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Baptisms in the Deseret? Jews do not perform the rite of baptism, so why would they have to worry about it in the desert.
RS, from Rhode Island

Dear RS,
Where did you get the idea that Jews do not perform the rite of baptism? John the Baptist practiced the Jewish baptism to which the Savior applied for His baptism. The Jewish Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner, in an article on conservative Judaism, wrote the following—

“Full immersion in a natural pool of water that was not “piped” in but was rainwater or a spring-fed lake or pool is an ancient Jewish practice. It was used after any contact with death, after any form of pollution and after the menstrual cycle before sexual relations resume between husband and wife.

“It is still used today under various circumstances, and I for one have used this experience for spiritual purposes. It is very moving.

“Conversion to Judaism has probably used the “mikveh” or immersion for at least 1500 years in my estimation if not for the past 2500 years. It would make very good sense that John the Baptist would have turned to immersion for religious purposes of spiritual connection.

“While we know very little about conversion under the time of Moses, by the time of the Second Temple we know that people were converting to Judaism via circumcision, acceptance of the Jewish way of life and probably immersion.”

The temple of Solomon included a baptismal font, as described in 1 Kings 7:23-26—

And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast. It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward. And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths.

The first person to be baptized was the first person, Adam. Recorded in the Book of Moses 6:52, we read the following—

If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you.

The Nephite people, although not of the house of Judah, were nevertheless of the house of Israel, and brought with them from the Old World in 600 BC the religious practices of the time, including that practice of baptism, which was used extensively for the thousand year period covered by the Book of Mormon.

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