2 Nephi 4

 

A Covenant Plan of Salvation

      (2 Nephi--Enos)


   

 

2 Nephi 4:1 I Nephi Speak Concerning the Prophecies of . . . Joseph, Who Was Carried into Egypt:

 

     Nephi notes that he speaks:

           concerning the prophecies of which my father hath spoken, concerning Joseph, who was carried into Egypt. For behold, he truly prophesied concerning all his seed. And the prophecies which he wrote, there are not many greater. And he prophesied concerning us, and our future generations; and they are written upon the plates of brass. (2 Nephi 4:1-2)

 

     According to Daniel Ludlow, some of the writings of Joseph are still in existence but have not been published to the world in our present Bible. Joseph Smith said that he received some papyri scrolls that contained the record of Abraham and Joseph at the same time he obtained the Egyptian mummies from Michael Chandler. Concerning this record, Joseph Smith has written: "The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies, is beautifully written on papyrus, with black, and a small part red, ink or paint, in perfect preservation." (History of the Church, 2:348) The Prophet next describes how the mummies and the record came into his possession and then concludes: "Thus I have given a brief history of the manner in which the writings of the fathers, Abraham and Joseph, have been preserved, and how I came in possession of the same--a correct translation of which I shall give in its proper place." (History of the Church, 2:350-351).

     The record of Abraham translated by the Prophet was subsequently printed, and it is now known as the book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. However, the translation of the book of Joseph has not yet been published. Evidently the record of Joseph was translated by the Prophet, but perhaps the reason it was not published was because the great prophecies therein were "too great" for the people of this day. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 130-131]

     Note* It should be remembered that some of Joseph's prophecies were restored to the Bible when Joseph Smith translated or revised it (see JST, Genesis 50:24-36). [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 25]

 

2 Nephi 4:2 And the Prophecies Which [Joseph] Wrote, There Are Not Many Greater:

 

     According to McConkie and Millet, the stature of Joseph of Egypt as a prophet remains little known even to Latter-day Saints. From the text restored by Joseph Smith to the book of Genesis we learn that Joseph enjoyed the personal presence of the Lord Jehovah, who covenanted with him relative to his posterity by way of an immutable oath (see JST, Genesis 50:24,34,36). In this prophecy, quoted in part by Lehi to his son Joseph in 2 Nephi 3, we learn that he knew of the destiny of Joseph Smith. The detail of the knowledge had by the ancient Joseph is remarkable. As an illustration, Joseph Smith, in blessing Oliver Cowdery, said that Oliver would be blessed "according to the blessings of the prophecy of Joseph in ancient days, which he said should come upon the seer of the last days and the scribe that should sit with him, and that should be ordained with him, by the hands of the angel in the bush, unto the lesser priesthood, and after [he should] receive the holy priesthood under the hands of those who had been held in reserve for a long season, even those who received it under the hands of the Messiah while he should dwell in the flesh upon the earth, and should receive the blessings with him, even the seer of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saith he, even Joseph of old." (Joseph Fielding Smith, "Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood," Improvement Era, October 1904, p. 943.)

     Thus we see that Joseph of Egypt knew not only of Joseph Smith and his role as the great prophet of the Restoration but also of Oliver Cowdery's role as Joseph's scribe to bring forth the Book of Mormon, and that Oliver would be Joseph's companion when the Aaronic and the Melchizedek priesthoods were restored. It may well be that the ancient Joseph knew more of our day than we do. Further, we are aware that Joseph of Egypt was the author of a scriptural record which will some day be restored to those of the house of faith (see Messenger and Advocate, Winter 1835, p. 236). We anticipate that the prophecies of Joseph contained therein will have much to say about the roles of Ephraim and Manasseh in the gathering of Israel in the last days. [Joseph F. McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 213]

 

2 Nephi 4:10 It Came to Pass That . . . It Came to Pass That:

 

     Royal Skousen reports that the original text of the Book of Mormon contains expressions which seem inappropriate or improper in some of their uses. For example, in the original text a good many occurrences of the phrase "and it came to pass" are found in inappropriate contexts. In his editing for the 1837 edition, Joseph Smith removed at least 47 of these apparently extraneous uses of this well-worked phrase. In most cases, there were two or more examples of "it came to pass" in close proximity; in some cases, nothing new had "come to pass." Now the King James phrase "and it came to pass" corresponds to a Hebrew word meaning "and it happened." When translating the Hebrew Bible, the King James translators avoided translating this Hebrew word whenever it wouldn't make sense in English, especially when too many events were "coming to pass" or when nothing had really "come to pass"--in other words, in those very places that the original text of the Book of Mormon "inappropriately" allows "and it came to pass" to occur. Consider the following example (where the deleted phrase "it came to pass that" is in brackets) with a corresponding example from Genesis, given in the original before the King James translators took it out:

     2 Nephi 4:10--and it came to pass that when my father had made an end of speaking unto them behold [it came to pass that] he spake unto the sons of Ishmael yea and even all his household (1837).

     Genesis 27:30--and it came to pass as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob and [it came to pass that] Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.

     Other Book of Mormon examples of multiple occurrences of "it came to pass" which were edited by Joseph Smith in 1837 are found in Alma 8:18-19 and Alma 14:4-5.

     What is important here is to realize that the original text of the Book of Mormon apparently contains expressions that are not characteristic of English at any place or time, in particular neither Joseph Smith's upstate New York dialect nor the King James Bible. Subsequent editing of the text into standard English has systematically removed these non-English expressions from the text--the very expressions that provide the strongest support for the hypothesis that the Book of Mormon is a literal translation of a non-English text. [Royal Skousen, "The Original Language of the Book of Mormon: Upstate New York Dialect, King James English, or Hebrew?," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Spring 1994, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 35-38]

 

2 Nephi 4:11 Thy [Sam's] Seed Shall Be Numbered with His [Nephi's] Seed:

 

     Some people might wonder why, in blessing his son Sam, Lehi said that Sam's seed would be numbered with Nephi's seed (see 2 Nephi 4:11). Put another way, Why was Sam's portion of inheritance linked with that of Nephi? There were "Nephites," "Jacobites" and "Josephites" (see Jacob 1:13; 4 Nephi 1:38; Mormon 1:8), so, Why were there no "Samites"?

     According to John Welch, interwoven with the ancient Near Eastern principles of family law were fairly specific laws of inheritance and succession (de Vaux 1:53-55; Elon 434-35, 446-64; Falk 165-70). Preserving and transmitting the family estate from one generation to the next was a fundamental and essential aspect of ancient society and economy. Typically, upon the death of the father, the eldest son of the father's first wife was entitled to occupy the father's house and estate, and legal provisions were established in the early law codes to prevent the father from wrongfully favoring younger sons or the sons of wives with lesser status (Falk 165-70)

     In early Israel several cases of succession ran contrary to the common custom. There, "a father was free to choose a younger son as his successor, if he found the eldest unworthy of the office" (Falk 165). In that community, more than property was at stake. The tribal structure of early Israelite society required that a leader be chosen to take the father's place as both the secular and spiritual leader of the clan. This power "did not pass automatically, but had to be conferred by the father in a special blessing" (Falk 165). This was accomplished by a formal public "acknowledgement" of that son by his father (Deuteronomy 21:17), usually in the form of an oral blessing (EJ 6:1306-11).

     The accounts in Genesis are remarkable in that younger sons are frequently preferred over their elder brothers (see the stories of Abel, Seth, Jacob, Ephraim, David and Solomon), and in that fathers sometimes separated the privileges of property inheritance from those of political and priestly rights (somewhat as Lehi also does in giving priestly duties to Jacob). Thus, Jacob of old blessed Judah with the rights of governance (Genesis 49:10), and Joseph with a double portion of the birthright through Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:22), and Levi eventually became entitled to certain inherited rights of the priesthood.

     As time progressed, the laws in Israel changed, particularly to clarify and protect the property rights of the firstborn son. For example, he was virtually guaranteed a double share as compared with his brothers. . . . So how was Lehi to deal with these expectations of the firstborn Laman and at the same time leave Nephi in a secure position as the "ruler and teacher" (1 Nephi 2:22; 3:29) he was chosen by God to become? . . .

     Concerning the rights of primogeniture and leadership, Lehi said to Laman, Lemuel, Sam and the sons of Ishmael, "If ye will hearken unto the voice of Nephi . . . I leave unto you a blessing," including "my first blessing." But if they would not hearken unto Nephi, Lehi provided that their disobedience would revoke the "first blessing" and also the general blessing, and all this should then rest upon Nephi (2 Nephi 1:28-29). In other words, Lehi was willing to give Laman the titular blessing so long as the group in substance followed Nephi.

     To whatever extent Lehi acknowledged Laman's right to the double portion of the firstborn, he simultaneously did three things that appear to have been calculated to detract from Laman's firstborn double portion rights.

     First, he combined Sam's inheritance and seed with Nephi's (2 Nephi 4:11). As Jacob in the patriarchal period had effectively doubled the blessing of Joseph by granting equal blessings to Joseph's two sons Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:22), so Lehi effectively doubled Nephi's position by granting a share of the land to Sam and then merging it with Nephi's

     Second, he blessed his firstborn's children to the effect that their sins and cursings would be answered upon the heads of their parents (2 Nephi 4:5-9). This could not have been flattering to Laman.

     Third, Lehi referred to Jacob three times as his "firstborn . . . in the wilderness" (2 Nephi 2:1,2,11), and singled him out to spend his life "in the service of thy God" (2 Nephi 2:3)--a role often associated with the position of a firstborn son. These steps diminished the uniqueness and importance of Laman as the eldest son. [John W. Welch, "Lehi's Last Will and Testament: A Legal Approach," in The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, the Doctrinal Structure, pp. 74-78]

      Thus, John Welch has provided a plausible cultural background and answer as to why there were no "Samites." His words also give testimony to the fact that the ancient world of which Lehi and Nephi were proposed to be a part of in the pages of the Book of Mormon was a very real world.

 

2 Nephi 4:12 Lehi Had Spoken unto All His Household:

 

     When Nephi mentions that "Lehi had spoken unto all his household" (2 Nephi 4:12), perhaps he is implying that his sisters (mentioned in 2 Nephi 5:6) also received a blessing (see 2 Nephi 4:10, “all of the household of Ishmael”).

 

2 Nephi 4:12 [Lehi] Died, and Was Buried:

 

     According to Clate Mask, it is well known that ancient Semitic people revered sacred occurrences and sometimes built commemorative shrines. Father Abraham made his near-sacrifice of his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah located in what is now the Holy City of Jerusalem. The descendants of Isaac built the Temple of Solomon on that sacrificial spot and many centuries later the descendants of Isaac's brother Ishmael erected the Dome of the Rock which still stands today on that same Temple Mount. Another significant location to both Arab and Jew is found in Hebron. The Tomb of the Patriarchs is built over the traditional burial spot of their common ancestor Father Abraham, venerated patriarch of both nations.

     Mask then makes an interesting query: "How would a people from Jerusalem (and now in the New World) with their Near Eastern Semitic customs, feel about Lehi's death? Having such honor, respect and reverence for their venerable patriarch, Father Lehi, what would they have probably built at the site where Lehi "died and was buried" (2 Nephi 4:12)? [Clate Mask, "And They Called the Place Bountiful," pp. 2, 5]

     Note* What Mask seems to be alluding to here is the idea that in Mesoamerica, when rival civilizations took over the territory and temple sites of their competitors, they defaced and destroyed many of their temple monuments. At the archaeological site of Izapa, located on the Pacific coastal route between Mexico and Guatemala, for the most part most of the monuments remained intact. If both Lamanites and Nephites venerated Lehi, if "their fathers' first inheritance" bordered "on the west" by "the seashore" (Alma 22:28), then Izapa might be a candidate for the land of first inheritance and Lehi's burial place. Although such a proposal might seem extremely tentative, Garth Norman has made some remarkable correlations at this site with the Book of Mormon. (See Norman's commentary on Lehi's dream and the Stela 5 "Tree of Life Stone" at Izapa--1 Nephi 8; 11; 18:23.) [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

2 Nephi 4:15 Upon These [Small Plates] I Write . . . Many of the Scriptures Which are Engraven upon the Plates of Brass:

 

     Readers of the Book of Mormon should note here in 2 Nephi 4:15 that Nephi lets the reader know of his intention to inscribe on the small plates "many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. From the multitude of Isaiah chapters which follow, we see some obvious examples of Nephi's intentions. Are there "many" non-obvious scriptures? The reader is referred to Volume 6, Appendix C for a listing. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

2 Nephi 4:15 My Soul Delighteth:

 

     The phrase "my soul delighteth in" is an interesting one. That is because the only place it occurs in the whole Book of Mormon is in the writings of Nephi on the Small Plates. Moreover, Nephi uses it eleven times at various locations within his writings. The following is a summary of those verses:

2 Nephi 4:15      "my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for

                 the learning and the profit of my children."

2 Nephi 4:16      "my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the

                 things which I have seen and heard."

2 Nephi 11:2      "my soul delighteth in his [Isaiah's] words."

2 Nephi 11:4      "my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ . . ."

2 Nephi 11:5      "my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers"

2 Nephi 11:5      "my soul delighteth in his grace, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and

                 eternal plan of deliverance from death."

2 Nephi 11:6      "my soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must

                 perish.

2 Nephi 25:4      "my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn."

2 Nephi 25:5      "my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah . . ."

2 Nephi 25:13      "my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning [Christ]"

2 Nephi 31:3      "my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the

                 children of men."

[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 4:15]

 

2 Nephi 4:16-35 Behold, My Soul Delighteth in the Things of the Lord (the Psalm of Nephi):

 

     Sidney Sperry writes that one of the intimate glimpses we get of Nephi's soul is found in 2 Nephi 4:16-35, which passage we may call "The Psalm of Nephi." [Sidney Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium, p. 152]

     According to an article by Steven Sondrup, rhythm, meter, alliteration, assonance, and rhyme are some of the ways most familiar to modern readers in which the poet can pattern his language; however, they are by no means the only possibilities at his disposal. In the "Psalm of Nephi," just as in Hebrew poetry, an intricately patterned system of ideational parallels is the essence of lyricism. Logical, formal, or conceptual units are set parallel to one another rather than acoustic properties as in the case with rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, and assonance. This use of ideational parallelism in Hebrew poetry was first noticed by medieval Jewish biblical scholars during the eighteenth century.

     The basic characteristics of the parallelism of the "Psalm of Nephi" can easily be seen in what may well serve as the first of four stanzas of the psalm:

     Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord: and

           My heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

                 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord

                 in showing me his great and marvelous work

           My heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am!

           Yea my heart sorroweth because of my flesh;

     My soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

 

     By reading these words as they were intended to be read (in a chiastic manner) the reader is able to come to a most profound understanding of the meaning of the text and the richest appreciation of its significance. [Steven P. Sondrup, "The Psalm of Nephi: A Lyric Reading," in BYU Studies, Summer 1981, pp. 359, 362, 372]

 

2 Nephi 4:16-35 (Nephi's Psalm):

 

     Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that Nephi's Psalm, as recorded in 2 Nephi 4:16-35, provides an example of a Hebrew literary pattern called the individual lament and thus provides evidence of the Hebrew roots of the Book of Mormon prophets. (Matthew Nickerson, "Nephi's Psalm: 2 Nephi 4:16-35 in the light of Form-Critical Analysis," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 26-42)63 The individual lament consist of five parts, all of which are contained in Nephi's Psalm as shown below along with a biblical example from the book of Psalms:

     Feature                  2 Nephi            Psalms

     1. Invocation            4:16-17            54:1-2

     2. Complaint            4:17-19            54:3

     3. Confession of Trust      4:20-30            54:4

     4. Petition            4:31-33            54:5

     5. Vow of Praise            4:34-35            54:6-7

 

[Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 275]

 

2 Nephi 4:16-35 (Psalm of Nephi):

 

     Concerning the "Psalm of Nephi" (2 Nephi 4:16-35), Noel Reynolds notes that Nephi apparently owes some of the structure and content to a prayer of Zenos recorded on the brass plates and used by Alma to teach the people of Antionum about true worship of the Lord (see Alma 33:4-11). While Alma quotes Zenos's prayer as proof that Zenos knew of the Son of God, Nephi appears to have applied the sentiments and language of the prayer to his own trying circumstances, finding in Zenos's words a source of encouragement and faith in the face of hostility and affliction. Nephi ends his psalm with a prayer of approximately the same length and in a style similar to Zenos's prayer text. Comparing the two we find the following:

 

(Psalm of Nephi)

(Prayer of Zenos)

 

Nephi uses the invocation "O God" or "O Lord six times (2 Nephi 4:30,31,32,33,34)

Zenos uses the invocation "O God" or "O Lord" five times (Alma 33:4,5,6,7,9)

 

Nephi begins his psalm by recognizing the Lord's great goodness in showing him "his great and marvelous works" (2 Nephi 4:17)

Zenos also begins by acknowledging God's mercy in hearing his prayers (Alma 33:4)

 

Nephi lists many occasions when he received blessings from God in response to his cry and "mighty prayer," citing first how God supported him and led him through his "affliction in the wilderness" (2 Nephi 4:20)

Zenos lists the many places in which the Lord heard his prayers, citing first an occasion when he was in the wilderness. (Alma 33:4,5,6,7,9,10)

  

Nephi knows that "God will give liberally to him that asketh" (2 Nephi 4:35)

Zenos emphasizes that because the Lord did hear him in his afflictions, he will continue to cry to him "in all mine afflictions" (Alma 33:11)

  

Nephi expects to be blessed "because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite" (2 Nephi 4:32)

Zenos asserts generally that God is "merciful unto [his] children when they cry unto [him], to be heard of [him] and not of men." (Alma 33:8)

 

Nephi seeks help in dealing with "[his] enemies." He prays for help against the "enemy of [his] soul," who tempts him and destroys his peace, the "evil one" who seeks a place in his heart (2 Nephi 4:27-28), referring to this "enemy" three times. We get a clear picture that Nephi's enemies included his own brothers who "did seek to take away [his] life} (2 Nephi 5:1-2), and Nephi reports that the Lord "confounded [his] enemies" (2 Nephi 4:22).

Zenos also seeks help in dealing with "[his] enemies." The Lord answered Zenos's prayer by turning his enemies to him (Alma 33:4). Zenos states that he had been "cast out" and "despised" by his enemies, and that upon hearing his cries the Lord was angry with them and did "visit them in [his] anger with speedy destruction" (Alma 33:10)

Nephi makes direct reference to the Atonement of Christ and the joy he can find through it. Nephi asks himself why he should be depressed or feel such sorrow when "the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy" (2 Nephi 4:26; cf. 1 Nephi 11:16-25).

Zenos also makes direct reference to the Atonement and its joy. Zenos explains God's mercy in terms of the Son and recognizes that it is "because of [God's] Son" that "[God has] turned [his] judgments away from [him]" (Alma 33:11)

 

Nephi ends by saying: "My soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation" (2 Nephi 4:30)

Zenos ends by saying: "In thee is my joy" (Alma 33:11)

 

 

 

[Noel B. Reynolds, "Nephite Uses and Interpretations of Zenos," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, pp. 34-36] [See the commentary on Alma 33:3-11]

 

2 Nephi 4:16-35 (Psalm of Nephi) [Illustration]: Chart comparing the Psalm of Nephi with the Prayer of Zenos. [Constructed from information taken from Noel B. Reynolds, "Nephite Uses and Interpretations of Zenos," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, pp. 34-36]

     

2 Nephi 4:16-35 (Psalm of Nephi):

 

     According to John Welch, Nephi's masterful meditation in 2 Nephi 4:16-35, known today as the Psalm of Nephi, stands in 2 Nephi immediately after the death and burial of Lehi. Nephi's words have universal import, but they become even more poignant and vivid if we recognize that this psalm was written while Nephi was feeling painfully vulnerable after losing his father. [John W. Welch, "The Psalm of Nephi as a Post-Lehi Document," in Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., 1999, p. 72]

     Note* One of the most striking voids in Nephi's account is the absence of his patriarchal blessing. Perhaps we find pieces of it in the blessings to Jacob and Joseph (as well as the others), where the historical parallels could be better illustrated. If this scenario is true, and in view of the grand blessings promised to Nephi, it is also most striking that he chooses to share with the reader his feelings of inadequacy. He truly becomes one of us (the covenant children of the Father) in his sufferings, yet he shows us the way to overcome, to conquer temptation and depression and to claim his covenant blessings: "Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin . . ." (2 Nephi 28-35).

     One would also do well to compare the feelings of inadequacy of the Savior upon the withdrawal of the Spirit of His Father. He also showed the way to overcome. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

2 Nephi 4:16-35 (Nephi's Psalm):

 

     Catherine Thomas notes that a psalm is a poem, a song of praise; not a sermon or doctrinal treatise, but an expression of personal religious experience. (See the New Bible Dictionary, ed. J. D. Douglas, 2nd ed., Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1982, p. 992.) Nephi's psalm (2 Nephi 4:16-35) employs some of the features characteristic of his Hebrew literary heritage. [Catherine Thomas, "A Great Deliverance," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 1, p. 108]

 

2 Nephi 4:26 The Lord in His Condescension unto the Children of Men Hath Visited Men in So Much Mercy:

 

     Gerald Lund notes that after Lehi recounted to his family his marvelous vision in which he had seen the tree of life, Nephi reported that he was "desirous also that [he] might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost" (1 Nephi 10:17; emphasis added). Nephi was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain where a grand vision was unfolded before him, and he saw not only what his father had seen but also much more. . . . As Nephi obeyed the angel and looked, he saw the Redeemer of the world. He saw his earthly ministry and its culmination in the death of the Savior (see 1 Nephi 11:26-32).

     In the early part of that vision, on two different occasions, the angelic messenger used an unusual phrase--"the condescension of God" (1 Nephi 11:15-16; 11:26). . . . Later in his writings, Nephi used a phrase similar to that used by the angel. In what is often called the psalm of Nephi, he said: "O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?" (2 Nephi 4:26; emphasis added). . . . Consider this context of the word condescension as it differs from the context of his coming into this mortal world and the various ways in which he condescended during his mortal ministry.

     In the Book of Mormon two great aspects of God's character are described as mercy and justice. The perfect justice of God requires that every sin and every transgression be recompensed or punished (see Alma 42:16-26). Otherwise, those who have been wronged could cry out that there is no justice. But by the same token, because all men sin and come short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23), justice would require that all of us be banned from the presence of God forever because no unclean thing can dwell in his presence (see Moses 6:57). Fortunately God is also a perfectly merciful being and has devised a plan of redemption whereby justice can be paid through the suffering of the Savior and we can be redeemed and brought back into his presence (see 2 Nephi 2:5-7). . . .

     Let us consider the quality of mercy. Mercy is an attribute whose very nature requires condescension, because nothing that man could do merits that mercy. In other words, once we have sinned, we have put ourselves beyond the holy nature of God. For him to then extend mercy and love and grace to us, in spite of what we have done, is another great act of condescension. . . .

     Related to that is the idea of the condescension of God's mercy in our repentance. In the classic story of the prodigal son is a reference after the young man came to himself and realized the foolishness of what he had done. He determined that he would return to his father and ask for his forgiveness. "And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20; emphasis added). It was not required that the son come all the way back. The father was watching and went out to meet him while he was yet a long way off. [Gerald N. Lund, "'Knowest Thou the Condescension of God?'," in Doctrines of the Book of Mormon: The 1991 Sperry Symposium, pp. 80, 88-89] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 11:16]

 

2 Nephi 4:32 That I May Walk in the Path of the Low Valley, That I May Be Strict in the Plain Road:

 

     According to Hugh Nibley, when Nephi says, "that I may be strict in the plain road" (2 Nephi 4:32) he means "that I may stick to the right path." At the end of the first Psalm it says, "The way of the wicked shall be lost in the sand." That is, Nephi doesn't want to get lost in sin. The "path of the low valley" is the easiest path to take and the surest, not having to run up and down any hills or anything like that. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, p. 251]

 

2 Nephi 4:35 Mine Everlasting God Amen:

 

     John Tvedtnes notes that Joseph Smith is said to have indicated that the name Ahman was the title of God the Father (see 2 Nephi 4:35), while Jesus is called "Son Ahman." Old Testament prayers end simply with the word Amen (= confirmed, true), and hence in the name (title) of Jesus Christ. [John Tvedtnes, "Faith and Truth," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 3, No. 2, Fall 1994 Fall, pp. 115] [See the commentary on Alma 32:21]