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View of the Hebrews (1825 edition) — Introduction

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View of the Hebrews (1825 edition) — Introduction

Ethan Smith

Mormon General Authority B. H. Roberts concluded that this book, originally published in Poultney, Vermont in 1823 (7 years prior to the Book of Mormon) was available to Joseph Smith and contained enough parallel material to the Book of Mormon so as to furnish a virtual "ground-plan" for it.



Or The



Chap. I. The Destruction of Jerusalem. Chap. II. The Certain Restoration of Judah and Israel. Chap. III. The Present State of Judah and Israel. Chap IV. An Address of the Prophet Isaiah to the United States Relative to their Restoration.

Second Edition, Improved and enlarged.

By Ethan Smith,
Pastor of a church in Poultney (VT.)


"These be the days of vengeance."
"Yet a remnant shall return."
"He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel; and gather together the dispersed of Judah."

Published and printed by Smith & Shute,
Poultney, (VT.)


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District of Vermont, To wit:

   Be it remembered, that on the sixteenth day of April, in the forty-ninth year of the Independence of the United States of America, Smith & Shute, of the said District, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words following, to wit: "View of the Hebrews; or the Tribes of Israel in America. Exhibiting, Chap. I. The Destruction of Jerusalem. Chap. II. The certain Restoration of Judah and Israel. Chap. III. The Present State of Judah and Israel. Chap. IV. An address of the Prophet Isaiah to the United States relative to their restoration. Second edition, improved and enlarged. By Ethan Smith, pastor of a church in Poultney, (VT.) ‘ These be the days of vengeance.’ 'Yet a remnant shall return.' ‘ He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel; and gather together the dispersed of Judah.'" In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned."

Jesse Gove,
Clerk of the District of Vermont.

A true copy of record, examined and sealed by
                                                                                                             J. Gove, Clerk.


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   The importance of the question, Where are the Ten Tribes of Israel? the speedy sale of the first edition of this work; and the obtaining considerable additional evidence relative to the origin of the American Indians;--have led the way to the publishing of a second edition of this View. Additional evidences are adduced from various sources; especially from Hunter's Narrative --Baron Humboldt on the Kingdom of New Spain--and the American Archaeology. These authors, without particular design, have furnished what is deemed material evidence upon this subject.
   Some objections are noted, and replies made to them. The writer has had his ears open to objections; and he is of opinion that none have been made, but what are capable of a fair solution.
   Poultney, April 1, 1825.


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   Testimonials in favour of this work have not been wanting. The following will be here inserted.

   The Pawlet Association certify, that they have heard the Rev. E. Smith read a considerable part of his "View of the Hebrews;" that they do highly approve of the plan and execution of the work; do wish its publication; and cordially recommend it to the perusal of all classes of people.

   Voted, unanimously,
                                                         Attest, RUFUS CUSHMAN, Scribe.

Extracts from Reviews of the First Edition.

   "We have been exceedingly gratified in taking a 'View of the Hebrews,' through the glass that Mr. S. has put to our eye; and it is presumed that none will turn away dissatisfied with such a medium of vision, unless they are dissatisfied that they may not look longer.--The subject is large enough to engage a more extended discussion; but perhaps Mr. S. has said all that need be said at present. Undoubtedly further inquiries will be made, and more satisfactory results obtained ere long."--[ Boston Recorder.]

 "Of this we feel convinced, that the religious community are indebted to Mr. S. for the pains he has taken in this his sketch of the Hebrews; and we hope that his labour will be amply remunerated, not only in seeing the salutary tendency of his book in exciting Christians to their duty in reference to the Jews, but also in its rapid sale. The sentiments interspersed are calculated to be profitable to the pious; as well as informing to the reader, who is merely in pursuit of interesting historical knowledge." "We consider the moral tendency of the publication to be truly


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valuable. No person can read it without some benefit, unless his heart be strangely perverted." "One of the impressions which this work is calculated to make is, the awful guilt and danger contracted by a rejection of Jesus Christ as our atoning Saviour. This we see in the terrible destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and in the dreadful slaughter and dispersion of the Jews. Another is, the weight of obligation which now rests on Gentile Christians, and eminently on American Christians to extend the gospel to the Jews. When this people was rejected from spiritual privileges, we were graciously received; and our duty now is, by every practicable method, to persuade them to renounce their unbelief, and participate with us in the rich blessings of grace."-- [Christian Watchman, published in Boston.]

   "Certainly, if we may judge from our own feelings, such a collection of facts and details, as is presented by our author, must secure for his book an unusual degree of popularity."--[Christian Advocate, published at Saratoga, N.Y.]

Extracts of a letter from the Rev. Jabez B. Hyde of Eden, Erie county, N.Y. dated Feb. 4, 1825, after having read the first edition of this work.

   "I have been in the sentiment of your book, that the natives of our country are the outcasts of Israel. It cannot well be doubted by any one, who has become acquainted with the religious ceremonies of the Indians, but that they have a manifest shadow of the Mosaic rituals. Most of the particulars you have mentioned in your book, I know to be facts; and were observed by the Seneca Indians. When I first came among them, the chiefs invited me to all their celebrations. For some time (when I could make it convenient) I attended, in hopes of obtaining information concerning their ceremonies. All the information I could obtain from their interpreter was, that all related to things their fathers taught them many years ago. "So our fathers worshiped the Great Spirit!" This was all the account they could give. I neglected their meetings. After I read Dr. Boudinot's 'Star in the West,' I again attended their religious ceremonies, to see if I could discern what he had represented. In 1818, a general religious excitement commenced among the Senecas. They attempted to understand and reform their old religious rites, rather than receive Christianity. This brought to-


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gether their wise men, who were best acquainted with their mysteries. They spent much time to investigate their religion, its origin and what it taught, and to what it would avail. They found themselves involved in darkness. Of the meaning of the words they used in their dances, and divine songs, they were wholly ignorant. They used the words, Y-O-He-Wah, and Hal-le-lu-yah, as Dr. Boudinot has represented of other Indians. They became dissatisfied with their old rites, and consented that they would take the book which the white people call the word of God, to throw light on their path. This was the commencement of Christianity among the Senecas. This in its progress brought in two who had officiated as high priests in their religious ceremonies. With these I have had frequent opportunities. They have given me, I believe, an unreserved account of all they know of their ancient religion. Their wish has been to obtain information whether any thing is found in our scriptures similar to their religion. They have been firmly persuaded that they are the people of God; but that they have lost their way, and are bewildered in darkness. They call themselves, Hung-gwa-o-way; --i.e. the real people.

   In all their rites which I have learned from them, there is certainly a most striking similitude to the Mosaic rituals. Their feasts of first fruits; feasts of ingathering; day of atonement; peace offerings; sacrifices. They build an altar of stone before a tent covered with blankets; within the tent they burn tobacco for incense, with fire taken from the altar of burnt offering. All who have seen a dead human body are considered unclean eight days; which time they are excluded from the congregation. These Senecas observe their separations of females, as you notice of other Indians in your book. These Indians are well acquainted, that formerly places like cities of refuge existed among them. An old chief showed me the boundaries of one of them. I could fill sheets with details; but it would be unnecessary.

                    I remain yours in the bonds of the Gospel,
                                                                                    JABEZ B. HYDE.

Rev. Ethan Smith.

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                   From the Rev. Dr. Proudfit, of Salem, NY,
                                                                           Salem, February 18, 1825.

   "Reverend and esteemed Brother: I have examined with no inconsiderable interest your 'View of the Hebrews,' and have been highly entertained, and instructed. From the view given of their Language, and from the similarity of their customs and religious rites, with those of ancient Israel; from their belief in the existence of the one Great Spirit, as the Creator and Judge of the world; from their existing in tribes, during the lapse of so many ages; from the coincidence of their traditions with the events recorded in the inspired volume; we have in my opinion satisfactory evidence that the aborigines of our country are the remnant of the ten tribes of Israel.

   I am much gratified to hear that you are preparing a second edition, with additional facts and evidences. If my name may have any influence to introduce this work to the patronage of the religious public, you have liberty to use it for the purpose.

   That the blessing of Israel's God may accompany this, and every production designed to excite greater exertions for the missionary cause, and extending the kingdom of the Redeemer, in the gathering of the Jews, and the fulness of the Gentiles, and hastening the progress of the millennial glory, is the prayer of your brother in the faith of Jesus, and fellow labourer in the gospel.


Rev. Ethan Smith.


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[note that the pages numbers here refer to pagination in the original]


Chapter I
The Destruction Of Jerusalem     13

Description of Jerusalem
          of the Temple
Christ foretels its destruction
Various signs of the event
Seven striking portents of it
Causes of the war
Factions of the Jews
The Roman army approaching
Some prophecies have a primary, and an ultimate fulfillment



Chapter II
The Certain Restoration of Judah and Israel     47
The expulsion of the ten tribes
          Arguments in favour of a literal restoration.
1. The distinct existence of the Jews
2. Their past partial, and short possession of Canaan
3. Express predictions of the event
4. A mystical import given to these predictions inadmissible
5. Their expulsion was literal; hence their restoration may be expected to be literal





Chapter III
The Present State of the Jews, And of Israel     67
State of the Jews
State of Israel

Preliminary Remarks.

1. Israel as well as Judah are to be recovered
2. Hence they are now in existence, but in an outcast state
3. The last account of them
4. Suppositions concerning them
5. These suppositions true
6. A prophecy in Amos viii. 11, 12, relative to a famine of the word in Israel,
Character and writings of James Adair, Esq.




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Commencement of arguments in favour of the natives of
     America being the descendants of Israel
1. These natives all appear to have had one origin
2. Their language appears to have been Hebrew
    Table of words
3. The Indians have had their ark of the covenant
4. They have had circumcision
5. They generally have acknowledged one and only one God
6. Testimonies of William Penn
7. Their superior tribe
8. Several prophetic traits of character
9. Their being in tribes with heads of tribes
10. Their having an imitation of cities of refuge
11. Various other traditions and arguments
Where they came to this country,
Promiscuous testimonies from page 114 to 225; a few only of which shall be here noted.
Notice of some objections from page 168 to 173, also in the Appendix

Good original character of the natives                       132-139 173-177
Natives of New Spain
Indian Pyramids
American High Places like those of ancient Israel
Pyramid of Cholula
Traditions of an ancient celebrated character, probably Moses   
Traditions of a Trinity in Unity in God 
Phylacteries, or ancient Hebrew writings, found on Indian
   Hill, in Pittsfield


179, 202
 179, 203
180, 204

Chapter IV
An Address of the Prophet Isaiah, Relative to the
Restoration of His People      227
Preliminary Remarks
Exposition of Isaiah xviii
Appendix, (Objections answered,)



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Archaelogia Americana, page 188
Adair, 80,84,88,89,92,95,98,112,
   116, 21,123.
Some of his arguments, 147-154.
Don Alonzo de Ericilla, 158.
Boudinot, 87,91,93,96,98,100,
Bartram, 113,123-125.
Buttrick, 130.
Beatty, 96,98,116,119.
Charlevoix, 85,174.
Colden, 94,109.
Cushman, 105,174.
Clavigero, 116.
Chapman, 123,157.
Carver, 123,154.
Columbus, 132.
Commissioners, 137.
Casas, 176.
Dodge & Blight, 104.
Edwards, 86,89,162.
Esdras, 74.
Frey, 118.
Giddings, 88,102.
Gookin, 107.
Hunter, 162.
Humboldt, 177.
Herman, 140.
Heckewelder, 107.
Hebard, 101.
Hutchinson, 93,174.
Immanuel de Moraez, 97.
Jarvis, 79.
M'Kenzie, 97,114,115.
Long, 141,160.
Lewis & Clark, 106,124.
Morse, 91,126,142.
Mather, 127.
Melverda & Acasta, 162.
Occum, 106.
Pratz, 87,175.
Pedro de Cicca, 88.
Penn, 107,174.
Pixley, 111,113,130.
Robertson, 153.
Sauard, 92.
Smith, (Col.) 117,126,134,136,
Schoolcraft, 145.
Ulloa, 88.
Williams, 88,101,110,114.
Williams, (Roger) 107.

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