1 Nephi 19

 Through the Wilderness to the Promised Land

     (1 Nephi )


 

1 Nephi 19:1 And upon the Plates Which I Made I Did Engraven the Record of My Father:

 

     In the preface to the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith wrote that the lost 116 pages included his translation of "[1] the Book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from [2] the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon." However, in Doctrine and Covenants 10:44, the Lord told Joseph that the lost pages contained "an abridgment of [3] the account of Nephi."

     According to David Sloan, some critics have argued that these statements are contradictory and therefore somehow provide evidence that Joseph Smith was not a prophet. However, a more careful reading of the Book of Mormon demonstrates that this criticism is invalid.

     The Account of Nephi (#3): The description of the lost pages as "an abridgment of the account of Nephi" is clearly accurate. This phase acknowledges Nephi as the principal author and copyist of this portion of the large plates, as well as the maker of those plates. Nephi wrote that he made his large plates so that he could "engraven upon them the record of [his] people. This account was abridged by Mormon and 116 pages of it were lost.

     The Plates of Lehi (#2): At first, the reference to "the plates of Lehi" appears to be in error. However, although he may not have personally engraved his record upon Nephi's large plates, Lehi was in a very real sense the first author of those plates. Nephi gave the following description of the contents of the large plates: "And upon the plates which I made I did engraven the record of my father . . ." (1 Nephi 19:1) The large plates apparently contained the full record of Lehi.530 Nephi probably copied his father's record onto the large plates of Nephi.531 If the large plates of Nephi began with Lehi's record, this portion of the large plates could accurately be called the plates of Lehi. Such a practice and terminology is confirmed by Jacob who wrote: "These plates [the portion of the small plates of Nephi on which he was recording] are called the plates of Jacob, and they were made by the hand of Nephi" (Jacob 3:14).

     The Book of Lehi (#1): Although Nephi made the large plates of Nephi and wrote on them, the portion of the large plates upon which he copied the record of Lehi was apparently termed "the plates of Lehi." Thus Mormon's abridgment of those plates could be described as an account abridged from the plates of Lehi. According to the preface to the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, Mormon apparently gave the title "the Book of Lehi" to this abridgment of the plates of Lehi. This action is consistent with Mormon's practice throughout his abridgment of the large plates, in which he frequently grouped multiple authors together in a single book and then named the book after the first author.

     But one might ask, "How do you account for the fact that Lehi died well before the time of Benjamin and Mosiah2, which is where Joseph Smith says the 116 pages reached to?" According to Sloan, we can find an example in the book of Helaman. Although the death of Helaman is recorded near the beginning of the book of Helaman (see Helaman 3:37), Helaman's sons Nephi and Lehi were therefore the source of the majority of Mormon's abridgment,532 yet the book still bears Helaman's name.

  

     In conclusion, the three terms Book of Lehi, plates of Lehi, and account of Nephi are distinct phrases with distinct meanings. [David E. Sloan, "The Book of Lehi and the Plates of Lehi," in Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., 1999, pp. 59-61; see also Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 6/2 (1997): pp. 269-272]

     Note* In the superscription to the book of 1 Nephi we find a fourth term: "[4] An account of Lehi . . ." Yet at the end of the same superscription we also find the following: "This is according to the account of Nephi; or in other words, I, Nephi, wrote this record." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi:Superscription; Jacob 3:14]

 

1 Nephi 19:1-2 And upon the [Large] Plates Which I Made I Did Engraven (Contents):

 

     Nephi's description of the contents of the large plates here gives us some idea of what was on the 116 pages of manuscript that Martin Harris lost (1 Nephi thru Words of Mormon):

     1. The record of my father

     2. Our journeyings in the wilderness

     3. The prophecies of my father

     4. Also many of mine own prophecies

     According to S. Kent Brown, this verse (1 Nephi 19:1) is intended to describe some of the contents of Nephi's large plates, yet in fact it also describes what is included on the small plates. To illustrate, (a) "the record of my father" corresponds roughly to 1 Nephi 1-10; (b) the "journeyings in the wilderness" appears in 1 Nephi 16-18; and (c) the "prophecies of my father" would include 2 Nephi 1-3 and possibly 1 Nephi 10. [S. Kent Brown, "Nephi's Use of Lehi's Record," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 6]

 

1 Nephi 19:2 I knew not at the time when I made them that I should be commanded of the Lord to make these plates (Illustration): Nephi with the Plates [Paul Mann, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 4]

 

1 Nephi 19:3 I, Nephi, Received a Commandment That the Ministry and the Prophecies, the More Plain and Precious Parts of Them Should Be Written upon These Plates:

 

     According to Raymond Treat, the principle, "What is in the Book of Mormon is there for a Purpose," is a very important principle to understand about the Book of Mormon. The dictionary tells us that a principle is a general truth on which other truths depend. The recognition of the "purpose principle" is the recognition of a general truth about the book of Mormon which in turn will lead to other truths. If we ask the question, "Why has this particular information been included?" Every time we study a portion of the Book of Mormon we should receive insights that otherwise might be missed.

     How do we know that what is in the book of Mormon is there for a purpose? Because major writers of the Book of Mormon tell us they were directed by God as to what to put in the Book of Mormon and what to leave out. For example, in 1 Nephi 19:3 Nephi speaks upon the contents of the small plates:

           And after I had made these [small] plates by way of commandment, I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these plates; and that these things which were written should be kept for the instruction of my people, who should possess the land, and also for other wise purposes, which purposes are known unto the Lord.

 

     The chart "The Contents of the Book of Mormon Were Divinely Controlled" (see illustration) is designed to illustrate this point. The chart gives us information about three major Book of Mormon writers--Nephi, Mormon and Moroni. In each case these writers were told both what to put in the Book of Mormon and what to leave out.

     For all practical purposes two of these three writers, Mormon and Moroni, controlled the contents of the entire Book of Mormon. Mormon was directed to add the entire contents of the small plates of Nephi to the Book of Mormon. . . . Nephi was responsible for about 82 percent of the contents of the small plates of Nephi, which strengthens the case even further that the contents of the Book of Mormon were indeed divinely controlled. They also give validity to the principle that what is in the Book of Mormon is there for a purpose. [Raymond C. Treat, "What Is in the Book of Mormon Is There for a Purpose," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, pp. 172-173] [See the commentary on Words of Mormon 1:9]

 

1 Nephi 19:3 I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them should be written upon these plates (Illustration) Chart: "The Contents of the Book of Mormon Were Divinely Controlled." [Raymond C. Treat, "What Is in the Book of Mormon Is There for a Purpose," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 172]

 

1 Nephi 19:3 I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies . . . should be written upon these plates (Illustration): "I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies . . . should be written upon these plates," by A&OR [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 1162]

 

1 Nephi 19:6 And Now, If I Do Err, Even Did They Err of Old:

 

     In 1 Nephi 19:6, Nephi comments about his writing on the plates:

           Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself.

 

     Some have used this and other passages (for example, see the last sentence of the Title Page, Testimony of the Three Witnesses; Mormon 8:12-17; 9:31-34; and Ether 12:23-28). as evidence that the Book of Mormon is not always doctrinally or historically sound. Therefore, they have said it should be submitted to the test of reason. The idea seems to be that the prophets of an earlier time, being less learned than we, can be corrected when their teachings disagree with the present thinking of the learned world. A careful examination of these passages, however, shows that the writers were referring to things other than their theology.

     In this case Nephi was apologizing for the fact that someone else might not think the items he selected for inclusion in the record were sacred items. He acknowledged the possibility of a better selection, but he explained that he was using the criteria of men of "old." If his selections were improper, so were theirs. Then he apologized for suggesting that perhaps the ancients had erred. In other cases, the writers were concerned lest the reader might see the imperfections of the writers and reject the book on that account. The writers frankly confessed their weaknesses and inadequacies at times. In still other cases--probably the majority--the only concern was grammar and other technical faults. They didn't apologize for the doctrines they taught. Also, we have the word of God in the testimony of the Three Witnesses and in D&C 17:6 that the book is true. And all the care the Lord took in producing, preserving, and translating the record is a witness of the Lord's high regard for the Book of Mormon. Note the Lord's warning to those who may mock what is written by these men. (See Ether 12:23-26) [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, 1981, pp. 51-52] [See the commentary on the Title Page, Testimony of the Three Witnesses; Mormon 8:12-17; 9:31-34; and Ether 12:23-28]

 

1 Nephi 19:6 And Now, If I Do Err:

 

     Nephi declares that he might "err" (1 Nephi 19:6) in writing his history. . . . Brant Gardner asks, What errors might be in the text? For one thing, a lack of completeness. Nephi's concern over spiritual matters clearly (and explicitly) overrode his more historical concerns. . . . What else might be in error? Because of Nephi's powerful spiritual experiences, it is unlikely that any of the information Nephi attempts to communicate might be in error. However, it is possible that some of the words he uses might be less than ideal (particularly for an English audience who receive the text in our language and not in the language Nephi used on the plates). [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," 1Nephi/1Nephi19.htm, p. 6]

 

1 Nephi 19:8 Behold, He Cometh:

 

     According to John Welch, Nephi's prophetic view foresaw the future in four distinct stages, and each time he quoted a section from Isaiah it was because it contained words relevant to one of those stages. . . .

     The last four chapters of 1 Nephi (1 Nephi 19-22) deal with the future of Nephi's people in their new land of promise. Their topics follow in order the same four stages found in 1 Nephi 11-14. These four stages of the Nephite prophetic view are:

     1. Christ's coming;

     2. his rejection and the scattering of the Jews;

     3. the day of the Gentiles; and

     4. the restoration of Israel and the ultimate victory of good over evil.

 

[John W. Welch, "Getting through Isaiah with the Help of the Nephite Prophetic View," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, pp. 24-26]

 

1 Nephi 19:8 [The God of Israel] Cometh . . . 600 Years from the Time My Father Lehi Left Jerusalem:

 

     [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 10:4] [See Appendix A]

 

1 Nephi 19:8 [The God of Israel] Cometh . . . in Six Hundred Years from the Time My Father Left Jerusalem:

 

     John Pratt suggests that Lehi may also have left Jerusalem at Passover because the time was linked to the birth of Christ (1 Nephi 19:8). [John P. Pratt, "Passover -- Was It Symbolic of His Coming?," in The Ensign, January 1994, p. 45] [See Appendix A]

 

1 Nephi 19:10 Zenock (Zenoch)?:

 

     In 1999, the Zarahemla Research Foundation (RLDS) finished an exhaustive review of all known manuscripts and editions of the Book of Mormon in order to restore the text "to its purity." The result was the Restored Covenant Edition of the Book of Mormon. One of their "restorations" involves the proper name "Zenock" (1 Nephi 19:10), which they have changed to read "Zenoch." [Zarahemla Research Foundation, "Selected Concordance" in The Book of Mormon: Restored Covenant Edition, p. 995]

     Note* This must be considered tentative subject to the verification of Royal Skousen, director of the Book of Mormon manuscript project, who will not comment at this time relative to such changes. [Personal communication, 11/22/1999]

 

1 Nephi 19:10 Zenock . . . Neum . . . Zenos:

 

     According to an article by John Sorenson, Book of Mormon writers mention five prophets whose words appear in the brass plates: Zenos (Jacob 5), Zenock (1 Nephi 19:10), Ezias (Helaman 8:20), Isaiah (1 Nephi 15:20), and Neum (1 Nephi 19:10). Of the first four only Isaiah is surely known from existing biblical texts (although Neum actually might be Nahum). Internal evidence suggests a reason why: All four direct a great deal of attention to the Northern Kingdom. Since the Masoretic text, which lies behind our King James version, came out of the South (Judah) omission of three of the four (or four of the five, counting Neum) is explicable. Zenos is quoted as saying, "And as for those who are at Jerusalem" (1 Nephi 19:13). Nowhere else in the extensive quotes from Zenos does he mention Judah or Jerusalem. This in context strongly suggests that he was not located in the territory of Judah. (It is implied in 3 Nephi 10:16 that Zenos and Zenock were of a Joseph tribe, although nothing is said of location.). . . . Careful reading of the allegory of the olive tree, from Zenos (Jacob 5), as well as Alma 33:3-17 concerning both Zenos and Zenock, further confirms a context of a sinful Israel more reminiscent of the time of Amos (mid-8th century B.C.) than earlier or later. Moreover, Zenock was said to be a "prophet of old" (Alma 33:17), a chronological term not used regarding Jeremiah or even Isaiah. The probability is high, therefore, that the prophets cited from the brass plates date between 900 B.C. and the end of the Northern Kingdom in 721 B.C.

     In addition, there are indications that the words of the brass plates (both quoted and taught in the Book of Mormon) came from another source besides the King James version of the Old Testament (Masoretic text):

     1. The Book of Mormon virtually ignores the Davidic covenant. David is mentioned but six times (two incidentally in quotations from Isaiah). Two instances involve strong condemnation of David.

     2. Instead (of the Davidic Covenant) considerable attention is paid to the Abrahamic covenant and to the patriarchs. Jacob is called "Jacob" rather than "Israel."

     3. The Jews, particularly the inhabitants of Jerusalem, are branded as evil in the strongest terms.

     4. The name "Jehovah," the preferred title of deity in the King James version of the Old Testament, occurs only twice in the Book of Mormon (once in a quote from Isaiah 12--with one word changed--and once in the very last sentence in the volume). The name "Lord" is usually used for divinity in the Book of Mormon (almost 1400 times). [John Sorenson, "The Brass Plates and Biblical Scholarship," in Dialogue, Autumn 1977]

     Furthermore, in another article, Noel B. Reynolds presents evidence that in the Book of Mormon, the material covered by our King James book of Genesis does not reflect that text, but is more like the Book of Moses in our present day Pearl of Great Price. [Noel B. Reynolds, "The Brass Plates Version of Genesis," in By Study and Also by Faith, Vol. 2, F.A.R.M.S., p. 148]

 

1 Nephi 19:10 Zenock, Neum, Zenos:

 

     Nephi quotes three prophets from the Old Testament time period: Zenock, Neum, and Zenos. These prophets testified of Christ, but their writings are not found in the Old Testament. Zenock and Zenos were both slain for their testimony of Christ (Alma 33:16-17; Helaman 8:19). [Zarahemla Research Foundation, Study Book of Mormon, p. 44] [See the commentary on Helaman 8:20]

 

1 Nephi 19:10 To be crucified according to the words of Neum (Illustration): The Crucifixion. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Art, #230]

 

1 Nephi 19:10 To be buried in a sepulchre (Illustration): Burial of Jesus. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Art, #231]

 

1 Nephi 19:11 The Prophet:

 

     McConkie and Millet assert that we properly make a distinction between "a prophet" and "the Prophet." In our day we testify of many who are prophets while normally reserving the phrase "the Prophet" for Joseph Smith, who stands at the head of our dispensation. Zenos was of such greatness that he is properly referred to as "the prophet" (1 Nephi 19:11-15). [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 147]

 

1 Nephi 19:20 All My Joints Are Weak:

 

     In 1 Nephi 19:20, Nephi declares: "For behold, I have workings in the spirit, which doth weary me even that all my joints are weak, for those who are at Jerusalem." One might ask, What did Nephi mean by the expression "all my joints are weak"?

     Quite often those who have great "workings of the spirit" feel weakened, almost incapacitated by them. This is true of both agony for sins and the ecstasy of the Spirit. (Mosiah 27:19-29; Alma 18:40-43; 22:18) As recorded in the book of Psalms, speaking prophetically for the Messiah, David said, "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels." (Psalm 22:14) Though Nephi's language is figurative, it describes an experience that is very real to those who have felt it. Jeremiah, whom Nephi could have known, said he had to preach the gospel because "his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." (Jeremiah 20:9) It is not unusual to hear those who have premonitions say, "I can feel it in my bones." In the depths of his soul, Nephi knew that the Jews in Jerusalem had suffered the fate his father said they would. [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, 1981, p. 53]

 

1 Nephi 19:22 I Did Read Many Things to Them, Which Were Engraven upon the Plates of Brass--(Isaiah):

 

     Nephi states:

            "I did read many things unto [my people] which were engraven upon the plates of brass." . . . but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah." (1 Nephi 19:22-23)

 

     Because the Book of Mormon gives direct evidence that the plates of brass contained Isaiah chapters 2-14, 28-29, 40, 43, 48-53, perhaps 54, and 55:1-2, the Book of Mormon student is allowed to postulate not only concerning the date in which the book of Isaiah took its final form, but the date of it's incorporation into and the manner of compilation of the plates of brass.      

     According to John Welch, if the plates of brass were not made and inscribed until around 620-610 B.C., this would allow time for possible collecting, editing, redacting, or supplementing to have been done to the writings of Isaiah after his death, around 700 B.C., and for that work to have already entered the standard version of the biblical text before the Isaiah texts were written on the plates of brass.. . .

     Although earlier dates for the making of the plates of brass are possible, it makes sense to view them as a royal record compiled and inscribed around 620-610 B.C. by King Josiah, who reigned from 640-609 B.C. The plates contained the book of Deuteronomy (1 Nephi 5:10), and that scroll was most likely the book of the law that was not discovered by Josiah until 625 B.C. That discovery made Josiah and others in Jerusalem acutely aware of the fact that books of scripture could get lost, which would have motivated them to do everything in their power to create a permanent archive and a durable copy of their most sacred records to prevent any loss of scripture from happening again. Moreover, Deuteronomy 17 requires the king to have a copy of the law and to read in it all the days of his life. The rediscovery of the forgotten book of Deuteronomy that contained this particular scripture could have prompted Josiah to see record keeping as a royal function and to make records that would not wear out or become illegible through extensive use. In addition, the plates of brass were in Laban's custody in a treasury. The text simply says, "Laban hath the record" (1 Nephi 3:3), not that he necessarily owned them. Because he commanded a garrison of fifty soldiers inside the walls of Jerusalem, Laban may have been the captain of the king's guard or a high-ranking military officer. His treasury could have held public as well as personal records. While the plates of brass contained important genealogies, it is not likely that records of this quality would have been "family records" alone. Perhaps the genealogies served several royal purposes, such as settling disputes over marriage, inheritance, property, or other legal claims based on family status. Finally, dating the plates of brass to the end of the seventh century is consistent with the fact that they included information down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah and many prophecies of Jeremiah, who began to prophesy in 628 B.C.

     Of course, other possible dates and scenarios can be imagined. Perhaps the plates of brass were a sacred record that had been kept up to date all along by prophets who preceded Lehi. Perhaps Laban had confiscated this book making it property of the state, when one of those prophets was put to death for prophesying against Jerusalem and the king. [John W. Welch, "Authorship of the Book of Isaiah," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, pp. 430-432] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 3:3]

 

1 Nephi 19:23 The Book of Moses:

 

     According to Reynolds and Sjodahl, special attention is called to the phrase "the book of Moses" (1 Nephi 19:23). Why does not Nephi say, "The books of Moses"? Or, even, "The five books of Moses" (see 1 Nephi 5:11)? For the simple reason that, to the Jews of his day, what we know as the five books of Moses were one volume [or scroll] which they called, "the Law," (Torah). [George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 205] [But see the commentary on 1 Nephi 5:17 for the idea that the Nephite plates were patterned after the brass plates--that the writings of each prophet or record keeper were assembled into one book.] [See also the commentary on 1 Nephi 3:3]

 

1 Nephi 19:23: That I Might More Fully Persuade Them to Believe in the Lord Their Redeemer I Did Read unto Them That Which Was Written by the Prophet Isaiah:

 

     In chapters 20 and 21, Nephi will include in his writings what has come to correspond to chapters 48 and 49 of Isaiah. One might ask, Why did Nephi include these writings at this point in his record? Let us first review what Nephi himself had to say. In 1 Nephi 19:21-24 we find the following:

           [The Lord] surely did show unto the prophets of old all things concerning them; and also he did show unto many concerning us; wherefore, it must needs be that we know concerning them for they are written upon the plates of brass.

           Now it came to pass that I, Nephi, did teach my brethren these things; and it came to pass that I did read many things to them, which were engraven upon the plates of brass, that they might know concerning the doings of the Lord in other lands, among people of old.

           And I did read many things unto them which were written in the book of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning . . . that [we] may have hope.

 

     According to Kent Brown, Nephi assures us that Isaiah had been one of his favorite books, and his acquaintance with this work had led him to quote significant parts of it (e.g., 1 Nephi 19:23; see also 2 Nephi 11:8). Moreover, Nephi supplies us with his reasons--public reasons, it turns out--why he had included chapters 48 and 49 of Isaiah at the end of his first book.

     To be sure, the public reasons that Nephi offers to us for his appeal to Isaiah stand within the larger prophetic message about the scattering and gathering of Israel, of which he and his family--the scattered--and their distant posterity--the gathered--were a part. One does not look far to find that Isaiah's prophecies had a good deal to say about these events.

     However, multiple passages plainly point to aspects of the journey of Lehi's family. One might note that in Nephi's entire trip, from beginning to end, starting with the flight from Jerusalem and ending with the settlement in the promised land. In a word, Nephi is saying, "Isaiah spoke about us." For example, Nephi, if not others, must have taken courage from the Lord's assurance that he "leadeth thee by the way thou shouldst go" and that those who trust in him "thirsted not" because "he led them through the deserts" and "caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them" (1 Nephi 20:17, 21 = Isaiah 48:17, 21). Moreover--continuing the desert imagery--"They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor the sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them" (Isaiah 49:10 = 1 Nephi 21:10). Plainly, one can identify a number of passages that naturally would have spoken to the situation of the family while traveling through Arabia.

     This situation becomes evident in words of Isaiah about a river and the sea, recalling both that Lehi named a river after his son Laman and that the Red Sea, into which the river flowed, was one of the major geographical features near the first camp (1 Nephi 2:5, 8-9). In addition, on the far side of the Arabian desert the sea formed both a barrier as well as a highway of sorts to the promised land (1 Nephi 17:5-6; 18:8, 23). Isaiah wrote, "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" (Isaiah 48:18 = 1 Nephi 20:18). Lehi spoke similar words to Laman at the time he named the river after him: "O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!" (1 Nephi 2:9). In sum, Nephi's record of Lehi's words to his wayward sons, both at the departure from Jerusalem and in the New World, brims with allusions to words from Isaiah 48-49.

     The deep, at times terrible, impact that the desert trek made in the soul and memory of Nephi, can be seen in his choice of Isaiah passages that follow the narrative of his family's trip to the land of promise. Understanding that Nephi saw Isaiah as one who had been shown matters "concerning us" (1 Nephi 19:21), a number of possible allusions to the family's journey stand in chapters 48 and 49. These passages have to do with flight, next with difficulties in a desert clime, and then to passages which bring assurance of the Lord's aid.

     Nevertheless, in introducing chapters 20 and 21 (Isaiah 48 & 49), Nephi announces that his most important purpose--and I want to emphasize this purpose--is to "more fully persuade [his people] to believe in the Lord their Redeemer" (1 Nephi 19:23). Consistent with his first purpose of bringing others "to believe in the Lord," one observes that embedded in Isaiah 49 lies a clear prophecy about the future Messiah-king, portrayed as the "servant of the Lord" (Isaiah 49:1-6 = 1 Nephi 21:1-6).533

     Another reason that Nephi included Isaiah's prophecies here in 1 Nephi appears to be "for our profit and learning" (1 Nephi 19:23). It seems that along with this learning, Nephi expected Isaiah's teachings to give his people "hope" (1 Nephi 19:24).

     As a parting comment, Brown exhorts the Book of Mormon reader to observe from every nuance how thoroughly Nephi is acquainted with Isaiah, for Nephi's knowledge seems beyond challenge.534 Throughout his work, Nephi's expressions brighten with phrases and terms that reflect an influence radiating from Isaiah. [S. Kent Brown, "What Is Isaiah Doing in First Nephi?," in From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon, 1998, pp. 9-12, 17-19]

 

1 Nephi 19:23 I Did Read unto Them That Which Was Written by the Prophet Isaiah:

 

     In 1 Nephi 19:23 we find the following:

     . . . but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah . . .

 

     According to Jeffrey Holland, as a testament of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon centers on the Redeemer's ministry and, to this end, uses Isaiah as a witness of Christ's past, present, and future loving and saving acts. . . . It would seem, even in Isaiah's very name, which in Hebrew means "Jehovah saves" or "the Lord is salvation," that Isaiah was prepared from birth--and of course we would say from before birth--to testify of the Messiah and bear such witness of the divinity of Christ's coming. . . .

     In a helpful footnote to 2 Nephi 12:2, our current edition of the LDS scriptures notes that there are some 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon. According to Monte Nyman, of those 433 (or so) verses of Isaiah, some 391 of them refer to the attributes or mission of Christ.535 In that same vein, Donald Parry pointed out to me that Isaiah provides 61 names and titles of deity in his writings. Those names and titles are found 708 times in the whole book of Isaiah, giving us an average appearance of one every 1.9 verses. [Jeffrey R. Holland, "Isaiah's Witness of Christ's Ministry," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, pp. 1-4]

 

1 Nephi 19:23 I Did Read unto Them That Which Was Written by the Prophet Isaiah:

 

     According to John Gee, when Nephite prophets quoted Isaiah, they followed a regular pattern. The pattern they used in citing and interpreting Isaiah in the Book of Mormon may be standardized as follows:

     A. Introduction

     B. Citation of a passage of scripture

     C. Quotation of parts of the text and interpretation of the passage by explaining and defining terms

     D. Conclusion by quoting the closing verses of the section.

 

[John Gee, "Choose the Things That Please Me": On the Selection of the Isaiah Sections in the Book of Mormon," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, p. 76]

 

1 Nephi 19:23 I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah (Illustration): "Outlines of Passages Quoting Isaiah," [John Gee, "Choose the Things That Please Me": On the Selection of the Isaiah Sections in the Book of Mormon," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, p. 76]

 

1 Nephi 19:23 The Prophet Isaiah:

 

     According to Cleon Skousen, it should be kept in mind that Isaiah lived just a century before the Lehi colony left Jerusalem. Isaiah was therefore one of the most impressive authorities which Lehi, Nephi or Jacob could quote to their own people in order to prove a scriptural point. . . .

     Writing from around 750-696 B.C., Isaiah predicted the future of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Egypt, Moab, Phoenicia and Syria. He told what would happen to the Ten Tribes of Israel, and later to the Jews and the Levites. He used one whole chapter to describe the life, death and ultimate victory of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53). He knew that Jehovah of the Old Testament was not the Father but the pre-mortal spirit of the Messiah who was to come. . . .

     We know Isaiah was married and had two sons whose names were given by revelation as prophetic symbols (see Isaiah 8:3,18). The scriptures indicate that Isaiah's wife was a noble woman of deep spirituality who held the distinction of being called a "prophetess" (Isaiah 8:3).

     Scripture does not tell us how long Isaiah lived, but according to Justin Martyr, writing around A.D. 150 . . . Isaiah died by being "sawed asunder with a wooden saw!" (See Dummelow's Bible Commentary, p. 409). [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, pp. 1271-1277]

 

1 Nephi 19:24 Hear Ye the Words of the Prophet, Ye Who Are a Remnant of the House of Israel:

 

     According to David Seely, readers often ask why Nephi included particular passages from Isaiah in his writings and what message Nephi would have us learn from that passage. Nephi does much to help readers understand the words of Isaiah by answering these questions both directly and indirectly in his introductory statements and through his commentaries. For example, Nephi introduces his quotation of Isaiah 48 and 49 in 1 Nephi 20-21 by indicating that the prophet's words refer to the scattering and gathering of Israel:

           Wherefore I spake unto them, saying: Hear ye the words of the prophet [Isaiah], ye who are a remnant of the house of Israel, a branch who have been broken off; hear ye the words of the prophet [Isaiah], which were written unto all the house of Israel, and liken them unto yourselves, that ye may have hope as well as your brethren from whom ye have been broken off; for after this manner has the prophet written. (1 Nephi 19:24)

 

     After quoting Isaiah 48 and 49, Nephi then explains to his brothers Laman and Lemuel that these chapters refer to a temporal as well as a spiritual scattering of Israel, including the scattering and gathering of the Nephite and Lamanite seed (see 1 Nephi 22). [David Rolph Seely, "Nephi's Use of Isaiah 2-14 in 2 Nephi 12-30," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, p. 151]

 

1 Nephi 19:24 Hear Ye the Words of the Prophet [and] Liken Them unto Yourselves:

 

     Jerald Simon notes that when Nephi really wanted to "persuade [his brethren] to believe in the Lord their Redeemer," (1 Nephi 19:22-23), and to awaken them to the knowledge of who they were and how they fit into the larger picture of the plan, he turned to Isaiah's rich messianic messages and assurances that God's promises to his covenant people would be fulfilled in the latter days. Nephi not only wanted his brethren to see the Savior and come unto Christ, but he wanted them to remember that they were part of the foreseen scattering and gathering of the house of Israel, that they were being led by a prophet of God.

     Although Nephi clearly understood the futuristic implications of Isaiah 48 and 49, his selection of these Isaiah chapters was most appropriate if Laman and Lemuel were to be persuaded to follow his counsel to "hear ye the words of the prophet" and "liken them unto yourselves." Nephi not only wanted Laman and Lemuel to hear the words of the prophet Isaiah but also two other prophets, his father Lehi and himself.

     It is clear that Nephi's charge to "liken" the words of Isaiah was uttered sometime after arriving in the promised land and before the death of Lehi. A closer scrutiny of the passages at the conclusion of 1 Nephi and the beginning of 2 Nephi indicate that these events, although found in two separate books, took place at one time. In other words, 1 Nephi 19 through 2 Nephi 4:12 all happened simultaneously, culminating with the death of Lehi. [Jerald F. Simon, "Researching Isaiah Passages in the Book of Mormon," in Covenants Prophecies and Hymns of the Old Testament, pp. 212-215]