DAVINCI CODE SYMBOLS ARE A LANGUAGE
SEEDS OF THE SOWER/we read the language, decode the hidden pieces of the puzzle & return original truth=messengers
GENESIS 11: ziggurat tower of BABEL (confusioj, language of symbols)
GENESIS 10:8-12 NIMROD, MATERIAL EARTH=language, builder, GIANT
And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
HEBREWS KJV PAUL WARNS OF MISTREATING STRANGERS. WE MAY BE ANGELS
According to Latter Day Saint belief, the golden plates (also called the gold plates or in some 19th-century literature, the golden bible)  are the source from which Joseph Smith said he translated the Book of Mormon, a sacred text of the faith. Some witnesses described the plates as weighing from 30 to 60 pounds (14 to 27 kg),  being golden in color, and being composed of thin metallic pages engraved on both sides and bound with three D-shaped rings.
Smith said he found the plates on September 22, 1823, at a hill near his home in Manchester, New York, after the angel Moroni directed him to a buried stone box. Smith said the angel at first prevented him from taking the plates, but instructed him to return to the same location in a year. In September 1827, on his fourth annual attempt to retrieve the plates, Smith returned home with a heavy object wrapped in a frock, which he then put in a box. Though he allowed others to heft the box, he said that the angel had forbidden him to show the plates to anyone until they had been translated from their original “reformed Egyptian” language. Smith dictated the text of the Book of Mormon over the next several years, claiming that it was a translation of the plates. He did this by using a seer stone, which he placed in the bottom of a hat and then placed the hat over his face to view the words written within the stone.  Smith published the translation in 1830 as the Book of Mormon.
Smith eventually obtained testimonies from eleven men, known as the Book of Mormon witnesses, who said they had seen the plates.  After the translation was complete, Smith said he returned the plates to the angel Moroni. Therefore the plates cannot now be examined. Latter Day Saints believe the account of the golden plates as a matter of faith, while critics often assert that either Smith manufactured the plates himself  or that the Book of Mormon witnesses based their testimony on visions rather than physical experience.
Origin and historicity
See also: Origin of the Book of Mormon and Historicity of the Book of Mormon
In the words of Mormon historian Richard Bushman, “For most modern readers, the [golden] plates are beyond belief, a phantasm, yet the Mormon sources accept them as fact.” 
Because Smith said he returned the plates to an angel after he finished translating them, their authenticity cannot be determined by physical examination.
The golden plates were reportedly shown to several close associates of Smith.  Mormon scholars have formed collaborations such as Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies to provide apologetic answers to critical research about the golden plates and topics in the field of Mormon studies. Among these topics, the credibility of the plates has been, according to Bushman, a “troublesome item.” 
A reputed transcript of reformed Egyptian characters, which Smith said were copied from the golden plates in 1828. The characters are not linked to any known language.
The Book of Mormon itself portrays the golden plates as a historical record, engraved by two pre-Columbian prophet-historians from around the year AD 400: Mormon and his son Moroni. 
Mormon and Moroni, the book says, had abridged earlier historical records from other sets of metal plates. Their script, according to the book, was described as “reformed Egyptian,” a language unknown to linguists or Egyptologists.  Historically, Latter Day Saint movement denominations have taught that the Book of Mormon’s description of the plates’ origin is accurate, and that the Book of Mormon is a translation of the plates.  The Community of Christ, however, while accepting the Book of Mormon as scripture, no longer takes an official position on the historicity of the golden plates.  Moreover, even in the more theologically conservative Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), some adherents who accept the Book of Mormon as inspired scripture do not believe it is a literal translation of a physical historical record. 
Non-believers and some liberal Mormons have advanced naturalistic explanations for the story of the plates. For example, it has been theorized that the plates were fashioned by Smith or one of his associates,  that Smith had the ability to convince others of their existence through illusions or hypnosis,  or that witnesses were having ecstatic visions  These theories are explored in the Wikipedia article Origin of the Book of Mormon. Scholarly examinations of the book’s historicity are discussed in the Wikipedia article Historicity of the Book of Mormon.
Story of the golden plates
An 1893 engraving depicting Joseph Smith’s description of receiving artifacts from the angel Moroni. The artifacts include the golden plates and a set of spectacles made of seer stones, which Smith called the Urim and Thummim. The sword of Laban and an ancient breastplate are shown nearby.
The story of the golden plates consists of how, according to Joseph Smith and his contemporaries, the plates were found, received from the angel Moroni, translated, and returned to the angel prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon. Smith is the only source for a great deal of the story because much of it occurred at times when he was the only human witness. Nevertheless, Smith told the story to his family, friends, and acquaintances, and many of these provided second-hand accounts. Other parts of the story are derived from the statements of those who knew Smith, including several witnesses who said they saw the golden plates.
The best known elements of the golden plates story are found in an account told by Smith in 1838 and incorporated into the official church histories of some Latter Day Saint movement denominations.  The LDS Church has canonized part of this 1838 account as part of its scripture, the Pearl of Great Price.
Main article: Early life of Joseph Smith
During the Second Great Awakening, Joseph Smith lived on his parents’ farm near Palmyra, New York. At the time churches in the region contended so vigorously for souls that western New York became known as the “burned-over district” because the fires of religious revivals had burned over it so often.  Western New York was also noted for its participation in a “craze for treasure hunting.”  Beginning as a youth in the early 1820s, Smith was periodically hired, for about $14 per month, as a scryer, using what were termed “seer stones” in attempts to locate lost items and buried treasure. 
Smith’s contemporaries described his method for seeking treasure as putting the stone in a white stovepipe hat, putting his face over the hat to block the light, and then “seeing” the information in the reflections of the stone. 
Smith did not consider himself to be a “peeper” or “glass-looker,” a practice he called “nonsense.”  Rather, Smith and his family viewed their folk magical practices as spiritual gifts.  Although Smith later rejected his youthful treasure-hunting activities as frivolous and immaterial, he never repudiated the stones themselves nor denied their presumed power to find treasure, nor did he ever relinquish the magic culture in which he was raised.  He came to view seeing with a stone in religious terms as the work of a “seer”.  Smith’s first stone, apparently the same one he used at least part of the time to translate the golden plates, was chocolate-colored and about the size of a chicken egg,  found in a deep well he helped dig for one of his neighbors.  The LDS Church released photographs of the stone on August 4, 2015.  
Finding the plates
According to Smith, he found the plates after he was directed to them by a heavenly messenger  whom he later identified as the angel Moroni. 
According to the story, the angel first visited Smith’s bedroom late at night, on September 22  in 1822 or 1823. 
Moroni told Smith that the plates could be found buried in a prominent hill near his home, later called Cumorah, a name found in the Book of Mormon.  Before dawn, Moroni reappeared two more times and repeated the information. 
But the angel would not allow Smith to take the plates until he obeyed certain “commandments”.  Smith recorded some of these commandments, but made it clear the main thrust of Moroni’s message was that he had to keep God’s commandments in general. Some contemporaries who later claimed he told them the story said there were others, some of which are relevant to the modern debate about whether, or how closely, events of early Mormonism were related to the practice of contemporary folk magic.  Smith’s writings say that the angel required at least the following: (1) that he have no thought of using the plates for monetary gain,  (2) that he tell his father about the vision,  and (3) that he never show the plates to any unauthorized person.  Smith’s contemporaries who claimed to have heard the story—both sympathetic and unsympathetic—generally agreed that Smith mentioned the following additional commandments: (4) that Smith take the plates and leave the site where they had been buried without looking back, 
and (5) that the plates never directly touch the ground until safe at home in a locked chest.  Some unsympathetic listeners who allegedly heard the story from Smith or his father recalled that Smith had said the angel required him (6) to wear “black clothes” to the place where the plates were buried,  (7) to ride a “black horse with a switchtail”, 
(8) to call for the plates by a certain name,  and (9) to “give thanks to God.” 
An 1841 engraving of “Mormon Hill” (looking south), where Smith said he found the golden plates on the west side, near the peak.
In the morning, Smith began work as usual and did not mention the visions to his father  because, he said, he did not think his father would believe him.  Smith said he then fainted because he had been awake all night, and while unconscious, the angel appeared a fourth time and chastised him for failing to tell the visions to his father.  When Smith then told all to his father, he believed his son and encouraged him to obey the angel’s commands.  Smith then set off to visit the hill, later stating that he used his seer stone to locate the place where the plates were buried  but that he “knew the place the instant that [he] arrived there.” 
Smith said he saw a large stone covering a box made of stone (or possibly iron).  Using a stick to remove dirt from the edges of the stone cover, and prying it up with a lever, 
Smith saw the plates inside the box, together with other artifacts. 
Unsuccessful retrieval attempts
According to Smith’s followers, Smith said he took the plates from the box, put them on the ground, and covered the box with the stone to protect the other treasures it contained.  Nevertheless, the accounts say, when Smith looked back at the ground after closing the box, the plates had once again disappeared into it.  According to two non-believing Palmyra residents, when Smith once again raised the stone and attempted to retrieve the plates, Smith saw something in the box like a toad that grew larger and struck him to the ground.  Although Smith’s followers do not mention a toad-like creature, they agree with several non-believers that Smith said he was stricken by a supernatural force that hurled him to the ground as many as three times. 
Disconcerted by his inability to obtain the plates, Smith said he briefly wondered whether his experience had been a “dreem of Vision” [sic]. 
Concluding that it was not, he said he prayed asking why he had been barred from taking the plates. 
In response to his question, Smith said the angel appeared and told him he could not receive the plates because he “had been tempted of the advisary and saught the Plates to obtain riches and kept not the commandments that I should have” [sic].  According to Smith’s followers, Smith had also broken the angel’s commandment “not to lay the plates down, or put them for a moment out of his hands”,  and according to a non-believer, Smith said “I had forgotten to give thanks to God” as required by the angel. 
Smith said the angel instructed him to return the next year, on September 22, 1824, with the “right person”: his older brother Alvin.  Alvin died in November 1823, and Smith returned to the hill in 1824 to ask what he should do. 
Smith said he was told to return the following year (1825) with the “right person”—although the angel did not tell Smith who that person might be.  But Smith determined after looking into his seer stone that the “right person” was Emma Hale, his future wife.  For the visit on September 22, 1825, Smith may have attempted to bring his treasure-hunting associate Samuel T. Lawrence. 
Smith said that he visited the hill “at the end of each year” for four years after the first visit in 1823,  but there is no record of him being in the vicinity of Palmyra between January 1826 and January 1827 when he returned to New York from Pennsylvania with his new wife.  In January 1827, Smith visited the hill and then told his parents that the angel had severely chastised him for not being “engaged enough in the work of the Lord”,  which may have meant that he had missed his annual visit to the hill in 1826. 
Receiving the plates
The next annual visit on September 22, 1827 would be, Smith told associates, his last chance to receive the plates. 
According to Brigham Young, as the scheduled final date to obtain the plates approached, several Palmyra residents expressed concern “that they were going to lose that treasure” and sent for a skilled necromancer from 60 miles (96 km) away, encouraging him to make three separate trips to Palmyra to find the plates.  During one of these trips, the unnamed necromancer is said to have discovered the location, but was unable to determine the value of the plates.  A few days prior to the September 22, 1827 visit to the hill, Smith’s loyal treasure-hunting friends Josiah Stowell and Joseph Knight, Sr. traveled to Palmyra, in part, to be there during Smith’s scheduled visit to the hill. 
Another of Smith’s former treasure-hunting associates, Samuel T. Lawrence, was also apparently aware of the approaching date to obtain the plates, and Smith was concerned he might cause trouble.  Therefore, on the eve of September 22, 1827, the scheduled date for retrieving the plates, Smith dispatched his father to spy on Lawrence’s house until dark. If Lawrence attempted to leave, the elder Smith was to tell him that his son would “thrash the stumps with him” if he found him at the hill.  Late at night, Smith took a horse and carriage to the hill Cumorah with his wife Emma.  While Emma stayed behind kneeling in prayer,  Smith walked to the site of the buried plates. Some time in the early morning hours, he said he retrieved the plates and hid them in a hollow log on or near Cumorah.  At the same time, Smith said he received a pair of large spectacles he called the Urim and Thummim or “Interpreters”, with lenses consisting of two seer stones, which he showed his mother when he returned in the morning. 
Over the next few days, Smith took a well-digging job in nearby Macedon to earn enough money to buy a solid lockable chest in which to put the plates.  By then, however, some of Smith’s treasure-seeking company had heard that Smith said he had been successful in obtaining the plates, and they wanted what they believed was their share of the profits from what they viewed as part of a joint venture in treasure hunting.  Spying once again on the house of Samuel Lawrence, Smith, Sr. determined that a group of ten to twelve of these men, including Lawrence and Willard Chase, had enlisted the talents of a renowned and supposedly talented seer from 60 miles (96 km) away, in an effort to locate where the plates were hidden by means of divination.  When Emma heard of this, she rode a stray horse to Macedon and informed Smith,  who reportedly determined through his Urim and Thummim that the plates were safe. He nevertheless hurriedly rode home with Emma. 
Once home in Manchester, he said he walked to Cumorah, removed the plates from their hiding place, and walked home through the woods and away from the road with the plates wrapped in a linen frock under his arm.  On the way, he said a man had sprung up from behind a log and struck him a “heavy blow with a gun.” “Knocking the man down with a single punch, Joseph ran as fast as he could for about a half mile before he was attacked by a second man trying to get the plates. After similarly overpowering the man, Joseph continued to run, but before he reached the house, a third man hit him with a gun. In striking the last man, Joseph said, he injured his thumb.”  He returned home with a dislocated thumb and other minor injuries.  Smith sent his father, Joseph Knight, and Josiah Stowell to search for the pursuers, but they found no one. 
Smith is said to have put the plates in a locked chest and hid them in his parents’ home in Manchester.  He refused to allow anyone, including his family, to view the plates or the other artifacts he said he had in his possession, although some people were allowed to heft them or feel what were said to be the artifacts through a cloth.  A few days after retrieving the plates, Smith brought home what he said was an ancient breastplate, which he said had been hidden in the box at Cumorah with the plates. After letting his mother feel through a thin cloth what she said was the breastplate, he placed it in the locked chest. 
The Smith home was approached “nearly every night” by villagers hoping to find the chest where Smith said the plates were kept.  After hearing that a group of them would attempt to enter the house by force, Smith buried the chest under the hearth,  and the family was able to scare away the intended intruders.  Fearing the chest might still be discovered, Smith hid it under the floor boards of his parents’ old log home nearby, then being used as a cooper shop.  Later, Smith told his mother he had taken the plates out of the chest, left the empty chest under the floor boards of the cooper shop, and hid the plates in a barrel of flax. Shortly thereafter the empty box was discovered and the place ransacked by Smith’s former treasure-seeking associates,  who had enlisted one of the men’s sisters to find the hiding place by looking in her seer stone. 
Translating the plates
See also: Life of Joseph Smith from 1827 to 1830
Smith said that the plates were engraved in an unknown language, and he told associates that he was capable of reading and translating them. 
This translation took place mainly in Harmony, Pennsylvania (now Oakland Township), Emma’s hometown, where Smith and his wife had moved in October 1827 with financial assistance from a prominent, though superstitious, Palmyra landowner Martin Harris. 
The translation occurred in two phases: the first, from December 1827 to June 1828, during which Smith transcribed some of the characters and then dictated 116 manuscript pages to Harris, which were lost. The second phase began sporadically in early 1829 and then in earnest in April 1829 with the arrival of Oliver Cowdery, a schoolteacher who volunteered to serve as Smith’s full-time scribe. In June 1829, Smith and Cowdery moved to Fayette, New York, completing the translation early the following month.
A 21st-century artistic representation of Joseph Smith translating the golden plates by examining a seer stone in his hat.
Smith used scribes to write the words he said were a translation of the golden plates, dictating these words while peering into seer stones, which he said allowed him to see the translation. Smith’s translation process evolved out of his previous use of seer stones in treasure seeking.  During the earliest phase of translation, Smith said he used what he called Urim and Thummim—two stones set in a frame like a set of large spectacles.  Witnesses said Smith placed the Urim and Thummim in his hat while translating. 
After the loss of the first 116 manuscript pages, Smith translated with a single seer stone that some sources say he had previously used in treasure seeking.  Smith placed the stone in a hat, buried his face in it to eliminate all outside light, and peered into the stone to see the words of the translation. 
A few times during the translation, a curtain or blanket was raised between Smith and his scribe or between the living area and the area where Smith and his scribe worked.  Sometimes Smith dictated to Harris from upstairs or from a different room. 
Smith’s translation did not require the use of the plates themselves. 
Though Smith said very little about the translation process, his friends and family said that as he looked into the stone the written translation of the ancient script appeared to him in English.  There are several proposed explanations for how Smith composed his translation. In the 19th century, the most common explanation was that he copied the work from a manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding.  This theory is repudiated by Smith’s preeminent modern biographers. 
The most prominent modern theory is that Smith composed the translation in response to the provincial opinions of his time,  perhaps while in a magical trance-like state.  As a matter of faith, Latter Day Saints generally view the translation process as either an automatic process of transcribing text written within the stone,  or an intuitive translation by Smith assisted by a mystical connection with God through the stone. 
Smith’s dictations were written down by a number of assistants including Emma Smith, Martin Harris, and Oliver Cowdery.  In May 1829, after Smith had lent 116 un-duplicated manuscript pages to Harris, and Harris had lost them, Smith dictated a revelation explaining that Smith could not simply re-translate the lost pages because his opponents would attempt to see if he could “bring forth the same words again.”  According to Grant Palmer, Smith believed “a second transcription would be identical to the first. This confirms the view that the English text existed in some kind of unalterable, spiritual form rather than that someone had to think through difficult conceptual issues and idioms, always resulting in variants in any translation.” 
Location of the plates during translation
When Smith and Emma moved to Pennsylvania in October 1827, they transported a wooden box, which Smith said contained the plates, hidden in a barrel of beans.  For a time the couple stayed in the home of Emma’s father Isaac Hale; but when Smith refused to show Hale the plates, Hale banished the concealed objects from his house.  Afterward, Smith told several of his associates that the plates were hidden in the nearby woods. 
Emma said that she remembered the plates being on a table in the house, wrapped in a linen tablecloth, which she moved from time to time when it got in the way of her chores.  According to Smith’s mother, the plates were also stored in a trunk on Emma’s bureau. 
However, Smith did not require the physical presence of the plates in order to translate them. 
In April 1828, Martin Harris’s wife, Lucy, visited Harmony with her husband and demanded to see the plates. When Smith refused to show them to her, she searched the house, grounds, and woods. According to Smith’s mother, during the search Lucy was frightened by a large black snake and thus prevented from digging up the plates.  As a result of Martin Harris’ loss of the 116 pages of manuscript, Smith said that between July and September 1828, the angel Moroni took back both the plates and the Urim and Thummim as a penalty for his having delivered “the manuscript into the hands of a wicked man.”  According to Smith’s mother, the angel returned the objects to Smith on September 22, 1828, the anniversary of the day he first received them. 
In March 1829, Martin Harris visited Harmony and asked to see the plates. Smith told him that he “would go into the woods where the Book of Plates was, and that after he came back, Harris should follow his tracks in the snow, and find the Book, and examine it for himself.” Harris followed these directions but could not find the plates. 
In early June 1829, the unwanted attentions of locals around Harmony necessitated Smith’s move to the home of David Whitmer and his parents in Fayette, New York. Smith said that during this move the plates were transported by the angel Moroni, who put them in the garden of the Whitmer house where Smith could recover them. The translation was completed at the Whitmer home. 
Returning the plates
A 21st-century artistic representation of the Golden plates, Urim and Thummim, Sword of Laban, and Liahona
Main article: Cumorah
After translation was complete, Smith said he returned the plates to the angel, although he did not elaborate about this experience.  According to accounts by several early Mormons, a group of Mormon leaders including Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and possibly others  accompanied Smith and returned the plates to a cave inside the Hill Cumorah.  There, Smith is said to have placed the plates on a table near “many wagon loads” of other ancient records, and the Sword of Laban hanging on the cave wall.  According to Brigham Young’s understanding, which he said he gained from Cowdery, on a later visit to the cave, the Sword of Laban was said to be unsheathed and placed over the plates, and inscribed with the words “This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.” 
Smith taught that part of the golden plates were “sealed”.  This “sealed” portion is said to contain “a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof”.  Many Latter Day Saints believe that the plates will be kept hidden until a future time when the sealed part will be translated  and, according to one early Mormon leader, transferred from the hill to one of the Mormon temples. 
David Whitmer is quoted as stating that he saw just the untranslated portion of the plates sitting on the table with the sword (and also a breastplate). 
Apparently, Whitmer was aware of expeditions at Cumorah to locate the sealed portion of the plates through “science and mineral rods,” which he said “testify that they are there”. 
Descriptions of the plates
Main article: Book of Mormon witnesses
Smith said the angel Moroni had commanded him not to show the plates to any unauthorized person. 
However, Smith eventually obtained the written statement of several witnesses who saw the plates. It is unclear whether the witnesses believed they had seen the plates with their physical eyes or had seen them in a vision. For instance, although Martin Harris continued to testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon even when he was estranged from the church, at least during the early years of the movement, he “seems to have repeatedly admitted the internal, subjective nature of his visionary experience.” 
According to some sources, Smith initially intended that the first authorized witness be his firstborn son;  but this child was stillborn in 1828.  In March 1829, Martin Harris came to Harmony to see the plates, but was unable to find them in the woods where Smith said they could be found.  The next day,  Smith dictated a revelation stating that Harris could eventually qualify himself  to be one of three witnesses with the exclusive right to “view [the plates] as they are”. 
By June 1829, Smith determined that there would be eight additional witnesses, a total of twelve including Smith.  During the second half of June 1829,  Smith took Harris, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer (known collectively as the Three Witnesses) 
into woods in Fayette, New York, where they said they saw an angel holding the golden plates and turning the leaves.  The four also said they heard “the voice of the Lord” telling them that the translation of the plates was correct, and commanding them to testify of what they saw and heard. 
A few days later, Smith took a different group of Eight Witnesses  to a location near Smith’s parents’ home in Palmyra  where they said Smith showed them the golden plates. 
Statements over the names of these men, apparently drafted by Smith, 
were published in 1830 as an appendix to the Book of Mormon.  According to later statements ascribed to Martin Harris, he viewed the plates in a vision and not with his “natural eyes.” 
In addition to Smith and the other eleven who claimed to be witnesses, a few other early Mormons said they saw the plates. For instance, Smith’s mother Lucy Mack Smith said she had “seen and handled” the plates.  Smith’s wife Emma and his younger brother William and younger sister Katharine also said they had examined and lifted the plates while they were wrapped in fabric.  Others said they had visions of the plates or had been shown the plates by an angel, in some cases years after Smith said he had returned the plates. 
Described format, binding, and dimensions
Full-scale model of the golden plates based on Joseph Smith’s description
The plates were said to be bound at one edge by a set of rings. In 1828, Martin Harris, is reported to have said that the plates were “fastened together in the shape of a book by wires”.  In 1859 Harris said that the plates “were seven inches [18 cm] wide by eight inches [20 cm] in length, and were of the thickness of plates of tin; and when piled one above the other, they were altogether about four inches [10 cm] thick; and they were put together on the back by three silver rings, so that they would open like a book”.  David Whitmer, another of the Three Witnesses, was quoted by an 1831 Palmyra newspaper as having said the plates were “the thickness of tin plate; the back was secured with three small rings … passing through each leaf in succession”.  Anomalously, Smith’s father is quoted as saying that the plates were only half an inch (1.27 centimeter) thick.  Smith’s mother, who said she had “seen and handled” the plates, is quoted as saying they were “eight inches [20 cm] long, and six [15 cm] wide … all connected by a ring which passes through a hole at the end of each plate”. 
Hyrum Smith and John Whitmer, also witnesses in 1829, are reported to have stated that the rings holding the plates together were, in Hyrum’s words, “in the shape of the letter D, which facilitated the opening and shutting of the book”.  Smith’s wife Emma and his younger brother William said they had examined the plates while wrapped in fabric. Emma said she “felt of the plates, as they thus lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book”.  William agreed that the plates could be rustled with one’s thumb like the pages of a book. 
Smith did not provide his own published description of the plates until 1842, when he said in a letter that “each plate was six inches [15 cm] wide and eight inches [20 cm] long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were … bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches [15 cm] in thickness”. 
Described composition and weight
The plates were first described as “gold”, and beginning about 1827, the plates were widely called the “gold bible”.  When the Book of Mormon was published in 1830, the Eight Witnesses described the plates as having “the appearance of gold”. 
The Book of Mormon describes the plates as being made of “ore”.  In 1831, a Palmyra newspaper quoted David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses, as having said that the plates were a “whitish yellow color”, with “three small rings of the same metal”. 
Smith’s first published description of the plates said that the plates “had the appearance of gold”,  and Smith said that Moroni had referred to the plates as “gold.”  Late in life, Martin Harris stated that the rings holding the plates together were made of silver,  and he said the plates themselves, based on their heft of “forty or fifty pounds” (18–23 kg),  “were lead or gold”. 
Joseph’s brother William, who said he felt the plates inside a pillow case in 1827, said in 1884 that he understood the plates to be “a mixture of gold and copper … much heavier than stone, and very much heavier than wood”. 
Different people estimated the weight of the plates differently. According to Smith’s one-time-friend Willard Chase, Smith told him in 1827 that the plates weighed between 40 and 60 pounds (18–27 kg), most likely the latter. 
Smith’s father Joseph Smith, Sr., who was one of the Eight Witnesses, reportedly weighed them and said in 1830 that they “weighed thirty pounds” (14 kg).  Smith’s brother William, who had lifted the plates, thought they “weighed about sixty pounds [27 kg] according to the best of my judgment”.  Others who lifted the plates while they were wrapped in cloth or enclosed in a box thought that they weighed about 60 pounds [27 kg]. Martin Harris said that he had “hefted the plates many times, and should think they weighed forty or fifty pounds [18–23 kg]”.  Smith’s wife Emma never estimated the weight of the plates but said they were light enough for her to “move them from place to place on the table, as it was necessary in doing my work”.  None of the witnesses specified the exact size of the plates or the number of leaves contained in them, but one scholar speculates that, had the plates been made of 24-karat gold (which Smith never claimed), they would have weighed about 140 pounds (64 kg),  while LDS writers have speculated that the plates were made of a copper-gold alloy like tumbaga, which would have weighed significantly less. 
According to Smith and others, the golden plates contained a “sealed” portion  containing “a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof.”  Smith never described the nature of the seal, and the language of the Book of Mormon may be interpreted to describe a sealing that was spiritual, metaphorical,  physical, or a combination of these elements.
The Book of Mormon refers to other documents and plates as being “sealed” to be revealed at some future time. For example, the Book of Mormon says the entire set of plates was “sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord”  and that separate records of John the Apostle were “sealed up to come forth in their purity” in the end times.  One set of plates to which the Book of Mormon refers was “sealed up” in the sense that they were written in a language that could not be read. 
Smith may have understood the sealing to be a supernatural or spiritual sealing “by the power of God” (2 Nephi 27:10),  an idea supported by a reference in the Book of Mormon to the “interpreters” with which Smith said they were buried or “sealed.”  Oliver Cowdery also stated that when Smith visited the hill, he was stricken by a supernatural force because the plates were “sealed by the prayer of faith.” 
Several witnesses described a physical sealing placed on part of the plates by Mormon or Moroni. David Whitmer said that when an angel showed him the plates in 1829, “a large portion of the leaves were so securely bound together that it was impossible to separate them,”  that the “sealed” part of the plates were held together as a solid mass “stationary and immovable,” 
“as solid to my view as wood,”  and that there were “perceptible marks where the plates appeared to be sealed”  with leaves “so securely bound that it was impossible to separate them.”  In 1842, Lucy Mack Smith said that some of the plates were “sealed together” while others were “loose.”  The account of the Eight Witnesses says they saw the plates in 1829 and handled “as many of the leaves as Smith has translated,” implying that they did not examine untranslated parts, such as the sealed portion.  In one interview, David Whitmer said that “about half” the book was unsealed;  in 1881, he said “about one-third” was unsealed. 
Whitmer’s 1881 statement is consistent with an 1856 statement by Orson Pratt, an associate of Smith’s who never saw the plates himself but who had spoken with witnesses,  that “about two-thirds” of the plates were “sealed up”. 
Main article: Reformed Egyptian
The golden plates were said to contain engravings that the Book of Mormon describes as reformed Egyptian. 
Smith described the writing as “Egyptian characters … small, and beautifully engraved,” exhibiting “much skill in the art of engraving.” 
John Whitmer, one of the Eight Witnesses, said the plates had “fine engravings on both sides,”  and Orson Pratt, who did not see the plates himself but who had spoken with witnesses, understood that there were engravings on both sides of the plates, “stained with a black, hard stain, so as to make the letters more legible and easier to be read.” 
Significance in the Latter Day Saint tradition
Main article: Mormonism and engraved metal plates
The golden plates are significant within the Latter Day Saint movement because they are the reputed source for the Book of Mormon, which Smith called the “most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion.” 
However, the golden plates are just one of many known and reputed metal plates with significance in the Latter Day Saint movement. The Book of Mormon itself refers to a long tradition of writing historical records on plates, of which the golden plates are a culmination (see List of plates (Latter Day Saint movement)). In addition, Smith once believed in the authenticity of a set of engraved metal plates called the Kinderhook plates,  although these plates turned out to be a hoax by non-Mormons who sought to entice Smith to translate them in order to discredit his reputation. 
Two other sets of alleged plates, the Voree plates and the Book of the Law of the Lord, were translated by James Strang—one of three major contenders to succeed Smith—who went on to lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite). 
Some Latter Day Saints, especially those within the Community of Christ, have doubted the historicity of the golden plates and downplayed their significance.  For most Latter Day Saints, however, the physical existence and authenticity of the golden plates are essential elements of their faith. For them, the message of the Book of Mormon is inseparable from the story of its origins. 
Hugh Nibley said in 1957 that proof of the actual existence of the golden plates would not settle disputes about the Book of Mormon and the story of its origin. 
1. ^ Use of the terms golden bible and gold bible by both believers and non-believers dates from the late 1820s. See, for instance, Harris (1859, p. 167) (use of the term gold bible by Martin Harris in 1827); Smith (1853, pp. 102, 109, 113, 145) (use of the term gold Bible in 1827–29 by believing Palmyra neighbors); Grandin (1829) (stating that by 1829 the plates were “generally known and spoken of as the ‘Golden Bible'”). Use of these terms has been rare, especially by believers, since the 1830s.
2. ^ Anthon (1834, p. 270); Vogel (2004, p. 600n65; 601n96). Vogel estimates that solid gold plates of the same dimensions would weigh about 140 pounds (64 kg).
3. ^ Bushman (2005, pp. 71–72); Marquardt & Walters (1994, pp. 103–04); Van Wagoner & Walker (1982, pp. 52–53) (citing numerous witnesses of the translation process); Quinn (1998, pp. 169–70, 173) (describing similar methods for both the two-stone Urim and Thummim and the chocolate-colored seer stone). Although Smith’s use of a single stone is well documented (Wagoner 1982, pp. 59–62), Smith said that his earliest translation used a set of stone spectacles called the Urim and Thummim, which he found with the plates (Smith et al. 1838a, p. 5). Other than Smith himself, his mother was the sole known witness of the Urim and Thummim, which she said she had observed them when covered by a thin cloth (Smith 1853, p. 101).
4. ^ Critics question whether one of these witnesses, Martin Harris, physically saw the plates. Although Harris continued to testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon even when he was estranged from the church, at least during the early years of the movement, he “seems to have repeatedly admitted the internal, subjective nature of his visionary experience.” Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 2: 255. The foreman in the Palmyra printing office that produced the first Book of Mormon said that Harris “used to practice a good deal of his characteristic jargon and ‘seeing with the spiritual eye,’ and the like.” Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1867) p. 71 in EMD, 3: 122. John H. Gilbert, the typesetter for most of the book, said that he had asked Harris, “Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?” According to Gilbert, Harris “looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, ‘No, I saw them with a spiritual eye.'” John H. Gilbert, “Memorandum,” 8 September 1892, in EMD, 2: 548. Two other Palmyra residents said that Harris told them that he had seen the plates with “the eye of faith” or “spiritual eyes.”
brass plates found near Kinderhook … I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth.” More than six pages of History of the Church, 5:372–79 discuss the Kinderhook plates, and Smith directed Reuben Hedlock to make woodcuts of the plates. Palmer (2002, p. 31) “Church historians continued to insist on the authenticity of the Kinderhook plates until 1980 when an examination conducted by the Chicago Historical Society, possessor of one plate, proved it was a nineteenth-century creation.” Bushman (2005, p. 490)
204. ^ Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 489–90.
205. ^ The Voree plates were alleged to have been written by an ancient inhabitant of what is now Burlington, Wisconsin, while the Book of the Law of the Lord was alleged by Strang to be a translation of the Plates of Laban mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Neither of these alleged discoveries by Strang is accepted as authentic outside of the Strangite community.
206. ^ Ostling (1999, p. 259): “‘Were there really gold plates and ministering angels, or was there just Joseph Smith Seated at a table with his face in a hat dictating to a scribe a fictional account of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas?’ Resolving that problem haunts loyal Mormons. The blunt questioner quoted is Brigham D. Madsen, a liberal Mormon and onetime history teacher at Brigham Young University.”
207. ^ Givens (2003, p. 37).
208. ^ Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon : “Critics of the Book of Mormon often remark sarcastically that it is a great pity that the golden plates have disappeared, since they would very conveniently prove Joseph Smith’s story. They would do nothing of the sort. The presence of the plates would only prove that there were plates, no more: it would not prove that Nephites wrote them, or that an angel brought them, or that they had been translated by the gift and power of God; and we can be sure that scholars would quarrel about the writing on them for generations without coming to any agreement, exactly as they did about the writings of Homer and parts of the Bible. The possession of the plates would have a very disruptive effect, and it would prove virtually nothing. On the other hand, a far more impressive claim is put forth when the whole work is given to the world in what is claimed to
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