Mosiah 14

 

Out of Bondage through Covenants

      Jarom -- Mosiah


 

 

Mosiah 14 (Note* Commentary on Isaiah)

 

     A simple, yet very effective commentary on the words of the prophet Isaiah, as quoted by Abinadi, can be found included (within parenthesis) in the scriptural text of the companion book to this commentary called The Covenant Story (Volume 3). The style used is patterned after David J. Ridges' Isaiah Made Easier, and much of the wording or meaning has been adapted 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 (Mosiah 14) will be included in this commentary. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 14 (Isaiah Text & Commentary):

 

     Chapter 14

 

     Abinadi Quotes Isaiah 53

     A Prophecy of Christ

 

 1 Yea, even doth not Isaiah say: Who hath believed our report (or point #1: when prophets have spoken to this people, has anybody listened? Answer: No! Because if you had you would have realized that from the beginning we have testified and prophesied about Christ), and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed (or point #2: if the Lord were to reveal something to this people now, wouldn't he speak to a prophet? And wouldn't that prophet say basically the same things as the prophets before him? So isn't it strange that every one of the prophets from the beginning have testified of Christ and still you people don't understand the message)?

 2 For he (Jesus) shall grow up before him (the Father) as a tender plant (or a new plant -- that is, a restoration anew of eternal truths), and as a root out of dry ground (that is, this great event will take place in the midst of apostate Judaism); he hath no form nor comeliness (that is, Jesus will have no special appearance to set him apart from other men); and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him (or in other words, normal people won't be able to tell he is the Son of God just by looking at him).

 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows (that is, he will be sensitive to peoples' troubles), and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him (that is, people won't even pay attention to him); he was despised, and we esteemed him not (in truth, his own siblings will reject him at first -- see John 7, heading and verse 5).

 4 Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (or in other words, people won't recognize him as the Great Atoner, rather they will think he is being appropriately punished for blaspheming the concept of God).

 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him (that is, he will be punished so that we can have peace); and with his stripes (or because he will undergo this atoning process) we are healed (or in other words, we can become clean and free of sin).

 6 All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way (that is, every one of us has sinned; we all need the Atonement); and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all (or in essence, Jesus Christ will take upon himself the burden of all our sins).

 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb (or silent instead of loudly complaining) so he opened not his mouth.

 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment (that is, he will be wrongfully imprisoned, and wrongfully tried); and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living (or he will be killed); for the transgressions of my people was he stricken.

 9 And he made his grave with the wicked (that is, he will die with convicted criminals), and with the rich in his death (or in other words, he will lay in a rich man's tomb -- see John 19:38-42); because he had done no evil, neither was any deceit in his mouth (or in essence, Christ will be perfect).

 10 Yet it pleased the Lord (or it was God the Father's will) to bruise him (or to allow the Atonement); he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see his seed (that is, because Christ will accomplish the Atonement, all men who repent and follow his precepts will become his "children of the covenant"), he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

 11 He shall see the travail of his soul (that is, even Christ will be astonished at the excruciating agony necessary to accomplish the Atonement), and shall be satisfied (or in essence, He will look upon the Atonement with satisfaction); by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify (or save) many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great (that is, Christ has been, and will be a member of the Godhead), and he shall divide the spoil with the strong (that is, in the capacity of a God, Christ will share his glory with the righteous); because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (or in essence, because Christ will satisfy all the demands set forth from the beginning in regards to the Atonement, Christ is qualified to be our God).

[Alan C. Miner, Step by Step through the Book of Mormon: The Covenant Story, Vol. 3; See also David J. Ridges, Isaiah Made Easier / The Book of Revelation Made Easier]

 

Mosiah 14:1 Yea, Even Doth Not Isaiah Say:

 

     In Mosiah 13:11 we find Abinadi saying, "And now I read unto you." Now here in Mosiah 14:1 he says, "Yea, even doth not Isaiah say," and then follows a comparable version of Isaiah 53. Ann Madsen notes that the brass plates version of Isaiah predates the earliest extant version of Isaiah, the Dead Sea Scrolls document called the Great Isaiah Scroll, by about 450 years and the Masoretic Text by about 1,500 years. This latter text is what we call the Hebrew Bible, from whence came the KJV Old Testament. So the writings of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon become the earliest text of Isaiah available to us. [Ann Madsen, "'What Meaneth the Words That Are Written?': Abinadi Interprets Isaiah," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 10, Num. 1, 2001, n. 2, p. 78] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 5:11; 19:23]

 

Mosiah 14:2 As a tender plant (Illustration): Tender plant at Wadi Qelt, the Judean desert. Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 89]

 

Mosiah 14:3 [The Stone] Is Despised and Rejected of Men:

 

     After being led by a righteous king Zeniff, the son of Zeniff, called Noah, came to power. Instead of being righteous he "did not walk in the ways of his father" and "did not keep the commandments of God" (Mosiah 11:2). It is noteworthy that as part of this wickedness, Noah "built many elegant and spacious buildings" and he also built a "spacious palace." Moreover, he built ornamented seats for himself and his high priests high above the other seats in the temple, and he built a high tower near the temple. He also built a great tower on the hill north of the land of Shilom. And the record states that "he placed his heart upon his riches" (See Mosiah 11:2-14)

     In response to this rejection of his Father in Heaven and also of his righteous father Zeniff, king Noah was visited by a prophet named Abinadi, who will proceed to prophesy to him concerning Christ. In prophesying of Christ, Abinadi will quote Isaiah's words, in particular those which declare that Christ will be "despised and rejected of men" (Mosiah 14:3; compare Isaiah 53:3). This quote from Isaiah alludes to another prophecy of Christ uttered by Jacob:

           And now I, Jacob, am led on by the Spirit unto prophesying; for I perceive by the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that by the stumbling of the Jews they will reject the stone upon which they might build and have safe foundation. But behold, according to the scriptures, this stone shall become the great, and the last, and the only sure foundation, upon which the Jews can build. And now, my beloved, how is it possible that these, after having rejected the sure foundation, can ever build upon it, that it may become the head of their corner? (Jacob 4:15-17; see also Psalms 118:22)

 

     Abinadi will also declare that Christ is both the Father and the Son. (Mosiah 15). This might lead one to ask, How does the concept of building on a sure foundation relate to the concept of being both the Father and the Son?

     Part of what seems to be implied here is that Christ is able to take the role of both the Father and the Son because of his righteousness and obedience to the commandments. And all this is possible because Christ has chosen to build upon the only sure foundation, which is that of his Father, and thus Christ has also become that "great and last and only sure foundation" upon which others might build. As for wicked king Noah, he will lose his kingship, and all his spacious buildings, his elevated seats, and great towers will become of no worth because he has rejected the ways of his Father in Heaven (as well as the ways of his father Zeniff) and placed his heart upon his riches. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

     According to Robert Clark, if we look for a key in Abinadi's sermon, particularly the one concerning Christ as the Father and the Son, we might find it in the name Abinadi. The spelling of the name "Abinadi" suggests an analogy to the Hebrew word eben, meaning "rock" or "stone." We could say, following the parallel to Christ, that Abinadi himself appears among the people as a foundation stone to be rejected.

     But how does this relate to the concept of the Father and the Son? "Father" in Hebrew is ab, spelled aleph-beth; "son" is ben, spelled beth-nun. Joined together they become aleph-beth-nun, the root of "Abinadi," or of the rock, eben, on which we are to build.

     Clark writes: "For this particular insight, I am indebted to Friedrich Weinreb, Roots of the Bible (Devon: Merlin Books, 1986), 120." [Robert E. Clark, "The Type at the Border: An Inquiry into Book of Mormon Typology," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 2, Num. 2 (Fall 1993), pp. 66-67]

     Note* There is also another scripture in Helaman 5:12 which states:

           And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

 

     The reader will note that this message is sandwiched between two accounts of building: that of the people in the land northward (the former Jaredite homeland) and (2) that of the Jaredites themselves, beginning with the great tower (see Helaman 3:14 and Helaman 6:28) [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 14:5 He was bruised for our iniquities (Illustration): The phrase "he was bruised for our iniquities" is more correctly rendered "he was crushed (Hebrew daka') for our iniquities." Jesus Christ was crushed in the Garden of Gethsemane. The word Gethsemane (Hebrew Gath Shemen ) itself signifies "oil press," Just as olives are crushed at an olive press to render pure olive oil, so the Anointed One was crushed to sanctify mankind. He suffered so mightily in the Garden of Gethsemane that he bled from every pore (Luke 22:44; Mosiah 3:7; D&C 19:18). Occasionally, freshly crushed olive oil is reddish in color., as shown in this photograph in which oil pours over white rock. Photograph by Matthew J. Grey. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 91]

 

Mosiah 14:5 He was bruised for our iniquities (Illustration): The phrase "he was bruised for our iniquities" is more correctly rendered "he was crushed (Hebrew daka') for our iniquities." Above: Olive press, Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. Olive oil runs into the stone basin near the top half of the press. Olive oil production consisted of two stages: crushing and pressing. Olives were first placed in a stone basin and then crushed by a huge stone wheel set on end that rolled over the olives. The crushed olives were removed from the stone basin and placed in baskets designed especially for olive presses. A great beam with large stones secured at one end weighed down upon the baskets filled with crushed olives. From the baskets, pure olive oil flowed down into a basin. The olive oil was then placed in jars for immediate storage. Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 91]

 

Mosiah 14:5 He was wounded for our transgressions (Illustration): Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be wounded, or pierced, "for our transgression,," referring to Christ's crucifixion. This photo is of a "heel bone pierced by an iron nail, discovered in the tomb of a Jew named Yehahanan son of Hagkol . . . This intriguing find, dating back some 2,000 years, is the only archaeological evidence in the world for the practice of crucifixion" (In the Path of Christianity, Israel Museum [pamphlet, 2000]). Photograph Zev Radovan. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 90]

 

Mosiah 14:6 All we like sheep have gone astray (Illustration): Shepherd's Fields, near Bethlehem. While foraging for food, sheep occasionally stray from the flock and from their shepherd. The mortal Jesus approached a group of his followers and "was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34). Photograph by Carrilyn Clarkson. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 92]

 

Mosiah 14:7 He Is Brought As a Lamb to the Slaughter:

 

     [For interesting commentary relative to "the Lamb," see 1 Nephi 10:10; 11:32-33; 12:11; 12:18; 13:28; 13:39; 14:3]

 

Mosiah 14:7 As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth (Illustration): A shepherd prepares to shear his sheep, Bethany. A sheepshearer uses special shears to cut the wool from sheep. Apparent from the scripture, the sheep's owners or their workers sheared their sheep rather than contracting that work out to others. Photograph by Tana and Mac Graham. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 93]

 

Mosiah 14:9 He [the Lord] Made His Grave with the Wicked, and with the Rich in His Death:

 

     Abinadi quotes Isaiah as saying that after the Messiah would be cut off from the land of the living he would make "his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death" (Mosiah 14:9). According to Cleon Skousen, this passage is not entirely coherent in this form. Perhaps a clearer translation is given by Lowth when he says this phrase should be read, "And his grave was appointed with the wicked, but with the rich man was his tomb." . . . Because Jesus was crucified as a malefactor with two thieves, his body undoubtedly would have been disposed of along with theirs in a common grave. It was customary and pre-determined or "appointed" to be this way, but the rich man--Joseph of Arimathea--secured permission from Pilate to place the body of Jesus in his own new tomb. . . . Why would Joseph feel compelled to do this? Isaiah says because he knew the Savior had done no evil, neither was there any deceit in the Savior's mouth. An honest member of the Sanhedrin such as Joseph of Arimathea could not help but feel that a great injustice had been done by his colleagues to this innocent Man. [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2, p. 2128]

  

Mosiah 14:9 He made his grave . . . with the rich in his death (Illustration): Garden Tomb, east Jerusalem. In 1883, British General Charles Gordon suggested that the Garden Tomb area in east Jerusalem was a possible site for Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Since that time numerous members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as many other Christians, have visited and reverenced the area as a sacred site. Photograph by Richard Nowitz. [Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah, p. 94]

 

Mosiah 14:11 By His Knowledge Shall My My Righteous Servant Justify Many; For He Shall Bear Their Iniquities:

 

     According to Kent Brown, in his speech Abinadi quoted at length from Isaiah 53 and then immediately linked these passages to Jesus' ministry (see Mosiah 14-16). It should be noted here that in Moses' Exodus story, all the word's describing Israel's bondage derive from the root 'bd. A noun from this same root is translated "servant" in Isaiah 53. What is clear here is that Jesus is the expected servant ('ebed) who, by paying the price of redemption, frees all those who will follow him from bondage ('abodah), the very term used in the Exodus account.

     As the book of Mosiah progresses from Abinadi to Alma, it is possible to see in the story of Alma a number of types and shadows of Moses and of Christ (of whom Moses was a type). Among other things, each led his group through the wilderness to the land from which their ancestors had set out. Moreover, each gave the law to his people and placed them under covenant to obey the Lord. For Alma's group, the terms of the covenant are rehearsed in Mosiah 18:8-10; the sign of the covenant consisted in baptism (Mosiah 18:12-16); the name of the covenant people was "the church of God, or the church of Christ" (Mosiah 18:17). It is worth noting that Alma prepared himself for his calling by writing down the words delivered by Abinadi.Thus we find a link between the historical deliverance of the Moses' people from bondage in Egypt and Alma's people from bondage in the land of Helam--both of which point to the deliverance of the Lord's people from bondage through the Atonement of the "servant" Christ. [S. Kent Brown, "The Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon" in From Jerusalem to Zarahemla, pp. 83-84, 95]