© 2013, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Doctrine and CovenantsWeek 21: D&C 89
The origin of the Word of Wisdom is found in the School of the Prophets.
The first School of the Prophets was organized by commandment of the Lord atKirtland, Ohio.
Its purpose was to instruct selected priesthood holders on scripture,doctrine, and secular learning.ii)
Its first meeting was held 23 January 1833.
The Word of Wisdom was received onemonth later. b)
Background and circumstances.i)
In September 1832 Joseph and his family moved from the John Johnson home inHiram, Ohio,
into the living quarters above Newell K. Whitney‘s store in Kirtland.
One of the small upstairs rooms was converted into a schoolroom where theSchool of the Prophets would meet.ii)
I think I am as well acquainted with the circumstances which led to the giving of the Word of Wisdom as any man in the Church, although I was not present at thetime to witness them. The first school of the prophets was held in a small roomsituated over the Prophet Joseph
s kitchen, in a house which belonged to BishopWhitney
The brethren came to that place for hundreds of miles to attend schoolin a little room probably no larger than eleven by fourteen. When they assembledtogether in this room after breakfast, the first they did was to light their pipes,and, while smoking, talk about the great things of the kingdom, and spit all overthe room, and as soon as the pipe was out of their mouths a large chew of tobaccowould then be taken.
Often when the Prophet entered the room to givethe school instructions he would find himself in a cloud of tobacco smoke. This,and the complaints of his wife at having to clean so filthy a floor, made theProphet think upon the matter, and he inquired of the Lord relating to the conductof the Elders in using tobacco, and the revelation known as the Word of Wisdomwas the result of his inquiry.
Sources for this lesson include:
Paul H. Peterson
, ―An Historical Analysis of
the Word of Wisdom
,‖ M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1972
Lester E. Bush, Jr.
, ―The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth
14/3 (Autumn1981), 46
Robert J. McCue, ―Did the Word of Wisdom Become a Commandment in 1851 ?,‖
14/3 (Autumn 1981),66
Thomas G. Alexander, ―The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to R
14/3 (Autumn 1981),78
Clyde Ford, ―The Origin of the Word of Wisdom,‖
Journal of Mormon History
24/2 (Fall 1998), 129
For more information on the School of the Prophets, see
Encyclopedia of Mormonism
(New York, New York: Macmillan,
1992), s.v. ―Schools of the Prophets,‖ 3:1269–
This commandment came on 27 December 1832; see D&C 88:74
80, 122, 127
The ordinance of washing of feet was performed at this meeting, as described in lesson 20, page 10(
Brigham Young, 8 February 1868.
Journal of Discourses