Before we begin: here’s a post on how to read Isaiah.
1 And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister.
Note that because of the way the chapters were divided into lessons, we have lost the context. (The 1830 edition did not even have a chapter break here, so the additional separation is particularly problematic.) Here is the material that came right before this verse:
And behold, this is the land of your inheritance; and the Father hath given it unto you. And not at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell it unto your brethren at Jerusalem. Neither at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell unto them concerning the other tribes of the house of Israel, whom the Father hath led away out of the land. This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them: That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. . . . And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. . . .But behold, ye have both heard my voice, and seen me; and ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me.
Does this verse assume that Jesus has already visited other people besides the Nephites?
Remember that “verily, verily I say unto you” is a way of underlining the importance of what is next said. Why might Jesus have used this formula at this point?
Why is sheep/shepherd a good metaphor for our relationship with Jesus? (At what point does the metaphor break down?)
What is accomplished by referring to “Jerusalem” as opposed to any of a number of other ways that Jesus could have referred to that part of the world?
We get “land” where we would have expected “fold.” Why?
What does the existence of all of these other sheep imply for our understanding of the role of the house of Israel? Or of the idea of covenant people?
Notice the many repetitions of “land” in this verse; what effect does that have on the reader?
The last phrase of this verse is super-vague. Why? (I think it implies that Jesus has ministered to other people, but isn’t going to give these people [or us!] any details, which is pretty loaded since Jesus just explained that people in Jrsm didn’t get any details about the Nephites because they were obtuse and unrighteous!)
There’s that word “minister” again: what does it mean? In what ways did Jesus “minister” to people?
2 For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my voice; neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them.
What’s interesting about this is that the last chapter gave the impression that the “other sheep” were the Nephites but this sounds as if the “other sheep” are yet another group.
So . . . who are they, and why don’t we learn more about them? Why did the Nephites–and we–just learn this little bit?
“They of whom I speak” is a fairly awkward phrase that is, I think, used to avoid giving them a specific name. Why are we not given a name (or names) for this group.
Do you read this verse to imply that Jesus was going to a group that had absiposilutely no experience with the gospel–no revelation whatsoever? Interesting to think about how that would play out if a group that had had no preparation for the gospel whatsoever suddenly gets visited by Jesus. (“Hi. I have a lot of explaining to do. You should get comfortable.”)
Is this verse making a distinction between hearing Jesus’ voice and Jesus manifesting himself unto people? Are those two different things or two ways of saying the same thing?
3 But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them.
Note again how frequently the BoM portrays Jesus as doing things (even in his resurrected state) at the command of the Father. What does that teach us about the relationship of Jesus and God? How is it relevant to our lives?
So they are “other sheep” but not yet numbered among his sheep. What does this mean exactly?
Did they have another shepherd?
What does the fold symbolize here?
There’s a neat way in which Jesus’ uniting of people from geographically/culturally diverse locations mirrors or explains or illustrates his work to unite all people.
Does “but I have received a commandment” kind of make it sound like it wasn’t his inclination to go? That doesn’t sound quite right, but I’m trying to figure out how to make sense of the “but” at the beginning of this verse.
4 And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer.
Interesting that nowhere in the NT does Jesus command people to write (maybe sorta in Revelation).
Is “after I am gone” significant? (In other words, would it have been wrong for them to make the record while he was still there?)
Would they not have written anything if he hadn’t commanded them?
Does this verse imply that all scripture is written by way of direct commandment, or not?
Note the conditionals in this verse: do you think Jesus in genuinely unaware whether the people in Jrsm will ask about the other sheep, and so he’s preparing for various eventualities, or do you think he just doesn’t want to reveal the answer to that question, so he requires them to prepare for various eventualities? Either way, what does this verse suggest to you about the foreknowledge of God and the pre-determined (or not) nature of human actions?
So were the people in Jrsm supposed to be praying about what “other sheep” meant? And are we to presume that they didn’t, and that that is why they never learned about the Nephites?
What I find interesting about this is that it reads as if Jesus, while there and preaching about “other sheep,” is fully aware that they are mis-interpreting his words and yet he does not correct them. That is a big deal. How might that be relevant to us today?
What work does “they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry” do in this verse?
Why was it even important in the first place for the Jrsm disciples to know about the other sheep?
What does “the fulness of the Gentiles” mean in this verse?
Does this verse suggest the same future for the people in Jrsm as the lost tribes have experienced? Or is it different? If it is the same, how does that impact how you think of the lost tribes and how you think of the Jews?
Note that this verse turns knowledge of the “other sheep” from a “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” type of trivia question to something that makes it possible for people to be brought to their Redeemer. How does the work exactly?
What does this verse suggest to you about the purposes of the BoM?
Like with the Fall and Judas’ betrayal, this verse puts us in the uncomfortable position of being grateful that someone messed up (listened to Satan, betrayed Jesus, didn’t pray about the other sheep) because of the blessings that it brought to others (mortality, resurrection, the Book of Mormon) down the road.
5 And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfil the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel.
Is there a sense in which the earth literally has four quarters? (It would be fun to imagine Jesus visiting the next group of people and saying, “I told them I’d be gathering people from the four quarters of the earth, but they thought it was a metaphor, so they didn’t bother to pray about it and learn that Jrsm was one quarter, the Nephites were the second, y’all are the third, and in two more days, I’m off to the fourth.”)
What does “gathering” mean in this verse?
What is the relationship between gathering and covenants in this verse?
Notice that Jesus is fulfilling a covenant that the Father made. In what ways might that be significant?
Modern LDS thought pictures Jesus as the God of the OT; does this verse picture the Father as the covenant partner?
What work is “all” doing in this verse?
6 And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father.
This is boilerplate to us, but the idea of blessing the Gentiles is a pretty big deal.
I’m a little unclear about the grammar of this sentence: are the Gentiles blessed because of their belief in the Holy Ghost?
What does “in and of” mean in this verse?
(How) does this verse relate to the one before it?
7 Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them.
I think Jesus is speaking in the voice of the Father in this verse. Why might he have chosen to do that at this point?
What are the implications of Jesus speaking in the voice of the Father? Does it suggest to you a little daylight between Jesus’ other words and the words of the Father?
V6 was about belief in Jesus; this verse is about belief in the Father. How do these verses compare?
This verse is rather shocking, inasmuch as it sets the Gentiles up as the faithful people and the house of Israel as the unfaithful.
How do you reconcile the picture of the unfaithful house of Israel in this verse with the fulfilled covenant with the house of Israel in v5? In other words, why/how is the covenant fulfilled if the people are so unfaithful?
Is the immediate audience of Nephites supposed to be thinking of themselves as Gentiles or as the house of Israel when they read this? What about the modern reader?
Does this verse imply that the only reason that the truth comes to the Gentiles is because the house of Israel was unbelieving? If so, what are the implications of this idea?
What are the “these things” to which this verse refers?
Was the immediate audience for Jesus’ words supposed to be understanding themselves as unfaithful?
8 But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles—for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them;
What does “wo” mean here?
Note again the signalling that this is the words of the Father.
Compare v6. Do you read the blessing of the Gentiles and the wo to the Gentiles as references to two different groups of Gentiles, or two moments in time, or what?
The themes and the structural reversals are indications of the plate text. Unfortunately, the English text appears to obscure some of this, and is probably due to Joseph’s understanding of this complex structural arrangement of themes. At one point in this set, Joseph as translator appears to lose control of the direction of his sentence, and creates some of our comprehension difficulties with an aside that follows the structure, but is couched in terms that create a branch that is never completely restored. In verse 8 we have the antithetical wo to the unbelieving Gentiles. Right after that we have an aside that begins with “for notwithstanding…” That conjunction would indicate a type of relationship of the following material to the previous material that simply never materializes. In the process of translation, Joseph has come upon a complex section in the plate text, and his English rendition of that complexity becomes even more complex as he attempts to make sense of the meaning from the plates. The “wandering sentence” structure here would appear to be related to Joseph’s Smith’s translation attempt rather than the underlying text. The discernible structure of that text suggests that there was a more concise text on the plates that lost some clarity in the translation. Citation
What point in time does this verse refer to? (I think the knee-jerk interpretation is that it refers to future European settlers of the New World who are unbelieving, but then what of “they have come forth” instead of “they will come forth”? But then, which Gentiles would have scattered the Nephites at the time of this writing?)
Going with the idea that this verse describes future European settlers in the New World: what does this verse teach us about them? How does it mesh with what Nephi saw way back when? (My thought: 1 Nephi 13 reads like a 1930s US history book [that is to say, excessively pro-American–unless you parse that chapter with exceeding care], while this verse, and the next, reads like Howard Zinn.) Is there anything here that is particularly relevant to us?
Note that this section began with Jesus telling them that the Holy Ghost witnesses to the Father and the Son and then we get the words of both. The text is enacted in the life of the reader as she reads.
Note that v6 referred to believing Gentiles, v7 to unbelieving members of the house of Israel, and this verse to unbelieving Gentiles. Why doesn’t Jesus say anything to the believing members of the house of Israel?
9 And because of the mercies of the Father unto the Gentiles, and also the judgments of the Father upon my people who are of the house of Israel, verily, verily, I say unto you, that after all this, and I have caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten, and to be afflicted, and to be slain, and to be cast out from among them, and to become hated by them, and to become a hiss and a byword among them—
Interesting juxtaposition of mercy and judgment in this verse . . .
I’m having a little trouble following the logic of this verse: do the mercy and judgment lead to the smiting (perhaps logical, but the grammar doesn’t quite support it) in this verse, or do they lead to the commandment in the next verse?
In what ways did the Father show mercy to the Gentiles? (It is very interesting in this regard that the very previous verse just showed the Father pronouncing a “wo” upon the Gentiles! That isn’t what we normally think of as a mercy, but perhaps this passage is asking us to reconsider.)
Note that this verse sets up mercies to the Gentiles and judgments to the house of Israel–that’s quite an inversion.
Why is the emphasizing phrase “verily, verily, I say unto you” used at this point?
This verse implies that God “caused” the house of Israel to suffer. What are we to take from this? How might it be relevant to our lives?
Going with the likely reading that this verse describes the state of the Native Americans under European colonization, what do you see here that might affect how you interpret that history? Do those lessons apply to similar situations that are not specifically mentioned in the scriptures (such as, say, Aborigines and English settlers in Australia)?
10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.
What effect does it have on the audience when Jesus announces that he is saying something to them because the Father commanded him to?
Is there a difference between Jesus saying something because the Father commanded him to say it (as happens in this verse) and Jesus speaking the words of the Father (as in verses 7 and 8)? (Note the “saith the Father” at the end of the verse–does that imply that these are the same thing?
Does “at that day” picture one very specific instance, or is it more general?
Is sinning against the gospel and rejecting the fulness of the gospel two different things or two ways of saying the same thing?
What is “the fulness of my gospel” in this verse?
“Bring” (at the very end of the verse) strikes me as somewhat out of place. Is this word doing something that “take” would not have done?
Why is losing the gospel the appropriate response to these sins? (I’m serious. If they were your kids, you’d want the bishop and the missionaries to give them *more* attention, not less.)
Does this verse position the fulness of the gospel as a reward for righteous living? What exactly does “the gospel” mean in this verse?
11 And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them.
It’s kind of weird that God is going to use the Gentiles to punish the house of Israel but then when the Gentiles get too wicked, the house of Israel will get the covenant back. (Let me just say that if a parent ever allowed Child A to beat up Child B because Child A needed to be punished or allowed Child B to have a new car only if/when Child A had wrecked her car, we wouldn’t look too kindly on those parenting techniques.)
What does “remember” mean in this verse? (It clearly must not be carrying its normal meaning here.)
Does this verse picture a particular historical moment? How do you know?
12 And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.
Why “show” in this verse? Is it different from “tell”?
Note the multiple repetitions of “O house of Israel” in this passage (v11-v15). What effect do they have on the reader?
What do you learn about power from this verse?
What relationship does the verse posit between power and remembering? Between remembering and knowledge? Between covenants and knowledge?
13 But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.
Are “repent” and “return” two different things or two ways of saying the same thing?
We’re using the “numbering” metaphor again. What should we learn from this that is relevant to us today?
Is numbered “among people” significantly different from the more typical “numbered among sheep”?
Note how this verse breaks down the house of Israel versus Gentile dichotomy that has been the organizing key to the passage up to this point. (Is it also true that individually righteous members of the house of Israel will have the same benefits at times when the Gentiles are ascendant, or not?)
14 And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.
What does “to go through among them” mean? (Is it the same as treading them down, or is it something different?) What might that look like in real life?
We’ve had several “saith the Father”s in this passage, but the fact that this one comes at the end of the verse means that we didn’t know who was speaking (or, at least, it wasn’t entirely clear). Why might the verse have been structured this way?
I think the initial assumption going in to v14 is that it refers to the penitent Gentiles, but v15 complicates that picture. So to whom does this verse refer?
15 But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.
Skousen reads “return” instead of “turn” here.
Does this verse help you understand what precisely it means to say that salt has lost its savor?
If we take “suffer” to have its usual meaning of “allow,” note that this verse supports the idea that the “default setting” is awful and it is only the help of the Lord that makes things decent.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, thus hath the Father commanded me—that I should give unto this people this land for their inheritance.
What time period is referred to here? Is it the immediate audience? (Didn’t they already have that land for their inheritance?) Or some future point? (If so, when?) Who are “this people”?
17 And then the words of the prophet Isaiah shall be fulfilled, which say:
Skousen reads “when the words” instead of “then the words.”
General question: Considering what happens in v16 alongside the Isaiah quotation, what do you learn from this passage about the best way to understand Isaiah and what to expect in terms of what kinds of fulfillment/meaning the words of Isaiah have?
What does it mean, in general, for words to be fulfilled? Do all scriptures have a fulfillment? Do all of Isaiah’s words have a fulfillment?
Why do you think Jesus chose to quote Isaiah here?
18 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion.
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:8. It is identical (save punctuation). Here’s a modern translation (NET) of the verse:
Listen, your watchmen shout;
in unison they shout for joy,
for they see with their very own eyes
the Lord’s return to Zion.
The picture here is that the watchmen (the literal kind, who would stand on the wall that surrounds a city and watch for invaders) are shouting for joy because they see the Lord coming. It is kind of a crazy picture: imagine a bunch of army guys carefully watching their radar screens. We expect them to either continue in tense, careful watching or to deliver to us some very bad news of an approaching enemy. Instead, they break out in cheers because they see Jesus coming!
How does this verse relate to the last thing that happened in the chapter before the Isaiah quotation, which was Jesus’ promise to give them the land of their inheritance? (I wonder if that setting makes the watchmen-looking-for-invaders imagery even more rich.)
19 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:9. It is identical save punctuation. Here is a modern (NET) translation:
In unison give a joyful shout,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the Lord consoles his people;
he protects [or: redeems] Jerusalem.
Now we don’t normally picture wasted places being joyful, but this verse is picturing an inversion. (It is therefore a subtle testimony of the power of the atonement.)
In the last verse, we saw the joy of the watchmen, but we only had their word to go on, and it might have been reasonable for us to wonder if the Lord was coming with a beneficial mission or coming to attack us. In this verse, we, so to speak, gain our own testimony of the fact that the Lord is coming to console/comfort/redeem/protect his people, and so we, too, are able to join in the happy choir.
If you put church leaders into the role of the watchers on the tower, what then do v18-19 suggest to you about church leaders and members? (My thought: their stewardship implies that the leaders might know about upcoming events first [v18], but v19 implies that we are to get our own knowledge of them.)
Notice how the comforting power of the Lord changes Jrsm from wasted to redeemed.
20 The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God.
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:10, which has “our” before the word God. Modern (NET) translation:
The Lord reveals his royal power
in the sight of all the nations;
the entire earth sees
our God deliver.
(The first line recognizes that “arm” is a symbol for “power,” and translates accordingly.)
Note the structure of the verse: the 2nd and 3rd line are thematically identical, which suggests the same relationship between the 1st and 4th line, which means that God’s revealing of power is the same thing as God delivering us. God demonstrates power not in the ways that worldly forces demonstrate power (in the context of this quote, that would be by attacking the city), but by delivering the people. This is a powerful commentary on the righteous use of power.
General question: Why did Jesus recite this quotation from Isaiah? How does it relate to the topic of this chapter, which is the inter-relationship of various groups (Gentiles, house of Israel, other sheep) in the playing out of salvation history?
Does the reference to the ends of the earth relate to the reference to the four quarters of the earth earlier in this chapter?
Note that if we were reading the chapters in context, this would be the moment where Jesus recognized that they were weak and didn’t understand him and so he was going to send them home to think for awhile.
V17-20 are an Isaiah quotation. If you assume that v10-16 cover the same material, but in Jesus’ owns words, then what does this suggest to you about the best way to read Isaiah? (My thought: Isaiah expresses things poetically and symbolically, not literally. He says things in an evocative, not a specific, manner. I also like the idea that the confusing Isaiah stuff is made clear in the presence of the Savior–literally.)
1 And it came to pass that he commanded the multitude that they should cease to pray, and also his disciples. And he commanded them that they should not cease to pray in their hearts.
Remember that we just skipped a bunch of chapters: in 3 Nephi 19, there was a whole bunch of serious praying going on.
Why do you think the multitude and the disciples were called out as separate groups here?
What does it mean to pray in your heart? (Is it the same thing as to pray, just silently? Or is it something else–more attitudinal?)
Note that there was no chapter break here in the 1830 BoM.
2 And he commanded them that they should arise and stand up upon their feet. And they arose up and stood upon their feet.
I suspect the repetition in this verse is meant to emphasize the idea that the people were perfectly obedient.
Is it significant that Jesus wanted them to be standing for what happened next? (In other words, why was this verse included in the record?)
Sheri L. Dew:
For we have all been admonished to “stand up” (2 Ne. 8:17) and to stand as a witness (see Mosiah 18:9) so that we may “stand blameless before God at the last day” (D&C 4:2). I can find absolutely no scriptural injunction to slouch in Zion. Instead, we are repeatedly told to get on our feet, to “arise and stand up” (3 Ne. 20:2). Oct 2000 GC
3 And it came to pass that he brake bread again and blessed it, and gave to the disciples to eat.
Does this scene picture what we would call the sacrament? (See v8.) If so, didn’t they just do this? If they are doing it again, why? If not, then what precisely is this scene?
Why do the disciples eat first? Is that symbolic or just a logistical thing?
4 And when they had eaten he commanded them that they should break bread, and give unto the multitude.
Why doesn’t Jesus break the bread for everyone? Is this symbolic or logistical?
5 And when they had given unto the multitude he also gave them wine to drink, and commanded them that they should give unto the multitude.
Is precisely the same procedure followed for the wine as for the bread (and it was just abbreviated in the re-telling) or are there some differences? (Note that the part about the disciples actually drinking the wine is not mentioned as it was in the last verse where we read specifically that the disciples ate the bread.)
6 Now, there had been no bread, neither wine, brought by the disciples, neither by the multitude;
Notice again (as with the praying issue in v1) that the multitude and the disciples are separated.
7 But he truly gave unto them bread to eat, and also wine to drink.
Do you interpret this as a “miracle of the loaves and fishes” type situation, or is there something else going on here? If it is a Nephite version of a feeding miracle, what effect does it have on the reader not to have the story set up as a feeding miracle (as they are in the NT) but for it to become one after the fact? What impact would a conjoined sacrament/feeding miracle have on the reader that the separate stories of the NT do not have? How might you interpret these events differently? Why does Jesus (apparently) use miraculous powers to procure bread and wine here instead of sending his disciples out to get some? (Presumably, given their location, it would have been possible for the Nephite Twelve to do this, unlike their NT brethren, who were way out in the middle of nowhere with a huge multitude.)
Note that in the NT feeding miracles, they always have something (like a few loaves) to start with. Is it significant that here they start with nothing.
In the NT feeding miracles, food (bread or bread and fish) is multiplied. Here, it is bread and wine. Why the wine? Perhaps that suggests a parallel to turning the water to wine at the wedding at Cana. If so, what can we learn from comparing these stories?
Why is v7 in the record? (It seems like one of those totally unnecessary wink-and-nod things that makes the reader go, ‘what, did you think I was stupid? you made your point in v6.’)
8 And he said unto them: He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled.
In the LDS tradition, we do not interpret this literally. How do we know when we should (or should not) be interpreting things literally?
We are perhaps so familiar with the sacrament that it is a little hard to really think about it. Pretend that you have never even heard of Christianity (you can pretend to be a green Martian–I won’t tell) and ask yourself: what is the symbolism of eating and drinking the body and blood of a god?
Is the use of the word “soul” (as opposed to body or something else) significant in this verse, particularly given that we are also talking about Jesus’ body in this verse?
Why do Jesus’ body and blood each get their own symbol? (This might be useful here.)
Given that we are supposed to take the sacrament every week, what do you make of “never hunger or thirst” in this verse? That is to say, what does “never” mean here?
9 Now, when the multitude had all eaten and drunk, behold, they were filled with the Spirit; and they did cry out with one voice, and gave glory to Jesus, whom they both saw and heard.
Do you see the unified cry as a ritual, or something else? (And why don’t we get to do that after the sacrament?)
What does it mean to give glory to Jesus?
Note that “whom they both saw and heard” is technically unnecessary–it is obvious from the story. But I think it was included to emphasize their witness and testimony of this event.
Dallin H. Oaks:
When the Savior introduced the sacrament in the New World, He promised, “He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled” (3 Ne. 20:8). The meaning of that promise is evident: “Now, when the multitude had all eaten and drunk, behold, they were filled with the Spirit” (3 Ne. 20:9). Oct 98 GC
10 And it came to pass that when they had all given glory unto Jesus, he said unto them: Behold now I finish the commandment which the Father hath commanded me concerning this people, who are a remnant of the house of Israel.
Again, what does it mean to “give glory” to Jesus? What might that have looked like, and why aren’t we given specifics as to what happened here?
What does “commandment” mean in this verse? (We usually think it means rules, but given the fact that it is singular here and that Jesus wasn’t–and won’t–be talking about specific rules, I think it might mean something else. Maybe it is just the idea that Jesus was commanded to teach them. That would be interesting, since this chapter up to this point has been filled with Jesus’ commands to the people.)
Why did this sacrament/feeding miracle interrupt what Jesus was teaching? How does the ordinance relate to the teaching?
Does “I finish the commandment” refer to what just happened (the presentation of the sacrament) or what is about to happen (more teachings about the house of Israel)? It almost makes it sound as if this feeding miracle/sacrament was *not* according to the commandment of the Father. . .
Why does Jesus say “who are a remnant . . .”? Does it imply that they did not know this? If they did know it, why might he have said this?
11 Ye remember that I spake unto you, and said that when the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled—behold they are written, ye have them before you, therefore search them—
This explicit recognition of the fact that they had the words of Isaiah makes Jesus’ quotations of them all the more interesting . . .
Does this verse imply that Jesus did not think that they would be able to understand everything that he was teaching? (It certainly seems that the previous Isaiah reference at the end of 3 Nephi 16, followed by Jesus’ words about them being weak at the beginning of ch17 and his telling them to go home and ponder would support that idea.) If that is the case, then what do you learn about pedagogy from Jesus here? Is it OK therefore to teach people things that they can’t immediately understand? (My guess is that in the church today we tend to err on the side of being sure that every single thing we teach is completely understandable to the newest member and we end up boring everyone to tears and not leaving most people with anything to chew on and ponder later. I can think of some interesting exceptions to this–usually conference talks that demanded more thought later . . .)
What does “search” mean? Is it the same as “read”? “Ponder”?
Does this verse suggest that what Jesus said matched their written version of Isaiah precisely (therefore making it easy to go home and study more on the passages Jesus had just shared with them) or that the differences between what Jesus said and their written copies were just not significant? It seems that either way, there are profound implications for how we think about texts and translations and such.
12 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that when they shall be fulfilled then is the fulfilling of the covenant which the Father hath made unto his people, O house of Israel.
Note again that the Father (not the Son) is shown to be the covenant partner of the house of Israel.
Why is there a link between the fulfilling of Isaiah’s words and the fulfilling of the covenant?
13 And then shall the remnants, which shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, be gathered in from the east and from the west, and from the south and from the north; and they shall be brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God, who hath redeemed them.
What does the word “remnants” suggest to you? (Usually, I think, it is used in the singular.)
What is the link between physical gathering and increasing in knowledge? Does this idea have any relevance to us today?
What does it suggest to say that someone (a group, actually) can be “brought” to knowledge? (Is there a journey metaphor hiding in here? Is it suggesting that gathering or community or something is a pre-requisite for knowledge?)
Does this verse picture Jesus as “the Lord their God” or does it imply that God the father “redeemed” them? Or is there another way to read it?
Does this verse suggest that gathering comes before an increase in knowledge? If so, how might that work out (if you are reading literally) or what might that mean (if you are reading more symbolically)?
14 And the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance.
Note how this chapter is repeating material from ch16 above. (Also, we saw the repetition–with some variations–of the sacrament.) Why?
This iteration (unlike the ch16 version) seems to apply to Jesus’ present tense. In that context, what does it mean for Jesus to give these Nephites this land? Didn’t they already have it? Or is this somehow related to the fact that they all ended up in Zarahemla and not the land of Nephi? (If that is the case, then isn’t it weird to be promised a land you are already inhabiting, that you chose instead of getting sent to?)
It is kind of weird to think of there being more than one promised land . . .
15 And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people—
Wait–the Gentiles get blessings BEFORE they repent?
Notice the link the verse makes between getting blessings and scattering people–is that just accidental or what?
16 Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
This verse quotes Micah 5:8, although that verse has a few differences:
And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
Note that the addition of “go forth among them” changes this, I think, from a prophecy to more of a commandment. (Although I suppose that is somewhat ambiguous.)
And in the NET translation:
Those survivors from Jacob will live among the nations,
in the midst of many peoples.
They will be like a lion among the animals of the forest,
like a young lion among the flocks of sheep,
which attacks when it passes through;
it rips its prey and there is no one to stop it.
Why do you think Jesus began quoting scripture here, without introducing the author (which he did when he quoted Isaiah in ch16)? (Many scholars think that at least part of the Micah was written after the exile; if that is correct, it would mean that Micah wasn’t on the brass plates and would have been therefore unknown to the Nephites. That may explain why Jesus doesn’t give the author’s name–it wouldn’t have meant anything to them.)
Why doesn’t Jesus or Nephi or whoever ever tell them to ponder Micah?
In what ways are the Nephites (and their descendants?) going to be like lions? Is that a good or a bad thing?
Why is there no one to stop it/deliver them? Why doesn’t the Lord intervene?
This verse pictures a future time when the people of Jacob will be very powerful. How do you think Jesus’ audience reacted to this promise (especially given their current situation)? Has this prophecy been fulfilled yet? If not, what kind of events might signal its fulfillment?
17 Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
This verse quotes Micah 5:9, which is identical in the KJV.
Lift your hand triumphantly against your adversaries;
may all your enemies be destroyed!
What do you make of this image of Jesus, who was just comparing himself to a mother hen, telling the people to go destroy their enemies?
18 And I will gather my people together as a man gathereth his sheaves into the floor.
This verse quotes Micah 4:12, but with some changes:
But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.
But they do not know what the Lord is planning;
they do not understand his strategy.
He has gathered them like stalks of grain to be threshed at the threshing floor.
Note that Micah is describing a situation where the people do not understand the Lord but that part isn’t quoted here. Does the exclusion mean that we are to assume it, or rather to assume that it was not the case? (Or just that it wasn’t part of the thought, despite being part of the verse?)
Why is gathering sheaves a good image here? What does it suggest? What will the Lord do exactly?
19 For I will make my people with whom the Father hath covenanted, yea, I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass. And thou shalt beat in pieces many people; and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. And behold, I am he who doeth it.
This verse quotes Micah 4:13, with some changes:
Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.
And the NET translation:
“Get up and thresh, Daughter Zion!
For I will give you iron horns;
I will give you bronze hooves,
and you will crush many nations.”
You will devote to the Lord the spoils you take from them,
and dedicate their wealth to the sovereign Ruler of the whole earth.
This verse probably pictures an oz given metal hooves, which would make it super-good at threshing. If that is correct, then how does this relate to the idea of Jesus gathering in the previous verse?
Why do you think the final sentence was included in this verse (especially since there is no parallel in Micah)?
Does this verse imply that the people are the iron–is that why the verse begins “I will make my people” and then turn to “I will make thy horn”? If not, how do you understand the grammar of this verse?
Why is the “thy” in “thy horn”?
This is a very interesting verse–the people will have a victory, but only because the Lord prepared them, and so to the Lord–and not the people–goes the spoils. In what situations might the same principle apply in our own lives?
In the process of molding Micah into this discourse, the translation manages to create an awkward shift from discourse to citation. The first clause is “For I will make my people….” The verb make in English requires a direct object in this clause, and there is none in the sentence. What becomes the object of “make” is the entire citation, which is given as a description of what the Lord will make the Israelites do. The meaning is discernable, but the translation itself is weak. This is only further evidence that the process of translation was not one of rote copying of text seen on the interpreters, but required Joseph’s mental participation. As with all humans and language, Joseph would sometimes begin a complex construction and not finish it correctly. This has nothing to do with the plate text, but is simply further evidence for the nature of the translation process. Citation
20 And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.
Note that this is the Father speaking again (something we saw a lot of in chapter 16). Why might that be? Is it significant that the words of the Father are interwoven with scriptural quotations? Why doesn’t Jesus speak just on his own authority instead of speaking for the Father and quoting scriptures?
Why is a sword a good symbol for justice?
That the sword of justice should hang over the people is an image that has appeared before in the Book of Mormon (Alma 54:6; Alma 60;29). The ultimate reference, however, must be to the Sword of Damocles, that famous reference to a Greek story of a sword hanging by a thread over the king’s throne. This phrasing is most likely coming from Joseph’s cultural background rather than the plate text. Mesoamerican swords might have had points, but were typically slicing weapons. Hanging one would be the equivalent of hanging a club, and not nearly as dangerous as the pointed sword in the reference. Citation
21 And it shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel.
What does it mean for a people to be established? (Does the next verse answer this question? Is it just about land?)
Why the reference to house of Israel when the last reference was to Jacob and the next is to him as well?
22 And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.
What work is the “behold” doing at the beginning of this verse?
In what ways does establishing the house of Israel in the New World fulfill the covenant made with Jacob? (Did Jacob himself have any idea that that was what the covenant entailed?)
What does it mean for something to be a New Jerusalem? Is this a literal city or more metaphorical? How does it relate to the city pictured at the end of the Book of Revelation? Does the final sentence of the verse explain what it means for something to be a New Jrsm?
What are the powers of heaven? Does this verse suggest that “powers of heaven” is another way of saying “Jesus”? Or is it something else?
23 Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.
This verse quotes Acts 3:22-23
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
. . . which is quoting Deuteronomy 18:15 and 19:
The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken . . . And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
So Jesus is quoting Peter quoting Moses who was talking about Jesus. A few things:
–Should this attribution affect whether we think Moses actually wrote Deuteronomy?
–Do you attribute a high level of inspiration to Peter’s words (and/or a high level of accuracy to the text of Acts) given that Jesus quotes it?
–What do you make of the change from “destroyed” to “cut off”?
What do you think was Jesus’ purpose in sharing this statement of Moses’ with the Nephites? (Did he think that they might not have made the connection?)
24 Verily I say unto you, yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have testified of me.
This verse quotes Acts 3:24:
Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.
Why do you think Jesus added the “verily I say unto you” in the middle of the quotation from Acts?
Why the change from “foretold of these days” to “have testified of me”? Does that mean that the prophets didn’t foretell “these days”? (Maybe they did for the Old World but not the New?) Or are these two different ways to say the same thing? Or what?
(Remember that this is OT Samuel, not Samuel the Lamanite.)
Why focus on Samuel? (Did earlier prophets testify of Jesus? If so, then why mention Samuel in particular? Given that the last verse mentioned Moses, was the point to minimize Joshua for some reason?)
Is it literally true that all prophets have testified of Jesus? (If so, then were their prophecies of Jesus lost from the record, or are they in the record but opaque?)
25 And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
This verse quotes Acts 3:25:
Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
. . . which quotes Genesis 22:18:
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Why do you think Jesus added the “behold”?
What does it mean to be children of the prophets? Are we children of prophets? What does it suggest about our relationship to the prophets?
Why does Jesus add “and ye are of the house of Israel”?
Note “the Father” and “your fathers” in this verse–how do those terms relate? (And, you know I have to ask: Where are the women?)
26 The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant—
This verse quotes Acts 3:26:
Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
“Unto you first God” is pretty impenetrable (at least to me) in the KJV, but many modern translations take it similar to our 3 Nephi version here.
Why does Jesus add “and this because ye are the children of the covenant” to the end of this verse?
What does Jesus do to turn us away from our iniquities and how is this a blessing?
General thought: there are many OT quotes in the BoM but very few NT quotes. Why this particular text? Does it nuance how you interpret the NT–either the many parts that weren’t quoted, or this part? (Interesting that Peter was also at the temple when he spoke this, as Jesus is in the New World. Is the temple setting significant to this material?)
Russell M. Nelson’s conference talk on “children of the covenant” here.
27 And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed—unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles, which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel.
Does this verse imply that this blessings needed to happen before the covenant was fulfilled, or that that blessing is part of the covenant being fulfilled, or something else?
Does this verse imply that the way that the nations of the world would be blessed would be through the pouring out of the Holy Ghost?
Why is “pouring out” (a phrase we might use for liquid, or grain) a good description for what happens to the Holy Ghost?
Notice the “through me”: In what way does the pouring out of the Holy Ghost to the Gentiles happen “through Christ”? Does this mean that the process is different for the house of Israel?
Why did the Gentiles need the Holy Ghost to be able to scatter the house of Israel? (By way of comparison, some OT prophets talk about Israel being scattered by foreign enemies without the implication that they would have the Holy Ghost.)
James E. Faust:
Any man or woman can claim the blessings of Abraham. They become his seed and heirs to the promised blessings by accepting the gospel, being baptized, entering into temple marriage, being faithful in keeping their covenants, and helping to carry the gospel to all the nations of the earth. Oct 04 GC
Russell M. Nelson:
A giant step toward spiritual immunity is taken when we understand the expression “children of the covenant.” To what covenant did the Savior refer? “The covenant which he made with Abraham.” Apr 95 GC
28 And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land. Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fulness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father.
Note the “nevertheless”: What shift is being described in this verse?
Does the second sentence indicate that there are some limits to what can be repented of? Why or why not?
Is the implication of the second sentence that if they do not harden their hearts, then they will not have to bear the weight of their iniquities?
Why “saith the Father” in this verse? (Is it significant then that the heart-hardening “against me” is against the Father and not the Son?)
29 And I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people; and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time, that I would give unto them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance, which is the land of Jerusalem, which is the promised land unto them forever, saith the Father.
See above on the idea that “remember” doesn’t mean what we think of as “remember” here.
The cynic asks: why does everything work on God’s timetable (“in mine own due time”)? We would not today enter into a covenant or agreement if we had no control at all over the timing of events.
Remember that Jesus is speaking to Nephites here–why would he have shared this info about Jrsm with them when they are on the other side of the world?
30 And it shall come to pass that the time cometh, when the fulness of my gospel shall be preached unto them;
Thinking about v29 and v30: do you think things are being described in chronological order or not? How do you know?
31 And they shall believe in me, that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and shall pray unto the Father in my name.
V28 and v29 ended with “saith the Father.” When did Jesus start speaking? V30? V31?
Why do you think Jesus chose the title “Son of God” here as opposed to another title?
What does this prophecy suggest to you about fore-knowledge, fore-ordination, predestination, free agency, however you want to describe it?
32 Then shall their watchmen lift up their voice, and with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye.
The last time Jesus quoted Isaiah, he warned us. He doesn’t here; why?
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:8:
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.
Why do you think “when the Lord shall bring again Zion” was omitted? This verse was also quoted in 3 Nephi 16:18, but the line was included that time.
Listen, your watchmen shout;
in unison they shout for joy,
for they see with their very own eyes
the Lord’s return to Zion.
Remember that the image here is watchmen on the tower, who we would have expected to raise an alarm, joyous because they see the Lord coming.
There’s something sort of weird about Jesus describing how awesome it will be in the day when the Lord comes to an audience who . . . is experiencing precisely how awesome it is when the Lord comes.
33 Then will the Father gather them together again, and give unto them Jerusalem for the land of their inheritance.
This verse does not have a parallel in Isaiah; do you read it as Jesus’ interjection or as material missing from our version of Isaiah?
Is it significant that it is the Father and not the Lord who is doing the gathering? (Note the change from Lord to Father in the next verse.)
Why does Jesus repeat this idea of them getting Jrsm when he just said this?
34 Then shall they break forth into joy—Sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Father hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:9:
Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
In unison give a joyful shout,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the Lord consoles his people;
he protects Jerusalem.
Note that while this Isaiah material was quoted in 3 Nephi 16, the interjection of v33 completely changes the meaning of v34 because the command to sing for joy is a response NOT to the joy of the watchmen who see the Lord but rather a response to the fact that the Father has given them the land of their inheritance and gathered them.
35 The Father hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of the Father; and the Father and I are one.
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:10:
The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
The Lord reveals his royal power
in the sight of all the nations;
the entire earth sees
our God deliver.
Note again the change from Lord to Father; in what ways might this be significant?
The arm is usually a symbol for strength in the OT.
Note the addition of “and the Father and I are one.” Given that (1) in this text, Jesus sometimes speaks in his own voice but sometimes said “saith the Father” and (2) Jesus has just changed references to “Lord” to “Father” in an Isaiah passage, what does it mean to say that Jesus and the Father are one?
36 And then shall be brought to pass that which is written: Awake, awake again, and put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city, for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Note that we are still quoting Isaiah, from the very same chapter even, but we have backed up the train to an earlier part of the chapter. (Interestingly, though, the theme and wording is somewhat similar to what we would have perhaps expected to get here, which was v11: “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no uncleanthing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.”) We get Isaiah 52:1:
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
And the NET:
Wake up! Wake up!
Clothe yourself with strength, O Zion!
Put on your beautiful clothes,
O Jerusalem, holy city!
For uncircumcised and unclean pagans
will no longer invade you.
Why is the word “again” added to the Isaiah quotation?
Why is a city (Zion, Jrsm) a good symbol for the people? (Note that frequently in the OT, cities are focal points for evil.)
Why are beautiful clothes a good symbol for putting on righteousness?
What is the link between the beautifully clothed cities and the fact that foreigners no longer attack them?
How might this image be relevant to our own lives?
I will say that, for having jumped from v10 to v1, the text sure makes an awful lot of sense in this order. Is it OK to say that Jesus “corrected” Isaiah’s order here? Or is something else going on?
Does the command to “arise” in this verse have any relation to Jesus’ command to the multitude and disciples to arise before the feeding miracle/sacrament at the beginning of this chapter?
37 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:2:
Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
And the NET:
Shake off the dirt!
Get up, captive Jerusalem!
Take off the iron chains around your neck,
O captive daughter Zion!
I find the image of a slave woman being invited to remove her own chains and dirt and become beautifully clothed and safe (as described in the last verse) to be a very powerful image.
38 For thus saith the Lord: Ye have sold yourselves for naught, and ye shall be redeemed without money.
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:3
For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.
And the NET:
For this is what the Lord says:
“You were sold for nothing,
and you will not be redeemed for money.”
This verse is somewhat hard to interpret . . . every source I consulted had a different take on it and none of them resonated with me.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that my people shall know my name; yea, in that day they shall know that I am he that doth speak.
Note that the last verse quoted Isaiah 52:3 and this verse quotes Isaiah 52:6, which means that Isaiah 52:4-5 were omitted. Here are those verses:
For thus saith the Lord God, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.
Why do you think they were omitted? (Inaccurate? Irrelevant? Something else?)
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:6:
Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.
Why do you think the “verily” formula was added? What about the “yea”?
Why do you think the “behold, it is I” was omitted? (This is particularly interesting because it sort of leaves you hanging: you know he will speak, but you aren’t given what he will say.)
The NET translation:
For this reason my people will know my name,
for this reason they will know at that time that I am the one who says,
‘Here I am.’
What time do you think is being described by this verse?
Note that the omission means that the “therefore” in this verse explains something completely different, I think, in 3 Nephi than it does in Isaiah.
40 And then shall they say: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings unto them, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings unto them of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion: Thy God reigneth!
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:7:
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
How delightful it is to see approaching over the mountains
the feet of a messenger who announces peace,
a messenger who brings good news, who announces deliverance,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Note how the addition of “and then shall they say” makes Isaiah a little easier to understand by giving time markers.
Why do you think “unto them” was added (twice, even)? Wasn’t that kind of a given?
41 And then shall a cry go forth: Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch not that which is unclean; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:11. Since the last verse quoted 52:7, that means we’ve skipped Isaiah 52:8-10 here, but we got those verses in v32-35 above.
Here’s Isaiah 52:11:
Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.
Leave! Leave! Get out of there!
Don’t touch anything unclean!
Get out of it!
Stay pure, you who carry the Lord’s holy items!
Notice how the shuffling of the verses changes the context of this command to avoid uncleanliness: in Isaiah, they are to avoid it because the Lord has shown his power; here, it is because the messenger has come with good news.
Jeffrey R. Holland:
You must be ready and worthy to act. That is why the Lord repeatedly says in the scriptures, “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.”Let me tell you what that phrase “bear the vessels of the Lord” means. Anciently it had at least two meanings, both related to the work of the priesthood. The first refers to the recovery and return to Jerusalem of various temple implements that had been carried into Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. In physically handling the return of these items, the Lord reminded those early brethren of the sanctity of anything related to the temple. Therefore as they carried back to their homeland these various bowls, basins, cups, and other vessels, they themselves were to be as clean as the ceremonial instruments they bore. The second meaning is related to the first. Similar bowls and implements were used for ritual purification in the home. The Apostle Paul, writing to his young friend Timothy, said of these, “In a great house there are … vessels of gold and … silver, … of wood and of earth”—these means of washing and cleansing common in the time of the Savior. But Paul goes on to say, “If a man … purge himself [of unworthiness], he shall be a vessel … sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” Therefore, Paul says, “Flee … youthful lusts: … follow righteousness, … call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” In both of these biblical accounts the message is that as priesthood bearers not only are we to handle sacred vessels and emblems of God’s power—think of preparing, blessing, and passing the sacrament, for example—but we are also to be a sanctified instrument as well. Partly because of what we are to do but more importantly because of what we are to be, the prophets and apostles tell us to “flee … youthful lusts” and “call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” They tell us to be clean. Oct 2000 GC
42 For ye shall not go out with haste nor go by flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel shall be your rearward.
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:12:
For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.
Notice the change from “rereward” to “rearward,” but both mean “rear guard.” In other words, God’s got your back!
Yet do not depart quickly
or leave in a panic.
For the Lord goes before you;
the God of Israel is your rear guard.
This is sort of an interesting verse because the people have been commanded to flee from evil, but they are also told not to panic because the Lord will protect their backs as they flee. I like the idea that fleeing from sin need not be done in panic because the Lord will protect our backs. I also like the parallelism of the last two lines: the Lord will protect our “front,” so as we make this trip into the unknown, we don’t need to worry about what is in front of us. Our job is just to march–the Lord will defend us both front and back.
43 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently; he shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:13, which is virtually identical.
Look, my servant will succeed!
He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted
Most scholars see a pretty big thematic break between this verse in Isaiah and the one before it, but by running it together here, the impression is created that the servant (in this verse) is the front-and-back protector of the last verse.
44 As many were astonished at thee—his visage was so marred, more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men—
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:14, which is virtually identical.
(just as many were horrified by the sight of you)
he was so disfigured he no longer looked like a man;
Note the shift in speaker/audience from the last verse, and that it shifts again in this verse. (That’s one of the things that makes Isaiah hard to understand.)
It is a pretty big deal when we understand that this victorious servant (see last verse) would be more damaged than anyone else–it is quite the paradoxical picture of a victor.
45 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him, for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
This verse quotes Isaiah 52:15, which is virtually identical.
his form was so marred he no longer looked human–
so now he will startle many nations.
Kings will be shocked by his exaltation,
for they will witness something unannounced to them,
and they will understand something they had not heard about.
If the right word here is “sprinkle,” it means that the servant will perform the cleansing role of the priest. If it is “startle,” it means that people will be surprised by the juxtaposition of his victory and his suffering. I think either one works well here, but “startle” makes a little more sense of the following lines.
46 Verily, verily, I say unto you, all these things shall surely come, even as the Father hath commanded me. Then shall this covenant which the Father hath covenanted with his people be fulfilled; and then shall Jerusalem be inhabited again with my people, and it shall be the land of their inheritance.
It’s a pretty big deal for Jesus to testify to the veracity of these prophecies.
Is it or is it not the case that when Jesus spoke these words, Jrsm was inhabited by “his people”? Was it then the land of their inheritance?
What benefit was it to the Nephites to get all this info about people inheriting Jrsm? It can seem pretty inside-baseball to people half a world away with no means of contact. My thought is that for them, Jrsm was a centuries-long symbol of wasted and forgotten, so the idea that it would be redeemed and purified would have been a powerful symbol of the Lord’s ability and willingness to redeem and purify even the most fallen of sinners. I suspect that overly-historical approaches to this chapter (by which I mean placing too much emphasis on the actual city of Jrsm) might miss what these teachings would have meant to the Nephites, who assumed Jrsm was long gone and wouldn’t have cared too much about it.
1 And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place—that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion;
Why was Jesus giving them a sign? (Note the purpose mentioned here.) Why this group–who won’t be around to see it?
I’m curious about the topic of signs right after the Isaiah quotation: how do they relate?
What does Zion mean in this verse? How does it relate to the Jrsm of the previous verse?
2 And behold, this is the thing which I will give unto you for a sign—for verily I say unto you that when these things which I declare unto you, and which I shall declare unto you hereafter of myself, and by the power of the Holy Ghost which shall be given unto you of the Father, shall be made known unto the Gentiles that they may know concerning this people who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, and concerning this my people who shall be scattered by them;
What do v1-2 teach you about signs? (They clearly aren’t always bad; under what situations are they acceptable or good or useful?)
What work is the “behold” doing at the beginning of this verse?
What is “of myself” doing here?
3 Verily, verily, I say unto you, when these things shall be made known unto them of the Father, and shall come forth of the Father, from them unto you;
Note the repetition of “of the Father” in this verse. What effect does it have on the reader? Why the emphasis on the Father?
I see two different things going on: the gathering and the Father letting the Gentiles know about the house of Jacob. Are both together the sign, or just one of them? How do they relate to each other?
4 For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel;
What time period is being described here? How do you know?
The reference to “free people” has a strong resonance with v40-41 in the last chapter, which described a people being freed.
5 Therefore, when these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the Gentiles, unto your seed which shall dwindle in unbelief because of iniquity;
I’m really curious about the odd intertwining of the fates of the house of Israel and the Gentiles. (Note also the next verse on this idea.) This is not a simple or straightforward story line. Why do things play out this way? What does that teach us about God?
6 For thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel;
7 And when these things come to pass that thy seed shall begin to know these things—it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel.
How does this sign relate to the sign introduced in v1?
8 And when that day shall come, it shall come to pass that kings shall shut their mouths; for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
Notice how this verse picks up the language from v45 in the previous chapter. I think it suggests that the signs discussion in this chapter is an expansion of or explanation of the Isaiah quotation from the end of the last chapter.
What kind of fulfillment can you envision for this verse?
9 For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them.
Skousen reads “many among them” here.
We are sometimes told about small and simple things and sometimes told about great and marvelous things. Thoughts about this? (My thought is that neither is to be ignored–a time to every purpose, etc.)
If it is a great and marvelous work, why would you need someone to declare it? (Shouldn’t it be obvious that something has happened?) My thought here is that it is great and marvelous in the grand scheme of things but maybe on the ground looks like a little tiny thing.
What does this verse suggest to you about belief?
10 But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.
The last chapter quoted one of Isaiah’s references to “the servant.” Is that the same person being spoken of in this verse? How do you know?
Note the use of “marred,” picking up the language from the Isaiah quotation in the last chapter.
If we assume that the Isaiah quotation refers to Jesus Christ, then the language in this verse is pretty interesting because “marred” means torture and kill and “heal” means resurrect. If you think of Jesus’ resurrection as being for the purpose of illustrating that God’s wisdom is greater than Satan’s plans, how might you view that event differently?
If we assume that the Isaiah quotation refers to a restoration prophet, then how does it shape how you think of his/their work?
11 Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.
Why do you think the parenthetical comment was included here?
12 And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
This verse quotes Micah 5:8, which was also quoted in 3 Nephi 20:16. (See the notes there.) Why do you think it was repeated?
13 Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off.
This verse quotes Micah 5:9:
Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
Note the shift from second to third person.
This was also quoted in 3 Nephi 20:17; see notes there.
14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;
This verse quotes Micah 5:10:
And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:
“In that day,” says the Lord,
“I will destroy your horses from your midst,
and smash your chariots.
Note how the words that Jesus adds to the beginning of the verse contextualize and spiritualize (is that fair to say?) what happens in this verse.
Horses and chariots were the drones of their day–the new, fierce thing that made them feel strong and safe. To say that the Lord will destroy those things is to say that there is nothing human that can protect them from the wrath of the Lord if they do not repent.
Note the shift from “Lord” to “Father”–something that we have seen before repeatedly. (How) does this impact how you think of the roles of the Lord and Father, both in the OT, in the BoM, and today?
Note that when Micah 5:8-9 were quoted in 3 Nephi 20, Micah 5:10-11 were skipped and then 12 was quoted next. But here, Micah 5:10-the end of the chapter is quoted. To what do you attribute the change? (I wish I had time to look at this in more depth; I suspect Jesus might be trying to teach us something about the use of scripture.)
15 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds;
This verse quotes Micah 5:11, which is virtually identical.
I will destroy the cities of your land,
and tear down all your fortresses.
Again, the symbols of human strength and safety are destroyed.
If you wanted to read this chapter historically/prophetically, I think you could connect the dots and apply it to the European settlers to the New World. If you choose to do that (and there are, I think, some problems with that reading), then do you read this destruction as (1) having happened [when?], (2) not going to happen, because the Gentiles will repent, or (3) going to happen because the Gentiles won’t repent, or (4) going to happen only to those Gentiles who don’t repent, but not to others, or (5) something else?
16 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers;
I couldn’t not link to this.
This verse quotes Micah 5:12:
And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:
Note the change from “thine hand” to “thy land.” Skousen reads “hand” here.
Are there any witches or soothsayers in the BoM?
I will remove the sorcery that you practice,
and you will no longer have omen readers living among you.
Modern relevance of this verse? (I’m looking at you, Nate Silver!)
17 Thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands;
This verse quotes Micah 5:13, which is virtually identical.
I will remove your idols and sacred pillars from your midst;
you will no longer worship what your own hands made.
How literally do you read this? Are these things more symbolic or literal?
18 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.
This verse quotes Micah 5:14, which is virtually identical.
I will uproot your images of Asherah from your midst,
and destroy your idols.
19 And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away.
This verse and v20 are not from Micah, but v21 picks back up with Micah, suggesting to me that v19-20 are commentary on Micah. If you read these verse that way, what would you conclude?
20 For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel;
21 And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
This verse quotes Micah 5:15:
And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
I will angrily seek vengeance
on the nations that do not obey me.”
Notice that “in anger” is omitted.
Interestingly, this was a chapter break in the 1830 BoM. Orson Pratt took it out.
22 But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;
Does this verse picture the church as a reward for repentance?
What is the relationship between church and covenant in this verse?
It is sort of fascinating to me that after all of these chapters on the complicated, interwoven relationship of Gentiles and the house of Israel, we find out that Gentiles can become part of Jacob.
23 And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
What does “assist” mean in this verse? Does it imply a “helping” or otherwise secondary role for the Gentiles?
How literally do you take the reference to the city?
Note that the whole point of the Micah 5 quote was to show the Lord destroying the city that was based on evil–the kind of evil reflected in the belief in human means of salvation (horses, fortifications) as well as moral evil (sorcery, idolatry, etc.) but that the Lord will then direct the building of a new city. This would, presumably, have been a message with added resonance for Jesus’ immediate audience, who had just witnessed the horrifying destruction of their cities in a most literal manner.
24 And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.
How does this verse relate to the one before it? How does the gathering relate to the city-building?
25 And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.
This isn’t the first time that we have heard this linkage of the power of heaven and Jesus. (I wonder if we might almost take “power of heaven” as a title for Jesus.)
26 And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem.
In what sense is it correct to say that the work of the Father commences at that day? (Because it sounds to me like he was pretty busy in the previous verses!) Or are we not thinking chronologically here?
Given that the lost tribes were lost because they chose to intermarry with their Assyrian captors and thus lose their identity as a distinct people, in what sense is it true to say that the Father led them away? (The Jrsm reference is also interesting, since the city itself was not part of the land of the northern kingdom from whence the tribes left. In other words, it is pretty clear, I think, that Jrsm is not referring to the city here.)
27 Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.
What does the Father do to prepare the way? In what ways is this similar to or different from what John the Baptist did?
28 Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance.
29 And they shall go out from all nations; and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward.
Note how this verse picks up the language from the Isaiah quotation in the last chapter (v42).
(1) The decision to re-arrange the chapters (that is, by putting 3 Nephi 16 in this lesson instead of the last lesson or the one before that) affects how we interpret the passages. In its own context, 3 Nephi 16 is closely tied to the end of 3 Nephi 15, where it serves as an explanation for (and expansion of) Jesus’ words about his other sheep. By putting this chapter in lesson 40, we lose the fact that Jesus used Isaiah to explain/expound/expand/justify/ground/etc. his teachings about his sheep. The main reason that ch16 is in this lesson is probably because it covers a lot of the same ground (namely, the relationship of the Gentiles and the house of Israel and their roles in history/future) as ch20. My sense was that things left vague in ch16 were explained more clearly in ch20, although it is difficult for me to understand why Jesus would have taught this way. There is a bit of hubris, methinks, in re-arranging Jesus’ teachings, as if to say that you do not think he did the best possible job of presenting the material and it would make more sense if it were re-arranged. (There’s a touch of irony there, since Jesus did the same thing to Isaiah in this chapter.)
(2) Not only are there a ton of OT and one NT quotes in this section, but there are many “saith the Father”s, which means that Jesus was speaking with the voice of the Father. Is there a pattern to these many quotations? Why did Jesus quote anyone at all? (How) should we treat differently the material from the difference sources? What else might we take from this, especially given that previously Jesus has not quoted from either other scripture or from the Father when he was speaking?
(3) There’s a lot here about the role of the Gentiles and house of Israel and/or remnant of Jacob. I get the sense that these are not a big deal to most church members today. Is this a problem? Should we be thinking about this issue more? How might it be relevant to our lives? I think the “gathering” theme is a little easier to get our minds around, although I wonder if we are missing an opportunity when we instantly translate it to “missionary work.” What else might it entail?
(4) Grant Hardy:
Why do verses from Isaiah 52 appear with gaps and out of order in 3 Nephi 20 [3 Ne. 20:32-45 = Isa. 52:8-10, 1-3, 6-7, 11-15]? Why does Christ quote Isaiah 52 and 54 but not Isaiah 53, which is one of the clearest Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament? I’m not sure, but these are the kinds of questions that can sometimes lead to deeper understanding. . . . At 3 Nephi 16 Jesus cites Isaiah 52:8-9 . . . Yet four chapters later, it appears in a slightly modified form . . . Apparently the Savior can be somewhat free in his quotation of scripture, interpreting as he goes along, likening its meaning to his hearers. Nephi also seems to treat scripture in a similarly respectful, yet creative way. You may also recall Joseph Smith’s observations that the Angel Moroni quoted scripture “with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles” (JS-History 1:36).” . . . We can assume that Micah’s prophecies were on the Brass Plates since he was a contemporary of Isaiah, but it seems that the Nephites had not given his words much thought before Christ so emphatically brought them to their attention. . . . What is it about Micah 4-5 that made it so important for the Nephites at Christ’s coming, and for us as well (since Mormon selected those parts of Jesus’ discourse that would be the most helpful to his latter-day readers)? And are there passages in the scriptures that we have so far generally overlooked that Jesus might want to bring to our attention in helping us prepare for the challenges and opportunities our own times? Citation
(5) This is interesting. Why do you think “covenant” is such a bigger theme for Jesus than it was for any of the other BoM prophets?
(6) Bonus: this is fabulous.
(7) Gaye Strathearn:
The modern chapter divisions can sometimes distract us from important literary units. For example, it is evident that Jesus intended for 3 Nephi 20:10–23:5 to be understood as a single thematic unit, structured in a chiastic pattern and centering on the writings of Isaiah. Jesus begins and ends by commanding his listeners to search Isaiah’s words. In chapter 20 Jesus directs his listeners, “ye have them [i.e., the writings of Isaiah] before you, therefore search them” (3 Nephi 20:11). At the end he commanded, “ye ought to search these things [i.e., the writings of Isaiah]. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently” (3 Nephi 23:1). Although not everything contained in the intervening material is a quotation from Isaiah, these thematic “bookends” suggest to the reader that even the non-Isaiah material must be understood with an Isaianic context. Citation
Her whole article is interesting; she reads the “servant” in the Isaiah material in these chapters as a personification of the BoM.
(8) A general note: I find these chapters to be some of the most difficult to understand in the BoM. Not because of the OT quotes (which are, I think, fairly straightforward once you read them in modern English) but because I find it hard to suss out the referents for Jesus’ various groups, promises, timelines, events, etc. What’s going on here?