“Those Twelve Whom He Had Chosen”

Jana Reiss

Just as he did in and around Jerusalem, Jesus selects twelve disciples to be the spiritual leaders of the Nephites. He also identifies the Nephites as “a remnant of the house of Joseph,” meaning that Lehi was descended from the Joseph of the book of Genesis, one of Jacob’s twelve sons. Interestingly, in the Old Testament, Jacob adopts Joseph’s two sons Ephraim and Manasseh as his own, drawing them into the original twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 48:5).

Today, most Mormons can obtain a once-in-a-lifetime formal blessing called a “patriarchal blessing,” performed by a regional leader who is specifically called and set apart to the task. One of the most unusual features of a patriarchal blessing is a declaration of lineage, proclaiming the modern-day Latter-day Saint to be a member of one of the original tribes of Israel. Many Mormons are declared to be of the tribe of Ephraim, perhaps because that tribe is given particularly important blessings and responsibilities (see Genesis 48:19–20).

The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated & Explained