2 Nephi 6
A Covenant Plan of Salvation
2 Nephi 6-8 (Jacob's Use of Isaiah):
John Tvedtnes writes that the Isaiah passages beginning in 2 Nephi 6:16 (see also the paraphrases of earlier verses in vss. 6-7) and going to the end of chapter 8 are in the middle of a sermon given by Jacob, the brother of Nephi. It is likely that much of Jacob's quotation (from memory?) from the Brass Plates are paraphrases. The best evidence that Jacob is paraphrasing is that, where these same Isaiah passages are cited elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, they are not worded the same as in Jacob's speech. [John A. Tvedtnes, "The Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon," FARMS, p. 80]
2 Nephi 6-10 (Jacob's Covenant Speech):
According to John Thompson, from the structure and themes of 2 Nephi 6-10, one may conclude that Jacob's speech was given in connection with a covenant-renewal celebration that was most likely performed as part of the traditional Israelite autumn festivals required by the law of Moses. Moreover, Jacob seems to use certain Isaiah passages as part of his speech in order to encourage the Nephites to renew their covenants by reminding them of the Lord's promises, giving them a hope in their salvation and future restoration. These blessings are made possible because of the Messiah, who is characterized as the ideal king, suffering humiliation, even death, but eventually triumphing over all. . . . With this in mind, it is interesting that immediately following Jacob's sermon Nephi states:
Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him. (2 Nephi 11:4)
This statement makes perfect sense in the context of Jacob's words about Christ's coming (see 2 Nephi 9:4-5; 10:3) and especially if Jacob was indeed participating in a festival that was required by the law. Since the Israelite festivals were included in the law of Moses, the Nephites likely carried them out with full understanding that the elements of the festival all typify Christ and point to his coming. In support of that realization, Nephi and Jacob could have drawn on no prophet more appropriately than the great seer Isaiah. [John S. Thompson, "Isaiah 50-51, the Israelite Autumn Festivals, and the Covenant Speech of Jacob in 2 Nephi 6-10," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, pp. 143-144]
2 Nephi 6-10 (Jacob's Covenant Speech):
According to John Thompson, scholars use comparative studies to uncover forms or patterns within a text and then try to identify the traditional occasions in a culture's history when such forms or patterns were used. When these comparative methods are applied to Jacob's sermon, a form known as the covenant/treaty pattern emerges.
The covenant/treaty pattern is found throughout much of the ancient Near East (see especially Joshua 24, Exodus 19-24, and the entire book of Deuteronomy) and has been the focus of numerous studies.98 Though this pattern can vary in content and order,99 it typically follows a basic six-part form (references to Jacob's speech will be in parenthesis):
1. Preamble and Titulary: The ruler who is making the treaty is named. (2 Nephi 6:1-4)
2. Historical Overview and Covenant Speech Proper: Stresses the kindness and mercy of a ruler in placing his people under covenant. (2 Nephi 6:5--9:22)
3. Stipulations of the Covenant or Treaty: (2 Nephi 9:23-26)
4. Cursings and Blessings: (2 Nephi 9:27-43)
5. Witness Formulas: Witnesses are identified. (2 Nephi 9:44)
6. Recording of the Contract: (see 2 Nephi 9:52)
[John S. Thompson, "Isaiah 50-51, the Israelite Autumn Festivals, and the Covenant Speech of Jacob in 2 Nephi 6-10," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, pp. 124-127]
2 Nephi 6-10 (Temple Text):
According to John Welch, a "temple text" is a doctrinal text that typically surrounds references to the temple in the Book of Mormon. . . . These texts hold important clues to understanding the temple in the Book of Mormon as well as the gospel of Jesus Christ. . . . They contain the most sacred teachings of the plan of salvation that are not to be shared indiscriminately, and that ordains or otherwise conveys divine powers through ceremonial or symbolic means, together with commandments received by sacred oaths that allow the recipient to stand ritually in the presence of God.
Several such texts are found in the Book of Mormon. The most notable are Jacob's speech in 2 Nephi 6-10, Benjamin's speech in Mosiah 1-6, Alma's words in Alma 12-13, Jesus' teachings in 3 Nephi 11-18, and Ether 1-4 regarding the brother of Jared.100 . . .
One may surmise that Jacob's speech (2 Nephi 6-10) is a covenant speech (see 2 Nephi 9:1), and that it was delivered at the newly completed temple of Nephi. It certainly emphasizes several temple themes:
1. Jacob motivated the people "to act for [themselves]--to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life" and thereby to become "reconciled unto God" (2 Nephi 10:23-24).
2. Jacob instructed the people to "glorify the name of [their] God" (2 Nephi 6:4). Such glorifying may have involved ceremonies, prayers, hymns, and sacrifices at the temple.
3. Jacob promised that the Lord would deliver his covenant people (see 2 Nephi 6:17).
4. Jacob addressed his people as a new community "in whose heart I have written my law" (2 Nephi 8:7). Reciting these texts religiously reinforced the new law and the establishment of Nephi's new political regime.
5. Jacob ends his speech by rehearsing ten "woes" (see 2 Nephi 9:28-38). These curses and the Ten Commandments (which were part of covenant making at Mount Sinai), are similar in both content and covenantal functions,101 and the close connection between the temple and the Ten Commandments, especially as a type of entrance requirement, has been noted by Moshe Weinfeld and Klaus Koch.102
6. Jacob revolves much of his speech around a discussion of the day of judgment, when people will be resurrected to stand before God "clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness" (2 Nephi 9:14). Perhaps this alludes also to ritual vestments at the temple. . . . At one point Jacob took off his garments and shook them before the people at the temple to rid them of impurity (see 2 Nephi 9:44). He also spoke of "holiness" (2 Nephi 8:11; 9:15,20,46,48), purity (2 Nephi 9:47), and uncleanness (2 Nephi 8:24; 9:14,40), which in the ancient Israelite mind would have been states closely associated with the Mosaic concepts of holiness and purification that came through sacrifice by the shedding of blood at their temple. . . . On the Day of Atonement, for example, the high priest in Israel performed important sacrificial ceremonies to purify himself, his garments, the temple, and all the people "from the uncleanness of the children of Israel" (Leviticus 16:19).103
7. Jacob proclaims that the day of judgment will culminate with the exclamation: "Holy, holy are thy judgments, O Lord God Almighty--but I know my guilt; I transgressed thy law, and my transgressions are mine; and the devil hath obtained me, that I am a prey to his awful misery" (2 Nephi 9:46). Such a statement could well be related to repeated declarations which were part of their temple ceremonies.
[John W. Welch, "The Temple in the Book of Mormon," in Temples of the Ancient World, pp. 300-301,334-337]
2 Nephi 6:2 My Beloved Brethren:
From 2 Nephi 6 through 2 Nephi 33, we have sermons preached by both Jacob and Nephi, with multiple chapters sandwiched in the middle quoting from the writings of the prophet Isaiah. Discounting the words of Isaiah, there are only about 29 pages of words which we can attribute directly to either Nephi or Jacob. Yet, in those twenty-nine pages, we find about 30 occurrences of the phrase "beloved brethren." This amounts to about one-third of all the occurrences of the term "beloved" in the whole Book of Mormon. That is to say, in 6% of the pages, we find 33% of the occurrences of the term "beloved."
It is interesting to note that in the verses from Isaiah quoted by Jacob and Nephi, we find the Lord, for the first time in the Book of Mormon, being referred to as "My Beloved," "My Well-Beloved" (2 Nephi 15:1). Additionally, Nephi used the term "My Beloved Son" (2 Nephi 31:11). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
2 Nephi 6:2 Having Been Consecrated by My Brother Nephi:
Daniel Peterson comments that kingship among the Nephites was considered a priesthood calling in addition to the political responsibilities. Priestly ordination was not only a royal prerogative for "king" Nephi (2 Nephi 5:18), but it seems that early Nephite priesthood was mediated and given structure through family and clan organization, rather than through an as yet unfounded church. Thus, Nephi himself ordained his brothers Jacob and Joseph "after the manner of [God's] holy order" (2 Nephi 6:2; compare 2 Nephi 5:26; Jacob 1:18; Alma 13:1-2, 6, 8; D&C 107:2-4).
The idea of "consecration" emphasizes the elevation of these familial and cultural responsibilities to a higher purpose. Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary, a marvelous resource for understanding the language Joseph Smith used to translate the Nephite record, defines consecration as "the act or ceremony of separating from a common to a sacred use, or of devoting and dedicating a person or thing to the service and worship of God, by certain rites or solemnities." As examples, Webster cites "the consecration of the priests among the Israelites" (see Exodus 29:9) and "the consecration of a bishop."
In regards to this early Nephite priesthood structure, it is striking that the small plates of Nephi do not record a single reference to any church actually existing in the New World. This is significant because the small plates cover nearly the first five centuries of Nephite history. It is in the book of Mosiah (large plates) that mention is first made of a church (organized by Alma1). [Daniel C. Peterson, "Priesthood in Mosiah," in The Book of Mormon: Mosiah, Salvation Only through Christ, pp. 188-191, 200]
2 Nephi 6:2 Nephi, unto Whom Ye Look As a King or a Protector:
According to Todd Kerr, one of the most important roles of the Hebrew king was that of being a leader in war. That is to say, primarily it was his duty to defend his people from aggressive action on the part of their neighbors. Hebrew kingship initially developed because of pressing needs for military leadership in Israel's territorial scuffles with surrounding nations. . . . Enemy encroachment also contributed to the establishment of Nephite monarchy. At the time Nephi was appointed king (2 Nephi 5:18-19), Lamanite hatred toward the Nephites was strong (2 Nephi 5:14), and Nephi's subjects turned to him for protection (2 Nephi 5:24). [Todd R. Kerr, "Ancient Aspects of Nephite Kingship in the Book of Mormon," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Fall 1992, F.A.R.M.S., p. 87]
2 Nephi 6:3 Concerning All Things Which Are Written, from the Creation of the World:
According to John Thompson, the structure and themes of Jacob's covenant speech show that he probably spoke in connection with a religious royal festival, to which the words of Isaiah which he quoted were especially well suited. For example, in Jacob's speech, he begins by reminding the people that he has previously spoken to them "concerning all things which are written, from the creation of the world" (2 Nephi 6:3). He also refers to Christ as the "great Creator" (2 Nephi 9:5-6). These points may be echoes of a traditional New Year setting, for throughout the ancient Near East and in many traditions around the world, New Year's Day is closely associated with the creation of the world.104 This creation theme is further emphasized in an Isaiah passage quoted by Jacob: "And forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth?" (2 Nephi 8:13, parallel to Isaiah 51:13). [John S. Thompson, "Isaiah 50-51, the Israelite Autumn Festivals, and the Covenant Speech of Jacob in 2 Nephi 6-10," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, pp. 130-131]
2 Nephi 6:4 I Will Read You the Words of Isaiah:
According to Brant Gardner, the plausible presence of non Old-World people among the Nephites provides a context for a strange sermon that Jacob gave on the behest of Nephi (see 2 Nephi 6:4). In the absence of any explanatory background, Jacob addresses a population that is in the process of establishing a city. He preaches to them from a text in Isaiah (2 Nephi 6:6-7--compare Isaiah 49:22-23) that deals with the long distant future salvation of Israel by means of the Gentiles. One might ask, why would Jacob give a discourse on events thousands of years away, and quote scripture dealing with the fact that "if it so be that they [the Gentiles] shall repent and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church, they shall be saved" (2 Nephi 6:12)?
If we look at the sermon being given in the general presence of a goodly number of non-Israelites by birth ("Gentiles"), that sermon becomes precisely the type of sermon that a king might request. The not-so subtle message would be that these "others" in the midst of Nephi's Israelite followers from the Old World would be essential to their salvation. Rather than a discourse on a theological future, it could be a strong commentary on an important social reality of their own present circumstances. [Brant Gardner, "A Social History of the Early Nephites," delivered at the FAIR Conference, August 17, 2001, p. 4]
2 Nephi 6:4 I Would Speak unto You concerning Things Which Are, and Which Are to Come; Wherefore, I Will Read You the Words of Isaiah:
In the sixth chapter of 2 Nephi we find the beginnings of some of Jacob's sermons to the people of Nephi. Jacob states the following: "And now behold, I would speak unto you concerning things which are, and which are to come; wherefore, I will read you the words of Isaiah. . . . And now, the words which I shall read are they which Isaiah spake concerning all the house of Israel" (2 Nephi 6:4)
In his sermons Jacob quotes from the words of Isaiah, specifically from Isaiah 49, 50 and 51. Critics of the Book of Mormon have attacked Jacob's use of these chapters because they claim that they were not written until after Lehi's departure from Jerusalem and thus could not have been part of the brass plates. Richard Draper explains the problem.
According to Draper, the exactness with which God prophesied in Isaiah caused one of the major debates in Isaiah studies. It began with Bishop Robert Lowth in the eighteenth century. Studying the basis of Old Testament prophetic ability, Bishop Lowth took a careful look at Isaiah. Though very favorable to the prophetic power and appreciative of the genius of what he called "the prophetic consciousness," he determined that prophets were, after all, "men of like nature with ourselves, in virtually all respects," and "only their higher moral and natural sensibility set them apart."105 Viewing them as little more than mortals with a highly developed sense of justice and an acute ability to see where society was headed, he struggled to reconcile his theory with what he found in certain passages of Isaiah. Chapters 40-47 particularly bothered him. There he found a "strained temporal reference." What he meant was that he found it impossible for the eighth-century Isaiah to describe accurately sixth-century events and even name a principal player, the Persian ruler Cyrus (see Isaiah 44:24-28; 45:1-3). Acute dissonance set in. "To applaud prophetic genius in respect of ethical insight was one thing; but to claim for this same genius the ability to foresee events centuries in advance went beyond enlightened logic," he insisted.106
Later scholars also felt Lowth's dissonance. Over time, Isaiah as both fore-teller and forth-teller became "incompatible conceptions."107 To resolve the dissonance, they were forced to break the book into two (and later three) distinct portions, with separate authors. Isaiah, chapters 1-39, they decided, belonged to an Isaiah living in the eighth century because the writings conformed rather closely with what was known about that period of Israel's history. They insisted that the rest of the book, chapters 40-66, was written at least two centuries later and then added to the earlier Isaiah material. What was the basis of their conclusion? That men, even prophets, cannot see beyond the horizon of their own time. Thus, the detailed prophecies concerning the Babylonian period could not have been written much before the end of that time.108
In other words, this whole school of inquiry arose primarily because these intellectual people accepted the supposition that Isaiah could not see two or more centuries into the future. The irony is that in some respects they were right. Indeed the very point God makes in chapters 40-47 of Isaiah is that there is no intelligence that can see beyond the horizon of its time, except a divine being. However, a portion of what God sees he is willing to share with his people through his prophets.109 The gift of seership comes from God. And because God alone can empower a prophet, it is only God that should be the center of worship and obedience.
As to the mention of Cyrus by name in Isaiah 44:24-28 & 45:1-3, apparently the Lord used these prophecies to impress the future king and push him into doing Jehovah's will. History shows that it worked. According to the Jewish historian Josephus:
In the first year of the reign of Cyrus, which was the seventieth from the day that our people were removed out of their own land into Babylon, God commiserated the captivity and calamity of these poor people. . . . For he stirred up the mind of Cyrus, and made him write this throughout all Asia:
"thus saith Cyrus the king: Since God Almighty hath appointed me to be king of the habitable earth, I believe that he is that God which the nation of the Israelites worship; for indeed he foretold my name by the prophets, and that I should build him a house at Jerusalem, in the country of Judea."
This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of his prophecies.110
[Richard D. Draper, "I Have Even from the Beginning Declared It," in Covenants Prophecies and Hymns of the Old Testament, pp. 142-153]
2 Nephi 6:4 I Will Read You the Words of Isaiah:
John Tvedtnes explains that the best scientific evidence for the Book of Mormon might not be archaeological or historical in nature, as important as these may be, but rather linguistic. This is because we have before us a printed text which can be subjected to linguistic analysis and comparison with the language spoken in the kingdom of Judah at the time of Lehi.
One of the more remarkable linguistic evidences for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon as a translation from an ancient text lies in the Isaiah variants found in it. Of the 478 verses in the Book of Mormon quoted from the book of Isaiah, 201 agree with the King James reading while 207 show variations. Some 58 are paraphrased and 11 others are variants and/or paraphrases. [John A. Tvedtnes, "Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon," pp. 165, 176]
2 Nephi 6:4 These Are the Words That My Brother Has Desired That I Should Speak unto You:
According to John Welch, that the choice of Isaiah selections in the Book of Mormon was deliberate is shown by Jacob's statement in 2 Nephi 6:4:
"I will read you the words of Isaiah. And they are the words which my brother has desired that I should speak unto you."
Not all the chapters of Isaiah are included in the Book of Mormon, and certainly not all are explained. But "the Lord had a purpose in preserving the prophecies of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, notwithstanding they become a barrier to the casual reader."111 Perhaps understanding why certain Isaiah passages have been chosen rather than others may prevent the prophecies of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah from looming "as a barrier, like a roadblock or a checkpoint beyond which the casual reader, one with idle curiosity, generally will not go."112 [John Gee, "Choose the Things That Please Me": On the Selection of the Isaiah Sections in the Book of Mormon," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, p. 67]
2 Nephi 6:4 That Ye May Learn and Glorify the Name of Your God:
According to John Thompson, the structure and themes of Jacob's covenant speech show that he probably spoke in connection with a religious royal festival, to which the words of Isaiah which he quoted were especially well suited. One clue comes from the Babylonian Talmud. According to the Talmud, speaking the sacred name of God was allowed only on the Day of Atonement and even then only by the high priest in the Holy of Holies.113 It is difficult to determine the basis for this tradition; however, it may have arisen from earlier associations of the secret name of God with creation or from other ancient traditions concerning the secrecy of names.114 Regardless, it is interesting that Jacob begins his sermon by stating: "And I speak unto you for your sakes, that ye may learn and glorify the name of your God" (2 Nephi 6:4). Further, the rest of his sermon contains numerous references to the "name" of God. For example, in 2 Nephi 8:15 (parallel to Isaiah 51:15) we find, "the Lord of Hosts is my name." For other examples, see 2 Nephi 9:23; 9:24; 9:41; 9:49; 9:52; 10:3. [John S. Thompson, "Isaiah 50-51, the Israelite Autumn Festivals, and the Covenant Speech of Jacob in 2 Nephi 6-10," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, p. 132] [For a complete listing of the different descriptive titles of the Lord, see Volume 1, Appendix B]
2 Nephi 6:5 [The Words of Isaiah] May Be Likened unto You Because Ye Are of the House of Israel:
[See the commentary on 1 Nephi 19:24]
A simple, yet very effective commentary on the words of the prophet Isaiah, as quoted by Jacob and Nephi, can be found included (within parenthesis) in the scriptural text of the companion book to this commentary called The Covenant Story (Volumes 1-7). The style used is patterned after David J. Ridges' Isaiah Made Easier, and much of the wording or meaning has been adopted from that text by permission of the author. [See David J. Ridges, Isaiah Made Easier / The Book of Revelation Made Easier, 1994] For the benefit of the reader, the Isaiah text and commentary from The Covenant Story will be included in this commentary. The chapters of 2 Nephi for which Isaiah commentary has been included are 6-8, 12-24, and 27. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
2 Nephi 6:6-7 (Isaiah Text & Commentary):
Jacob quotes the words of Isaiah (Isaiah 49:22-23 -- see also 1 Nephi 21:22-23, and 2 Nephi 10:8-9).
The Lord Will Redeem His Covenant People
6 And now these are the words: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard (my Church or my true gospel) to the people; and they (the Gentiles) shall bring thy sons (scattered Israel) in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
7 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers (or in other words, nations and the leaders of nations will help in this gathering); they shall bow down to thee with their faces towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet (that is, the tables will be turned in the last days--those who formerly despised and oppressed you will now help you); and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they (the people of the Lord) shall not be ashamed that wait for me (or place their hope and trust in me).
[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 6:6 Thus Saith the Lord:
According to John Gee, it should hardly surprise us that Nephi's and Jacob's quotations of Isaiah in the ancient text of the Book of Mormon do not break at our current chapter and verse designations. In Isaiah Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as Greek and other ancient biblical manuscripts, show that chapter and verse breaks were not present in ancient manuscripts.115 More recent hands, following the traditions of the rabbis and doctors, placed artificial divisions into the texts of these ancient scriptures. The division into chapters and verses that we now employ can be a subtle impediment to understanding the scriptures. . . .
When quoting lengthy passages, Book of Mormon prophets intentionally start and stop in certain specific places, reflecting natural breaks in Isaiah's text. Nephite writers normally marked breaks in passages through a syntactic or phrasal marker at the beginning of a new section.116 One of these is a statement of acknowledging the presence of a quotation . . . Jacob chose with care the long Isaiah passage that he quotes in 2 Nephi 6:6--8:25 (see 2 Nephi 6:4); he is not simply rambling on until he gets tired. Quotation statements mark the boundaries of the passage he quotes. The selection Jacob quotes from Isaiah contains four sections, each of which begins with the phrase "Thus saith the Lord: (2 Nephi 6:6; 6:17; 7:1; 8:22). [John Gee, "Choose the Things That Please Me": On the Selection of the Isaiah Sections in the Book of Mormon," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, pp. 68-69]
2 Nephi 6:6 Behold, I Will Lift up Mine Hand to the Gentiles . . . and They Shall Bring Thy Sons in Their Arms:
According to John Welch, the second Nephite text that uses Isaiah in conjunction with the Nephite prophetic view is Jacob's covenant speech in 2 Nephi 6-10. This speech is built around the theme, "behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, . . . and they shall bring thy sons in their arms" (2 Nephi 6:6), which will usher in the victorious day of the Lord. . . . Jacob uses the chapters from Isaiah to establish and expound upon stage four of that view, which deals with the theme of the day of the Lord. . . .
Although Jacob covers all four phases in giving his audience a basic frame of reference, he spends most of his time in this speech focusing on stage four, which he elaborates with the aid of Isaiah's writings. [John W. Welch, "Getting through Isaiah with the Help of the Nephite Prophetic View," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, pp. 26-28]
Note* For the benefit of the reader, the four stages of the Nephite prophetic view are:
1. Christ's coming;
2. his rejection and the scattering of the Jews;
3. the day of the Gentiles; and
4. the restoration of Israel and the ultimate victory of good over evil.
2 Nephi 6:8 And now I, Jacob would speak somewhat concerning these words (Illustration): "Outlines of Passages Quoting Isaiah," [John Gee, "Choose the Things That Please Me": On the Selection of the Isaiah Sections in the Book of Mormon," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, p. 76]
Note* When Nephite prophets quoted Isaiah, they followed a regular pattern. The pattern they used in citing and interpreting Isaiah in the Book of Mormon may be standardized as follows:
B. Citation of a passage of scripture
C. Quotation of parts of the text and interpretation of the passage by explaining and defining terms
D. Conclusion by quoting the closing verses of the section.
2 Nephi 6:9 They Should Return Again:
In 2 Nephi 6, Jacob read the words of Isaiah to the people of Nephi. Among these words was a prophecy that the Jews would be carried away captive from Jerusalem, but that "they should return again" (2 Nephi 6:9). According to Reynolds and Sjodahl, the Jews did return under Zerubbabel in 537 B.C. The rebuilding of the temple was begun in 520 B.C., and in 444 B.C., Ezra read the law in Jerusalem. [George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 282]
2 Nephi 6:9 The Holy One of Israel:
According to Douglas and Robert Clark, perhaps the most conspicuous aspect of Jacob's preaching in comparison with the rest of the Book of Mormon is his constantly repeated designation of God as "the Holy One of Israel" (2 Nephi 6:9). That this title would surface somewhere in Jacob's preaching about Isaiah is no surprise, of course, since the title occurs in the Old Testament primarily in Isaiah but only infrequently elsewhere (usually in dependent passages).117 . . . Moreover, his brother Nephi (see 1 Nephi 19:14-15) and their father, Lehi (see 2 Nephi 1:10; 3:2) had already used the title in speaking of God. Even so, Jacob's usage of the title stands out for two reasons:
1. The particular Isaiah passage he quotes never expressly uses the title; and
2. Jacob uses the title far more frequently (some seventeen times in just two chapters -- 2 Nephi 6 and 9) than any other primary Book of Mormon writer does elsewhere in the rest of the book. (Nephi uses it in his own writing some twelve times (1 Nephi 19:14-15; 22:5,18,21,24,26,28; 2 Nephi 25:29; 28:5; 30:2; 31:13); and Amaleki uses it twice (Omni 1:25-26). The title also appears some seven times in Isaiah passages quoted in the Book of Mormon.)
Why, then, does Jacob draw so frequently on the title "the Holy One of Israel"? The answer at least in part could be because of his own heightened awareness of and identification with his ancient namesake, the patriarch Jacob (Israel), and the covenants he had received. This could also explain Jacob's continued obsession (once Nephi turned the sacred record over to him) with the destiny of the house of Israel: nearly one-third of Jacob's own writing (in the book of Jacob) is devoted to reproducing the lengthy and elaborate allegory by the prophet Zenos comparing the house of Israel to an olive-tree (see Jacob 5). [E. Douglas Clark and Robert S. Clark, Fathers and Sons in the Book of Mormon, pp. 35-36]
2 Nephi 6:16-18 (Isaiah Text & Commentary):
Jacob now quotes the succeeding verses of Isaiah 49:24-26 -- see also 1 Nephi 21:24-26.
The Deliverance of the House of Israel
16 For shall the prey (Israel) be taken from the mighty (their enemies), or the lawful captive delivered (that is, will the Lord's covenant people be delivered)?
17 But thus saith the Lord: Even the captives (Israel) of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey (or captives) of the terrible (tyrannical regimes) shall be delivered; for THE MIGHTY GOD shall deliver his covenant people. For thus saith the Lord: I will contend with them that contendeth with thee (Israel)--
18 And I will feed them that oppress thee, with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken (or out of control) with their own blood (or with their own people) as with sweet wine (that is, Israel's enemies will turn against each other and destroy themselves); and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
[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 6:17 The Mighty God Shall Deliver His Covenant People:
According to Victor Ludlow, there are changes found in 2 Nephi 6:17, as quoted by Jacob. Interestingly, the same passage as quoted by Nephi in 1 Nephi 21:25 does not have these changes, but is basically the same as the King James Version. It appears that Jacob changed the order of some phrases by dropping the last phrase of verse 25, "I will save thy children" (KJV) and adding the phrase "For the Mighty God shall deliver his covenant children," which conveys the same message found earlier in the verse. The only major difference is his substitution of "covenant people" for "children," defining God's children as those who keep his covenants. [Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet, p. 418]