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Bill "Papa" Lee

Joseph’S Civil War Prophecy, Can Some Of The Pundit’S Help…

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Let's put this in a modern context:

To illustrate just how dubious this prophecy really is, let us imagine President Monson stands at the next conference and proclaims the following:

Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the conflict of Israel with its neighbor, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;

And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.

For behold, the Israel shall stand against that country near unto it, and those countries will call on other nations, even the nation of the United States, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.

And it shall come to pass, after many days, the oppressed shall rise up against their oppressors, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.

And it shall come to pass also that the remnants who are left of the land will marshal themselves, and shall become exceedingly angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.

And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations;

That the cry of the saints, and of the blood of the saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies.

Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen.

The next week, you are teaching a class of 12 year olds, and they ask the following questions. Please let us know how you would respond:

- Who, exactly was President Monson referring to?

- What is the time frame for this? 1 year? 5 years? 50 years? 500 years?

- What did he mean by "end of all nations"?

You see, when understood as a prophecy of the future, it has almost no predictive power. The scope and timeframe is so ill-defined, it only becomes useful when 20/20 hindsight can be used to fill in some of the pieces, with an infinitely flexible timeframe used to explain the unfulfilled portions.

So, I agree with LDS that the prophecy in D&C 87 is probably true, because it most certainly can't be falsified.

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But nullification was not about slavery ("probably arise over the slave question"). It was about tariffs

D&C 87 doesn't say the war will be about slavery. (The phrase you quoted was Smith's reinterpretation of the prophecy in 1840s, after the Nullification Crisis had passed.) It just says that in the course of the war, slaves will rise against their masters. In light of Nat Turner's Rebellion in 1831, this seems a reasonable assumption.

Edited by Chris Smith

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D&C 87 doesn't say the war will be about slavery. (The phrase you quoted was Smith's reinterpretation of the prophecy in 1840s, after the Nullification Crisis had passed.) It just says that in the course of the war, slaves will rise against their masters. In light of Nat Turner's Rebellion in 1831, this seems a reasonable assumption.

Correction: presumed reinterpretation.

When, if ever, did Joseph interpret it any other way?

Regards,

Pahoran

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Correction: presumed reinterpretation.

Sure. Or, if you like, just "interpretation".

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The greatest of all innovations used in the American Civil War that has been essential in all wars since that time is the use of rifling within gun barrels. And though some polemicists disagree with the notion that the Southern states called upon Great Britain and other nations for aid, I suggest they do a little more research. The Confederacy desperately wanted aid from Britain, and Britain sent "unofficial" diplomats to determine whether getting into the war was feasible, the most notable being Arthur Freemantle, who actually predicted that the South would win the war (even after witnessing Lee's dramatic defeat at Gettysburg).

When I was in the army I started to write a short story about an English gunrunner in the ACW. There were also several British blockade runners such as Hobart and Taylor, and Confederates were active in Britain trying to whip up financial support.

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I am personally convinced that the War Between the States was the Lord's punishment for the murder of Joseph and Hyrum

About a million people died in the US civil war, right? What a fine fellow, this god you believe in.

Edited by Ariarates

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Since I'm not a Mormon, I'm sure it won't surprise you to learn that I don't think Smith's prophecy was divinely inspired. I think it's very probable that Joseph Smith read the Painesville Telegraph article I quoted above, and based his prophecy on it. But even if he didn't, it seems clear that fear of civil war in connection with the S.C. nullification crisis was "in the air," so to speak.

Well do you think he was an uneducated genius or just lucky? Pundit’s, everyday make such predictions as these that “never” come to pass. They do so relying on their expertise in that field of study, now from being a hayseed plow boy as Joseph was educated to be.

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We consider (or I do) everything in the Standard Works, a “canon”. The point that others have made and the facts seem to support is that he received this revelation 29 years before the start of the Civil War at Fort Sumter, “South Carolina”. I think this is something that cannot be ignored or called a lucky guess.

The church places a lot of import on Joseph Smith’s supposed Civil War prophecy but rarely puts the timing of that pronouncement in its proper historical context….which if done would discount the pronouncement to a rational observation of an informed person rather than a prophecy of some future event.

In December 25, 1832, (keep this date in mind) Joseph Smith had this famous revelation D&C 87:1 which reads “Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning that which will come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;”

This verse when read with our modern eyes and understanding suggest in hindsight that Joseph Smith was referring to the Civil War, which was still many years away.... BUT the truth is that South Carolina had for many years been a hotbed of rebellion and had made many threats regarding its sovereignty over the federal government. In 1828 President Jackson had to send 7 US Navy ships to Charleston as a warning to prevent the state from bolting the Union over a tariff tax that the South Carolina legislature felt unjustly picked on them.... In 1831, there was a slave rebellion, but it was successfully put down. In 1832* (remember this date?) President Jackson signed into law a new tariff that the S.C. legislature felt was unjust, the state threatened to rebel. In response to South Carolina's threat, Jackson again sent seven small naval vessels and a man-of-war to Charleston in November 1832. Interestingly enough Joseph Smith had his revelation only 1 month later...was he a prophet...or an avid reader of the newspaper?

All of the pieces necessary to make a prediction or in Joseph’s case, a prophecy, were in place. Any informed person could have made a similar broad prediction regarding a rebellion beginning in South Carolina....and in fact many did. But no surprise, Joseph was not even one of the first to do so…

October 23, 1832: “[south Carolina is] in a state of perfect excitement and the nullifiers in a state of insanity. hope the Unionists will have the strength to check them in their mad and wicked course, and preserve the state from civil war and bloodshed.” (pg 78, Andrew Jackson to Martin Van Buren, Van Buren Papers, LC)

November 24, 1832: “And finally if to avoid the horrors of a civil war, to preserve the public liberty, the Constitution and the Union be desirable objects, then will it become every patriot...to step forward and interpose in favor of a peaceful settlement...” (pg 73, South Carolina politician, Thomas F. Jones to John F. Patterson, Jones and Patterson Family Papers, UNC)

December 4, 1832: “[These] incendiary [activities] in Boston, New York, and Pennsylvania are] for the purpose no doubt of inciting our slave population to rebellion and acts of violence.” (pg 128, Speech by Virginia Governor John Floyd reprinted in the “Constitutional Whig”, Richmond)

December 13 – 19, 1832: “I think I shall be able to check him...if [President Jackson] uses force, I will oppose him with a military force. I nor my country, will not be enslaved without a struggle” (pg 130, Virgina Governor John Floyd, Diary of John Floyd)

December 22, 1832: “...upon her depends whether the country is involved in a civil war, or the controversy be amicably settled.” (pg 123, U.S Telegraph, Washington, D.C.)

Should we view those who "Prophesied" before Joseph as Prophets as well or merely as informed individuals who also could see the writting on the wall?

December 25, 1832: Joseph Smith chimes in with (D&C 87)

December 29, 1832: “[south Carolina’s actions will lead], if persisted in, to political confusion and civil war,” (pg 134, Committee on Federal Relations Legislative Report)

Statements and predictions regarding war due to slavery after the 1832 nullification crisis had passed

February 26, 1833: “But there is no peace. The South will suffer and still rave. And we must go over to the Negro question. That is the rock on which the ship Union will split.” (pg 194, Congressman Michael Hoffman to A. C. Flagg, Flagg Papers, NYPL)

April 9, 1833: “nullification is dead...the South intends to blow up a storm on the subject of the slave question.” (pg 194, Andrew Jackson to John Crawford, Correspondence of Andrew Jackson, V, 56)

It is interesting to review the events of the country in 1832 when Joseph Smith made his prophecy. At that time, there was tension between the federal government and South Carolina over tariffs. This was called the “Nullification Crisis” or “Rebellion at South Carolina”.

The following excerpts are from the book, “History of the United States of America”, James Schouler, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1894.

May 1832: “...the country had cast an anxious glance towards South Carolina, whose attitude all the while was in contemptuous defiance of national candidates and the national authority.”

July 1832: “The rebellious torch was kindled by the South Carolina delegation in Congress...”

July 1832: “...the sovereign power of South Carolina must determine whether this precious inheritance of rights...shall be tamely surrendered without a struggle.”

November 27, 1832: “...to make the resistance more effectual against the United States authorities the governor was authorized [by the South Carolina legislature] to call out the whole militia of the State...”

November 1832: “Thus hastily South Carolina plunged into the crisis of open and declared resistance to the laws of the Union...”

December 3, 1832: “[The crisis] absorbed the whole interest of the country...”

December 4, 1832: “...South Carolina had actually passed the ordinance and pushed on to the brink of rebellion...Did this look like the disposition ‘to suffer while evils are sufferable,’...and not rather to drive headlong into revolution, and either browbeat the Union or force the experiment at once of secession, dissolution, and the formation of a Southern confederacy?”

December 10, 1832: “[President] Jackson was not the man to be put down by flimsy sophistries, nor to be terrified from performing his official duty. He saw that South Carolina challenged the authority and the very existence of the federal Union, and that the crisis must be courageously met...He quietly ordered General Scott to Charleston, and caused troops to be posted in a convenient vicinity, though not so near as to provoke a collision. He sent a sloop of war to Charleston to protect the officers of customs...And on the 10th of December he issued a proclamation to the people of South Carolina, in which, after forcibly stating the nature of the federal supremacy, he earnestly adjured them as fellow citizens of his native State not to provoke the Union...”

Mid December, 1832: “Local volunteers were enrolled ready to take the field at a moment’s warning, and South Carolina prepared to prevent by military force, if need be, the collection of the customs within her borders...It was no [President] Jackson’s turn to show temper; but he kept the decorum of his office, and prepared to crush this rebellion in its incipient stage and vindicate the laws of the land at every hazard.”

December 25, 1832: Joseph Smith proclaims: “VERILY, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls; And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.” (D&C 87: 1 – 2)

January 4, 1833: “...nullifiers...were full of loud bravado and defiance. ‘Enroll, good citizens,’ was here the cry of the press and politicians; ‘take up arms and show the enemy that South Carolina cannot be subjugated.’...The warlike demonstrations continued.”

January 16, 1833: “...the President sent in a special message on the South Carolina situation, and fitted the iron glove to his policy....he proposed that more stringent medicine, compulsion to authority...he wished power to remove a customs house...and hole imported goods for duties by military and naval force if resistance was offered...his purpose was to crush the insurgents...The chances increased that Congress would expire, leaving the tariff unaltered, and the administration with a civil war on its hands.”

Mid-January, 1833: “...there lurked, however, a constant danger of armed collision, bloodshed, and consequent civil war. Once in January it seemed truly as if the fight would begin; but the nullifiers...concluded to wait and see what Congress would do; and...they agreed...to suspend all action for the rest of the session...”

Late February, 1833: “The passage of the force bill...was needful to placate the President and save the self-respect of the legislature. With these two measure before him and the session so nearly ended, Jackson pursued the only practical course short of taking the burden of civil war upon his own shoulders...And thus were extended to rebellious South Carolina...’the olive branch and the rod bound up together.’”

Late March 18, 1833: “The federal troops now quietly withdrew; with dancing and military parades this bloodless imbroglio ended. But ominous signs remained in the horizon. South Carolina had threatened secession, and had attempted besides to unite all slaveholders in a call for a Southern convention. ‘The danger is not passed; we have but checked the disease;’ wrote Calhoun...one of the House debaters [remarked], ‘the root of her discontent lay deeper than the tariff, and would continue when that was forgotten.’”

Thoughts, observations, and question:

1. Joseph predicts war at the VERY moment the country was fearing and expecting war. He said, “...wars that will shortly come to pass...” Why would he be predicting a war thirty years in the future, while there is an immediate crisis brewing? What war would people who heard his prophecy think he was talking about; the current crisis, or a war thirty years in the future?

2. After the crisis was over, Calhoon indicated, “The danger is not passed; we have but checked the disease”. A legislator said, “The root of her discontent lay deeper than the tariff, and would continue when that was forgotten.” They were correct of course. Tension over slavery continued, culminating in the civil war thirty years later.

It seems that pretty much everybody was predicting war. Joseph Smith was merely one of many voices to do such. It was not a lucky guess but merely stating the obvious. As shown...many made simalar predictions...

Edited by Craig Paxton

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All of the pieces necessary to make a prediction or in Joseph’s case, a prophecy, were in place. Any informed person could have made a similar broad prediction regarding a rebellion beginning in South Carolina....and in fact many did. But no surprise, Joseph was not even one of the first to do so…

So explain it away as blind luck? Or do you think the others to be Prophets?

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About a million people died in the US civil war, right? What a fine fellow, this god you believe in.

Sadly war is a bi-product of free will. Or would you rather be compelled by God to be good (or all men to be good)?

Although I do not agree with assessment, that the Civil War was God’s punishment, it was man’s doing.

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So explain it away as blind luck? Or do you think the others to be Prophets?

Prophets in the sense that Orson Scott Card discussed in his article at Mormon Times: Teaching Practical Prophecy

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So explain it away as blind luck? Or do you think the others to be Prophets?

Not prophets...just informed individuals who, like Joseph, connected the dots...

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Sadly war is a bi-product of free will. Or would you rather be compelled by God to be good (or all men to be good)?

No, it was the thought of god having a million men, women and children killed as a punishment for the murder of two of his servants that I was objecting to. This is the kind of thinking that led to the MMM. I was rather hoping we'd have learned something from that but then again, we never do, do we?

Edited by Ariarates

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No, it was the thought of god having a million men, women and children killed

Are you troubled by the thought that God allows man to exercise free agency, including the death of millions of men, women and children?

Is is possible that He allows natural events to happen, that the punishment is that blood thirsty, murderous people kill each other and he allow that to happen. The Lord protected the Nephites, but on occasion withdrew that protection.

You are refuting his point with a phoney argument that no one here this forum would subscribe to. But, of course, you already knew that.

Edited by cdowis

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"...If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

-Abraham Lincoln Second Inagural Address

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Not prophets...just informed individuals who, like Joseph, connected the dots...

It comes down to whether one accepts him as a prophet. There is enough here to strengthen the testimony of the believer, and enough ambiguity to reassure the disbeliever that he was only connecting the dots.

Indeed, we find that with Biblical prophecies as well. And the Lord decided that is the way it should be -- those who are "willing to hear", etc.

Edited by cdowis

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The church places a lot of import on Joseph Smith’s supposed Civil War prophecy but rarely puts the timing of that pronouncement in its proper historical context….which if done would discount the pronouncement to a rational observation of an informed person rather than a prophecy of some future event.

Well, to be fair, I can't recall the last time I've heard this prophecy mentioned in a Church setting. In fact, when this section was mentioned in the "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith" priesthood manual, the focus was on the events prior to the second coming, not "Hey, look at this awesome bulls-eye Joseph got!"

They even note that in 1832, "events in the United States were leading towards civil war".

In September 1832, Joseph and Emma Smith and their sixteen-month-old daughter, Julia, moved from the Johnson farm in Hiram, Ohio, back to Kirtland. There they moved into the general store owned by Newel K. Whitney, where they would live for more than a year. The Smith family lived on the second floor of the store and part of the first floor that was not used for business. Joseph and Emma’s son, Joseph Smith III, was born while the family lived in this store. The Prophet also received many revelations there.

One such revelation came on Christmas Day in 1832. The Prophet spent part of this day at home, deep in contemplation about the serious problems facing the nations of the world at that time. “Appearances of troubles among the nations became more visible this season than they had previously been since the Church began her journey out of the wilderness,” the Prophet said.1 Events in the United States were leading toward civil war, and outbreaks of deadly diseases were widespread throughout the world. While “praying earnestly on the subject,”2 the Prophet received the revelation now found in section 87 of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Lord revealed to Joseph that before the Second Coming, war would be poured out upon all the nations and natural calamities would chasten the people:

“With the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations. … Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord” (D&C 87:6, 8).

Two days later, on December 27, the Prophet received another revelation that contained much information about the Second Coming. On that day, a conference of high priests had gathered in the Prophet’s “translating room,” the room in the Whitney store where Joseph did much of his work on the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. The minutes of the conference record: “Brother Joseph arose and said, to receive revelation and the blessings of heaven it was necessary to have our minds on God and exercise faith and become of one heart and of one mind. Therefore he recommended all present to pray separately and vocally to the Lord for [Him] to reveal His will unto us concerning the upbuilding of Zion and for the benefit of the Saints.”

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Well do you think he was an uneducated genius or just lucky?

More like a self-educated lucky genius. :)

Pundit’s, everyday make such predictions as these that “never” come to pass.

Pundits also make many predictions that do come to pass, and Joseph also made many that didn't. If you only look at the portion of the evidence that confirms your view, you're going to draw the wrong conclusions.

Edited by Chris Smith

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Are you troubled by the thought that God allows man to exercise free agency, including the death of millions of men, women and children?

Yes. Yes, I am. You certainly would never allow anyone to do such a thing if you had the power to restrain them, so why should we excuse the same criminal neglect from God?

Are you, Charles, troubled by the fact that when the Israelite warriors allowed the conquered Canaanites' women and children to live, God chastised them and commanded them to go finish the job?

Edited by Chris Smith

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Yes. Yes, I am. You certainly would never allow anyone to do such a thing if you had the power to restrain them, so why should we excuse the same criminal neglect from God?

Are you, Charles, troubled by the fact that when the Israelite warriors allowed the conquered Canaanites' women and children to live, God chastised them and commanded them to go finish the job?

How much “restraint” do you think God should employ? And on what activities?

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Well, to be fair, I can't recall the last time I've heard this prophecy mentioned in a Church setting. In fact, when this section was mentioned in the "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith" priesthood manual, the focus was on the events prior to the second coming, not "Hey, look at this awesome bulls-eye Joseph got!"

They even note that in 1832, "events in the United States were leading towards civil war".

Good point, had I not been involved in debate, I have heard so little of it in Church, I would not even think to bring the questions up. In fact the only time I have every heard it mention is in passing every four years when studying the D&C.

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Are you troubled by the thought that God allows man to exercise free agency, including the death of millions of men, women and children?

Not in the least. I understand the doctrine of agency and its role in the plan of salvation.

Is is possible that He allows natural events to happen, that the punishment is that blood thirsty, murderous people kill each other and he allow that to happen. The Lord protected the Nephites, but on occasion withdrew that protection.

No, that is not possible. Either God respects agency, or he meddles whenever he sees fit to punish or reward. It is my understanding that on earth, we use our agency (sometimes to the good of others, sometimes to their detriment) and when the days of our probation are over, we shall be judged accordingly.

You are refuting his point with a phoney argument that no one here this forum would subscribe to. But, of course, you already knew that.

The argument isn't phoney but rather fundamental to the plan of salvation. There, now you know it too ;-)

Edited by Ariarates

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How much “restraint” do you think God should employ? And on what activities?

Total restraint on all activities until the final judgment (maybe a little earlier if you've died a Mormon in good standing - 1,000 years max).

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Total restraint on all activities until the final judgment (maybe a little earlier if you've died a Mormon in good standing - 1,000 years max).

Could you expand on that?

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About a million people died in the US civil war, right? What a fine fellow, this god you believe in.

Same God Who ordered the destruction of the Canaanites, the Jaredites, the Nephites (twice), and the Israelites (twice before Christ, and once afterward). You may not like Him, but He's consistent.

Here's the beginnings of what I base my conviction on:

  • Utahns (the Saints) were essentially the only USmericans who were not drafted in the War Between the States.
  • Missouri (especially on the western border with Kansas) was particularly hard hit during the War of Northern Agression.
  • Missouri and Kansas had, for all intents and purposes, been fighting the War of the North v. the South for a decade before Ft. Sumter.
  • Illinois lost at least as many men in the war as any other state (per captia), and had the fourth highest number of soldiers in the war of all the northern states.

Furthermore, the unCivil War gave the Church and the Saints some breathing room to regroup after Mountain Meadows.

It also took away the US soldiers for a couple of years (they were off fighting for the north and, mostly, for the south—odd considering the reason they were there in the first place) and gave Utah federal money because the Nauvoo Legion was "hired" to protect the mail route to California.

Lehi

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