Joseph and Emma: The Reunion
March 20, 1839, in the dank, cold, dungeon cell of Liberty Jail in Clay County, Missouri, Joseph Smith and four other companions were imprisoned. By the duplicity of traitors they had been arrested and on the strength of testimony offered by false friends they had been confined in the close quarters of the darkened dungeon since December 1, 1838. Nearly four awful, lonely months over the cold winter they had endured terrible privations and humiliation within the forbidding stone walls of Liberty Jail.
They were judicial hostages, held in bonds to insure that the Mormons left the state. Agonizingly helpless, they languished on a rough stone floor, as their friends and families were mobbed and driven from the state.
“Oh, God, where art thou,” Joseph dictated on this date, “and where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea, thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?
Twenty nine pages—Joseph poured out his soul in a letter that has no equal in Church History. From that letter would come not only a revealing view into the noble soul of Joseph Smith, but also, later, three revelations of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is on many levels a documentary treasure.
At the very end of the letter Joseph himself penned a note to his wife Emma whom he had not seen for so long. Among other things he said,
“Never give up an old tried friend, who has waded through all manner of toil for your sake, and throw him away because fools may tell you he has some faults.”
Joseph was a sensitive man and indeed cared what people thought of him. Where were his friends at this gloomy hour? Did they now brand him a criminal and consider him of no worth. And more importantly, did Emma?
Two weeks later, April 4, 1839, Joseph wrote another short letter to Emma, and after pouring out his affections for her and the children, he wrote again,
“I feel like Joseph in Egypt, doth my friends yet live? If they live, do they remember me—have they regard for me? If so let me know it in time of trouble. Dear Emma, do you think that my being cast into prison by the mob renders me less worthy of your friendship—no, I do not think so.”
Moroni had once told Joseph that his name would be had for good and evil, and of the many things of his ministry most difficult, those friends who turned against him cut deeply.
Late April 1839, Joseph, now a free man, struggled in his gaunt weakened condition to reach Emma. He had to have wondered as he walked across the Missouri prairie, “Will she welcome me?”
Dimick Huntington lounged about the Quincy, Illinois boat landing looking—waiting—then he saw a disheveled stranger leaning against a fence rail, his ragged pants were tucked into old boots full of holes. Dimick approached him, “My God, Brother Joseph, is that you?”
Recognizing his old friend, Joseph insisted that he be taken immediately to his family. Dimick located a second horse and together they rode the three miles to where Emma was staying. As they approached the house, Dimick held back while Joseph dismounted and turned toward the house. Suddenly the front door burst open and Emma ran out and threw herself into Joseph’s arms before he was halfway to the gate.
Building Faith Through Church History