JOSEPH'S PROPHECY OF FALLING STARS

(Compiled and written by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, dkenison@xmission.com)

Yesterday's story included a description by Parley P. Pratt of events that occurred during the expulsion of the Saints from Missouri in 1833. Part of that description was a meteor shower, which was interpreted to be one of the "signs of the times."

Philo Dibble was also in Missouri during that time, and was shot and severely wounded. He later described some events that appear to relate to Parley's account:

On one occasion Joseph was preaching in Kirtland sometime in the fall of 1833. Quite a number of persons were present who did not belong to the Church, and one man, more bitter and skeptical than others, made note with pencil and paper of a prophecy uttered on that occasion, wherein Joseph said that 'Forty days shall not pass, and the stars shall fall from heaven.'

Such an event would certainly be very unusual and improbable to the natural man, and the skeptic wrote the words as a sure evidence to prove Joseph to be a false Prophet.

On the thirty-ninth day after the utterance of that prophecy a man and brother in the Church, by the name of Joseph Hancock... and another brother were out hunting game and got lost. They wandered about until night, when they found themselves at the house of this unbeliever, who exultingly produced this note of Joseph Smith's prophecy, and asked Brother Hancock what he thought of his Prophet now, that thirty-nine days had passed and the prophecy was not fulfilled.

Brother Hancock was unmoved and quietly remarked, 'There is one night left of the time, and if Joseph said so, the stars will certainly fall tonight. This prophecy will all be fulfilled.'

The matter weighed upon the mind of Brother Hancock, who watched that night, and it proved to be the historical one, known in all the world as 'the night of the falling of the stars.'

He stayed that night at the house of the skeptical unbeliever, as it was too far from home to return by night, and in the midst of the falling of the stars he went to the door of his host and called him out to witness what he had thought impossible and the most improbable thing that could happen, especially as that was the last night in which Joseph Smith could be saved from the condemnation of 'a false prophet.'

The whole heavens were lit up with the falling meteors, and the countenance of the new spectator was plainly seen and closely watched by Brother Hancock, who said that he turned pale as death, and spoke not a word.

After that event the unbeliever sought the company of any Latter-day Saint. He even enticed Mormon children to keep him company at his house. Not long afterwards, too, he sent for Joseph and Hyrum to come to his house, which they did, but with no noticeable results, for I believe he never received the gospel." (Philo Dibble, "Recollections," JI 27:23)

Joseph Smith's history on that date records: "About 4 o'clock a.m. I was awakened by Brother Davis knocking at my door, and calling on me to arise and behold the signs in the heavens. I arose, and to my great joy, beheld the stars fall from heaven like a shower of hailstones; a literal fulfillment of the word of God, as recorded in the holy Scriptures, and a sure sign that the coming of Christ is close at hand. In the midst of this shower of fire, I was led to exclaim, 'How marvelous are Thy works, O Lord! I thank Thee for Thy mercy unto Thy servant; save me in Thy kingdom for Christ's sake. Amen.'" (HC 1:439)

A further description came from a non-LDS source, Stephens' "History of the United States": "During the fall of 1833 occurred a natural phenomenon of a most wonderful character. This was on the night of the 13th of November. It was what was known as the 'meteoric shower' or the 'falling of the stars.' It was witnessed with amazement and astonishment throughout the entire limits of the United States." (HC 1:440)

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Copyright 1998, David Kenison and LDS-Gems, dkenison@xmission.com
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