Isaiah 42: He Shall Not Fail Nor Be Discouraged, Till He Have Set Judgment in the Earth

Most of Chapter 42 is a prophecy concerning the coming of Messiah—both His mortal ministry and His Second Coming. Verses 1 through 3 were quoted directly by the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, as recorded by Matthew. As part of His ministry He would open the eyes of the blind, unstop the ears of the deaf and bring out the prisoners from the prison. The mortal Lord performed many healing miracles in which He restored sight and hearing—but these are symbolic of the greater spiritual miracle of the Lord’s mission, as attested in this chapter.

Freeing the prisoners is a fundamental part of the Atonement brought about by the Lord’s infinite sacrifice. Had He not provided the blessings of the resurrection to the entire human family vicariously by laying down His own life we would have been imprisoned forever, excluded from the presence of God and deprived of God’s greatest blessing of eternal progression.1 During the latter-day restoration, the Lord would direct the return of priesthood keys to the earth by ancient prophets. Priesthood keys are needed so that saving ordinances could be performed by proxy for the dead who did not receive such ordinances during their mortal lives. Thus the way to salvation would be opened for all; and prisoners, whether living or dead,2 would be brought out of prison.

Parts of Chapter 42 are synonymously parallel with parts of Chapter 41; comparison enables greater understanding.3 This chapter contains chiasms that are workable if wording from the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) is used.

This chapter begins with a statement from God the Father regarding the mission of His son, Jesus Christ. From the account we do not know whether the Father spoke directly to Isaiah; it is possible that the Lord Jehovah spoke using the words of His Father through the principle of divine investiture for the first 7 verses. Beginning in verse 8 the Lord Jehovah speaks, describing His own mission. Verses 1 through 3, quoted by the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry and recorded by Matthew, differ in significant detail when compared to their rendition in the Old Testament.4

In verses 1 through 9 God the Father proclaims Messiah to be His servant, foreshadowing Christ’s total obedience to His Father’s commandments. These verses are synonymously parallel with verses 8 through 10 of Chapter 41, in which Israel as a nation is proclaimed as the Lord’s servant. Verses 1 through 4 are also recognized as the first of four servant-songs in Isaiah’s writings.5

In a servant-song, characteristics of the Lord’s servant are presented as a psalm. As set forth by Isaiah in the four servant-songs Christ is the best exemplar of a servant, faithfully serving His Father and obeying Him in all things.6 Various prophets including Isaiah7 also fulfill criteria for a servant of the Lord.8 Others who exemplify Christ-like qualities as servants include the entire house of Israel;9 Joseph Smith, the great prophet of the restoration;10 the Latter-day Saints,11 and possibly others.

Verse 1 declares: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” The Hebrew word translated as “Gentiles” means “nations.”12 The broader definition of “Gentiles” applies here—nations of the earth. Matthew renders, with differences shown in italics: “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.”13

The voice is that of God the Father proclaiming His son, Jesus Christ. “My servant” means that the Lord served the Eternal Father faithfully and obediently. “My beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased” reflects the words which the Father spoke to introduce His son on several occasions. Mark records:

…Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
14

Three other instances are recorded in the scriptures in which the Father proclaimed and introduced His son using these or similar words. These events include the transfiguration on the high mountain,15 the appearance of the resurrected Lord to the Nephites on the American continent,16 and the first vision of Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820.17 God the Father is well pleased with His Son, who is beloved of Him; He is chosen and sustained of God and sent forth by Him to the nations of the earth. Other servants exhibiting Christ-like qualities fit these same criteria.

“Judgment,” as used in verse 1, means “social justice.”18 Other meanings for “judgment” found in the writings of Isaiah include fairness,19 retribution,20 sound reasoning,21 and an equitable system of laws.22

Verse 2 continues: “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.”

Matthew records: “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.”23 This means that Jesus Christ as servant would not be a seditionist or revolutionary, not inciting rebellion or violence. Other servants who fit Isaiah’s description would also shun strife and violence—an important key in identifying who speaks for God throughout the ages, and particularly in the latter days.

Verse 3 further declares: “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” Matthew renders: “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.”24 The meaning is that the Lord would not harm even the weak or vulnerable, reaffirming that He would not incite violence until after the time of His crucifixion and resurrection. This prophecy is another of several cited by writers in the New Testament as being fulfilled by events in the life of Jesus Christ.25 “Judgment,” as used here, means “sound reasoning.”26

Jesus quoted these three verses from Isaiah under circumstances that occurred early in His ministry. After performing miraculous healings and being followed by a multitude of people, He charged His followers and those whom He had healed not to talk openly about what they had witnessed. Matthew records:

Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;
And charged them that they should not make him known:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet….27

Then Matthew quoted the first three verses of Isaiah 42.

Verse 4 continues the words of God the Father: “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.”28 The Father testifies that despite the most unfair treatment ever meted out, the most intense suffering ever suffered, and death by the most painful and ignominious method known, Jesus Christ would not fail in His saving mission nor be discouraged. “The isles shall wait for his law” may in part refer to the Nephites on the American continent, whom Christ visited following His crucifixion and resurrection. Nephi, quoting his brother Jacob, recorded that they were “upon an isle of the sea.”29 Other Christ-like servants would exhibit similar courage and perseverance in accomplishing duties assigned them by the Lord; many would lay down their lives to seal their testimonies.

In verse 5, the words of God the Father continue: “Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.” He who speaks is the Creator of heaven and earth—He who gives life to the people on the earth, and the Father of the spirits of men.30

In verse 6, the Father speaks to His Son: “I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.” He who would send Messiah would hold His hand, protect Him, and give Him as a covenant for Israel and as a light to the Gentiles, or nations of the earth. Servants of the Lord who also fit Isaiah’s description would be called of God,31 protected and given inspiration as they testify to the nations of the earth.

The Lord clarifies in speaking to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me.”32

During Christ’s earthly ministry and shortly thereafter, the gospel was first given to the Jews33 and then to the Gentiles.34 Chiastically, the first part of the dispensation of the fulness of times is called “the fulness of the Gentiles,”35 after which the gospel will be given again to the Jews.36

The words of God the Father in verses 5 and 6 form a chiasm:

A: (5) Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out;
B: he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it;
C: he that giveth breath unto the people upon it,
C: and spirit to them
B: that walk therein:
A: (6) I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

The message of this chiasm is that God, the Creator of all, who gives breath and spirit to those who dwell on the earth, will sustain His only begotten Son during His earthly ministry.

Verse 7 states more of the mission of Messiah: “To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” “To open the blind eyes” has a temporal and a spiritual meaning. Not only did the Lord miraculously restore sight to the blind;37 He delivered the truth to them that sat imprisoned in spiritual darkness. The major part of the Lord’s earthly ministry was spent teaching the truths of the gospel to the people He encountered, bringing them out of spiritual darkness—ignorance concerning the Plan of Salvation—into the light of truth. The Apostle Peter summarizes: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (emphasis added).38 Other servants would be called by the Lord and given power to bring light to those who are spiritually blind, and to provide the saving ordinances to those in spirit prison.

In introducing the doctrine of baptism for the dead to the membership of the church, the Prophet Joseph Smith stated: “…Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free” (emphasis added).39

The Lord adds another dimension to the release of prisoners from bondage—the resurrection, which will occur among the righteous at the time of His Second Coming: “For as ye have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage, I will show unto you how the day of redemption shall come, and also the restoration of the scattered Israel.”40

In verse 8, the Lord Jehovah—the Son of the Eternal Father—speaks: “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”41 The Lord identifies Himself as who is speaking. Chiastically, “The LORD” is antithetic to “graven images.” This statement parallels the Lord’s introduction to the Ten Commandments:

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image….42

He who spoke to Isaiah is He who gave the Ten Commandments to Moses.

Verses 6 through 8 contain a chiasm:

A: (6) I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
B:  (7) To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison,
B: and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
A:  (8) I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

“Prisoners from the prison” matches “prison house”—those who sit in darkness because of ignorance of the Plan of Salvation, imprisoned because of their lack of knowledge, will be set free by the Lord through the Atonement. Note that “the Lord” is the beginning point of this chiasm and also the end, symbolizing the reality that the Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end as stated in many places in the scriptures.43 This pattern of chiastic structures beginning and ending with “the LORD” recurs frequently throughout the book of Isaiah.

In verse 9 the Lord continues describing His ministry: “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Paul amplifies: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”44 The Law of Moses was fulfilled with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, who here foretells this change. The Lord, preaching to the Nephites on the American continent following His resurrection, clarifies: “Therefore those things which were of old time, which were under the law [of Moses], in me are all fulfilled. Old things are done away, and all things have become new.”45

Verses 10 through 13 are synonymously parallel to verses 11 through 16 of Chapter 41, which proclaim that Israel will be sustained by the Lord and will dominate her enemies.

Verses 10 through 12 comprise a song of salvation. It describes the praise to be offered to the resurrected Lord by the scattered of Israel—scattered from the end of the earth to the isles, the cities and villages of the wilderness, the rock, and the top of the mountains. Verse 10 begins: “Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.” “From the end of the earth” means “the greatest distance away.”46 As verse 10 alludes, part of the scattered of Israel inhabited the isles of the sea—those who went “down to the sea,” upon which they traveled by boat to a new land.47 Their account is presented in the Book of Mormon—the coming forth of which is described earlier by Isaiah, in Chapter 29.48

Verse 11 continues the praise: “Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.” “The top of the mountains,” which is cited by Isaiah in Chapter 2 as a gathering place for the righteous in the latter days,49 is the meaning of the name “Utah” in the Ute language.50 These locations are places where the scattered of Israel reside, at least some of which were visited by the resurrected Lord after His visitation to the Nephites.51 Kedar was a son of Ishmael.52

Verse 12 completes the song of salvation: “Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.” 53 Again, “islands” refers to distant lands upon which the scattered of Israel dwell.54

The song of salvation of verses 10 through 12 is structured as a chiasm:

A: (10) Sing
B: unto the LORD a new song,
C: and his praise from the end of the earth,
D: ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein;
E: the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.
F: (11) Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice,
F: the villages that Kedar doth inhabit:
E: let the inhabitants of the rock sing,
D: let them shout from the top of the mountains.
C: (12) Let them give glory
B: unto the LORD,
A: and declare his praise in the islands.

The message of this chiasm is that the scattered children of Israel will, in the various places in which they have been dispersed, give praise to the Lord. “Sing” matches “declare his praise;” “ye that go down to the sea” complements “let them shout from the top of the mountains.” Lehi and his family went down to the sea, which they crossed to obtain the Promised Land of America where the place called “the top of the mountains” is located.

Verses 13 through 15 describe the Lord’s demeanor at His Second Coming, contrasting sharply with the description of His mortal ministry presented by God the Father in verses 1 through 4. At the time of His Second Coming no longer will He be still or hold His peace, but will go forth as a man of war to subdue His enemies. Verse 13 begins: “The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.” “Jealousy” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “zeal” or “ardor.”55 Isaiah foretells this event in Chapter 31:

For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.56

Verses 14 through 17 are synonymously parallel with verses 17 through 20 of Chapter 41, which declare that the Lord will provide inspiration and revelation to the humble, will devastate Israel’s enemies, and will shame those who worship idols.

Verse 14 continues the themes begun in verse 13: “I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once.” No longer will the Lord be silent but will shout out loudly and destroy His enemies.

Verse 15 concludes: “I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.”57,58 “Mountains and hills” means nations large and small,59 and “rivers” means advancing armies.60 The wicked will be destroyed at His Second Coming, leaving entire nations of the wicked depopulated and their armies destroyed.

Verse 16 continues the Lord’s foretelling of His Second Coming, now describing His treatment of the meek: “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”61 The “blind” means those in spiritual darkness because of wickedness and apostasy. The Lord will restore unto them the true knowledge of the path to salvation—the strait and narrow way, the true knowledge of which had been lost or corrupted.62 The spiritual darkness that had prevailed throughout the Dark Ages—beginning with the apostasy that ended the apostolic era—would be dispersed through the light of truth, restored by revelation from heaven.63 The crooked path, which resulted from corruption of the knowledge of the strait and narrow way, would again be made straight.64

Verse 16 contains a chiasm:

A:  (16) And I will bring
B: the blind by a way that they knew not;
C: I will lead them
D: in paths that they have not known:
E:   I will make darkness
E:   light before them,
D: and crooked things straight.
C: These things will I do
B: unto them,
A: and not forsake them.

The message of this chiasm is that the Lord will lead the spiritually blind by providing the light of inspiration to them, dispelling the spiritual darkness. “In paths that they have not known” is complemented by “crooked things straight.” This connection confirms that the strait and narrow path, which had become crooked through disobedience and apostasy, would be made straight again through divine revelation from the Lord.65

Verse 17 denounces idolaters: “They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods.” Idolatry is not only the worship of pagan gods; it is the worship of material goods, as described in Chapter 2 by Isaiah.66 Materialism would become the prevailing creed in the latter days before the Lord’s Second Coming; those whose belief centers in materialistic idolatry would be greatly ashamed.

Verse 18 proclaims the latter-day restoration: “Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see.” Those spiritually deaf and blind, having been deceived by false doctrines and corrupted by apostasy, would be given the opportunity to hear and see.

Verse 19 explains how these blind should see and these deaf be made to hear: “Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD’s servant?” These words have been rendered as confusion due to “plain and precious things” having been taken away.67 Joseph Smith, who read through the Bible using the Urim and Thummim—the same divinely-prepared instrument that he used to translate the Book of Mormon from the reformed Egyptian—discerned the intended meaning, recorded in the Joseph Smith Translation:68

For I will send my servant unto you who are blind; yea, a messenger to open the eyes of the blind; yea, a messenger to open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf;
And they shall be made perfect notwithstanding their blindness, if they will hearken unto the messenger, the Lord’s servant.
69

As established in verse 1 above, “servant” refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Introduced first by God the Father, the Lord spoke to the young prophet, Joseph Smith, which began the great work of restoration in the latter days.70

Verse 20 describes the spiritual blindness and deafness of Israel: “Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.” JST renders, with differences shown in italics: “Thou art a people, seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears to hear, but thou hearest not.”71 Israel is left blind and deaf to spiritual things because of her apostasy. As a type, this declaration also describes the Christian-era apostasy that characterized the period leading up to the latter-day restoration. Isaiah was forewarned of these periods of apostasy, writing his book of prophecy in code so that it would be plain to the reader endowed with the spirit of prophecy but incomprehensible to those not worthy of this great spiritual gift. The Lord instructed Isaiah: “Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.”72

Verse 18 and JST 19, 20 and 21 form a chiasm:

A: (18) Hear, ye deaf;
B: and look, ye blind, that ye may see.
C: (JST 19) For I will send my servant
D: unto you who are blind;
E: yea, a messenger to open the eyes of the blind,
E: and unstop the ears of the deaf;
D: (JST 20) And they shall be made perfect notwithstanding their blindness,
C: if they will hearken unto the messenger, the Lord’s servant.
B: (JST 21) Thou art a people, seeing many things, but thou observest not;
A: opening the ears to hear, but thou hearest not.

This chiasm centers on “yea, a messenger to open the eyes of the blind,” reflected by “and unstop the ears of the deaf,” as revealed in the Joseph Smith Translation of this passage. “Hear, ye deaf” contrasts with “opening the ears to hear, but thou hearest not;” “look, ye blind, that ye may see” contrasts with “seeing many things, but thou observest not;” and “my servant” matches “the Lord’s servant,” identifying that God the Father is speaking. Deafness and blindness as used here refer to spiritual rather than physical deficiencies. This chiasm is workable if words provided by the Joseph Smith Translation, shown in italics, are used.

Verse 21 states: “The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” JST renders the verse as a condemnation of apostasy, with differences shown in italics: “The LORD is not well pleased with such a people, but for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.”73 The Law of Moses had been dishonored because of Israel’s apostasy. Nevertheless, the Lord would make it honorable again during His earthly ministry by fulfilling it. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
For verily I say unto you, Heaven and earth must pass away, but one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled.
74

Verse 22 describes the results of Israel’s apostasy: “But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.” JST amplifies, with differences shown in italics: “Thou art a people robbed and spoiled; thine enemies, all of them, have snared thee in holes, and they have hid thee in prison houses: they have taken thee for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.”75

Verse 23 describes the conditions under which restoration would come about: “Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?” JST renders: “Who among them will give ear unto thee, or hearken and hear thee for the time to come?”76 Giving heed to the words of the Lord, and to prophecies regarding the future, would prepare the people for the blessings of restoration.

Verse 24 delineates the cause of Israel’s woes: “Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.” Isaiah poses a rhetorical question then answers it with another, establishing that the Lord yielded up Israel to her enemies because of iniquity. Finally, he states that it was failure to receive the ordinances of salvation and to obey the law of the Lord that caused the kingdom of Israel to be carried away captive.77

Verse 25 further explains: “Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.” JST renders: “Therefore he hath poured upon them the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and they have set them on fire round about, yet they know not; and it burned them, yet they laid it not to heart.”78 This prophecy alludes to the burnings that would take place at the Second Coming.79 Israel has been the recipient of the Lord’s anger, manifest as the ravages of battle and devastating fire. Despite these chastisements Jacob fails to understand, or take to heart, the underlying reasons for the Lord’s punishment.

JST verse 22, JST verse 23, and verses 23 through 25 form a chiasm:

A: (JST 22) The LORD is not well pleased with such a people, but for his righteousness’ sake;
B: he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.
C: (JST 23) Thou art a people robbed
D: and spoiled; thine enemies, all of them, have snared thee in holes, and they have hid thee in prison houses: they have taken thee for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.
E: (23) Who among you will give ear to this?
E: who will hearken and hear for the time to come?
D: (24) Who gave Jacob for a spoil,
C: and Israel to the robbers?
B: did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.
A: (25) Therefore he hath poured upon them the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set them on fire round about, yet they know not; and it burned them, yet they laid it not to heart.

The elements of this chiasm are also apparent in the King James Version, but their meanings are less clear. “Who among you will give ear to this?” and its reflection “who will hearken and hear for the time to come?” describe the conditions under which the gathering of Israel will begin to take place. The ascending side of the chiasm describes the effect of failure of the house of Israel to “give ear” and “hearken and hear,” whereas the cause for their tribulations is delineated in the descending side.

 


Notes:

1. See Mosiah 16:6-8.
2. See Doctrine and Covenants 110:13-16.
3. Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet: Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1982, p. 349-356.
4. See Matthew 12:18-20.
5. Ludlow, 1982, p. 358-360. The four servant-songs are in Isaiah 42:1-4, 49:1-6; 50:4-9 and 52:13 through 53:12.
6. See John 6:38.
7. See Isaiah 49:5; Amos 3:7; Revelation 10:7.
8. Ludlow, 1982, p. 358-360.
9. See Isaiah 41:8-10 and pertinent commentary.
10. See Doctrine and Covenants 1:17, 29; 19:13; 28:2; 35:17-18.
11. See Doctrine and Covenants 1:6; 42:63; 44:1; 68:5-6; 133:30, 32.
12. F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, 01961-3473, 1996, Strong’s No. 1471, p. 156.
13. Matthew 12:18.
14. Mark 1:9-11. See also Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:21-22.
15. Matthew 17:1-5.
16. 3 Nephi 11:7.
17. Joseph Smith—History 1:17.
18. See Isaiah 5:7; 28:6; 59:8, 15.
19. See Isaiah 1:21; 30:18; 32:1; 33:5; 41:1; 49:4; 53:8.
20. See Isaiah 1:17; 3:14; 4:4; 34:5.
21. See Isaiah 1:17; 28:7; 40:14, 27; 42:3; 59:8.
22. See Isaiah 51:4; 54:17.
23. Matthew 12:19.
24. Matthew 12:20.
25. See Matthew 12:17; see also Isaiah 6:10, pertinent commentary and endnote.
26. See Isaiah 1:17; 28:7; 40:14, 27; 59:8.
27. Matthew 12:14-17.
28. Verse 4 contains a chiasm recognized in the original Hebrew: Set/earth/judgment/his law/isles/wait. In Donald W. Parry, Harmonizing Isaiah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 2001, p. 262.
29. See 2 Nephi 10:20; see also Isaiah 24:15; 42:10-12; 49:1; 51:5; 60:6, 9 and pertinent commentary.
30. See Isaiah 40:28; 41:20; 44:24; 45:12; Moses 1:33; 4:2.
31. See Article of Faith 5; Hebrews 5:4.
32. Doctrine and Covenants 45:9.
33. See Matthew 10:6; 15:24.
34. See Acts 10:9-48.
35. See Romans 11:25.
36. See 1 Nephi 13:42. See also Matthew 19:30; 20:16; Mark 10:31; Jacob 5:63; Ether 13:12; Doctrine and Covenants 29:30.
37. See Matthew 11:4-6; Psalms 146:8.
38. 1 Peter 2:9.
39. Doctrine and Covenants 128:22. See also Isaiah 24:22; 49:9; 61:1; Hebrews 11:40; 1 Peter 3:18-20; Doctrine and Covenants 76:73-74; 138:11-34.
40. Doctrine and Covenants 45:17.
41. Verse 8 contains a chiasm: I am the LORD/my glory/will I not give/neither/my praise/to graven images.
42. Exodus 20:2-4.
43. See Revelation 21:6; 22:13; Isaiah 46:10; Hebrews 7:3; Alma 11:39; 13:7-8; 3 Nephi 9:18; Doctrine and Covenants 19:1; 29:33; 35:1, 38:1; 45:7; 49:12; 54:1; 61:1; 78:16; 84:17, 120; 95:7; Moses 1:3; 2:1; 6:7, 67; Abraham 2:8.
44. 2 Corinthians 5:17.
45. 3 Nephi 12:46.
46. See Isaiah 40:28; 41:5, 9; 43:6.
47. See 1 Nephi chapters 17 and 18. See 2 Nephi 10:20; see also Isaiah 24:15; 42:4; 49:1; 51:5; 60:6, 9 and pertinent commentary.
48. See Isaiah 29:11-14.
49. See Isaiah 2:2, 14 and 2 Nephi 12:2, 14; Isaiah 11:9; 13:2, 4; 30:25 and pertinent commentary.
50. See Isaiah 2:2 and pertinent commentary. See also McConkie, Joseph Fielding, Gospel Symbolism: Bookcraft, Inc. Salt Lake City, UT, pp. 129-130, and “The Mountain of the Lord” (videotape), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1993.
51. See 3 Nephi 15:15-24 and 3 Nephi 16:1-3.
52. See Genesis 25:13.
53. Verse 12 contains a chiasm recognized in the original Hebrew: Give glory/unto the LORD/his praise/declare. Parry, 2001, p. 262.
54. See Isaiah 11:11; 24:15; 42:4, 10-12; 49:1; 51:5; 60:9 and pertinent commentary. See also 1 Nephi 19:10, 12, 16; 22:4;  2 Nephi 10:21; 29:7, 11; Doctrine and Covenants 1:1.
55. Brown, et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 7068, p. 888.
56. Isaiah 31:4.
57. Verses 13 through 15 contain a chiasm: The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man/stir up jealousy/cry, yea, roar/ I have long time/holden my peace/I have been still/now will I/cry/destroy and devour/I will make waste.
58. Verse 15 contains a chiasm recognized in the original Hebrew: Make waste/mountains and hills/herbs/dry up. Parry, 2001, p. 262.
59. See Isaiah 2:2, 14 and 2 Nephi 12:2, 14; Isaiah 11:9; 13:2, 4; 30:25 and pertinent commentary.
60. See Isaiah 8:7; 18:1, 7; 43:12 and pertinent commentary.
61. Verses 15 and 16 contain a chiasm: I will/mountains and hills/dry up/rivers/islands/dry up/pools/I will.
62. See Isaiah 26:7-8; 28:7; 40:3; 43:16, 19 and pertinent commentary.
63. See Isaiah 9:2; 2 Nephi 3:5; Doctrine and Covenants 95:6.
64. See Isaiah 40:4 and pertinent commentary.
65. See Isaiah 40:4 and pertinent commentary.
66. See Isaiah 2:7-8 and pertinent commentary.
67. See 1 Nephi 13:28.
68. Gordon B. Hinckley, Our Heritage: a brief history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1996, p. 24. See JST Isaiah 42:19-23.
69. Joseph Smith’s “New Translation” of the Bible: Herald Publishing House, Independence, Missouri, 1970, p. 207.
70. See Joseph Smith—History 1:17-20.
71. JST, 1970, p. 207.
72. Isaiah 6:9-10.
73. JST, 1970, p. 207.
74. Matthew 5:17-18.
75. JST, 1970, p. 208.
76. JST, 1970, p. 208.
77. See 2 Kings 17:6-8; Isaiah 7:8; 8:4; 17:2; 43:6; 49:12; 54:7.
78. JST, 1970, p. 208.
79. See Isaiah 1:7, 28; 30:27, 30, 33; 33:11-12 and pertinent commentary.

Isaiah 32: The Vile Person Shall Be No More Called Liberal

This chapter is about political rulers. It begins with a description of the archetypical righteous King, the Messiah whose reign will bring unprecedented blessings, peace, and security. Isaiah’s use of this description at the beginning before describing the corruption of political rulers is a literary foil—a comparison of extremes to make descriptions of each more vivid.1 This comparison accentuates in the mind of the reader both the severity of the prevailing wickedness and the Lord’s infinite righteousness. This wickedness and corruption describe both ancient Israel and the latter days, with the earlier condition providing a type for the latter. The chapter ends with a chiastic description—mirroring the first four verses of the chapter—of the righteousness of the Lord and the favorable conditions that will prevail under His reign.

Verse 1 describes the reign of the Lord at His Second Coming: “Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.” 2 As used here, “judgment” means “fairness.”3 The Lord is the archetype of the righteous king; political rulers under His command will rule justly.

Verse 2 presents a series of similes to describe the security and peace that will be enjoyed by the righteous under the Lord’s reign: “And a man [specifically, the King of verse 1] shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Following the latter-day destructions the Lord will be looked upon by the surviving righteous as a great relief from tribulation. “Water” symbolizes inspiration and revelation from heaven.4 Each of these similes strikes a sharp contrast between the relief and comfort provided by the Lord in His benevolent reign and the chaos, misery and suffering experienced under the oppression of the preceding wicked rulers. Their wicked rule is characterized in this verse as “wind,” “tempest,” “dry place,” and “weary land.”

Verse 3 describes metaphorically the spiritual gifts that will abound among the righteous under the Lord’s reign: “And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken.”5 “Them that see” means “seers,” and also those with the ability to perceive and understand spiritual things whereas “them that hear” means those with the ability to listen to the voice of the Spirit. “Hearken” means those who hear will respond to the promptings of the Spirit. This statement compares to Isaiah’s description in Chapter 29 of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, using the same physical metaphors for spiritual qualities: “And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.”6

Verse 4 continues with similar metaphors: “The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.” “Rash” means “those who act impetuously”7 whereas “stammerers” means “those who speak inarticulately.”8 This meaning contrasts with “for with stammering lips and another tongue,” used in Chapter 28, which describes the Lord’s representatives speaking in foreign languages.9

Verse 5 describes the ending of twisted values characteristic of the latter days: “The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.” “Churl” means “a rude, ill-bred person.”10 These parallel phrases emphasize true definitions of words that have been purposely twisted in meaning in our day. The Hebrew word translated as “liberal” means “noble” or “generous.”11 The dictionary definition of “liberal” is “honorable, noble, gracious, generous.”12 Isaiah foresees a time when leaders who have noble titles but who in reality are vile, churlish, avaricious, deceitful or foolish or are cheaters will no longer be called liberal or bountiful. Isaiah described this deliberate inversion of meaning in Chapter 5: “Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”13

In verse 6, Isaiah provides a simple key for recognizing evil leaders—by their actions rather than their lofty titles: “For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.”14,15 Note that “vile” and “villainy” have the same Latin root, villa, which refers to farms and workers of the soil,16 but in the King James Version and in usage today both are used only in the pejorative sense. The Hebrew word translated as “villainy” means “senseless folly” or “obscenity.”17

Verse 7 continues Isaiah’s exposition begun in verse 6 on how to distinguish a wicked ruler: “The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.”18 This phrase—using archaic words—means that corrupt rulers with avaricious or evil intentions devise schemes to deceive, using carefully-measured or lying words.

How striking is Isaiah’s description of evil rulers of our time! They use the pretense of caring for the needy to amass political power, but they destroy the poor with lying words. The Lord gave this same key for distinguishing evildoers in the Sermon on the Mount: “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”19

Verse 8 provides the contrasting truth: “But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.”20 Liberality is a personal quality greatly valued by the Lord. The true leader, recognizing what is expected of a worthy leader, measures up to expectations.

Verses 9 through 11 chastise the women of Israel, and as a type, the women of the latter days. Verse 9 begins: “Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.” “Careless” means “carefree” in modern usage; the Hebrew word from which it is translated means “confident” or “secure.”21

Verse 10 continues: “Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.” Despite their ease and comfort, long years of deprivation await them.

Verse 11 concludes: “Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.”22 Isaiah foretells long years of trouble and deprivation that await them—admonishing them to tremble and be troubled, strip themselves of pride, and dress themselves in the sackcloth of humility and repentance.23

Verse 12 describes their mourning for the pleasant surroundings they once enjoyed: “They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.” The Hebrew word translated as “lament for the teats” means “beat the breast” in mourning.24

Verses 8 through 12 contain a chiasm:

A: (8) But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.
B: (9) Rise up, ye women that are at ease;
C: hear my voice,
D: ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.
E: (10) Many days and years shall ye be troubled,
F: ye careless women:
G: for the vintage shall fail,
G: the gathering shall not come.
F: (11) Tremble, ye women that are at ease;
E: be troubled,
D: ye careless ones:
C: strip you, and make you bare,
B: and gird sackcloth upon your loins.
A: (12) They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.

“Liberal things” is complemented by “the teats…pleasant fields…fruitful vine,” which provide a key to the prophet’s meaning. “Rise up, ye women that are at ease” is contrasted with “gird sackcloth upon your loins,” admonishing the privileged to repent of their arrogance. “Hear my voice” is equivalent to “strip you, and make you bare,” providing a spiritual explanation for the comparison. Those who heed Isaiah’s warning voice will strip themselves of pride, putting on in its place the sackcloth of sore repentance. Because of overlapping chiasms, all the phrases similar to “ye women that are at ease” are equivalent.

Verse 13 describes both the physical abandonment of the land following the fall of Jerusalem and the pervasive neglect of spiritual matters: “Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city.” In addition to their literal springing up in a neglected land, thorns and briers represent false doctrines that spring up when the Lord’s vineyard is neglected because of iniquity.25

Verse 14 continues the description of a land abandoned by its inhabitants: “Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks.” Feral animals would roam the abandoned palaces and fortifications of Jerusalem.

Verse 15 describes the conditions that will bring an end to this period of devastation, abandonment and neglect of spiritual things: “Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.” The spiritual rebirth described in this verse is the latter-day restoration, foretold earlier by Isaiah.26 The inclusive parallel statements “the wilderness be a fruitful field” and “the fruitful field be counted for a forest” indicate that the spiritual restoration would be universal—a precursor to the righteous reign of the Lord. “Forest” means the nobility or leaders of the people, and “fruitful field” means their economic apparatus.27 These phrases are almost the same wording used by Isaiah in Chapter 29 to describe the restoration, except here substituting “wilderness” for “Lebanon:” “…and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest.”28

Verses 16 through 20 return chiastically to the righteous rule of the Lord, described in verses 1 through 4. Verse 16 begins: “Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.” The Lord will rule righteously during His millennial reign. “Judgment” means “fairness” or “justice.”29 Other meanings for “judgment” that apply to the Lord’s reign are social justice,30 sound reasoning,31 and an equitable system of laws.32

Verses 17 and 18 describe the peace that will attend the Lord’s righteous reign. Verse 17 begins: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Here Isaiah describes the assurance of knowing you are living in accordance with God’s will.33

Verse 18 continues: “And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Not only will these conditions prevail during the Lord’s reign; it is possible—at least to a measure, in times of worldwide wickedness and upheaval—to experience peace in our private lives and homes by strict adherence to the Lord’s commandments.

Verse 19 describes the destruction that will precede the Lord’s righteous reign: “When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.” Here the destruction of the wicked is characterized as a hailstorm, one of the elements of the destruction foretold. A city “in a low place” is one that is especially vulnerable to devastating floods, which are symbolic of invading armies. “Forest” represents the noble, whereas “the city” here represents common humanity.

Hail as an element of the destructions that will occur before the Lord’s Second Coming is well established in the scriptures. Earlier, In Chapter 28, Isaiah stated: “Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand” (emphasis added).34 Similarly: “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place” (emphasis added).35

“Line” and “plummet” are metaphors representing personal righteousness, and “hail” and “waters” represent the sweeping Assyrian army that would devastate Israel. “Hail” and “waters” are also types for literal occurrences of destructive hail and floods in the latter days. John the Revelator foretold a hailstorm with cataclysmic effect: “And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great” (emphasis added).36

Verse 20 describes the blessed state of the righteous survivors in the modern equivalent of Egypt: “Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.” The economic downfall of modern America is foretold earlier by Isaiah in terms of the industries of ancient Egypt, whose agriculture was based upon crops raised along the Nile River.37 Therefore, “ye that sow beside all waters” has direct reference to modern America by way of ancient Egypt as a type. Not only will there be planting and harvesting of crops; livestock will be raised during the Lord’s reign upon the earth.

 


Notes:

1. See Isaiah 53:5; 60:2; 63:7 and pertinent commentary.
2. Verse 1 contains a chiasm recognized in the original Hebrew: Shall reign/a king/princes/shall rule. In Donald W. Parry, Harmonizing Isaiah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 2001, p. 260.
3. See Isaiah 1:21; 30:18; 33:5; 41:1; 49:4; 53:8.
4. See Isaiah 12:3; 27:3; 35:6-7; 55:11; 58:11.
5. Verse 3 contains a chiasm recognized in the original Hebrew: Not be dim/eyes of them that see/ears of them that hear/hearken. Parry, 2001, p. 260.
6. Isaiah 29:18.
7. F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, 01961-3473, 1996, Strong’s No. 4116, p. 554-555.
8. Brown et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 5926, p. 748.
9. See Isaiah 28:11.
10. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: 1988, Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, MA, p. 240.
11. Brown et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 5081, p. 622.
12. Ernest Klein, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language: Elsevier Publishing Company, New York, 1971, p. 420.
13. Isaiah 5:20.
14. Verses 4 through 6 contain a chiasm: Heart also of the rash/speak plainly/vile person/liberal/bountiful/vile person/speak villany/his heart.
15. Verse 6 contains three chiasms recognized in the original Hebrew: Speak villany/work iniquity/practise hypocrisy/utter error. Will speak/villany/iniquity/heart will work. Empty/soul of the hungry/drink of the thirsty/to fail. Parry, 2001, p. 261.
16. Klein, 1971, p. 811.
17. Brown et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 5039, p. 615.
18. Verses 6 and 7 contain a chiasm: Hungry/drink of the thirsty to fail/instruments/churl/he/wicked devices/destroy the poor with lying words/needy.
19. Matthew 7:16.
20. Verses 7 and 8 contain a chiasm: Deviseth wicked devices/lying words/speaketh right/liberal deviseth liberal things.
21. Brown et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 982, p. 105.
22. Verses 9 through 11 contain a chiasm: Ye women that are at ease/ye careless daughters/days/years/ye careless women/ye women that are at ease.
23. Compare Alma 5:28-29.
24. Brown et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 7699, p. 994; see also Isaiah 32:12, footnote 12a.
25. See Isaiah 55:13; 5:6; 9:18; 10:17; 27:4 and pertinent commentary.
26. Isaiah 2:2-4; 18:1-7; 29:11-14.
27. See Isaiah 2:13; 9:18; 10:18-19, 33-34; 14:8; 29:17; 37:24; 55:12.
28. Isaiah 29:17.
29. See Isaiah 1:21; 30:18; 32:1; 33:5; 41:1; 49:4; 53:8.
30. See Isaiah 1:17; 5:7; 9:7; 42:1; 59:8, 14.
31. See Isaiah 1:17; 28:7; 40:14, 27; 42:3; 59:8.
32. See Isaiah 5:7; 51:4; 54:17.
33. Eldred G. Smith, “Peace,” Ensign, July 1972, p. 117.
34. Isaiah 28:2.
35. Isaiah 28:17.
36. Revelation 16:21; see also Revelation 8:7; 11:19; Doctrine and Covenants 109:30.
37. See Isaiah 19:5-10.

Isaiah 25: He Will Swallow up Death in Victory

Chapter 25 contains further description of the destruction of the world at the Lord’s Second Coming and of the commencement of His glorious reign. The Lord will prepare in Mount Zion a feast of blessings for the righteous and will swallow up death in victory. The righteous will acknowledge the Lord as their God, proclaiming “we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Verses 1 through 5 are a prophetic song of salvation in which Isaiah acknowledges the Lord in destruction of the wicked, strength to the poor, and protection of the righteous. In it the prophet addresses the Lord, as in a prayer.

Verse 1 exults: “O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.” The Hebrew word translated as “wonderful” means “extraordinary; hard to understand.”1

In the New Testament, the Lord is credited with doing wonderful things:

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased (emphasis added).2

Verse 2 continues: “For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defenced city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built.” “It shall never be built” means “It shall never be rebuilt.”3 The Lord will bring down the wicked and their cities. This prophecy foretells the destruction of spiritual Babylon in the latter days, meaning the worldliness, pride, sin and idolatry that are rampant in the world today.4

Verse 3 states: “Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee, the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee.” The Lord’s people, strengthened by Him, give Him praise and glory. “Terrible nations”—those provoking fear and terror—would acknowledge the capability of the Lord to bless them or destroy them.

In verse 4, Isaiah acknowledges the Lord’s care and protection of the weak: “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.” “Refuge” is chiastically equivalent to “wall,” providing Isaiah’s meaning.

Similar words are given in Doctrine and Covenants:

And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.5

Being poor is not sufficient by itself to obtain the Lord’s pity. In modern revelation, the Lord condemns the poor who are wicked:

Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands!
But blessed are the poor who are pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the earth shall be theirs.
For behold, the Lord shall come, and his recompense shall be with him, and he shall reward every man, and the poor shall rejoice.6

Verse 4 contains a chiasm:

A: (4) For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge
B: from the storm,
C: a shadow from the heat,
C: when the blast of the terrible ones
B: is as a storm
A: against the wall.

“Refuge” is equivalent to “wall,” indicating Isaiah’s intended meaning. Key words in this chiasm give hints as to the nature of the destructive power foretold.

Verse 5 summarizes the Lord’s destruction of the wicked: “Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.” Compare Isaiah’s meaning earlier, in Chapter 18: “For so the LORD said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”7 In both cases, the meaning is that the heat of the Lord’s mounting anger increases against those who fail to heed His warnings. “The branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low” means the terrible ones will be pruned as a branch from a tree and allowed to fall to the ground to wilt in the heat.8 This metaphor describes weakness that will befall the hosts of the wicked.

Verses 4 and 5 contain two overlapping chiasms:

(4) For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress,
A: a refuge from the storm,
B: a shadow
C: from the heat,
D: when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
D: (5) Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers,
C: as the heat in a dry place;
B: even the heat with the shadow
A: of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.
(4) For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat,
A: when the blast of the terrible ones
B: is as a storm against the wall.
C: (5) Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place;
C: even the heat
B: with the shadow of a cloud:
A: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.

Comparison of the three chiasms in verses 4 and 5 provides additional insight. “Heat” and “blast,” the central focus in the chiasm of verse 4, are expanded in the first chiasm of verses 4 and 5 to “heat,” “blast,” “noise,” and “heat,” which have comparable meaning. The second chiasm of verses 4 and 5 emphasizes two occurrences of “heat” as its central focus, underscoring its importance in the destruction to come. “Refuge” and “wall” are the introductory statements of the chiasm of verse 4, whereas “cloud” is substituted as the introductory statement on the descending side in the first chiasm of verses 4 and 5. Rather than being a component of the heat, the cloud serves as a refuge from the storm.

Beginning in verse 6 and throughout the rest of this chapter, Isaiah refers to the Lord in the third person, in contrast to addressing Him in the second person in the first five verses. In verses 6 through 8, Isaiah describes developments in Zion associated with the Lord’s Second Coming. These include a “feast of fat things,” meaning an outpouring of spiritual and temporal blessings upon the righteous that will have no equal, and the removal of the veil from the minds of the people of all nations. Isaiah then explains that Christ’s victory over death and sorrow will be recognized and appreciated by all the people of the earth, in contrast to the very small numbers that understood and appreciated His Atonement at the time of His earthly ministry.

Verse 6 describes the feast to be offered in Mount Zion: “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” “Lees” comes from a Middle English word meaning “sediment.”9 “Wines on the lees” means that the juice pressed from the fruit has been allowed to rest undisturbed in vessels for sufficient time to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom, clarifying the wine. The “feast” will consist of the very best the Lord has to offer of spiritual gifts and blessings, extended to all people. “In this mountain” means “in this nation,” or the land of Zion. A rhetorical connection in which “mountain” is equivalent to “nation” exists throughout the Book of Isaiah, as described earlier.10

These events are described in Doctrine and Covenants, paraphrasing Isaiah:

And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand;
And also that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor; yea, a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail.
Yea, a supper of the house of the Lord, well prepared, unto which all nations shall be invited.11

Verse 7 provides insight into the nature of the spiritual gifts to be offered to all people from Mount Zion: “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.” This means that the knowledge of heaven and spiritual things will be opened up to all people, as though a veil had been removed from their minds. Revelation will be available to all, beginning in Mount Zion. Again, note “mountain” meaning “nation.”12

Verses 6 and 7 contain a chiasm:

A: (6) And in this mountain
B: shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things,
C: a feast of wines on the lees,
C: of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.
B: (7) And he will destroy
A: in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.

The chiasm describes metaphorically the great feast of spiritual gifts to be offered in Mount Zion.

Verse 8 provides still more detail, describing the effects of the Atonement achieved by the Lord: “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.” The Lord swallowing up death in victory means that the Atonement defeats the finality of death forever. Every person who has ever lived or will ever live on the earth,  whether righteous or wicked, whether or not he or she even knew about the Savior, will rise again in resurrection. To “wipe away tears from off all faces” indicates that the influence of the Atonement extends beyond the Lord’s victory in overcoming death and paying the price for sin.  Any kind of human suffering can be addressed by the Atonement if we will only apply it in our lives. The Lord taking away the rebuke of His people means that He has provided the way for them to be cleansed of their guilt. The final phrase, “for the LORD hath spoken it,” is Isaiah’s personal testimony of the divine source for this knowledge.

Verses 7 and 8 contain a chiasm:

A: (7) And he
B: will destroy in this mountain
C: the face of the covering cast over all people,
C: and the vail that is spread over all nations.
B: (8) He will swallow up death in victory;
A: and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

The Lord God will destroy the veil covering the earth and will swallow up death in victory.

Verse 8 also contains two overlapping chiasms. In the first:

A: (8) He will swallow up death
B: in victory;
C: and the Lord GOD
B: will wipe away
A: tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

In the second chiasm of verse 8:

A: (8) He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD
B: will wipe away
C: tears from off all faces;
C: and the rebuke of his people
B: shall he take away from off all the earth:
A: for the LORD hath spoken it.

In the first overlapping chiasm “the Lord GOD” forms the central focus. This identifies Jehovah (“GOD” in all caps in the King James Version) as the Lord who would swallow up death in victory and would wipe away all tears from all faces—He whose suffering in Gethsemane and sacrifice on Golgotha provide these incomparable blessings to the human family. In the second overlapping chiasm,  the first statement on the ascending side is “the Lord GOD,” the same as the central statement in the first overlapping chiasm. It is matched with “the LORD hath spoken it,” asserting that it was Jehovah who had revealed it to Isaiah—He who would make the infinite sacrifice for all mankind. The Lord’s sacrifice effectively takes away the sorrow, shame and guilt of the penitent.

The Lord gaining the victory over death through His sacrifice, together with His wiping away of tears, is a recurrent theme in the scriptures. Isaiah, here in Chapter 25, was the first to use these words. Paul, Abinadi, Aaron, Mormon, and John the Beloved, all of whom were familiar with Isaiah’s writings, expounded upon these words.

Paul said: “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”13 The “saying that is written” is verse 8, written by Isaiah.

Abinadi, a Nephite prophet, stood captive before the wicked king Noah. First he quoted all of Isaiah Chapter 53 and then explained it in detail. Abinadi said:

Yea, even so he [Christ] shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father. And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men.14

Aaron, the brother of Ammon, expounded these words of Isaiah before the king of the Lamanites:

And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance…and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory….15

Mormon invited the Lamanites of the latter days to believe in Christ, accept His gospel, and be saved:

Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up. And he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead, whereby man must be raised to stand before his judgment-seat.16

John, the Beloved Apostle, stated: “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”17 This again refers to the power of the Atonement over all human suffering of every kind, in addition to removing the pain of guilt for our sins. John reiterated: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”18

This is a profoundly important aspect of the Atonement. Great comfort is available to us for every form of human suffering, through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 9 summarizes: “And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”19 LORD, in all caps in the King James Version, represents the Hebrew word Yahovah, or Jehovah. This verse emphasizes once again for us that it is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, the creator of heaven and earth, who should come, who should die upon the cross and be raised again the third day to provide the victory over death, and who should wipe away all tears. The identity of the Lord Jesus Christ was well understood by His prophets and apostles of old.

Verses 10 through 12 describe the Lord’s conquest of Moab. Verse 10 states: “For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.” “Mountain” here refers to the nation of Moab, in contrast to earlier occurrences in verses 6 and 7 which refer to the latter-day Zion. “Moab” as used here is a type for the destruction of modern equivalents of this ancient adversary of Israel.20

The content of verses 5 through 10 forms a chiasm:

A: (5) Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.
B: (6) And in this mountain
C: shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.
D: (7) And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.
D: (8) He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
C: (9) And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
B: (10) For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest,
A: and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.

“Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers” complements “Moab shall be trodden down under him,” suggesting that the destruction of Moab’s latter-day counterpart could be the beginning point for destruction of the wicked before the Second Coming. “And in this mountain” contrasts with “for in this mountain;” the first “mountain” is Zion, where great spiritual blessings will be poured out that will ultimately go to the whole earth, whereas the second “mountain” is Moab or her modern equivalent. “Shall the Lord make a feast of fat things unto all people” is complemented by “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us,” describing the Lord’s blessings of salvation upon His righteous followers. “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people” complements “he will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces,” which form the central focus. The chiasm describes how the Lord will destroy the veil of wickedness and spiritual blindness beginning “in this mountain,” or in Mount Zion; how His Atonement and sacrifice take away the guilt of His people and swallow up death in victory; and how the wicked will be destroyed beginning with the destruction of the modern-day equivalent of Moab.

Verse 11 describes Isaiah’s vision of the Lord as He destroys wicked nations: “And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.” The Lord will destroy their pride, as well as their riches and possessions.

Verses 10 and 11 contain two overlapping chiasms. In the first:

A: (10) For in this mountain
B: shall the hand of
C: the LORD rest,
D: and Moab
E: shall be trodden down under him,
E: even as straw is trodden down
D: for the dunghill.
C: (11) And he shall spread forth
B: his hands
A: in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.

In the overlapping chiasm of verses 10 and 11:

A: (10) For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest,
B: and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.
C: (11) And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them,
C: as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim:
B: and he shall bring down their pride
A: together with the spoils of their hands.

In the first chiasm,  “in this mountain” is compared with “in the midst of them.” “The hand” is equivalent to “his hands,” in both cases referring to the Lord’s hands, and “Moab” is equated with “dunghill.”

In the overlapping chiasm “Moab shall be trodden down” is compared with “bring down their pride.” By comparing these overlapping chiasms we learn that Moab’s pride is the reason for its being compared to a dunghill.

Verse 12 describes the Lord’s destruction of the armaments of the wicked: “And the fortress of the high fort of thy walls shall he bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, even to the dust.”

Nephi applied the words of this passage to the fall and destruction of his own people: “[A]nd after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written.…” (emphasis added).21

Nephi used similar words to describe latter-day events: “[A]ll that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it” (emphasis added).22

The abominable church of which Nephi spoke is “the combination of all the evil influences and political powers, including but not limited to apostate churches, that stand in opposition to the Lord, His true church, and His covenant people in the latter days.” 23

 


Notes:

1. F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, 01961-3473, 1996, Strong’s No. 6382, p. 810.
2. Matthew 21:14-15.
3. Brown et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 1129, p. 124-125.
4. See Isaiah 14:4-11 and pertinent commentary.
5. Doctrine and Covenants 115:6.
6. Doctrine and Covenants 56:17-19.
7. Isaiah 18:4.
8. Brown et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 2159, p. 274.
9. Ernest Klein, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language: Elsevier Publishing Company, New York, 1971, p. 416.
10. See Isaiah 2:2, 14 and 2 Nephi 12:2, 14; Isaiah 11:9; 13:2, 4; 30:25 and pertinent commentary.
11. Doctrine and Covenants 58:7-9.
12. See verse 6 and pertinent commentary.
13. 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.
14. Mosiah 15:7-8.
15. Alma 22:14.
16. Mormon 7:5-6.
17. Revelation 7:17.
18. Revelation 21:4.
19. Verse 9 contains a chiasm: This is our God/we/have waited/him/he/will save/us/this is the LORD.
20. See Isaiah 59:16-19; 63:1-3 and pertinent commentary. See also Doctrine and Covenants 133:46-51.
21. 2 Nephi 26:15.
22. 1 Nephi 22:14.
23. Bruce R. McConkie, 1966, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd Ed., p. 137-138.

Isaiah 22: Let Us Eat and Drink; For To Morrow We Shall Die

In Chapter 22 Isaiah prophesies concerning the final few years leading up to the time when Jerusalem would be destroyed. Her people would be attacked, scourged and carried away captive into Babylon. Chapter 22 also prophesies concerning the Messiah, who will hold the key of the house of David, inherit glory, and be fastened as a nail in a sure place. In this chapter Isaiah refers to Jerusalem alternately as “the valley of vision,” “the daughter of my people,” and “the city of David.”

Verse 1 begins: “The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?” “The burden of the valley of vision” means “a message of doom to Jerusalem.” “Valley of vision” refers to Jerusalem as the home of prophets. The housetops provided a clear view to the people of what transpired while offering a measure of safety from invading armies. The housetops were also a customary place for mourning.1

In verse 2, “Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, a joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.”2 “Full of stirs” means full of noise. The slain men of the city are dead as to things of righteousness, rather than being slain with the sword. “Joyous city,” together with “tumultuous city,” connotes scenes of revelry and celebration.

In verse 3, Isaiah foresees: “All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far.” The rulers and others with skills useful to the invading Babylonian conquerors would be preserved but bound and taken captive. “Archers” refers to the invading army, or components of it.

In verse 4 Isaiah mourns upon having seen in vision the invasion and ravaging of the city of Jerusalem: “Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.” He sorrows, despite the wickedness that repulses him. Isaiah’s reference here to Jerusalem as “the daughter of my people” reflects the beauty of the beloved city.

Verse 5 begins: “For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord GOD of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.” Isaiah acknowledged, despite his sorrow expressed in verse 4, that Jerusalem’s destruction is “by the Lord GOD of hosts.” “Breaking down the walls, and…crying to the mountains” elaborate the destruction and anguish.

Verse 6 describes the alliance of Jerusalem’s old adversaries with Babylon in bringing down Jerusalem: “And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield.” Elam is Persia and Kir is the capital city of Moab.

In verse 7, Isaiah describes the fearful invasion and siege of the destroying host: “And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.”3 Horsemen, or mounted warriors, would position themselves at the gate of Jerusalem to control entry and exit.

Verse 8 describes the total humiliation of Judah: “And he discovered the covering of Judah” is similar in meaning to “discover their secret parts,”4 a Hebrew idiom meaning “put them to shame.” “And thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest.” The meaning is that Zedekiah would seek after military strength rather than trusting in the Lord.

The house of the forest was a secondary palace built by Solomon on the Temple Mount, used for storing armor and weapons.5 It was called the house of the forest because it was constructed of materials imported from the forests of Lebanon.

Verse 9 refers to “breaking down the walls” of the city mentioned in verse 5: “Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool.” The defenders would try to preserve a supply of water for the city; depriving a city’s inhabitants of water is an effective maneuver during a siege. The lower pool was built during the reign of Hezekiah.6

Verse 10 describes additional measures taken by the city’s defenders: “And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.” To counter the invaders’ efforts to break down the wall from the outside, houses in Jerusalem were torn down in desperation to provide materials to strengthen the wall from the inside.

In verse 11, Isaiah predicts further efforts to preserve a water supply during the siege: “Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.7 Jerusalem’s defenders have not turned to the Lord.

Verses 12 and 13 cite the Lord’s call to repentance and Jerusalem’s subsequent rejection of that call, persisting in revelry as usual. Verse 12 begins: “And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth.” Sackcloth, mourning, and cutting or shaving of hair are outward signs of repentance.

Verse 13 describes Jerusalem’s ongoing revelry: “And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.” Their partying was in defiance of the Lord’s command to repent, delivered by the prophet.

The last phrase of verse 13 is quoted by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament: “If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.”8

Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, paraphrases and expands, describing the mindset of the wicked:

Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.
And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.9

The wicked rationalize against repentance.

In verse 14, Isaiah testifies against the unrepentant inhabitants of Jerusalem: “And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.”10

In verses 15 through 19 the Lord issues a personal warning to Shebna through Isaiah. Shebna was a scribe and treasurer from the household of King Hezekiah who witnessed the blasphemous speech of Rab-Shakeh, servant to Assyrian king Sennacherib, and succeeding events that culminated in the Lord slaying 185,000 of the Assyrian host.11 Verse 15 commences: “Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say—” Shebna was in charge of the king’s palace and its business affairs.

Verse 16, continuing the sentence of the previous verse, commences the Lord’s chastisement of Shebna: “What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?”12 The Lord warns him that his position in the king’s house would ultimately result in his death—that his efforts at establishing his position as the head of the king’s house were like hewing himself a sepulchre out of the rock.

Verses 17 through 19 continue the Lord’s warning to Shebna. Verse 17 states: “Behold, the LORD will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee.” “Cover thee” may have reference to the practice of blindfolding prisoners during transport; many of those carried captive were blindfolded.13

Verse 18 continues: “He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house.” “Glory,” as used here, means political strength.14 Shebna would be carried into Assyria, where he would spend the rest of his life.

Verse 19 concludes: “And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.”15 Shebna would be removed from his elevated position in the house of the king by the Lord.

Verses 20 and 21 describe a time when Eliakim, a servant of Hezekiah who also witnessed the blasphemous speech of Rab-Shakeh the servant of Assyrian king Sennacherib, would be established in Shebna’s position. Verse 20 begins: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah.”

Verse 21 states: “And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle,” meaning the honor that once belonged to Shebna. “And I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.”16 Shebna’s position over the house of the king would be given to Eliakim.

In verses 22 through 25, the point of interest suddenly shifts forward over 100 years to another with the same name—Eliakim the son of Josiah, who would become king. The Hebrew meaning of the name Eliakim is “God raises” or “God sets up.”17 Also in verses 22 through 25, this symbolic name becomes a type for the Savior.

Verse 22 states: “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder,” meaning both Eliakim the son of Josiah, and Jesus Christ, the Messiah: “so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” This pair of phrases refers to the sealing power of the Melchizedek Priesthood, not possessed by Eliakim the king but held by Jesus Christ.18 For Eliakim, these phrases describe absolute temporal authority.

John the Revelator, in the New Testament, quotes verse 22: “These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.”19 Here John refers both to the Davidic heirship and the holy priesthood possessed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 23 states, referring both to Eliakim and the Lord Jesus Christ: “And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.” Regarding Christ this has reference to the crucifixion; but regarding Eliakim the king—a predecessor of Christ as heir to the throne of David—it refers to his becoming firmly established in power. To the Lord’s followers at the time of His Second Coming when He will assume leadership as heir to David’s throne, their knowledge of the significance of this phrase will serve as a test of their discipleship.20

Verses 22 and 23 contain a chiasm:

A: (22) And the key of the house of David
B: will I lay upon his shoulder;
C: so he shall open,
D: and none shall shut;
D: and he shall shut,
C: and none shall open.
B: (23) And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place;
A: and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.

Both Eliakim and Christ would be heirs to the throne of David; both would possess great power.

Verse 24 again refers to both Eliakim the king and the coming Messiah: “And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons,” or, all that pertains to the throne of David, even down to the small household vessels. “And they shall hang upon him” is a strange phrase to be used in describing the attributes of kingship to be possessed by both; but with reference to the Lord Jesus Christ it refers to His being hung upon the cross.

Verse 24 contains a chiasm:

A: (24) And they shall hang upon him
B: all the glory of his father’s house,
C: the offspring
C: and the issue,
B: all vessels of small quantity,
A: from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.

Vessels of the king’s house are symbolic of the glory, or authority, of both the king and the coming Messiah.

Verse 25 concludes: “In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD hath spoken it.” Regarding Christ, this refers to His being taken down from the cross following His death, but regarding Eliakim it refers to his being removed from his position as king of Judah, being placed in fetters and being carried away captive into Babylon.21 Regarding Christ, “the burden that was placed” upon him refers to the inestimable burden of sin that He took upon Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane which, upon His death, would be removed from all those who would repent. Isaiah, regarding Christ’s Atonement, says in Chapter 53: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”22

Verse 25 contains a chiasm:

A: (25) In that day, saith the LORD of hosts,
B: shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed,
C: and be cut down,
C: and fall;
B: and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off:
A: for the LORD hath spoken it.

“Saith the LORD of hosts” matches “for the LORD hath spoken it;” Isaiah bears a strong testimony that these words come from God and not from man.

 


Notes:

1. Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry and Tina M. Peterson, Understanding Isaiah: Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1998, p. 196.
2. Verses 1 and 2 contain a chiasm: What aileth thee now/full of stirs/tumultuous city/joyous city/thy slain men are not slain with the sword/nor dead in battle.
3. Verse 7 contains a chiasm: Valleys/full/of chariots/horsemen/in array/gate.
4. Isaiah 3:17.
5. 1 Kings 7:2.
6. 2 Kings 20:20.
7. See Isaiah 7:3.
8. 1 Corinthians 15:32.
9. 2 Nephi 28:7-8.
10. Verses 1 through 14 contain a large-scale chiasm: What aileth thee now/a joyous city/I will weep bitterly/for it is a day of trouble/in the valley of vision/Elam bare the quiver/Kir uncovered the shield/thy choicest valleys/he discovered the covering of Judah/call to weeping/joy and gladness/ this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die.
11. See 2 Kings 18:18-37 and 2 kings 19.
12. Verse 16 contains a chiasm: What hast thou here/whom hast thou here/hewed thee out a sepulchre here/that heweth him out/a sepulchre on high/graveth an habitation for himself.
13. See Ezekiel 12:3-6, 11-13.
14. See Isaiah 8:7; 10:18; 16:14; 17:3-4; 20:5; 21:16-17; 66:12.
15. Verses 18 and 19 contain a chiasm: Violently turn and toss thee/there shalt thou die/chariots of thy glory/shall be the shame of thy lord’s house/I will drive thee from thy station/shall he pull thee down.
16. Verses 20 and 21 contain a chiasm: And it shall come to pass/I will call my servant Eliakim/clothe him/ strengthen him/I will commit thy government into his hand/he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
17. F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, 01961-3473, 1996, Strong’s No. 471, p. 45.
18. See 1 Kings 17:1; Malachi 4:5; Helaman 10:7; Doctrine and Covenants 1:8; Doctrine and Covenants 132:46 .
19. Revelation 3:7.
20. See Isaiah 49:16 and pertinent commentary. See also Russell M. Nelson, “Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 2001, p. 32.
21. See 2 Chronicles 36:4-9.
22. Isaiah 53:5.

Isaiah 16: Therefore Shall Moab Howl for Moab

In Chapter 16 Isaiah continues his prophecy concerning Moab, begun in Chapter 15. Because of wickedness Moab is condemned and her people will sorrow. Although steeped in wickedness Moab acknowledges that Messiah will sit on David’s throne, seeking judgment and hastening righteousness.

In verses 1 through 5 Isaiah foretells Moab’s appeal to Jerusalem for refuge from the Assyrian plunderers. Verses 6 through 8 foretell Jerusalem’s rejection of the appeal; in verses 9 through 11 Isaiah mourns the fate of Moab. In verses 12 through 14 Isaiah explains that despite Moab’s earnest prayers the Lord will not hear because of her wickedness; within three years Moab would be overthrown and her great multitude destroyed, leaving a small and feeble remnant.

In the first five verses Isaiah foretells that Moab would appeal to Jerusalem for refuge from the marauding Assyrian armies. In verse 1, Moab would send a sacrificial lamb as a gift to Jerusalem: “Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.” Sela was the southernmost city in Moab,1 and “the mount of the daughter of Zion” refers to Judah’s capital city, Jerusalem.2

Verse 2 alludes to the distress suffered by Moab, resulting in her appeal to Judah: “For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.”3 Like a frightened bird fleeing from her nest, the daughters of Moab would seek refuge beyond the fords of Arnon. Arnon is a brook in Moab that drains into the Dead Sea from the highlands on the east, which denotes the northern limit of the inhabited part of Moab.4 Those at the brook of Arnon would be fleeing an invader advancing from the south.

Verses 3 and 4 foretell the words of the Moabite appeal before the king of Judah. Verse 3 begins: “Take counsel, execute judgment, make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday,” meaning hide us in your ample shadow; “hide the outcasts; bewray [betray] not him that wandereth.” “Judgment” means “judge us fairly.”5

Verse 4 continues: “Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, [pleads] Moab; be thou [Judah] a covert to them from the face of the spoiler,” until such time as “the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth,” and “the oppressors are consumed out of the land.”6 Moab’s emissaries realize that the invaders would stay only a short time, since their interest would be plunder and murder.

In verse 5 the Moabite emissaries acknowledge that Messiah will sit upon the throne of David: “And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he [the Messiah] shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.” “Judgment,” in this instance, means “fairness” or “justice.”7 Although the Moabites were not of the Hebrew religion, they acknowledge its fundamental beliefs. Their reasoning would be that since Messiah would rule in Jerusalem at some future time, Jerusalem would be a secure place for the foreseeable future and able to offer protection.

In verses 6 through 8, Isaiah foretells Jerusalem’s rejection of the Moabite appeal. The response begins in verse 6: “We have heard of the pride of Moab; he is very proud: even of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath: but his lies shall not be so.” The ending phrase means “but his lies shall not be affirmed.” The Jews foresee the lies and pride of Moab as her downfall. In our day, lies play an important role in the corruption and downfall of nations.8

Verse 7 delivers Judah’s stinging rejection: “Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, every one shall howl: for the foundations of Kir-hareseth shall ye mourn; surely they are stricken.” They will be left unto themselves in their suffering. Kir-hareseth was a prominent Moabite city, probably its capital.9

In verse 8, Isaiah continues the prophecy: “For the fields of Heshbon languish, and the vine of Sibmah: the lords of the heathen have broken down the principal plants thereof, they are come even unto Jazer, they wandered through the wilderness.” Place names familiar to Isaiah continue the personal tone of the prophecy. “Broken down” means the invaders would trample the vineyards, destroying Moab’s main crop. “Her branches are stretched out, they are gone over the sea” refers to the renown of ancient Moab’s wine industry and the extent of her exports.10

In verses 9 through 11 Isaiah mourns the fate of Moab; despite his ominous prophecy he bears only sorrow. Verse 9 begins: “Therefore I will bewail with the weeping of Jazer the vine of Sibmah: I will water thee with my tears, O Heshbon, and Elealeh: for the shouting for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen.”11 Productive agriculture would cease after the devastating attack. Ancient Moab’s wine industry would be devastated by the marauding Assyrians.

Verse 10 continues: “And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field; and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting: the treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses; I have made their vintage shouting to cease.”12 Sorrow will reign; the joy of the harvest will not be heard. Few will remain to harvest the vineyards and press the wine.

In verse 11, Isaiah describes his anguish: “Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kir-haresh.” Reference to “bowels” as a seat of emotion within the body is common in the scriptures.13

In verses 12 and 13 Isaiah explains that despite Moab’s earnest prayers the Lord will not hear because of the people’s wickedness. Verse 12 states: “And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray; but he shall not prevail.”14  The “high place” means a place of idolatrous worship; Moab’s turning to the Lord for help would not be heard.

Verse 13 continues: “This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning Moab since that time.” Isaiah summarizes, attesting that the information came to him from the Lord. “Since that time” may refer to an earlier prophecy concerning the destruction of Moab, by Isaiah or some earlier prophet.15

In verse 14 the words of the Lord are given: “Within three years, as the years of an hireling, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned, with all that great multitude; and the remnant shall be very small and feeble.” Moab as a nation would be destroyed along with the great multitude of its people, leaving only a small, weak remnant. “Glory,” as used here, means military strength.16 A hireling is a hired soldier, or mercenary. Typically mercenaries are hired for a set period of time.

 


Notes:

1. See Bible Map 1.
2. See 2 Kings 19:21, 31; Psalms 9:14; 51:18; Isaiah 10:32; 37:22; 52:2; 62:11.
3. Verses 1 and 2 contain a chiasm: From Sela to the wilderness/daughter of Zion/wandering bird/cast out of the nest/daughters of Moab/at the fords of Arnon.
4. See Bible Map 10.
5. See Isaiah 1:17; 5:7; 42:4; 59:15.
6. Verse 4 contains a chiasm: Let mine outcasts dwell with thee/face of the spoiler/extortioner is at an end/spoiler ceaseth/oppressors/out of the land.
7. For references to other meanings of “justice,” see verse 3.
8. See Isaiah 9:15; 28:15, 17; 59:3-4 and pertinent commentary.
9. Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet: Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1982, p. 192-194.
10. Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry and Tina M. Peterson, Understanding Isaiah: Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1998, p. 164.
11. Verses 8 and 9 contain a chiasm: The fields of Heshbon languish/vine of Sibmah/Jazer/branches are stretched out/gone over the sea/Jazer/vine of Sibmah/shouting for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen.
12. Verse 10 contains a chiasm: Gladness is taken away/vineyards/there shall be no singing/neither shall there be shouting/no wine in their presses/vintage shouting to cease.
13. For example, see Genesis 43:30; 1 Kings 3:26; Isaiah 63:15; Jeremiah 4:19; 1 John 3:17; Mosiah 15:9; Alma 7:12; 3 Nephi 17:6-7.
14. Verses 7 through 12 contain a chiasm:  Moab/Kir-haresh/Heshbon/Sibmah/Jazer/Jazer/ Sibmah/Heshbon/Kir-haresh/Moab. In Donald W. Parry, Harmonizing Isaiah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 2001, p. 259.
15. Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet: Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1982, p. 196-197.
16. See Isaiah 8:7; 10:18; 17:3-4; 20:5; 21:16-17; 22:18; 66:12.

Isaiah 9: The People That Walked in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light

The first part of this chapter is a prophecy foretelling the coming of Messiah, referring both to the Lord’s mortal ministry and to His Second Coming. Following is a warning specifically to Ephraim, but applicable also to Judah and their descendants in the latter days, to avoid pride and corruption in government or face destruction. This chapter is quoted in its entirety by Nephi, with minor variations shown in italics where quoted. Compare 2 Nephi 19.

Verse 1 states: “Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.” The Book of Mormon renders “…by the way of the Red Sea….”1 The lands of Zebulun and Naphtali are westward and northwestward, respectively, from the Sea of Galilee.2 The dimness in the first part of verse 1 refers to the last verse of Chapter 8; the beginning word, “nevertheless,” establishes this connection and indicates that the darkness spoken of is the spiritual darkness brought on by wickedness, as set forth in the ending verses of Chapter 8. Darkness, or fear and discouragement, was experienced by the people when the Assyrian attackers first came upon the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali.

Rabbinical commentators “relate this to the attacks by Assyria under Tiglath-pileser and Sargon II.”3 However, because of Isaiah’s use of events of his time as types for events yet to come, the historical record alone should not be relied upon as a key to understanding his writings.

Verses 2 through 5 describe the glory to be seen at the Lord’s coming. Verse 2 states: “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.”4 This passage describes  a great light that will influence all “that dwell in the land of the shadow of death”—meaning everyone living on the earth in their mortal probationary state—at the time of the Lord’s coming. During His mortal ministry that light was spiritual; He broke the bands of death and provided salvation for all. This light of hope and joy shines on each one of us who benefits from His expiation. At His Second Coming, the light will be a physical phenomenon as well.

Verses 1 and 2 are quoted by Matthew in the New Testament. This prophecy of Isaiah is one of several cited by writers of the New Testament as being fulfilled by events in the life of Jesus Christ:5

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.6

This passage illustrates Isaiah’s extensive use of types and double meanings and the thorough understanding that Matthew had of them.  Verse 2 is the textual basis for Handel’s Messiah, Part 1, No. 11—Air for Bass, “The People That Walked in Darkness.”

Verse 3 declares: “Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” The Book of Mormon omits “not,” to render “and increased the joy.”7 The Joseph Smith Translation states “…and they joy before thee.…”8 There will be great joy at the Lord’s coming—joy like that experienced when there is a good harvest, or when conquering soldiers divide the spoil. “Multiplied the nation” refers to the Abrahamic covenant in which Abraham was promised innumerable posterity.9 Numbers of those gathered and returning by means of the restoration and spread of the gospel, culminating at the time of the Lord’s Second Coming, will be great.

By contrasting the fear and dread provoked by the threat of Assyrian invasion faced by both Israel and Judah with the light, joy, and gratefulness evoked by the coming of the promised Messiah, Isaiah provides reassurance that the conditions imposed by the invaders would be only temporary. At some time in the future, Messiah would come to Abraham’s descendants who would still exist as a people.

Verses 1 through 3 form a chiasm:

(1) Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
A: and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea,
B: beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
C: (2) The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:
C: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
B: (3) Thou hast multiplied the nation,
A: and (not) increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

Isaiah’s use of a literary foil in this chiasm contrasts the darkness and fear inflicted by the Assyrian invaders, described in the ascending side, with the joy the people will experience when the Lord comes in His glory, described in the descending side. In a literary foil, opposites are contrasted to accentuate their differences. The joy to be experienced by the people who walk “in darkness” and dwell in “the shadow of death” will be because they have “seen a great light…upon them hath the light shined.”

Verses 4 and 5 describe the destruction that will occur among the oppressors of the Lord’s covenant people at His Second Coming. Verse 4 begins: “For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.” The Book of Mormon omits “as in the day of Midian.”10 At the Lord’s Second Coming His people will be freed from oppression.

Verse 5 continues: “For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.”11 Instead of the typical battle scenes characterized by “confused noise,” and death administered by conventional weapons resulting in “garments rolled in blood,” this destruction will be “with burning and fuel of fire.” Does this mean nuclear holocaust, or the wicked being consumed by the glory of the Lord’s presence? In Chapter 10 Isaiah declares: “under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire. And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day.”12 This seems to indicate that the Lord’s glory will be the consuming fire—those unworthy of His presence, and unable to endure it, will be consumed. “Thorns and briers” also refers to false doctrines, which will be done away at His coming.13

Other passages that tend toward the interpretation that the Lord’s glory will be the consuming fire are: “They perish at the rebuke of thy countenance,” in Psalms;14 “The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein,” in Nahum;15 “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch,” in Malachi.16 This passage from Malachi was quoted by the Angel Moroni to the youthful prophet Joseph Smith with some variation: “For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; For they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (emphasis added).17 The glory of the Lord and that of the hosts of angels accompanying Him will apparently burn the wicked.

There may be occurrences of nuclear conflagration at this time, as well. Nuclear warfare is possibly the abomination of desolation prophesied by Daniel.18

Latter-day revelation sheds additional light:

Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.
For after today cometh the burning—this is speaking after the manner of the Lord—for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.19

Verse 6 presents a prophecy of Christ: “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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” These words are memorialized in Handel’s Messiah, Part 1, No. 12—Chorus, “For Unto Us a Child Is Born.” Who can fail to be moved by a choral performance of these stirring words?

The Hebrew word translated as “Wonderful” is a masculine noun,20 indicating that it is a separate title of the Lord rather than a modifier of the subsequent word, “Counsellor.” The comma placed after “Wonderful” by the translators properly sets it apart to preserve the original intended meaning.

Part of the prophecy set forth in verse 6 has been fulfilled with Jesus’ birth, but the remainder awaits fulfillment until His Second Coming. During His mortal ministry He presided over no political government, and He was acclaimed as “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” only by His closest followers. Writers in the New Testament proclaimed that this prophecy of Isaiah relates to the mortal and post-mortal ministry of Jesus Christ.21

How can it be said that Jesus Christ is the everlasting Father? Abinadi, a Book of Mormon prophet, explains:

Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.
For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?22

The Lord Jesus Christ becomes the Father, spiritually, of those benefiting from His redeeming sacrifice and of all who take His name upon them—the Father of their salvation.

Verses 4 through 6 contain a chiasm:

A: (4) For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder,
B: the rod
C: of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
D: (5) For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood;
D: but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
C: (6) For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
B: and the government
A: shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah again uses a literary foil to emphasize the profound difference between the Lord’s government and the oppression of Assyria, or destruction by fire preceding the Lord’s Second Coming. The shoulder of the people bearing the burden of oppression contrasts with the ample shoulder of the Redeemer who would bear the responsibility of righteous government. The rod of oppression contrasts with the Lord’s benevolent government; “oppressor” is the antithesis of “for unto us child is born, unto us a son is given.” Rather than coming in the form of an oppressive conqueror, the Redeemer would be born as an innocent child. “Confused noise, and garments rolled in blood” contrasts with “burning and fuel of fire” to indicate that the destruction before the Redeemer’s Second Coming would be by fire rather than by prevalent methods of warfare.

Isaiah’s prophecy continues in verse 7, declaring the Lord’s accession to the throne of David:23 “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Christ is the literal heir to the throne of David.

Verses 6 and 7 contain a chiasm:

(6) 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, Counsellor,
A: The mighty God,
B: The everlasting
C: Father,
D: The Prince
E: of Peace. (7) Of the increase of his government
E: and peace there shall be no end,
D: upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it,
C: and to his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice
B: from henceforth even for ever.
A: The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

In this chiasm “the mighty God” is equivalent to “the LORD of hosts,” establishing equivalence of these two titles for the Lord Jehovah. “Everlasting” is synonymous with “from henceforth even for ever,” and “Father” is equivalent to “his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it,” showing that the Lord’s kingdom would be characterized by benevolent paternal love. “Prince” equates with “the throne of David,” establishing that “the Prince of Peace” refers specifically to Christ’s heirship to the throne of David. “Peace,” the central focus of this chiasm,  would characterize the Lord’s kingdom on earth.

Verses 8 through 21 comprise a prophetic message, or priestly sermon, to Ephraim, or the northern kingdom of Israel.24 It consists of three woe oracles that describe wickedness including pride and corruption in government for which Ephraim faces destruction. A fourth woe oracle, directed against both Ephraim and Judah, comprises the first part of Chapter 10. However, the message in its entirety applies to us in the latter days. These events that would befall ancient Ephraim and Judah are types for similar occurrences in our day.

Chiasms in this prophetic message provide bridges between the four woe oracles, unifying them as a coherent warning. The final phrase of each woe oracle—“for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still”—forms a central statement in the first chiasm,  a supporting statement in the second, the reflection of the introductory statement in the third, and the introductory statement and its reflection in the fourth chiasm. Phrases that are chiastically equivalent provide a method for discerning Isaiah’s intended meanings.

Verse 8 means that the Lord sent a prophetic message to Israel: “The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel.” The Book of Mormon reads “The Lord sent his word into Jacob….”25 The message follows in the succeeding verses.

Verse 9 declares: “And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart—” The Book of Mormon renders “inhabitants of Samaria.”26 The phrase “all the people shall know” indicates that the entire kingdom of Israel should know about this prophetic message and learn from it. Also, it is a type for the Second Coming when “the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”27 All those of “Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria” will know, even though haughtiness—pride and stoutness of heart—is rampant.

In verse 10, the pride of the people of Ephraim and Samaria is manifest in their statement that although destruction may befall them, on their own they would rebuild even better than before: “The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.”

In verse 11, “Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and join his enemies together” indicates that the enemies of the king of Syria would combine to wage war against him.

Verse 12 states: “The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” This phrase describes a long history of wars against the northern kingdom of Israel, ultimately to result in her destruction.  Israel and Syria, confederates against the southern kingdom of Judah, would both be destroyed by their adversaries.

The closing phrase of verse 12, “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still,” means that the justice of the Lord’s anger continues and His hand is stretched out against them in punishment. Apparently the time for repentance will have passed when these conditions arise. This phrase first occurs in Chapter 5, where it is preceded by a parallel phrase with somewhat different wording but with identical meaning: “Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them.”28 The phrase is repeated three times in Chapter 929 and occurs once more in Chapter 10,30 all with the same meaning. A second interpreted meaning is that “in spite of all, the Lord is available if they will turn to him.”31 The first meaning is true outright whereas the second remains as a possibility, in character with the Lord’s mercy.

This second meaning is expounded by Nephi:

Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts (emphasis added).32

The closing phrase of verse 12, “for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still,” is chiastically equivalent to “for the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts” in verse 13. Here it is clear that the Lord would stretch out His hand to smite the wicked of Israel.

In Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord explains that His arm will be stretched out in defense of His people against the wicked in the latter days: “I am he who led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; and my arm is stretched out in the last days, to save my people Israel.”33

The message of verse 13 is that tribulations and punishment at the hand of the Lord seldom bring repentance: “For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.”

Verses 14 and 15 describe the destruction that would befall Israel; this is also a type for the destruction of the wicked in the latter days. Verse 14 declares: “Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.” “Head and tail, branch and rush” means the different levels of society.34 “Rush” means stem or trunk of aquatic plants, commonly used for weaving baskets and mats.35 The destruction would be directed first against Israel’s corrupt leaders and clergy, but would extend to the very least of the kingdom as well—all who engage in lies36 and other corruption. The destruction would occur rapidly, in one day.

Verses 12 through 14 contain a chiasm:

A: (12) The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind;
B: and they shall devour Israel with open mouth.
C: For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
C: (13) For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.
B: (14) Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel
A: head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.

“The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind” complements “head and tail, branch and rush.” The invading armies—or their latter-day analogs—would bring about the destruction described. “Israel” in verse 12 is the same as “Israel” in verse 14, identifying the kingdom of Israel and its latter-day equivalent as objects of the destruction. “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still” is equivalent to “for the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.” Here it is clear that the Lord’s purpose in stretching out His hand is to smite them, but this does not result in their seeking the Lord.

In verse 15, the prophet explains the symbolism: “The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.” The Book of Mormon omits “and honourable,”37 revealing that there would be none considered honorable among those to be destroyed at that time.

In verse 16 Isaiah continues the explanation: “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.” “The leaders of this people” are the head, meaning political leaders, and tail, meaning spiritual leaders, whereas “they that are led of them” are the branch and rush.

Verse 17 continues: “Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” The Book of Mormon renders “for every one of them is a hypocrite….”38 The entire nation—from the young men to the orphans and widows—are hypocrites, evildoers, and liars.

In verse 18, the wicked are rendered as fuel for the fire: “For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.” The Book of Mormon reads “…thickets of the forests….”39 The briers and thorns to be devoured are false doctrines that sprang up in place of the truth,40 resulting from a lengthy period of apostasy. “Kindle in the thickets of the forests” means that associations of the noble and powerful would be destroyed.41 All will vanish away like dissipating smoke.42

Verse 19 continues the metaphor and provides explanation: “Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.”43 The wicked will be seared by the fire of destruction, the people themselves serving as fuel for the fire. The Hebrew word translated as “spare” means “to have pity or compassion.”44

Verse 20 states: “And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm.” Greed and corruption would run rampant. Each person would cheat or steal from his neighbor to the right but would be left wanting more, whereupon each would steal from his neighbor to the left and still would not be satisfied. These awful conditions would result in a total breakdown of society; people’s corrupt actions would be as destructive upon society as eating the flesh of one’s own arm would be upon the body.

Verse 21 continues: “Manasseh [will be at war with] Ephraim; and Ephraim [will be at war with] Manasseh: and they together shall be [at war] against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” This verse and the verses preceding describe the horrors of war inflicted upon Ephraim, Manasseh and Judah. The closing phrase, “for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still,” means that the justice of the Lord’s anger continues and His hand is stretched out against them in punishment.45

Verses 19 through 21 form a chiasm:

A: (19) Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire:
B: no man shall spare his brother.
C: (20) And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry;
C: and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied:
B: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm: (21) Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah.
A: For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

“Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened” complements “for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still;” and “no man shall spare his brother” complements “they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm,” providing an interpretation of the symbolism. “He shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry” complements “he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied,” to form the central focus of the chiasm.

The final phrase, “for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still,” is also the introductory phrase of a chiasm formed by the fourth woe oracle consisting of the first four verses of Chapter 10.46

 


Notes:

1. 2 Nephi 19:1.
2. See Bible Map 3.
3. See Isaiah 9:1, footnote 1b.
4. Verses 1 and 2 contain a chiasm: Dimness/lightly afflicted/Zebulun/Naphtali/did more grievously afflict/darkness.
5. See Isaiah 6:10, pertinent commentary and endnote.
6. Matthew 4:13-16.
7. 2 Nephi 19:3.
8. Joseph Smith’s “New Translation” of the Bible: Herald Publishing House, Independence, Missouri, 1970,
p. 197.
9. Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry and Tina M. Peterson, Understanding Isaiah: Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1998, p. 94.
10. 2 Nephi 19:4.
11. See Isaiah 1:7, 28; 5:24; 9:18-19 and pertinent commentary.
12. Isaiah 10:16-17.
13. See Isaiah 5:6 and pertinent commentary.
14. Psalms 80:16.
15. Nahum 1:5.
16. Malachi 4:1.
17. Joseph Smith—History 1:37.
18. See Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11; see also Matt. 24:15.
19. Doctrine and Covenants 64:23-24.
20. F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, 01961-3473, 1996, Strong’s No. 6382, p. 810.
21. See also Isaiah 7:14; 11:1; 25:9; 53:5.
22. Mosiah 15:11-12.
23. See Genesis 49: 9-10.
24. See Avraham Gileadi, The Book of Isaiah: A new translation with interpretive keys from the Book of Mormon: Deseret Book Company, P.O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130, 1988, p. 19.
25. 2 Nephi 19:8.
26. 2 Nephi 19:9.
27. Isaiah 40:5.
28. Isaiah 5:25.
29. Isaiah 9:12, 17, and 21.
30. Isaiah 10:4.
31. Isaiah 9:12, footnote 12d.
32. 2 Nephi 28:32.
33. Doctrine and Covenants 136:22.
34. See Isaiah 19:15, footnote 15a.
35. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts, 1988, p. 1032.
36. See Isaiah 16:6; 28:15, 17; 59:3-4 and pertinent commentary.
37. 2 Nephi 19:15.
38. 2 Nephi 19:17.
39. 2 Nephi 19:18.
40. See Isaiah 55:13; 5:6; 10:17; 27:4; 32:13 and pertinent commentary.
41. See Isaiah 2:13; 10:18-19, 33-34; 14:8; 29:17; 32:15; 37:24; 55:12.
42. See Isaiah 1:7, 28; 5:24; 9:5 and pertinent commentary.
43. Verses 17 through 19 form a chiasm: Every one…every mouth/his anger/burneth as the fire/briers/thorns/shall kindle/wrath of the LORD of hosts/no man.
44. Brown et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 2550, p. 328.
45. See comments for verse 12, where this phrase also occurs.
46. An alternate chiasm is also found in verses 19 through 21: Wrath of the LORD of hosts/no man shall spare his brother/Manasseh/Ephraim/Ephraim/Manasseh/they together shall be against Judah/His anger is not turned away.