The Stick of Judah

Chapter 1

The Stick of Judah*

     The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man,
take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of
Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph,
the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: and
join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine

     And when the children of thy people shall speak
unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto
them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which
is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will
put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick,
and they shall be one in mine hand.

     And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in
thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God;
Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither
they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their
own land (Ezekiel 37:15–21).

The Doctors Disagree

In maintaining that Ezekiel in his account of the sticks of Judah and Joseph
(Ezekiel 37:15–21) was actually referring in prophetic language to the Bible
and the Book of Mormon, the Latter-day Saints may invoke the prerogative of
any pious reader of the scriptures to interpret any symbolic passage in whatever
way carries the most conviction. But the more aggressive use of the passage
to support the claims of the Book of Mormon cannot but elicit loud protests
and challenges from the outside world. To answer these, it is necessary to demonstrate
not only that our interpretation of the passage is a possible one—for
there are many possibilities—but that it is also the one most likely intended
by the Prophet Ezekiel. The one way to do this is to show (1) that Ezekiel’s
strange conception and manipulation of the sticks was not a bizarre or original
conceit, but that it was strictly in accordance with ancient practices perfectly
familiar to the Jews of that time though lost to the modern world, and (2) that
the prophet put a definite interpretation on the stick ritual according to which
it can hardly have represented anything but the two books in question.

In explaining this remarkable scripture we are not bound by the opinions
of even the most learned so long as there is no consensus among them. Fortunately,
we find ourselves in perfect agreement with them in all those points on which
they agree among themselves. But for the rest we need not and cannot follow
them, for they all rush in different directions. Nor do we expect others to
follow our opinions in the matter, but only to view the evidence and form
their own. The distinguishing mark of biblical commentaries in general is
a dignified unconcern for anything that might be called evidence on the subject.
The sheer momentum of a heavy theological phraseology, sustained by an occasional
(often irrelevant) passage of scripture, is thought quite sufficient to override
any “saucy doubts and fears” of the layman.

Two sticks are mentioned. What were they actually? Simply sticks or small pieces
of wood, according to some writers,1 the
two parts of a broken scepter, 2 “two
pieces of what was probably a broken, scepter-shaped stick,” 3
“sticks—probably shaped like scepters.”4
according to others. “Tribal rods” is another interpretation, based
on Numbers 17,5 and even “pilgrim
rods” has been suggested.6 Shepherds’
staves, 7 branches cut from a common trunk,8
and boards for writing9 have also been
considered. Against all of these one of the weightiest authorities, Keil, insists
that there is not the slightest proof that ʿetz, “wood,”
the Hebrew word here so lyrically interpreted, means “staff” or “rod”
at all, and that if any kind of staff had been intended a different word would
have been used. “Nor have we even to think of flat boards, but simply of
pieces of wood upon which a few words could be written,” adds Dr. Keil,
thus denying the wood any form at all.10
But since the Septuagint renders Ezekiel’s “wood” as rhabdos,
“staff,” “rod,” and the Bible itself offers convincing parallels
(especially Numbers 17), the commentators overwhelmingly favor some form of
staff, and in this we gladly concur. As to Ezekiel’s refusal to call a staff
a staff, upon which Keil lays so much stress, we shall see that that is significant
when we come to deciding what the “woods” actually were.

Next we are told that the two sticks are joined together to make one. How was
that done? According to the broken-staff theory, by joining together the two
broken ends; according to the pilgrim-staff theory, by simply carrying the two
sticks together in one hand;11 they
were tied together according to some—and the Septuagint would
bear this out;12 but still other methods
have been suggested, such as “by a notch, dovetail, glue, or some such
method.”13 Skinner says the prophet
“put them end to end, and made them look like one,” but also suggests
the possibility that “when the rods are put together they miraculously
grow into one”14 Is it necessary
to suppose that Ezekiel did anything at all with sticks? “It is a little
difficult to decide,” says the authority just cited, “whether this
was a sign that was actually performed before the people, or one that is only
imagined. It depends on what we take to be meant by the joining of the two pieces.
. . . If the meaning is . . . that when the rods are put together,
they miraculously grow into one, . . . it is no longer necessary to assume that
the action was really performed.”15
“This symbolical action,” writes Davidson in the Cambridge Bible,
“may have been actually performed, though the supposition is scarcely necessary.”16

So all the experts have to offer us is a vague admission that there were sticks
and that they were joined: What the sticks were and how they
were joined remains a mystery. As to why they were joined, Ezekiel
himself gives an adequate explanation, only to encumber it, in the view of the
critics, by a needlessly complex description of what was done. “The purpose
of the sign is not merely to suggest the idea of political unity,” writes
Skinner, speaking of the joining of the two sticks, “which is too simple
to require any such illustration, but rather to indicate the completeness of
the union and the divine force needed to bring it about.”17
But is this not also “too simple to require an illustration” that
has the sticks united now in one bundle, now in another, and variously brought
together in the hands of Ezekiel, Joseph, Ephraim, Judah, David, and the Lord?
The passage “seems to be filled out with explanatory notes which spoil
the balance and harmony of the clauses,” according to Cooke, who to restore
balance and harmony will strike out whatever seems clumsy.18
Yet as Housman so emphatically observes, it is just such clumsiness that is
the surest sign of genuineness in an ancient text. Even the great Bentley, says
Housman, “forgot that counterfeit verses are not wont to be meaningless
. . . and that the aim of interpolators is not to make difficulties but to remove
them,”19 i.e., that if an ancient
text displays that “balance and harmony” which our critics crave,
it is probably because earlier critics have tidied it up. When all the manuscripts
at our disposal display signs of confusion, “those MSS are to be preferred,”
Housman reminds us, “which give the worst nonsense, because they are likely
to be the least interpolated.”20

Let the nineteenth verse of the thirty-seventh chapter illustrate the real
complexity of Ezekiel’s account, upon which scholars have sought to impose simplicity
by altering the text. Rendered literally, the verse reads: “Verily I am
taking the wood of Joseph which is in the hand of Ephraim and the shivte
of Israel his associates, and I shall place them upon it along with [eth]
the wood of Judah, and I shall make them for one wood, and they shall be one
in my hand.” Three things here complicate the picture.

First, there are the shivte of Israel. Now, shivte means
simply staff or rod: it is cognate with the Latin scipio, probably
with our own “staff,” and certainly with the Greek skeptron,
whence our word “scepter.” Since tribes were anciently identified
by rods (Numbers 17:2), shevet can be read “tribe” in certain
contexts. But since in this verse the shivte of Israel are to be placed
upon or fitted against the stick of Joseph, this is one place where the rendering
of shevet in its proper sense of rod is particularly appropriate, as
Migne observes,21 since tribes cannot
be placed upon another rod, while other rods can. One has the authority of the
Septuagint for reading shivte here as “tribes,” but it is
clear that the Septuagint has distorted the whole passage, for every time “staff”
or “wood” appears in the verse, it is uniformly rendered
“tribe,” so that the whole ritual of the sticks is completely obliterated.
As the passage stands, it describes Ephraim as possessing a number of documents
relating to Joseph and members of the house of Israel associated with him; these
are to be fitted together with a like collection of documents relating to Judah
and “his companions” (Ezekiel 37:16). This complexity renders the
passage “incomprehensible” (unverständlich) to Guthe,22
while Jamieson would escape it by changing “them” to read “it.”23
To leave the passage as it stands opens up a number of disturbing possibilities
which must be removed at all cost, even if it means rewriting the text or declaring
it nonsense.

An annoying confirmation of this seemingly needless complexity is the Hebrew
eth, which we have rendered “along with” and which implies
that the stick of Joseph, having first been compounded in the hand of Ephraim
of a number of “rods,” will then be joined to the (compound) stick
of Judah. Read this way, the eth makes perfectly good sense, but if
one wants a simpler reading “the construction is rather unnatural,”
as the Cambridge Bible observes.24 “Jack
and Jill went up the hill,” etc., is an “unnatural construction”
if an editor is convinced that water is found only at the bottom of hills, and
so “up” should be emended to read “down.” Just so, some
editors faced by this eth have calmly changed it to el and
thus removed the offensive word from their sight.25

The third rock of offense in this one verse is the statement “they shall
become one in my hand.” There have always been scholars favoring
the Septuagint reading, “in the hand of Judah.”26
Yet as the Cambridge Bible points out, such an emendation is not permissible,
since “there is no trace in the passage of any preeminence of Judah over
Israel of the north”—which should be obvious to any reader, since
the equality of the two nations is strongly emphasized in the chapter.27
Why then do the scholars prefer a reading that is poorly supported by text and
context to one that is well supported? Because “in the hand of Judah”
sounds more like history, while “in my hand” is the stuff of prophecy—always
more suspect and baffling. Modern scholars, like ancient Targumists, have not
hesitated “to modify the language of the prophet . . . and even, in certain
cases, to reverse the plain meaning of the text,” when it has served their
purpose to do so.28

And so our appeal to the experts brings little reward, since their work is
little more than speculation rather than searching for evidence. Such a search,
however, may turn out to be quite profitable, and if the least be said we
cannot well avoid undertaking it.

What Were the Sticks?

The theme of the whole thirty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel is clear to all: it
is the great final gathering of the Lord’s people into a holy nation, united
forever under the scepter of the rightful king, God’s anointed, with the sanctuary
of the Lord forever in their midst (Ezekiel 37:21–28).29 The dry bones of the
first half of the chapter represent an Israel that has lost hope of ever becoming
a nation again, and as Professor Driver observes, Ezekiel shows that “God
can endow the seemingly dead nation with fresh life, and plant it again in its
old land.”30 Driver further points out what most scholars overlook, that
the uniting of the sticks to represent (as the prophet explains, Ezekiel 37:20–22)
the reuniting of the nation is a necessary part of the picture. More recently,
Rabbi Fisch has confirmed this basic interpretation.31 Now the bringing together
of tribal rods or staffs marked with the names of tribes was actually practiced
in Israel when the nation assembled, and indeed commentators have not failed
to note the probable identity of the “sticks” of Ezekiel with the
tribal rods described in the seventeenth chapter of Numbers. But since the experts
have failed to look into the remarkable institution of the tribal rods, it will
be necessary here for us to consider the subject briefly, referring the reader,
as much out of necessity as vanity, to studies of our own on the topic.

The great national assemblies of the Israelites, such as that one idealized
in Ezekiel 37, had their counterpart in every nation of the ancient world.
For thousands of years and “at hundreds of holy shrines, each believed
to mark the exact center of the universe, . . . one might have seen assembled
at the New Year—the moment of creation, the beginning and ending of
time—vast concourses of people, each thought to represent the entire
human race in the presence of all its ancestors and gods.”32 The concept
of a great and perfect assembly of the whole human race at the throne of a
heavenly king is thus the dream and ideal of every nation of the ancient world,
and that not by virtue of independent invention or evolutionary development,
but rather as the common, though often denatured, heritage from a single lost
pattern of church and priesthood.33

All who came to these assemblies were represented individually and collectively
by rods or sticks. Consider first the individual identification rod:

     Throughout the northern steppe it was the custom
to require all who came to the king’s assembly to bring arrows with them,
and to present these personally to the king. From these arrows a census was
taken, each man submitting but a single shaft, which represented him and bore
his mark, for “both the Old World and the New, the arrow came to stand
as the token and symbol of a man.” To the arrows thus used may be applied,
for want of a better term, the name “census-arrow.” The census-arrow
is found among the Scythians, Tartars, Persians, Georgians, Norsemen, and
American Indians, and it survived in recognizable form in India, Egypt, and
the Far East.34

The Greeks and Romans preserved the census-arrows as a simple rod or staff,
such as the marked rods that had to be presented by the jurors for admission
to the heliastic courts, and the “sections of reed” submitted by all
who would participate in the great public feasts in the Eastern Empire. The
Arabs always “employed reed arrow-shafts, devoid alike of feathers and
heads, but bearing some marks of individual ownership, ‘to make division’ at
their tribal feasts,”35 a custom
which Freeman refers directly to the “sticks” of Ezekiel, chapter
37.36 The use of such identification-sticks
on the occasion of the great assembly of Israel is clear from Numbers 17, while
in the oldest Christian literary composition, “the Pastor of Hermas (Similitudes
viii, 1–6), all who come to the assembly of the Lord present sections
of willow-reed for admission, each receiving his proper place as designated
by certain cuts (schismata) on his rod.”37

The rods or arrows submitted by all who came to the feast were often bound
together in a ritual bundle to signify the unity of the nation. “Bundles
of fifty-two rods, bearing individual and tribal markings, . . . represented
the full membership of Indian tribes in assembly,” as of the Tartar tribes
of Asia.38 Equally common are tribal bundles of seven arrows, such as the
holy bundle of the Osage, which “represented the Seven Chiefs, who held
the tribe together in peaceful unity.”39 Such tribal bundles are found
in the Old World among “the Scythians, Alans, Slavs, and ancient Germans
(who also chose their leaders by drawing willow lots), and these have been
compared with the Persian Baresma.”40 The Persian king would sit with
the Baresma spread out before him at the New Year, telling the fortunes of
the year as he gave away unlimited wealth to all the tribes who came to answer
the summons to present themselves before him on that day—the only day
of the year on which the veil between him and the outer world was removed.
This recalls the king of Babylon “shaking out the arrows” before
him in divination at the New Year,41 and Hoenir in the Far North, holding
his holy lottery in the Golden Age.42 It most vividly reminds one of the
ritual feasts of certain Indians of the northwest coast.43

The most famous of all tribal bundles, with one exception, was the Roman fasces,
symbol of the unity and authority of the nation—originally twelve sticks
bound together to represent twelve Etruscan tribes.44
The one exception is, of course, that bundle of twelve rods which, according
to the Talmud, were all cut from a single stick and bound together when Moses
laid them up in the ark.45 What may
be the earliest Christian writing after the New Testament thus elaborates on
the account in Numbers 17:

     And he took them and bound them together, and sealed
[them] with the rings of the leaders of the tribes, and he laid them up in
the Ark of the Covenant before the altar of God. And he closed the Ark and
sealed the locks, just as he had the rods. Then he said unto them: Men and
brethren, that tribe whose rod shall blossom has been chosen of God to be
priests and ministers to Him. And when it was morning, he summoned together
all Israel, the 600,000 men, showed the seals to the leaders of the tribe,
opened the Ark of the Covenant, and brought out the rods.46

A variation on this theme is the very ancient story of “how all the
men of Israel were required to attend a great assembly, bringing each his
staff, to be handed over to the high priest and used in a lottery for the
distribution of brides,” which has close parallels among the Bedouins,
Scythians, the ancient Turkish, Finnish, Mongolian, and Ossetian tribes.47
There is a remarkable expression found in the colophon of the oldest known
Hebrew text of the Pentateuch (the Aleppo Codex, cir. A.D. 930), in which
the author of the text is designated as “Mar Rab Ahron Ben Mar Rab Sher,
may his soul be bound in the Bundle of Life with the righteous and wise prophets.”
48 Farther on, the colophon speaks of a group of other venerable doctors:
“May their souls be bound in the Bundle of Life in the Garden of Eden
beneath the Tree of Life.”49 From these expressions it is apparent that
the tribal bundle was actually an ancient Hebrew institution.

It is quite obvious that these customs, found throughout the entire world (we
have but skimmed the surface here), are no local inventions, but all go back
to a single prototype. When Fowkes compares the holiest possession of the Cheyennes,
a ritual arrow-bundle, with the Jewish Ark of the Covenant, 50
we are faced with a challenge that cannot easily be brushed aside—whence
this amazing uniformity in the ways of ancient men the world over? We cannot
investigate the problem here: Why the ancients chose to be represented
individually and collectively by marked rods when they came together at their
great national assemblies is a subject I have treated elsewhere;51
what concerns us here is simply the fact that they did practice such a strange
economy, and that the tribal rods of which Ezekiel is speaking are no fanciful
invention of his own but something quite familiar to the people to whom he is
speaking. The ruin of Moab is represented by Jeremiah as the breaking of his
rod: “And all ye that know [or recognize] his name, say, How is the strong
staff broken, and the beautiful rod!” (Jeremiah 48:17). Here the name is
recognized written on the rod. Ezekiel himself (Ezekiel 19:10–14) depicts
the fall of the nation by the breaking of its rods: “Her strong rods were
broken and withered” (Ezekiel 19:12), the rods being “strong rods
for the sceptres of them that bare rule” (Ezekiel 19:11).

It is only natural that an identification-staff should serve as a rod of
office or authority. As such it commonly served in ancient times as a message-staff
or “summons-arrow”:

Throughout the ancient world a ruler was thought to command everything his
arrow could touch. Thus whenever a ruler of the North would summon all his
subjects to his presence, he would order an arrow, usually called a “war-arrow”
(herör) to be “cut up” and sent out among them. Upon
being touched by this arrow, every man had immediately to “follow the
arrow” (fylga örum) to the royal presence or suffer banishment
from the kingdom. . . . The “cutting” of the arrow was
the placing of the royal mark upon it, giving it the form of the king’s seal.
As often as not the arrow took the form of a simple rod (stefni),
bearing marks of authorization, while the message was delivered by word of

Such a use of the message-stick is found everywhere in antiquity—we need
not go through the list again but should point out that the institution was
also found among the Jews. Thus “the Lord, calling upon a city to declare
its allegiance to him, sends his rod to it, and a herald (a man of tushiah),
seeing the name on the rod, calls out to the people: ‘Hear ye the rod and the
one who hath appointed it’ “53
(see also Micah 6:9). In Ezekiel 37:18 it is evident that the inscribed sticks
are to serve as messenger-staves. The prophet is to show them to all the people,
and when they ask him what the message is, he is to repeat the words summoning
them all to the great assembly: “The Lord Jehovah . . . will take the sons
of Israel out of the nations among whom they walk, and will gather them from
round about, and lead them into their land.” The prophet is God’s herald,
sent to gather in the hosts for the last time. Jane Harrison has noted that
the herald’s staff “is in intent a king’s sceptre held by the herald as
deputy,” 54 and few have failed
to observe that the sticks in Ezekiel 37 are, among other things, scepters.

How thoroughly familiar the Jews of old were with the use and significance
of various types of symbolic rods may be seen from the wealth of tradition built
up around the wonderful Rod of Aaron. This was “the rod that the Holy One
. . . created in the twilight of the first Sabbath eve and gave to Adam. He
transmitted it to Enoch,” from whom it passed down in succession to Noah,
Shem, Abraham, and Joseph, from whom it was stolen by servants of Pharaoh, only
to be stolen back again by the man whose daughter married Moses who alone of
all her suitors was able to grasp the rod without being consumed. 55
According to another account, “Jacob wrested the rod from Esau, and . .
. he always kept it with him. . . . At his death he bequeathed it
to his favorite son Joseph.”56
We are assured that “Aaron’s rod is identical with the rod of Judah,”
and that the same rod was in David’s hand when he went to fight Goliath, and
that it will come from hiding in the time of the Messiah.57
It is this very rod “that the Judean kings used until the time of the destruction
of the Temple, when, in miraculous fashion, it disappeared. Elijah will in the
future fetch it forth and hand it to the Messiah.” 58
For when the Messiah comes, it is by this rod, which bears his name, that he
will establish his identity before the people: first of all, we are
told, will come Elijah, and to make sure of the identity of the Messiah, “the
Jews will demand that he perform the miracle of resurrection before their eyes,”
instead of which he will “wave the sceptre given him by God. . . .
Then the Jews will believe that Elijah is the Elijah promised to them and the
Messiah.”59 The Book of the Bee
brings this same staff into the Christian system by claiming that “it belonged
to Joseph [the carpenter] . . . at the moment of the birth of the Saviour, and
it served afterwards as one of the planks in the Cross of Christ.”60

Note that this staff in the hand of a prophet or patriarch is a true herald’s
staff, “in intent a king’s sceptre held by the herald as deputy.”
Thus God is represented as promising to Moses in the hereafter: “One of
my many sceptres upon which is engraved the Ineffable Name, one that I had employed
in the creation of the world, shall I give to thee, the image of which I had
already given thee in this world.”61
And thus Moses speaks to the Red Sea: “For a whole day I spoke to thee
at the bidding of the Holy One, . . . but thou didst refuse to heed my words;
even when I showed thee my rod, thou didst remain obdurate.”62
When Pharaoh asked Moses and Aaron, “Who will believe you when you say
that you are ambassadors of God, as you pretend to be?” the credentials
they produced were the rod and its miracles.63
This aspect of the rod as a sign to the world that God has given his authority
to the holder is very significant, since it represents the power of priesthood:
Indeed, the early Christian Fathers insist that the rod is simply a symbolic
representation of the power of priesthood: “The rod of Aaron,” says
Justin Martyr, “bearing blossoms showed him to be the High Priest. A rod
from the root of Jesse became the Christ. . . . By the wood God showed
himself to Abraham.”64 It is exceedingly
convenient to have such a message-stick to confirm one’s claim to have been
sent by some king or by God himself. There are many instances of the usage in
the ancient world, and they all seem to go back to the divine pattern. Thus,
“the Herald of Zeus goes forth to summon his subjects armed with a golden
wand that subdues all creatures with its touch.” This is the civilizing
and governing rod of Hermes that makes its holder ruler of the world; the golden
wand of the two entwined serpents, the caduceus; the arrow of Zeus in whose
name all things are compelled to do obeisance.65
It was this same caduceus with which Aesculapius presumed to raise the dead—an
office reserved to God alone, and to this day the life-giving staff of Aesculapius
with its two serpents is the symbol of the medical profession. Strangest of
all, the episcopal staves borne by the heads of various ancient Christian churches
are still adorned by the two serpents that clearly betray the pagan origin and
descent of their emblems of priesthood.66
Innocent III tells us that the pontifical staff signifies the power of Christ
and quotes Psalms 2 and to prove it.67
Yet there are few better-known traditions in the Roman Church than that which
reports that the Pope has no rod, because the rod of Peter, the only one he
could have, was given by Peter to Eucherius, Bishop of Trier, when he was sent
on his mission to the Germans; this rod is said to have raised Eucherius’ successor,
Maternus, from the dead,68 just as the
rod of Elijah was said to have raised the dead. The various aspects of ancient
rods of office are given here not by way of picturesque diversion, but because
we cannot understand the sticks of Ezekiel until we know what such sticks could
and did represent. At this point some general observations are in order:

1. The ancients used marked staves for identification. The staff and ring
of the Babylonians69 recall the staff and ring by which Tamar identified

2. A king’s staff in the hand of another showed that the other was a delegate
of the king, with authority to act in his name. The royal staff is thus a
sign of power, a scepter.

3. In referring to the sticks of Joseph and Judah, Ezekiel is using a familiar
custom (not inventing fantastic imagery) to illustrate a lesson. The lesson
has to do with the establishing of identity and the exercise of divine power,
or priesthood, in the days of the restoration of Israel. An important clue
to the situation is the peculiar way in which the two sticks “become

How Do the Sticks Become One?

The prophet is very emphatic on one point: No matter how many sticks there
were originally, they become one in the hand of the Lord—”And bring
them together to thee for one stick . . . and they shall become one stick, and
shall be one in my hand.” What is the strange manipulation by which one
and one make one? We are reminded of the miraculous rod of Aaron that ate up
the wooden rods of Pharaoh’s priests and still became no larger,70
but a far more practical explanation is at hand. First of all, there is, of
course, the binding of the sticks into a ritual bundle, by which the many become
one: Ezekiel duly explains that as the sticks become one so “I will make
them one nation” (Ezekiel 37:22). The Septuagint of Ezekiel 17:7 reads,
“And thou shalt fit them together for thyself, into a single staff of tying
themselves, and they shall be one in thy hand.” The Greek is as bad as
the English, but it is clear that the staves become one by being fitted together
first (synapseis), and then held fast by tying (tou desai).
We have already had occasion to note the ritual tying of the bundle; what interests
us here is the fitting together, on which Ezekiel lays peculiar stress.
We have noted the Jewish tradition that all the tribal rods were originally
cut from a single staff, and that ancient commentators remind us that the rods
naturally belong together because they were all shoots from a single stock.71
Both in the Old World and the New, divination and identification rods “in
their original form consist of split arrow shaftments, and are marked
both inside and out with bands or ribbonings.” 72
What is behind this splitting and rejoining of the stick may be best explained
by the example of the ancient institution of tally-sticks. A tally,
to follow the definition of the principal authority on the subject, is “a
stick notched and split through the notches, so that both parties to a transaction
may have a part of the record.”73
In the ancient world, according to the same source, “the tally-stick, split
or unsplit, is widely used: instances of it have been noted all over England
and Europe, indeed all over the world, and in all kinds of trades.”74
In England, where tallies may best be studied, their use was required in all
business transactions with the royal exchequer from the twelfth century (though
they are much older) to the nineteenth, when their place was taken by paper
bills and indentures, though the word “bill,” meaning a stick of wood,
still recalls their use,75 as does indenture,
meaning a dent in the wood. A rod of hazelwood or willow was cut according to
strictly prescribed rules into two parts, one with a notch on the end called
a stock, the smaller piece being the foil. “The stock went with
the payer, the accountant; the Exchequer kept the foil.”76
Being cut with scratches and notches before the parts of the stick
were separated, the tally furnished a foolproof control over both parties, for
no two pieces of wood in the world would fit together perfectly to match mark
for mark and grain for grain unless at their original marking they were one
. When in 1297 one William de Brochose tried to cheat the king’s treasury
by adding a notch to his half of the wood, he was promptly detected and sent
to prison.77 The fact that both parties
held parts of the tally is fundamental, “implying a check on both rather
than a debit on one.”78 Thus while
the king held his half as a foil on any attempt to cheat him, the other
party held the stock (stick) by which he could prove his exact status
in the contract: from this the word stock is still retained in the
business world, while the old expression “lot and scot” betrays the
original role of the arrow shaft in the transmission of property.79
The great advantage of the tally-stick was that it gave parties to a contract
a sure means of identification and an authoritative claim upon each other no
matter how many miles or how many years might separate them. When, however,
the final payment was made and all the terms of the contract fulfilled, the
two pieces were joined together at the exchequer, tied as one, and laid up forever
in the vaults of the royal building—becoming as it were “one in the
king’s hand.”80 So great was the
heap of such sticks in the basement of the old Houses of Parliament, that when
they were ordered burned the ensuing conflagration, “according to the well-known
story, . . . caused the fire which destroyed the Houses of Parliament in 1834.”81
At any rate “the exchequer exacted a return of the [stock] at audit,”
and only when the sticks had been united as one was the standing of the debtor
cleared.82 The analogy with Ezekiel’s
story of the sticks is at once apparent. But was the system of tallies really
ancient, and did the Jews have them? It is interesting in this regard to note
that all exchequer tallies had to be written on in Latin, the official language
of the state, with the notable exception of an important class of tallies in
which the names, dates, places, etc., are noted down in Hebrew, while
the Jewish Plea Roll furnishes the best evidence for the use of private tallies.83
Now though a great deal of tally-business was carried on between the king and
foreign parties (e.g., the great Flemish merchant Henry Cade), the only foreign
language found on the tallies is Hebrew. Not even English is allowed.84
Had the Jews adopted tallies for the first time when the government did, they
would like everybody else have been required to adopt the official method of
marking them, so the remarkable exception made in their case, persecuted and
unpopular as they were, certainly implies that they had their own tradition
of tally marking, which they were allowed to retain. In this respect, it is
strange that the commentators, while consistently identifying the sticks of
Ezekiel 37 with tribal rods, never refer to the cutting of the rods in Zechariah
11.85 We have noted that the breaking
of a rod signifies in Jerusalem and Ezekiel the destruction of a nation; but
the cutting of a rod has quite another symbolism. Thus Zechariah 11:10,
14: “And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that
I might break my covenant
which I had made with all the people. Then I
cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood
between Judah and Israel
” (emphasis added). When the rod is cut in
two, instead of being broken, Judah and Israel are not destroyed but separated;
the bond that binds them together (and that is the meaning of the strange name
Bands) is loosened, and the two go their separate ways. As the tie
between the nations is broken, so the mightier bond between God and men, the
staff Beauty, is broken when the staff is “cut in two.” This is the
obvious reversal of the process of bringing the two divided sticks together,
as described by Ezekiel, to renew the very covenants here broken—those
between Judah and Israel, and those between God and “all the people.”
The technique of the tally-stick as a means of establishing a covenant and bringing
parties together in normal contract is here plainly indicated.

We need not establish the antiquity of the tally-stick by working back through
the records of the Middle Ages, for the institution is met fully developed in
the earliest records of antiquity. This may be illustrated by the archaic feasting-tickets
of the Greeks and Romans. Originally little rods, these tokens, which everyone
had to present for admission to the great public feasts, took various forms
and went by the name of tesserae. In the Roman usage, the guest who
came into the banquet would be stopped by an official or servant and asked to
show his token; this would be fitted against a like token kept at the house
of the host, and if the two pieces matched perfectly the guest would be recognized
as one who had entered into a contract of hospitium with the host and
duly admitted to the feast.86 One is
strongly reminded of the “white stone” that is borne by those who
“eat of the hidden manna” in Revelation 2:17. The act of placing the
two tokens side by side (on which Ezekiel is so insistent) gave the feasting-token
among the Greeks its name of symbolon, meaning to place (or shoot)
two things together. From it comes our word symbol. A symbolon
is by definition something that has value only when placed beside something
else to show just what is “symbolized.” It is simply a very ancient
tally-stick—how ancient may be judged from the use of wooden divining-sticks
at the prehistoric Italian shrine of Praeneste and the Greek Delphi.87
The tribal rod, herald’s staff, or scepter is a glorified tally-stick that appears
in its nature as an exact copy of God’s own staff and in the provision that
it is only on earth as a temporary loan, to be taken back in due time into the
hand of God, where it rightfully belongs.88
Ezekiel, then, is talking sense when he speaks of the two sticks that become
one. Not merely did the ancients have such sticks, but they used them specifically
in the situation described by Ezekiel for a summoning and gathering of the nation
and for the establishment of identity and the renewing of contracts. The scattered
tribes of Israel are described as apparently lost for good, smashed, dispersed,
forgotten, nay, dead—dry bones. This all looks to a far future
time, for the dry bones show us not a sick nation, not a dying one,
nor even one now dead, but one that has been dead for a long, long time. That
the nations are depicted as scattered far and wide, having lost their identity
and disappeared from history, is noted by the commentators—hence the need
for a miracle of resurrection, hence the need for a sure means of identification,
symbolized by the identification of sticks. The “extinct” nations
are summoned to the Great Assembly by the Lord’s herald, who takes their marked
rods and places them side by side; they fit together perfectly to become one
as the herald performs the joining before the eyes of all the people
(cf. Numbers 17:9). Judah and Joseph are thereby recognized beyond a doubt as
parties to the original covenant long after separation and the original unity
of the Covenant people is thereby restored. The united scepter is then returned
to the hand of the king (Ezekiel 37:19, 22–24), where it is to remain
forever, all outstanding debts, the price of sin and transgression, having at
last been paid off and all old scores settled.

Were the Sticks Books?

But now we come to the crux of the matter for Latter-day Saints. Can the
sticks of Ezekiel, along with everything else they represent, be understood
to be books
? Strictly speaking, they were nothing else. A book, says Webster,
is “specifically: A formal written document; esp., a deed of conveyance
of land; a charter.” The tribal rods were just that, no matter how brief
the writing on them, while the whole Old Testament, in spite of its length and
complexity, is a “book” in exactly the same sense: a “testament,”
a single binding legal document. But the identity of rods and books goes much
further than this.

Books and Sticks. From the very first, the significance of message-staffs
and tribal rods lay in what was written on them—signs that had to be read
and recognized. This cutting and divining of marks led to the reading and writing
of books.89 To this day the word book
recalls the box- or beech-wood staves (cf. Ger. Buchstabe, Oldslav.
buky, bukva, “letter”) or sticks scratched with
runes which were the first books in the North.90
Even the Latin word codex, now venerated for its association with books
of the law everywhere, means simply a slip of wood, while the classic liber
means wood-pulp. 91 The oldest
laws of the Greeks and Romans were kept on tablets and sticks (axones),
which Freeman actually compares with the sticks mentioned in Ezekiel. 92
“It is noteworthy,” says Ginzberg, “that the tablets and the
rod of Moses were not only of the same weight (60 seah), but also of
the same material.”93 The equating
of sticks with tablets is, as we have seen, found among early Jewish commentators
on Ezekiel 37, and is explained by Keil as a natural result of the emphasis
which Ezekiel places on the writing on his sticks. The celebrated rod
of Moses might well be taken for a writing tablet, for it had engraved on it
“in plain letters the great exalted name, the names of the ten plagues
inflicted upon the Egyptians, and the names of the three Fathers, the six Mothers,
and the Twelve Tribes of Jacob,” in other words, for every function it
performed, it had to bear a specific writing, making a total of no less than
thirty-two separate inscriptions in all.94
How many words does it take to make a book? In the ancient world, length was
no object, and a single word could contain a whole sermon in itself. This is
seen in the early use of the words logos and logographoi,
which refer to a writing of any length as a separate opus or book.
Many commentators are convinced that the text of Ezekiel contains the actual
words that the prophet was ordered to write on the sticks. Thus Kautzsch translates
in his critical editions: “Take for thyself a staff of wood and write upon
it: ‘Judah and the Israelites that are Associated with Him,’ “95
the last phrase being the actual words put upon the staff. Cooke simplifies
this to the bare names of “Judah” and “Joseph.”96
But such a rendering completely ignores the preposition l-, “to”
or “for,” which precedes the names of Joseph and Judah every time
the writing is mentioned: “Take a staff of wood and write on it for
Judah,” etc.97 The l-
means that Ezekiel was not to write simply “Joseph” or “Judah”
on the stick, but that he was to write something to or for them. It was to be
a writing that somehow concerned them. No more obvious means of connecting Joseph
and Judah with the sticks could be imagined, of course, than that of simply
putting their names on the wood. But that is just the point: why in such an
obvious situation does Ezekiel not do the obvious thing and put the names on
the sticks? That is the way it was normally done: “Write thou every man’s
name upon his rod,” “Write the Ineffable name upon it,” “Write
thy name upon it,” and so on.98
But what Ezekiel writes on the rods is not “Joseph” or “Judah,”
but “for Joseph” and “for Judah,” or, according to some
interpreters, “Joseph’s” and “Judah’s.” The wide variety
of translations shows that we are not concerned here with a mere writing of
names. Property is not marked this way: Names found on ancient seals are in
the nominative case, not in the genitive. When Kautzsch wants to make it appear
that the names of Joseph and the others were actually written on the rods, he
must render the inscription in the nominative, which Ezekiel conspicuously avoids.
Hebrew uses no quotation marks, and so when the text reads “write on the
wood for Joseph,” it should be left as it stands, for when we introduce
our own punctuation and translate, “write on wood, ‘For Joseph’ ”
we are employing a type of inscription that was used to dedicate votive offerings
to deities but not to denote possession.99
Ezekiel tells us of a writing for Judah and another for Joseph,
both writings to perform certain important functions; but he does not, as some
suppose, give us the text of the writings. However eloquent or informative the
single rod or staff may have been, it presented serious limitations of space
when a lengthy communication was in order. The obvious solution to this problem
was simply to add more rods, and it is in this multiplication of sticks to form
a ritual bundle that Culin sees the origin of the book in some parts of the
world. “The ancestry of the book in Eastern Asia,” he says, “may
be traced, not only to the engraved strips of bamboo (Chinese ch’ak),
but, in the opinion of the writer, to the bundle of engraved or painted arrow-derived
slips used in divination. . . . The folding fan of China and Japan
is not unlikely to have originated from these tanzaku or writing slips,
which the nobles carried in order to make memoranda when in the presence of
the sovereign.”100 The Orientals
would cut a piece of wood into strips notched on the sides like tally-sticks,
which could be “fanned out” to present a larger writing surface, and
when not in use folded together perfectly to make “one stick” in the
hand of the nobleman who inscribed upon them the words of majesty. The method
recalls the legendary cutting of the twelve rods of Israel from a single stock,
but more important is the use of the bundle of twelve rods to determine the
fortunes of the nations. These tribal bundles, of which we spoke above, were
always used as books of divination from which the past and present and future
history of the people was determined. As census-books they made up a “Book
of Life opened at the foundation of the world” to tell the history of the
coming age; if one’s name were missing from this book, he was “cut off
from among the people” and had no part in the life of the race.101
The modern card deck is derived from a bundle of tribal rods, fifty-two in number,
used in divination all over the world. Individually each token has a message;
together they make up a book which is read by the adept with as much confidence
as if it were in writing.102 It is
thus quite possible for the staves of Judah and his associates, as well as those
of Joseph and his associates, to represent books containing the census and history
of these nations.

Sticks and Scrolls. When a rod or staff serves as a token of authority
and identification, it is important that no copy or duplicate of it be allowed
to circulate.103 In that case the
multiplication of message-staffs is impossible. What is to be done if a longer
message is to be sent? This problem and its solution are actually met in the
ancient North, where only one royal summons-arrow was legal, and no
others could be cut.104 To make room
for a long message, a piece of parchment was attached to the staff and was rolled
around it.105 To this day in Tibet
the summons-arrow is sent out exactly as it once was among our northern ancestors:
“A mobilization order is sent on a piece of red cloth attached to an arrow.
The arrow is dispatched by a special rider who gallops to the nearest headman
and hands it over to him. The headman takes notice of the contents of the order
and immediately dispatches a fresh rider to another headman.”106
On festival assembly days the ancient Japanese warriors would bind strips of
holy paper bearing written texts on their arrows, “inscribed sacred paper
for the gods.”107 The Ojibwa
may substitute for the painted rod or arrow shaft, which serves as an invitation-stick,
“a piece of birch bark bearing characters.”108
Here we have a natural scroll, as anyone who has tried to write on tough, curling
birch-bark can attest, and we are reminded that the word birch is closely
related to beech, box, and book, and also that liber
originally meant bast or bark. Whether the ancient scroll
originated in one or many places, its attachment to a stick109
certainly betrays its origin; for the stick is by no means necessary to a scroll—it
is in fact an inconvenience, used by the ancients only in ritual and very valuable
literary text, a quaint, old-fashioned survival.

Latter-day Saints often interpret the word stick in Ezekiel 37 to
refer to the stick or rod around which a scroll was wrapped. The interpretation
is perfectly possible. As Gregory the Great observed long ago, the Hebrew word
ʿetz (wood) can mean almost anything in the Old Testament depending
entirely on the context in which it is used.110
Sometimes ʾetz must be translated as tree, sometimes
as branch, image, musical instrument, framework,
idol, house, ax, plow, spear, beam,
stalk of flax (!), rod, gallows, and so on. 111
When one tills with wood, it is rendered not wood but plow;
when one plays music on it, it is no longer mere wood, but an instrument;
when one worships, it is an idol; and so forth. Now what is the specific
use to which the wood is put in Ezekiel 37? It is used, as Keil insists, to
be written on, and for that purpose only. It is hence not surprising that the
early Jewish commentators on the passage rendered wood here as tablet,
but Keil cannot accept this because the sticks in Ezekiel are not treated at
all as tablets would be. On the other hand Keil finds it very significant that
the prophet deliberately avoids calling the sticks rods or staffs,
as if that, too, would give the wrong impression. 112
How can a stick be a book?

Sticks and the Law

The sticks around which the scrolls of the law were rolled were always regarded
as holy and treated as scepters.113
It will be recalled that nearly all commentators point out that the sticks of
Ezekiel are in some way or other scepters. The scrolls of the law were used
by the kings of Judah as other kings used scepters, being “kept near his
throne and carried into battle.” “The scroll itself,” we are
told, “is girded with a strip of silk, and robed in a Mantle of the Law,”
while the wooden rod had a crown on its upper end, like the mace or scepter
of a king. “Some scrolls,” says the Jewish Encyclopedia,
“have two crowns, one for each upper end.”114
These honors shown the Jewish scrolls of the law are the same given to the royal
herald’s-staff or scepter in other parts of the world. “At the feast of
the Oschophoria at Athens,” for example, “the herald’s staff was crowned
with garlands, but not the herald himself.”115
As in the ancient North, the staff was “a willow bough . . . always cut
from a living tree, and was never allowed to wither or dry up”116—which
exactly recalls the blossoming rod of Aaron, which withered when Israel fell
from grace. Among our Norse ancestors this rod was taken from place to place,
and at each place to which it went, a roll-call was taken and a notch cut on
the rod, which was the king’s own staff. “The king was represented by the
bailiff of the Hundred carrying a ward-staff. It was the staff [not
the bailiff] which represented majesty and received the honours.”117

The peculiar honors bestowed upon the sticks of the Jewish law-scrolls
show by their nature that the sticks themselves were regarded originally as
the bearers of the law. But once parchment had been rolled around these sticks
(and the antiquity of this custom may be surmised from the fact that all official
scrolls of the law should be on the skin of wild beasts),118
could they still be brought together like tallies to make one stick? The accompanying
illustration shows an actual application of this idea: to an edict of the Empress
Wu, the Emperor Tai Tsung (A.D. 763–779), her successor, wished to add
a supplement of his own, incorporating it in the original law. The two rolls,
each with one stick in it, are here seen placed side by side and bound together
as one by a silken cloth, just as the roll of the Jewish law with its two sticks
is “girded with a strip of silk” when it is rolled up to be put into
the tabernacle. There are two rolls having different designs on them and of
different colors, showing that originally the scrolls do not have two sticks
to them, but only one apiece.119 This
suggests the origin of the scroll in the single message-stick with the message-scroll
wrapped around it, as well as the probability that in Ezekiel’s day the scrolls
were still of the primitive, one-shaft variety. That the scroll-sticks of the
Greeks and Romans were derived from message-arrows is indicated by a number
of things. Instead of having convenient handles at the bottom and smooth knobs
at the top, the roll-sticks had points at both ends which made them resemble
the well-known double-headed thunderbolt, the scepter of Zeus and the best known
of all rods of office. That the resemblance is not accidental appears not only
in the impractical arrangement of the thing and the identification of scroll-rods
with scepters, but likewise in the name given to the points, koronis,
Latin cornua, usually explained as referring to the shape of the sharpened
ends. But these do not resemble horns, and the name probably has the
same origin as that of the little arrow-marks often used in the marking of scrolls
by their makers, called ceraunia, “little thunderbolts.”120

We have seen that the heroes of Israel identified themselves as emissaries
of the Most High by bearing his rod before the eyes of those to whom they
were sent, Jew or Gentile. In this connection the rod is also interchangeable
with the scroll, for in the Middle Ages every Jew was required by Jewish law
to carry a scroll of the law with him at all times as his identification and
passport.121 The connection between staff and book is here not far to seek—the
staff is a mark and token, symbolizing that by which the Jew is known to the
world; the scroll is a step closer to home—it is almost the thing itself.
The scripture, says Clement of Alexandria in an eloquent discourse on the
subject, is the rod by which God teaches his people.122 The double function
of the rod, said Gregory of Nyssen, is that of consolation and direction,
which are the offices of the scripture for all believers.123 If the rod is
the symbolic means by which Judah is identified and set apart from the rest
of the world (and the use of such a symbol was regarded by the early Christians
as a thing of great significance and secrecy), what is the means by which
Judah is actually thus distinguished, that is, what is the real equivalent
of the rod? It is the Bible, of course. In figurative language the Jews will
recognize the Messiah by examining the rod: “Search the scriptures,”
said the Lord, for “they are they which testify of me” (John 5:34).

The identity of staff and scripture was noted by the earliest and best informed
of the Christian historians. For the great Eusebius the sticks of Ezekiel represent
the Old Testament and the New Testament.124
A century and a half earlier Irenaeus speaks of the (hidden) meanings of the
sticks as “hidden from us, for,” he says, “since by the wood
we rejected him, by the wood his greatness shall be made visible to everyone,
and as one of our predecessors has said, by the holy reaching out of the hands
the two people are led to one God. For there are two hands and two nations scattered
to the ends of the earth.”125
There is every indication that the Saints of the early Church regarded
the teaching of the sticks and the gathering as of great secrecy and great significance,
the meaning of the whole thing being later lost.126
The later Fathers took the usual allegorical liberties in dealing with Ezekiel


Cyril of Alexandria notes that “everywhere life is by the wood”—as
sin came by the wood, so also redemption comes by the wood, and he cites the
rod of Moses and the cross of Christ.127

Jerome says the two rods of Ezekiel are the church and the synagogue,128
while the two rods of which Isaiah speaks are the congregations of the Jews
on the one hand and the Gentiles on the other;129 and again, “the two
rods are the covenant of God with men twice entered upon,” in other words,
the Old and New Testaments;130 the joining of the two to make one scepter
signifies that which is joined together in the baptism of Christ, united “to
make one new man.”131

Why are not these interpretations accepted by the Christian commentators of
our day? Because while the Old Testament conspicuously satisfies all qualifications
for the stick of Judah, the New Testament is not a whit less the property of
Judah, having on the other hand no special affinity for Joseph, with whom in
fact neither the Gentile congregation nor the Christian Church have any direct
connection. The license of allegory, all but unlimited throughout most of the
scriptures, is peculiarly checked in Ezekiel 37, and the scholar or churchman
who would make an arbitrary “spiritual” interpretation of the chapter
finds his usual liberty severely curtailed, for Ezekiel employs concrete symbols
to illustrate an historical event. The terms he uses are specific; the names
of Israel, Joseph, and Judah are not mysterious, and the great events to which
he refers are those to which the chosen people have been instructed to look
forward for centuries, and for which the Christians have yearned no less. In
Ezekiel’s prophecy Joseph does not absorb Judah, as the church is supposed to
have absorbed the synagogue; Joseph is not a Gentile, but as authentically of
Israel as Judah is; it is Israel that triumphs, not the Gentiles; the sticks
represent covenants between two nations that are contemporary, not, as Jerome
suggests, the making of a single covenant with the same nations at two different
times; both nations are to be brought back home again after having been scattered
from a common center, and hence no Gentile nation qualifies for the promise—”God
hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.”132
The whole situation is clearly set forth in Ezekiel 37: The chapter is speaking
of the scattering and gathering of Israel and the resurrection;133
there cannot be the slightest doubt as to what is meant by Joseph and Judah,
and while the New Testament might conceivably be described as the stick
of Judah, by no effort of the imagination can it be interpreted as the stick
of Joseph. It is on the stick of Joseph that every attempt to interpret the
passage breaks down hopelessly.

It is as if we were completing a jigsaw puzzle. There is a peculiarly shaped
blank which calls for a missing piece designated as the stick of Judah. The
Old Testament fits easily into the gap. Then there remains an adjacent blank
space to be filled by a missing “stick of Joseph.” Naturally the
first thing we do is to try to slip the New Testament into it. But turn it
and push it and force it as we will, the New Testament simply does not belong
there, for it is not the story of Joseph and his associates in contradistinction
to that of Judah and his associates, which makes up the Bible—if anything
it belongs to the latter class, to the stick of Judah. Since the missing piece
refuses to be found, the skillful jigsaw artist simply goes ahead and completes
the rest of the picture; and then if the missing piece is still lost, he can
infer from the shape of the last empty space and from the design and color
of the surrounding areas almost exactly what the missing piece should be.
This is what we are attempting here. When the Bible commentators failed to
supply the missing piece or to agree on what it should look like, we simply
continued to work out the puzzle, putting into position every piece we could
find that had to do with sticks and covenants. As a result we are now in a
position to make some pretty near guesses as to the shape, size, and color
of the missing piece to our puzzle—the baffling “stick of Joseph.”

Let us read the text again, sticking as closely to the Hebrew as possible:

     And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, And thou, son of man, take to
thyself, one (piece of) wood and write upon it for Judah and for the children
of Israel his associates, and take one wood and write upon it for Joseph wood
of Ephraim and all the house of Israel his associates, and approach them one
to (the) other for thee for one wood so they shall become for single ones
in thy hand. And when they say to thee the sons of thy people, wilt thou not
show us what thou meanest by this? (lit.: what these are to thee?) Say to
them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold I will take the wood of Joseph,
which is in the hand of Ephraim and the staves (or scepters) of Israel his
associates and I shall place them upon it along with (or alongside) the wood
of Judah and I shall make them for one wood, and they shall be one in my hand.
And the woods which thou hast written upon (shall be) in thy hand before their
eyes. So say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold I will take the
sons of Israel out of the nations among whom they walk, and will gather them
from round about and lead them into their land (Ezekiel 37:16–21).

In connection with this must be taken the previous episode in verses 11–12:
“And he said to me the Son of man, these bones are the whole house
of Israel
; behold, they say, our bones are dried, and our hope has perished;
we are destroyed! Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah,
Behold I will open your graves, and cause you to come out of your graves, my
people, and bring you to the land of Israel.” Here, as Rabbi Fisch notes,
“the prediction of national resurrection, as symbolized in the vision of
the dry bones, is followed by the symbolic action of the reunion of the two
Kingdoms.”134 That the prophet
was referring to the resurrection of the flesh, as well as indicating that such
was recognized by the ancients, of course, has been too much for the scholars,
who, even in Tertullian’s time, were determined to see in this a purely symbolic
resurrection. But what specifically is the “wood of Judah”—why
does the prophet choose this particular symbol? Because it symbolizes both a
writing and a covenant, and—the unique means by which Judah is to be recognized
and distinguished in the world—it is Judah’s tribal staff. All of which
says as plain as day—it is the scripture. What, then, is the stick or
wood of Joseph? Likewise a writing and a covenant, something written for Joseph
and those associated with Joseph. It is a compound document, like the Bible,
but it is not the Bible, for it deals with that branch of Israel concerned with
Joseph, not Judah, as the Bible does, and it will be held in the hand of Ephraim.
After it has been brought together, it will be placed by the side of the wood
of Judah and his associates that has been compiled in a like manner. When this
is done, the two will match perfectly, thereby proving the identity and the
claims of parties long separated and thought dead and vindicating their former
common covenant with God. This will be a great miracle of recognition of a piece
(as Rabbi Fisch observes)135 with
the supreme miracle of restoring the dead nations to life in the fulness of
times. The long and complete separation of the two nations is an important part
of the story (dudum separata, says Jerome).136
But there was no such separation between the Jews of the Old Testament and those
of the New: the people, like their book, represent, as they proclaim and Jesus
admits, an unbroken continuation of tradition and blood from the days of the
Old Covenant; no identification is needed here—”Ye are indeed Abraham’s
children,” etc.

To fill the qualifications of the stick of Joseph:

(1) it must be a writing;

(2) it must be compounded of the doings of the descendants and associates of
Joseph (not Judah);

(3) it must be held in the hand of Ephraim, who is of Joseph, not Judah;

(4) it must be much like the Bible, the stick of Judah, so much so that the
two will fit together perfectly like two parts of a single tally-stick;

(5) it must be brought forth long after the scattering of Israel,
at a time when “the whole house of Israel” shall say “our bones
are dried, and our hope has perished; we are destroyed!”

(6) It must go forth as a summons “before their eyes” at that time
when the Lord sets his hand to “take the children of Israel from among
the heathen, whither they be gone.”

(7) The bringing together of the two documents will reverse the process described
in Zechariah, by which covenants between these two nations and God were broken
when two rods were “cut in two,” for as all commentators agree,
the joining of the sticks means the reestablishment of the old covenants between

In the Book of Mormon we have a document that fulfills all these qualifications,
and even the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price may enter into
the picture, for they are all of Joseph, are all given into the hand of Ephraim
to propagate and defend, and are all bound together as “one stick”
with the Book of Mormon, all of which would plead strongly for the claims of
the Book of Mormon even in a field of competitors. But where are the competitors?
We have seen that the doctors do not agree for a minute on what the sticks of
Ezekiel were or how they were joined together; we have further seen that they
try to whittle away Ezekiel’s full account by diligently altering the text.
They might save themselves the trouble, for the Book of Mormon offers an explanation
which (1) leaves the text almost as it stands, (2) offers literal fulfillment
of a prophecy which all will admit Ezekiel meant should be literally fulfilled,
and (3) sees in the “mystery” performed by the prophet with the sticks
a familiar and established institution and not a wild and unbridled fantasy
of the prophet which would have meant nothing to his hearers.

Against the Book of Mormon explanation there is just one objection. It assumes
that Ezekiel actually was a prophet. For the scholars, that spoils everything.
In criticizing historical texts it is essential to recognize that a man cannot
possibly talk about events that occur after his death. But this fundamental
principle of historical criticism cannot be applied to prophetic writings: When
the purpose of an investigation is to test the validity of a revelation, we
can hardly take as our basic rule of criticism the proposition that revelation
is impossible! Yet this is exactly what the scholars have done. Thus the celebrated
Eduard Meyer can report of Ezekiel: “That the visions and symbols are literary
fictions is obvious; and the same goes for all the other accounts.” 137
By what gift of divination is this obvious? “The prophetic apparatus,”
he continues, “has sunk to the most literal forms. Ezekiel is a literary
grind, he does not work through the living word, struggling for expression from
the depths of the soul as with Isaiah and Jeremiah, . . . but he simply gives
us the contents of a book which he is supposed to have swallowed in a vision.
. . .Ezekiel is narrow minded, limited, without sweep or power, completely
devoid of creative imagination [Phantasie] and hence marked by unendurable
pedantry and monotony.”138

Interestingly enough, these are the same charges that the same Eduard Meyer
brings against Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Whereas, he tells us,
Mohammed, like a true religious hero, sweated blood to produce the Koran,
and went through those long and terrible periods of doubt and inner struggle
through which every proper religious founder should fight his way to growing
self-realization, etc. Joseph Smith showed the unpardonably bad taste never
to have betrayed the slightest doubt as to his calling: “It is very significant
in the case of Joseph Smith,” we are told, “that the question of
such doubting never arises, however readily he questions the vision and inspirations
of others when they do not please him. . . . Thus Mohammed’s revelations are
higher than Joseph Smith’s because in them we feel, at least in the earliest
Suras, something of the power of a conviction won by a truly strenuous spiritual
struggle, and at times we sense even a poetical exhilaration.”139 Neither
Joseph Smith nor Ezekiel is the kind of prophet (as Mohammed is) to please
a German professor; both are guilty of the “crassest literalism.”
While Mohammed’s book remains decently invisible in the hand of the angel,
Joseph Smith, without the slightest feeling for drama, mystery, or the usual
religious amenities, actually copies out the characters of his holy book for
circulation!140 Poetry, “Phantasie,” inner struggle—such
are the stuff of prophetic experience for Eduard Meyer and the lesser pedants,
and any thought that a prophet might really be a prophet and not merely a
poet, thinker, or moralist is quite out of the question. And so in criticizing
the modern Joseph and the ancient Ezekiel in identical terms, one of the greatest
modern scholars bears unintentional witness to the existence of a class of
prophetic experience totally beyond the ken of the academician. Needless to
say, when such prophets speak, the doctors are not equipped to judge them.
Whether Ezekiel was really prophesying or not does not depend on whether this
or that scholar thinks prophecy is possible. The whole account of the stick
of Judah and the stick of Joseph should serve to admonish us that there are
many things hidden from the wise and prudent which are known to the prophets
of the Lord and shared by them with his people. In due time these things come
one by one to the knowledge of the outside world, but in the meantime we may
rest assured that the Saints are under no obligation to accept every conjecture
that engages the fancy of the Scribes and Pharisees.


*   This article first appeared in five
parts in the Improvement Era (January 1953–May 1953). It draws
heavily on an earlier article by the author, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and
the State,” Western Political Quarterly 2/3 (1949): 328–44.
It was also summarized in chapter 24 of An Approach to the Book of Mormon
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957 and 1964); reprinted in CWHN, 6:311–28.

1.   Matthew Henry and Thomas Scott, Commentary
on the Holy Bible
, 6 vols. (London: Religious Tract Society, 1850), 4:346;
Carl F. Keil, Biblical Commentary on the Prophecies of Ezekiel, 2 vols.
(Edinburgh: Clark, 1885), 2:130; John R. Dummelow, A Commentary on the Holy
(New York: Macmillan, 1927), 515.

2.   W. L. Wardle, “Ezekiel,”
The Abingdon Bible Commentary, ed. Frederick C. Eiselen (New York:
Abingdon, 1929), 740.

3.   Herbert C. Alleman and Elmer E. Flack,
Old Testament Commentary (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1948), 770.

4.   Wardle, “Ezekiel,” 740.

5.   Robert Jamieson, et al., A Commentary,
Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments
, 2 vols. (Hartford:
Scranton, n.d.), 1:611.

6.   Henry A. Ironside, Expository
Notes on Ezekiel the Prophet
(New York: Loizeaux, 1949), 261.

7.   Emil Kautzsch, tr., Die Heilige
Schrift des alten Testaments
, 2 vols., 4th ed. (Tübingen: Mohr, 1922),

8.   Thus Origen, Commentaria in Evangelium
Joannis (Commentary on John)
23, in PG 14:64; Raban Maurus, Commentaria
in Ezechielem (Commentary on Ezekiel)
XIII, 37, in PL 110:863;
cf. Jerome, Commentarius in Ezechielem (Commentary on Ezekiel) XI,
in PL 25:352.

9.   Jacques-Paul Migne, ed., Scripturae
Sacrae Cursus Completus
, 25 vols. (Paris: Migne, 1839–40), 19:925.

10.   Keil, Biblical Commentary
on the Prophecies of Ezekiel
, 2:130–31.

11.   Ironside, Expository Notes
on Ezekiel the Prophet
, 261; “The two sticks are to be joined lengthwise
in the hand,” George A. Cooke, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary
on the Book of Ezekiel
, International Critical Commentary, 2 vols. (New
York: Scribner, 1937), 2:401.

12.   See Hugh W. Nibley, “The
Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” WPQ 2 (1949): 336.

13.   Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible,
a Commentary and Notes
, 6 vols. (New York: Abingdon), 4:524–25, n.

14.   John Skinner, The Book of
(London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1895), 352.

15.   Ibid.

16.   Andrew B. Davidson, The Book
of the Prophet Ezekiel
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1892), 271,
note on Ezekiel 37:20.

17.   Skinner, The Book of Ezekiel,

18.   Cooke, A Critical and Exegetical
Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel
, 2:400.

19.   A. E. Housman, M. Manilii
, 5 vols. (London: Cambridge University Press, 1937), 1:xviii.

20.   Ibid., 1:lxv.

21.   Migne, Scripturae Sacrae Cursus
, 19:926.

22.   Kautzsch, Die Heilige Schrift
des alten Testaments
, 1:975, n. 19.

23.   Jamieson, et al., A Commentary,
Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments
, 1:611.

24.   Davidson, The Book of the
Prophet Ezekiel
, 271, note on Ezekiel 37:19. Cases in which eth is to be
rendered una cum (along with) are given in Franz Zorell, Lexicon
Hebraicum et Aramaicum Veteris Testamenti
(Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute,
1946), 90. Raban Maurus renders this eth as pariter cum, Raban
Maurus, Commentary on Ezekiel XIII, 37, in PL 110:862.

25.   Davidson, The Book of the
Prophet Ezekiel
, 271, note on Ezekiel 37:19.

26.   Kautzsch, Die Heilige Schrift
des alten Testaments
, 1:975, v. 19, and the Abingdon commentator, Wardle,
“Ezekiel,” 741, both favor it, as do Dummelow, A Commentary on
the Holy Bible
, 515–16; and Rabbi S. Fisch, Ezekiel (London:
Soncino, 1950), 249.

27.   Davidson, The Book of the
Prophet Ezekiel
, 271, note on Ezekiel 37:19; Cooke, A Critical and
Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel
, 2:401, also favors this reading,
which, though “it sounds surprising, . . . is no more than what the preceding
part of the verse affirms.”

28.   For an excellent treatment of
the liberties taken by scholars at all periods with the texts of the prophets,
see John F. Stenning, The Targum of Isaiah (Oxford: Clarendon, 1949),
viii–xvi; quote is from xiv.

29.   “This is the chief passage
in which Ezekiel reaffirms the social ideal characteristic of the prophets:
an age of peace under the government of a righteous ruler.” Cooke, A
Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel
, 2:400.

30.   Samuel R. Driver, Einleitung
in die Literatur des Alten Testaments
(Berlin: Reuther and Reichard, 1896),
311. For the English version, see Samuel R. Driver, An Introduction to the
Literature of the Old Testament
(Edinburgh: Clark, 1897), 291.

31.   Fisch, Ezekiel, 249:
“The prediction of national resurrection, as symbolized in the vision of
the dry bones, is followed by the symbolic action of the reunion of the two
kingdoms to indicate that unity is an essential factor in preserving the life
of the nation.”

32.   Hugh W. Nibley, “The Hierocentric
State,” WPQ 4 (1951): 226.

33.   For a general treatment of this
subject, Lord Fitz Roy Raglan, The Origins of Religion (London: Watts,

34.   Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” 333–34.

35.   Ibid., 335–36.

36.   James M. Freeman, Hand-book
of Bible Manners and Customs
(New York: Nelson and Phillips, 1877), 305–6,

37.   Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” 335.

38.   Ibid., 336.

39.   Alice C. Fletcher and Francis
La Flesche, “The Omaha Tribe,” in The Twenty-seventh Annual Report
of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 1905–06

(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1911), 242, 228.

40.   Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” 336.

41.   Ibid., esp. n. 55.

42.   Poetic Edda, Völuspa,
63 (numbering of stanzas varies slightly in the different editions).

43.   Like the kings of Persia and Babylon,
the host among the Kwakiutis gives away all his wealth at the New Year, as he
sits with the staves or arrows of all his guests spread out before him; Franz
Boas, “The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiuti
Indians,” in Report of the U. S. National Museum 1895 (Washington:
Government Printing Office, 1897), 503–4.

44.   Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” 336.

45.   Louis Ginzberg, The Legends
of the Jews
, 7 vols. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1909–38),

46.   Clement, Epistola I ad Corinthios
(First Epistle to the Corinthians)
43, in PG 1:295–96.

47.   Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” 334.

48.   Paul Kahle, Masoreten des
, 2 vols. (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1927–30), 1:3–5.

49.   Ibid., 6.

50.   Gerard Fowke, “Stone Art,”
in The Thirteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary
of the Smithsonian Institution 1891–92
(Washington: Government Printing
Office, 1896), 116.

51.   Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” 334.

52.   Ibid., 330–31 (emphasis added).

53.   Ibid., 332.

54.   Jane E. Harrison, Prolegomena
to the Study of Greek Religion
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1922), 44.

55.   Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, 2:291–92.

56.   Ibid., 5:412.

57.   Ibid., 6:106.

58.   Ibid., 3:307.

59.   Ibid., 4:234.

60.   Quoted in Angelo S. Rappoport,
Myth and Legend of Ancient Israel, 3 vols. (London: Gresham, 1928),
2:366: “When Adam was driven out of Paradise, he cut a branch from the
fig tree which was the tree of knowledge, and this branch served him as a staff
all his life. This staff he left to his son, and it was transmitted from generation
to generation till it came into the possession of Abraham. It was with this
staff that the Patriarch smashed the idols of his father Terah. Jacob used the
staff as he tended the flocks, . . . and his son Judah gave it as a pledge to
his daughter-in-law Tamar.” Later it was hidden by an angel and found by
Jethro, who gave it to Moses. “The staff then came into the possession
of Phinehas, who buried it in the desert. It belonged to Joseph . . . at the
moment of the birth of the Saviour, and it served afterwards as one of the planks
in the Cross of Christ.”

61.   Ginzberg, The Legends of the
, 3:430–31.

62.   Ibid., 3:19 (emphasis added).

63.   Ibid., 2:335.

64.   Justin Martyr, Dialogus cum
Tryphone (Dialogue with Trypho)
86, in PG 6:680–81: “The
cross is the symbol of the wood of Life in Paradise. Moses with a rod was sent
to liberate the people, and holding this rod in his hand, as commander of the
nation he divided the Red Sea. By its power he struck water from the rock and
by throwing it into the waters of Merra he made them sweet. . . .
Jacob boasts that he passed through the river on this staff,” etc.

65.   Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” 331, with special
reference to the notes.

66.   Usually the staff of authority
is thought to represent the thunderbolt by which the enemies of God are smitten:
for extensive identifications see Christian S. Blinkenberg, The Thunder
Weapon in Religion and Folklore
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1911); Arthur B. Cook, Zeus, 3 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1914–40), 2:1045–46, 473, 775, 780, 786–89 (the trident
is the lightning). Thunderbolt, caduceus, plant of immortality, and the lance
of St. George are identified by Benjamin W. Bacon, “Eagle and Basket on
the Antioch Chalice,” Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research
5 (1923): 6–8, 10, 19; scepter, “rods” of Israel, and the staff
of the inspired poet are identified by Ludwig Deubner, “Die Bedeutung des
Kranzes im klassischen Altertum,” ARW 30 (1932): 82–84;
extensive comparisons are given by Edward D. Clarke, “On the Lituus of
the Ancient Romans,” Archaeologia 19 (1821): 386–404. On
the trident and fleur-de-lis (found on early Christian bishops’ staves), see
William M. Wylie, “Remarks on the Angon, or Barbed Javelin of the Franks,
Described by Agathias,” Archaeologia 35 (1853): 48–55; and
Henry B. Walters, “Poseidon’s Trident,” Journal of Hellenic Studies
13 (1892–93): 13–20. “In the archaic period, . . . Poseidon
has . . . instead of a trident a lotos sceptre,” as does Zeus, ibid., 19.
Significantly, early bishops’ staves were topped with the lotus sign; Frederick
G. Lee, “Episcopal Staves,” Archaeologia 51 (1888): 374,
the “Finger of God,” ibid., 372, or the hunter’s sign of St. Hubert,
and bore such formidable inscription as “Strike-Spare,” ibid., 360.
The earliest bishops’ staves resemble the caduceus, crowned with double serpents,
as can be seen from the photographs in Maynard O. Williams, “Color Records
from the Changing Life of the Holy City,” National Geographic
52 (1927): 383–89, and the oldest such staff from the north, reproduced
in J. J. A. Worsaae, Nordiske Oldsager i det Kongelige Museum i Kjöbenhavn
(Copenhagen: Kittendorff and Aagaards, 1859), 150, pl. 542; cf. Charles H. Read,
“On Morse Ivory Tau Cross Head of English Work of the Eleventh Century,”
Archaeologia 58 (1903): 409, fig. 2; 412, fig. 5. In the oldest pictures
Hermes’ caduceus is topped by the serpent or the fleur de lis; Eduard Gerhard,
Etruskische Spiegel, 5 vols. (Berlin: Reimer, 1840–97; reprinted
Rome: Bretschneider, 1966), vol. 5, taf. 8, nos. 1, 2. In these and many other
cases the rods of office borne by Christian bishops can be traced back to the
pagan priesthoods of antiquity. Their use in the Christian churches is first
met with in the seventh century and is not general until the eleventh century;
Louis M. O. Duchesne, Origines du Culte Chrétien, 5th ed. (Paris:
Ancienne Librairie Fontemoing, 1920), 417; English translation of the 4th French
edition by M. L. McClure, Christian Worship: Its Origin and Evolution,
3rd English ed. (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1910), 397.

67.   Innocent III, De Sacro Altaris
Mysterio (On the Sacred Mystery of the Altar)
I, 45, in PL 217:790.

68.   Index CCXXVII, De Vestitus
Sacerdotalibus Monasticis et Laicalibus, quorum fit Mentio in Patrologia, Exponeus
Mysticam illorum Significationem (On Sacred Vestments)
, in PL

69.   Herodotus, History I,

70.   Ginzberg, The Legends of the
, 2:335–36.

71.   Medieval commentators unite everything
in the rod of Aaron: Mary is the rod of Aaron, Peter Damian, Sermones (Sermons)
40, in PL 144:721, Sermons 46, in PL 144:760; Bruno
Astensis, Sentertiae I, 3, in PL 165:884, the flowering rod
from the root of Jesse, Tertullian, Adversus Mareionem V, 8, 4, in
PL 2:521; Christ is also the rod of Aaron, Peter Damian, Sermons
42, in PL 144:730; as well as the rod of Moses, Hildebert, Sermones
de Sanctis (Sermons on Holy Things)
72 (77), in PL 171:686; Wolberus,
Commentaria in Canticum Canticorum (Commentary on the Song of Solomon)
1:9, in PL 195:1061. The rod of Moses represents the Cross of Christ
and his power; Rupert, De Trinitate et Operibus Ejus (On the Trinity and
Its Operations)
XLII, 33, in PL 167:641–42. It represents
also the congregation of the righteous, Raban Maurus, Allegoriae in Universam
Sacram Scripturam (Allegories on All the Scriptures)
, s.v. “Vigra,”
in PL 112:1081, and even the whole human race, see Peter Lombard, Commentarium
in Psalmos (Commentary on the Psalms)
73:3, in PL 191:684. The
blossoming rod is the humanity of Christ, who is the blossom on the rod from
the root of Jesse; Rupert, On the Trinity and Its Operations XLII,
17, in PL 167:584. The rod is naturally the symbol of divine judgment,
Rupert, De Incendio Oppidi Tuitii 7, in PL 170:339, and of
dominion, Eucherius, Formularum Spiritalis Intelligentiae (The Forms of
Spiritual Intelligence)
2, in PL 50:738.

72.   Stewart Culin, “Games of
the North American Indians,” in The Twenty fourth Annual Report of
the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution

(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), 46.

73.   Hilary Jenkinson, “Exchequer
Tallies,” Archaeologia 62 (1911): 367. See illustration, plate

74.   Ibid., 368.

75.   Hilary Jenkinson, “Medieval
Tallies, Public and Private,” Archaeologia 74 (1924): 305. See
illustration, plate lxv.

76.   Jenkinson, “Exchequer Tallies,”
373–74. The foil is sometimes called the contratallia, the counter-tally,

77.   Ibid., 374.

78.   Jenkinson, “Medieval Tallies, Public and Private,” 318.

79.   Ibid., 292; on “lot and scot,”
see Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” 331–32,
334, where the technical term for marking an arrow (skera ör
) is the same as that for marking tallies. Jenkinson, “Medieval
Tallies, Public and Private,” 318. The length of the tallies is determined
exactly as the Indians determine the length of gaming sticks cut from arrow
shafts, by measuring from the tip of the forefinger to the tip of the extended

80.   Jenkinson, “Exchequer Tallies,” 374; Jenkinson, “Medieval
Tallies, Public and Private,” 315.

81.   Jenkinson, “Exchequer Tallies,” 369. So complete was the destruction
that all knowledge of the institution of tally cutting was completely lost
in England after the fire; ibid., 371.

82.   Jenkinson, “Medieval Tallies, Public and Private,” 315.

83.   Jenkinson, “Exchequer Tallies,” 378; Jenkinson, “Medieval
Tallies, Public and Private,” 313–14, 293.

84.   Of all the surviving tallies, only two bear writing in English; Jenkinson,
“Medieval Tallies, Public and Private,” 314.

85.   The one exception is Cooke, A
Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel
, 2:400: “The
symbol evidently made a lasting impression, for it is imitated in Zechariah
11:7, where, however, the two staves (a different word) are given names but
not inscribed.”

86.   The operation has been studied
by Theodor Mommsen, Römische Forschungen, 2 vols. (Berlin: Weidmann,
1864), 1:338–48; and in Theodor Mommsen, “Das römische Gastrecht
und die römische Clientel,” Historische Zeitschrift 1 (1859):
339–42, cited by Hugh W. Nibley, “Sparsiones,” CJ 40
(1945): 538.

87.   Nibley, “Sparsiones,” 537–38. The oldest known symbolon was
the messenger staff given by Apollo to his missionary Abarus; Abarus used
it as a feasting ticket and sign of authority wherever he went; Nibley, “The
Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” 331.

88.   “It is the arrow of the summus deus, held on loan by an earthly
king as a gage of divine support, that everywhere gives the latter his earthly
power and authority.” Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,”

89.   Ibid., 337–38.

90.   The Oxford English Dictionary,
12 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1933), 1:988–89, s.v. “book.”

91.   Friedrich W. Blass, “Palaeographie,
Buchwesen und Handschriftenkunde,” in Ivan von Müller, Handbuch
der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft
, 12 vols. (Munich: Beck, 1892), 1:308:
“In Italien muss in alter Zeit vielfach auf Bast geschrieben sein, da das
Wort liber noch bei Vergil dies bedeutet; . . . der Gebrauch des Holzes aber
ist in beiden Ländern alt. Im Lateinischen stammt daher das Wort codex
= caudex.”

92.   Freeman, Hand-book of Bible
Manners and Customs
, 309, no. 583.

93.   Ginzberg, The Legends of the
, 6:54.

94.   Ibid., 3:19.

95.   Kautzsch, Die Heilige Schrift
des alten Testaments
, 1:975.

96.   Cooke, A Critical and Exegetical
Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel
, 2:401; “The prophet is . . . to
inscribe one with the name Judah, and the other with the name Joseph.”

97.   “For Judah . . . his
. The stick, emblem of the royal sceptre, was to be inscribed
with those words.” Fisch, Ezekiel, 249.

98.   See generally, Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State.”

99.   Numerous examples of seal inscriptions
and dedications may be found in Anton Deimel, Sumerische Grammatik
(Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1924); and in Henri Frankfort, Cylinder
(London: Macmillan, 1939). Publications of collected Oriental seals
are very numerous.

100.   Stewart Culin, “Chess
and Playing Cards,” in Report of the U.S. National Museum for 1896
(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1898), 887–88.

101.   Nibley, “Sparsiones,” 536–39; quotes are from 539, n. 155.

102.   Nibley, “The Arrow, the
Hunter, and the State,” 336. Even in Egypt the 52 arrow shafts of divination
“drifted down into the vulgarisation of gaming cards,” according to
W. M. Flinders Petrie, Scarabs and Cylinders with Names (London: University
College, 1917), 4.

103.   William H. Ward, The Seal
Cylinders of Western Asia
(Washington: Carnegie Institute of Washington,
1910), 3–5.

104.   The only time that two
arrows were sent was when one (a wooden shaft) went by land and the other (of
iron) by sea, according to Karl Weinhold, “Beiträge zu den deutschen
Kriegsalterthümern,” Sitzungsbericht der Akademie der Wissenschaft
zu Berlin
29 (1891): 536.

105.   Ibid., 548.

106.   George N. Roerich, Trails
to Inmost Asia
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1931), 352.

107.   Fritz Rumpf, tr., Japanische
(Jena: Diederich, 1938), 43; see note on documents of
this type, in Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” 341,
n. 80.

108.   Garrick Mallery, “Picture
writing of the American Indians,” in The Tenth Annual Report of the
Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 1888–89

(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1893), 367, fig. 475.

109.   Blass, “Palaeographie, Buchwesen und Handschriftenkunde,”
1:335–36. The first genuine ancient scrolls ever to be discovered intact are
the Dead Sea Scrolls, none of which have sticks attached to them.

110.   Gregorius Magnus (Gregory the
Great), S. Gregori Magni Vita, Ex Ejus Scriptis Adornata (The Life of Gregory
the Great, Embellished from His Own Words)
III, 9, in PL 75:394.

111.   Zorell, Lexicon Hebraicum
et Aramaicum Veteris Testamenti
, 618.

112.   Keil, Biblical Commentary
on the Prophecies of Ezekiel
, 2:130.

113.   Jewish Encyclopedia
(New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1905), 11:126, s.v. “Scroll of the Law.”

114.   Ibid., 11:126.

115.   F. S. Burnell, “Staves
and Sceptres,” Folklore 59 (1948): 164.

116.   Ibid.

117.   Ibid.

118.   Jewish Encyclopedia,
“Scroll of the Law,” 11:126.

119.   Jörg Lechler, Vom
(Leipzig: Kabitz, 1934), 74, fig. 6.

120.   Fernand Cabrol and Henri Leclerq,
Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie,
15 vols. (Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1907–52).

121.   Jewish Encyclopedia,
“Scroll of the Law,” 11:134.

122.   Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus
(The Tutor)
I, 7, 1, in PG 8:321–25.

123.   Gregorius Nyssen (Gregory of
Nyssen), Commentarius in Canticum Canticorum (Commentary on the Song of
12, in PG 44:1031; and Contra Apollinaris (Against
52, in PG 45:1250.

124.   Eusebius, Demonstratio
Evangelica (Proof for the Gospel)
X, 479–82, in PG 22:741–48.

125.   Irenaeus, Contra Haereses
(Against Heresies)
V, 17, in PG 7:1171.

126.   Though modern critics fail
to detect anything of great importance or mystery in the rods of identification,
for the earliest writers of the Church they were regarded as objects of great
symbolic significance, conveying a message of real, if hidden, importance; Justin,
Dialogue with Trypho, in PG 6:682, n. 43.

127.   Cyril of Alexandria, Commentarius
in Oseam Prophetam (Commentary on Hosea)
3, 12, in PG 71:129.

128.   Jerome, Epistolae (Letters)
74, in PL 22:683–84.

129.   Rupert, Commentarii in
Duodecim Prophetas Minores (Commentary on the Twelve Minor Prophets, On Zechariah)

IV, 11, in PL 168:786.

130.   Ibid. The first was made with Noah and all mankind; the second was made
with Abraham and his seed.

131.   Jerome, Commentary on Ezekiel
XI, in PL 25:353–54.

132.   Romans 11:2.

133.   Tertullian, De Resurrectione
(On the Resurrection)
29, in PL 2:882–83, cites Ezekiel
37 as proof of an ancient belief in the resurrection, and notes ch. 30, that
whereas heretics say it refers to the restoration of the Jews to their land,
it nonetheless shows that the resurrection had been revealed earlier to the
Jews; ibid., 30, in PL 2:884. What settles the argument in favor of
a real resurrection is the very frequent reference to the resurrection of the
flesh in early Jewish apocryphal writings. Thus in the very early Life of Adam
and Eve 51:2, Michael appears to Seth and says: “Man of God, mourn not
for thy dead more than six days, for on the seventh day is the sign of the resurrection,
and the rest of the age to come.” Such expressions are common in the earliest
Christian fragments. The ancient Jewish belief in the resurrection of the flesh
is a subject deserving of special treatment, but since there undoubtedly was
such a belief, the remarks of Ezekiel regarding dead bones would have been referred
before everything else to it.

134.   Fisch, Ezekiel, 249.

135.   Ibid.

136.   “Vere enim in adventu
Domini Salvatoris, duae virgae, et ut in Hebraico positum est, duo ligna in
unum juncta sunt sceptrum, et in baptismate Christi dudum separata sociantur:
ut fiant in unum novum hominen.” Jerome, Commentary on Ezekiel
XI, in PL 25:353.

137.   Eduard Meyer, Geschichte
des Altertums
, 4th ed. (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1944), vol. 4, pt. 1, p. 167,
n. 1.

138.   Ibid., 168, 170–71.

139.   Eduard Meyer, Ursprung
und Geschichte der Mormonen
(Halle: Niemeyer, 1912), 80–83; published
also as Origin and History of the Mormons, tr. H. Rahde and E. Seaich
(Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1961), 54–56.

140.   Ibid., 81–82; 55 in English translation.