pdf Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 4/1 (1995)  >  The Isaiah Quotation: 2 Nephi 12–24

The Isaiah Quotation:
2 Nephi 12–24

Abstract: Nephi quotes from the book of Isaiah because of its relevance to his people and to all men. He highlights the message of Christ’s appearance and Atonement. The latter-day prophecies, both those which have been fulfilled and those that are yet to be fulfilled, are cited and explained. Israel will be restored in the latter days, but warnings accompany this glorious prophecy. The enemies of Zion will be confounded.

In this lecture I shall consider the longest single quotation of scripture in the Book of Mormon. It is found in 2 Nephi 12—24, paralleling chapters 2—14 in the book of Isaiah. The book of 2 Nephi is probably the most difficult book of the Book of Mormon, and chapters 12—24, dealing with Isaiah, are in turn the most difficult to understand in that book. Few people in our day understand the words of Isaiah, and the prophet Nephi himself testified that his people also found them difficult.

Now I, Nephi, do speak somewhat concerning the words which I have written, which have been spoken by the mouth of Isaiah. For behold, Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews. (2 Nephi 25:1)

Why Quote Isaiah? In our discussion of Nephi’s long quotation from the prophecies of Isaiah, let us first try to understand his reasons for quoting the great Hebrew prophet of the eighth century BC. After quoting a sermon of his brother Jacob in which prophecies of Isaiah are discussed, Nephi says:

And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him. (2 Nephi 11:2)

What does Nephi mean by the words “I will liken his words unto my people” as translated by Joseph Smith? As far as I can determine, the word liken means to “apply” (cf. 1 Nephi 19:23—24; 2 Nephi 11:8). In other words, Nephi means to apply the lessons of Isaiah’s prophecies to his own people “and unto all men” (2 Nephi 11:8), even though they were originally directed to the Jews. We must constantly bear this fact in mind. Apparently Nephi was interested in emphasizing the following points, among others, in the great Hebrew prophet’s teachings: (1) The coming of Christ and the power of his Atonement.

Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; . . .

. . . my soul delighteth in his grace, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death.

And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must perish. (2 Nephi 11:4—6)

(2) Predictions of special interest to Nephi’s people and the house of Israel concerning the latter days (2 Nephi 25:8, 15—18); the Lord to do “a marvelous work and a wonder.” (3) The Lord in the last days will redeem his people Israel and be in their midst (2 Nephi 22). (4) The judgments of God upon the nations.

Second Nephi 12 Now, let us glance at significant and interesting passages in these chapters from Isaiah. Let us notice first 2 Nephi 12. Latter-day Saints believe that this passage of scripture refers to our day and is even now in the process of complete fulfillment.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountains of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.

And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks—nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (2 Nephi 12:2—4)

Then Isaiah appeals to his people, “the house of Jacob” (2 Nephi 12:5), to mend their ways and walk in the “light of the Lord.” In the remainder of the chapter (e.g., 2 Nephi 12:12, 19, 21), Isaiah suggests that in the latter days the judgments of God will shake all nations and that a wicked man will even “go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them and the majesty of his glory shall smite them” (2 Nephi 12:21). Here we have an impressive picture of God’s retribution upon the wicked, not only of Israel, but of all nations of the earth.

Second Nephi 13 In 2 Nephi 13 Isaiah explains that God will take responsible government away from Judah and Jerusalem. Competent leaders in society and state will be replaced by incompetent weaklings. Why?

For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen, because their tongues and their doings have been against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory. (2 Nephi 13:8)

And the Lord accuses Judah’s leaders of eating up the vineyards and keeping the spoil of the poor in their houses. They “beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor, saith the Lord God of Hosts” (2 Nephi 13:14—15).

Then in 2 Nephi 13:16—24, the Lord delivers a scathing rebuke upon the women of Judah, “the daughters of Zion.” Not only are the men of Judah guilty of wrongdoing, but the women are also. This will, through the centuries, cause the Lord to punish Judah for her backsliding:

Thy men shall fall by the sword and thy mighty in the war.

And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she shall be desolate, and shall sit upon the ground. (2 Nephi 13:25—26)

And, indeed, Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled, as history attests.

Second Nephi 14 Second Nephi 14 is a picture of some of the things that are to happen in the latter days, the age in which we live. As a result of the judgments of God, Isaiah sees a day when the escaped of Israel, the remnant that have survived the destruction of the wicked, shall experience glorious times. So great will be the destruction of men, that the prophet predicts many women will request one man to be their husband:

And in that day, seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach. (2 Nephi 14:1)

Concerning that day, which is even yet mostly future, the prophet exclaims:

In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious; the fruit of the earth excellent and comely to them that are escaped of Israel.

And it shall come to pass, they that are left in Zion and remain in Jerusalem shall be called holy, every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem— . . .

And the Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory of Zion shall be a defence.

And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and a covert from storm and from rain. (2 Nephi 14:2—3, 5—6)

Second Nephi 15 Second Nephi 15 begins with the famous parable of the vineyard (2 Nephi 15:1—6), in which by effective imagery Isaiah drives home to his people that they have repaid God’s loving kindness with base ingratitude and wickedness. For this God threatens dire retribution. In a series of six woes (2 Nephi 15:8—23), Isaiah indicts the rulers of his people for land-grabbing, for drunkenness, for challenging God to hasten his work, for calling evil good and good evil, for their arrogance, and for taking away the righteousness of the righteous. Those upon whom the six woes are pronounced shall be punished; nevertheless, the Lord’s hand is still stretched out to his people in the hope that they will return to him:

Therefore, as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, their root shall be rottenness, and their blossoms shall go up as dust; because they have cast away the law of the Lord of Hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Therefore, is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them; and the hills did tremble, and their carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (2 Nephi 15:24—25)

In 2 Nephi 15:25—30, the prophet continues his description of the future glorious age of Israel’s final restoration. The gospel ensign will be lifted up to the world, and the Lord will “hiss” his word to the ends of the earth. When Israel responds, she shall come with power, and her enemies shall not be able to deliver themselves.

Second Nephi 16 We need not spend much time in considering 2 Nephi 16. It concerns Isaiah’s call to the ministry by the Lord, whom the prophet sees upon a throne in the temple, high and lifted up. This event took place in the year that King Uzziah died, about 740 BC. The Lord charges Isaiah to preach to a people who are spiritually defective, whose hearts are fat, their ears heavy, and their eyes shut.

Second Nephi 17 Second Nephi 17 is one in which the Lord charges Isaiah, together with his son Shearjashub (meaning “a remnant shall return”), to go meet King Ahaz of Judah and deliver to him a message of assurance and a sharp warning for his unbelief and godlessness. One verse arrests our attention. This is 2 Nephi 17:14, in which the Lord through Isaiah gives Ahaz a sign, the significance and interpretation of which have been much disputed.

Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a sign—Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (2 Nephi 17:14)

The Gospel of Matthew sees in this verse a prediction of the birth of Jesus Christ, and we shall follow it.

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying:

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:22—23)

Doubtless Nephi also interpreted this scripture as a prediction of Christ’s coming in the flesh.

Second Nephi 18 In 2 Nephi 18:1—8 Isaiah tells in symbolic language of the forthcoming invasions by Assyria. The prophet’s newborn son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz (meaning “the spoil speedeth, the prey hasteth”), was to symbolize the fall of Damascus and Samaria (2 Nephi 18:1—4), and 2 Nephi 18:5—8 refer to the Assyrian invasion of Judah.

Second Nephi 18:9—15 seem designed to show that the evil and conspiring designs of nations against Israel will be frustrated. “For God is with us,” says the prophet. With God on Israel’s side there can be no good reason to fear (see 2 Nephi 18:11—13).

Many in Israel and Judah—doubtless the wicked, the prophet goes on to point out—will find the Lord a “stone of stumbling,” and a “gin and a snare.” They will “fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken” (2 Nephi 18:14—15).

Because of the fact that the prophet’s message is not received, he indicates that his testimony is to be bound up and sealed for his disciples’ future use (2 Nephi 18:16—18). The people are advised in the future not to seek advice from God through improper spiritual sources. “To the law and to the testimony; and if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (2 Nephi 18:20).

Second Nephi 19 In spite of coming gloom, Isaiah indicates that glorious tidings shall eventually flash forth. In 2 Nephi 19:1—2, Isaiah is speaking about the Christ as attested by Matthew 4:12—16.

Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. (2 Nephi 19:1—2)

Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. (Matthew 4:12—16)

Isaiah again predicts the coming of Christ in this wonderful passage:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; And the government shall be upon his shoulder; And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (2 Nephi 19:6)

That Isaiah was looking forward to Christ’s coming, there is no doubt in the minds of Latter-day Saints.

Through 2 Nephi 19:8 to 20:4, Isaiah expresses the Lord’s pent-up wrath against northern Israel. This takes the form of a fine poem composed of four strophes. The prophet tells of calamities sent by the Lord in time past by way of warning against Israel because of her wickedness. Moreover, he predicts others yet to come. Each strophe of the poem ends with the solemn and impressive refrain, “for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still” (2 Nephi 19:12, 17, 21; 20:4; cf. Isaiah 5:25). Isaiah recalls in succession foreign invasions and lost territory, losses and suffering in battle, men not sparing each other during internal strife, and, finally, wicked decrees and social unrighteousness. With captivity and judgment facing them, the people still persist in their wicked course. God’s warnings have failed; only divine judgment remains.

Second Nephi 20 Isaiah 20:5—34 is devoted mainly to a consideration of Assyria as an instrument or “rod” in the chastisement of the Lord’s people. The prophet seems to indicate that it is not in reality the military power of Assyria that conquers Israel, but rather the indignation of God. The Assyrians are simply the whip used by him to accomplish the purpose desired. Unfortunately, Assyria does not recognize the true nature of the divine commission which she has been given and proceeds to act in sheer self-interest and lust of conquest.

In 2 Nephi 20:20—23, however, it seems to me that Isaiah has reference again to the final escape of the remnant of Israel in the latter days from all her enemies, and of her eventual dependence upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel:

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the House of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them, but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.

The remnant shall return, yea, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.

For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return; the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.

For the Lord God of Hosts shall make a consumption, even determined in all the land. (2 Nephi 20:20—23)

Second Nephi 21 We come now to a consideration of the glorious eleventh chapter of Isaiah (2 Nephi 21 in the Book of Mormon). This chapter is famous in the annals of the Church, as well it might be. The reader of Isaiah cannot help but observe how often the prophet returns to the theme of Israel’s gathering and the glory of the redeemed latter-day Zion. We believe that the Lord revealed to Isaiah the great events associated with the rise and development of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Isaiah saw these events with such clarity and understanding, that when the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith on the evening of September 21, 1823, he quoted Isaiah 11 in its entirety to the young prophet. In the Documentary History of the Church, Joseph Smith tells us that Moroni quoted many passages of scripture and offered many explanations. Among other things, Joseph Smith says, “In addition to these [Malachi 3—4], he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled” (Joseph Smith—History 1:40). Few Old Testament scholars could believe this, but as Latter-day Saints we say it is true. We believe that Isaiah was a greater prophet than Bible scholars will admit, and even they pay great tribute to him. What is the message of Isaiah 11? What is in this chapter which is of such great moment to mankind?

The chapter divides into three logical parts: (1) Isaiah 11:1—5, (2) Isaiah 11:6—9, and (3) Isaiah 11:10—16. Now let us examine each of these parts in sufficient detail to realize its importance.

Isaiah 11:1 is intriguing. It reads:

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.

What does this verse mean? Commentators give various explanations, but one gets the feeling that they are groping in the dark. Many non-Jewish writers, however, do believe that it has Messianic connotations. The Prophet Joseph Smith gives a straight-from-the-shoulder answer to most of it. In Doctrine and Covenants 113 we find answers to certain questions on scripture. Here are the parts that concern us most at this point:

Who is the Stem of Jesse spoken of in the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, and 5th verses of the 11th chapter of Isaiah?

Verily thus saith the Lord: It is Christ.

What is the rod spoken of in the first verse of the 11th chapter of Isaiah, that should come of the Stem of Jesse?

Behold, thus saith the Lord: It is a servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power. (D&C 113:1—4)

The “Stem of Jesse” is Christ. That is not hard to believe in view of the language of Isaiah 11:

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,

The spirit of wisdom and understanding,

The spirit of counsel and might, The spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord,

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord;

And he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, Neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor,

And reprove with equity for the meek of the earth;

And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. (Isaiah 11:2—5)

The Book of Mormon gives an interesting sidelight on the interpretation of Isaiah 11:4—5 that we should not miss. Nephi refers to them as follows:

For the time speedily cometh that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy; and he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire.

And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. (2 Nephi 30:10—11)

Nephi’s next verse indicates that the “great division” spoken of shall precede the great millennial era of peace and righteousness spoken of in Isaiah 11:6—9.

We have clearly seen that the “Stem of Jesse” is Christ, but we are still not clear as to the identity of the “rod,” despite the explanation in the Doctrine and Covenants. To be sure, the scripture tells us that “it is a servant in the hands of Christ,” etc., but an express name is not given. May I suggest that the “servant” or “rod” referred to is none other than the Prophet Joseph Smith himself. For this suggestion I am solely and alone responsible. But let the Latter-day Saint reader glance a little beyond Doctrine and Covenants 113:4:

What is the root of Jesse spoken of in the 10th verse of the 11th chapter (i.e., of Isaiah)?

Behold, thus saith the Lord, it is a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering of my people in the last days. (D&C 113:5—6)

I identify the individual of Doctrine and Covenants 113:4 with the one in Doctrine and Covenants 113:6. Who holds the keys of the priesthood in this dispensation? Joseph Smith. Who holds the keys of the gathering in this dispensation? Joseph Smith. Therefore the “rod” of Isaiah 11:1 is Joseph Smith. That is one of the reasons why Moroni quoted the chapter to the modern prophet and doubtless explained to him that Isaiah saw his coming as a choice seer to this dispensation.

The verses in Isaiah 11:6—9 constitute the ancient prophet’s view of the eventual reality of that glorious day looked forward to by poets and prophets for ages—the day when man and beast shall live together in peace and rest. Latter-day Saints believe that Isaiah was speaking of the great Millennial Era referred to in the Doctrine and Covenants, in which the Lord reveals that he will come and “dwell with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand” (D&C 29:11). Moreover, he reveals the following:

And in that day the enmity of man, and the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease from before my face.

And in that day whatsoever any man shall ask, it shall be given unto him.

And in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man.

And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death.

In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree;

And when he dies he shall not sleep, that is to say in the earth, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and shall be caught up, and his rest shall be glorious.

Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things—

Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof—

Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven. (D&C 101:26—34; cf. Isaiah 65:22)

It is clear that Joseph Smith, our modern prophet, elaborates on and explains the event in greater detail than does Isaiah. Now let us quote the ancient prophet’s beautiful description of that day of peace, yet future:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, And the leopard shall lie down with the kid; And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

And a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed: Their young ones shall lie down together: And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, And the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain:

For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6—9)

Is it to be wondered at that Isaiah has been loved and admired for centuries? But even more should Latter-day Saints love his prophecies, because we have been given greater opportunities to understand his message than the world at large.

Isaiah 11:10 fittingly opens the division dealing with the recovery of the remnant of Israel. We have already indicated our belief that the “root of Jesse” in this verse refers to Joseph Smith, the great prophet of this dispensation, and the one to whom the Lord entrusted the keys of the gathering of Israel. Here is the verse:

And it shall come to pass in that day,

That the root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples,

Unto him shall the nations seek;

And his resting-place shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10, author’s translation)

The above translation is a little clearer for our purposes than that of the King James Version. Joseph Smith stands for an ensign of the peoples because he holds aloft the gospel principles to the world. The restored gospel in this age is indeed the “ensign” or standard held forth by the modern prophet. The nations have sought and will continue to seek him. The Mormon people have no hesitation in proclaiming Joseph Smith’s greatness and the importance of his message.

Isaiah perceived that when the gospel was restored the Lord would proceed to gather scattered Israel from the four corners of the earth:

And it shall come to pass in that day That the Lord will set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, That shall remain from Assyria, and from Egypt, And from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, And from Shinar, and from Hamath, And from the islands of the sea.

And He will set up an ensign for the nations, And will assemble the dispersed of Israel, And gather together the scattered of Judah

From the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:11—12, author’s translation)

Isaiah refers to nations well known in his day, because his people would not recognize the names of modern nations from whence parts of scattered Israel have been gathered to the West. Nor can it be doubted that scattered Judah is being gathered to her predicted home. The people of the world seem not to recognize the gradual fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, though it is taking place under their very eyes.

In Isaiah 11:14, Isaiah states that the Gentiles (under the appellation Philistines) will help his people in the gathering, and Israel’s enemies (represented by their ancient names of Edom, Moab and Ammon) shall no longer have any power over them. Rather the shoe will be on the other foot: Israel will have power over her enemies if any remain. Finally the Lord will perform as great a miracle as he did anciently when Israel came up out of Egypt, by providing a highway for the remnant of his people (Isaiah 11:15—16; cf. Isaiah 35:8—10; 51:9—11; D&C 113:27). Not much has been revealed to us concerning the nature of this great manifestation still to come.

Second Nephi 22 Having seen a glorious consummation to the predicted gathering of Israel’s remnant, Isaiah records a beautiful hymn by the redeemed Zion, personified as a single person (2 Nephi 22; cf. Isaiah 12). Actually the hymn seems to be composed of two short hymns (Isaiah 12:1—3 and 4—6), but for our purposes it may be considered as a single poem of two strophes, each of three verses. The Lord’s wrath has been appeased, and he now comforts Zion. The restored friendship gives confidence in future trials and will prove a source of abundant blessings. Zion called upon the redeemed to give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his deeds among the nations. The Lord has delivered his people and now once more dwells in the midst of them. The reader’s attention is especially called to the lovely expression, “therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). Here is the hymn in full:

And in that day thou shalt say: “I will give thanks unto Thee, O Lord; For though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortest me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; For God the Lord is my strength and song; And He is become my salvation.” Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

And in that day shall ye say: “Give thanks unto the Lord, proclaim His name, Declare His doings among the peoples, Make mention that His name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for He hath done gloriously; This is made known in all the earth. Cry aloud and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion; For great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.” (Isaiah 12:1—6, author’s translation)

Second Nephi 23 Now let us notice briefly 2 Nephi 23 (Isaiah 13). Though most authorities hold that all of Isaiah 13 is directed against ancient Babylon, I cannot escape the belief that in Isaiah 13:1—13 (division point uncertain) Isaiah is still dealing with the events of the latter days. As I view it, these verses are directed against the spiritual Babylon prevalent in the world of the day when Israel is being gathered and redeemed. It is the Babylon referred to in the Lord’s preface to the Doctrine and Covenants (see D&C 1:16). In the remainder of Isaiah 13, Isaiah deals with an event nearer his own times, the end of the wicked Babylonian Empire. The terrible destruction of Babylon is vividly described.

Second Nephi 24 In 2 Nephi 24:1—3 (Isaiah 14), Isaiah now looks again to the day when Israel will be chosen by the Lord, and when she will rest from her travail and hard service.

Isaiah’s famous taunt-song over fallen Babylon, personified as a king, follows in 2 Nephi 24:4—21. In 2 Nephi 24:12—15 the king of Babylon is personified as Lucifer, the son of the morning. The figure will be recognized by Latter-day Saints as an allusion to Lucifer’s fall in the great war in heaven during our preexistent state. An epilogue follows in 2 Nephi 24:22—23.

The remainder of 2 Nephi 24 (24—32) is mostly devoted to a discussion of the destruction of the Assyrians who shall enter Judah, with a similar fate promised for other nations whose designs are evil (2 Nephi 24:24—27), and to a message of doom against Palestine, meaning Philistia (2 Nephi 24:29—31). In the last verse Isaiah implies that God, who destroys the enemies of his people, will take care of his own:

What shall then answer the messengers of the nations? That the Lord hath founded Zion, And the poor of His people shall trust in it. (2 Nephi 24:32)

And, indeed, in our day the Lord has been building up Zion and preparing her for her great role in dealing with the remnants of Israel.


This previously unpublished lecture has been offered as a FARMS paper since 1984.