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CHARLES - After originally finding the gold pltes, why did Joseph Smith have to wait 4 years before he coud take them for translation?
JOEL - When Joseph Smith was about to take the plates the first tme he saw them, it is possible God could see in his heart that he was not ready to posess them. His family was very poor and he may have first had improper thoughts of how their monetary worth could bring his family out of poverty, rather than remembering the real purpose of the work he was to begin.
Oliver Cowdery relates the following:
"On attempting to take possession of the record a shock was produced upon his system, by an invisible power, which deprived him, in a measure, of his natural strength. He desisted for an instant, and then made another attempt, but was more sensibly shocked than before. What was the occasion of this he knew not—there was the pure unsullied record, as had been described—he had heard of the power of enchantment, and a thousand like stories, which held the hidden treasures of the earth, and supposed that physical exertion and personal strength was only necessary to enable him to obtain the object of his wish. He therefore made the third attempt with an increased exertion, when his strength failed him more than at either of the former times, and without premeditating he exclaimed, 'Why can I not obtain this book?' 'Because you have not kept the commandments of the Lord,' answered a voice, within a seeming short distance. He looked, and to his astonishment, there stood the angel who had previously given him te directions concerning this matter. In an instant, all the former instructions, the great intelligence concerning Israel and the last days, were brought to his mind. He had failed to remember the great end for which they had been kept, and in consequence could not have power to take them into his possession and bear them away." (Oliver Cowdery, in Messenger and Advocate, 2 [Oct. 1835]:197-98