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Women and Authority – 17 |

In February 1844 stake patriarch John Smith told an LDS woman that she had a right to priesthood from her birth. “Thou art of the blood of Abraham thru the Loins of Manasseh & lawful heir to the Priesthood,” he said to Louisa C. Jackson. 

John Smith’s blessings to Maria Turnbow and Louisa Jackson clearly show that a Mormon woman receives the priesthood for herself through the endowment.

Uncle John Smith’s church standing and experience make it difficult to regard him as misinformed when he affirmed that there is a female birthright to priesthood. In fact after his ordination as patriarch to the church in 1849, John Smith also described the ancient dimension of this female birthright to priesthood. In his blessing to Caroline Cottam in March 1853, he referred to the “Priesthood which Abraham sealed upon his daughters.” He also blessed Elizabeth Bean in May 1853: “I seal upon you all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and all the priesthood that was sealed upon the daughters of Joseph in the land of Egypt …”

According to first counselor Heber C. Kimball in 1857, Jewish women continued to have priesthood in the early Christian era. “Was every woman qualified to raise that child [Jesus]?” Kimball asked. “No. You will find that Mary was of the Royal Priesthood, which is after the order of God …” 39 Like her ancestors among the Hebrew women of ancient Egypt, Mary of Nazareth also held the “Royal Priesthood” which is now called Melchizedek.

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