2 Nephi 8
A Covenant Plan of Salvation
2 Nephi 8 (Isaiah Text & Commentary):
(Compare Isaiah 51)
Israel Is Challenged to Return to Their God
1 Hearken unto me, ye that follow after righteousness. Look unto the rock (or in this case, the solid covenant foundation revealed to Abraham and Sarah) from whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit (or the rock quarry) from whence ye are digged (or in other words, consider your origins, for you are the children of the covenant received by revelation!).
2 Look unto Abraham, your father, and unto SARAH, she that bare you; for I called him alone, and blessed him (see Abraham, 2:9-11).
3 For the Lord shall comfort Zion (or where the pure in heart dwell), he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord (or the garden of Eden). Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody (which is a wonderful reward for the righteous).
4 Hearken unto me (your Jehovah -- your Messiah), my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation; for a law (or a set of doctrines and covenants) shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light for the people (that is, my laws will bring light to the nations).
5 My righteousness (or my ability to save you, and to triumph) is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arm (or priesthood power) shall judge the people. The isles (or the lands bordering the seas -- that is, the nations of the world) shall wait upon me (or have hope and trust in my salvation), and on mine arm (or on my power) shall they trust.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath (or upon my creations); for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke (or fade away), and the earth shall wax old like a garment (or decay away); and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner. But my salvation (or the salvation I bring) shall be forever, and my righteousness (or my triumph) shall not be abolished (which is the glad message of hope -- see D&C 1:38).
7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness (or who are righteous), the people in whose heart I have written my law (or those of you who have taken my covenant gospel to heart), fear ye not the reproach (or insults) of men, neither be ye afraid of their revelings (or their stinging criticisms).
8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment (or in other words, the wicked who revile against righteousness will be destroyed like moth-eaten clothing), and the worm shall eat them like wool (that is, they will be destroyed like all earthly things which sooner or later decay away). But my righteousness (or the deliverance I bring) shall be (or will last) forever, and my salvation from generation to generation (or in essence, Christ's covenant salvation will extend through all generations and throughout all eternity).
Israel Now Replies
They challenge the Lord to exercise his power in their behalf like he did in ancient times.
9 Awake, awake! Put on strength, O arm of the Lord (that is, Use your power!); awake as in the ancient days (or in other words, help us like you did in days gone by). Art thou not he that hath cut RAHAB (the mythical sea monster who symbolically represents the Devil and the nations who serve him -- Isaiah 27:1, footnote c), and wounded the dragon (or Satan -- see Revelations 12:7-9)?
10 Art thou not he who hath dried the sea (that is, the Red Sea), the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way (or a passageway) for the ransomed to pass over (or in other words, aren't you the one who redeemed the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt by parting the Red Sea -- a type for the Atonement, which will provide a pathway for the righteous out of the world of sin)?
11 Therefore [or if the answer is, Yes!], the redeemed of the Lord shall return (or Israel shall be gathered), and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads; and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away (which conditions represent the ultimate result of righteousness).
The Lord's Power Comes through Righteousness
The Lord now replies to Israel's challenge by noting that Israel's problems have been brought upon herself through wickedness.
12. I Am He; yea, I Am HE THAT COMFORTETH YOU. Behold, who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of man (or afraid of mortal man), who shall die, and of the son of man (or mortal men), who shall be made like unto grass (which has a short-lived life cycle)? (or in other words, Why trust in mortal man who won't be around forever? -- Trust in God, not man.)
13 And forgettest THE LORD THY MAKER, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth (that is, Did you forget me, your Creator, after all I've done for you?), and hast feared continually every day, because of the fury of the oppressor as if he were ready to destroy (that is, Have you feared the mortal nations that threatened you more than me?). And where is the fury of the oppressor (or in other words, Where is the power of mortal men when the day will come when mortal enemies won't be able to hurt you anymore)?
14 The captive exile (or scattered Israel) hasteneth that he may be loosed (or hopes for the day when Israel will be set free from captivity -- see Isaiah 52:1-2), and [hopes] that he should not die in the pit (or that once free, Israel will be allowed to return to their lands of inheritance), nor that his bread should fail (and hopes that Israel will still be given spiritual bread, or the gospel teachings, to live by).
15 But [Israel, you need not lose trust nor lose hope], I am the Lord thy God, whose waves roared (as they drowned Pharaoh's armies in the Red Sea -- see 1 Nephi 4:2); the Lord of Hosts is my name.
16 And I have put my words in thy mouth (or in essence, I have given you my gospel), and have covered (or watched over) thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may (with your eternal progress in mind) plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion: Behold, thou art my people (or in other words, Israel, everything I have done has been for you).
17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem (that is, pay attention my covenant people who have gone astray!), which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury--thou hast drunken the dregs (or the bitter residue) of the cup of trembling wrung out (or in essence, you have paid a terrible price for your wickedness)--
The Lord continues to speak to Israel on power.
Covenant Priesthood Leadership
18 And none (that is, there is not one prophet) to guide her (or to guide wicked Israel) among all the sons she hath brought forth; neither (prophet) that taketh her by the hand (to guide her), of all the sons she hath brought up. (That is, the people of Jerusalem -- or the people of Israel gone astray -- or the Lamanites -- will spend many years without prophets because of their wickedness. This also applies to the wicked Nephites in the years before their destruction -- see Mormon 1:13-14)
19 These two sons (or the two prophets--representing Ephraim and Manasseh--in the last days who will be called to prevent the total destruction of the Jews -- see Revelations 11. Or for the Nephites this could also mean Mormon and Moroni -- see Mormon 1:15-17; 3:2) are come unto thee, who shall be sorry for thee (or who will watch over you through the following)--thy desolation and destruction, and the famine and the sword--and by whom (or by whom else) shall I comfort thee? (In other words, only according to righteous obedience of the established covenants and birthright blessings of the house of Israel, will you be able to recognize the true priesthood--which is the Lord's power)
20 Thy sons (or the wicked remnants of the house of Israel--the Jews of the last days -- also the Nephites in the days of Mormon) have fainted (that is, they have shirked their covenant responsibilities and will be in danger of permanent destruction), save these two (or these two sons--Ephraim and Manasseh--or the two prophets in Revelations 11 -- or Mormon and Moroni). They (or the covenant priesthood representatives of Ephraim and Manasseh) lie at the head of all the streets (that is, all the pathways to covenant priesthood power go through them to the Lord). As a wild bull in a net they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God (that is, they abhor unrighteousness, and because they truly have the Lord's power to administer destruction to the wicked, they will do precisely that if I set them at liberty to do so-----).
The Lord Will Save Those Who Repent
21 Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted (or Israel sick with sin), and drunken (or out of control), and not with wine (but rather with wickedness):
22 Thus saith thy Lord, the Lord and thy God pleadeth the cause of his people (that is, I the Lord have not deserted you); behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again (or in other words, the Lord has saved the faithful people of the house of Israel before, and can do it again. He will also save the Jews in the last days -- see 2 Nephi 9:1-2 -- and he will also save the remnant of the people of Lehi in the last days).
23 But [And] I will put it (the cup of destruction -- in verse 22) into the hand of them that afflict thee (or in other words, your enemies that intended to destroy you will be themselves destroyed); who have said to thy soul: Bow down, that we may go over (that is, lie down while we walk all over you!)--and thou hast laid thy body as the ground and as the street to them that went over (or in essence, the Lord will help you defeat the same enemies that have been dominating you).
Repent and Come unto the Lord
(Compare Isaiah 52:1-2)
24 Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion (or return to the power of the priesthood which you have lost -- see D&C 113:7,8); put on thy beautiful garments (that is, dress in your finest covenant robes, and prepare to be with the Savior -- see Revelations 21:2-3), O Jerusalem, the holy city (the designated place for those who make and keep righteous covenants to gather to); for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean (that is, only those who keep their covenants and keep themselves clean will dwell there).
25 Shake thyself from the dust (or from being walked on by the forces of evil); arise (from your fallen state), sit down (or take a seat of honor, being redeemed at last), O Jerusalem [for that is where you should be]; loose thyself (or free yourself) from the bands of thy neck (or from the bondage of wickedness), O captive daughter of Zion.
[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 8:2 Look unto Abraham, your Father, and unto Sarah, She That Bare You; For I Called Him Alone, and Blessed Him:
[See the commentary on 1 Nephi 6:4]
2 Nephi 8:15 The Lord of Hosts Is My Name:
Jeff Lindsay notes that the issue of Isaiah variants in the Book of Mormon is a complex and interesting topic. Interestingly, scholars have found support for the Book of Mormon variants in other biblical texts. Franklin Harris discusses one example of an Isaiah variant: "In Isaiah 51:15 (2 Nephi 8:15) the Book of Mormon revises the Authorized Version 'His name' to read 'my name' and interestingly these readings are found in the Septuagint and Latin." (Franklin S. Harris, Jr., The Book of Mormon: Messages and Evidences, pp. 50-52)
2 Nephi 8:18-19, 20 They Lie at the Head of All the Streets:
After many years of despair, the ancient patriarch Jacob was blessed with the knowledge that his covenant firstborn son, Joseph, was yet alive in a foreign land, Egypt. Additionally, Joseph presented Jacob with his own firstborn sons, Ephraim and Manasseh--two sons of the covenant. But he made it clear that it was Ephraim who held the keys. Ephraim and Manasseh were adopted by Jacob: "they are mine." (v. 5) Ephraim was given the firstborn blessing above Manasseh, although both were blessed as firstborn. Joseph was given "one portion above thy brethren" (JST Genesis 48:28).
Jacob made a statement that is of great interest concerning these "sons" of Joseph who were now his through adoption. He said, when Joseph brought them, "who are these?" (Genesis 48:8). Isaiah, the master of combining all past statements and episodes from the lives of the patriarchs into "one" (3 Nephi 23:14) spoke about this incident. It is as though Isaiah was quoting the lamentations of Jacob at the spiritual loss of his sons, and the physical loss of Joseph. We can almost hear Jacob weep for years, before he found Joseph alive:
There is none to guide her (Israel) among all the sons whom she hath brought forth: neither is there any (sons) that taketh her (Israel) by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up. These two things [two things is a mis-translation, the Book of Mormon clarifies "things" as these two "sons"--2 Nephi 8:19--meaning Ephraim and Manasseh] are come unto thee (Jacob), who shall be sorry for thee (Jacob)--thy desolation and destruction--and by whom shall I comfort thee? [This is stated as a question to Jacob: . . . by whom shall I comfort thee? The answer: by these two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh] Thy sons (the sons of Jacob) have fainted, save these two (Ephraim and Manasseh), they lie at the head of all the streets. (Isaiah 51:18-20, and 2 Nephi 8:18-20)
It is obvious to latter-day saints of the great blessings that have come to the world through these two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Lehi was from Manasseh, and Ishmael was from Ephraim. But Lehi's and Ishmael's children born to inherit the land of promise, were children of Joseph through both of his sons. Through them and their descendants, we have the record of the stick or tribe of Ephraim, even the Book of Mormon. Who can say too much of the marvelous place and significance of this book in restoring both "Jew and Gentile" (title page of the Book of Mormon) to Jesus the Christ. Does not the Book of Mormon, the record of Ephraim and Manasseh, lie at the head of all the streets that those in this dispensation are to travel? [Richard D. Anthony, Isaiah and Joseph, pp. 47-48, unpublished]
2 Nephi 8:18-20 They Lie at the Head of All the Streets:
Leland Gentry writes that according to the Doctrine and Covenants, the "two sons" who "lie at the head of all the streets" (2 Nephi 8:19, 20) are "two prophets that are to be raised up to the Jewish nation in the last days, at the time of the restoration, and to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers" (D&C 77:15).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote of these men:
Their ministry will take place after the latter-day temple has been built in Old Jerusalem, after some of the Jews who dwell there have been converted, and just before Armageddon and the return of the Lord Jesus. How long will they minister in Jerusalem and in the Holy Land? For three and a half years, the precise time spent by the Lord in his ministry to the ancient Jews. The Jews, as an assembled people, will hear again the testimony of legal administrators bearing record that salvation is in Christ and in his gospel. Who will these witnesses be? We do not know, except that they will be followers of Joseph Smith; they will hold the holy Melchizedek Priesthood; they will be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is reasonable to suppose, knowing how the Lord has always dealt with his people in all ages, that they will be two members of the Council of the Twelve or of the First Presidency of the Church (Millennial Messiah, p. 390).
How will the people receive their witness? Much the same as the ancient Jews received the Messiah. Elder McConkie continued:
"And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves." . . .
"And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth." The rejoicing of the wicked at the death of the righteous constitutes a witness, written in blood, that the rebels of the world have ripened in iniquity and are fit and ready for the burning.
"And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them."
Jerusalem is shaken by a mighty earthquake even as it was at the crucifixion of Christ. This time many of the wicked are slain, while the saints--those Jews who have accepted Christ and his gospel, those who have participated in building the temple, those who have received the ordinances of the house of the Lord and are waiting for his return--they shall give glory to the God of heaven (pp. 390-392)
[As quoted by Leland Gentry, "God Will Fulfill His Covenants," in The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, The Doctrinal Structure, pp. 170-171]
2 Nephi 8:19 Two Sons [Two Things?]:
John Tvedtnes writes that in comparing the Isaiah text from the King James Bible with the Book of Mormon, we find that while in Isaiah 51:19 we find the words "two things," the comparable verse in 2 Nephi 8:19 reads "two sons." The Massoretic Text simply has stym, the feminine numeral "two." Thus it is possible to admit that the original read "sons." In the following verse (2 Nephi 8:20), after the phrase, "Thy sons have fainted," the Book of Mormon adds "save these two." The reference seems to be to the "two sons" (instead of the KJV's "two things"). The Book of Mormon critics might jump on this as Joseph Smith's tampering with Isaiah's words. However, it is also possible that the changes made in this and other verses of Jacob's discourse can be attributed to Jacob, who is quoting these passages in his discourse. We have already sen how much he paraphrased earlier portions of Isaiah during the same speech [see the Tvedtnes commentary on 2 Nephi 6-8]. [John A. Tvedtnes, "The Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon," FARMS, pp. 87-88]
2 Nephi 8:24-25 Awake, Awake, Put on Thy Strength, O Zion:
According to Cleon Skousen, the reader should notice that the last two verses of 2 Nephi chapter 8 comprise the opening portion of chapter 52 of Isaiah in our modern Bible. Jacob quoted them as though they logically belonged with Chapter 51 and treated them accordingly. Joseph Smith gave the meaning of these two verses in D&C 113:7-8:
Questions by Elias Higbee: What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion--and what people had Isaiah reference to?
He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.
[W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 1247]