2 Nephi 7
A Covenant Plan of Salvation
2 Nephi 7 (Isaiah Text & Commentary):
(Compare Isaiah 50)
Christ Will Keep His Covenants with the House of Israel
The House of Israel Should Keep Their Covenants Also
1 Yea, for thus saith the Lord: Have I put thee away (or divorced you), or have I cast thee off forever? For thus saith the Lord: Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement? To whom have I put thee away, or to which of my creditors have I sold you (or in essence, was it I who sold you)? Yea, to whom have I sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves (that is, you have brought your present condition upon yourselves!), and for your transgressions is your mother put away (that is, you are the children of an apostate nation -- see Hosea 2:2). (In essence, the Lord asks the question, "Did I divorce you or did you divorce me?" That is, "Did I leave you or did you leave me?"
2 Wherefore, (basically) when I (Jesus) came, there was no man (who received me as the Messiah); when I called, yea, there was none to answer (that is nobody responded to my words). O house of Israel, is my hand [or arm--symbolic of power] shortened at all that it cannot redeem, or have I no power to deliver? Behold, at my rebuke (or command) I dry up the sea [like with Moses bringing Israel out of bondage in Egypt], I make their rivers a wilderness and their fish to stink because the waters are dried up, and they die because of thirst (or in other words, I certainly haven't lost my power).
3 I clothe the heavens with blackness (another plague the Lord inflicted on Pharaoh's Egypt), and I make sackcloth (a coarse dark fabric worn by mourners) their covering (that is, I can cause the sky to be dark during the day as if it were mourning the dead. --- In fact it will at Jesus' crucifixion; see Matt 27:45; 3 Ne 8:20-23)
Isaiah's records a "servant song""
4 The Lord God (the Father) hath given me (Jesus; see verse 6) the tongue of the learned (or in other words, my Father has taught me well), that I should know how to speak a word (that is a strengthening and comforting word) in season (or at the appropriate time) unto thee, O house of Israel. When ye are weary he waketh morning by morning. He waketh mine ear to hear as the learned (that is, He, the Father, is constantly communicating with me about his covenant children, and I hear Him as his disciple.)
5 The Lord God (the Father) hath opened mine ear (or appointed mine ears--JST), and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back (or in other words, I will be obedient and accomplish what God the Father has covenanted with me to do, the atonement; and you should be obedient to your covenants --- as given in 1 Nephi 21:6).
6 I gave my back to the smiter (or I will be scourged -- see Matt. 27:26), and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair (that is, they will pull out the whiskers of my beard--or shame and degrade me). I hid not my face from shame and spitting (allowing my persecutors to condemn themselves through their actions).
7 For the Lord God (the Father) will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded (that is, I will absolutely not be stopped). Therefore have I set my face like a flint (or in other words, I am focused extremely hard and firm on the course that I must take), and I know that I shall not be ashamed (or that I will not fail).
8 And the Lord (the Father) is near, and he justifieth me (that is, He approves of everything I do). Who will contend with me (or who is willing to go against such odds)? Let us stand together (or in other words, let's go to court of law and see who is justified). Who is mine adversary? Let him come near me (and face me), and I will smite him with the strength of my mouth (or the Lord's sure word).
9 For the Lord God (the Father) will help me. And all they who shall condemn me, behold, all they shall wax old as a garment (or increasingly useless), and the moth (a symbol of destruction) shall eat them up (in essence, the wicked will have their day, but then they will reap their own destruction).
Isaiah now prophecies some details related to the state of the faithless people of Israel who have reasoned against such a covenant.
10 Who is among you that feareth (or that respects) the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant (the prophets), that walketh in darkness and hath no light (or that finds his way in the darkness of the world by the light of the gospel rather than by the light of man)? (Answer: No one because the Lord blesses only his followers with light.)
11 Behold all ye (wicked people) that kindle fire (or man-made light), that compass (or surround) yourselves about with sparks (or flashes of man's own inspiration), walk in the light of your (own) fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled (In essence, listen up all you who are trying to live according to your own philosophies). This shall ye have of mine hand--ye shall lie down in sorrow (that is, misery awaits those who try to live without God).
[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 7 [JST of Isaiah 50 . . . (Joseph & Moses)]
According to Richard D. Anthony, somewhere along the line, somebody, be it scribe, translator, or mischief maker, did not want the world to have the "key of knowledge" even a "fulness of the scriptures." (JST Luke 11:52) Much of Chapter 50 has been lost. These lost words are the prophecies of Joseph about his posterity. They are of great worth unto us in our day, as well as to the house of Israel of old.
Let us examine one marvelous prophecy in some detail. In Genesis 50:24, Joseph promised his "brethren: that they would be in "affliction and bondage" in Egypt. However, "the Lord God will raise up a righteous branch out of my (Joseph's) loins: a prophet; and this prophet [Moses?] shall deliver my people out of Egypt in the days of thy bondage." Joseph then quoted the Lord, who in speaking to Joseph said, "for a seer will I raise up to deliver my people out of the land of Egypt; and he shall be called Moses. And by this manner shall he know that he is of thy [Joseph's?] house; for he shall be nursed of the King's daughter, and shall be called her son." (Genesis 50:29).
Joseph brought the children of Israel unto Egypt. Is it possible that through Joseph's posterity (Moses?) the children of Israel were brought out of Egypt and bondage? Many years later, a man named Joseph would bring the child Jesus into Egypt and also that same Joseph would bring Jesus out of Egypt. The firstborn is a type of the Savior. Joseph was a type of Christ. Moses was a type of Christ. Was Moses a descendant of Joseph?
Moses held the keys of the gathering of Israel and delivered them to Joseph Smith (D&C 110:11). These keys of gathering were with the tribe of Ephraim. Therefore, if Moses was a descendant of Joseph, was he through Ephraim? Yes! The Bible states that Moses was a Levite, a descendant of Levi. Of this fact there is no doubt. If there is one scripture attesting to that fact, there are 100. There is not any question about that. No question that Moses was a descendant of Levi through Kohath and Amram, but what about Moses' descent through women? Of which tribe were the later wives of Levi, or the wives of Kohath?
We are told that Moses' mother, Jochebed was a daughter of Levi. But was she an actual daughter or a descendant? Let us suppose that Kohath, son of Levi, married one of the daughters of Joseph that he had after Ephraim and Manasseh. If so, then the blood of Joseph would have been given to Kohath's son, Amram. Moreover, how many generations were there between Levi and Moses in 400 years? (Note* Anthony's personal opinion is that Moses came to be a descendant of Joseph through righteous women.
Anthony gives us some other facts that may bear light on the matter. When the children of Israel arrived in the promised land, Joshua, who himself was an Ephraimite (Numbers 13:8, and Deuteronomy 34:9) assigned cities to the Children of Kohath, "by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out of the one-half tribe of Manasseh. The Levites (which the children of Kohath would be) were assigned portions of inheritance, or they were scattered through all Israel, to give priesthood blessings. It seems significant then that the children of Kohath "had their lot out of the tribe of Ephraim" (Joshua 21:20). Does this division have anything to do with the wife of Kohath? And why was the inheritance of the children of Kohath out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and not out of any of the other tribes?
Perhaps we may find precedence for this act in the episode of the daughters of Zelophehad, recorded in Numbers 27. These daughters, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, came to Moses saying that their father, Zelophehad, died having no sons. Zelophehad was the son of Hefer the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, the son of Joseph. They asked for possession in the land the same as the brothers of their father. Moses brought the case before the Lord. The Lord said they should have an inheritance the same as the uncles, and that the inheritance of their father should pass to them. This incident became the standard for inheritance for those with no sons. Daughters were given possession of the land. Thus, is it possible that the "Levites which remained of Kohath" received an inheritance because of their mother, Kohath's wife, who was a daughter of Ephraim or Manasseh?
Ordinarily in the church, we don't pay enough attention to the mothers of "great men." It is through the fathers that we follow the genealogy. But we must always keep foremost in our mind when we consider genealogy, that the lineage of Jesus, the blood line of Jesus, is traced through his mother, and not through any mortal man! Might not also the blood line of Moses be traced through a woman back to Joseph? [Richard D. Anthony, Isaiah & Joseph, pp. 51-55, unpublished]
Note* According to Daniel Rolph, Phineas (or Phinehas), the grandson of Aaron (Exodus 6:25), considered to be a descendant of Levi, is traditionally stated to have descended also through the lineage of Joseph.118 Moses reportedly bestowed upon him the leadership of the people while the Israelites were fighting the Midianites of the trans-Jordan region, along with the ark of the covenant, the Urim and Thummim, and the gold plate of the mitre that rested on the high priest's forehead. [Daniel N. Rolph, "Prophets, Kings, and Swords: The Sword of Laban and Its Possible Pre-Laban Origin," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Spring 1993, pp. 76-77] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 21:10]
Note* Walter Kaiser writes that it is important to realize that in viewing the genealogical language of the scriptures, there was a range of meanings for such terms as (1) "a generation" (which can equal forty, eighty, one hundred or more years), (2) "begat," (3) "son of," (4) "father of," and (5) "she bore [yalad]
a son." This range of meaning not only exists in the Bible but in the ancient Near Eastern literature. To place our contemporary Western meanings over these ancient Near Eastern expressions often leads to improper conclusions.
For example, one of the most instructive lessons in this whole area of genealogies and chronologies can be gleaned from following Levi's descent through the house of Kohath (Moses' ancestor) into Egypt (Genesis 46:6-11) 430 years before the Exodus (Exodus 12:40). Here is the point: If Moses was eighty years old at the time of the Exodus (see Exodus 7:7), and no gap in time is understood, then Moses' "grandfather" had, during Moses' lifetime, an impossible increase in the number of his descendants. It appears, according to Exodus 6:16-20, that Moses' "grandfather" had 8,600 male descendants, 2,750 of whom were between the ages of thirty and fifty (Numbers 3:19, 27-28; 4:34-36). If one takes the Bible narrative as a direct chronology of events, this amazing explosion of progeny would constitute an impossibility.
If we need further evidence of a different accounting for genealogies, Genesis 46:11 lists Kohath as among the descendants of Israel who traveled to Egypt. A literal reading of Exodus 6:18 would put his lifespan at 133 years; Exodus 6:20 puts his "son" Amram's lifespan at 137 years. Adding to these Amram's son Moses' eighty-year age at the time of the Exodus yields a maximum of 350 years from the descent to the Exodus. This is 80 years shy of the 430 years put forward in Exodus 12:40, even if these men fathered their sons while on their deathbeds. Again, we must seek a different method to reconcile genealogies with chronologies. [Walter C. Kaiser, The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant?, pp. 69-70]
2 Nephi 7:7 For the Lord God Will Help Me, Therefore Shall I Not Be Confounded:
We find in Jacob 7 some of the writings of Isaiah (compare Isaiah 50). Here the Lord compares His covenant relationship to the house of Israel with the marriage covenant between a man and a wife. He initially states: "have I put thee away, or have I cast thee off forever? . . . Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement? . . . Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away. In a subsequent verse we find the faithful servant of God (Christ) saying: "For the Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded. Therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed" (2 Nephi 7:7).
According to Donna Nielsen, a knowledge of the biblical marriage imagery can greatly enrich our understanding of how God relates to us through covenants. In Hebrew, the word for "helper" is ezar. This word is used twenty-one times throughout the scriptures:
(a) In sixteen places, it refers to God, who acts as Israel's "mighty helper"
(b) Three times it refers to vital human assistance in time of extreme need. For example, it describes the action of someone who gives water to a person dying of thirst, or places a tourniquet on the arm of a bleeding man, thereby saving his life. In one of it's verbal forms, it sometimes refers to a person who offers testimony in law court, and thus provides grounds for the defendant's exoneration and acquittal (Terrien 10)
(c) It is also interesting to note that twice it refers to Eve as the first woman. So perhaps there is no basis in the idea that to become a man's wife is an inferior position.
[Donna B. Nielsen, Beloved Bridegroom: Finding Christ in Ancient Jewish Marriage and Family Customs, pp. 2, 8]