Messiah Son of Joseph
The prophetic construct of a “Messiah Son of Joseph” that relies on rabbinical interpretations of Zechariah and other prophets was pounced on by many Ephraimite Gentiles when popularized by Joseph Klausner in his book, The Messianic Idea in Israel. To them, resemblances of this hypothetical figure to the prophet Joseph Smith were too good to pass up. Such a person had to be Joseph Smith! Consider his name, his heralding the coming of Messiah Son of David, and his being killed—all features attributed to him by the rabbis!
True to their extrapolating tradition, the Ephraimite Gentiles—instead of searching the scriptures to determine “whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11)—hopped on the Jewish bandwagon and exploited their new portfolio of talking points. “Giving heed to Jewish fables and precepts of men that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:14), they attempted to force Joseph Smith into the mold of an end-time Jewish hero. Given also that “the Jews do understand the things of the prophets” (2 Nephi 25:5), they hardly attempted to separate fact from fable.
Don’t the Ephraimites Gentiles know that “there is save one Messiah spoken of by the prophets” (2 Nephi 25:18)—Jesus Christ—and not another? Atoning for the sins of the world under the terms of the Davidic Covenant, it was appropriate that Jesus himself was a descendant of David. What the Jews overlooked, however—their eyes being blinded by “unbelief” (Romans 11:20–25)—was that Messiah Son of David was their own God Jehovah. “Looking beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14), they sacrificed the Lamb of God.
On the other hand, if Isaiah spoke of “all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel” (3 Nephi 23:2), wouldn’t he have mentioned such a person as Messiah Son of Joseph? As we learn from Isaiah’s literary devices that transpose his entire book into an end-time scenario—and from Jesus’, Nephi’s, and Jacob’s interpretations that apply Isaiah’s words solely to the end-time—we know that they don’t deal with Joseph Smith’s day. If Isaiah speaks of a Messiah Son of Joseph, in other words, Joseph Smith is not a candidate.
And yet, a type of Messiah Son of Joseph does appear in Isaiah. As “a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering of my people in the last days” (Doctrine & Covenants 113:6), God’s end-time servant heralds Jesus’ coming, gathers Israel’s tribes, builds the temple, and, like Joshua—an Ephraimite—fights Israel’s wars and appoints their inheritances (Isaiah 11:10–15; 41:2, 27; 44:26–28; 45:1–2, 13; 49:1–2, 6–12; 52:7, 10, 13–15).
As did Isaiah (Isaiah 55:3), Joseph Smith named God’s end-time servant David: “Although David was a king, he never did obtain the spirit and power of Elijah and the fullness of the Priesthood; and the Priesthood that he received, and the throne and kingdom of David is to be taken from him and given to another by the name of David in the last days, raised up out of his lineage” (TPJS, 339). Though marred by enemies (Isaiah 52:14), the servant doesn’t die but lives to “divide the spoil with the mighty” (Isaiah 53:11–12; 3 Nephi 21:10).
Like Jesus’ three Nephite disciples (3 Nephi 28:13–17), after being taken up to God and to his throne (Revelation 12:5) and returning as a translated being, God’s servant will indeed resemble the description of “one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found” (Doctrine & Covenants 85:7).
Brigham Young offered a time frame for when these events would occur: “Brethren, this Church will be led onto the very brink of hell by the leaders of this people. Then God will raise the one mighty and strong, spoken of in the 85th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants (v.7), to save and redeem this Church” (Brigham Young, Provo Bowery Conference, August 24th, 1867). Jehovah’s endowing his “arm”—his servant—with power forms the pivotal act in the sequence of this end-time drama (Isaiah 51:9; 52:10; 1 Nephi 22:8–12).