Joseph Smith’s life and the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are closely intertwined with the remarkable story of his Joseph Smith wife, Emma Hale Smith. Emma played a pivotal role in supporting her husband’s religious endeavors and the early years of the LDS Church, and her life is a testament to the challenges and sacrifices faced by the early Latter-day Saints.
Joseph Smith & Emma Meeting and Courtship
Joseph Smith first met Emma Hale in Harrowgate, New York, in the early 1820s. At the time, Joseph was living near the Hale family’s home while working as a hired hand for various residents.
Emma was known for her beauty, intelligence, and strong-willed nature, and she quickly captured Joseph’s heart. Their courtship eventually led to a deep and lasting love.
Joseph Smith & Wife: Marriage and Early Life
Joseph Smith and Emma Hale were married on January 18, 1827, in South Bainbridge, New York. Their marriage marked the beginning of a partnership that would shape the course of religious history. In addition to being husband and wife, Joseph and Emma also became spiritual collaborators in the restoration of the gospel.
Shortly after their marriage, Joseph received the first of his heavenly visitations and began the process of translating the Book of Mormon.
Emma played a crucial role in these early efforts, serving as a scribe and providing invaluable support to her husband as he translated the sacred text.
The Book of Mormon Translation
The translation of the Book of Mormon was a laborious and spiritually significant task. Joseph Smith, using the Urim and Thummim (seer stones), would dictate the text to scribes while Emma often served as a scribe herself.
The process was demanding, and Emma’s participation was instrumental in bringing forth this foundational scripture of the LDS Church.
Personal Trials and Persecution
The Smiths faced numerous challenges during this period. As the young church began to take shape, it faced opposition from both skeptics and religious rivals. This led to episodes of violence, persecution, and financial strain for the family.
In 1830, shortly after the official establishment of the LDS Church, Joseph and Emma’s first child died in infancy. This tragedy was followed by additional trials, including mob attacks, forced relocations, and threats to their safety.
Motherhood and Loss
Joseph Smith wife, Emma Hale Smith, throughout her life, bore the heavy burden of motherhood and loss. She and Joseph had nine biological children, only five of whom survived to adulthood.
The challenges of frontier life, combined with persecution and hardship, took a toll on their family.
The deaths of their children were undoubtedly some of the most painful experiences in Emma’s life. These losses, along with the hardships faced by the early Saints, tested her resilience and faith.
The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible
In addition to her support in the translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith wife, Emma also assisted Joseph with the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Bible. This project, undertaken between 1830 and 1833, involved revising and clarifying various passages of the Bible.
Emma’s contributions included acting as a scribe and aiding her husband in the work of this inspired revision.
Struggles and Strife
The Smiths’ journey was fraught with difficulties. The growing religious movement led by Joseph faced considerable opposition from various quarters. Local residents often viewed the Latter-day Saints with suspicion, and this hostility occasionally escalated into violent confrontations.
Emma Smith’s role as the wife of the church’s founder meant that she faced many of these challenges head-on. She had to endure threats to her family, including her husband’s imprisonment and the physical danger that accompanied the Saints’ exodus from one location to another.
The Nauvoo Period
The Nauvoo period, which began in the early 1840s, marked a significant chapter in the lives of the Smiths and the early Latter-day Saints. The city of Nauvoo, located in Illinois, became the headquarters of the LDS Church and a place where the Saints hoped to find refuge from persecution.
Emma Smith actively participated in the development of Nauvoo, including supporting the construction of the Nauvoo Temple. She also served as the first president of the Relief Society, an organization for women within the church that focused on charity and spiritual development.
The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith
The tragic events of June 27, 1844, forever altered the course of Emma’s life. On that fateful day, her husband, Joseph Smith, and her brother-in-law, Hyrum Smith, were killed by a mob while imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois.
The loss of Joseph was a devastating blow to Joseph Smith wife, Emma. It marked the end of his leadership and left her to navigate the complex and often turbulent aftermath of his martyrdom.
Emma’s decision not to follow Brigham Young and the majority of the Saints in their westward trek to the Great Basin set her on a unique path.
Emma’s Later Years
After the death of Joseph Smith, Emma faced a challenging period. She chose to remain in Nauvoo, and for a time, she maintained her belief in the Restoration while distancing herself from the leadership of the Utah-based church led by Brigham Young.
Emma’s choice not to follow Young was rooted in her desire to protect her family’s legacy and the memory of her husband.
In later years, Emma remarried to Lewis Bidamon, and they had children together.
Although Emma’s relationship with the Utah-based LDS Church remained complex, she maintained her belief in Joseph Smith’s divine calling as a prophet.
Her story reflects the diverse paths that some early Saints took in the aftermath of Joseph’s death.
Legacy and Remembering Emma Smith
Emma Hale Smith’s life is a testament to the strength, sacrifice, and resilience of the early Latter-day Saints. Her contributions to the translation of sacred texts, the establishment of the Relief Society, and her unwavering support of Joseph Smith’s mission left a lasting legacy within the LDS Church.
In recent years, the LDS Church has recognized Joseph Smith wife, Emma’s important role and contributions to its history. She is honored as a valiant and faithful woman, and her life and sacrifices are remembered with respect and reverence.
Emma Hale Smith’s life was intricately connected with the founding and early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As the wife of Joseph Smith, she played a pivotal role in supporting his prophetic mission and the restoration of the gospel.
Her story is one of strength, devotion, and the challenges faced by the early Saints. Emma’s legacy continues to be an integral part of the tapestry of LDS history, and she is remembered as a remarkable woman who stood by her husband’s side as he worked to establish a new religious tradition.
Read more about Joseph Smith’s wife, Emma on the LDS church’s website.