2 Nephi Chapter 14
This chapter is a translation of Isaiah's writings which are also found in Isaiah chapter 4. In verses 2-6, Isaiah describes a period of peace that follows the purging and cleansing of the house of Israel. Perhaps a latter-day or pre-Millennial time frame is most appropriate for these verses.
Let us review the facts that will surround the great last war against the Jews-the Battle of Armageddon (see Revelation 16:16). This battle will take place, in part, near the city of Megiddo, perhaps in the Jezreel Valley nearby. A powerful coalition of gentile nations (Gog and Magog) will sweep down upon Judah from the north in the latter days and lay siege to Jerusalem for three and one half years (see Revelation 11:2; Daniel 7:25).
Two prophets of God will use the power of the priesthood to hold back the attacking hosts, but finally the Lord will allow them to be killed. Half of the city of Jerusalem will be ravished and conquered. Just as the invading forces are about to sweep down upon the rest of the city, the two prophets will be raised up from the dead, and the Savior will appear upon the Mount of Olives to rescue his people in a great display of power (see Revelation 11:3-13; D&C 45:48).
At the first opportunity the Jews will gather round their Messiah in great rejoicing. Apparently he will "withhold his glory" or not reveal his glory as resurrected beings are able to do when they wish (see Hebrews 13:2), and the Jews will look upon him as a mortal until someone notices the evidence of deep wounds in his hands and feet. They will then ask him the meaning of these, and he will tell them that these are the wounds "with which I was wounded in the house of my friends" (Zechariah 13:6; D&C 45:51-53).
For the first time the Jews will realize that their Messiah really did come in the meridian of time, and that he was rejected and crucified by their ancestors. Then all the people will mourn for thirty days. It is of note that there is currently no missionary work being done in modern-day Israel. In the Church today, a prevalent feeling exists that no substantial conversion of the Jewish people will occur until the time of the Lord's second coming.
Finally, after a period of cleaning up (seven months burying the dead and seven years burning the discarded weapons), the people will enjoy a glorious period of peace and prosperity which Isaiah describes in verses 2-6 of this chapter. It is likely that this period of peace occurs prior to the great purging of the telestial elements from the earth which will occur at the time of the Lord's second coming in glory. For a more complete discussion of the battle or battles at Jerusalem and their relationship to the great destructive purging of the earth by fire at the second coming of the Lord, see the subtitle, "The Battle at Jerusalem" in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 4, chapter 26, Signs of the Lord's Second Coming-Those that Punish and Cleanse.
1 And in that day, seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach.
verse 1 This verse fits in context better at the end of chapter 13. Interestingly both the JST and the Hebrew Bible place this verse there. Note that the "fallen woman" motif is continued in this verse.
"And in that day" See the introductory commentary for 2 Nephi 13 for suggestions as to the time periods to which these prophecies apply. Perhaps most appropriately they apply to a pre-Millennial setting following Armageddon.
"seven women shall take hold of one man" Following the great war which results in the destruction of Israel, very few men will be left to marry (2 Nephi 13:25), or at least very few will be capable of fathering children (the effects of nuclear war?). Isaiah foresees the time when several women will approach one man desiring a polygamous type of relationship.
"We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel" The women even offer to remain economically independent rather than to make the man responsible for their care. The "reproach" that they desire to remove from themselves is the stigma or disgrace of being unmarried and childless. Women in ancient Israel needed a husband not only to provide for the family but also to father a son so that the family inheritance could be passed on and to ensure that there would be someone to care for them in their old age. Hence singleness and childlessness were viewed as a "reproach." The number "seven" may be literal or symbolic (seven is symbolic of perfection).
In periods of rebellion and unrighteousness, some women seek to avoid childbearing and motherhood, wanting to remain "liberated" from such responsibilities. However, in the humiliated state described herein, women will abandon such ideas and become desperate to have children.
This verse has been interpreted by some as a prophecy of plural marriage to be practiced in the latter-day Church. However, a close examination suggests that Isaiah was not prophesying of plural marriage as practiced under the authority of the priesthood. Note, for example, that the women are proposing to the man, and they are offering to remain economically independent. Both of these points are incompatible with the eternal principle of eternal marriage.
2 In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious; the fruit of the earth excellent and comely to them that are escaped of Israel.
verse 2 "In that day" Again, as in verse 1, this phrase seems likely to refer to this final dispensation. There seems to be two latter-day events referred to here that will bless specific groups of righteous Israel. The first is the latter-day restoration of the gospel. The second is the great purging of the people of the earth to occur at the time of the Lord's second coming in glory. This latter event, however, will bless the lives of both the terrestrial and celestial-bound people of earth, since it is only the wicked that will be purged.
This specific verse has been interpreted in two, quite distinct, ways.
1. According to the first interpretation, the word "branch" should be capitalized. It is a symbolic name for the Messiah. At his second coming, he will be "beautiful and glorious," that is, he will appear in all his glory. He will be spiritual food ("fruit") for the "escaped of Israel." These are the scattered remnants who are then gathered or gathering. These remnants include people from all of the tribes of Israel. "Comely" means pleasant to look at, attractive, fair.
2. An alternate interpretation seems more likely for the term "branch" in the context of this verse. "Branch" refers to the descendants of Joseph, or, more generally, to Israel, or to the people of the Lord. The prophet Lehi, who was a descendant of Joseph commented on the fulfillment of this blessing: "Wherefore, Joseph [who was sold into Egypt] truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel; not the Messiah, but a branch which was broken off" (2 Nephi 3:5). According to this interpretation, Isaiah sees the day when this "branch" will be purged (just before the second coming of the Lord) and then become righteous ("beautiful and glorious"). This seems most likely to refer to the latter-day restoration of the gospel. The "fruit of the earth" that blesses the survivors of the great purging probably represents the blessings of the restored gospel including the temples.
"to them that are escaped of Israel" These are the blood of Israel-perhaps those who survive the great purging at the time of the Savior's second coming and who also have the fulness of the restored gospel.
3 And it shall come to pass, they that are left in Zion and remain in Jerusalem shall be called holy, every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem-
verse 3 Some have interpreted this verse as meaning that the only ones left on earth after the purging by fire are the "holy" or the celestial-bound saints living in Zion-either in the New Jerusalem or in Old Jerusalem. Actually, we know that those purged from the earth will be the telestial-bound souls, the "wicked." Those remaining on the earth will include those "honorable" souls worthy of the terrestrial glory as well as those worthy to be called saints-the "holy" who, if they persist in righteousness, will live with the Savior in the celestial heaven.
"written among the living" Those who are counted among the mortal living-those who survived the great war of judgment.
4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning.
verse 4 The reference to "daughters of Zion" is not limited to the females of Israel but is a figurative reference to all people of the house of Israel. The "washing away the filth" and "purging the blood of Jerusalem" and the "burning" recall the ancient techniques of sacrifice in which the offerings were rinsed to remove impurities. Then they were sacrificed by blood letting or burning.
The "filth" of the children of Israel-their iniquity (including us in our dispensation)-will be washed away by the ordinance of baptism (1 Nephi 20:1; Alma 7:14) and cleansed by the blood of Jesus (Malachi 3:2-3; Hebrews 9:22; Revelation 7:14), a process in which the Holy Ghost plays a prominent role. The Hebrew word for filth has reference to human excrement (Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon, 844). This term is used symbolically to emphasize the terrible nature of the sins of Israel, and the impurities found within the "daughters of Zion."
"spirit of judgment and . . . the spirit of burning" As we strive to become acquainted with our Savior through studying the scriptures, we may perceive some of the scriptural descriptions of him as being contradictory. On the one hand he is "judging" and "burning" and trampling the wicked underfoot (Isaiah 63:3-4; D&C 133:50-51) while during his mortal ministry he seemed more loving, long suffering, lenient, and quick to forgive (Matthew 18:21-22; John 8:3-11). It would seem that both assessments are correct and merit our thoughtful consideration. Even in his judgmental mode, the Savior has our eternal benefit-indeed, our exaltation-in mind. God's fire destroys the wicked while at the same time purging the humble and repentant.
verses 5-6 When Moroni visited Joseph Smith in September 1823, he quoted Isaiah 4:5-6 which verses correspond to these next two verses (Messenger and Advocate 1 [April 1835]: 110). He said this prophecy would soon find fulfillment. Obviously this prophecy has direct relevance for us. In these verses there is reference to temples and the implication that saints become holy through temple worship. There is also a description of the function of Zion in the latter days.
5 And the Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory of Zion shall be a defense.
verse 5 "every dwelling-place of mount Zion" In this verse Isaiah suggests that every individual home in Zion and every gathering of the saints is, in a way, a temple, emphasizing the sanctity of Zion and her people in this glorious day.
"a cloud and smoke by day" These are elements connected with a theophany or the presence of God. The cloud emphasizes the Lord's glory. The people of the latter-day Zion will be so righteous that they will all enjoy such blessings as the presence of the Lord (Exodus 13:21-22).
"shining of flaming fire by night" This is the presence of God.
"defense" Defense is protection. The word "defense" should read "canopy" or "protective covering." Hence Zion and her inhabitants will be protected by God from spiritual harm in the same way that individuals are protected from physical injury or harm by seeking shelter during the heat of the day or in great storms.
In this latter day, the Lord will place upon all the temples or "mount Zions," and upon all the saints in Zion, a "cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night." This is not a new phenomenon. The "cloud" is identified in D&C 84:5 as the "glory of the Lord," and it will fill the temples of God in that day. Similarly, the "flaming fire" also represents his glory. These manifestations of the Lord's glory will serve as a defense for those in Zion against a tumult of destruction and wickedness outside of Zion.
6 And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and a covert from storm and from rain.
verse 6 "there shall be a tabernacle or a shadow" The "tabernacle," in a historical context, is a holy yet temporary place of shelter ("a shadow"), often a tent. For protection and safety in this latter day the saints will flee not to one place but to "holy places" (D&C 87:8). These places are the stakes of Zion. In Moses's day, the "cloud" filled only the "Holy of Holies" in the "tabernacle," but in this latter time Isaiah saw that the Lord in the "cloud and flaming fire" would manifest himself to all the saints in Zion. In the latter-day "tabernacles" or latter-day temples, the saints will find refuge, peace, protection, and succor.
"covert" While the word "covert" is usually used as an adjective in which case it means hidden or secret, as a noun it means a shelter or protected place. In modern-day revelation Zion is called "a city of refuge" and "a place of safety." It will be a "land of peace," and "the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it . . . and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand" (D&C 45:66-70; D&C 45:115:6). Jesus, of course, is our ultimate refuge and shelter from life's battles (Isaiah 25:4).
"from storm and from rain" These are symbols of God's judgments on the wicked (Psalm 83:15). The storms remove the wicked from their places as chaff is removed from the wheat (Job 21:18; Job 27:21), while the righteous, like wheat, are gathered into protected units and preserved in the Lord's temples and other holy places.