2 Nephi 24
A Covenant Plan of Salvation
2 Nephi 24 (Isaiah Text & Commentary):
(Compare Isaiah 14)
Israel Will Be Gathered and Have Rest
1 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob (or the house of Israel), and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land;
Note* One historical fulfillment of this was when Cyrus the Great of Persia allowed Jewish captives in Babylon to return, 538 B.C.; another group returned in 520 B.C. This is also being fulfilled in these, the last days.
(1) and the strangers shall be joined with them (that is, foreigners will be converted), and they shall cleave (or be joined) to the house of Jacob.
2 And the people (or the many nations who will help Israel return) shall take them (Israel) and bring them to their place; yea, from far unto the ends of the earth; and they (Israel) shall return to their lands of promise. And the house of Israel shall possess them, and the land of the Lord shall be for servants and handmaids; and they (Israel) shall take them (or the nations who used to dominate Israel) captives unto whom they (Israel) were captives; and they (Israel) shall rule over their oppressors (or in essence, the tables will be turned in the last days).
3 And it shall come to pass in that day (or in the Millennium) that the Lord shall give thee (Israel) rest, from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.
Isaiah uses very colorful imagery as he now prophesies concerning the future downfall of the King of Babylon, and thus symbolically, the downfall of Satan's kingdom.
The King of Babylon (Satan) Will Be Brought Down
4 And it shall come to pass in that day, that thou shalt take up this proverb (or use this taunting saying) against THE KING OF BABYLON (both literally against the King of Babylon, and also against Satan or any wicked leader), and say: How hath the oppressor ceased (or what happened to you!), the golden city ceased (that is, your "unconquerable city" is gone)!
5 The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, the scepters (or power) of the (wicked) rulers.
6 He (the king of Babylon -- Satan) who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke (or without ceasing), he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted (or is now being punished), and none hindereth (that is, nobody can stop it).
7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet; they break forth into singing (or in other words, peace and joy will reign during the Millennium).
8 Yea, the fir-trees (or people) rejoice at thee (that is, they rejoice at what has happened to you Satan), and also the cedars (or people) of Lebanon, saying: Since thou art laid down (or since you got chopped down) no feller (or no lumberjack) is come up against us.
9 Hell (or spirit prison) from beneath is moved for thee (that is, hell is getting ready to receive you) to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth (or all the notorious wicked leaders from the past); it (hell) hath raised up from their thrones all the [wicked] kings of the nations.
10 All they shall speak and say unto thee (King of Babylon -- Satan): Art thou also become weak as we (or in other words, what happened to your power)? Art thou become like unto us (that is, did you get cut down to size like us)?
11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave (that is, all the special treatment accorded to you was destroyed with you); the noise of thy viols (or the royal harp music) is not heard; the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee (or in other words, maggots are destroying your dead body just like they destroyed ours. You're no better off here in hell than we are, so hah, hah, hah! -- Note* This only refers literally to the King of Babylon since Satan has no mortal body).
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O LUCIFER, SON OF THE MORNING! (that is, What happened to you?) Art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations (that is, you used to destroy nations; now your power is destroyed)!
13 For thou hast said in thy heart (or in essence, these were your motives): I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God (or I will be the highest); I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north (or in other words, I will sit upon the mythical mountain in the north where gods assemble);
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like THE MOST HIGH (indicating that Lucifer wanted to be the Most High -- see Moses 4:1).
15 Yet thou (Lucifer) shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit (or to the remotest part of the world of the dead, in essence, outer darkness).
16 They (the residents of hell) that see thee (Lucifer -- King of Babylon) shall narrowly look upon thee (that is, they will scorn you and mock you), and shall consider thee, and shall say: Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?
17 And made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof, and opened not the house of his prisoners (or refused to free any of his prisoners)?
18 All the kings of the nations, yea, all of them, lie in glory, every one of them in his own house (that is, all the other former kings of the world have magnificent tombs, etc.).
19 But thou (King of Babylon -- or Satan figuratively, because he doesn't even have a physical body) art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch (that is, you are pruned off and thus are worthless), and the remnant of those that are slain (that is, you are just like any other dead wicked person), thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit (or a common battlefield grave, hastily dug and covered over with stones) (In essence, you will waste away in death in the very lowest and commonest of circumstances); as a carcass trodden under feet.
20 Thou (King of Babylon -- Satan) shalt not be joined with them (or other kings) in burial (that is, there will be no special honors bestowed), because thou hast destroyed thy land and slain thy people; the seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned (that is, the people controlled by a wicked king will never give honor to him or his family).
21 Prepare slaughter for his (or the King of Babylon's) children for the iniquities of their fathers, that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities (in other words, none of your wicked "children" or followers will rule the earth like you have).
22 For I (the Lord) will rise up against them (or against the Royal Family of Babylon), saith the Lord of Hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew (that is, I will destroy Babylon's Royal Family completely), saith the Lord.
23 I will also make it (Babylon) a possession for the bittern (or birds that inhabit swamps), and pools of water (or stagnant water); and I will sweep it with the besom (or broom) of destruction (that is, I will sweep it clean), saith the Lord of Hosts.
Isaiah now shifts to the fate of Assyria -- another symbol of wickedness
Israel Will Overcome the Powers of Assyria
24 The Lord of Hosts hath sworn (or covenanted), saying: Surely as I have thought (or resolved), so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed (or planned), so shall it stand (or so will it happen)-- (Thus, here is my plan)
25 That I will bring the Assyrian in my land (that is, I will round up all those Assyrians who control the land of Judah), and upon my mountains tread him (Assyria) under foot (or in other words, the Lord's people will overcome the power of the Assyrian armies in the mountains where they are close to God -- that is, the Lord's people will overcome Satan in the Lord's Mountain, the Church, the temple); then shall his yoke (or bondage) depart from off them (or off the Lord's people), and his burden depart from off their shoulders (in truth, the Assyrian downfall in Judah came in 701 B.C.; also, the forces of the wicked will be destroyed at the second coming and again at the end of the earth).
26 This is the purpose (or the plan) that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is the hand (or the power of the Lord) that is stretched out upon all nations (or in other words, this is the eventual fate of all wicked).
27 For the Lord of Hosts hath purposed (or planned), and who shall disannul (or prevent it)? And his (or the Lord's) hand (symbolic of power) is stretched out, and who shall turn it back (that is, who can stop the Lord)?
Continuing on with the theme of the downfall of the wicked, the topic now switches to the wicked Philistines. The Philistines rejoiced when Sargon, King of Assyria from 722-705 B.C. took over at Shalmlaneser's death. Sargon was not as hard on them as his predecessor was. In the same manner, the wicked falsely assume that their actions will never really bring destruction.
The Philistines Will Be Destroyed
28 In the year that king Ahaz died (or about 720 B.C.) was this burden (or was this message of doom sent to the Philistines).
29 Rejoice not thou (that is, don't start celebrating), whole Palestina (or Philistia), because the rod (or power) of him (the former king of Assyria, Shalmaneser), that smote thee is broken (or he is dead); for out of the serpent's root (or out of Assyria's kingship line) shall come forth a cockatrice (that is, although one "snake" or vicious king is dead [Shalmaneser] a worse one will yet come -- Sennacherib, King of Assyria, 705-687 B.C.), and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
30 And the first-born of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety (that is, for a time now you might feel like everything is going to be fine and you can continue with your wicked ways); and (or but) I will kill thy root with famine, and he (Sennacherib) shall slay thy remnant (or in essence, you will be utterly destroyed).
31 Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina (or Philistia), art dissolved (or reduced to nothing); for there shall come from the north a smoke (that is, a cloud of dust made by the Assyrian army), and none shall be alone in his appointed times (or in other words, the enemy army will have no deserters in it, but will be at full strength).
32 What shall then answer the messengers of the nations (that is, what will one say when people ask: What happened to the Philistines?)? [Answer:] That the Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it (or in other words, the Lord is truly the foundation of Zion, and as such he will not tolerate wicked people).
[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 24:4 And It Shall Come to Pass in That Day:
According to Jeff Lindsay, the idea of a simple-minded copying by Joseph Smith of Bible passages into the Book of Mormon has to be rejected, though it is clear that the King James Bible was used in many cases to facilitate translation. In actuality, scholars have found that Book of Mormon passages apparently from the King James Version of the Bible contain variants corroborated in other biblical manuscript texts. Franklin Harris writes:
In Isaiah 14:4 (2 Nephi 24:4) the Book of Mormon adds "And it shall come to pass in that day," which is without support in the Hebrew. But of striking interest is a similar reading in Codex Alexandrinus (now in the British Museum), "And thou shall say in that day." The latter is not found in (Codex Vaticanus. . . ." (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 24:8 Cedars of Lebanon:
[See the commentary on 2 Nephi 12:13]
2 Nephi 24:19 Remnant [Raiment?]:
John Tvedtnes compares the Isaiah verses in the Book of Mormon with the King James Bible and comes up with the following:
KJV: "and as the raiment" (Isaiah 14:19)
BM: "and the remnant" (2 Nephi 24:19)
He writes that the Massoretic Hebrew Text fully backs the KJV version and hence the change from "raiment" to "remnant" is probably a scribal mishearing (or a misreading of the handwritten manuscript by the printer). However, it is interesting to note that the Septuagint (3rd century B.C.) has a third reading: meta pollon tetnekoion, "with the multitude of the slain." Thus, while the explanation of scribal or printer error seems to be the simplest and most logical in this case, the antiquity of the Book of Mormon version can not be ruled out. [John A. Tvedtnes, "The Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon," FARMS, p. 59]
2 Nephi 24:22-23 I will rise up . . . and cut off from Babylon the name (Illustration): Map: The Babylonian Empire, 605 to 538 B.C. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 35]
2 Nephi 24:22-23 The broom (Illustration): Broom with other household items, Qatzrin. Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 35]
2 Nephi 24:23 I Will Also Make [Babylon] a Possession for the Bittern and Pools of Water:
According the Reynolds and Sjodahl, at the beginning of our era, Babylon was still partly inhabited and the surrounding country was cultivated. In the second century, the walls were still standing. During the fourth century they served as an enclosure for wild animals, and Persian monarchs went there to amuse themselves hunting. By and by the location was lost sight of and forgotten. More modern writers--Dr. Alexander Keith, among others--note the utter desolation of the once famous city. From the place where once the temple of Bel and the royal palaces rose in majestic heights, to the streets, everything has been reduced to gravel hills. Some are large; others are smaller. One who sees the innumerable parallel hills and the depressions between them does not know whether they are remnants of streets or canals. Babylon is fallen. Its foundations could not have been brought lower. Its "pomp has been brought down to the grave." It has literally become "pools of water" (2 Nephi 24:23). For laborers have made innumerable excavations to get gravel, or clay, for industrial purposes, and when the Euphrates overflows its banks, its water fills these hollows forming pools, or swamps. Such was the glory of Babylon less than a century ago. [George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 367]
2 Nephi 24:23 I will Sweep [Babylon] with the Besom of Destruction:
Reynolds and Sjodahl write concerning the desolation of the place that once was Babylon, that Dr. Keith says there was no trace of vegetation. The ground looked as if it had been washed again and again by the rising and falling river, until every vestige of good soil had been swept away (see 2 Nephi 24:23). Yet, the higher located sections had not been reached by the overflow and were therefore dry and parched as a desert, while the lower land was a swamp. [George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 367]
2 Nephi 24:31 Thou, Whole Palestina, Art Dissolved:
According to Reynolds and Sjodahl, the word "Palestina" in 2 Nephi 24:31 means Philistia, the country of the Philistines (Heb. Peleshet), the southern part of the coast plain of Canaan. This country was once one of the most flourishing, and consequently, one of the most important and wealthy in Syria. Its cities, particularly Gaza, Askelon, and Ashdod, were famous in the Old World, when the prophets predicted their destruction. Even long after their doom was proclaimed, they continued to prosper. Alexander the Great, the conqueror of the Persian army, was halted outside Gaza and delayed for two months. Askelon was famous for its flourishing vineyards, which made it an important commercial center. Ashdod was a strongly fortified city, strong enough to hold the Egyptian conquerors at bay for twenty years. It was demolished by the Turks in A.D. 1270, and Ibrahim Pasha carried away a considerable part of the ruins to use for building material elsewhere. The surrounding country was fertile enough for many years. Wheat, peas, beans, fig trees, almonds and pomegranates were produced in abundance, but gradually the curse seemed to settle upon the soil. It became barren, and the few inhabitants who survived eked out a precarious existence by taking care of a few sheep and goats. Gaza was destroyed by Alexander the Great, 333 B.C. Strabo, at the beginning of our era, refers to it as a "desert." That is the very expression the angel of the Lord used when he sent Philip to go and meet the Ethiopian. He said "rise and go . . . unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert." (Acts 8:26) True, Constantine rebuilt Gaza, and established an ecclesiastic see there, but not on the old site but some distance from it. [George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 369]