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2 Nephi 10


A Covenant Plan of Salvation

      (2 Nephi--Enos)



2 Nephi 10:3 Christ--For in the Last Night the Angel Spake unto Me That This Should Be His Name:


     In speaking of the coming of the Messiah, Jacob said "Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ--for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name--should come among the Jews . . ." (2 Nephi 10:3). According to Robert Millet, it is difficult to know exactly what Jacob had in mind here. Did he mean that this was the first occasion when he came to know that the name of the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah, would be Christ? Did he mean that the angel had simply confirmed in his mind the specific name of the Messiah, something the Nephites already knew? The question is largely one of language: we know the Lord Jehovah as Jesus Christ, names that mean literally "the Lord is salvation" and "the Messiah or anointed one," respectively. The exact name by which Christ was known to other peoples of the past (and of different languages)--including the Nephites--is unknown to us. The complete name-title Jesus Christ is given for the first time by Nephi in 2 Nephi 25:19. For a more detailed discussion of this matter, see Theodore M. Burton, God's Greatest Gift (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), pp. 153-55. [Robert L. Millet, "Redemption Through the Holy Messiah," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 1, p. 129]


2 Nephi 10:3 Christ--For in the Last Night the Angel Spake unto Me That This Should Be His Name:


     Critics claim that the revelation of "Christ" to Jacob in 2 Nephi 10:3 is redundant, since the name "Jesus Christ" appears in the Original Manuscript and Printers Manuscript as being revealed to Nephi in what is now 1 Nephi 12:18. However, according to Matt Roper, here in 2 Nephi, Jacob never claimed that his information on Christ's name was unique, merely that an angel had reaffirmed that this was his name. Nephi, who inserted these teachings into his record on the small plates, explained that he quoted from his brother Jacob's writings not because they were unique but because they offered another witness that his own teachings and revelations were true. Thus, Nephi says, "And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him [Christ]; wherefore I will send their [Jacob and Isaiah's] words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true" (2 Nephi 11:3). [Matt Roper, "A More Perfect Priority?," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, Num. 1, pp. 366-367]

     Note* We find a similar situation in King Benjamin's discourse at a still future place in the text of the Book of Mormon. Benjamin declares that "the things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God" (Mosiah 3:2) He then proceeds to say that "the time cometh . . . that . . . the Lord Omnipotent . . . shall . . . dwell in a tabernacle of clay . . . And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning" (Mosiah 3:5, 8). Benjamin makes no claim that the name "Christ" is new, just that it was especially revealed to him, (making him a special witness of Christ). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 12:18; Mosiah 3:2,8]


2 Nephi 10:3 Christ . . . Should Be His Name:


     According to McConkie and Millet, critics of the Book of Mormon have raised two objections to the phrase, "Christ . . . should be his name" (2 Nephi 10:3): first, since Christ is understood to be a title, meaning the "anointed one," we are told that it would not have been given by an angel as a proper name; and second, because Christ is the anglicized form of the Greek Christos, it could not have appeared in an ancient record purportedly found in the Americas. Neither objection is well founded. To the first it ought to be observed that though Christ is properly a title, it has in common usage become a proper name. Indeed, dictionaries list it as a proper noun, and many Christians would be surprised to learn that it was a title rather than a proper name. A great many words descriptive of status have in like manner come to be used as names; examples are King, Bishop, Hunter, Taylor, Cooper, Baker, etc. Even among his contemporaries Jesus was known as Christ. For instance, Mark refers to him as "Christ the King of Israel" (Mark 15:32). As to the Greek Christos being found on the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon came, it of course was not. What the ancient Nephite equivalent was we do not know. Since the Book of Mormon was translated into English by Joseph Smith, he obviously used the English equivalent of the Nephite word, which is Christ. [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, pp. 265-266]


2 Nephi 10:3 They Shall Crucify Him:


     According to McConkie and Millet, when Jacob said, "they shall crucify him" (2 Nephi 10:3), he was not the first to announce the death of the Son of God by crucifixion. Enoch had seen "the Son of Man lifted up on the cross" (Moses 7:55), as had Zenock, whose words were had by the Nephites (1 Nephi 19:10). Such knowledge could only be had by revelation. The fulfillment of the prophecy required not only that the Jews reject and kill their Messiah but also that he die by crucifixion. The prophecy was the more remarkable because crucifixion was unknown to Hebrew law. The Mosaic code prescribed the penalty of death in four forms: stoning, burning, beheading, and strangling (The Mishnah, trans. Herbert Danby [Oxford University Press: 1974], p. 39). Thus the strange alliance in the death of Christ between the leaders of the Jews who condemned him to death and the Romans who carried out their sentence. Although crucifixion was one of the most excruciating and cruel forms of death ever devised, it was not original with the Roman empire, though the Romans certainly perfected its horrors. To the Jews it was a most ignominious form of death, making Christ a figure of disrepute, "for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:22-23). [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 266]


2 Nephi 10:3 And they [the Jews] shall crucify him [Christ] (Illustration): The Crucifixion. Jacob said that the wicked among the Jews would crucify Jesus. Artist: Robert T. Barrett. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 99]


2 Nephi 10:3 And they [the Jews] shall crucify him [Christ] (Illustration): Golgotha. Artist: Scott Snow. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 518]


2 Nephi 10:3 There Is None Other Nation on Earth That Would Crucify Their God:


     Had Joseph Smith been the author of the Book of Mormon, he would have had to follow chapter 9 of 2 Nephi, a remarkable doctrinal essay on the atonement, with another chapter full of "new" doctrine. According to Monte Nyman, there are five very interesting doctrines put forth in 2 Nephi 10 that relate directly to Jesus Christ:

     (1) The first is that Christ's name was revealed to prophets in Old Testament times (2 Nephi 10:3; see also 2 Nephi 25:18-19).

     (2) The second doctrine is that Christ came among the Jews because no other nation on earth "would crucify their God" (2 Nephi 10:3).

     (3) The third doctrine is that it was priestcrafts and iniquities among the Jews that caused Christ's crucifixion (2 Nephi 10:5). The term priestcraft is not used in the Bible.

     (4) The fourth doctrine is unique in referring to two gathering places of Israel. It promises that America will be a land of liberty to the Gentiles, that "there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles," and that the Lord would fortify the land against "all other nations." (2 Nephi 10:11-12) Nyman notes that this interpretation of two gathering places can be backed up by the words of Isaiah. In the early chapters of Isaiah, the prophet always separates his messages to Zion (the Americas) and to Jerusalem (see Isaiah 3:1-15 and 3:16--4:3-4; chapter 25 to Zion and chapter 26 to Jerusalem). In the later chapters of Isaiah, including the ones Jacob quotes in 2 Nephi 6-8, the prophet speaks of the two gathering places in conjunction (Isaiah 40:9) as well as giving separate messages to each (see isaiah 48 to Judah, Isaiah 49 to the Isles of the Sea [Zion]; 51:3-16 and 51:16-23; 52:1-2; see also TPJS 362).

     (5) A fifth doctrine is that people become members of the great and abominable church by their actions rather than by an affiliation with an particular organization. Jacob says that those who fight "against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female," are of "the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me" (2 Nephi 10:16).

[Monte S. Nyman, "Come to Understanding and Learn Doctrine," in The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, The Doctrinal Structure, pp. 25-26]


2 Nephi 10:11-12 There Shall Be No Kings upon the Land:


     Sometimes people claim that the first part of 2 Nephi 10:11, "And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land," means that there will be "no kings" in the promised land. However, in doing so they fail to include the rest of verse 11 and verse 12, which says, "who shall raise up unto the Gentiles. And I will fortify this land against all other nations." When taken together, I interpret these verses to mean that the influence of the Gentile nation on the promised land would not be overcome by any kings or any other nation. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

     According to Hugh Nibley kings claimed the Americas right from the beginning. There were claims for the king of Spain, claims for the king of England, claims for the king of France. It was always the king that claimed it here. It was claimed for the Russians on the West Coast, and later claimed for the Japanese emperor. Everybody claimed it, always in the name of kings. . . . But the Lord said, no, that would not happen. It's the land of promise, that inasmuch as they behaved themselves, "they shall prosper . . . that they may possess this land unto themselves" (see 2 Nephi 1:9). [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 244]


2 Nephi 10:13 Zion:


     According to Joseph Smith, "The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south, and is described by the prophets, who declare that it is the Zion where the mountain of the Lord should be . . ." [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 362]

     Brigham Young said the following: "And what is Zion? In one sense Zion is the pure in heart. But is there a land that ever will be called Zion? Yes, brethren. What land is it? It is the land that the Lord gave to Jacob, who bequeathed it to his son, Joseph, and his posterity, and they inhabit it, and that land is North and South America. The children of Zion have not yet much in their possession, but their territory is North and South America, to begin with. As to the spirit of Zion, it is in the hearts of the Saints of those who live and serve the Lord with all their might, mind and strength!" [Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 119-120] [See the commentary on 3 Nephi 20:14, 22; 21:4]


2 Nephi 10:14 I the Lord, the King of Heaven, Will Be Their King:


     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. . . . Of all the elements associated with the Israelite autumn festivals, kingship figures most prominently. In the ancient Near East, the New Year (including, in Israel, the Feast of Tabernacles) was the time to celebrate, crown, and renew the earthly king.128 Some scholars also believe it was a time to celebrate the kingship of God. For example, Sigmund Mowinckel calls this time of year in Israel the "festival of Yahweh's enthronement."129 This idea correlates well with Jacob's delivery to them of the Lord's words:

           For he that raiseth up a king against me shall perish, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words. [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. 136]


2 Nephi 10:20 The Lord Has Made the Sea Our Path, and We Are upon an Isle of the Sea:


     Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that the Book of Mormon claims that some Israelites came to inhabit the land of America (2 Nephi 3:4; 10:20). Isaiah prophesied that Israel would dwell in the isles and coast lands of the north and the west (Isaiah 49:1,3,6,12). Jeremiah saw Israel dwelling in the country beyond the sea, but his words do not appear in the King James Version. The Alexandrian Codex supplies us with the missing text for Jeremiah 23:6: "Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell in the country beyond the sea safely." [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. 28]


2 Nephi 10:20 We Are upon an Isle of the Sea:


     According to a quotation used by Reynolds and Sjodahl, "Sir Isaac Newton observes that to the Hebrews the continents of Asia and Africa were "the earth," because they had access to them by land, while the parts of the earth to which they sailed over the sea were "the isles of the sea." (Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 214)

     Thus, Nephi not only refers to the isles of the sea as the location of other remnants of the house of Israel, but he also indicates that he and his people were then living upon an "isle of the sea" when he quite clearly is referring to the great land mass known as the American continent (2 Nephi 10:20-21). The following quotation is of interest:

     The Indians almost universally believed the dry land they knew, to be part of a great island, everywhere surrounded by wide waters whose limits were unknown. Many tribes had vague myths of a journey from beyond this sea; many placed beyond it the home of the sun and of light, and the happy hunting grounds of the departed souls. (Quoted from "Library of Aboriginal American Literature," 5:134, in Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 319) [See the commentary on Helaman 3:8]


2 Nephi 10:20 We Are upon an Isle of the Sea:


     According to Roy Weldon, among the words conspicuous by their absence in the Book of Mormon is the word "continent." Why would Nephi refer to the new world as an "isle" (2 Nephi 10:20) if the word "continent" would have been in their ancient vocabulary? [Roy E. Weldon, Book of Mormon Deeps, Vol. III, p. 290]


2 Nephi 10:22 For Behold, the Lord God Has Led Away from Time to Time from the House of Israel, according to His Will and Pleasure:


     [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 22:4; 2 Nephi 29:13; 3 Nephi 16:1]


2 Nephi 10:23 Ye Are Free to Act for Yourselves--to Choose the Way of Everlasting Death or the Way of Eternal Life:


     According to Catherine Thomas, the Book of Mormon belongs to that group of ancient religious records known as Two-Way documents. A number of other ancient records may be described as Two-Way documents: the Qumran Manual of Discipline, the early Christian Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, and so on.130 Two-Way literature presents as philosophy that describes life as consisting of only two ways, each antithetical to the other; it identifies only two inclinations in man, also antithetical. For example, 2 Nephi 10:23-24 describes two ways: "Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves--to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life. Wherefore . . . reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh." At the end of Ether 8, Moroni anticipated the reader's question as to why he occupied so much space with the grim, nearly unrelieved saga of the fall of the Jaredite nation. He answered with a two-way statement: "I . . . am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved." (Ether 8:26)

     We could illustrate the Two Ways on a line, with Evil/Satan's Will on one end and Righteousness/God's Will on the other. The Book of Mormon describes no in-between states. Moroni observed later in his own book that an evil person cannot do good, and a follower of Christ cannot do evil. (Moroni 7:6-11) One's life is characterized either by directing his energies to the right side where he or she experiences abundant life, or toward the let where he or she suffers a diminution of life and, if undeterred, self-annihilation. A nation's life is characterized by the same polarity. Moroni presented this two-way energy principle in the rise and fall of the Jaredites. [Catherine Thomas, "A More Excellent Way," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 2, pp. 271-272]