 1904-1905. Concrete Cross.

Charba, Zesnuly Vaclav, 13 Oct 1883 - 28 Dec 1908. Born Kobyli, Morave. Faces west. Czech verse.

Florus, Mary, 20 Dec 1896 - 6 Aug 1913

Hanzelka, Frank, 1850 - 28 Dec 1916

Harbich, ________ No dates.

Harbich, ________ No dates. Probably husband and wife.

Harbich, Adolf, 1913 - 18 Sep 1925. Aged 12 years, 1 month. Son of Gus and Johanna Harbich. Buried in Ancient (Old) Cemetery. No Marker.

Harbich, Ammond, 1833 - 23 Mar 1912. Aged 79 years. No Marker.

Harbich, Anna, 4 Nov 1836 - 9 Nov 1918. Born Germany. No Marker.

Hercek, Vincence, 1888 - 29 May 1917

Hlozek, Ferdinand, 16 Feb 1845 - 13 Feb 1914, Born in Bohus, Moravia, Czech. Brick lined.

Hlozek, Frantiska, 3 Dec 1909 - 16 Jan 1919

Houdek, Mary, 3 Feb 1826 - 9 Aug 1912

Hubner, Anna, 11 June 1850 - 2 Oct 1910. Footstone: "A.H." Nee Psencik.

Huebner, Anton, 23 Apr 1853 - 17 Sep 1925. Footstone: "A.H.". "Thy trials ended, Thy rest is won."

Janca, Jan, 6 Feb 1861 - 29 Sep 1915. Born Myer, Moravia. No Marker.

Janecek, Anna, 17 Dec 1857 - 23 Jan 1941

Jurac, Josef, 8 Dec 1842 - 11 May 1914. Farmer. Son of Jacob and Anna (Ambros) Jurac.

Kremel, Adolph, 17 May 1893 - 13 June 1906. Brick lined. Fracture of base of skull due to fall from horse.

Kubala, Josef, 2 March 1841 - 29 March 1904. Born Frenstate, Morave. Czech verse. Footstone: "J.K.". Dual stone with Josef Kubala.

Kubala, Josef, 16 Aug 1878 - 29 June 1904. Dual stone with Josef Kubala. Footstone: "J.K.". Czech verse.

Lozek, Francis, 31 Dec 1909 - 18 Jan 1919. Died of pneumonia. No Marker.

Machan, Edwin, . - 30 Jan 1909. No marker.

Machan, J. J. 1870 - 13 Aug 1918. Aged 48 years. No Marker.

Marek, Frank, 5 May 1862 - 21 Sep 1903

Mares, Alzbeta, 1841 - 1 Nov 1916. Aged 82 years. No marker.

Michalski, Albina, No dates. Child's grave.

Michalski, Benno, 16 June 1896 - 29 Sep 1918, Died at Fort Dix, New Jersey. USAL Emblem.

Michalski, Maria, 15 May 1885 - 24 Mar 1900. Footstone: "M.M.". German verse. Dual stone with Ursula Michalski.

Michalski, Ursula, 14 May 1856 - 28 Sep 1903. Footstone: "U.M.". Dual stone with Maria Michalski.

Miklica, Jan. 28 Aug 1880 - 16 Aug 1925. Picture. Died as a result of a runaway team accident. He fell from wagon and wheel went over his check. Lived for awhile but died suddenly.

Naumann, Emilie, 11 Sep 1887 - 3 June 1914. Picture. Wife of W. Naumann. German verse. Footstone: "E.N.".

Otahal, Martha (twin), 30 Apr 1918 - 30 May 1918. Aged 1 month. No Marker.

Otahal, Maria, (twin), 3o Apr 1918 - 30 May 1918. Aged 1 month. No Marker.

Petrek, Frank. 13 Feb 1903 - 10 June 1904. Faces west.

Pinn, Pauline, 1 Apr 1847 - 17 Apr 1941

Prochazka, Kathrina, 1874 - 24 Sep 1917. Aged 43 years. No Marker.

Prochazka, Alois, 16 Aug 1918 - 30 Aug 1918. Aged 14 days. No Marker.

Psencik, Anna, 28 Sep 1858 - 29 May 1903. Wife of Frantisek Psencik. Footstone: "A.P.". Born Vizovicich, Morave.

Psencik, Anna, 1859 - 29 May 1913, Aged 54 years. No Marker.

Psencik, Anton, 28 Oct 1854 - 29 Jan 1931

Psencik, Ferdinand, 17 Jun 1845 - 17 Feb 1926. Born Vizovicych, Morave.

Psencik, Frank, 2 Jan 1889 - 29 Apr 1897

Psencik, Frantisek, 20 Nov 1841 - 14 Feb 1904. Born Vizovicich, Morave. Footstone: "F.P.".

Psencik, Henry, 27 Oct 1887 - 25 Dec 1901

Psencik, Jan, 23 Nov 1875 - 24 Sep 1913. Aged 38 yrs, 10 mos, 1 day.

Psencik, Josef, 21 March 1816 - 9 Aug 1894. Born Wyzovicich, Morave.

Psencik, Josefa, 10 Nov 1820 - 21 Sep 1901. Born Myslacovicich, Morave. Wife of Josef Psencik.

Psencik, Marie, 18 Feb 1855 - 20 Feb 1946. Nee Kasparek, wife of Anton Psencik.

Psencik, Terezie, 1844 - 15 Apr 1917. Nee Marcanik. Born Vizovicych, Morave.

Stasny, Julia, 20 June 1888 - 8 July 1889. Second grave, dual stone with Maria Stasny.

Stasny, Maria, 20 Sep 1887 - 5 Apr 1888. First grave, dual stone with Julia Stasny.

Syrinek, Jiry, 25 Aug 1894 - 26 Aug 1894

Syrinek, Synaceh Kapelvit, no dates, Footstone: "S.K.S"

Ziegelbauer, Josef, 19 Mar 1854 - 19 Apr 1927. Footstone: "J.Z.".

Ziegelbauer, Marie, 17 July 1852 - 15 Nov 1932. Footstone: "M.Z.". Wife of Josef Ziegelbauer.

Ziegelbauer, Mollie, 6 Nov 1889 - 28 Mar 1964. Last grave. Daughter of Joseph and Marie (Psencik) Ziegelbauer.

Zimmerhanzel, Agnes, 27 Jan 1892 - 27 June 1927. Footstone: "A.Z."

Zurovec, Jindrich, 18 Dec 1909 - 28 Jul 1914. Son of Jan and Magdalena (Kladiva) Zurovec. No Marker.


Venus of Willendorf

The name of this prehistoric sculpture refers to a Roman goddess—but what did she originally represent?

Venus of Willendorf, c. 24,000-22,000 B.C.E., limestone, 11.1 cm high (Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna)

Venus of Willendorf, c. 24,000-22,000 B.C.E., limestone, 11.1 cm high (Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna) (photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Can a 25,000-year-old object be a work of art?

The artifact known as the Venus of Willendorf dates to between 24,000-22,000 B.C.E., making it one of the oldest and most famous surviving works of art. But what does it mean to be a work of art?

The Oxford English Dictionary, perhaps the authority on the English language, defines the word “art” as

Some of the words and phrases that stand out within this definition include “application of skill,” “imitation,” and “beautiful.” By this definition, the concept of “art” involves the use of skill to create an object that contains some appreciation of aesthetics. The object is not only made, it is made with an attempt of creating something that contains elements of beauty.

Venus of Willendorf, c. 24,000-22,000 B.C.E., limestone 11.1 cm high (Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna) (photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Artifact, then, is anything created by humankind, and art is a particular kind of artifact, a group of objects under the broad umbrella of artifact, in which beauty has been achieved through the application of skills. Think of the average plastic spoon: a uniform white color, mass produced, and unremarkable in just about every way. While it serves a function—say, for example, to stir your hot chocolate—the person who designed it likely did so without any real dedication or commitment to making this utilitarian object beautiful. You have likely never lovingly gazed at a plastic spoon and remarked, “Wow! Now that’s a beautiful spoon!” This is in contrast to a silver spoon you might purchase at Tiffany & Co. While their spoon could just as well stir cream into your morning coffee, it was skillfully designed by a person who attempted to make it aesthetically pleasing note the elegant bend of the handle, the gentle luster of the metal, the graceful slope of the bowl.

These terms are important to bear in mind when analyzing prehistoric art. While it is unlikely people from the Upper Paleolithic period cared to conceptualize what it meant to make art or to be an artist, it cannot be denied that the objects they created were made with skill, were often made as a way of imitating the world around them, and were made with a particular care to create something beautiful. They likely represent, for the Paleolithic peoples who created them, objects made with great competence and with a particular interest in aesthetics.

Caves and pockets

Two main types of Upper Paleolithic art have survived. The first we can classify as permanently located works found on the walls within caves. Mostly unknown prior to the final decades of the nineteenth century, many such sites have now been discovered throughout much of southern Europe and have provided historians and archaeologists new insights into humankind millennia prior to the creation of writing. The subjects of these works vary: we may observe a variety of geometric motifs, many types of flora and fauna, and the occasional human figure. They also fluctuate in size ranging from several inches to large-scale compositions that span many feet in length.

Venus of Willendorf, c. 24,000-22,000 B.C.E., limestone 11.1 cm high (Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna) (photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Venus of Willendorf is a perfect example of this. Josef Szombathy, an Austro-Hungarian archaeologist, discovered this work in 1908 outside the small Austrian village of Willendorf. Although generally projected in art history classrooms to be several feet tall, this limestone figurine is petite in size. She measures just under 4½” high, and could fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. This small scale allowed whoever carved (or, perhaps owned) this figurine to carry it during their nearly daily nomadic travels in search of food.

Naming and dating

Clearly, the Paleolithic sculptor who made this small figurine would never have named it the Venus of Willendorf . Venus was the name of the Roman goddess of love and ideal beauty. When discovered outside the Austrian village of Willendorf, scholars mistakenly assumed that this figure was likewise a goddess of love and beauty (for more on the name, read JT Thomas, The Cousins of Sarah Baartman: Anthropology, Race, and the ‘Curvaceous’ Venuses of the Ice Age). There is absolutely no evidence though that the Venus of Willendorf shared a function similar to its classically inspired namesake. However incorrect the name may be, it has endured, and tells us more about those who found her than those who made her.

Dating too can be a problem, especially since Prehistoric art, by definition, has no written record. In fact, the definition of the word prehistoric is that written language did not yet exist, so the creator of the Venus of Willendorf could not have incised “Bob made this in the year 24,000 B.C.E.” on the back. In addition, stone artifacts present a special problem since we are interested in the date that the stone was carved, not the date of the material itself. Despite these hurdles, art historians and archaeologist attempt to establish dates for prehistoric finds through two processes. The first is called relative dating and the second involves an examination of the stratification of an object’s discovery.

Plan of the excavation at Willendorf I in 1908 with the position of the figurine.

What did it mean?

Detail, Venus of Willendorf, c. 24,000-22,000 B.C.E., limestone 11.1 cm high (Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna) (photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In contrast, the sculptor placed scant attention on the non-reproductive parts of her body. This is particularly noticeable in the figure’s limbs, where there is little emphasis placed on musculature or anatomical accuracy. We may infer from the small size of her feet that she was not meant to be free standing, and was either meant to be carried or placed lying down. The artist carved the figure’s upper arms along her upper torso, and her lower arms are only barely visible resting upon the top of her breasts. As enigmatic as the lack of attention to her limbs is, the absence of attention to the face is even more striking. No eyes, nose, ears, or mouth remain visible. Instead, our attention is drawn to seven horizontal bands that wrap in concentric circles from the crown of her head. Some scholars have suggested her head is obscured by a knit cap pulled downward, others suggest that these forms may represent braided or beaded hair and that her face, perhaps once painted, is angled downward.

If the face was purposefully obscured, the Paleolithic sculptor may have created, not a portrait of a particular person, but rather a representation of the reproductive and child rearing aspects of a woman. In combination with the emphasis on the breasts and pubic area, it seems likely that the Venus of Willendorf had a function that related to fertility.

The Venus of Willendorf is only one example dozens of paleolithic figures that may have been associated with fertility. Nevertheless, it retains a place of prominence within the history of human art.


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