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"Under their own vine and fig tree, with none to molest or make afraid."


David T

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There's a particular phrase I keep seeing popping up in usage in the Kirtland-era publications of the Church, and I became interested in where the phrase originated. The first I saw it came up was in the Evening and Morning Star, Volume 1, number 10, of March 1833. When, in the context of millennial rest, we see (probably from W. W. Phelps?):

EMS 1:10, March 1833

"There will be none to molest or make afraid then: for there will be peace on earth and good will to men."

Which is also referenced in the Hymn included in that issue:

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When all that was promis'd the saints will be given

And none will molest them from morn until even

I saw the similar turn of phrase while reading the Jospeph Smith Papers:

JS, Journal, 7 Jan 1836

"...where there will be none to molest nor make us afraid."

I did an internet search, and found the 'none to molest nor make afraid' was part of a longer phrase that was often associated and attached to groups who were persecuted, and desired to be able to gather in peace, those who would be able to meet, or worship "Under their own vine and fig tree, with none to molest or make afraid." ( this association can be seen in the title of this book, detailing the African American Church in the South) - i found that this comes, in part, from Micah 4:3-4,

"And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it."

Of interest to me is the common addition of 'Molest' in the phrase - a word which does not appear in the King James Bible. Some where along the way, there became a new popularization of this phrase: "none to molest or make afraid" and I'm wondering if anyone has any insight on this. Was it in a well-circulated speech by a politician?

So far, the earliest reference I have found through a Google search is in the American Masonick Record, Albany NY, May 30, 1829

"The enjoyment of equal rights anil privileges whether moral religious or political is supposed to he grafted into the condition of each and every individual whote lot is cast under a free republican government It is guaranteed o this people by the Federal Constitution of these United States it is that for which our fathers emigrated to these nee solitary shores for which the greatest privations were heerfully submitted to that their descendants to the latest ages might sit under their own vine and fig tree with none to molest or make afraid .But sad experience teaches he strongest guarantees are insufficient to protect "

Does anyone have any information on an earlier reference? I've just become very curious. I am not interested in discussing later uses of the phrase, only in finding the earliest.

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Has there been discussion here of that phrase as it is used in the temple? I have never understood it. It is interesting to see that the same phrase was used in a Masonic context in 1829.

We don't discuss the temple here. In the OP, I specifically stated, "I am not interested in discussing later uses of the phrase, only in finding the earliest."

I'd prefer for the thread not to get shut down.

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If no one answers here, you might try asking the FAIR elist (if you haven't already, I'm behind in my elist reading) as they have an impressive collection of experts and obsessives that have info on minutia such as this...or will go looking for it if they don't.

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If no one answers here, you might try asking the FAIR elist (if you haven't already, I'm behind in my elist reading) as they have an impressive collection of experts and obsessives that have info on minutia such as this...or will go looking for it if they don't.

Thanks. Although I'm not sure I'm familiar with the FAIR elist.

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Thanks. Although I'm not sure I'm familiar with the FAIR elist.

The FAIR list is an internal email list of volunteers. It's where questions sent to FAIR go, and where a lot of the wiki and other articles get hammered out and discussed.

As for the original topic, Matt Brown has done a lot of research on this and similar phrases, but I don't think it's published and he's often reluctant to share his data or conclusions before they're published.

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We don't discuss the temple here. In the OP, I specifically stated, "I am not interested in discussing later uses of the phrase, only in finding the earliest."

I'd prefer for the thread not to get shut down.

I am new to posting on the board and did not intend to go outside what you discuss here. Would you be able to direct me somewhere where questions about specific lines in the temple are addressed? I'm not sure where to go for that.

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I am new to posting on the board and did not intend to go outside what you discuss here. Would you be able to direct me somewhere where questions about specific lines in the temple are addressed? I'm not sure where to go for that.

Depends on whether you want to take the chance that someone has surreptitiously recorded and made transcripts of things held sacred by a whole lot of people and didn't also insert strategic changes for nefarious purposes. There are a lot of places like that on the internet.

The only place where discussion ought to occur is in the Temple.

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The FAIR list is an internal email list of volunteers. It's where questions sent to FAIR go, and where a lot of the wiki and other articles get hammered out and discussed.

As for the original topic, Matt Brown has done a lot of research on this and similar phrases, but I don't think it's published and he's often reluctant to share his data or conclusions before they're published.

I took your advice, and posted to the FAIR elist this morning, and very quickly recieved this response from Ben McGuire, for those interested in this question:

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You were asking about the notion of "none to molest or make afraid"
So far, the earliest reference I have found through a Google search is in the American Masonick Record, Albany NY, May 30, 1829
It is much older than this, and was certainly in widespread use by this point in time (although we see it most often in publications starting in the middle to end of the 1830s - in part due to a smaller number of publications earlier than that). In 1832, for example, I find published in the Princeton Review (October 1832) a collection of Sprague's lectures on revivals in which the phrase is used (in quotation marks). This was later republished in book format in 1833, but I couldn't immediately find a date for the lectures (which I believe were given at Andover some time between 1827 and 1831). (Sprague was a Presbyterian minister at Andover)In 1827, I find the phrase used in the introduction (also in quotation marks) to Richard Knight's _Six Principle Batpists, In Europe and America_. Kinght was a Baptist Pastor in Rhode Island, and he uses the fuller form:
"... where we may sit under our vines with delight, and worship the Father of mercies, and none to molest or make afraid, ..."
In 1824, I find the shorter version...
("... the humble christian has reason to fear being deprived of the liberty of worshipping agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, having none to molest or make afraid ...")
... in a small pamphlet titled _The Proceedings and Documents Relative to Certain Members Separating from the Church in Wilton (Church of Christ). The documents in question which are printed in this pamphlet were written in 1823. Although looking through that text didn't yield (on a quick reading) any familiar names.In 1823, I find the short version ("... and have none to molest or make afraid ...") in a book titled _Truth Espoused, Relative to the Difficulties that Existed in the Town of Manchester, Massachusetts between ...._ (it is, as some books were in those days, a summary in the title). It was published in 1823, but the reference to events occurring on June 17th in 1819.In 1822, I find it in quotations again in the Chruchman's Magazine.So I went much further back. (At this point, I am skipping numerous references in that time frame). I find references for it being used by Adam Smith (the references date to around 1870, but Adam Smith lived from 1723-1790). If I could verify this, it would move the context back from the colonies into European usage. But I haven't been able to track down the source.However, in a letter dated July 19th, 1791, George Washington to Catharine Macaulay Graham wrote:
"while you, in Europe, are troubled with war and rumors of war, every one here may sit under his own vine, and none to molest or make him afraid."
It seems he uses a variant of this phrase nearly a dozen times in his letters. So ...Probably this is not terribly helpful to you in your quest to find the originator of the phrase. It is certainly going to be found used in Europe dating back a good ways. And, by the 1830s it is found in texts dealing with religion and religious freedom, political texts, texts dealing with labor issues, and texts dealing with war and national freedom. So, it seems to be very widely used - but I am going to say right up that trying to find the earliest sources will be quite an undertaking.Ben M.
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