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2 Nephi Chapter 18

This chapter is a translation of the same materials found in Isaiah chapter 8 of the King James Version of the Bible.

In this chapter Isaiah presents three symbols of Jesus Christ. They are water (verse 6), a temple (verse 14), and light (verses 17-22). See the verse commentary for a further elucidation of these symbolisms.

The prophecies in this chapter, unlike many of Isaiah's other prophecies in previously quoted chapters, seem to apply largely to the time of Isaiah. They are still of value to us as we may observe how the Lord deals with his people when they are disobedient.

1 Moreover, the word of the Lord said unto me: Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen, concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz.

verse 1 A "great roll" is either a scroll, roll, or tablet, perhaps a wooden writing tablet with a wax writing surface. The Lord said to Isaiah, "Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-shalal-hash-baz which means "Quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil." Spoil is riches taken in war, booty. This large scroll was intended for public display and was to serve as a prophecy and a warning.

Keep in mind the setting of this incident: King Ahaz, against Isaiah's advice, had just appealed to Assyria for help against the combined armies of Samaria and Syria. Isaiah had warned him not to form an alliance with Assyria, but rather to trust only in the Lord. Additionally, the northern Kingdom of Israel had sunk to an advanced state of disobedience and apostasy. This message, then, recorded on a scroll was a prophecy of the dire consequences of disobeying the Lord's counsel. Once written on a large parchment, this message was to be carried to the people to warn that an Assyrian attack was imminent. It is an inspired message of judgment and condemnation.

The name on this large scroll was to serve as a sign of the great quickness ("quick" and "swift") with which Assyria would plunder Israel. The message was doubtless delivered to the people both in Judah and Israel, as Isaiah was the Lord's mouthpiece for both groups. The warning was intended for both nations.

2 And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.

verse 2 Isaiah called in two reliable witnesses to witness the recording of the prophecy. Two witnesses were required by the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15). Uriah was a well-known figure who worked as a priest in the Jerusalem temple (2 Kings 16:10-16). Little is known of Zechariah other than that he was the son of Jeberechiah and was considered to be a faithful witness. He may have been the same Zechariah who was King Ahaz's father-in-law (2 Kings 18:2).

3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me: Call his name, Maher-shalal-hash-baz.

verse 3 The "prophetess" is Isaiah's wife. It has been suggested that she was referred to as the "prophetess" because she was the bearer of the Lord's word, incarnate in her son. That is, the name of her son became a great prophecy (Motyer, J. Alec, Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary, [Downer's Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1993], 90). Or, the title may suggest that she, like her husband, enjoyed the spiritual gift of prophecy. The same title is given to Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14).

4 For behold, the child shall not have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, before the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.

verse 3-4 Isaiah gave his second son this inspired message as his name. Again, the interpretation of this name is "Quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil." See the commentary for verse 1 for an explanation of this peculiar name. Isaiah then prophesied that even before his son was old enough to know how to say, "My father" or "my mother," (within two or three years) both Syria and the Northern kingdom of Israel would be carried off by Assyria. This prophecy began to be fulfilled in 734-732 BC when Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, captured both lands and plundered their riches. Syria never recovered. Samaria did recover but was conquered again between 732 and 722 BC.

5 The Lord spake also unto me again, saying:

verse 6 In the following verse the symbol of water is used by Isaiah to represent Jesus. Jesus is as essential to our spiritual salvation as water is to our physical salvation. Without water we will die physically, and without Jesus we will die spiritually. In scripture the image of waters is often symbolic of Jesus. He is the "fountain of all righteousness" (Ether 12:28; Ether 8:26; 1 Nephi 2:9). He cleanses the righteous who enter the waters of baptism. He also invites us to drink from the waters of salvation, which forever quench the thirst of those who partake.

6 Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son;

verses 5-6 "waters of Shiloah that go softly" Shiloah was a conduit that was part of the elaborate water system of Jerusalem. It is not certain where it was. Here it is a metaphor of peace and serenity representing trust in the Lord. The water came out of the perennial Gihon spring in the Kidron Valley east of the city wall. King Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz, will soon build a tunnel to bring the water inside the city wall. This cool gentle flow supplied more than enough water for the city of Jerusalem.

The "waters of Shiloah" represent the tender reliable care the Lord provides to his chosen people through the gentle promptings of the Holy Ghost. The Israelites, including those of the northern kingdom, had rejected the word of the Lord given them through Isaiah and had instead embraced the apostate leadership of Pekah, the son of Remaliah and Rezin the king of Syria.

7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria and all his glory; and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks.

verse 7 "the waters of the river" The river spoken of here is the great Euphrates that flowed through Assyria. In contrast to verse 6 wherein the "waters of Shiloah" represent the Savior and his gentle ministrations, the waters of the Euphrates are dangerous and destructive. The Euphrates was a great river that commonly flooded out of control. The waters of Shiloah bring life to those who drink them. The Euphrates brings death to those who are swept up in its flood. The waters of the Euphrates represent the king of Assyria. Inasmuch as the inhabitants of Israel had rejected Jesus, the waters of Shiloah, the Lord set upon them the king of Assyria, the strong and mighty waters of the river that would overflow its banks and cover the entire land with its destruction.

8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.

verse 8 The completion of the fulfillment of this prophecy began between 732 and 722 BC when Shalmaneser or perhaps his son Sargon II conquered Syria and the northern kingdom.

An interesting note is that Ahaz's son Hezekiah, a righteous king of Judah, later revolted against Assyria by refusing to send tribute. Assyria retaliated in 701 B.C. and destroyed many of the cities of Judah. Although Assyria was thwarted from crushing Judah's head, it did besiege Jerusalem "even to the neck." Jerusalem, therefore, was miraculously preserved at that time (Isaiah 36-37).

"stretching out of his wings" Now we see a change of metaphor. The Assyrian, like a huge bird of prey, overshadows the whole land, ready to pounce.

"O Immanuel" Isaiah concludes his warning to Israel by warning in turn those nations which rise against Judah. He says, referring to the nation of Judah, "God is with us!"

verse 9-10 Isaiah continues his warning to those nations anticipating the overthrow of Judah: His meaning is: If you dare do battle with Judah, it will mean your own eventual overthrow. This warning may have been directed to the alliance between Syria and the northern kingdom.

9 Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear all ye of far countries; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.

verse 9 An alternate translation is: Form alliances ("associate yourselves") to do battle with Judah, and you shall be shattered. Listen, all you distant lands. Arm yourselves and prepare for battle ("gird yourselves"), and you shall be shattered. Arm yourselves and prepare for battle, and be shattered.

"gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces" The twice-repeated phrase is probably the result of a scribal error, since this repetition is not found in the Isaiah Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry, Tina M. Peterson, Understanding Isaiah, [Deseret Book: Salt Lake City, Utah], 85).

10 Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand; for God is with us.

verse 10 "Naught" means nothing. Plot your strategy, and it will be thwarted. Propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us.

Note that he again concludes verse 10 with the same warning with which he concluded verse 8: "for God is with us!" He may have reference to the sign prophesied in verses 14 and 15.

11 For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:

verse 11 The Lord sternly and powerfully ("with a strong hand") warned Isaiah not to fear the people or cater to them by believing what they believe and by teaching what they want to hear.

12 Say ye not, A confederacy, to all to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.

verse 12 Do not agree with the people when they are wrong. For example, in the present political situation, don't over emphasize the threat posed by the conspiracy or confederacy which Israel and Syria have formed against Judah, and thus don't speak for an alliance with Assyria just because that is the popular idea. Do not fear what they fear. Rather, trust in the Lord.

verses 13-14 In the following two verses, the Savior is represented by the symbol of a building, a temple. He is our cornerstone, our sure foundation.

13 Sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

verse 13 "Sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself" The literal translation from the Hebrew reads, "make him a temple, the Lord of Hosts," meaning let the Lord be your temple, your place of holiness. The same idea is contained in the following verse in the phrase "And he shall be for a sanctuary." Peter and Nephi used similar language: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts" (1 Peter 3:15) and "they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob" (2 Nephi 27:34).

"let him be your fear" Be reverent and humble before God. Fear only him. To fear the Lord is to honor, revere, trust, and obey him. Only he is to be regarded as holy. Only he is to be feared or revered. The noun "dread" means the object of fear mixed with reverence or awe.

14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

15 And many among them shall stumble and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

verse 14-15 To be snared is to be entangled; to be brought into unexpected evil, perplexity, or danger.

"both the houses of Israel" This phrase refers to both of the kingdoms of the house of Israel-Israel and Judah. To both of these the Lord will be a sanctuary, a temple, a place of refuge and protection. But he and his teachings will also be a "stone of stumbling," "a rock of offense" that causes unbelieving Israelites to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. For the people of Jerusalem he will be a "gin"-a trap or a snare.

16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

verse 16 The Lord commands Isaiah to record, tie up with a strip of leather or a cord, and seal the manuscript containing his testimony with wax ("bind up" and "seal") as a symbol that the prophecies and testimonies are complete. Thus, they may stand (with the testimonies of the other prophets-the combination forming "the law") as a permanent witness against the people.

A divine sequence is illustrated here. The Lord's people must first receive the law by covenant. Then they warn the world's inhabitants of God's coming judgments. After they have testified to and warned the nations, they will figuratively "bind," "tie up," or "shut up" their testimonies and "affix a seal" to the law of God. Finally the judgments of God will come (see D&C 88:84; D&C 88:109:38, 46; 133:72) (TPJS, 92).

verses 17-22 These verses contain the subtle imagery of light and darkness. As we walk through mortality, we pass through shadow and darkness. We must come to yearn for and search for and recognize the light which is symbolic of the Savior (see also 2 Nephi 19:2).

17 And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.

verse 17 To "wait upon the Lord" is to hope for and anticipate expected blessings. The phrase implies a significant element of patience and long suffering. Isaiah will wait patiently for the Lord's will to be revealed and for his promises to be fulfilled even when the Lord chooses to remain silent ("hideth his face") for the time being because of Israel's intransigence.

"I will look for him" The literal translation reads, "I will hope for him" (Jacob 4:4).

18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of Hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion.

verse 18 Isaiah identifies his own symbolic name and that of his two sons as special signs given to the people by the Lord. Isaiah means "Jehovah is salvation." The names of his two sons, Shear-jashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz mean, respectively, "the remnant shall return" and "quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil." For a discussion of the significance of the name Shear-jashub, see the commentary for 2 Nephi 16:3; 2 Nephi 16:13. For a discussion of the meaning of the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz, see the commentary for 2 Nephi 18:1.

"Mount Zion" In almost a mythical sense, the Lord was said by the ancient Hebrews to dwell on Mount Zion. "Mount Zion" probably refers to the top of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem where the ancient temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod were built.

19 And when they shall say unto you: Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and mutter-should not a people seek unto their God for the living to hear from the dead?

verse 19 "them that have familiar spirits" These are sorcerers or mediums who commune with the dead by witchcraft.

"wizards that peep and mutter" These are also sorcerers or mediums.

20 To the law and to the testimony; and if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

verse 19-20 A clearer translation: You have been advised to consult with mediums and spiritualists. Wouldn't it be better to consult with God? How else might the living expect to hear from the dead? The diviner who does not speak according "to the law" [the discourses of Moses, the scriptures] and "to the testimony" [the scriptural witnesses of the prophets]" is not of God.

verses 21-22 Again, referring to the diviner or false prophet, Isaiah observes: Displaced and hungry, they will pass through (roam) the land. When they become famished they will become enraged and look upward and curse God. Then they will look earthward and see only distress, gloom, and darkness.

21 And they shall pass through it hardly bestead and hungry; and it shall come to pass that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.

verse 21 "hardly bestead" Hard pressed, distressed, perplexed, beset by troubles or enemies, in a plight.

"they shall fret themselves" They shall worry.

22 And they shall look unto the earth and behold trouble, and darkness, dimness of anguish, and shall be driven to darkness.

It would seem that Nephi's inclusion of this prophecy, which pertains largely to the times of the prophet Isaiah, is for us today a call to faith. There can be no salvation in foreign alliances, rather our hope must rest in the assurance that our Savior stands at our side as we remain true to the principles of his gospel.

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