2 Nephi 15
A Covenant Plan of Salvation
2 Nephi 15 (Isaiah Text & Commentary):
(Compare Isaiah 5)
The Parable of the Vineyard (the House of Israel)
Israel Will Be Scattered; the Vineyard Will Become Desolate
1 And then will I sing (that is I, Isaiah, will now compose a song or poetic parable) to MY WELL-BELOVED a song of MY BELOVED (and I will sing about Christ), touching his vineyard (or the house of Israel). My Well-Beloved (or the Lord of Hosts -- see verse 7) hath a vineyard (the house of Israel - see verse 7) in a very fruitful hill (or in the land of Israel).
2 And he fenced it (or protected it), and gathered out the stones thereof (that is, he removed those things that hindered growth, etc., and gave it every chance to succeed), and planted it with the choicest vine (or with the good men and women who came through the covenant lineage of Jacob and Abraham), and built a tower (or put watchmen or prophets) in the midst of it, and also made a wine-press therein (indicating the expectations for a good harvest); and he looked that it should bring forth grapes (representing faithful people), and it brought forth wild grapes (or wicked apostate people).
3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me (Christ) and my vineyard (apostate Israel); (or in other words, I'll give you the facts and you be the judge).
4 What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it (that is, have I not done my job)? Wherefore (basically), when I looked (or planned) that it should bring forth [good] grapes it brought forth wild grapes.
5 And now go to (that is, now that that's settled); I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard (or the house of Israel)--I will take away the hedge thereof (or inner inclosure), and it shall be eaten up; and I will break down the wall thereof (or outer inclosure) (or in other words, I will remove from it my divine protection), and it (the vineyard or the house of Israel) shall be trodden down;
6 And I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned nor digged (that is, the Spirit will withdraw - meaning no prophets or true leaders will care for the people); but there shall come up briers and thorns (or apostate doctrines and behaviors); I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it (or in other words, there will be no revelation).
7 For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant; and he looked for judgment (that is, he expected justice, fairness, kindness, etc.), and behold [or instead -- he found] oppression; [he looked] for righteousness, but behold, [only] a cry [of riotous living was heard].
Six Woes Are Pronounced Because of Wickedness
8 [1.] Wo unto them (or unto the powerful and wealthy) that join house to house (or make unfair alliances), till there can be no place that they (the poor) may be placed alone in the midst of the earth (or in other words, wo unto those in power who deal under the table in order to push the poor off their lands of inheritance and out of their businesses)!
9 In mine ears (or in Isaiah's ears), said the Lord of Hosts, of a truth (that is, Mark my word!) many houses (especially of the rich) shall be desolate, and great and fair cities without inhabitant (or in essence, all your wicked schemes to acquire houses, wealth, and lands will be for naught).
10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard (or the amount of land that ten yoke of oxen can plow in a day = five modern acres) shall yield one bath (or about 5.8 gallons or 25 quarts), and the seed of a homer (or about 6.2 bushels--equivalent to about 58 gallons) shall yield an ephah (the equivalent of only one bath -- or about 5.8 gallons) (or in other words, because the wealthy have unfairly acquired the land of the poor, the land and society will become unproductive).
11 [2.] Wo unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink, that continue until night, and wine inflame them (that is, wo unto them that follow an unrighteous and riotous lifestyle)!
12 And the harp, and the viol (or lyre), the tabret (drums or tambourines), and pipe (or flute); (that is, musical instruments symbolic of people's pursuit of pleasure and merrymaking), and wine are in their feasts; but (and) they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands (or in other words, their hearts are set on worldliness and they do not acknowledge God).
13 Therefore (or this is why), my people are gone into captivity (both spiritual and physical bondage), and their honorable men (their leaders) are famished (or lack the knowledge of God--spiritual "bread"), and their multitude (or masses) dried up with thirst (that is, they fail to drink of "living waters"--the words of Christ) (According to Amos 8:11-12, that there will be a famine of hearing the words of the Lord, and also, a literal famine because of captivity).
14 Therefore (or because of this), hell hath enlarged herself (that is, they've had to add on to hell to make room for this wicked people!), and opened her mouth without measure (or opened her jaws wide); and their glory (which the wicked heap upon themselves), and their multitude (or all those who vainly follow worldly glory), and their pomp (or ostentatious display of worldly wealth, vanity, and ceremony), and he that rejoiceth (or rejoices in this wicked, worldly lifestyle), shall descend into it (or descend into hell).
15 And the mean man (or the common ordinary man) shall be brought down (or humbled), and the mighty man (or wealthy and powerful man) shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty (or proud) shall be humbled (or in essence, everyone will be humbled).
16 But the Lord of Hosts shall be exalted (or upheld) in judgment (or justice), and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness (that is, the Lord will triumph).
17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner (or in other words, sheep will graze where the Lord's vineyard, or the house of Israel once stood; in essence, the destruction will be complete), and the waste places of the fat ones (or the former properties and homes of the wealthy and powerful ones) shall strangers (or foreigners) eat (or consume).
18 [3.] Wo unto them that draw (or drag) iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope (or in other words, Wo unto the wicked people who become so tethered to their sins that unholiness follows them wherever they might go);
19 That say: Let him (or the Lord) make speed, hasten his work, that we may see it (or that say: Let God prove to us that he exists); and let the counsel (or plans) of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it (or in other words, wo unto them that say: We are calling the Lord's bluff; we will believe what the prophets say when we see it, but it will never happen--see 3 Ne. 1:5-7).
20 [4.] Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil (or who pervert the standards of decency and morality), that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21 [5.] Wo unto the wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight (or in essence, wo unto the wicked who make their own rules in order to justify their evil deeds)!
22 [6.] Wo unto the mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink (that is, wo unto those leaders who live a riotous business and political lifestyle);
23 Who justify the wicked for reward (or who take bribes and contribute to the corruption of the economic and judicial system, etc.), and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him (or deprive the innocent of his rights)!
24 Therefore, as the fire devoureth the stubble (see D&C 64:24), and the flame consumeth the chaff, their root shall be rottenness, and their blossoms shall go up as dust (or in essence, every meaningful thing in their life will not bear fruit -- they are looking at destruction); because they have cast away the law of the Lord of Hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 Therefore (or for these reasons), is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them; and the hills did tremble, and their carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets (that is, there will be terrible destruction resulting from Israel's wickedness). For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still (or in other words, despite all this, these wicked people can still repent -- see Jacob 6:4).
Israel Will Be Gathered
The Latter-day Restoration of the Gospel
Isaiah mixes a dual prophecy of both gloom (destruction and scattering) and hope (gathering and salvation). He compares the speed of this gathering with the speed with which the Assyrian soldiers invade and destroy the land. of Israel in 722 B.C. Note*** Only the gathering interpretation will be given here.
26 And he will lift up an ensign (or a flag, a rallying point -- that is, the true gospel) to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them (or will signal people to gather) from the end of the earth; and behold, they (the righteous) shall come with speed swiftly (meaning that transportation and communication will be facilitated); none shall be weary nor stumble among them.
27 None (of the gatherers) shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken (or in other words, they will travel so fast by modern transportation that they won't need to change clothes or even take their shoes off);
28 Whose arrows shall be sharp, and all their bows bent (that is, the gatherers will hunt the convert constantly with the gospel message), and their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint [giving off sparks like the wheels of a train], and their wheels like a whirlwind [as in modern cars], their roaring like a lion [as in jet engines].
29 They (or the missionary forces) shall roar like young lions (or preach with testimony and conviction); yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey (or converts), and shall carry away safe, and none shall deliver (that is, no enemies can stop the missionary work or prevent the gathering).
30 And in that day (or the last days) they (or the forces of evil) shall roar against them (or against the forces of good) like the roaring of the sea (which is constant); and if they (the forces of good) look unto the land (or the earth -- or unto the conditions of the world), behold, darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof (implying wars, pollutions, misfortunes, etc.) (In other words, despite a foreboding outlook, missionary work will succeed).
[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 15:1-2 A vineyard in a very fruitful hill (Illustration): A large vineyard located between Jerusalem and Hebron. The Holy Land was celebrated for its wine cultivation, as evidenced by frequent reference to vineyards, grapes, and wine throughout the Old Testament. Isaiah 5:1-2 summarizes the work of preparing a vineyard, which involved making a winepress, frequently hewn from solid rock. Harvested grapes were eaten as fresh fruit, dried into raisins, or prepared and fermented for wine. Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 8]
2 Nephi 15:1-2 A winepress (Illustration): An ancient winepress. After grapes were harvested, they were carried in baskets to a grape press. There, individuals trod on the grapes so that the juice flowed into a vat, where it was gathered into containers. Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 8]
2 Nephi 15:5 I Will Break down the Wall Thereof:
Jeff Lindsay notes that the issue of Isaiah variants in the Book of Mormon is a complex and interesting topic now for scholars. They have found support for the Book of Mormon variants in other biblical texts. Franklin Harris writes:
In Isaiah 5:5 (2 Nephi 15:5) the Book of Mormon adds "I will" making the clause read "and I will break down the wall thereof." This reading is precisely that of the Septuagint which renders "and I will pull down its walls." (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 15:8 Wo unto Them That Join House to House:
According to Hoyt Brewster, this woe is pronounced on the wealthy landowners who covet and buy up property, thus depriving the poor of their heritage. (See Micah 2:1-2). The law of ancient Israel prescribed that land could not "be sold for ever." (Leviticus 25:23; see also 1 Kings 21.) It was to remain within families as a heritage for posterity. When economical circumstances necessitated the sale of land, it was to be returned to the original owners in the year of Jubilee, which occurred every fifty years. (LDS Bible Dictionary, "Jubilee, Year of," p. 718) [ Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Isaiah Plain & Simple, p. 46]
2 Nephi 15:11 Strong drink . . . wine (Illustration): A wineskin, probably made of goat skin, Qatzrin, an ancient village from the talmudic period (ca. A.D. 200-500). Wine was stored in earthenware jars or containers made from leather. Wine and strong drink were made during the Old Testament period and caused intoxication when abused. Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham; Carrilyn Clarkson. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 46]
2 Nephi 15:12 The harp (Illustration): A man in biblical costume plays a harp. Many musical instruments, including the harp, are mentioned in the Bible. The harp was used in the temple and during various festivities. The harp was made of wood, perhaps cypress or almug, and its strings consisted of stretched and dried sheep gut. Photograph by Mindy Anderson. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 47]
2 Nephi 15:12 The tambourine (Illustration): Tambourine at the marketplace, Old City, Jerusalem. The tambourine mentioned in the Bible was a hand held percussion instrument covered with a membrane. It was used to accompany singing and dancing at festive occasions. Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 47]
2 Nephi 15:30 Like the roaring of the sea (Illustration): The roaring waves of the Mediterranean Sea, near Akko. In the Old Testament, the Mediterranean Sea is called the Great Sea because of its great size compared to the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. It is also called the Western Sea because it lies west of the Holy Land. It stretches west from the coastline approximately 2100 miles to Gibraltar. Biblical coastal cities on its shores included Sidon, Tyre, Akko, Joppa, Ashdod, and Ashkelon. Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 101]