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1 Nephi Chapter 20

Scripture Mastery

1 Nephi 20-21 Isaiah 48-49

Chapters 20 through 22 are concerned with the scattering and gathering of Israel. Chapters 20 and 21 are Nephi's quotation of Isaiah chapters 48 and 49, taken from the brass plates of Laban. Before beginning a verse by verse commentary on these chapters, let us review the concepts of scattering and gathering and the essential historical events of the scatterings and gatherings of Israel in the past and in the future.

Gathering. What is the purpose of gathering, and why would our Father in heaven wish to gather his people? Perhaps we can best understand his divine yearning by examining an analogous situation here in mortality. One of the compelling instincts earthly mothers possess is the need to gather their children about them. Mothers are happiest when their sons and daughters are gathered close. Then she can reassure herself that they are safe. She can nurture and teach them personally. She can see to it that their needs are fulfilled. Through observing this powerful maternal drive, we may come to understand something of the desire the Father has to gather his children about him. It is clear that the Father's desire is shared equally by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On one occasion during his mortal ministry, the Savior looked over Jerusalem and wistfully pined: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37). Perhaps a practical and highly significant reason for the physical gathering is to allow the saints to have access to the blessings of the temples and the covenants entered into in the temples. Joseph Smith taught that the main object of gathering the people of God in any age to certain places is "to build unto the Lord a house whereby he could reveal unto his people the ordinances of his house and the glories of his kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation" (TPJS, 307-08). The ultimate gathering will take place in the celestial kingdom where the Father will welcome his children with arms outstretched. There he can rejoice in their safe arrival, and nurture and instruct them for eternity.

Before this great and final gathering, it is clear that he would have us gather together here on earth for our mutual safety and protection from the evils of the world. The Lord would have his people separate themselves from the sins of the world (spiritual Babylon) and gather to their own safe "promised land" or "Zion," that they might together learn the ways of God in a secure refuge and serve him more fully.

The term "Israel" refers to his chosen people. And who are they? The faithful ancient patriarch Abraham committed himself unwaveringly to the service of the Lord and was blessed to be able to enter into a grand covenant with him. This covenant was to be passed on to his seed through the patriarchal line, contingent upon the continued righteousness of that posterity. In making this covenant, the Lord promised Abraham: (1) a promised land; (2) a vast posterity both in this world and in the eternal worlds; (3) the priesthood and the gospel; and (4) that his posterity would bless all families of the earth, both in and out of the house of Israel, by taking the gospel message to them. For a more thorough summary of the Abrahamic covenant, see the commentary for 1 Nephi 14:8.

Contingent upon continued faithfulness and obedience, the right to share in the Abrahamic covenant was passed along through the patriarchal lineage to Isaac, to Jacob (Israel), to Jacob's twelve sons, and to their posterity, the "house" of Israel. Abraham's seed, the house of Israel, are indeed a chosen people. In being called chosen, however, they are not necessarily blessed with more favorable circumstances or an easier road to exaltation, and they are not loved more by God. Rather, they are chosen or called to serve in much the same way that each of us today may be called to service in the Church. See further discussion on the scriptural word chosen in the commentary for 1 Nephi 1:19-20.

Why are some born into the covenant line, while others are not? Are those born into the house of Israel somehow better than the others? It is clear that those who were most valiant and who made more progress in the first estate are privileged to be born into the house of Israel here in mortality. Rather than being easier for them to earn their exaltation, it will likely be even more difficult because "of him unto whom much is given much is required" (D&C 82:3). Yet it is logical to suppose that these chosen people have the potential to progress faster and farther than those who were less valiant in the pre-existence. This potential may be realized if they continue to be valiant in righteousness and obedience. Here on earth, the categorization of a people as "chosen" or "Israel" is quite another matter. Those born into the covenant line must maintain and progress in their allegiance to the gospel, or they will lose their place. Those not born into the house of Israel can win a position there by accepting and persisting in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, there is a saying: Whether or not you are in the house of Israel here on earth depends on your heart, not your genes.

There are practical fundamental reasons why gathering or its opposite, scattering, occur here on earth. The only circumstances under which the Lord will assist in his peoples' gathering are true repentance and conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 43:1-7; Jeremiah 3:12-23; Jeremiah 16:11-21; 1 Nephi 10:14; 2 Nephi 9:2; 2 Nephi 10:6-7; 3 Nephi 20:29-33).

Scattering. The dispersion or scattering of a people occur when they apostatize from the truth (Deuteronomy 28:15; Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 28:64; Jeremiah 16:11-13; 2 Nephi 6:9-11; 10:5-6; Helaman 7:19). Moses prophesied what would happen if the Israelites rebelled against God: "The Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you" (Deuteronomy 4:27). "The Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other" (Deuteronomy 28:64).

On occasion there may be other reasons for a people to be scattered. For example, the Lord might lead a group of people away from the main body of Israel intending to raise up a righteous branch and preserve them from the sins of the rest of Israel. By this means is the blood of Abraham preserved and spread throughout the world. Lehi's group was just such an example.

It is also important to acknowledge that a people, as a whole body, may be gathered, but the most important gathering to the blessings of the gospel is the "gathering" of each individual. Each person must accept Christ and his gospel and become, in his own right, one of the Savior's chosen and covenant people, indeed a member of the house of Israel.

Historical gatherings and scatterings. Let us now summarize the historical gatherings and scatterings that befell and will befall the house of Israel. After the Israelites (the descendants of father Jacob) had lived captive in Egypt for some 215 years or "four generations," the Lord raised up Moses and commanded him to lead them to their promised land in about 1260 BC. Before the children of Israel were allowed to take possession of Palestine, the Lord warned them through Moses that if they failed to keep his commandments, they would be driven from their land and scattered among other nations. Their entry into Palestine in 1220 BC was the first gathering of Israel to their promised land though some might argue that this gathering might not have been wholly merited by the repentance and righteousness of the Israelites. In Palestine they lived through the 200-year period of the rule of judges and through the reigns of the great Israelite kings Saul, David, and Solomon.

In about 931 BC King Solomon died, and the scattering began as civil war divided the whole of Israel into the Kingdom of Israel in the north, with its center in Samaria, and the Kingdom of Judah in the south, with its center at Jerusalem. The northern kingdom consisted of ten tribes and was initially led by the rebel military leader Jeroboam. The dominant tribe of the northern kingdom (actually a sub-tribe) was comprised of the descendants of ancient Joseph's son Ephraim. Thus these northern ten tribes are often referred to as simply "Ephraim." The southern two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) were led originally by Solomon's son, Rehoboam. We may refer to the southern kingdom as simply "Judah."

All Israel, both in the north and in the south, did apostatize, and the stage was set for a major scattering of all Israel.

Between 732 and 722 BC, the Assyrian army crushed the northern Kingdom of Israel and took captive 27,290 of its educated aristocracy and anyone with any leadership ability. These were carried away-back to Assyria. Their fate from that point on is historically undocumented. Were they subsequently simply dispersed among the many nations, or did some of them remain together in a body? While it is clear that many were scattered and dispersed in several countries, there is a possibility that some of them remained together in a group. This possibility finds some support in scripture (see Jeremiah 3:12; D&C 110:11; 133:26-34) and in apocryphal literature (book of Esdras) which suggests they traveled into the "north country." We know also that the resurrected Christ went forth to minister among them after his visit to the Nephites (3 Nephi 15:15; 3 Nephi 16:1-3). Did he visit scattered remnants, perhaps, by then, combined with other peoples? Or, did he visit a group of Israelites descended from the ten tribes who had remained together in a group? We obviously do not know.

The southern kingdom existed precariously until 587 BC when the Babylonians conquered Judah and partially destroyed the city of Jerusalem. The Jews were carried off to exile in Babylon. In the Book of Mormon, the term "Jew" has a specific meaning. It refers to the inhabitants of Judah at the time Lehi left Jerusalem and their descendants, regardless of whether they descended from the tribe of Judah or from some other tribe. Once in Babylon, instead of being absorbed into Babylonian society, the Jews preserved their religion, their culture, and their sense of national identity by excluding Babylonian influence whenever possible.

In 539 BC the Babylonian empire was conquered by Cyrus, King of Persia. Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to their ancestral homes. Many did return and sought to reestablish themselves on the scale of their former power. However, many others had already left Babylon for other locations. By the time of Jesus, probably two-thirds of all Jews lived outside the Holy Land, with Jewish communities scattered throughout the Mediterranean region and the Near East, where many persisted into the twentieth century AD. The Jews never were again a truly independent people. This gathering of the Jews in 539 BC, however, does qualify as the second great gathering.

Some have suggested that the time of Christ's mortal ministry was a significant period of gathering of Israel. After all, the keys of gathering were restored to the earth by Moses on the Mount of transfiguration at that time. Certainly the Lord did "set his hand" to gather Israel at that time. It turned out to be, however, a gathering that did not quite succeed.

The culmination of the scattering of Israel occurred in AD 70 after the Savior's ministry. Some four years previously the Jews had revolted against ruthless Roman leadership. Rome retaliated in force, and in August of AD 70, Jerusalem fell. Hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants were slaughtered or died from the famine incident to the siege, and thousands more were sent to the arena as victims for Roman entertainment, sold into slavery, or forced into exile. The Jerusalem temple was burned to the ground, and Jerusalem itself was leveled. The scattering of Israel was thus complete. From that time forth, the Jews became wanderers, a people without a country, a nation without a home. Many settled in Europe, as well as the Mediterranean and Near East as already mentioned.

The great and final gathering of the Jews, and indeed all Israel from the four corners of the earth, will occur in the final dispensation as predicted by many prophecies.

Two components of gathering. Gathering has two components-spiritual and temporal. The spiritual gathering occurs when a people accept Christ and join his church. The temporal gathering consists in moving to that location where the saints have gathered (2 Nephi 9:2). The sequence of gathering generally is first to Christ and his church, and then to specific locations. President Spencer W. Kimball explained the spiritual gathering and suggested that temporal gathering was not, in all cases, essential: "The gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church and their coming to a knowledge of the true God. . . . Any person, therefore, who has accepted the restored gospel, and who now seeks to worship the Lord in his own tongue and with the saints in the nations where he lives, has complied with the law of the gathering of Israel and is heir to all of the blessings promised the saints in these last days" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, 439).

The temporal gathering in this final dispensation is to occur in two separate places:

1. The "lost" ten tribes will gather to the New Jerusalem or "Zion" on the North American continent. Some of these may return in a group. Obviously others of the ten lost tribes are dispersed throughout the nations of the world. Who are they? Where are they? Most who have joined the Church in this last dispensation are told in their patriarchal blessings that they are of the "loins of Ephraim." They are the scattered remnants of the ten lost tribes. The "center pole" of the "tent" under which Israel will be gathered is to be located in Jackson County, Missouri. The several "stakes" of this tent will be located all over the earth.

2. The tribe of Judah will gather to its own land of promise-to Jerusalem and Palestine, also called "Zion." The land of Israel has been dedicated for this purpose in this dispensation on more than one occasion.

A question to consider: Do you see the current gathering of the Jews in the land of Israel a manifestation of the prophesied "gathering" of the tribe of Judah in Jerusalem in the latter days? Certainly it is not the spiritual gathering that will occur. The gospel is not playing a part in the current Zionist movement in Palestine. That movement and gathering is more of a political affair. Who can doubt, however, that the Spirit of the Lord is beginning to move upon the tribe of Judah as we see unfolding a preliminary phase of the temporal latter-day gathering of Judah.

To initiate the gathering of the house of Israel in the latter days, the Lord will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles-the United States of America. A special servant will be selected from these "Gentiles," and through him the gospel will be restored. Who is this servant? He is the president of the High Priesthood of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. How did he receive these keys? They have been passed on directly by the laying on of hands since the time of Joseph Smith, Jr. Joseph received them from Moses in the Kirtland temple on April 3, 1836. Missionaries will go out from this great Gentile nation to Israel-to the Lamanites, to the Jews, and to Israelites in all the world. Thus, this nation will become an ensign to the world and to all Israel. These missionaries may be referred to in scripture as "Gentiles" even though many of them are, by descent, of the house of Israel. They are "Gentiles" by virtue of the fact that culturally they belong to the "mighty nation among the Gentiles." Also the Book of Mormon is wont to refer to any non-Jew as a "Gentile." Through this missionary work, the Lord will bring the Israelites out of "captivity" or "out of obscurity and out of darkness" to the lands of their inheritance-to Jerusalem or to the New Jerusalem. Zion will thus be established. All who fight against Zion-the "great and abominable church" or the "whore of all the earth"-will be destroyed.

Is there a difference between being "gathered" and being "redeemed" or "restored"? Not only will Israel be gathered geographically from their dispersed state throughout the world, but also the gospel will be "declared among them," and they will be redeemed or "restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers."

It is clear from the scriptures that at least part of the gathering will occur after the return of Christ to the earth and after the beginning of the Millennium (1 Nephi 22:15; 1 Nephi 22:24-25; 3 Nephi 21:24-26). Just prior to Christ's advent and the Millennium, the wicked (telestials) will be burned as stubble, for God will not suffer that the wicked will destroy the righteous. The (terrestrial and celestial) righteous will be preserved and need not fear. During the Millennium, the Holy One of Israel will rule in might, power, and glory, and because of the righteousness of the people, Satan will have no power. These factors will facilitate the gathering and restoration of the house of Israel which will continue throughout the Millennium.

The final gathering to occur in this last dispensation, prior to the Millennium, will be done under difficult circumstances. We are taught in prophetic scripture that a veil of darkness shall cover the earth before the second coming (Moses 7:61; D&C 112:23). This veil, likely one of spiritual darkness, shall only be removed at the time or just before the Lord's second coming (D&C 38:7). Perhaps this veil of darkness is now in place and has not yet been removed. Those of us involved in the final gathering of Israel will labor under the handicap of the spiritual unresponsiveness caused by this veil.

We may then summarize the main periods of Israel's gathering and scattering:

The scatterings occurred in 931 BC when civil war divided the whole of Israel into two kingdoms, between 732 and 722 BC when Assyria captured the northern kingdom, in 586 BC when Babylon seized control of Judah, and finally in AD 70 when Rome ransacked and destroyed Jerusalem.

The first of the gatherings occurred in 1220 BC when the Lord allowed Joshua to lead the Israelites into Palestine. Following the Babylonian captivity (587-539 BC), the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland. The great and final gathering is now occurring in this final dispensation when Israel will be temporally and spiritually restored-Ephraim and the rest of the lost ten tribes to the New Jerusalem in the western hemisphere and the tribe of Judah to Old Jerusalem.

The means by which this great final gathering will be accomplished will include the restoration of the gospel and the translation and distribution of the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 29:1; Ether 4:17). This great work will be initiated by the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. (2 Nephi 3:7; 2 Nephi 3:11-12; 2 Nephi 3:14-15; 3 Nephi 21:9-11) and will be continued by each President of the High Priesthood in this final dispensation. Under their direction, an army of valiant missionaries will spread over the earth to proclaim the restored gospel and bring scattered Israel back to the fold.

The Scatterings and Gatherings of Israel




1220 BC Joshua leads Israelites into Palestine

931 BC Civil war divides Israelites into northern kingdom of Israel and southern kingdom of Judah.


732-722 BC Assyria captures and carries away many people of northern kingdom of Israel (ten tribes).


596 BC Lehites "scattered" from Jerusalem and gathered to New World


586 BC Babylon captures southern kingdom of Judah



539 BC Cyrus of Persia defeats Babylon and allows Judah to return to their homeland.


AD 30 Christ's mortal ministry and establishment of his Church in the Old World

AD 70 Rome destroys Jerusalem and scatters the Jews.


AD 300 Apostasy from Christ's Church in Old World is complete.


AD 385 Lamanites destroyed and scatter the Nephites-Lamanites also scattered.


AD 1522 Spanish under Cortez further scatter some of the remnants of Book of Mormon people.



AD 1830 Church restored, onset of final gathering of Israel


AD 1900 Early American settlers further scatter remnants of Book of Mormon people.



AD ?? Gathering of Jews to Palestine-after Christ's second coming

Why all this emphasis on the house of Israel anyway? Not everyone is born into the house of Israel. Why is it so important? In the Lord's plan there is no exaltation outside of the house of Israel. An individual can be reconciled to God only by being received into the house of Israel either by birth or by adoption. The Savior himself is Israel's king.

Since this is a Book of Mormon commentary, it seems appropriate also to summarize the scatterings and gatherings of that branch of the tribe of Joseph led by father Lehi. They were "scattered" as they left Jerusalem some time between 597 and 587 BC. Shortly thereafter they were "gathered" to their promised land in the western hemisphere. After about ten years Nephi and those who continued to adhere to his teachings were "scattered"-that is forced to leave the land of their first inheritance on the western hemisphere, and they moved to the land of Nephi. And there they were gathered. After nearly four centuries of apostasy, in about 210 BC another major scattering occurred when Mosiah led many of the believers north to the land of Zarahemla where they were gathered. Another significant gathering occurred following the Savior's appearance to the people in the land Bountiful. There was a significant general repentance among the people, and they lived together in relative peace during the period referred to as the Nephite "Mini-Millennium." In AD 385 another scattering occurred when the Lamanites defeated and decimated the Nephites. Some centuries later another great scattering would occur at the hands of Spanish invaders in AD 1522. The opportunity for gathering of the remnants of the Book of Mormon peoples will occur in this final dispensation along with the rest of the tribes of Israel.

This chapter, 1 Nephi 20, contains the first major segment of Isaiah's writings. Without help these writings are difficult to understand. Most church members, as they read along in the Book of Mormon, might be inclined to skip over this chapter and several subsequent chapters which are taken from the book of Isaiah. Or, they read the words, but little meaning or substance is perceived. This is an unfortunate tendency found in most of us. There follows a verse by verse interpretation of the vital writings of this great prophet, Isaiah. It is hoped that this commentary will enable the reader to truly understand these precious writings.

Acknowledgment is given to the following books and authors whose materials have been used in preparing this interpretive guide: (1) Isaiah, Prophet, Seer, and Poet, Victor L. Ludlow, (Deseret Book Company, 1982); (2) Isaiah Speaks to Modern Times, W. Cleon Skousen, (Ensign Publishing Company, 1984); (3) Great Are the Words of Isaiah, Monte S. Nyman, (Bookcraft, 1980); (4) The Voice of Israel's Prophets, Sidney B. Sperry, (Deseret Book, 1952) chapters 7 through 10; (5) The Book of Isaiah, a New Translation with Interpretive Keys from the Book of Mormon, Avraham Gileadi, (Deseret Book, 1988); and (6) Understanding Isaiah, Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry, and Tina M. Peterson, (Deseret Book, 1998).

Before beginning a study of some of Isaiah's writings, it is vital to prepare oneself. Please read and reread the two supplemental articles, Introduction to the Book of Isaiah, and Historical Setting for the Book of Isaiah. Once armed with this material, we are prepared to begin to study the text itself.

There is, even to the casual observer, a striking similarity between wording in the book of Isaiah in the King James version of the Bible and Joseph Smith's translation of the Isaiah materials which he obtained from the brass plates and recorded in the Book of Mormon. Why is this so? If Joseph had translated these passages from an ancient text, wouldn't we expect the wording to be different? Opinions as to the answer to these questions vary among knowledgeable scholars.

Daniel H. Ludlow attempted to explain the similarities between the Book of Mormon Isaiah passages and the KJV Isaiah as follows: "When Joseph Smith translated the Isaiah references from the small plates of Nephi, he evidently opened his King James version of the Bible and compared the impression he had received in translating with the words of the King James scholars. If his translation was essentially the same as that of the King James version, he apparently quoted the verse from the Bible; then his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, copied it down. However, if Joseph Smith's translation did not agree precisely with that of the King James scholars, he would dictate his own translation to the scribe" (A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, 141-42). Sidney B. Sperry added: "The text of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon is not word for word the same as that of the King James version. Of 433 verses of Isaiah in the Nephite record, Joseph Smith modified about 233. Some of the changes made were slight, others were radical. However, 199 verses are word for word the same as the old English version. We therefore freely admit that Joseph Smith may have used the King James version when he came to the text of Isaiah in the gold plates. As long as the familiar version agreed substantially with the text on the gold plates [taken from the brass plates], he let it pass; when it differed too radically he translated the Nephite version and dictated the necessary changes" (Answers to Book of Mormon Questions. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980.)

It should be noted that the opinions of Drs. Ludlow and Sperry are not based on any witness's account or on Joseph's account of the translation process, for there exists no written account that describes the use of the King James Bible by Joseph during the translation process. Other Book of Mormon scholars find no historical evidence to substantiate the idea that Joseph actually used the King James version in the process of translating the Book of Mormon (Royal Skousen, "Translating the Book of Mormon, Evidence from the Original Manuscript" in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited, The Evidence for Ancient Origins, 61-93 and personal communication with Dr. Skousen).

Addressing himself to the question of the similarity of the wording of the Isaiah passages in the Book of Mormon to the wording of the King James Version of the Bible, Hugh Nibley said simply, "When 'holy men of God' quote the scriptures it is always in the received standard version of the people they are addressing." Brother Nibley then went on to explain, "When Jesus and the apostles and, for that matter, the angel Gabriel quote the scriptures in the New Testament, do they recite from some mysterious Urtext? Do they quote the prophets of old in the ultimate original? Do they give their own inspired translations? No, they do not. They quote the Septuagint, a Greek version of the Old Testament prepared in the third century BC. Why so? Because that happened to be the received standard version of the Bible accepted by the readers of the Greek New Testament" (The Prophetic Book of Mormon. Volume 8 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, 215).

It should be noted that the brass plates version of Isaiah predates the earliest extant version of Isaiah, the Dead Sea Scrolls document called the Great Isaiah Scroll, by about 450 years and the Masoretic Text by about 1,500 years. This latter text is what we call the Hebrew Bible, whence came the KJV Old Testament. So the writings of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon become the earliest text of Isaiah available to the world today.

1 Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear not in truth nor in righteousness.

verse 1 The Lord is speaking and addressing the house of Israel-"Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob." Phrases similar to this are found elsewhere in the writings of Isaiah. These phrases introduce divine proclamations that are revealed through prophets. To hearken is to listen; to lend the ear; to attend to what is uttered with eagerness; to give heed; to observe or obey; to comply. Through Isaiah the Lord is rebuking those in Israel who call themselves Israelites because of their lineage but do not keep the covenants and commandments that covenant Israel ought to maintain. While the rebuke is directed particularly at those descended from the tribe of Judah ("are come forth out of the waters of Judah"), it likely has broader application to all of those of the house of Israel.

It is common in all of Isaiah's writings for him to refer simultaneously to his own day and to us in the latter days. We must be always sensitive to the possibility of this dual meaning. Also, his allusions may be literal or figurative. This chapter, for example, speaks also to people of our day, especially members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord addresses those who have come up out of the waters of baptism-those who have joined themselves to the covenant but who are not true to their covenants. They are stubborn and slow to respond to the counsel of the Lord.

"out of the waters of baptism" This phrase is not contained in the corresponding verse in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 48:1). It also was not found in the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. Rather, it was first found in the 1840 edition. Thus, we would not expect to find it in the book of Isaiah on the brass plates. The phrase seems to be simply a commentary by Joseph Smith, placed here to define the phrase, "out of the waters of Judah." A phrase on the title page of the 1840 edition reads, "Third Edition, Carefully Revised by the Translator."

For a discussion of the term Israel, as used in the Book of Mormon, see the commentary for 1 Nephi 5:9.

"they swear not in truth nor in righteousness" These church members make oaths and covenants in the Lord's name, but they do so hypocritically rather than in diligent righteousness.

2 Nevertheless, they call themselves of the holy city, but they do not stay themselves upon the God of Israel, who is the Lord of Hosts; yea, the Lord of Hosts is his name.

verse 2 The "holy city" is Jerusalem. These hypocritical baptized Israelites may call themselves Jews or claim to be descended from Judah or Jerusalem. They claim to be holy like their God (Leviticus 19:2) -they "call themselves of the holy city." They regard themselves as part of the Lord's people-part of the Church, or part of Zion-but they do not "stay themselves." That is, they do not lean upon or put their trust in God for spiritual guidance. The concept is implied that there are no holy places or cities unless holy people inhabit them.

It is notable that the KJV renders this verse, " . . . they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel." Thus the Book of Mormon version makes a substantial change in meaning.

"Lord of Hosts" This title, which may be translated as Lord of Armies, is the same as the title "Lord of Sabaoth" found in D&C 88:2. Sabaoth means "hosts" and should not be confused with Sabbath. Jehovah is the "captain" (2 Chronicles 13:12), "leader" (Isaiah 55:4), and "man of war" (Exodus 15:3) who will lead the armies of the righteous against the armies of evil.

The Lord's hosts or armies consist of: (1) ancient Israel, which was called "the armies of the living God" (1 Samuel 17:26; 1 Samuel 17:36); (2) the hosts of heaven, also called armies (Daniel 4:35; Revelation 19:14; D&C 88:112); and (3) the latter-day Church, described as being "terrible as an army with banners" (D&C 5:14). The latter-day Church is also described in scripture as "the army of Israel" (D&C 105:26, 30-31; 109:73).

As the Lord's army, we are equipped with the "whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11-17; D&C 27:15-18), spiritual armor designed to assist us to use light and truth in the battle against the forces of evil.

verses 3-8 In these verses the Lord reviews his earlier actions with Israel. He also emphasizes his own omniscience and his ability to prophesy of things in the future.

3 Behold, I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them. I did show them suddenly.

verse 3 His meaning is, "Long ago I foretold, through my prophets, things that would happen, and they came to pass suddenly." Specifically, he foretold the miraculous deliverance of Israel under the leadership of Moses (see Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 43:9; Isaiah 46:9).

Some have made much of the word show in the phrase "I did show them suddenly." This word in not found in the KJV. They would suggest that this phrase clarifies the point that the Lord suddenly revealed rather than suddenly orchestrated the prophesied events.

4 And I did it because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;

verse 4 Isaiah's meaning here is: "I showed you these things as a sign because I know how stubborn you are." Note Isaiah's colorful metaphors used in describing an obstinate, stubborn, and proud people: "thy neck is an iron sinew" and "thy brow is brass." Those with stiff necks will not bow before the Lord (Deuteronomy 9:6; Deuteronomy 9:31:27). Those with brass brows will not give their minds or thoughts to the Lord (Ezekiel 3:9).

The Lord knew that many ancient Israelites as well as many members of the Church in this dispensation would be stubborn, unyielding, and hard hearted (Ezekiel 3:7-9).

5 And I have even from the beginning declared to thee; before it came to pass I showed them thee; and I showed them for fear lest thou shouldst say-mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image hath commanded them.

verse 5 Isaiah's meaning is: "I told you about these things long before they happened, so that when they did happen you wouldn't give your false gods credit." This verse gives an interesting insight into reasons the Lord reveals knowledge of future events to his people. He doesn't always do so simply to enlighten them. Apparently at times his goal is to provide an undisputable witness of his own prophets' divine connections. Also he does so to provide a witness against those who reject his prophecies.

A "graven" image is a carved idol. A "molten" image is an idol made of metal.

6 Thou hast seen and heard all this; and will ye not declare them? And that I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.

verse 6 The Lord is still speaking and addressing the house of Israel.

"Thou hast seen and heard all this; and will ye not declare them?" In effect the Lord says, "You have heard and seen all my prophecies and teachings. Now, shouldn't you acknowledge them and bear testimony of them?" The KJV has this phrase as, "Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it?" The wording here in the Book of Mormon is thought to show more clearly that the house Israel has a clear knowledge of the Lord's prophecies and teachings and also has an obligation to testify of them.

Isaiah then says: "Now I will announce to you new things-well guarded secrets you do not already know." This might have referred in Isaiah's day to the prophecy concerning Israel's deliverance from Babylon through Cyrus (Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 43:9) or anything given by the Lord, who is a God of continuing revelation.

7 They are created now, and not from the beginning, even before the day when thou heardest them not they were declared unto thee, lest thou shouldst say-Behold I knew them.

verse 7 They are new things, not old things. Before today you have not heard them, in fact no one has heard them. You cannot say, "I know them already."

8 Yea, and thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time thine ear was not opened; for I knew that thou wouldst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.

verse 8 The Lord says, "Unfortunately you have never heard, you have never known; your spiritual ears have been closed from the beginning."

To deal "treacherously" is to deal unfaithfully, deceitfully, or in a dishonest manner.

"a transgressor from the womb" A "transgressor" is an apostate or rebel. Israel had been a rebellious nation from the moment of her mortal inception. Perhaps some of the Lord's chosen people had evidenced rebellious behaviors even in the premortal life-even after they had earned the right to be called Israel.

Again, keep in mind a possible latter-day application of these words. They may describe church members who are sinners from their very mortal (or premortal) inception.

verses 9-13a Here the Lord states what he is going to do. In verses 9-11 he emphasizes his love for his covenant people.

9 Nevertheless, for my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain from thee, that I cut thee not off.

verses 9, 11 Jehovah had placed his name and the promise of his blessings and power upon Israel. They were his elect-his chosen people. He was not about to allow his name to be forgotten, ignored, or profaned. He had covenanted with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to raise up a mighty nation from their seed (Exodus 32:11-14). He will hold back or put off his anger against and judgment of Israel.

"for my praise will I refrain from thee" That my name might be known, I will delay my judgment of thee.

"I cut thee not off" He first promises that he will not destroy ancient Israel or destroy those rebellious latter-day church members.

10 For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

verse 10 Just as gold is smelted in the fire to remove impurities, so God tries his covenant people with fire to remove their impurities. Both in the past and in the future, ancient Israel and the latter-day Church have been placed in bondage where they will experience the purifying heat of trial. There they will be "refined" or pay the penalty for her sins and be purged or made pure. The initial furnace of affliction for Israel was her servitude in Egypt (Deuteronomy 4:20, 1 Kings 8:51). In all dispensations the saints are to be refined and made pure through affliction, as metal is refined in the fiery furnace.

For a discussion of the interesting scriptural word chosen, see the commentary for 1 Nephi 1:19-20. See also the discussion of the concepts of covenants and a covenant people in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 2, chapter 3, Covenants and Covenant Making.

11 For mine own sake, yea, for mine own sake will I do this, for I will not suffer my name to be polluted, and I will not give my glory unto another.

verse 11 "for I will not suffer my name to be polluted" Everything redemptive is accomplished in the name of Christ, who mediates all transactions between God and man. To use his name for anything other than a righteous and redemptive purpose is to use his name in vain-to pollute his name (see the commentary for verse 9). To be "polluted" is to be defiled or stained. The wording of this verse here in the Book of Mormon is clearer than the KJV which says, ". . . for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? . . ." This book of Mormon verse makes it clear why the Lord intervenes. He is anxious to redeem the family of man in his name. He loathes to damn them.

"I will not give my glory unto another" Even though his covenant people, those who have taken upon themselves his name, have been rebellious, the Lord expresses hope that they will be refined through affliction. He also hopes they will not bring dishonor to his name and that they will continue to qualify to receive his glory.

verses 12-21 In these verses, the Lord emphasizes his omnipotence.

12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called, for I am he; I am the first, and I am also the last.

verse 12 The Lord addresses his "called"-those selected in the premortal existence to be among those of Israel. "Listen to me, O Israel, for I am Jehovah." The "first, and . . . last" contains the idea that he is the eternal God.

"O Jacob and Israel" The Lord addresses the house of Israel by both their natural name ("Jacob") and their covenant name ("Israel").

"my called" Both Israel in general and members of his Church specifically are selected or called to be the ministers of salvation to all other peoples of the earth (Abraham 2:9-11; Deuteronomy 32:7-9). To be "called" does not mean to be singled out for special privileges. Rather, it means to be selected for a special assignment. For further discussion of the scriptural words called and chosen, see the commentary for 1 Nephi 1:19-20.

13 Mine hand hath also laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens. I call unto them and they stand up together.

verse 13 "Mine hand hath also laid the foundation of the earth" I have created the earth and the heavens.

"my right hand hath spanned the heavens" The right hand is the hand of authority. My influence has stretched across or spread over the whole of the universe.

"I call unto them and they stand up together." When I call to all the inhabitants of the universe and to the elements of the entire universe, they respond.

14 All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; who among them hath declared these things unto them? The Lord hath loved him; yea, and he will fulfil his word which he hath declared by them; and he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall come upon the Chaldeans.

15 Also, saith the Lord; I the Lord, yea, I have spoken; yea, I have called him to declare, I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.

verses 14-15 Isaiah is now the speaker. He announces in these two verses that the Lord Jehovah will send forth a servant to do many wonderful things. Note how, in verse 14, Isaiah abruptly begins to speak of this servant.

"All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear" Isaiah seems to intend, "Now, all of you, sit still and listen to me. I'm about to say something particularly important."

"who among them hath declared these things unto them?" Before Isaiah describes what wonderful things this servant will do, he seems to be providing a clue as to the identity of this servant. He seems to indicate that this servant is the mortal Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah asks, "who among them hath declared these things unto them?" The "them" seems to refer to all of the universe's inhabitants and elements mentioned in the previous verse. "Just who is it that has spoken to all these and caused them to obey ("stand up together")?" Isaiah leaves the question unanswered, but the implication is that it was Jehovah himself, and that he is the servant who will work marvelous works in heaven and eventually come to earth and complete his calling as a servant.

It is interesting to note that in one phrase in verse 14 Isaiah refers to Jesus both in the first person and in the third person: "The Lord hath loved him." That is, the Lord Jehovah hath loved the servant who is Jesus Christ or Jehovah.

This marvelous servant will (1) foretell the future ("declared these things unto them" and "I have called him to declare"); (2) fulfill the Lord's word as spoken through his prophets ("fulfil his word which he hath declared by them"); (3) wield power over Babylon ("he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall come upon the Chaldeans"). In a literal sense this servant will conquer Babylon. Symbolically, Babylon refers to sinfulness or worldliness. Chaldea was an area in southern Babylon and is simply another term used here to designate Babylon; (4) and ultimately succeed in his mission ("make his way prosperous").

These verses provide evidence that the Lord will not forget his chosen people. After their cleansing in the "furnace of affliction" (verse 10), he will send his servant (He will send himself) to rescue them from their scattered state.

On another level, some have wanted to interpret these verses alternatively and have suggested that the servant is Cyrus, the king of Persia who defeated the Babylonian empire in 539 BC. Cyrus is referred to by name in Isaiah and designated a "shepherd" and even the "anointed one" (Hebrew "messiah;" Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1). Cyrus can certainly be regarded as a type of the servant or servants called by the Lord to deliver Israel from spiritual Babylon.

"and he will fulfil his word which he hath declared by them" This phrase is not found in the corresponding verse in the KJV Isaiah. It is probably a reference to the several servants by whom the Lord has delivered his people from spiritual Babylon-a type of the world with its pride and wickedness (D&C 1:16; D&C 1:133:14; Revelation 14:8). These include the Deliverer himself, Cyrus, the king of Persia, Isaiah or other prophets, and Joseph Smith.

"he will do his pleasure on Babylon" He will have his will with Babylon. Again, on one level this phrase has been interpreted as referring to Cyrus, king of Persia. Obviously Babylon here could refer to the literal ancient city of Babylon or to the figurative spiritual Babylon (wickedness, worldliness). In the latter case, the reference may be to one of the other servant deliverers of Babylon.

"and his arm shall come upon the Chaldeans" Chaldea is generally used interchangeably with Babylonia.

"I have called him to declare, I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous" The Lord has called his servant(s) and will assure his (their) success.

16 Come ye near unto me; I have not spoken in secret; from the beginning, from the time that it was declared have I spoken; and the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me.

verse 16 Now Jehovah is again the speaker. Draw near to me and hear this: "From the beginning, I have never functioned in secret. From the time anything was declared, I was there and was speaking. I have spoken openly through my prophets. The voice of the Lord is unto all men."

"the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me" In this phrase, Jehovah testifies of his relationship to his Father-the "Lord God"-and to the Holy Ghost.

17 And thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I have sent him, the Lord thy God who teacheth thee to profit, who leadeth thee by the way thou shouldst go, hath done it.

verse 17 "And thus saith the Lord" In his book Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World, biblical scholar David E. Aune sets forth the various formulaic expressions that characterize prophetic speech in the Old Testament (see Donald W. Parry, "Thus Saith the Lord: Prophetic Language in Samuel's Speech," JBMS 1/1 [1992]:181-83). These expressions serve to formally introduce vital, sacred utterances and to announce that the Lord is the source behind them. The Book of Mormon prophets used these same formulas in their prophetic discourse. This particular expression, "And thus saith the Lord," is called the "messenger formula" and is found thirty-nine times in the Book of Mormon (e.g., Mosiah 3:24; Alma 8:17). It serves to indicate the origin of the revelation. The revelation is directed to the messenger (i.e., a prophet) from the Lord himself.

"I have sent him" The pronoun him is a reference to the servant mentioned in verse 14. This verse seems to settle the issue of the identity of that servant. The Lord refers to himself in the third person: "Thus saith the Lord your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, the Lord, have sent myself to instruct you for your own benefit and guide you in the way you should go."

"hath done it" This seemingly awkward appendage to this verse seems incomplete. It almost seems to complete the thought: "I have sent him, [and he] hath done it." Keep in mind the so-called "prophetic perfect" verb tense rule which allows the prophet to mix up the verb tenses, apparently at his discretion. It might be preferable for the reader to interpret this phrase as "he will do it or accomplish it."

18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments-then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.

verse 18 The Lord is still addressing the house of Israel. If only you had heeded my commands! Your prosperity and feeling of peace would have flowed "as a river" and prospered forever. Your righteousness would have been constant and unstoppable as are the "waves of the sea."

19 Thy seed also had been as the sand; the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.

verse 19 The phrases "thy seed" and "the offspring of thy bowels," of course, mean "your descendants."

"Thy seed also had been as the sand; the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof" Your offspring would have been numerous, and I would never forsake them. If you had not been rebellious, you would have enjoyed a renewal of the promise to Abraham (Genesis 22:17-18; D&C 132:30).

Note the hyperbole and parallelism: "thy seed [would have] been as the sand" and "the offspring . . . like the gravel thereof." Both of these hyperbolic expressions have the same meaning and thus are an example of poetic parallelism.

And finally, had you not been rebellious, you would have remembered and honored the name of Jehovah. You would not have forsaken him.

verses 20-22 These verses may be referred to as the song of the flight from Babylon.

20 Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter to the end of the earth; say ye: The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob.

verse 20 A divine directive is given for Jacob (the house of Israel) to gather-to flee out of Babylon.

Since Babylon and Chaldea mean the same thing, you will recognize the first two phrases of this verse as another example of poetic parallelism in which the same thought is stated twice: "Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans."

Again, don't forget different levels on which this directive might be received. First, the Lord promised ancient Israel that after almost fifty years of Babylonian captivity, Israel would be blessed to return to the land of her inheritance (Jeremiah 25:11; Jeremiah 25:29:10). Next, it is a general directive to the house of Israel to leave the carnal world ("Babylon") for the spiritual. Finally, it has a latter-day application. Those who leave the things of the world behind-return to Zion-will become heirs to great promises and blessings.

When the gathering is complete, it will be "uttered," announced, or proclaimed that Israel has been gathered. When Israel has been gathered, we may use the phrase, "Israel has been redeemed." The implication is that they have been gathered spiritually (they have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ) as well as temporally.

21 And they thirsted not; he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.

verse 21 Even though Israel in her scattered state was led through the parched and barren places, they were not allowed to perish. He made water flow for them from a rock. Isaiah's reference here may be to Moses's providing water for the Israelites while leading them across Sinai by striking a rock (Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:11), but a broader application is also appropriate. The Lord will lead us through spiritual deserts and give us living waters to drink. The rock symbolizes Christ who is our living water.

22 And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also, there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.

verse 22 Despite seeing great miracles of deliverance, some in Israel continue in wickedness, so the Lord gives his final warning. There is no peace of soul to those who continue in sin.

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