|"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."|
Take Sacrament with Right Hand?by Joseph Fielding Smith
Question: "We have been taught in the Church that we should partake of the sacrament with the right hand. Why is this necessary? In our discussions we do not seem to be able to find anything telling us why this is so. Why is it wrong to partake of the sacrament with the left hand?"
Answer: Questions of this nature are occasionally received. In one case we are informed that some brethren were advocating the partaking of the sacrament with either hand. Moreover, in one stake it was the custom to confirm and ordain persons by the officiators standing in a circle, raising their right hands, and placing their left hands on the heads of candidates to be blessed and ordained. Therefore, it is expedient that something be said about the use of the right hand in performing ordinations and partaking of the sacrament.
The performing of ordinances with the right hand in preference to the left is a well-established custom universally and is not confined to the Church. In various governments where oaths are administered, the candidate for office is asked to raise his right hand. There are occasions when he is sworn to give truthful testimony by placing his right hand on a copy of the Bible. This custom has come down from the beginning, and from many scriptural passages we gather that it has always received divine sanction. When Abraham sent his servant to his kindred to find a wife for Isaac, he had the servant place his right hand under Abraham's thigh and swear to him that he would accomplish this mission.(Genesis 24:2) There are other occasions of similar import. One of the earliest incidents recorded is the blessing Jacob gave his grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Manasseh was the elder, and as Joseph presented his sons to their grandfather, he presented Manasseh towards Jacob's right hand and Ephraim towards his left hand. The record states that Jacob "guiding his hands wittingly" placed his right hand on the head of Ephraim and his left hand on the head of Manasseh. Joseph protested, saying, "Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head." "I know it, my son, I know it:" said Jacob, "he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations."(Ibid., 48:13-19)
When the Egyptians were destroyed in the Red Sea, Israel sang: "Thy right hand, O Lord, is becoming glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. . ."; (Exodus 15:6) and when Israel entered the land of their inheritance, the Lord instructed Moses in offering sacrifice to take the blood of the ram, "and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about." With this ordinance and the sprinkling of the blood and anointing oil upon the altar, Aaron and his sons were "hallowed before the Lord." (See ibid., 29:20-21)
REVEALED FROM HEAVEN
The showing favor to the right hand or side is not something invented by man but was revealed from the heavens in the beginning. To Isaiah the Lord said:
In the Psalms we read:
The Lord, in speaking to his disciples, shortly before his death, said unto them:
(See Sacrament; Partaking of the Sacrament family home evening lesson; Basic Beliefs home page; Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page; Priesthood Organization home page; Priesthood Ordinances home page)
Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol.1, p.154-59
Copyright © 1992 by Deseret Book