2 Nephi 12

 

A Covenant Plan of Salvation

      (2 Nephi--Enos)


  

 

2 Nephi 12-24 (Why Isaiah?):

 

     In 2 Nephi 11:8, Jacob mentions that he will "write some of the words of Isaiah." Previously, Nephi declared, "I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him" (2 Nephi 11:2). Previously, Nephi had recorded his father's blessing to Jacob in which Lehi had declared to Jacob:

           Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi . . . I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men. And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.

 

     So here at the close of Nephi's life, Nephi and Jacob use the greatest scriptures at their disposal, the words of Isaiah, to lay a message before our eyes, and in doing so put their whole life's work into perspective.

     The reader should keep in mind that Nephi possibly represented the last surviving personal witness to his people of not only the results of the destruction and captivity of the ten tribes of Israel, but the wickedness of the people of Judah which led up to the destruction of Jerusalem. In the writings of Isaiah which Nephi uses here in 2 Nephi, Isaiah had prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem (see 2 Nephi 12, 13, 14). Isaiah had also prophesied about the scattering of the children of Judah (see 2 Nephi 15) Isaiah had recorded his visionary calling by the Lord himself (2 Nephi 16). Isaiah had prophesied about the destruction and captivity of the northern 10 tribes (2 Nephi 17-19), sandwiching within these words a marvelous prophecy of "The Prince of Peace" (2 Nephi 19). Isaiah had reminded the people in prophecy that as Israel went, so would go Judah (2 Nephi 20). But in the final four chapters, (2 Nephi 21-24) Isaiah had given to all the covenant children of Israel a promise of restoration, a promise of gathering. Thus, Nephi will include these writings of Isaiah in his record as a testament to what happened, as a testament to covenants--broken and kept, as a testament to the Lord, as a welding together of truth concerning the past, present, and future of God's children under Christ.

     Once Nephi concludes these chapters of Isaiah (12-24), he will finish his writings with his own prophetic words concerning his people and the covenants they have taken upon themselves (2 Nephi 25-30). Indeed, Nephi seems to have the same purpose in writing as Mormon & Moroni; that is, to show unto his people, "the remnant of the House of Israel, what great things the Lord has done for their fathers; . . . that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever"; "to the convincing of [his people] that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations" (see the Title Page of the Book of Mormon).

     Nephi will end his writings with a stark warning:

           And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day. For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen

[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on the Title Page]

 

2 Nephi 12-24 (Nephi Quotes Isaiah 2-14):

 

     Why did the Book of Mormon prophets quote so frequently from the writings of Isaiah? Why should Nephi and Jacob take the time (and precious space on the small plates) for the words of Isaiah? What is there in the writings of an eighth-century B.C. prophet--one, in fact, whose words are often extremely difficult to comprehend and appreciate--that would be of such worth to the Nephites and latter-day Israel?

     According to McConkie and Millet, a number of reasons suggest themselves. First, Isaiah was a relatively recent prophet. Many scholars place the dates of Isaiah's ministry around 742-701 B.C., only 100 to 150 years removed from the days of Nephi and Jacob. Isaiah's words would have been viewed by the Nephites much as the Latter-day Saints today view the sermons and writings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

     Second, one of Isaiah's central themes was the destiny of the house of Israel, of which the Nephites were an important branch (2 Nephi 6:5).

     Third, Isaiah spoke frequently of the status of the house of Israel in the last days; the Book of Mormon is a record prepared and preserved for the people of the latter days (2 Nephi 25:7-8).

     Fourth, Isaiah spoke repeatedly of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah (1 Nephi 19:23).

     In addition it might be noted that in the Lord's recorded instructions to the Nephites he twice endorsed the writings of Isaiah (3 Nephi 20:11; 23:1). In the second instance, after having quoted Isaiah 54, Jesus declared: "Ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah." [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, pp. 273-274]

 

2 Nephi 12-24 (Nephi Quotes Isaiah):

 

     Concerning our need to understand Isaiah as Nephi did, Elder McConkie said: "It just may be that my salvation (and yours also!) does in fact depend upon our ability to understand the writings of Isaiah as fully and truly as Nephi understood them" ("Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah," p. 78).

     1. Pay the price in study and effort.

     2. Have the "Spirit of Prophecy," which is the "testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 19:10) which comes by the power of the Holy Ghost.

     3. Understand the manner of prophesying of the Jews.

           a. The law of Moses.

           b. Imagery and figurative language (metaphors, similes, analogies, parables, types, and            shadows).

           c. Dualism (writings that apply to more than one situation and that may be fulfilled at more            than one time).

           d. Esoteric terms (religious terms or concepts only fully understood by those who have the            proper religious background.

     4. Become familiar with the geography of the Holy Land and the regions which surround it.

     5. Learn of the judgments of God and the fulfillment of his prophecies.

     6. Understand the historical setting of Isaiah's writings.

     7. Use the Book of Mormon.

     8. Study all scriptures and learn them thoroughly.

     9. Use the current LDS scriptures.

     10. Understand "line upon line."

 

[Outline taken from more extensive treatment in Student Manual for Religion 302 Old Testament: 1 Kings-Malachi, pp. 131-135]

 

2 Nephi 12-24 (Nephi Quotes Isaiah 2-14):

 

     Cleon Skousen points out that one of the questions frequently raised by readers of the Book of Mormon is why Nephi would quote so many chapters from Isaiah. The chapters themselves answer the question. Nephi was extremely anxious to have those who received the Book of Mormon in the latter days appreciate the potential magnificence of their place in history and not betray their opportunity to serve God faithfully as he prepares to usher in his Millennial reign. Nephi had seen all of these events in vision and he therefore readily identified in the writings of Isaiah the things which he, himself, thoroughly understood and knew to be true. . . . It will be observed that in each instance Nephi selected those chapters which related to one of these four major subjects: the dispersion of Israel (both the northern Ten Tribes and the Jews), the great gathering of Israel in the latter days, the restoration of the Gospel, and the ushering in of the Millennial reign. Nephi also included two chapters authenticating the calling of Isaiah as a true prophet. [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 1346]

 

2 Nephi 12-24 (Isaiah Passages Plagiarized?)

 

     According to Michael Hickenbotham, some have questioned why the Book of Mormon Isaiah passages often contain the exact wording of the King James Bible, including italicized words. The italicized King James words found in Isaiah passages were inserted by scholars for clarification of the meaning in the English translation but were not in the original Hebrew text.

     In the translation process Joseph Smith apparently made changes to Isaiah and other passages with biblical parallels only by exception (i.e. where clarification was needed), though witnesses and internal evidence indicate that Joseph Smith did not have a Bible with him as he translated (Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, vol. 5, p. 51; vol. 6, pp. 100-01, 127-30). It only stands to reason that Joseph Smith would not remove or change the King James words which clarify the meaning unless they were misleading or in error. Examples of this are found in 2 Nephi 12:2 (compare Isaiah 2:2); 2 Nephi 12:6 (Isaiah 2:6); 2 Nephi 12:12-14 (Isaiah 2:12-14); and 2 Nephi 12:20 (Isaiah 2:20).

     We should note that in the first chapter here where Book of Mormon passages parallel Isaiah's record (2 Nephi 12-Isaiah 2), eight verses contained italicized words and six of them were modified. The two verses left unchanged would have been confusing without the italicized words they included. Although the passages may not be representative of all Isaiah passages, the types of changes cited above are. Indeed, Book of Mormon chapter summaries in the present edition encourage the reader to compare the related Isaiah passages. When this is done without bias, the changes found in the Nephite record testify to the authenticity of this work and the inspiration involved in its production (see John A. Tvedtnes, Preliminary Report of the Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon, FARMS, p. 136). [Michael W. Hickenbotham, Answering Challenging Mormon Questions, p. 196]

 

2 Nephi 12-24 (The Writings of Isaiah--Plagiarized?):

 

     Specific language found in the King James Bible was obviously used in many cases when Joseph translated passages that quoted the Old Testament (several Isaiah chapters, for example) or translated passages that expressed ideas nearly identical to passages of the Bible. The objection is also made that King James English is modern, while the Book of Mormon is ancient, so the Book of Mormon must be a fraud to contain modern language. After all, what is language from a book published in 1611 doing in a book allegedly dating to 400 A.D. and earlier?

     Jeff Lindsay responds to such concerns by noting that King James English is not from the original Book of Mormon engravings--it is the vehicle that was used to translate ancient writings into English. A logical explanation is that King James language and phraseology was used as an effective and widely recognized medium for a sacred text, and exact words and phrases found in the King James Version were sometimes used when they adequately matched the meaning of the Nephite record or when Old Testament sources were being quoted.

     Some LDS people believe that when Joseph Smith encountered a passage similar to one already existing in the Bible, the printed King James text was used as an aid when that text adequately conveyed the meaning of the passage being translated. The difficulty of this approach is that the multiple accounts of those who witnessed him translate never suggest use of the Bible and sometimes seem to rule out that possibility.

     Interestingly, New Testament writers quote the Old Testament in the language of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament that came long after the original Hebrew scriptures. This point is important to understand:

           When Jesus and the Apostles and, for that matter, the Angel Gabriel quote the [Hebrew] scriptures in the New Testament, do they recite from some mysterious Urtext? Do they quote the prophets of old in the ultimate original? . . . No, they do not. They quote the Septuagint, a Greek version of the Old Testament prepared in the third century B.C. Why so? Because that happened to be the received standard version of the Bible accepted by the readers of the Greek New Testament. (Hugh W. Nibley, "Literary Style Used in the Book of Mormon Insured Accurate Translation," in The Prophetic Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Volume 8, p. 215.)

 

     As an example of how often New Testament writers borrowed from the Old Testament ("plagiarized" would be the words anti-Mormon-like critics might use), consider the case of John's Book of Revelation. D. C. Pyle has communicated to this writer that The Interpreter's Bible (12:358) states that:

           John was thoroughly acquainted with the Old Testament, and quoted or alludes to it throughout his book. It has been estimated that 278 verses out of a total of 404 contain references of one kind or another to the Old Testament. . . . yet in no case does he specifically mention a book of the Jewish scripture, and seldom does he quote verbatim.

 

     If New Testament prophets, apostles, and angels were allowed to quote what was then an accepted modern version of ancient scripture, we shouldn't be outraged that Joseph Smith would do the same or be guided to do the same in translating the Book of Mormon. [Jeff Lindsay, "Did Joseph Smith Plagiarize from the King James Bible?," Book of Mormon Commentary, www.jefflindsay.com, pp. 1-2] [See Vol. 6, Appendix C]

 

2 Nephi 12 (Isaiah Text & Commentary):

 

     Chapter 12

     (Compare Isaiah 2)

 

        The Lord's Covenants Will Be Remembered

     The Lord's House Will Be Established

 

 1 The word that Isaiah, the son of AMOZ, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem (but which can be applied to all Israel, or likened unto all men--2 Ne 11:8):

 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord's house (or his covenant Church through which the Lord administrates his plan) shall be established in the top of the mountains (symbolic of where God communicates with man), and shall be exalted above the hills (that is, in the last days people will get closer to God through covenant-making in the temple), and all nations shall flow unto it (or in other words, the gathering of covenant Israel will involve people from every nation).

 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord (or the place where the Lord communicates to man), to the house (or covenant Church) of the God of Jacob (or Israel); and he (Christ) will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (that is, Christ will be in control, both in the New World as well as the Old World).

 4 And he (Christ) shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks (or in essence, the Millennium will come and there will be peace)--nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

 

   Isaiah now switches from the future back to his own time and people, and uses a symbolic description of them to describe the trouble that must precede the Second Coming.

     Israel Is Proud and Materialistic

 

 5 O house of Jacob (Israel), come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord; yea, come, for ye have all gone astray, every one to his wicked ways.

 6 Therefore, O Lord, thou hast forsaken thy people, the house of Jacob (or the Israelites), because they [A.] be replenished from the east (or because they are adopting false eastern Gods and religions from Assyria), and [B.] hearken unto soothsayers like the PHILISTINES (who are into fortune-telling, witchcraft, sorcery, etc. -- see 3 Nephi 21:16), and [C.] they please themselves in the children of strangers (that is, the Israelites are mixing and marrying with foreigners, people not of the covenant).

 7 [D.]Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures (or in other words, the Israelites have become materialistic); [E.] their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots (that is, in addition to being materialistic, the Israelites have resorted to military force to maintain their economic status and achieve their goals).

 8 [F.] Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made (that is, Israel is turning away from something Eternal and proven for something mortal and without any merit).

 9 And [G.] the mean man boweth not down (that is, even the poor man or one low in social status refuses to humble himself), and the great man (or the wealthy, powerful man, high in social status) humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him not (or in essence, nobody is humble, therefore there is no forgiveness!).

 

     Conditions at the Second Coming of the Lord

 

 10 O ye wicked ones, enter into the rock (or into caves -- see verse 19), and hide thee in the dust (or underground), for the fear of the Lord and the glory of his majesty shall smite thee (or in other words, try as they might, the wicked will not be able to withstand the brightness and glory of the Lord at the Second Coming.

 11 And it shall come to pass that the lofty looks (or pride) of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.

 12 For the day of the Lord of Hosts (or the Second Coming) soon cometh upon all nations, yea, upon every one; yea, upon the proud and lofty, and upon every one who is lifted up (or who sets himself above the ways of the Lord), and he shall be brought low.

 13 Yea, and the day of the Lord shall come upon all the cedars of Lebanon (or upon all the high and mighty people who use these cedars to adorn and give fragrance to their great sanctuaries), for they are high and lifted up [in pride]; and upon all the oaks of Bashan (or upon all the rich and powerful who use this expensive wood in their lavish buildings);

 14 And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills (which might provide a worldly sense of vision and protection), and upon all the nations which are lifted up, and upon every people [for the Lord 's dominion is over the whole earth];

 15 And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall (that is, upon every symbol of strength and security that mortal man relies upon instead of trusting in God);

 16 And upon all the ships of the sea, and upon all the ships of Tarshish (referring to ships noted for their ability to travel long distances, to carry large cargoes, and to have the strength of a warship), and upon all pleasant pictures (that is, upon all the pleasure ships of the wealthy with fancy images embroidered on their sails).

 17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness (or great pride) of men shall be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.

 18 And the idols he shall utterly abolish.

 19 And they (the wicked) shall go into the holes of the rocks (or caves--paradoxically seeking sanctuary in a worldly rock rather than in a church built upon The Rock), and into the caves of the earth (or underground caverns--paradoxically seeking relief through earthly gods rather than from the Father of Heaven and Earth), for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them and the glory of his majesty shall smite them, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth (see D&C 5:19).

 20 In that day (the coming of the Lord) a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which he hath made for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats (symbols of darkness) (or in other words, the wicked vainly will try to hide their treasures away or protect what they have acquired through deeds of darkness -- see Helaman 13:31,33,36);

 21 [And the wicked will attempt] To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks (or to the most unreachable places), for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them and the majesty of his glory shall smite them, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth (see Rev. 11:11-13; 16:18; Ezek. 38:20; D&C 45:48; 133:23).

 22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of (that is, cease to trust in the works of mortal man, for why trust in the arm of flesh when God is truly powerful and can save you eternally)?

[Alan C. Miner, Step by Step through the Book of Mormon: The Covenant Story, Vol. 2. Adapted from David J. Ridges, Isaiah Made Easier / The Book of Revelation Made Easier, 1994]

 

2 Nephi 12:1 The Word That Isaiah . . . Saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

 

     According to Victor Ludlow, one interesting point in 2 Nephi 12:1 is that Isaiah "saw" the word he delivered. It is difficult to know how he "saw the word," whether he saw it written out on an actual scroll or in a vision of a heavenly book (as Lehi did; 1 Nephi 1:11-14).

     Interestingly, the first words Isaiah records in verses 2-4, ("And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it"), are also found with only slight variations in Micah 4:1-4. It may be that Isaiah "saw" the words of Micah or that he "saw" his own vision and Micah borrowed his words. Or, both prophets may have read the prophecy of some earlier prophet. Scholars differ in their opinions on which of these possibilities best explains the textual similarities. There is yet a fourth possibility, however, that seems plausible, particularly to Latter-day Saints: Isaiah and Micah, by virtue of their prophetic callings, each "saw" the same heavenly vision and were inspired to record it in essentially the same words. Since Isaiah and Micah were contemporaries dealing with the same people and problems, it seems likely that they would share similar spiritual manifestations. Precedents for this explanation exist elsewhere in the scriptures, because several prophets far distant from each other have recorded the same inspired messages: compare the "charity" sermon in 1 Corinthians 13 with Moroni 7, and the discourse on gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 with Moroni 10 and Doctrine and Covenants section 46. Certainly it is possible for two prophets to use the same vocabulary in recording revelations if, as the Lord said, "these words are not of men, nor of man, but of me." (D&C 18:34) [Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet, pp. 85-86]

 

2 Nephi 12:1 The word that Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem (Illustration): Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah saw many events that would take place in the latter days. Nephi included some of Isaiah's prophecies in his own record and encouraged readers to "liken them unto [themselves] and unto all men." Artist: Robert T. Barrett. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 102]

 

2 Nephi 12:2-3 In the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains (Illustration): The Salt Lake temple stands near the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. Its soaring pinnacles and peaks recall the holy mountains of ancient times. This great temple, which hundreds of thousands have visited, partially fulfills Isaiah's prophecy that "all nations shall flow" to "the mountain of the Lord's house." [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 98]

 

2 Nephi 12:4 Plow-Shares . . . Pruning-Hooks:

 

     What are plow-shares and pruninghooks (2 Nephi 12:4)? According to Donald Parry, plowshares are the cutting blade of a plow, and the pruninghook is a tool with a hooked blade for pruning plants. In the parallelism, "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks" (Isaiah 2:4), the two agricultural instruments may have been chosen as symmetrical counterparts of swords and spears because all four instruments have blades--two of the blades are used in warfare, and the other two blades are useful, constructive, and conducive to the work ethic and eventual prosperity. Plowshares and pruninghooks, therefore, represent instruments of peace and prosperity. [Donald W. Parry, "Isaiah, Prophecies of Jesus Christ, Zion, and the Millennium," (Part 2), F.A.R.M.S., p. 5]

 

2 Nephi 12:4 Plowshares (Illustration): Plowshares without the plow, Neot Kedumim, a biblical landscape reserve. Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 118]

 

2 Nephi 12:4 Pruninghooks (Illustration): A pruning hook is a knifelike instrument with a short, broad blade used for pruning vines and harvesting grapes. Isaiah describes the pruning process: "For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, . . . he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches" (Isaiah 18:5). Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 118]

 

2 Nephi 12:5 For Ye Have All Gone Astray, Every One To His Wicked Ways:

 

     John Tvedtnes writes that in comparing the Isaiah text from the King James Bible with the Book of Mormon, we find at the end of 2 Nephi 12:5 (compare Isaiah 2:5) a phrase is added. The verse reads: "O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord; yea, come, for ye have all gone astray, every one to his wicked ways." (added phrase in italics) This additional phrase is also found in Isaiah 53:6 and is hence the kind of thing that Isaiah would be expected to say. There is evidence to indicate that the Massoretic Hebrew Text deleted this portion by haplography because of its resemblance to words around it. An earlier Hebrew scribe can therefore be credited with this accidental deletion. [John A. Tvedtnes, "The Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon," FARMS, p. 22]

 

2 Nephi 12:5 For Ye Have All Gone Astray, Every One to His Wicked Ways:

 

     The verses in 2 Nephi 12 (Isaiah 2) deal with the ushering in of the millennial era and the changes that will accompany it. The writings of Isaiah as found in the Book of Mormon show the following additional phrase in verse 5: "Yea, come, for ye have all gone astray, every one to his wicked ways" (2 Nephi 12:5). This verse indicates a widespread apostasy in Israel and the return of Israel to the Lord before the Second Coming. Student Manual for Religion 302 Old Testament: 1 Kings-Malachi, p. 139]

 

2 Nephi 12:6 They Please Themselves in the Children of Strangers:

 

     The Hebrew word for please here means, literally, to strike or shake hands. In the context of Isaiah's rebuke, it probably speaks of how the children of Israel . . . turned their backs on the God of Israel to make covenants with nonbelievers. [ Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Isaiah Plain & Simple, p. 16]

 

2 Nephi 12:6 Philistines:

 

     The Philistines (2 Nephi 12:6) occupied the territory which was known as "the land of the Philistines" ('eres p listim) or Philistia (p leset). It is from these that the modern name "Palestine" derives.

     When the Israelites left Egypt the Philistines were extensively settled along the coastal strip between Egypt and Gaza, and the Israelites were obliged to detour inland to avoid "the way of the land of the Philistines" (Exodus 13:17).

     There were five main cities of the Philistines: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath (Joshua 13:2-3). From the time of Joshua and for many generations, the Philistines were used by God to chastise the Israelites (Judges 3:2-3). The Philistines continued to cause trouble throughout the Monarchy and were still aggressive in the time of Ahaz (Isaiah 9:8-12). [Tyndale House, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, pp. 1218-1222] [See 2 Nephi 19:12; 21:14]

 

2 Nephi 12:6 Philistines (Illustration): The cities of the Philistines and their neighbours. [Tyndale House, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, pp. 1219]

 

2 Nephi 12:10 Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust (Illustration): Cave north of Qumran. Hundreds of natural caves exist int he central hill country of Judea and Samaria as well as in the deserts and fault escarpment overlooking the Dead Sea region. In ancient times, caves served as hiding places, dwellings, and tombs. Photograph by Carrilyn Clarkson. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 119]

 

2 Nephi 12:13 Cedars of Lebanon:

 

     In biblical times, the name Lebanon was applied to a mountain range in Syria and loosely to the adjoining regions (Joshua 13:5). The name is also that of a modern republic.

     The Lebanon range is a ridge almost 160 kilometers long, following the southwest to northeast trend of the Phoenician coast from behind Sidon north. Lebanon was above all famous for its former dense forest cover. The coastland and lower mountain-slopes support garden-cultivation, olive groves, vineyards, fruit-orchards (mulberries, figs, apples, apricots, walnuts) and small cornfields. Higher still rises the forest-cover of myrtles and conifers, culminating in the groves of mighty cedars, of which, alas, only one or two isolated groves survive (because of excessive deforestation).

     Lebanon's cedars [2 Nephi 12:13] and conifers (firs, cypresses, etc.) furnished the finest building timber in the ancient East, sought by the rulers of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Syria-Palestine alike. The mighty cedars were apt symbols of majesty and strength in biblical imagery; cf. Judges 9:15; 1 Kings 4:33; 2 Kings 14:9; Psalms 92:12; Isaiah 35:2; 60:13. They were also symbols of earthly pride subject to divine wrath; cf. Psalms 29:5-6; Isaiah 2:13; 10:34; Jeremiah 22:6. [Tyndale House, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 2, p. 891-893] [See 2 Nephi 24:8]

 

2 Nephi 12:13 Cedars of Lebanon (Illustration): (1) The Lebanon range of mountains. (2) Snow-capped mountain ridges in Lebanon with cedars at Kadesh. (3) Cedar trees in the Lebanon hills. [Tyndale House, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 2, pp. 892-893]

 

2 Nephi 12:13 The Cedars of Lebanon (Illustration): A stand of cedars of Lebanon, east of Byblos. Mature cedars of Lebanon have large trunks and branches that spread out horizontally. In biblical times abundant forests of cedars flourished in the mountains of Lebanon, but now they are sparse. Multiple ancient Near Eastern kingdoms imported cedars of Lebanon to use in many of their fine buildings. Hiram, king of Tyre, through an agreement with King Solomon, transported cedars to Jerusalem for Solomon's temple. Kings David and Solomon each used cedar in the construction of their personal residences. Photograph by Arnold H. Green. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 121]

 

1 Nephi 12:13 Cedars of Lebanon: (Illustration) Snow-capped Mountain ridges in the lebanon with cedars at Kadesh. (MephA)

 

1 Nephi 12:13 Cedars of Lebanon (Illustration) Cedar trees in the Lebanon Hills.

 

2 Nephi 12:13 Oaks of Bashan:

 

     Bashan (2 Nephi 12:13) was a region east of Jordan and lying to the north of Gilead. In the wide sense it was counted as extending north to Mt. Hermon. Its fertility was famous (see Psalms 22;12; Ezekiel 39:18; Isaiah 2:13; Jeremiah 50:19). It formed part of the dominions of David and Solomon, was lost during the Syrian wars, was regained by Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25), only to be taken by Tiglath-pileser III (2 Kings 15:29), after which it formed part of the successive Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian Empires. [Tyndale House, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, p. 177]

 

2 Nephi 12:13 Bashan (Illustration): The Location of Bashan. [Tyndale House, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, p. 177]

 

2 Nephi 12:13 The oaks of Bashan (Illustration): An oak of Bashan, near Qatzrin, an ancient village from the talmudic period (ca. A.D. 200-500). Bashan was a region north of Gilead and east of the Jordan River. The region was known to be fertile and was celebrated for its oak trees. Photograph by Arnold H. Green. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 121]

 

2 Nephi 12:15 Upon every high tower (Illustration): Northwest tower of the Ajiloun Castle, Jordan, built by Azz Al Din Ausama in A.D. 1184-85. Large complex towers made of stone were built into the walls of fortified cities. Watchmen and guards stood on these towers ready to warn the city's inhabitants of danger. Photograph by Carrilyn Clarkson. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 122]

 

2 Nephi 12:15 Upon every fenced wall (Illustration): Throughout the ages, the walls and fortresses of Jerusalem have been built, destroyed, and sometimes rebuilt. The stones reflect the culture and time of those who placed them. The remains of this wall date back to Isaiah's time. Photograph by John W. Welch. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 122]

 

2 Nephi 12:16 [The Lord Shall Come upon] All the Ships of Tarshish:

 

     According to Reynolds and Sjodahl, the prophet Isaiah has, in the previous verses of this section, emphasized the fact that humiliation would be the consequence of pride. All that was high and exalted in its own estimation would be debased and humiliated. He enumerates: The cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, the mountains and hills, the nations and people, the towers and walls and, finally, the ships of the sea, even the largest, the Tarshish ships, with their proud standards or figure heads. . . . "Ships of Tarshish" (2 Nephi 12:16) apparently refers to ships capable of long voyages. These ships would have sailed from the major ports of the Mediterranean, one of which was Tyre. This famous city, about 50 miles south of Beirut, was once a mercantile world center, comparable in importance to New York, or London, of today. It was the capital of Phoenicia, the mother country of Carthage, the great rival of Rome, in the Mediterranean. Her sailors and merchants roamed all over the then known world.

     But the prophets of the Lord predicted her downfall and destruction. Isaiah foretold that Tyre would fall and be utterly forgotten. (Isaiah 23:5,8,15) Ezekiel has this prediction:

           Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God. (Ezekiel 26:1-6)

 

     This has been fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the city. It lasted for thirteen years, until, as Ezekiel says, "every head"--of his vast army--was made bald and every shoulder was peeled"--from carrying burdens--" yet had he no wages, nor his army." (Ezekiel 29:18) The time had not yet come. About 270 years later, Alexander the great accomplished its downfall.

     Tyre was built on rocks in the sea, about a mile and a half from the shore. Alexander caused a road to be constructed through the water. This gigantic task completed, he threw the city with its 150 feet high walls into the deep, and swept the rocks on which it had stood. Fishermen did actually spread their nets on these rocks to dry in the sun.

     Isaiah has a remarkable prediction that may be noted here. He says: "Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it (Tyre) is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in; from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them. . . . Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste." (Isaiah 23:1-14) "Ships of Tarshish" were sometimes absent on their voyages for two or three years. Imagine the consternation of the crews, when such ships came back and found no harbor in which to enter, no houses where the city had stood, only naked rocks, connected with the shore by means of a mole!

     At the beginning of our era, a new Tyre was visited by the disciples of Christ. It had a temple and some churches. During the 7th century it came into the hands of the Saracenes, and then, in the 12th century, the crusaders. It was then a place of some importance. For 300 years it was ruled by the Turks. In 1834 it was visited by a destructive earthquake. Ten years later a traveler relates that when he and others came to the place and looked for a shop in which to buy some souvenirs, they found none. Fishermen were still spreading their nets on the rocks.

[George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, pp. 294-295,325]

 

2 Nephi 12:16 And upon All the Ships of the Sea:

 

     According to Sidney Sperry, in 2 Nephi 12:16 (cf. Isaiah 2:16) the Prophet prefaces a whole phrase not contained in either the King James Version or the Hebrew text. The phrase in question is and upon all the ships of the sea. With this phrase the Septuagint agrees, and it is perfectly easy to explain, on the basis of the Book of Mormon reading's being the original, why our present Hebrew text only has two phrases. According to the Book of Mormon the original had three phrases all beginning with the words and upon all. But a perfectly natural error---some scribe's eye inadvertently hit upon the second and upon all, and the first phrase was omitted. It is interesting to note that the Septuagint version has preserved the first phrase of this verse correctly, has omitted one phrase, and has corrupted another. The Hebrew has preserved the last two phrases correctly, but the Book of Mormon has preserved all three. [Sidney B. Sperry, "The Book of Mormon As Translation English," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, F.A.R.M.S., Spring 1995, pp. 212-213]

     According to Victor Ludlow, it appears that the Book of Mormon contains the most complete retention of the original structure of this verse. Since the prophet Joseph Smith did not know Greek, and since there is no evidence that he had access to a copy of the Septuagint when he completed his Book of Mormon translation in 1829, this addition supports the fact that Joseph Smith translated the Isaiah portion in the Book of Mormon from a more authentic ancient text. [Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet, p. 91]

 

2 Nephi 12:16 And upon all the ships of the sea (Illustration): 2 Nephi 12:16: A Comparison of Three Ancient Texts. [Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet, p. 91]

 

Book of Mormon

 

(1) And upon all the ships of the sea

 

(2) And upon all the ships of Tarsus

 

(3) And upon all pleasant pictures

 

Septuagint

 

(1) And upon all the ships of the sea

 

 

 

(3) And upon all pleasant ships

Hebrew (KJV)

 

 

 

(2) And upon all the ships of Tarshish

 

(3) And upon all pleasant ships

2 Nephi 12:16 Ships of Tarshish:

 

     The general Hebrew word for ship, niyya, refers most commonly to seagoing merchant vessels (e.g. Proverbs 31:14) which are often described as "ships of Tarshish" (2 Nephi 12:16; Isaiah 2:16; 1 Kings 22:48). Whether or not Tarshish is to be identified with a geographical location such as Tartessus in southern Spain or Tarsus in Cilicia or is thought to mean something like "ore-carrier," the ship so described is a Phoenician long-range merchantman.

     Phoenician shipping developed during the 2nd millennium B.C. and is known to us from Egyptian tomb paintings and from texts. The paintings reveal that, unlike contemporary Egyptian ships, Canaanite (early Phoenician) vessels were built with a keel and had a fence-like structure along the deck. . . . A document from Ras Shamra, (about 1200 B.C.), refers to one of these merchantmen as having a cargo of 457,000 kilograms (450 tons) with no indication that it was at all unusual. Such a large vessel had to rely on sail power and could be rowed only for brief periods in an emergency.

     The ship that Jonah embarked on at Joppa is called a s pina (Jonah 1:5), which may indicate that it was a large vessel with a deck, possibly similar to a Greek merchantman. [Tyndale House, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, pp. 1441-1442]

 

     The question as to the locality of Tarshish has given rise to not a little discussion. Some think there was a tarshish in the East, on the Indian coast, seeing that "ships of Tarshish" sailed from Ezion-geber, on the Red Sea (1 Kings 9:26; 22:48; 2 Chronicles 9:21). Some, again, argue that Carthage was the place so named. There can be little doubt, however, that this is the name of a Phoenician port in Spain, between the two mouths of the Guadalquivir (the name given to the river by the Arabs, and meaning "the great wady" or water-course). It was founded by a Carthaginian colony, and was the farthest western harbour of Tyrian sailors. It was to this port Jonah's ship was about to sail from Joppa. It has well been styled "the Peru of Tyrian adventure;" it abounded in gold and silver mines.      

     It appears that the name "Tarshish" is also used without reference to any locality. "Ships of Tarshish" is an expression sometimes denoting simply ships intended for a long voyage (Isaiah 23:1, 14), ships of a large size (sea-going ships), whatever might be the port to which they sailed. Solomon's ships were so styled (1 Kings 10:22; 22;49). (Easton's Bible Dictionary) [Infobases, LDS Collectors Library '97 ] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 18:8]

 

2 Nephi 12:16 Ships of Tarshish (Illustration): A Phoenician trading vessel carved on the end of a stone sarcophagus from Tyre. 2nd-1st century B.C. [Tyndale House, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, pp. 1441]

 

2 Nephi 12:16 Tarshish:

 

     According to George Potter and Richard Wellington, some scholars have associated Tarshish with Tartessus in Spain. However there was also a Tarshish on the Indian Ocean (see LDS Bible Dictionary). In 2 Chronicles 9:21 we can read of some of the merchandise brought back to Palestine from trips to Tarshish; gold, silver, ivory, and apes and peacocks (hardly products from Spain). While the ivory & gold could equally have come from Africa, the complete list of items indicates dealings with India,131 an ancient trading partner with southern Arabia. Peacocks live in India and are not found in Africa at all.132 Moreover, 2 Chronicles 20:36 notes that the ships that went to Tarshish came from the port of Ezion geber, a port on the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. It is possible that Tarshish might have been associated with Moscha on the Indian Ocean. Moscha was located on the eastern part of the Salalah plain in the Dhofar region of what is today Oman. Today, the ruins of what is thought to be Moscha are found at the inlet of khor Rori. From Moscha, in the area known as Dhofar, ships loaded with the precious frankincense embarked into the Indian Ocean.

     It is almost certain that Lehi knew of he ocean-going ships of the Indian Ocean, their port-of-call at the Frankincense port of Moscha, and the authorized trail he could take overland to reach Moscha. His contemporaries Ezekiel and Jeremiah, had a knowledge of the Frankincense trail and the oceanic shipping that was taking place in the Indian ocean. Ezekiel wrote of the merchants of Dedan and Sheba, both associated with Arabian empires whose wealth was based ont he incense trade and both of which were situated on trading routes (Ezekiel 27:20, 22). Ezekiel specifically mentioned the ocean going ships of the merchants of Tarshish, as well as their pilots and mariners. [George Potter & Richard Wellington, Discovering Nephi's Trail, Chapter 4, p. 3, Unpublished] [See the commentary on Ophir--2 Nephi 23:12]

 

2 Nephi 12:16 [The Lord Shall Come upon] All the Ships of Tarshish:

 

     According to Reynolds and Sjodahl, the prophet Isaiah has, in the previous verses of this section, emphasized the fact that humiliation would be the consequence of pride. All that was high and exalted in its own estimation would be debased and humiliated. He enumerates: The cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, the mountains and hills, the nations and people, the towers and walls and, finally, the ships of the sea, even the largest, the Tarshish ships, with their proud standards or figure heads. . . . "Ships of Tarshish" (2 Nephi 12:16) apparently refers to ships capable of long voyages. These ships would have sailed from the major ports of the Mediterranean, one of which was Tyre. This famous city, about 50 miles south of Beirut, was once a mercantile world center, comparable in importance to New York, or London, of today. It was the capital of Phoenicia, the mother country of Carthage, the great rival of Rome, in the Mediterranean. Her sailors and merchants roamed all over the then known world.

     But the prophets of the Lord predicted her downfall and destruction. Isaiah foretold that Tyre would fall and be utterly forgotten. (Isaiah 23:5,8,15) Ezekiel has this prediction:

           Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God. (Ezekiel 26:1-6)

 

     This has been fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the city. It lasted for thirteen years, until, as Ezekiel says, "every head"--of his vast army--was made bald and every shoulder was peeled"--from carrying burdens--" yet had he no wages, nor his army." (Ezekiel 29:18) The time had not yet come. About 270 years later, Alexander the great accomplished its downfall.

     Tyre was built on rocks in the sea, about a mile and a half from the shore. Alexander caused a road to be constructed through the water. This gigantic task completed, he threw the city with its 150 feet high walls into the deep, and swept the rocks on which it had stood. Fishermen did actually spread their nets on these rocks to dry in the sun.

     Isaiah has a remarkable prediction that may be noted here. He says: "Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it (Tyre) is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in; from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them. . . . Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste." (Isaiah 23:1-14) "Ships of Tarshish" were sometimes absent on their voyages for two or three years. Imagine the consternation of the crews, when such ships came back and found no harbor in which to enter, no houses where the city had stood, only naked rocks, connected with the shore by means of a mole!

     At the beginning of our era, a new Tyre was visited by the disciples of Christ. It had a temple and some churches. During the 7th century it came into the hands of the Saracenes, and then, in the 12th century, the crusaders. It was then a place of some importance. For 300 years it was ruled by the Turks. In 1834 it was visited by a destructive earthquake. Ten years later a traveler relates that when he and others came to the place and looked for a shop in which to buy some souvenirs, they found none. Fishermen were still spreading their nets on the rocks.

[George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, pp. 294-295,325], Vol. 1, p. 325]

 

2 Nephi 12:16 [The Lord Shall Come upon] All the Ships of Tarshish and upon All Pleasant Pictures:

 

     According to Reynolds and Sjodahl, the expression "pleasant pictures" (2 Nephi 12:16) refers to the standards or figure heads of the ships. In Acts 28:11 the student will find an illustration of the meaning of this expression. There we are informed that the ship in which Paul traveled from Malta to Rome had Castor and Pollux for a "sign." Those mythical twin sons of Zeus were the supposed protectors of the ship, and their images were painted, or sculptured in a prominent place on the ship. Others had different protectors and therefore different images and standards. But idols, whether on land or sea will be utterly destroyed in the wrath of the day of the Lord. [George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 325]

 

2 Nephi 12:16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish (Illustration): This Byzantine mosaic of a ship, found in Hisham's Palace near Jericho, may be similar in appearance to the ships of Tarshish. Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 26]

 

2 Nephi 12:16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish (Illustration): A model of a Canaanite merchant ship. During the Old Testament period, ships carried a variety of goods for merchants and seamen for navies. The Phoenicians, especially, were famous for their transport of merchandise on elaborately built ships to Mediterranean seaports. Photograph by Arnold H. Green. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 27]

 

2 Nephi 12:16 The rivers of Egypt (Illustration): Map: Egypt at the time of Isaiah. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah. p.27]

 

2 Nephi 12:20 He Hath Made for Himself to Worship:

 

     Jeff Lindsay notes that scholars have found support for variant passages in the Book of Mormon chapters of Isaiah in other early biblical manuscript texts. Franklin Harris writes that "in Isaiah 2:20 (2 Nephi 12:20) where the Book of Mormon reads 'he hath made' for 'they made' the reading is confirmed by Codex Alexandrinus which renders 'he made.' (Franklin S. Harris, Jr., The Book of Mormon: Messages and Evidences, pp. 50-52) [Quoted by Jeff Lindsay, "Did Joseph Smith Plagiarize from the King James Bible?," Book of Mormon Commentary, www.jefflindsay.com]

 

2 Nephi 12:20 The bats (Illustration): Bats hanging from tree branches in a centuries-old building, Akko. Several species of bats live in the Near East, most of which eat insects. They dwell communally in caves, crevices, or other dark places. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 123]