Question: Did Joseph Smith give Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball divining rods "as a symbol of gratitude for their loyalty"?

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Question: Did Joseph Smith give Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball divining rods "as a symbol of gratitude for their loyalty"?

The passage describes Heber's dream in which Joseph gave him a rod, saying "the hand of God shall be with you"

Several authors cite Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer, to support a claim that Joseph Smith gave Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball divinig rods "as a symbol of gratitude for their loyalty." However, the authors distort the passage cited. It first describes Heber's dream in which Joseph gave him a rod, saying "the hand of God shall be with you." Thus, the critics hide the fact that Heber saw this in a religious, not a magical, context. The source then reads:

Later Joseph did give him and Brigham Young real rods, because "they were the only ones of the original twelve who had not lifted up their hearts against the Prophet." When Heber wanted to find out anything that was his right to know, "all he had to do was to kneel down with the rod in his hand, and . . . sometimes the Lord would answer his questions before he had time to ask them." At least twice in Nauvoo, for example, he had used this special rod. In September, 1844, he "went home and used the rod" to find out if Willard Richards would recover from an illness and if the church would overcome its enemies. In January, 1845, he inquired of the Lord "by the rod" whether the Nauvoo temple would be finished and if his sins were forgiven. All the answers were affirmative. Unlike the [p.249] cane, there are no family traditions regarding this unusual rod; it has completely disappeared. Perhaps it was an aid to guidance and revelation. There is no evidence that it was a divining stick or "water witch," popular at that time. (pp. 248-249, emphasis added)

The source cited by the critics explicitly rejects the idea that the rods described were "divining sticks"

Critical works provide this source for the claim that Brigham and Heber are provided with "diving rods"—yet, the source explicitly rejects the idea that they were 'divining sticks.' The rod's claimed ability was also clearly religious, not "magical"—the rod had no power except as an aide to revelation from God. There is ample biblical precedent for prophetic use of a rod (e.g., Numbers 17:6-10).

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