Old Testament Student Manual, 1 Kings

Old Testament Student Manual, 1 Kings
OLD TESTAMENT
STUDENT MANUAL
1 KINGS–MALACHI
OLD TESTAMENT
STUDENT MANUAL
1 KINGS–MALACHI
Religion 302
Prepared by the
Church Educational System
Published by
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Salt Lake City, Utah
Send comments and corrections, including typographic errors, to
CES Editing, 50 E. North Temple Street, Floor 8, Salt Lake City, UT 84150-2772 USA.
E-mail: [email protected]
Third edition
Copyright © 1981, 1982, 2003 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
English approval: 11/02
Table of Contents
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v
Maps and Charts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . viii
Chapter 16 The God of Israel and the
Nations (Isaiah 36–47) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
Chapter 1 Solomon: Man of Wisdom, Man of
Foolishness (1 Kings 1–11) . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Chapter 17 The Gathering of Israel and
the Coming of the Messiah
(Isaiah 48–54) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
Chapter 2 “Wisdom Is the Principal Thing;
Therefore Get Wisdom” (Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Chapter 18 The Last Days and the Millennium
(Isaiah 55–66) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203
Chapter 3 “Hast Thou Considered My Servant
Job?” (Job) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Chapter 19 Judah’s Return to Wickedness
(2 Kings 21–25). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213
Enrichment A The Divided Kingdoms . . . . . . . . . . 33
Chapter 20 “The Burden of Nineveh”
(Nahum) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219
Chapter 4 A Kingdom Divided against Itself
(1 Kings 12–16). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Chapter 21 The Day of the Lord’s Wrath
(Zephaniah) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
Enrichment B Prophets and Seers
in Ancient Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Chapter 22 A Question Is Asked of the Lord
(Habakkuk) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227
Chapter 5 Elijah and the Sealing Power of
the Holy Priesthood
(1 Kings 17–2 Kings 2). . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Enrichment G Babylonia and the Conquest
of Judah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231
Enrichment C The Messianic Hope
in Ancient Israel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Chapter 6 Hearkening unto the Counsel of
God (2 Kings 3–13) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
Chapter 7 God Will Not Be Mocked (Joel) . . . . . . 83
Chapter 23 As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap
(Jeremiah 1–19) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235
Chapter 24 The Babylonian Captivity
(Jeremiah 20–22; 24–29; 32;
34–45; 52; Lamentations) . . . . . . . . . . . 245
Chapter 8 The Lord Reveals His Secrets to
His Servants the Prophets (Amos) . . . . 89
Chapter 25 Prophecies of a Latter-day
Gathering (Jeremiah 23; 30–31; 33;
46–51; Obadiah) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
Chapter 9 One Cannot Flee from One’s
Responsibilities (Jonah). . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
Enrichment H The Lasting Effects of the Fall
and Captivity of Judah . . . . . . . . . . . . 261
Chapter 10 The Ministry of Hosea: A Call to
Faithfulness (Hosea) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
Chapter 26 Ezekiel: Watchman of Israel
(Ezekiel 1–24) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265
Enrichment D The Assyrian Conquest and the
Lost Tribes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
Chapter 27 Prophecies of the Restoration
(Ezekiel 25–48) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279
Chapter 11 Promise of Judgments, Promise of
Salvation (Micah) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Enrichment I The Battle of Armageddon:
A Prophetic View . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 291
Chapter 12 The Fall of the Northern Kingdom
(2 Kings 14–20). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
Chapter 28 Daniel: Prophet of God,
Companion of Kings (Daniel). . . . . . . 297
Enrichment E Understanding Isaiah . . . . . . . . . . . 131
Enrichment J The Persian Empire, the Return
of the Jews, and the Diaspora . . . . . . . 311
Chapter 13 The Establishment of Zion
(Isaiah 1–12) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
Chapter 29 The Exiles Return (Ezra) . . . . . . . . . . . 319
Chapter 14 A Voice of Warning to the Wicked
(Isaiah 13–23) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
Chapter 30 Haggai: Prophet of the Second
Temple (Haggai) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325
Chapter 15 Prophecies of the Dispensation
of the Fulness of Times
(Isaiah 24–35) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161
Chapter 31 Esther: Queen of Persia and
Advocate for Her People (Esther) . . . 329
Enrichment F The World of Isaiah. . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
Chapter 32 Nehemiah: Builder of Walls and
Wills (Nehemiah) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 335
Chapter 33 Preparations for the Lord’s
Return in Glory (Zechariah) . . . . . . . . 341
Chapter 35 The Old Testament Closes. . . . . . . . . . 367
Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 372
Chapter 34 “Behold, I Will Send You Elijah the
Prophet” (Malachi) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 351
Author Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 375
Enrichment K Between the Testaments. . . . . . . . . 359
Scripture Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 384
Subject Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 406
Preface
The Importance of Studying the Old Testament
The Old Testament has greatly influenced many
people down through time. The roots of three of the
world’s great religions—Christianity, Islam, and
Judaism—have sprouted from the richness of its soil.
Except perhaps to those for whom the books were
originally written, these recorded messages are of
greater value to those living in the dispensation of the
fulness of times than to any other people. And they are
especially valuable to Latter-day Saints.
Some of the lessons and insights that make a careful
study of the Old Testament not only meaningful but
critical are—
1. The testimony of the existence of God.
2. The record of the beginnings of mankind as a
divine race placed on the earth for eternal purposes.
3. The importance of establishing a covenant
relationship with God.
4. The history and purpose of the establishment of
the elect lineage through which the priesthood would
be restored and the blessings of the gospel extended to
all in the last days.
5. The revelation of a divine law upon which civil
and criminal codes of many nations would be built.
6. The knowledge that God intervenes directly in
the lives of men and nations and that through Him
many are divinely led, directed, and protected.
7. The blessings of obedience to the laws of God
and faith in His name.
8. The consequences of disobedience and rebellion
against God and His laws.
9. The corruption that results from any form of
idolatry and the reasons for the commandments of the
Lord against it.
10. The need to live and endure throughout
mortality in obedience to God’s laws, even though
suffering and pain and persecution may come.
11. The way by which the Saints can escape the
corruptions and resulting judgments of the last days.
12. The promises of a literal gathering of Israel in
the last days and a time of restoration and redemption
for Israel.
13. The greatness and the dreadfulness of the day
when the Lord will come in His glory.
14. The testimony that the God of the Old
Testament is Jesus Christ and that He came to earth to
free us from death and make it possible for us to be
freed from sin and thus return to the presence of God
the Father.
The spiritual gems in the book were meant to be
enjoyed. The prophets whose words are recorded in
the Bible were anxious that their message be clear and
comprehensible. Through time, mistranslation, and
corruption, part of that clarity has been obscured.
Fortunately for Latter-day Saints, much of this clarity
has been restored by (1) inspired commentary of
modern prophets; (2) the guidance of the Holy Ghost;
and (3) the revelation of the fulness of the gospel in the
other standard works, including the Book of Mormon,
the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price,
and Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible.
Your Goal in Taking This Course
To Israel Moses declared, “Unto thee it was shewed,
that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there
is none else beside him” (Deuteronomy 4:35). This course
of study is designed to increase your opportunity to
come to know the God of the Old Testament in an
intimate, personal, and powerful way. He is our
Redeemer, and your goal in taking this course should
be to declare as did Job: “For I know that my redeemer
liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the
earth” (Job 19:25). In the pages of the Old Testament we
see the Lord, the premortal Jesus, working with our
Heavenly Father’s children to save them from various
perils. From these accounts we can learn much about
how to come unto Christ. Moses summed up the process
with these words: “If . . . thou shalt seek the Lord thy
God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy
heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). What
better guidance and greater goal could we seek?
Reaching This Goal Most Effectively
Through the prophet Jeremiah the Lord declared,
“My people have committed two evils; they have
forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed
them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold
no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). Cisterns, as sources of a
reserve water supply, were extremely important to
people in the arid lands of the Old Testament, for it
was on these that they relied to preserve themselves
during the dry seasons. Cisterns were carved out of
rock. They could only retain water; they could not
produce it. On occasion the rock would prove full of
fissures and be unable even to hold water. Using this
fact as a metaphor, the Lord brought two accusations
against Israel. The first was their lack of trust in Him.
Jehovah, as the spring of living water, could always be
relied upon, but ancient Israel hewed new cisterns for
themselves; that is, they turned to idolatrous sources
for security and spiritual life and power. Second, the
new cisterns could preserve the Spirit no better than
a fractured cistern could hold water. Thus, Israel was
like a people in a drought who ignore a living spring
that provides sufficient reserves and trust instead in
broken wells that provide nothing.
Each chapter in this manual is designed to help you
find the true source of living water—the Lord Jesus
Christ. Your study of the Old Testament is an
opportunity to come to know Him better.
Each lesson designates a part of the Old Testament
as a reading assignment. This assignment will be the
core of your study and should be read carefully for
each lesson.
v
The student manual for Religion 302 covers
approximately one-half of the Old Testament, from
1 Kings through Malachi except for Psalms. The rest
of the Old Testament is covered in the student manual
for Religion 301.
The course does not require you to read every
chapter of the second part of the Old Testament. After
you complete the parts assigned in the reading blocks,
however, you will have read the greater part of the
Old Testament and acquired the skills necessary to
understand the rest on your own. Combined with
sincere prayer, scripture study can become a source
of personal revelation and an avenue to increased
spiritual power in your daily life. It is the way to come
to the true spring that will quench your thirst, the one
cistern filled with living water.
Why a Student Manual?
Some parts of the ancient scriptures are not easily
understood by today’s readers. Even the Jews who
returned from exile (around 500 B.C.) needed assistance.
The Bible records that Ezra the scribe “caused the
people to understand the law. . . . So they [the scribes]
read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave
the sense, and caused [the people] to understand the
reading.” (Nehemiah 8:7–8.) Although their problem
was caused primarily by changes in their language,
the word of the Lord still needed some explaining.
So it is today. Corrupt texts, archaic language, and a
lack of understanding of the doctrinal, historical, or
geographical settings cause some of the difficulty in
reading and comprehending the Old Testament. For
these reasons this student manual provides the
following to assist you:
1. Background information to help you better
understand the Middle Eastern world in which the
prophets declared their messages.
2. Background information about Old Testament
prophets and important contemporary political figures.
3. Background information on many of the books in
the Old Testament.
4. Interpretive and prophetic commentary on many
of the most important passages and some of the
difficult passages.
5. A maps section, which identifies key geographical
places, some of the major activities of the prophets and
the Israelites, a time line for the events being studied,
and modern equivalents of ancient measurements.
How the Manual Is Organized
The twenty-eight chapters in the manual are organized
to correspond with the chronology of events in the Old
Testament. This organization does not strictly follow the
sequence of books as they appear in the Old Testament.
It is not possible to adhere exactly to the chronology
because several accounts overlap in the time periods
they cover, and sometimes several prophets ministered
at the same time in different areas. Also, the time of the
writing of some books is not known (Job and Proverbs,
for example). This manual does, however, basically
follow the chronology of the Old Testament.
Throughout the text you will find special enrichment
sections—eleven in all—that provide information to
help you better understand the chapters that follow
them.
vi
This manual should be used to help you organize
your study and get the most from your reading of the
scriptural passages. Each chapter includes:
1. A short introduction that sets the stage for the
scriptures you will read.
2. A reading assignment.
3. Notes and commentary that will help with
particularly difficult passages.
4. Points to ponder that call your attention to some
of the major lessons of the part of the Old Testament
you are studying and give you the opportunity to
thoughtfully consider how these lessons can be applied
in your life.
How to Use Your Student Manual
The basic text for this course is the Old Testament.
This student manual does not replace your reading of
the scriptures nor can it substitute for inspired guidance
of the Holy Ghost as you seek that guidance in humble
prayer. Here are some suggestions on how this manual
may be used most profitably:
1. Before reading the scriptures, study the maps to
get a feeling for the location of various lands, areas,
peoples, geographical features, and cities. Then,
throughout your study, refer to the maps as needed.
2. Read the reading assignment for each chapter.
The number of chapters you are asked to read for each
class period may vary according to your instructor’s
wishes and according to whether you are studying
on the semester, quarter, or individual-study system.
Whatever system you are on, however, you will read
most of the Old Testament from 1 Kings to Malachi.
3. Study the enrichment sections as you come to
them. You will find that understanding the history,
geography, or doctrine explained in these sections will
help you better understand the scriptures as you read
them.
4. Read Notes and Commentary on any passages
that are difficult to understand.
5. Complete the assignments in Points to Ponder as
directed by your instructor.
6. Use the indexes at the end of the manual to
locate a particular scripture, author, or subject.
Which Version of the Bible Should You Use in Your
Study of the Old Testament?
A large number of Bible translations are now in
existence. The King James Version, the translation
recommended for English-speaking Latter-day Saints,
has been spoken of many times by the Church leaders.
The following are examples of their counsel:
“None of these [other] translations surpasses the
King James Version of the English Bible in beauty of
language and spiritual connotation, and probably in
faithful adherence to the text available to translators.
It is this version which is used by the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints in all of its official work [in
the English language] both at home and abroad. The
literature of the Church refers invariably to the King
James translation. Other translations are used by the
Church only to help explain obscure passages in the
authorized version.” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and
Reconciliations, p. 120.)
“This King James or Authorized Version, ‘as far as it
is translated correctly,’ has been the version accepted
by this Church since it was organized” (J. Reuben Clark,
Jr., in Conference Report, Apr. 1954, p. 38).
“The Official Bible of our Church is the King James
version” (editorial, Church News, 14 Nov. 1970, p. 16).
In languages other than English, available versions
are acceptable, of course.
The official recommendation does not mean that
the King James Version is a perfect translation. Elder
James E. Talmage gave a reason why there is not a
perfect translation: “There will be, there can be, no
absolutely reliable translation . . . unless it be effected
through the gift of translation, as one of the endowments
of the Holy Ghost. The translator must have the spirit
of the prophet if he would render in another tongue
the prophet’s words; and human wisdom alone leads
not to that possession.” (The Articles of Faith, p. 237.)
Such an effort to translate the Bible scriptures by the
power of the Holy Ghost was begun by the Prophet
Joseph Smith at the command of the Lord (see D&C
45:60–61; 93:53). The status of the Joseph Smith
Translation in the Church today is as follows:
“The Inspired Version [as it is called by its publishers]
does not supplant the King James Version as the official
church version of the Bible, but the explanations and
changes made by the Prophet Joseph Smith provide
enlightenment and useful commentary on many
biblical passages.
“Part of the explanations and changes made by the
Prophet Joseph Smith were finally approved before his
death; and some of these have been cited in current
church instructional materials or may be cited in
future church instructional materials.
“Accordingly, these cited portions of the Inspired
Version may be used by church writers and teachers,
along with the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and
Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, in connection
with Biblical interpretations, applying always the
divine injunction that ‘whoso is enlightened by the
Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom.’ (D&C 91:5)
“When the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants,
and Pearl of Great Price offer information relative to
biblical interpretation, these should be given preference
in writing and teaching. But when these sources
of latter-day revelation do not provide significant
information which is available in the Inspired Version,
then this version may be used.” (Editorial, Church
News, 7 Dec. 1974, p. 16.)
References from the Joseph Smith Translation are
used throughout this manual for clarification of
particularly vague or faulty passages of the King
James Version.
In 1979 a new edition of the King James Version was
published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. It contains an extensive cross-referencing system
that includes latter-day and biblical scriptures, alternate
renderings of difficult passages, language insights to
certain Hebrew and Greek words, and many helpful
changes from the Joseph Smith Translation. It also has
an appendix, which includes a Topical Guide, a Bible
Dictionary, passages from the Joseph Smith Translation
too long to include in the footnotes, and a section of
maps. Similar Bible study helps have been added to
triple combinations in other languages since that time.
These are without question the finest collection of
study aids designed specifically for Latter-day Saints
ever provided with the scriptures. They will prove to
be an invaluable aid as you study the Old Testament.
A selection of cross-references and significant Joseph
Smith Translation changes are also included in this
manual.
Using the Internal References
Numerous works by biblical scholars have been
cited throughout the manual. Shortened references to
these works have been used in order to interrupt the
reading as little as possible. Complete reference
information has been given in the bibliography near
the end of the manual.
A special system of referencing was devised
for quotations taken from Commentary on the Old
Testament, by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch. The original
work was published in twenty-five books, but the
reprint edition quoted in this manual combines the
twenty-five books into a ten-book set. This organization
means that in some cases one book may have three
different pages with the same number. To minimize
confusion and to keep a shortened reference, a
three-number system was devised. Commentary, 3:2:51,
means that the reference is found on page 51 of the
second volume contained in book 3.
vii
Maps and Charts
Old Testament Canaan
Old Testament World
Old Testament Chronology Chart
The Empire of David and Solomon
The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
Empires in the Mediterranean World
Standards of Measurement
Jerusalem
Ancient Jewish Calendar
viii
Old Testament Canaan
5
0
10
10
15
20
20
25
30
30
40
Miles
50
Dan
Tyre
CIA
0
Kilometers
Kedesh
PHO
ENI
Scale
Hazor
Acco
J ez
C
t.
M
l
ho
ree Kis
el
a rm
Va
l
y
n
River
r
Ya
Endor
Shunem
Jezreel
Megiddo
Dor
Golan
Mt.
Tabor
le
Jokneam
BASHAN
Sea
of
Chinnereth
mu
iver
kR
Ramoth-gilead
Taanach
Beth-shan
Mt. Gilboa
ron
GREAT SEA
Plain
of Sh
a
Dothan
KINGDOM
OF
ISRAEL
Samaria
(Sebastia)
Jabesh-gilead
Tishbe
GILEAD
Tirzah
Mt. Ebal
Shechem
Mt. Gerizim
Jabbok Ri v e r
Succoth
N
Joppa
Na
ah
al
Ai
S
hal
Gezer
Lod
o
rek
N
Ashdod
A
IL
IS
al
TI
N ah
Ashkelon
PH
Gaza
Na
h
al
ah
Eglon
al
Shiloh
j a lo n
Ai
Mizpah
Aijalon
Kirjath-jearim
Penuel
Mizpah-gilead
Rabbah
Jericho
AMMON
Gibeon
Gibeah
Heshbon
Jerusalem
Bethlehem
Mt. Nebo
Cave of
Adullam
Medeba
Mareshah
Hebron
Debir
r
hal B e s o
Na
G e Gerar
rar
Bethel
Bethhoron
Ekron Beth-shemesh
Gath
Azekah
Ela
h
Socho
Tekoa
Lachish
La
ch
is h
J ordan R iver
Aphek
Ziklag
KINGDOM
En-gedi
OF
JUDAH
Salt Sea
Beersheba
MOAB
Dibon
Arnon River
Arad
Hormah
Zoar
Negev
Ascent of Akrabbim
Zered Riv
er
EDOM
© 2003 IRI
Old Testament
World
Scale
0
25
0
50
25 50
75
100
75 100 125 150 175
125 Miles
Kilometers
HITTITES
Tarsus
Carchemish
Haran
Padan-aram
KITTIM
(CYPRUS)
Hamath
Kedesh
Byblos
GREAT SEA
Sidon
Damascus
Tyre
Acco
Bashan
Megiddo
Shechem
Joppa
ti a
Alexandria
Zoan (Rameses)
Ph
r of E
i
Ammon
Jericho
Jerusalem
Moab
Hebron
Beersheba
pt
gy
Goshen
R i ve
lis
Gaza
Kadesh-barnea
Heliopolis (On)
Memphis (Noph)
Edom
le R
i ve r
Petra
Ni
Ezion-geber
EGYPT
Midian
Mt. Sinai
CUSH
(ETHIOPIA)
Red Sea
© 2003 IRI
Syria
Tadmor
Caspian Sea
Nineveh
ASSYRIA
MEDIA
Asshur
Ecbatana
rates Riv
er
Euph
r
Ti g
is
Ri
ver
BABYLONIA
ELAM
Babylon
Susa
PERSIA
Ur
Chaldea
(Persian Gulf)
Old Testament Chronology Chart
1000 B.C.
950
900 B.C.
850
800 B.C.
Bubasite (Libyan) Kings
21ST DYNASTY (TANITE)
Sheshonk
Psusennes I
Amenemope
Siamon
Osorkon I
Psusennes II
Theban Kings
Memphite
(Shishak)
Osorkon II
Takeloth
Osorkon II
Sheshonk II
Sheshonk III
Egypt solid yellow
UNITED ISRAEL
KINGDOM OF JUDAH
Amaziah
Joel
Sheshonk sacks Jerusalem and exacts
tribute from Rehoboam
Joash
Ath aliah
Ahaziah
Jehor am
David
Jehoshaphat
Nathan
Gad
Asa
Job
Abijam
Solomon
Rehoboam
Temple of
Solomon completed
KINGDOM OF ISRAEL
Jeroboam
Ahijah
Hiram of Tyre
Nadab
Baasha
Jehu
Shallum
Zechariah
Amos
Jonah
Elisha
Elah
Zimri
Tibni
Omri
Jeroboam II
Jehoash
Jehoahaz
Ahaziah
Ahab
Joram
Elijah
Founding of Samaria
by Omri
Jehu
Canaan solid orange
Ben-hadad II
Hadad of Zobah
Ben-hadad I
Hazael
Tabrimmo n
Hezion
Moabite stone
Rezon
Syria
[Jeroboam II:
Ben-hadad III
Aram dark solid violet
Damascus light solid violet
Ashurnasirp al II
Shalmaneser III
Jonah warns Nineveh
Battle of Qarqar
Mesopotamia
Assyria dark solid brown
Persia light solid brown
Babylon light diagonal brown lines Parthia light vertical brown lines
Homer
Founding of Carthage
Northern Mediterranean World
© IRI
Macedonia light solid green
Seleucids light diagonal green lines
Ptolemies light vertical green lines Rome dark solid green
First
Olympic
games
750
700 B.C.
Kings
650
600 B.C.
Ethiopian Kings
550
500 B.C.
Saite Kings
The Cushite,
Pianki (Piy),
strikes Memphis
Assyria sacks Thebes
Taharga
Shebitku (Shabatka)
Shabako (Shabaka)
Osorkon IV
Psammetichus I
(Tirhakah)
Tanweta mani (Tanutamen)
Cambyses
conquers and
occupies
Egypt
Necho II
Psa mmetichus II
Apries
(Hophra)
Amasis (Ahmose II)
Jeremiah taken captive to Egypt
Sheshonk IV
Psammetichus III
Obadiah
Zedekia h (Mattaniah)
Habakkuk
Jehoiachin (Many Jews exiled,
including Ezekiel)
Je hoiakim (Eliakim)
Zephaniah
Jehoahaz
Jeremiah
Lehi leaves
Josiah
Jerusalem
Amon
Uzziah (Azariah)
Isaiah
Jot ham
Micah
Ahaz
Hezekiah
Daniel
taken to
Babylon
Manasseh
Nahum
Menahem
Pekahiah
Peka h
Hosea
Hoshe a
THE JEWS RETURN
AS A PERSIAN
SATRAPY
Haggai
Zechariah
Zerubbabel
Rebuilding of the
temple begun
Temple
completed
Jeshua the high priest
(Rule passed to
high priests from
Zerubbabel to
Nehemiah)
Rezin
dominant influence]
Fall of
Damascus
to Tiglathpileser III
Battle of Carchemish
Tiglath- pileser III
Sh almaneser V
Sargon II
Esarhadd on
Sennacherib
Nineveh falls to Babylon
Zoroaster
Ashurbanipal
Nabopolassar
Cyr us
Nabonidus
Birth of Buddha
Cam byses
Belshazzar
Darius I
Ezekiel
Jehoiachin (King of Judah in captivity)
Darius the Mede
Daniel
Nebuchadnezzar
Confucius
Evil- merodach
Founding of Cyrene on African shore
Founding of Abydos
The founding
Pythagoras
Laws of Draco at Athens
founded a
of democracy
Solon’s (one of the seven
school at
Crotona
wise men) laws at Athens
Etruscan City States
Founding of Rome
Height of Etruscan culture
Forum founded and seven hills
connected with first pavement
Establishing of the
Roman Republic
Carthage conquers west Sicily
Foreign political influence in a nation is identified by a shading
or line pattern that matches the color of that influential nation.
Old Testament Chronology Chart
500 B.C.
450
400 B.C.
Darius I completes a canal between the Nile
and the Red Sea and codifies Egyptian law
350
Nile Delta freed from Persian
rule for a brief period under
Amitaios of Sais
Periods of revolt against Persian occupation with overtures to Greece
300 B.C.
250
Alexander defeats the Persians and is
greeted as a deliverer and a god
Euclidian
Founding of Library
mathematics
at Alexandria
Septuagint written
in Alexandria
Ptolemy II (Philadelphus)
Ptolemy I Soter
(Alexander’s general)
THE INTERTESTAMENTAL PERIOD
Alexander the Great sacks Tyre and enters
Jerusalem without the loss of blood
Ezra goes to Jerusalem (credited
with giving the Jews “the law”)
Nehemiah, the governor and cupbearer of
Artaxerxes I, rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem
Judea is annexed by Ptolemy I
Malachi
The Jewish high priest became
sometimes acting as
Seleucus I Nicator
(Alexander’s general)
Antiochus I Soter
Antiochus II
Darius’s excellent road system, legal reforms, and coinage make
Founding of Seleucia as
his empire one of the most successful in ancient times
Mesopotamian capital,
Alexander defeats Persians at Issus
replacing Babylon
Artabanus (Artaban) kills Xerxes I and
Dari us III Codomanus
gains
the
Egyptian
kingdom
for
seven
months
Arses
Alexander
dies
at
Babylon
Darius I
Xerxes I
(Ahasureus)
Artaxerxes III (Ochus)
Artaxerxes I
Artaxerxes II (Mnemon)
Arsaces, an Iranian nomad
Esther
Darius II (Nothus)
(Parni) chief, kills the Seleucid
governor and sets up the
kingdom of Parthia
Battle at Marathon
Parthenon at Athens completed
Birth of Euripides
Birth of Plato
Demosthenes
Socrates
Birth of Aristotle
Temple of Zeus at Olympia
Plato founds Academy
Cimon defeats
Hippocrates
Trial and death of Socrates
Persians
Golden age of Pericles
Hanno explores
west African coast
Dates represent a consensus and are best taken as approximate
(earlier dates may differ slightly in other chronologies).
Rome sacked by Gauls
Epicurus
Epicurus opens school in Athens
Philip unites
Euclid in Alexandria
Greece
Gauls invade
Aristotle opens the Lyceum
Macedonia
Colossus of Rhodes built
Beginning of Appian Way
First of the Punic Wars
200 B.C.
150
100 B.C.
50
A.D.1
Turbulent family rule—much Roman influence
Ptolemy IV
Ptolemy III (Euergetes)
Ptolemy V
(Philopator)
Ptolemy VI
(Epiphanes)
(Philometer)
Philo, a Jewish philosopher in Alexandria
Cleopatra VII ascends
the throne (consort to Caesar)
Egypt
Seleucids defeat Egyptian Ptolemies at
Paneas and annex Palestine and Phoenicia
Julius Caesar
visits Judea
Herod gains favor
with Rome
Mattathias inspires Jewish revolt
Ju das Maccabaeus
Jonathan Maccabaeus
Simon Maccabaeus
John Hyrcanus I
Greek
gymnasium
built in
Jerusalem
Aristobulus I
Alexander Jannaeus
Hyrca nus II
Aristobulus II
Pompey enters Jerusalem and establishes a Roman protectorate
a vassal to the political rulers,
a ruler of Judea
Herod’s temple begun
Founding of Tiberius
(named after a
Roman emperor)
Birth of Jesus Christ
Birth of John the Baptist
Herod the Great
Maccabees/Hasmonean family
General period of the Dead Sea Scrolls (to A.D. 70)
Canaan
(Theos)
Seleucus II
Antiochus III the Great
Seleucus III Soter
Antiochus V
Antioc hus IV Epiphanes
Seleu cus IV Demetri us I
Antiochus VII
The Seleucids became
the great Hellenizers
of the Middle East
Syria
Phraates I
Artabanus gains control of Mesopotamia
Mithradates II defeats
invading Sakas
Demetrius II
(Sacae Nomads)
captured at Babylon
Mithradates II
Arta banus
Tiridates
Mithradates I
(expanded the Parthian Empire)
Media captured from Seleucids by Parthians
Mark Antony
invades Parthia
Mesopotamia
Archimedes
Earthquake destroys Rhodes
Founding of Library at Pergamum
Macedonia becomes
Roman province
Rome defeats Antiochus III at Magnesia
Hannibal, a general of Carthage
Hannibal crosses the Alps
Third Punic War
Second
Sicily becomes Roman province
Births of Cicero and Pompey
Punic
Rome annexes Spain
War
Roman rule in Greece
Herod crowned at Rome
Octavian becomes Caesar Augustus
Caesar assassinated
Caesar conquers Gaul
Julius Caesar born
Caesar crosses the Rubicon
and civil war begins
Rome invades Germany
Birth of Vespasian
Northern Mediterranean World
The Empire of David and Solomon
Boundary of the empire at its greatest extent
Conquered territory of this period
Vassal territory subject to David and Solomon
0
20
20
40
40
60
60
80
80
100
Miles
up
E
Scale
0
120 Kilometers
Hamath
KITTIM
(CYPRUS)
Hamath
Arvad
Aram-Zobah
Gebal
GREAT SEA
Mt.
Hermon
Sidon
Damascus
Tyre
Aram-Damascus
Highw
a
y
Dan
Acco
Ki
Megiddo
n g ’s
Bethshan
Ashtaroth
Ramoth-gilead
Succoth
Rabbah
Jerusalem
Ph
i li
Azotus
ISRAEL
sti
ne
s
Joppa
Gaza
f
yo
Th e Wa
Riv
er o
f
th
e
eS
a
Hebron
MOAB
JUDAH
Aroer
Beersheba
Kir-hareseth
NEGEV
y
Eg
Bozrah
pt
EDOM
Petra (Sela)
Sinai
© 2003 IRI
AMMON
Medeba
hr a
t e s Riv
er
The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
5
0
10
10
15
20
20
25
30
30
40
Miles
50
Dan
Tyre
CIA
0
Kilometers
Kedesh
PHO
ENI
Scale
Hazor
Acco
J ez
C
t.
M
l
ho
ree Kis
el
a rm
Va
l
y
n
River
r
Ya
Endor
Shunem
Jezreel
Megiddo
Dor
Golan
Mt.
Tabor
le
Jokneam
BASHAN
Sea
of
Chinnereth
mu
iver
kR
Ramoth-gilead
Taanach
Beth-shan
Mt. Gilboa
ron
GREAT SEA
Plain
of Sh
a
Dothan
KINGDOM
OF
ISRAEL
Samaria
(Sebastia)
Jabesh-gilead
Tishbe
GILEAD
Tirzah
Mt. Ebal
Shechem
Mt. Gerizim
Jabbok Ri v e r
Succoth
N
Joppa
Na
ah
al
Ai
S
hal
Gezer
Lod
o
rek
N
Ashdod
A
IL
IS
al
TI
N ah
Ashkelon
PH
Gaza
Na
h
al
ah
Eglon
al
Shiloh
j a lo n
Ai
Mizpah
Aijalon
Kirjath-jearim
Penuel
Mizpah-gilead
Rabbah
Jericho
AMMON
Gibeon
Gibeah
Heshbon
Jerusalem
Bethlehem
Mt. Nebo
Cave of
Adullam
Medeba
Mareshah
Hebron
Debir
r
hal B e s o
Na
G e Gerar
rar
Bethel
Bethhoron
Ekron Beth-shemesh
Gath
Azekah
Ela
h
Socho
Tekoa
Lachish
La
ch
is h
J ordan R iver
Aphek
Ziklag
KINGDOM
En-gedi
OF
JUDAH
Salt Sea
Beersheba
MOAB
Dibon
Arnon River
Arad
Hormah
Zoar
Negev
Ascent of Akrabbim
Zered Riv
er
EDOM
© 2003 IRI
Empires in the Mediterranean World
ian
sp
Ca
Black Sea
a
Se
Athens
Nineveh
Crete
Mediterranean Sea
Cyprus
Babylon
Tyre
Jerusalem
n
ia
rs
Pe
Gu
ea
dS
Re
ASSYRIAN
EMPIRE
lf
Thebes (No)
Ethiopia
Ca
sp
ian
Black Sea
a
Se
Athens
Crete
Mediterranean Sea
Cyprus
Nineveh
Babylon
Tyre
Jerusalem
n
ia
rs
Pe
Ethiopia
© 2003 IRI
f
ea
dS
Re
BABYLONIAN
EMPIRE
ul
G
Thebes (No)
Crete
Nineveh
Cyprus
Mediterranean Sea
Tyre
Jerusalem
Mt
ns.
a
Se
Athens
ian
sp
Ca
Ca
uca
sus
Black Sea
Rome
Damascus
Babylon
Susa
r
Pe
rs
ive
ia
n
Thebes (No)
Gu
I
lf
ea
dS
Re
PERSIAN
EMPIRE
sR
u
nd
Sheba
Ethiopia
spi
Mt
ns.
an
Ca
uca
sus
Black Sea
Macedonia
Ca
Rome
Sea
KINGDOM OF SELEUCUS
Athens
Crete
Nineveh
Cyprus
Mediterranean Sea
Tyre
Damascus
Jerusalem
Babylon
Media
Susa
Alexandria
OF
r
ve
Pe
KINGDOM
rs
ia
n
s
du
Ri
In
Gu
lf
Thebes (No)
PTOLEMY
ea
dS
Re
GREEK
EMPIRE
Sheba
Ethiopia
© 2003 IRI
Standards of
Measurement
MEASURES OF WEIGHT
Although both David and Ezekiel attempted to standardize
weights, complete uniformity was never achieved. Some
unscrupulous people tried to turn this situation to their advantage
by possessing two sets of weights. To guard against unfairness,
10 gerahs
1 bekah
2 bekahs
1 shekel
individuals commonly carried their own weights with them in
a bag. The need for this practice brought strong rebukes from the
prophets because it was a symptom of the poor spiritual condition
of the Israelites.
50 shekels
1 shekel
(about 11 grams, or .39 ounces)
1 mina
60 minas
1 mina
(about 500 grams, or 17.5 ounces)
1 talent
1 talent
(about 30 kilograms, or 66 pounds)
LINEAR MEASURES
Small Measurements
1. The width of one finger is equal to two barleycorns laid
end to end, or about 3⁄4 of an inch (a barleycorn is the
smallest unit of measure).
2. The width of one palm is four fingers, about 3 3⁄16 inches.
3. One span is three palms, about 9 inches.
4. One cubit is two spans, or six palms, or about 17 1⁄2
inches. An Egyptian cubit was about 20 1⁄2 inches; a short
cubit was five palms.
Large Measurements
1. A fathom is about 1 1⁄2 feet (a Greek unit).
2. A reed is about 9 1⁄2 feet.
3. A furlong is 607 3⁄4 feet (a Greek unit).
4. A mile is 1,618 yards (a Roman unit).
5. A Sabbath day’s journey is 2,000 cubits.
6. One day’s journey was about 30 miles (among the Jews).
3
1
2
4
© IRI
The relationship between measures used anciently and measures used today is
approximate and may vary from source to source.
MEASURES OF VALUE
Hebrew System (Old Testament)
The silver measures of value were the same as the weights in
the chart on measures of weight. Initially, these weights were
the means of exchange, but gradually coins came into
common use.
1 shekel
1 bekah
1 mina
10 gerah
2 bekahs
50 shekels
1 talent
60 minas
Roman System (New Testament)
1 assarion
1 quadran
(farthing)
2 leptons
10 assarions
1 denarius
(a denarius bore the image
of the Roman emperor)
4 quadrans
(mites = 0.2 of a cent)
MEASURES OF VOLUME
Liquid
1 log = 4 auphauks
1 hin = 12 logs
1 seah = 2 hins
1 bath = 3 seahs
1 homer = 10 baths = 1 donkey load
(also called a cor)
Auphauk Log
6 cubic
inches
About
0.5 pint
Hin
Seah
Bath
About 1 gallon
About 2 gallons
About 5.8 gallons
Homer About 58 gallons
Dry
1 seah = 6 cabs
1 ephah = 3 seahs = 10 omers = 1 bath
1 homer = 10 ephahs, or about 6.2 bushels (also called a cor)
Note: The omer, the ephah, and the cor (or homer) form a decimal
scale of measurement
Cab
Omer
Ephah (bath)
1.1 quart
About 2.5 quarts
About 25 quarts
1 talent of gold =
20 talents of silver
(same weight)
Cor (homer)
Jerusalem
MOUNT OF OLIVES
MOUNT OF OFFENSE
K I D RON
V A L LE
Y
Gihon
Spring
MOUNT MORIAH
(Threshing
floor of
Araunah)
Millo
O
Solomon’s PH
EL
Temple*
Solomon’s Tunnel, or Siloam Channel (Aqueduct)
King’s Dale
King’s Pool (Lower, or Old Pool)
Palace
Fish Gate
NO M
H IN
CITY
Fountain Gate
OF DAVID
En-rogel
RAL
T
N
Pool
Spring
E
VA
E C
of Siloam
LLEY
Valley
Gate
H
T
Hezekiah’s
THE
Tunnel
MACHTESH
THE MISHNEH
Tomb of
the Kings
O F
E
Solomon’s
Quarries
L L
E Y
Jerusalem from
David to Hezekiah
V
A
David’s City: 12–13 Acres
Population: 2,400
Solomon’s City: 32 Acres
Population: 5,000
Hezekiah’s City: 125 Acres
Population: 25,000
David’s City Walls
Solomon’s Extension
Successive Extensions
*Exact temple location on the
Temple Mount is unknown
MOUNT OF OLIVES
MOUNT OF OFFENSE
K I D RON
V A L LE
Y
Gihon Spring
Horse Gate
Tower of Meah
Hezekiah’s Tunnel
The Corner
MOUNT MORIAH O
PH
Temple of
Zerubbabel*
Tower of Hananeel
Broad Wall
Corner
Gate
Fish Gate
Fountains or Openings in
Solomon’s Tunnel
EL
Water Gate
Fountain Gate
Dung Gate
Valley
Gate
Gymnasium
TY
R OP
OE A N VA L L
En-rogel
Spring
EY
NO M
H IN
Sheep
Gate
THE MISHNEH
L L
E Y
O F
Hasmonean
Palace
E
Nehemiah’s City: 30 Acres
Population: 4,500
© 2003 IRI
V
A
Jerusalem after the
Babylonian Exile
*Exact temple location on the
Temple Mount is unknown
Nehemiah’s Walls
Successive Extension
Hasmonean Addition
Jerusalem
MOUNT OF OLIVES
MOUNT SCOPUS
MOUNT OF OFFENSE
Garden of Gethsemane
Road to Bethany
K I D R O N VA
L
CITY OF DAVID
TY
Antonia
Fortress
Wilson’s
Arch
R OP
Robinson’s
Arch
Golgotha
OE A N VA L
Pool of Siloam
LEY
LOWER CITY
Hasmonean
Palace
Garden
Tomb
H
NOM ( GE
Y
A
Theatre
Upper Agora
Tower’s
Pool
UPPER CITY
HIN
E
F
TH
Hezekiah’s Tunnel
MOUNT ZION
He rod’s Pa lace
Palace of
the High Priest
Aqueduct
LL
EY
Jerusalem at the
Time of Christ
OF
E
Area: 230 Acres
Population: About 40,000
MOUNT
SCOPUS
BYU
Jerusalem
Center
Serpent’s
A
Pool
V
*Exact temple location on the
Temple Mount is unknown
MOUNT OF OLIVES
Orson Hyde
Park
MOUNT OF OFFENSE
Garden of Gethsemane
K I D RON
Stephen’s,
or Lion’s, Gate
V A L LE
Y
Golden Gate
MOUNT MORIAH
(Temple Mount)
Pool of Bethesda
Dome of
the Rock
Steps to
Herod’s Temple
Ophel
Archaeological
Garden
AlAqsa
Mosque
Western
Wall
Herod’s Gate
Dung
Gate
OF D
AVID
Ancient Wall
Remains
Pool of Siloam
Hezekiah’s
Tunnel
Old City Wall
Golgotha
Ancient Wall
Remains
O F
Garden
Tomb
C I TY
Gihon Spring
NO M
H IN
L
A
V
L
O
B
E
EZ
Gihon Spring
OP
HE
L
ENNA)
Herod’s
Temple*
Pool of Bethesda
Royal
Portico
TEMPLE
MOUNT
Y
Pool of Israel
Sheep Market
L
E
Po rti co
So lo m on ’s
Damascus Gate
L L
E Y
Zion’s Gate
Old City Area: About 215 Acres
Metropolitan Jerusalem Population: 655,000
V
Jaffa Gate
New Gate
E
Ancient Landmarks in
Modern Jerusalem
A
E
T
H
© 2003 IRI
Ancient
Jewish Calendar
14th: Passover (see Exodus 12:18; Leviticus 23:5)
15th–21st: Unleavened bread (see Leviticus 23:6)
21st: Firstfruits (see Leviticus 23:10–21)
14th/15th: Purim (see Esther 9:26–28)
Spring equ
Spring
mm
er
Wi
nt
Barley
harvest
Flax harvest
Su
er
Latter rains
Flax pulling
Citrus fruit
harvest
inox
Almonds
blossom
Spring growth
begins
Barley harvest
(see Ruth 1:22)
ary
Ada
Nisa
r
n
Ap
Dry season
begins
ril
uz
Bu
l
O
be
r
Tis
h
ri
Elul
September
Au
gu
st
Vintage begins
Olive, grape,
and fig harvest
ll
Former rains
Plowing and
sowing
Fall e
quinox
Dates and
summer figs,
vegetable, and
olive harvest
Fall begi
on
eas
ts
Fa
General vintage
(see Isaiah 32:10)
Ho
cto
eat
y
Jul
an
Rice harvest
Winter wheat
planting
1st: Ripe grapes
(see Numbers 13:20)
Hot season
(see Isaiah 18:4)
Ab
esv
er
Eth
anim
rch
mb
Ma
Nove
Tam
m
6
6th: Pentecost (see
Leviticus 23:15) or
Feast of Weeks, or
wheat harvest of
the first fruits
Summer h
She
ary
Tebeth
Winter
Janu
5
7
Summer
3
4
June
8
Winter wheat
harvest
Early figs ripen
Sivan
2
11
10
9
May
12 1
Chislev
Winter planting
ar
*
Z iv
Rains (snow on
high ground)
(see Ezra 10:9)
December
s
Winter begin
25th: Feast of
Dedication or
Festival of Lights
(see John 10:22)
Abib
Iyy
ba
t
Fe
M arch
u
br
14th: Later Passover
(see Numbers 9:10–11)
ns
1st: New Year/Feast of Trumpets or New Moon
(see Numbers 29:1; Leviticus 23:23–25)
Pre-exilic name
Biblical references: Exodus 13:4; 23:15; 34:18;
Deuteronomy 16:1 (Abib); 1 Kings 6:1, 37 (Ziv);
1 Kings 8:2 (Ethanim); 1 Kings 6:38 (Bul)
Post-exilic name
Biblical references: Esther 3:7; Nehemiah 2:1 (Nisan);
Esther 8:9 (Sivan); Nehemiah 6:15 (Elul); Nehemiah 1:1
(Chislev); Esther 2:16 (Tebeth); Zechariah 1:7 (Shebat);
Esther 3:7 (Adar)
*Abib was the name of the first month of the year
© IRI
10th: Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16:29–30;
Leviticus 23:27–33)
15th–21st: Feast of Tabernacles/Booths (see Leviticus 23:34–36;
Nehemiah 8)
22nd: Solemn assembly (see Leviticus 23:36)
• Some of the most important
of the festivals are connected
with the Sabbath: the weekly
Sabbath itself; the new moon;
the sabbatical year (every
seventh year); the year of
jubilee (every fiftieth year)
The Empire of David and Solomon
E
up
HAMATH
ARAM
ZOBAH
The Great Sea
Mt.
Hermon
Sidon
Tyre
Dan
ARAM
DAMASCUS
Mt. Caramel
Gerar
PH
Gebeah
Jericho
Jerusalem
AMMON
Beth-shemesh
Hebron
Lachish
Salt
MOAB
Ziklag
Sea
Ashdod
Ashkelon
Gaza
THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL
I LI
ST
Joppa
IA
Megiddo
BethMt. Gilboa
Ramoth-gilead
shan
Shechem
Succoth
Beersheba
Riv
er o
f
y
Eg
pt
Kadesh-barnea
AR
A BA
H
EDOM
Red Sea
hr a
t e s Riv
er
1 Kings 1–11
1
Solomon: Man of
Wisdom, Man of
Foolishness
(1-1) Introduction
Many kings ascended the throne of Israel from the
time of Saul to the dissolution of both the Northern
Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. None of these
kings, however, obtained the power and prestige
that Solomon did. Nearly a thousand years before
Solomon, Abraham had been promised that his seed
would receive the land of Canaan for their inheritance,
including territory as far north as the Euphrates River
(see Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 15:18). But not until Solomon’s
time was this promise fully realized. Solomon extended
the domain of Israel from the Red Sea on the south
to the Euphrates River on the north (see Maps, “The
Empires of David and Solomon”). The golden age of
Israel, started under King David, continued under
Solomon. During the forty years that Solomon ruled as
king of Israel, there was peace and unity throughout
his vast domain.
At the beginning of his reign, Solomon loved the God
of Israel and covenanted with God that he would walk
in obedience throughout his administration as king of
Israel. Solomon was promised wisdom, riches, honor,
and long life if he would continue in righteousness
before the Lord. The promise was fulfilled. During his
life, Solomon became famous for his wisdom. Great
men and women from many nations came to hear him
and test his understanding and knowledge. Solomon
also acquired great wealth, and there were said to be
no kings in all the earth who could compare to him.
Under Solomon’s reign Israel reached her greatest
point as a nation—honor, wealth, power, and respect
were hers because of the administration of her greatest
king.
Nevertheless, at the end of Solomon’s reign, Israel
became temporally and spiritually bankrupt.
Deterioration and strife were everywhere. Within a
year of Solomon’s death, the land was divided into
two kingdoms, and the course of Israel’s history was
permanently altered. What actions or events led the
nation from such heights to such depths? You will find
the answers in the first book of Kings. As you read, try
to identify the events that brought about the decline of
Israel.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study 1 Kings 1–11. See also
1 Chronicles 22–23; 28–29; 2 Chronicles 1–9 for a
parallel account.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
1 KINGS 1–11
(1-2) 1 Kings 1. How Could Adonijah and Solomon
Both Have Claim to the Throne of Israel?
According to the customs of succession, Adonijah
could well have been the heir to the throne of David.
Adonijah was the fourth son of David (see 2 Samuel 3:4).
Two of his older brothers, Amnon and Absalom, were
already dead, and a third, Chileab, is not mentioned
in the text except for the account of his birth.
David’s old age and feeble condition (see
1 Kings 1:1–4) evidently convinced Adonijah that it
was time to show the people that he was the successor
to the throne. His actions were thus designed to
convince the people of his right and to create a base
of popular support that would consolidate his position.
He set up a royal processional (see v. 5); sought the
support of important people, including Joab, the
commander of the military, Abiathar, the high priest,
the other princes of the court, and David’s personal
staff (see vv. 7, 9); and prepared a great feast (see v. 9).
He deliberately excluded those loyal to Solomon as the
successor, including Zadok, another important priest;
Benaiah, one of the military commanders (perhaps
second in command to Joab); the “mighty men” (v. 8),
who were probably David’s personal body guards;
and the prophet Nathan.
Adonijah’s plan was thwarted, however, when
Nathan heard what Adonijah was doing and reported
it to Bath-sheba, Solomon’s mother. His warning to her
that her life as well as Solomon’s life was in danger
(see v. 12) illustrates one of the problems with a
monarchical system of government. Because of the
competition that typically existed in the royal family
itself, the new king often assassinated all his brothers
and other possible heirs who might pose any threat to
his rule.
Moving swiftly, Bath-sheba and Nathan joined
together (see v. 11) to bring Adonijah’s manipulations
to the attention of King David. When David learned
that Adonijah sought to take the throne, he quickly
appointed Solomon as co-regent. They ruled together
until David died.
Although only twenty years of age, Solomon, like
David and Saul before him, was anointed to his
kingship by a rightful priest and by the prophet (see
vv. 34, 39). To clearly show the people that Solomon
was David’s choice and the Lord’s, David commanded
that the inauguration of his co-regent take place
immediately. He commanded that Solomon be placed
on his (David’s) mule to ride in procession to Gihon in
the traditional way that a king made his triumphal
1
entry into a city (see J. R. Dummelow, ed., A Commentary
on the Holy Bible, p. 693; compare with Jesus’ triumphal
entry into Jerusalem recorded in Matthew 21:1–11).
The people responded joyously and accepted Solomon
as their new king (see 1 Kings 1:39–40).
Thus, in one quick and decisive move, David cut off
Adonijah’s attempts to usurp the throne, and Solomon
was established as king. One can easily imagine why
those at Adonijah’s feast were struck with fear and
hastened to desert Adonijah’s presence. They were
caught in the midst of what bordered on treason against
the new king, and they were anxious to disassociate
themselves from Adonijah.
Now it was Adonijah’s life that was in danger. Not
only was he a potential rival to the throne, but he had
been obviously making an open effort to preempt
Solomon’s claim. So, as soon as he learned of the
enthroning of Solomon, Adonijah fled not to his home,
but immediately to the heights of Mount Moriah just
above the city of David. Here an altar of sacrifice had
been set up by David. The horns of the altar of sacrifice
were considered a sanctuary where a person could cling
until his case was investigated and tried (see Exodus
21:13–14). There Adonijah waited, hoping for some
indication of Solomon’s clemency toward him, which
was granted (see 1 Kings 1:50–55; see also Old Testament
Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel [religion 301, 2003],
pp. 167, 268 for a detailed explanation of why the
horns of the altar were seen as a place of refuge).
(1-3) 1 Kings 1:38. Who Were the Cherethites and the
Pelethites?
The Cherethites were “a people who were settled
alongside the Philistines in southern Palestine [see
1 Samuel 30:14; Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5]. In the
reign of David they formed, with the Pelethites, his
private bodyguard under the command of Benaiah the
son of Jehoida [see 2 Samuel 8:18; 20:23; 1 Chronicles
18:17]. They remained loyal to him through the rebellions
of Absalom [see 2 Samuel 15:18] and Sheba [see 2 Samuel
20:7], and were present when Solomon was anointed
for kingship [see 1 Kings 1:38, 44].” (J. D. Douglas, ed.,
The New Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Cherethites.”)
(1-4) 1 Kings 2:1–9. David’s Final Instructions to His
Son Solomon
David charged his son to keep all the commandments
of God, to study the law, and to exercise righteous
judgment upon the people. Solomon was also instructed
concerning some of David’s enemies as well as some
of his friends.
First Kings does not record the large assemblage of
government administrators and military commanders
that David called together when he sensed that his death
was near; however, the historic gathering is recorded in
1 Chronicles 28:1–29:24. At this conference David
performed four great services: (1) he gained the support
of the people for the completion of the temple; (2) he
presented a vast treasure for the temple; (3) he publicly
turned over to Solomon the plans for the temple and
disclosed that they had been given to him by divine
revelation; and (4) he succeeded in having Solomon
crowned and anointed a second time when the people
of every tribe were officially represented and could
declare their loyalty.
2
The traditional tomb of David, king of Israel
(1-5) 1 Kings 2:2–3. “Be Thou Strong . . . Shew
Thyself a Man”
This plea for manhood and strength is a familiar
Old Testament theme. It was Moses’ last counsel to
Joshua (see Deuteronomy 31:6–7, 23). The Lord gave
Joshua the same encouragement (see Joshua 1:5–9).
This advice was given to Solomon repeatedly. The
courage to obey the law was just as much a part of the
plea as to have physical courage.
(1-6) 1 Kings 2:5–6. Why Didn’t David Punish Joab
Sooner?
Joab, out of jealousy and fear of losing his position
as commander of the armies of Israel, had murdered
Abner (see 2 Samuel 3:27) and Amasa (see 2 Samuel
20:10).
Commentators have noted that “David ought to
have punished these two crimes; but when Abner was
murdered, he felt himself too weak to visit a man like
Joab with the punishment he deserved, as he had only
just been anointed king, and consequently he did
nothing more than invoke divine retribution upon his
head [see 2 Samuel 3:29]. And when Amasa was slain,
the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba had crippled the
power of David too much, for him to visit the deed
with the punishment that was due. But as king of the
nation of God, it was not right for him to allow such
crimes to pass unpunished: he therefore transferred
the punishment, for which he had wanted the requisite
power, to his son and successor. . . . ‘Do according to
thy wisdom (“mark the proper opportunity of punishing
him”—Seb. Schmidt), and let not his grey hair go
down into hell (the region of the dead) in peace (i.e.
unpunished)’ [1 Kings 1:6]. The punishment of so
powerful a man as Joab the commander-in-chief was,
required great wisdom, to avoid occasioning a rebellion
in the army, which was devoted to him.” (C. F. Keil
and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament,
3:1:29.)
(1-7) 1 Kings 2:7–8. Who Were Barzillai and Shimei?
Barzillai and Shimei both lived at Mahanaim. Shimei,
instead of showing kindness to David when he fled
from Absalom, threw rocks at him and cursed him (see
2 Samuel 16:5–11). Barzillai, however, showed great
kindness to David and those who had fled with him by
providing them with food and clothing. David asked
Solomon to provide for the family of Barzillai as a
payment for his kindness (see 2 Samuel 17:27–29;
19:31–38).
(1-8) 1 Kings 2:17–22. Why Was Solomon Upset by
Adonijah’s Request?
“Amongst Eastern nations the wives and
concubines of a deceased or dethroned king were
taken by his successor [see 2 Samuel 12:8; 16:21–22];
and so Adonijah’s request for Abishag was regarded
as tantamount to a claim on the throne” (Dummelow,
Commentary, p. 212).
Solomon knew and understood this law, as 1 Kings
2:22 makes clear. At first it may seem puzzling that
Bath-sheba would take Adonijah’s request to Solomon
since she almost certainly knew and understood this
law. Perhaps she, knowing how Solomon would react,
recognized an opportunity to rid Solomon of the threat
that Adonijah continued to be to the throne of Israel.
Solomon did react quickly, for this was the second time
Adonijah had attempted to take the throne by subtlety.
(1-9) 1 Kings 2:23. Adonijah Had Spoken “against His
Own Life”
Solomon meant that Adonijah’s request was either
treason or a plan to commit treason and was therefore
worthy of death. (Note 1 Kings 2:15, which records
that Adonijah knew that the Lord had given the throne
to Solomon.)
(1-10) 1 Kings 2:26–36. Were Abiathar and Joab Still
Conspiring against Solomon?
Abiathar and Joab were still conspiring to put
Adonijah on the throne (see 1 Kings 2:22). Solomon
banished Abiathar from Jerusalem and took from him
the office of high priest in Israel. Abiathar was a greatgrandson of Eli, who was both priest and judge in Israel,
and the last of his descendants to hold a priestly office.
This punishment and restriction of Abiathar fulfilled the
prophecy announced to Eli by the Lord (see 1 Samuel
2:31–36).
Abiathar probably escaped with the punishment of
exile only because Solomon was reluctant to execute a
high priest. Joab, however, was a much more dangerous
enemy because he had commanded the army. There
was no question concerning Joab’s guilt. Because of
the murders he had committed, he was indeed worthy
of death (see Exodus 21:12–14). Thus, he had no right
to claim the sanctuary of the altar, and Solomon was
not obligated to honor his claim to sanctuary.
(1-11) 1 Kings 2:35. Benaiah
Benaiah succeeded Joab as captain of the host, the
top military position in the kingdom under the king.
(1-12) 1 Kings 2:36–44. The Punishment of Shimei
Continuing to follow the final counsel of his
father (see Notes and Commentary on 1 Kings 2:7–8),
Solomon now undertook to punish Shimei. At first this
punishment may seem vindictive on David’s part and
cruel for Solomon to follow through with it, since all
Shimei had done was to curse David and throw rocks
at him (see 2 Samuel 16:5–11). At that time, however,
David’s kingdom was rent by civil war. Shimei’s
action was therefore equivalent to treason against the
government.
There may have been an additional reason for David’s
counsel to Solomon. Shimei was from Bahurim, which
was a short distance east of Jerusalem. The Ammonites
and Moabites who lived across the River Jordan were
traditional enemies of Israel. To have a known enemy
of the crown in a city where the Ammonites and
Moabites could easily go to conspire with him would
have provided future opportunity for treason. This
situation may explain David’s counsel.
Solomon’s treatment of Shimei was just and tolerant.
He could have had Shimei executed by royal order.
Instead, Solomon brought him to Jerusalem and made
him swear on oath that he would not cross the Brook
Kidron, the eastern boundary of Jerusalem. This
restriction lends further support to the idea that
Solomon did not want Shimei collaborating with
the eastern enemies of Israel.
Three years later, because Shimei violated his oath,
Solomon had him executed. Keil and Delitzsch noted
that “this punishment was also just. As Solomon had
put Shimei’s life in his own hand by imposing upon
him confinement in Jerusalem, and Shimei had promised
on oath to obey the king’s command, the breach of his
oath was a crime for which he had no excuse. There is
no force at all in the excuses which some commentators
adduce in his favour, founded upon the money which
his slaves had cost him, and the wish to recover
possession of them, which was a right one in itself.
If Shimei had wished to remain faithful to his oath,
he might have informed the king of the flight of his
slaves, have entreated the king that they might be
brought back, and have awaited the king’s decision;
but he had no right thus lightly to break the promise
given on oath. By the breach of his oath he had
forfeited his life. And this is the first thing with which
Solomon charges him, without his being able to offer
any excuse; and it is not till afterwards that he adduces
as a second fact in confirmation of the justice of his
procedure, the wickedness that he practised towards
his father.” (Commentary, 3:1:27.)
(1-13) 1 Kings 2:46. Why Was Benaiah the
Executioner?
The army was also the police power. Therefore, by
virtue of his office as captain of the host, executions
were Benaiah’s responsibility. If he were sent, the job
was sure to be done.
3
As long as Israel remained free and under the Lord’s
direct influence, they did not have prisons. Criminals
were punished by death for specified crimes.
Otherwise, they were required to make restitution to
the person harmed. Sometimes they were placed
under house arrest on their own honor, as was Shimei,
or they were banished.
(1-14) 1 Kings 3:1. Why Did Solomon Take a Daughter
of the Pharaoh to Wife?
Early in his reign Solomon elected to marry the
daughter of the Egyptian pharaoh. Since Israel had
imposed its sovereignty throughout the region,
Solomon apparently considered it important to
neutralize any hostility on the part of Egypt, for Egypt
had been accustomed to using Canaan as a base for
military operations. Marriages between royal families
were often politically motivated; such a marriage was
a way of signing a treaty between two countries.
Nevertheless, the marriage of Solomon to the daughter
of the pharaoh showed a lack of faith in the Lord, who
had promised to defend Israel and fight her battles (see
Deuteronomy 20:4; Joshua 23:10). Later, this marriage
and other marriages to foreign wives proved to be a
major factor in the downfall of Israel, for Solomon
began worshiping the false gods of these other nations
and was condemned by the Lord (see 1 Kings 11:1–9).
(1-15) 1 Kings 3:4. Why Did Solomon Go to Gibeon to
Offer Sacrifice?
The tabernacle built by Moses was at this time
located in Gibeon along with the great altar upon
which sacrifices had been offered since the days of
Moses. That is why Solomon went to Gibeon to offer
sacrifices (see 1 Chronicles 21:29; 2 Chronicles 1:2–3).
(1-16) 1 Kings 3:5–28. What Was Important about
Solomon’s First Heavenly Vision?
Solomon approached the Lord as a humble, obedient
servant, and he was rewarded for his meekness with a
wise and understanding heart. Perhaps no other
person was ever given a greater gift of wisdom.
Solomon was charged to keep the Lord’s commandments
and statutes so that the Lord might lengthen his days
as king.
(1-17) 1 Kings 3:14. Why Did the Lord Praise David’s
Righteousness When He Had Violated the Law of
Chastity and Had Caused Uriah’s Murder?
There are numerous places in the historical books
where David is held up as an example of one who
was pleasing in God’s sight. The Prophet Joseph Smith
corrected each of those references to show that David
was being used by the Lord as an example of what
David’s successors should not do. For example, in the
Joseph Smith Translation 1 Kings 3:14 reads: “And if
thou wilt walk in my ways to keep my statutes, and
my commandments, then I will lengthen thy days, and
thou shalt not walk in unrighteousness, as did thy father
David.”
In the King James Version, 1 Kings 11:4 records that
Solomon’s heart “was not perfect with the Lord his God,
as was the heart of David his father.” The Prophet
corrected the passage to read that Solomon’s heart “was
not perfect with the Lord his God, and it became as
the heart of David his father” (JST, 1 Kings 11:4; see
also 1 Kings 11:6, 33–34, 38–39; 14:8; 15:3, 5, 11;
compare JST).
Solomon’s prayer for an “understanding heart”
(1 Kings 3:9) was surely granted, as the incident of the
two harlots demonstrates. The brilliance of Solomon’s
strategy is seen when one reflects that the woman who
was willing to give up the baby rather than see it
killed would be the best mother to the child, whether
she was the natural mother or not.
(1-18) 1 Kings 4:1–25. How Did Solomon Organize the
Government to Give Himself Greater Control over
the Kingdom?
Cisterns at Gideon, traditional site of a winepress
4
“Upon his accession to the throne, Solomon made
the first of several administrative changes: he created
three new offices in his cabinet. David had governed
his new empire almost single-handedly, needing only
a commanding general, a chief scribe and a few
secretaries. To this basic staff Solomon added Ahishar,
who ‘was in charge of the palace.’ He would serve as
prime minister, second only to Solomon in power.
Adoniram was named the chief of forced labor—for
Solomon had a tremendous building program in mind
and no way to begin it without a steady supply of
workers. Adoniram would supervise both foreign slave
laborers (the descendants of those people who had
survived the Israelite Conquest) and a newly organized,
conscripted labor force of Israelites, who served one
out of every three months. In addition, ‘Azariah the
son of Nathan was over the officers [provincial
governors]’ of the 12 districts of Israel.
“Up to now the government of Israel, even under
Saul and David, had never been controlled by an
‘administration’ as we know it, but rather by a
patriarchal or charismatic leader who ruled largely
by personal magnetism and inspiration from the Lord.
Such leadership had been necessary to unite the 12
independent and often quarrelsome tribes during the
military conquest of Canaan. But now Israel was at
peace and her territory was greatly enlarged. The nation
sorely needed a more efficient method of government.
So Solomon divided Israel into 12 administrative
districts, all comparatively equal in population and
resources. To accommodate the new territory, the
arbitrary divisions ignored the old tribal boundaries,
and for all practical purposes the tribal distinctions were
abandoned except for temple duties and genealogies.
“Solomon assigned one officer to head each district;
all of them were responsible to Azariah. The 12 officers
were in charge of raising provisions for the king’s
household—each district supplied food for one month
of every year. The officers in turn imposed the burden
of providing food on the farmers and shepherds, and
quite a burden it was. The provision needed for one day
by Solomon’s court ‘was thirty cors [188 bushels] of
fine flour, and sixty cors [about 370 bushels] of meal,
ten fat oxen, and twenty pasture-fed cattle, a hundred
sheep, besides harts, gazelles [fallow deer], roebucks,
and fatted fowl . . . And those offices . . . let nothing be
lacking. Barley also and straw for the horses and swift
steeds they brought to the place where it was required,
each according to his charge.’ And this was only part
of the taxation.” (Great People of the Bible and How They
Lived, pp. 186–88.)
Such taxation fulfilled the words of the prophet
Samuel, who many years before had warned Israel
what would happen if they chose to have a king rule
over them (see 1 Samuel 8:11–20).
(1-19) 1 Kings 4:21. The Extent of Solomon’s Kingdom
“The meaning of this verse appears to be, that
Solomon reigned over all the provinces from the river
Euphrates to the land of the Philistines, even to the
frontiers of Egypt. The Euphrates was on the east of
Solomon’s dominions; the Philistines were westward
on the Mediterranean sea; and Egypt was on the south.
Solomon had, therefore, as tributaries, the kingdoms of
Syria, Damascus, Moab, and Ammon, which lay between
the Euphrates and the Mediterranean.” (Adam Clarke,
The Holy Bible . . . with a Commentary and Critical Notes,
2:398.)
(1-22) 1 Kings 5. How Did Solomon Use Hiram’s
Services in Building the Temple?
The prophet Nathan instructed David that one of his
children would build a temple unto God (see 2 Samuel
7:12). So, David spent much time and energy in
gathering materials for the temple. When Solomon
came to the throne, one of the first things he did was
direct his attention to building the temple. In order to
make the building as beautiful as possible, Solomon
employed the services of King Hiram of Tyre: “Solomon
had depended on the skill of Hiram’s Phoenician
architects and laborers, as well as precious Lebanon
cedar, to construct the most impressive buildings in
Jerusalem—the temple and the royal buildings for
government. From almost the beginning of Solomon’s
reign,’ . . . Hiram supplied Solomon with all the timber
of cedar and cypress that he desired, while Solomon
gave Hiram twenty thousand cors [125,000 bushels] of
wheat as food for his household, and twenty thousand
cors [over a million gallons] of beaten oil. Solomon
gave this to Hiram year by year,’ on an installment
plan.” (Great People of the Bible, p. 190.)
(1-23) 1 Kings 5:13. Conscription of Israel
Compare with 1 Samuel 8:11–18.
(1-24) 1 Kings 6. How Did Solomon Learn How the
Temple Should Be Built?
Although David received some revelation about the
building of the temple (see 1 Kings 6:30–33), apparently
Solomon received even more. President Brigham
Young said: “The pattern of this temple, the length and
breadth, and height of the inner and outer courts, with
all the fixtures thereunto appertaining, were given to
Solomon by revelation, through the proper source. And
why was this revelation-pattern necessary? Because
Solomon had never built a temple, and did not know
what was necessary in the arrangement of the different
apartments, any better than Moses did what was needed
in the tabernacle.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 414.)
(1-20) 1 Kings 4:30. Who Were the “Children of the
East Country”?
“The term is applied [in Jeremiah 49:28] to the
Arab tribes dwelling at Kedar, and probably describes
generally the inhabitants of the Syrian desert”
(Dummelow, Commentary, p. 213).
The book of Proverbs contains some of the proverbs
of Solomon, though not all that he wrote, and almost
certainly not all writings in the present book of Proverbs
were written by Solomon.
The Song of Solomon, which the Prophet Joseph
Smith said is not an inspired writing (see Song of
Solomon 1:1a), is only one of many songs written by
Solomon. Also, two of the psalms are attributed to
Solomon (see Psalms 72, 127).
Photograph by Don Thorpe
(1-21) 1 Kings 4:32. Proverbs and Song of Solomon
The temple of Herod as it appears in the model city at the Holy Land
Hotel in Jerusalem
5
The temple of Solomon was later destroyed, and the
kingdom of Judah was scattered. Zerubbabel’s temple,
which Herod renovated, was later built on the same
spot. This later temple was the one standing in the
Savior’s day. (See Notes and Commentary on Ezra
6:13–15.)
(1-25) 1 Kings 6. The Significance of the Building of
Solomon’s Temple
“Soon after Solomon’s accession to the throne he set
about the labor, which, as heritage and honor, had
come to him with his crown. He laid the foundation
in the fourth year of his reign, and the building was
completed within seven years and a half. With the
great wealth accumulated by his kingly father and
specifically reserved for the building of the Temple,
Solomon was able to put the [surrounding lands]
under tribute, and to enlist the co-operation of nations
in his great undertaking. The temple workmen
numbered scores of thousands, and every department
was in charge of master craftsmen. To serve on the
great structure in any capacity was an honor; and
labor acquired a dignity never before recognized. . . .
The erection of the Temple of Solomon was an epochmaking event, not alone in the history of Israel, but in
that of the world.” (James E. Talmage, The House of the
Lord, pp. 5–6.)
(1-26) 1 Kings 6. How Did Solomon’s Temple Differ
from the Tabernacle of the Wilderness?
“A comparison of the plan of Solomon’s Temple
with that of the earlier Tabernacle shows that in all
essentials of arrangement and proportion the two were
so nearly alike as to be practically identical. True, the
Tabernacle had but one enclosure, while the Temple
was surrounded by courts, but the inner structure
itself, the Temple proper, closely followed the earlier
design. The dimensions of the Holy of Holies, the
Holy Place, and the Porch, were in the Temple exactly
double those of the corresponding parts in the
Tabernacle.” (Talmage, House of the Lord, p. 6.)
The temple was long and narrow. According to the
dimensions cited in the Bible, the temple was about
one hundred feet long and thirty feet wide. It stood
on a platform about nine feet high. The temple itself
was about forty-five feet high. The Salt Lake Temple is
186 1/2 feet long, 118 1/2 feet wide, and 210 feet high.
(1-27) 1 Kings 6:5–8. Chambers of the Temple
See Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel,
pp. 154–56.
(1-28) 1 Kings 6:23. What Are Cherubim?
See Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel,
p. 148.
(1-29) 1 Kings 6:38. What Is the Month “Bul”?
The month of Bul corresponds approximately with
the month of November. “As this was the eighth month
and the Temple was begun in the second, the time
actually occupied in its construction was, in strictness,
7 1/2 years” (Dummelow, Commentary, p. 215).
6
“Solomon’s Porch” was the name of this part of Herod’s temple.
(1-30) 1 Kings 7:1–8. Solomon’s Palace
It took an additional thirteen years to build
Solomon’s palace (see 1 Kings 9:10). Solomon’s palace
“consisted of several buildings connected together;
namely, (1) the house of the forest of Lebanon [see
1 Kings 7:2–5]; (2) the pillar-hall with the porch
(ver. 6); (3) the throne-room and judgment-hall (ver. 7);
(4) the king’s dwelling-house and the house of
Pharaoh’s daughter (ver. 8). . . . The description of the
several portions of this palace is so very brief, that it is
impossible to form a distinct idea of its character. The
different divisions are given in vers. 1–8 in their natural
order, commencing at the back and terminating with the
front (ver. 8).” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:89.)
(1-31) 1 Kings 7:16. What Is a Chapiter?
A chapiter is an ornament or decoration at the top of
a column or pillar (see William Wilson, Old Testament
Word Studies, s.v. “chapiter”).
(1-32) 1 Kings 7:23–26. What Was the Molten Sea and
How Was It Used?
Bible scholars have generally been confused
concerning the use of the huge molten sea of brass.
Modern revelation assists the student today to
understand its purpose. Elder Bruce R. McConkie
explained:
“In Solomon’s Temple a large molten sea of brass was
placed on the backs of 12 brazen oxen, these oxen being
symbolical of the 12 tribes of Israel. (1 Kings 7:23–26,
44; 2 Kings 16:17; 25:13; 1 Chron. 18:8.) This brazen
sea was used for performing baptisms for the living.
There were no baptisms for the dead until after the
resurrection of Christ.
“It must be remembered that all direct and plain
references to baptism have been deleted from the Old
Testament (1 Ne. 13) and that the word baptize is of
Greek origin. Some equivalent word, such as wash,
would have been used by the Hebrew peoples. In
describing the molten sea the Old Testament record
says, ‘The sea was for the priests to wash in.’ (2 Chron.
4:2–6.) This is tantamount to saying that the priests
performed baptisms in it.
“In this temple building dispensation the Brethren
have been led by the spirit of inspiration to pattern the
baptismal fonts placed in temples after the one in
Solomon’s Temple.” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 103–4.)
(1-33) 1 Kings 8. What Occurred at the Dedication of
the Temple?
“When the House of the Lord was completed,
elaborate preparations were made for its dedication.
First came the installation of the Ark of the Covenant and
its appurtenances, the Tabernacle of the Congregation,
and the holy vessels. With great solemnity and to the
accompaniment of ceremonial sacrifice, the Ark was
brought by the priests and placed within the Holy of
Holies beneath the wings of the cherubim. At this time
the Ark contained only the two tables of stone ‘which
Moses put there.’ The staves by which the Ark was
borne were so drawn out as to be visible from within
the Holy Place, and then ‘it came to pass, when the
priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud
filled the house of the Lord, So that the priests could
not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the
glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.’
[1 Kings 8:10–11.]
“Then Solomon addressed the assembled multitude,
reciting the circumstances under which the building of
the Temple had been conceived by his father David and
executed by himself, and proclaiming the mercy and
goodness of Israel’s God. Standing before the altar of the
Lord, in the court of the Temple, the king spread forth
his hands toward heaven, and offered the dedicatory
prayer. The king then blessed the people, saying
‘Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his
people Israel, according to all that he promised: there
hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which
he promised by the hand of Moses his servant. The
Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers:
let him not leave us, nor forsake us.’ [1 Kings 8:56–57.]
“The principal services with the attendant festivities
lasted seven days, and ‘on the eighth day he sent the
people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto
their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness
that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for
Israel his people.’ [1 Kings 8:66.]” (Talmage, House of
the Lord, pp. 34–35.)
(1-34) 1 Kings 8:10–11. The Glory of God
Before Solomon gave the dedicatory prayer, a cloud
of glory filled the house of God, indicating the very
presence of God. That this glory should accompany the
dedication exercises is interesting for Latter-day Saints,
since a similar glory attended the dedication of the
Kirtland Temple on 27 March 1836. Many present
reported seeing angels and hearing the “sound of a
rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple,” and
many in the community reported “seeing a bright light
like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple” (History of
the Church, 2:427). The special events attending the
dedication of both temples are signs of the Lord’s
divine acceptance of the houses built in His name to
His honor.
(1-35) 1 Kings 8:22–53. Solomon, a Faithful Man
Solomon’s dedicatory prayer gives a good insight
into the state of Solomon’s heart at the time. His
closeness to the Lord is very evident, particularly in
1 Kings 8:23, 28, 50–52. When the prayer was over,
Solomon addressed the people and urged them to be
faithful to the Lord. As the record of 1 Kings unfolds,
however, it becomes evident how far Solomon and his
people later departed from the spiritual state they
were in on the day of dedication.
(1-36) 1 Kings 8:35–36. Tempering the Weather
through Prayer
These verses contain a remarkable promise to Israel.
In several places the Lord indicated that He uses
the weather to chastise His people to bring them to
repentance. President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“The Lord uses the weather sometimes to discipline
his people for the violation of his laws. He said to the
children of Israel:
“‘If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my
commandments, and do them;
“‘Then I will give you rain in due season, and the
land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field
shall yield their fruit.
“‘And your threshing shall reach into the vintage,
and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and
ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your
land safely.
“‘And I will give you peace in the land, and ye shall
lie down, and none shall make you afraid: . . . neither
shall the sword go through your land.’ (Lev. 26:3–6.)
“Perhaps the day has come when we should take
stock of ourselves and see if we are worthy to ask or
if we have been breaking the commandments, making
ourselves unworthy of receiving the blessings.” (In
Conference Report, Apr. 1977, pp. 4–5; or Ensign, May
1977, p. 4.)
First Kings 8:35–36 indicates that if the people
repent of their sins, looking to the house of the Lord in
prayer and supplication, the weather can be tempered
and made to operate in behalf of the righteous.
(1-37) 1 Kings 8:41–43. “A Stranger . . . Cometh out of
a Far Country”
As part of his dedicatory prayer, Solomon referred
to a stranger who—
1. Comes from a far country (see v. 41).
2. Comes in the name of the Lord (see v. 41).
3. Prays toward the house of the Lord (see v. 42).
4. Asks the Lord for certain blessings upon Israel
which Solomon asks the Lord to heed (see v. 43).
(1-38) 1 Kings 9:7. Was the Temple Built by Solomon
“Cast Out”?
Elder James E. Talmage explained how the prophetic
warning was ignored and came to fulfillment: “The
glorious pre-eminence of this splendid structure was
of brief duration. Thirty-four years after its dedication,
and but five years subsequent to the death of Solomon,
its decline began; and this decline was soon to develop
into general spoliation, and finally to become an actual
desecration. Solomon the king, the man of wisdom,
the master-builder, had been led astray by the wiles of
idolatrous women, and his wayward ways had fostered
iniquity in Israel. The nation was no longer a unit; there
factions and sects, parties and creeds, some worshipping
on the hill-tops, others under green trees, each party
claiming excellence for its own particular shrine.
The Temple soon lost its sanctity. The gift became
depreciated by the perfidy [betrayal] of the giver, and
Jehovah withdrew His protecting presence from the
place no longer holy.” (House of the Lord, pp. 6–7.)
7
(1-39) 1 Kings 9:15–23; 10:14–29. What Were the Effects
of Solomon’s Massive Building Projects and Economic
Changes?
Though Solomon’s remarkable building projects
became world famous, they created serious problems
in his own kingdom. He taxed the people heavily and
used forced labor to complete his massive projects.
The people began to complain, and a deep resentment,
especially in the northern tribes, began to fester.
“The life of the common man had been disrupted.
In the past, a man’s wealth had been calculated mostly
by the land he owned, the number of flocks he had and
the size of his family. Solomon’s sweeping economic
changes altered that system. Land was no longer of
supreme importance—in fact, it may have become
somewhat of a burden. The more land a man owned,
the more crops he could grow, and thus the more he
would have to turn over to the king’s officers when
collection time came around every 12 months.
Likewise, flocks were surrendered to tax collectors
and sons were forced to serve one month of every
three in the king’s labor force.
“Now wealth was calculated not by property
ownership but by the amount of money a man
controlled. Certainly more and more money in gold
and silver came into Israel every year, but very little
of it ever filtered down to the average Israelite, who
had to surrender so much of his livelihood to the
king’s coffers. Instead, the money was used to pay
growing international debts, salaries for the full-time
government officials, commissions to merchants and
artisans in the king’s employ, temple and palace
upkeep and other expenses.
“For the first time in Israel’s history, there began to
be a distinct difference between ‘rich’ and ‘poor.’ The
king and his household were rich; the common people
were poor. In between were the salaried civil servants
and the merchants and artisans, many of whom had
T he
Gre
at S
organized craft guilds by that time. Such class
separations had not been known in the Israel where a
shepherd boy like David could be anointed king—only
50 years earlier.” (Great People of the Bible, pp. 192–93.)
(1-40) 1 Kings 9:26–28. Israel’s Navy
Hiram’s people, the Phoenicians, were masters of the
sea, whereas the Israelites were not. First Kings 9:26–28
indicates that Hiram’s servants taught Solomon’s men
the seafaring trade. As a result, Solomon was able
to secure gold from Ophir (thought to be a port in
southern Arabia) to be used to build the temple.
(See also 1 Kings 10:23.)
(1-41) 1 Kings 10:1. Where Was the Queen of Sheba
From?
It is very likely that the woman was a Sabean from
Arabia near the southern end of the Red Sea (see
Clarke, Commentary, 2:421). Three proofs are offered:
(1) the area in which the Sabeans lived is known to
have abounded in riches and spices; (2) many ancient
writers refer to the gold and silver mines of Saba; and
(3) the Sabeans had women rather than men for their
rulers.
(1-42) 1 Kings 10:19. What Were the Stays Attached to
the Throne?
The description here indicates that the throne was
similar to a round-topped, two-armed chair. The stays,
or hands, were armrests on which the king could lean.
(1-43) 1 Kings 10:23–29. Solomon’s Wealth
These verses sum up the tremendous wealth
Solomon had amassed. Part of his wealth came through
trading and international commerce, but much of it
came through the economic oppression of the people.
ea
Mem
ASIA
phis
Ela
m
Red
ARABIA
Sea
IM
RA
MIZ
AFRICA
SHEBA
Indian Ocean
Sheba was a wealthy nation in Solomon’s day.
8
(1-44) 1 Kings 11. Effect of Solomon’s Sins
This chapter details the tragic fall of King Solomon.
Although the Lord did not take Solomon’s kingdom
from him as punishment, Solomon’s disobedience
resulted in his kingdom being divided at his death.
Like Saul and David who preceded him, Solomon
began his reign in favor with God and man, but he
soon let the power of the throne turn his heart away
from God. Just as Saul’s and David’s had, Solomon’s
promise turned into tragedy (see Notes and
Commentary on 1 Kings 3:5–28).
(1-45) 1 Kings 11:1–10. What Can We Conclude
Regarding Solomon’s Many Marriages?
Solomon married “strange women,” that is, foreign
women, or those not of the covenant. Solomon’s
marriages were for political expediency (see Notes and
Commentary on 1 Kings 3:1) and perhaps for personal
reasons as well. But these women brought to Israel
their idols and heathen worship, which corrupted not
only Solomon but the people also.
According to the Doctrine and Covenants, however,
some of Solomon’s wives were given to him of the
Lord: “David also received many wives and concubines,
and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also
many others of my servants, from the beginning of
creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin
save in those things which they received not of me”
(D&C 132:38).
President Joseph Fielding Smith further explained
that the Lord “did not condemn Solomon and David
for having wives which the Lord gave them.
“Now turn to [2 Samuel] 12:7–8 and you will find
that the Lord gave David wives. In your reading of the
Old Testament you will also find that Solomon was
blessed and the Lord appeared to him and gave him
visions and great blessings when he had plural wives,
but later in his life, he took wives that the Lord did not
give him.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:214.)
Jacob 2:24–31 clearly teaches that plural wives may
be taken only when doing so is authorized by the Lord.
David’s taking plural wives was authorized by the Lord,
for David’s wives “were given unto him of me [the
Lord], by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others
of the prophets who had the keys of this power” (D&C
132:39). No plural marriages are authorized by the Lord
today, and any attempt to justify them from ancient
scripture will result in condemnation from the Lord.
(1-46) 1 Kings 11:26–27. What Was the “Millo”?
Millo is “a place-name derived from the verb . . . ‘to
be full’, ‘to fill’. . . . It was probably part of the
fortification of [Jerusalem when it was a] Jebusite city,
perhaps a solid tower (‘full’) or a bastion ‘filling’
some weak point in the walls, for it was evidently
already in existence in the time of David [2 Samuel
5:9; 1 Chronicles 11:8]. It was rebuilt by Solomon ([see
1 Kings 9:15, 24; 11:27]; the ‘breach’ here referred to
was probably a different thing) as part of his
programme of strengthening the kingdom, and was
again strengthened some two and a half centuries later
when Hezekiah was preparing for the Assyrian
invasion [see 2 Chronicles 32:5]. This verse is taken by
some to indicate that Millo was another name for the
whole city of David, but it is more probable that it
formed part of the defences of this, the south-eastern
hill of later Jerusalem. Many theories have been put
forward as to what part of the city of David was
strengthened by the Millo, but excavation has not yet
been sufficiently systematic to make identification
possible.” (Douglas, New Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Millo.”)
(1-47) 1 Kings 11:11, 29–38. How Was the Israelite
Kingdom to Be Taken Away from the House of David
and Solomon?
After Solomon had directly disobeyed the Lord by
going after the gods of his heathen wives, the Lord
told him that the kingdom would be taken from him
and given to one of his servants (see 1 Kings 11:11).
The servant was Jeroboam, whom Solomon had given
authority over Ephraim and Manasseh (see v. 28).
Jeroboam was told by the prophet Ahijah that he
would rule over ten of the tribes of Israel. The tribe of
Judah, however, was to continue under the reign of
David’s line so that the promise that the Messiah
would come through the lineage of David and from
the tribe of Judah would be fulfilled (see Genesis
49:10). The kingdom of Judah would include half the
small tribe of Benjamin, the Levites, and the strangers
that were in Judah’s territory. At first, only part of Levi
was with Judah, but after Jeroboam turned to idolatry,
many more deserted to Judah. Eventually a good share
of the tribe of Levi was in the south. (See 2 Chronicles
15:9.)
Because Ephraim and Manasseh, the two sons of
Joseph, were two tribes, counting Levi there were
thirteen tribes at this time instead of twelve.
(1-48) 1 Kings 11:36. Promise Given to David
This verse reiterates the promise made by the Lord
to David that his kingdom would never become extinct
while the earth should stand. The promise is fulfilled
in Jesus Christ, a descendant of David.
See Notes and Commentary on Isaiah 11:1 for a
discussion of Christ’s holding the keys of David.
(1-49) 1 Kings 11:40. Who Is Shishak?
See Notes and Commentary on 1 Kings 14:25.
POINTS TO PONDER
(1-50) The Greatness and Tragedy of Solomon
Solomon’s career began in as promising a way
as anyone’s in the Old Testament. Israel had finally
reached the borders that were to be hers, according
to the Lord’s promise to Abraham, and the Lord had
promised that peace would exist throughout Solomon’s
entire reign.
The Lord appeared to the young king in a dream
and asked, “What shall I give unto thee?” (see
1 Kings 3:5). Solomon, then humble and dedicated to
the Lord, sought wisdom and was richly rewarded:
“And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding
exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the
sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon’s wisdom
excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east
country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.” (1 Kings 4:29–30.)
9
The family of David
of Judah
Great-grandparents
Boaz
Ruth
Grandfather
Obed
Father
Jesse
Brothers
and
Sisters
1 Chronicles 2:13-17
1 Samuel 16:10 mentions
that David had seven
brothers but names
only the three eldest.
Eliab
(Elihu)
Abinadab Shammah Nethanel Raddai
(Shimeah) (Nathaniel)
Ozem
Zeruiah
David
Abigail
Nephews
married
Jonadab
Joab
Abishai
Asahel
Haggith
Abital
Amasa
Wives
Michal
Ahinoam Abigail
(daughter of Jezreel (widow
of Saul)
of Nabal)
Maacah
Eglah
Bath-sheba
(Bath-shua)
other
wives
concubines
Children
1 Samuel 25:42-44; 2 Samuel 3:3-5; 1 Chronicles 3:1-3, 9
Amnon
Chileab Absalom
(or Daniel)
Tamar
2 Samuel 11ff;
1 Chronicles 3:5
Adonijah Shephatiah Ithream
1 Chronicles 3:6-9;
14:3-4
Shimea
Shobab
(Shammah)
Ibhar
Elishama Eliphelet
(Elishua) (Elpelet)
Nogah
Nepheg
The family of David. Chart redrawn from Douglas, Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1:367
10
Japhia
Nathan
Elishama
2 Samuel 5:13-14
omits Nogah
and the first
Eliphelet
Solomon
1 Chronicles 3:9
Eliada
Eliphelet
(Beeliada)
other
sons
Elder Howard W. Hunter likewise challenged us to
obtain an understanding heart:
“If the Lord was pleased because of that which
Solomon had asked of him, surely he would be pleased
with each of us if we had the desire to acquire an
understanding heart. This must come from conscious
effort coupled with faith and firm determination. An
understanding heart results from the experiences we
have in life if we keep the commandments of God. . . .
“. . . The ills of the world would be cured by
understanding. Wars would cease and crime disappear.
The scientific knowledge now being wasted in the
world because of the distrust of men and nations could
be diverted to bless mankind. Atomic energy will
destroy unless used for peaceful purposes by
understanding hearts.
“We need more understanding in our relationships
with one another, in business and in industry, between
management and labor, between government and
the governed. We need understanding in that most
important of all social units, the family; understanding
between children and parents and between husband
and wife. Marriage would bring happiness, and divorce
would be unknown if there were understanding hearts.
Hatred tears down, but understanding builds up.
“Our prayer could well be as was Solomon’s, ‘Lord,
give me an understanding heart.’” (In Conference
Report, Apr. 1962, pp. 75–76.)
What are the necessary steps given by Elder Hunter
to obtain an understanding heart? What problems
would be solved in the world if everyone would strive
to have an understanding heart?
Solomon allowed his love for material things and
his great accomplishments as a builder to wean him
from his early devotion to the Lord. True, he achieved
great fame while the temple was being built, and his
dedication of the house of the Lord was one of his most
spiritual moments; but later, when the Queen of Sheba
and other foreign visitors paid their respects, they said
little about Solomon’s righteousness or wisdom. Rather,
they expressed amazement and awe at his tremendous
achievements in building. Solomon appears to have
grown hungry for the plaudits of men. He decided to
construct even grander structures. To do so, he
enforced heavy taxation upon his people—so heavy
that he eventually forced his people into poverty.
Samuel’s warnings about what would occur if Israel
were governed by a king were fulfilled in every
particular (see 1 Samuel 8:11–18). Mismanagement
of the nation’s wealth left united Israel tottering.
We all enjoy blessings from the Lord. If we are wise,
we will accept the blessings with a grateful heart and
walk in righteousness before the Lord.
Is affluence in the Church a problem today? Why?
Do we sometimes forget the instructions given by the
Savior in Matthew 6:33?
We, as modern Israel, need to avoid pride, misuse
of wealth, and lust for the world’s esteem—three
temptations that beset Solomon and led to his
downfall. Are we any different? Even if we make some
good decisions, could we also make some foolish ones
that might destroy us?
Your patriarchal blessing can be an important guide
to you. Because Solomon forgot his blessing from the
Lord, he lost it. To help you remember, you might
want to analyze your blessing by making a chart as
follows:
My Patriarchal Blessing
Who Am I?
Statements about you, your
potential, your destiny, your
relationship with God
Promises
Those things the Lord promises
on condition of your faithfulness
Admonitions
Counsel, warnings, and reminders
to you
11
© Quebecor World Inc.
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes
“Wisdom Is the
Principal Thing;
Therefore Get
Wisdom”
(2-1) Introduction
The books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are
sometimes called the “wisdom literature.” The sages of
the ancient Near East realized the superiority of
wisdom over knowledge, for wisdom encompasses
knowledge and includes understanding and moral
conduct. One was not wise, regardless of his vast
learning, if his actions did not comply with his
righteous beliefs: “Like all Hebrew intellectual virtues,
wisdom . . . is intensely practical, not theoretical.
Basically, wisdom is the art of being successful, of
forming the correct plan to gain the desired results. Its
seat is the heart, the centre of moral and intellectual
decision [see 1 Kings 3:9, 12].” (J. D. Douglas, ed., The
New Bible Dictionary, s.v. “wisdom.”)
“The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament . . . is
the best sample of Hebrew ‘Wisdom Literature’
derived apparently from the experiences of the race,
epitomized by wise men into brief rules for behavior.
The book contains less material accredited to divine
revelation and more attributed to human evaluations
than the books by the Prophets. As to Solomon’s
authorship of proverbs, he is said in I Kings 4:33 to
have spoken thousands of them, covering all facets of
the relationships of nature, man and God. Whether the
extant proverbs in the Bible include all of them, and
whether all that are attributed to him are really his
would be difficult to tell now. In any case, Proverbs,
chapters 1–9 are entitled ‘Proverbs of Solomon.’ They
are largely in the form of advice from a father to his
son, but include also some long poems about wisdom
(e.g., chapter 8, wherein ‘Wisdom’ is personified, and
seems to be not an abstraction, but a personality, a
member of the Godhead). Chapters 10–22:16 are
appropriately entitled ‘Proverbs of Solomon,’ for they
contain only the formal pithy little poetic couplets that
are by definition proverbs proper. From 22:17 to the
end of chapter 24 there are a variety of longer
admonishments and maxims on matters moral and
social. Chapters 25 to 29 also constitute a unit called
‘Proverbs of Solomon.’ Chapter 30 is called ‘The Words
of Agur,’ and chapter 31 ‘The Words of King Lemuel.’”
(Ellis T. Rasmussen, An Introduction to the Old
Testament and Its Teachings [1st ed., 1969], 2:45.)
Instructions to Students
1. Read the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in
their entirety to get the full impact of the wisdom
in these works. Individual excerpts are often quoted,
but the collection as a whole is also impressive.
2. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study the books of Proverbs
and Ecclesiastes.
2
3. The footnotes in the Latter-day Saint edition
of the Bible are invaluable in helping you to
interpret Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Be sure to
check the alternate translations, definitions, and
explanatory helps as you read these two books;
they will greatly enhance your appreciation of the
wisdom literature.
4. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
PROVERBS
(2-2) Proverbs 1:1–6. What Is the Book of Proverbs?
“The word translated ‘proverb’ . . . comes from a root
which seems to mean ‘to represent’ or ‘be like’. . . . The
word was, however, extended to sayings where no
such analogy is evident, and came to designate a short
pithy saying or byword.
“But the proverbs in this book are not so much
popular sayings as the distillation of the wisdom of
teachers who knew the law of God and were applying
its principles to the whole of life.” (D. Guthrie and
J. A. Motyer, eds., The New Bible Commentary: Revised,
p. 549.)
(2-3) Proverbs 1:1. Who Wrote the Book of Proverbs?
“The general title is ‘The Proverbs of Solomon the
son of David’. At several points in the book, however,
there are rubrics [headings] giving the authorship of
different sections. Thus sections are ascribed to Solomon
at 10:1 and to ‘the wise’ at 22:17 and 24:23. At 25:1
there is the rubric ‘These also are proverbs of Solomon
which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied’;
ch. 30 is headed ‘the words of Agur son of Jakeh’, and
ch. 31 ascribed to ‘King Lemuel’, or, rather, to his
mother.” (Guthrie and Motyer, New Bible Commentary,
p. 548.)
According to the scriptural record, Solomon spoke
or compiled three thousand proverbs and wrote 1,005
songs (see 1 Kings 4:32). Some of his wisdom was
undoubtedly preserved by later writers and editors
of the Old Testament and is now found in the wisdom
literature.
(2-4) Proverbs 1:6. What Are “Dark Sayings”?
The first verses of Proverbs state that one purpose
of this collection of wisdom is to help men understand
the “dark sayings” of the wise. The Hebrew idiom dark
13
sayings connotes riddles or puzzles. The idea here is
that the sayings of the wise are hidden or puzzling to
those who are not wise.
(2-5) Proverbs 1:7. What Is the Theme of the Book of
Proverbs?
The theme of the book of Proverbs is stated in verse 7:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”
Fear as used here means reverence or deep respect for
God. Though there is much in the book that does not
rise above worldly wisdom, the whole serves as a
reminder that to the Lord all things are spiritual (see
D&C 29:34). The book underscores the idea that even
in mortal life, when properly viewed, all things testify
of God.
(2-6) Proverbs 1:8–9. Obeying Parental Counsel
These verses express the idea that wisdom won
through obedience to parental counsel is as a lovely
ornament (crown) to one’s head and as chains
(necklaces) about one’s neck.
(2-7) Proverbs 2. Wisdom Comes from God
This chapter stresses that wisdom is a gift of God
obtained only by diligent searching, and God will
watch over and protect those who receive it and
remain faithful to it. This promise can be understood
only when one remembers that to Israel, wisdom
meant obedience to God’s laws.
(2-8) Proverbs 2:10. The Head, the Heart, and the
Bowels
In the Eastern and Western cultures, different parts of
the human body symbolize the ideas of understanding
and feeling. In the East one “understands” in his heart
and “feels” in his bowels; in the West one “understands”
in his head, or mind, and “feels” in his heart. Contrast
Doctrine and Covenants 9:8, which says “your bosom
shall burn within you,” with Proverbs 2:10, which says
that “wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge
is pleasant unto thy soul” (see also Proverbs 6:18; 22:17).
(2-9) Proverbs 2:14. “Frowardness of the Wicked”
The word froward as used in Proverbs is a translation
of several Hebrew words which share the common
idea of deceitfulness, perverseness, and foolishness.
(2-10) Proverbs 2:16. What Is a “Strange Woman”?
The term strange women used throughout Proverbs
refers not only to foreigners (non-Israelites) and
idolaters but also to unchaste women. It is often
synonymous with harlot.
(2-11) Proverbs 3:5–7. “Trust in the Lord”
President N. Eldon Tanner often quoted Proverbs
3:5–7. On one occasion he said:
“How much wiser and better it is for man to accept
the simple truths of the gospel and to accept as authority
God, the Creator of the world, and his Son Jesus Christ,
and to accept by faith those things which he cannot
disprove and for which he cannot give a better
explanation. He must be prepared to acknowledge that
there are certain things—many, many things—that he
cannot understand.
14
Ashtoreth
“How can we deny or even disbelieve God when
we cannot understand even the simplest things around
us—how the leaf functions, what electricity is, what
our emotions are, when the spirit enters the body, and
what happens to it when it leaves? How can we say
that because we do not understand the resurrection,
there is not or cannot be a resurrection?
“We are admonished to ‘trust in the Lord with all
thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.’
(Prov. 3:5.) And we are warned: ‘Woe unto them that are
wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”
(Isa. 5:21.)” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1968, p. 49.)
(2-12) Proverbs 3:11–12. “Despise Not the Chastening
of the Lord”
These verses sound an often repeated theme in the
scriptures: the Lord frequently chastens His children to
help them grow and progress spiritually (see Helaman
15:3; D&C 95:1; 101:4–5).
(2-13) Proverbs 4:7. Get Wisdom, the “Principal Thing”
After quoting Proverbs 4:7, Theodore M. Burton,
then Assistant to the Council of the Twelve Apostles,
said: “We must feed the spirit as well as the mind and
as well as the body. I plead with our youth, get
learning, and with all your getting get understanding.
Get learning of the spirit. Get learning of the mind.
Get learning of the soul, and become a rounded man
or a rounded woman, learned in all ways, for I testify
to you this day that security, true security, comes from
a knowledge of the divinity of Jesus Christ. This is the
beginning of all learning and of all wisdom. This is the
greatest knowledge, the greatest learning, the greatest
comfort that men can have. If men have this knowledge
in their hearts, they can withstand all the viscissitudes
of life.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1961, p. 129.)
(2-14) Proverbs 4:18–19. Light for Darkness
President Brigham Young once commented on these
verses:
“The life of a Christian is said to be full of pain,
tribulation, sorrow, and excruciating torments; of
fightings without and fears within, of anxieties, despair,
gloominess, and mourning. His path is supposed to be
spread with gins [snares], pitfalls, and uncertainties, but
this is a mistake, for ‘the path of the just is as the shining
light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect
day,’ while ‘the wicked is snared by the transgression
of his lips, but the just shall come out of trouble.’
“The faith I have embraced has given me light for
darkness, ease for pain, joy and gladness for sorrow
and mourning, certainty for uncertainty, hope for
despair.” (In Journal of Discourses, 9:318; see also
Proverbs 4:18; 12:13.)
(2-15) Proverbs 6:16–19. Seven Things the Lord Hates
President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., quoted these verses
and commented: “I read these to show you that the
Lord has not left us in doubt nor in darkness as to the
things, some of them, that we should not do. We add
these to the Ten Commandments.” (In Conference
Report, Apr. 1952, pp. 97–98.)
Proverbs 6:16 mentions six things and then a seventh
that the Lord hates. This “Recalling of what has been
said, in order to correct it as by an Afterthought” is a
literary device often used by Hebrew writers to add
beauty and power to expressions and to convey the
idea of completeness (E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech
Used in the Bible, pp. 909–10). Other examples of this
literary device are found in Proverbs 30:15, 18.
(2-16) Proverbs 6:18. “An Heart That Deviseth Wicked
Imaginations”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie commented on this verse:
“If we think evil thoughts, our tongues will utter
unclean sayings. . . . If our minds are centered on the
carnality and evil of the world, then worldliness and
unrighteousness will seem to us to be the normal way
of life. If we ponder things related to sex immorality in
our minds, we will soon think everybody is immoral
and unclean and it will break down the barrier
between us and the world. And so with every other
unwholesome, unclean, impure, and ungodly course.”
(In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 56; or Ensign, Jan.
1974, p. 48.)
(2-17) Proverbs 7:2. “Apple of Thine Eye”
This phrase is one of many commonly used
expressions that come from the Old Testament. The
phrase is also found in Deuteronomy 32:10, Psalm
17:8, and Lamentations 2:18. The word apple, however,
refers not to the fruit but to the pupil of the eye (see
William Wilson, Old Testament Word Studies,
s.v. “apple”). The idiom suggests that just as the eye is
a sensitive organ requiring care and protection, so is
the law precious and worthy of protection.
(2-18) Proverbs 8. Wisdom Personified
Wisdom is enthroned and contrasted with the
seductive, evil, and death-giving woman of Proverbs 7
(see vv. 10–23). In dignity and in the light of day,
Nose jewels
Wisdom beseeches all to come and partake of her lifegiving rewards.
(2-19) Proverbs 8:17. A Key to Spiritual Power
This verse expounds one of the simplest and yet most
profound truths one can learn in life. Too often God’s
children wait until times of distress to seek Him, and
thus they may deprive themselves of the power and
solace they need (compare Helaman 12:1–5; D&C
101:7–8).
(2-20) Proverbs 10:18. “He That Uttereth a Slander, Is
a Fool”
“Slander is of the devil; the very word devil itself
comes from the Greek diabolos which means a slanderer.
It is natural, therefore, that slanderous reports against
the Church have their origin, most generally, among
those who are living carnal and sensual lives, whose
conduct is such as to cause them to be guided and
dominated by Lucifer.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon
Doctrine, p. 738.)
(2-21) Proverbs 11:22. Nose Jewels
Nose jewels were a common adornment for the
women of Israel and surrounding cultures, but a jewel
in a swine’s snout was unthinkable because swine
were held in such contempt among the Israelites. This
proverb thus dismisses the value of physical beauty
when it is not accompanied with self-control and
righteousness.
15
(2-22) Proverbs 13:10. “By Pride Cometh Contention”
(2-25) Proverbs 14:23. When All Is Said and Done
Elder Marvin J. Ashton cautioned:
“When one considers the bad feeling and the
unpleasantness caused by contention, it is well to ask,
‘Why do I participate?’ If we are really honest with
ourselves, our answers may be something like: ‘When
I argue and am disagreeable, I do not have to change
myself. It gives me a chance to get even.’ ‘I am unhappy
and I want others to be miserable too.’ ‘I can feel
self-righteous. In this way I get my ego built up.’
‘I don’t want others to forget how much I know!’
“Whatever the real reason, it is important to recognize
that we choose our behavior. At the root of this issue is
the age-old problem of pride. ‘Only by pride cometh
contention.’ (Prov. 13:10.)
“If Satan can succeed in creating in us habits of
arguing, quarreling, and contention, it is easier then for
him to bind us with the heavier sins which can destroy
our eternal lives. A contentious spirit can affect almost
any phase of our lives. An angry letter written in haste
can haunt us—sometimes for years. A few ill-advised
words spoken in hate can destroy a marriage or a
personal friendship, or impede community progress.”
(In Conference Report, Apr. 1978, pp. 11–12; or Ensign,
May 1978, p. 9.)
Penury means severe poverty. The idea of this verse
is that an idle tongue brings no profit either to the
individual or to others. Many have talked about their
schemes for getting rich, and yet they have remained
poor because only their tongues were active.
(2-23) Proverbs 13:20. The Value of Association
Here again a profound truth is caught in simple
language. The people one chooses to associate with in
life can have a profound effect on what one turns out
to be.
(2-24) Proverbs 13:24. Spare the Rod
Brigham Young lived in an era when parents,
especially fathers, were often severe and punished their
children frequently. His advice is remarkably modern,
but it does not advocate the permissive philosophy
by which so many parents today rear their offspring:
“Instead of using the rod, I will teach my children
by example and by precept. I will teach them every
opportunity I have to cherish faith, to exercise patience,
to be full of long-suffering and kindness. It is not by
the whip or the rod that we can make obedient children;
but it is by faith and by prayer, and by setting a good
example before them.” (In Journal of Discourses, 11:117.)
In an age when child abuse is becoming all too
common, the admonition of Brigham Young’s counselor,
George A. Smith, still rings true: “My opinion is that
the use of the rod is very frequently the result of a
want of understanding on the part of a spoiled parent
. . . though of course the use of the rod in some cases
might be necessary; but I have seen children abused
when they ought not to have been, because King
Solomon is believed to have made that remark, which,
if he did, in nine cases out of ten referred to mental
rather than physical correction.” (In Journal of
Discourses, 14:374.)
In Doctrine and Covenants 121:41–43 the Lord makes
it clear how He expects His Saints to accomplish their
disciplining, not only in the Church, as this passage is
often interpreted, but also in their homes.
16
(2-26) Proverbs 15:1. Soft Answers in the Home
President Brigham Young spoke of maintaining selfcontrol in one’s speech and actions: “In all our daily
pursuits in life, of whatever nature and kind, Latterday Saints, and especially those who hold important
positions in the kingdom of God, should maintain a
uniform and even temper, both when at home and
when abroad. They should not suffer reverses and
unpleasant circumstances to sour their natures and
render them fretful and unsocial at home, speaking
words full of bitterness and biting acrimony to their
wives and children, creating gloom and sorrow in
their habitations, making themselves feared rather
than beloved by their families. Anger should never be
permitted to rise in our bosoms, and words suggested
by angry feelings should never be permitted to pass
our lips. ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath, but
grievous words stir up anger.’ ‘Wrath is cruel, and
anger is outrageous;’ but ‘the discretion of a man
deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a
transgression.’” (In Journal of Discourses, 11:136; see
also Proverbs 19:11; 27:4.)
Elder Marvin J. Ashton gave additional counsel
about controlling one’s tongue:
“Too often we use communication periods as
occasions to tell, dictate, plead, or threaten. Nowhere
in the broadest sense should communication in the
family be used to impose, command, or embarrass.
“. . . In family discussions, differences should not be
ignored, but should be weighed and evaluated calmly.
One’s point or opinion usually is not as important as a
healthy, continuing relationship. Courtesy and respect
in listening and responding during discussions are
basic in proper dialogue. . . . How important it is to
know how to disagree with another’s point of view
without being disagreeable. How important it is to
have discussion periods ahead of decisions. Jones
Stephens wrote, ‘I have learned that the head does not
hear anything until the heart has listened, and that
what the heart knows today the head will understand
tomorrow.’” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1976, p. 79; or
Ensign, May 1976, p. 52.)
(2-27) Proverbs 15:31–32. “Reproof Getteth
Understanding”
Neal A. Maxwell, then Commissioner of Church
Education, commented:
“Our life style must make allowance for that need to
deal with reality in our own lives. In Proverbs we
read: [Proverbs 15:31–32].
“The disciple of Christ needs to expect the ‘reproof
of life’—and suffering—for suffering is that sweat
that comes from working out our salvation. Suffering
is on the agenda for each of us.” (Freedom: a “Hard
Doctrine,” Brigham Young University Speeches of the
Year, 12 Apr. 1972, p. 4.)
(2-31) Proverbs 17:9. Promoting Loving Relationships
The expression “covereth a transgression” in this
context does not mean that one hides or rationalizes
a sin but rather means “forgives a transgression.”
“Seeketh love” is better understood as “promotes
a loving relationship.” (Proverbs 17:9a, b.)
(2-32) Proverbs 17:22. Is There a Place for a
Wholesome Sense of Humor?
President Hugh B. Brown said: “We have often
urged our young people to carry their laughter over
into their mature years. A wholesome sense of humor
will be a safety valve that will enable you to apply the
lighter touch to heavy problems and to learn some
lessons in problem solving that ‘sweat and tears’ often
fail to dissolve. [See Proverbs 17:22.]” (In Conference
Report, Apr. 1968, p. 100.)
(2-33) Proverbs 18:22. Find a Good Wife
Joseph Smith Translation, Proverbs 18:22, reads,
“Whoso findeth a good wife hath obtained favor of the
Lord” (emphasis added).
(2-34) Proverbs 20:7. What Does It Mean to Walk in
Integrity?
A “hoary head” is a head of white hair.
(2-28) Proverbs 16:8. Wealth and Righteousness
Volumes have been written about the dangers
and temptations of wealth, but this simple statement
summarizes the whole issue of wealth and righteousness.
(2-29) Proverbs 16:31. What Is a “Hoary Head”?
Hoary means “white”; thus, this phrase could be
translated as “the gray hair of old age” (Proverbs
16:31a).
(2-30) Proverbs 16:32. Becoming Master of Oneself
President David O. McKay often spoke to the youth
of the Church about self-control and self-mastery:
“So the whole lesson is one of subduing, not just
physical matter, that you might realize the ideal,
but subduing your own passions and appetites, and
conquering them. Some of you say we hear too much
about keeping the Word of Wisdom. Why, it is one of
the best lessons for the young in all this world, and for
the old! You reach out to indulge in certain things. Resist,
avoid creating an appetite for that which creates an
appetite for itself. But beyond that, you develop the
power to say, ‘No, thank you.’ And the strength that
comes to the character more than compensates for any
immediate pleasure. . . .
“I commend to you, young man and young woman,
the virtue of self-mastery, if you would fulfill the true
measure of your life in subduing, in order to realize
the ideal, the spiritual development of your soul.”
(In Deseret News, 6 Sept. 1952, p. 15.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie pointed out that “the
complete development of man’s moral character in
conformity with principles of justice and uprightness
is termed integrity. A man of integrity is sound,
incorruptible, and particularly strict about fulfilling
the trusts reposed in him by others. The highest
manifestation of integrity is exhibited by those who conform
their conduct to the terms of those gospel covenants and
promises which they have made. Integrity goes hand in
hand with uprightness and righteousness, and the
Lord loves those who have integrity of heart. (D. & C.
124:15, 20.) ‘The integrity of the upright shall guide
them’ (Prov. 11:3), and ‘The just man walketh in his
integrity: his children are blessed after him.’ (Prov. 20:7.)”
(Mormon Doctrine, p. 385.)
(2-35) Proverbs 21:3. Isn’t Sacrifice Acceptable to the
Lord?
Sacrifice as used here refers to the Mosaic ordinance
of sacrifice. Ancient Israel often would outwardly go
through the acts of offering sacrifice without inwardly
truly turning to God. Thus, the Lord often reminded
them that inner righteousness is more pleasing to Him
than outward conformity to ritual (compare 1 Samuel
15:22; Isaiah 1:11–15; Amos 5:21–26).
(2-36) Proverbs 21:4. Cultivating Wickedness
Two phrases in this verse need clarification: “An
high look” means “haughty eyes,” and the “plowing
of the wicked” means the “cultivating of wickedness”
(Proverbs 21:4a, c).
(2-37) Proverbs 21:13. Practical Application of One’s
Religion
The relationship between service to others and our
own spiritual power is taught here and many other
places in scripture (see Mosiah 2:17; Alma 34:28; Isaiah
1:16–20; James 1:27).
17
Of the obligation to serve others Elder Hugh B.
Brown said:
“For years we have been teaching our theology, and
successfully teaching it to the world. We must now make
practical application of our religion; must again refer
to and apply in our daily lives the words of the Master
as recorded in holy writ. May I read some of them:
“‘Love one another.’
“‘By this shall all men know that ye are my
disciples.’ . . .
“‘Remember the poor, and consecrate of thy
properties for their support, that which thou hast to
impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which
cannot be broken.’
“‘Inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the
poor, ye will do it unto me.’
“‘Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he
also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.’
“It seems to me that the application of the principles
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important task
before us today. As I listened to Elder McKay this
afternoon, telling us of the millions of young people
outside the churches whose hearts are not being
touched by religious instruction, I thought, this Church
must furnish leadership for the world, must show the
way out of this serious economic situation by calling
attention to the message of Jesus and by applying the
principles taught by him.” (In Conference Report, Oct.
1932, pp. 74–75.)
(2-38) Proverbs 21:30. Why Is There No “Counsel
against the Lord”?
No acceptable wisdom, understanding, or counsel
will turn a person away from God. So often the world
seeks to offer counsel and advice that runs counter to
God’s will, but such advice must always be rejected,
for it cannot stand in the eternities.
(2-39) Proverbs 21:31. “Safety Is of the Lord”
Anciently the horse was used only in warfare and
battle; it therefore became a symbol of war and conquest
(see Samuel Fallows, ed., The Popular and Critical Bible
Encyclopedia and Scriptural Dictionary, s.v. “horse”). This
proverb means that people tend to multiply horses, or
seek to defend themselves against their enemies by
preparing for war, when their ultimate safety lies in
trust and faith in God. This lessons seems to be
forgotten, for modern societies increase their
weaponry and give no thought to the role God plays
in their defense.
(2-40) Proverbs 22:6. What Is the Best Way to Train
Children?
Bishop Victor L. Brown suggested that Proverbs 22:6
implies that parents must live the way they want their
children to live:
“Josh Billings paraphrases this truth: ‘To bring up
a child in the way he should go, travel that way
yourself.’ . . .
“Throughout the Church I hear . . . ‘If we did not
have problems with parents, we would not have them
with the young people.’” (In Conference Report, Apr.
1970, p. 31.)
James G. Duffin, a former president of the Central
States Mission, said: “There is a difference between
teaching and training. Teaching is causing the child to
18
understand, training is causing the child to do. Every
act performed is that much done towards fixing habits;
repeated many times, the habit is established. If we
train our children in the ways of the Lord, . . . every
time they perform an act of obedience to the word and
will of our Father in heaven their character becomes
more firmly fixed in doing the things that God requires
of them.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1909, p. 25.)
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, who was then a member
of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “It is so
obvious that the great good and the terrible evil in the
world today are the sweet and the bitter fruits of the
rearing of yesterday’s children. As we train a new
generation, so will the world be in a few years. If you
are worried about the future, then look to the
upbringing of your children. Wisely did the writer of
Proverbs declare, [Proverbs 22:6].” (In Conference
Report, Oct. 1978, p. 25; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 18.)
(2-41) Proverbs 22:28. What Are Landmarks?
Landmarks were not merely places of interest or
distinctive geographical features to the people of the
Middle East. In a world that did not have fenced
property, landmarks were property markers. Even
today in the Middle East one can see piles of rocks
designating the division between one man’s land and
another’s. To move such landmarks was a very serious
thing indeed, since it was the equivalent of stealing
another’s property.
See also Proverbs 23:10.
(2-42) Proverbs 23:7. One’s Actions Follow One’s
Thoughts
President Marion G. Romney emphasized this
proverb in his sesquicentennial conference address:
“The great overall struggle in the world today is, as
it has always been, for the souls of men. Every soul is
personally engaged in the struggle, and he makes his
fight with what is in his mind. In the final analysis the
battleground is, for each individual, within himself.
Inevitably he gravitates toward the subjects of his
thoughts. Ages ago the wise man thus succinctly stated
this great truth: ‘As he thinketh in his heart, so is he’
(Prov. 23:7).
“If we would escape the lusts of the flesh and build
for ourselves and our children great and noble
characters, we must keep in our minds and in their
minds true and righteous principles for our thoughts
and their thoughts to dwell upon.
“We must not permit our minds to become surfeited
with the interests, things, and practices of the world
about us. To do so is tantamount to adopting and
going along with them. . . .
“If we would avoid adopting the evils of the world,
we must pursue a course which will daily feed our
minds with and call them back to the things of the
Spirit.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1980, p. 88; or
Ensign, May 1980, p. 66.)
(2-43) Proverbs 23:16. Why Is the Term Reins Used?
“In the ancient system of physiology the kidneys
[reins] were believed to be the seat of desire and
longing, which accounts for their often being coupled
with the heart” (William Smith, A Dictionary of the
Bible, s.v. “reins”).
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
ECCLESIASTES
(2-46) Ecclesiastes. The Message of the Preacher
Nahal Zin, a scene of Israel’s adversity
The word reins is used frequently in Psalms and in
the famous passage in Job 19:27.
(2-44) Proverbs 24:10. There Is Value “in the Day of
Adversity”
Elder ElRay L. Christiansen commented on this verse:
“Because it is necessary for our development, the
Lord permits the bitter to be mixed with the sweet.
He knows that our individual faith must be tested in
adversity as well as in serenity. Otherwise, that faith
may not be sufficiently developed when a condition
arises that can be met through faith alone.
“. . . Even in times of trouble and tribulation, the
gospel of Christ offers encouragement and gives
assurance.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1969, p. 39.)
(2-45) Proverbs 25:21–22. Heaping Coals of Fire on
Another’s Head
Initially these verses sound as though a person is
instructed to do the right thing for the wrong reason,
that is, to forgive so that one’s enemy will receive a
worse torment. Other scriptures, however, suggest a
different interpretation: bringing someone to repentance
and godly sorrow through sharpening conscience.
(See Romans 12:19–20.)
“The burning of coals laid on the head must be a
painful but wholesome consequence; it is a figure of
self-accusing repentance . . . , [which is produced
through] the showing of good to an enemy. . . . That
God rewards such magnanimity may not be the special
motive; but this view might contribute to it, for otherwise
such promises of God [as Isaiah 58:8–12] were without
moral right. The proverb also requires one to show
himself gentle and liberal toward a needy enemy, and
present a twofold reason for this: first, that thereby his
injustice is brought home to his conscience; and,
secondly, that thus God is well-pleased in such practical
love toward an enemy, and will reward it;—by such
conduct, apart from the performance of a law grounded
in our moral nature, one advances the happiness of his
neighbour and his own.” (C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch,
Commentary on the Old Testament, 6:2:168.)
Ecclesiastes is “a Greek translation of the Hebrew
Koheleth, a word meaning ‘one who convenes an
assembly,’ sometimes rendered Preacher. The book of
Ecclesiastes consists of reflections on some of the deepest
problems of life, as they present themselves to the
thoughtful observer. The epilogue (Eccl. 12:9–14) sets
forth the main conclusions at which the writer has
arrived. The author describes himself as ‘son of David,
king in Jerusalem’ (1:1).
“The book of Ecclesiastes seems permeated with a
pessimistic flavor, but must be read in the light of one
of its key phrases: ‘under the sun’ (1:9), meaning ‘from
a worldly point of view.’ The term vanity also needs
clarification, since as used in Ecclesiastes it means
transitory, or fleeting. Thus the Preacher laments that
as things appear from the point of view of the world,
everything is temporary and soon gone—nothing is
permanent. It is in this light also that the reader must
understand 9:5 and 9:10, which declare that the dead
‘know not any thing,’ and there is no knowledge ‘in the
grave.’ These should not be construed as theological
pronouncements on the condition of the soul after
death; rather, they are observations by the Preacher
about how things appear to men on the earth ‘under
the sun.’ The most spiritual part of the book appears
in chapters 11 and 12, where it is concluded that the
only activity of lasting and permanent value comes
from obedience to God’s commandments, since all
things will be examined in the judgment that God will
render on man.” (Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Ecclesiastes.”)
(2-47) Ecclesiastes 3:1–11. Sequence and Order in
One’s Life
These verses are among those most often quoted from
Ecclesiastes. They suggest that there is an appropriate
time for everything that occurs in human life. Elder
Paul H. Dunn quoted Ecclesiastes 3:1 and commented:
“Our prophet, President Kimball, has counseled
you, young people, particularly young men, as to that
proper sequence. Would you note the sequence of
events that will bring orderliness and happiness to
your life. I quote from our prophet:
“‘One can have all the blessings if he is in control
and takes the experiences in proper turn: first some
limited social get-acquainted contacts, then his mission,
then his courting, then his temple marriage and [now
note] his schooling and his family, then his life’s work.
In any other sequence he could run into difficulty.’
(Spencer W. Kimball, ‘The Marriage Decision,’ Ensign,
Feb. 1975, p. 4.)” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1975,
p. 91; or Ensign, May 1975, p. 62.)
(2-48) Ecclesiastes 4:13. A Willingness to Continue
to Grow
President Brigham Young quoted Ecclesiastes 4:13
and then discussed the importance of one’s continuing
19
to grow: “When I was baptized into this Church, it was
in its infancy, although a considerable number had
been baptized before me, and many of them were older
when they were baptized than I was. They improved,
their minds expanded, they received truth and
intelligence, increased in the knowledge of the things
of God, and bid fair to become full-grown men in
Christ Jesus. But some of them, when they had gained
a little spiritual strength and knowledge, apparently
stopped in their growth. This was in the eastern country,
and but a few years passed before the fruit-trees began
to cease bearing fruit. . . . Like the fruit-trees, they
have ceased to grow and increase and bear the fruits
of the Spirit.” (In Journal of Discourses, 7:335.)
(2-49) Ecclesiastes 5:1–17. Proverbs in Ecclesiastes
These verses are the most positive in Ecclesiastes.
The counsel given here is in the form of brief proverbs
or wise sayings.
(2-50) Ecclesiastes 5:12. The Importance of Loving to
Work
Elder Adam S. Bennion said:
“You remember what the Lord has said: ‘In the
sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.’ (Gen. 3:19.)
And there is this wonderful passage in John. When
the Savior was criticized for something he did on the
Sabbath, he answered his accusers by saying, ‘My
Father worketh hitherto, and I work.’ (John 5:17.)
“And then that memorable passage from
Ecclesiastes:
“‘The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he
eat little or much: (I am glad I have not been rich—
because this next line says) . . . but the abundance of
the rich will not suffer him to sleep.’ (Ecclesiastes 5:12.)
“All my life I have enjoyed the blessed privilege of
living with people who love to work. I rejoice in a
helpmate who delights in keeping up our home. . . .
“Someone has said, ‘Happy is the man who has work
he loves to do,’ but somebody else has added the basic
fundamental thought, ‘Happy is the man who loves the
work he has to do.’” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1955,
pp. 110–11.)
(2-51) Ecclesiastes 7:12. What Can One Take with Him?
In this verse the Preacher comes close to the truth
expressed in Doctrine and Covenants 130:17–19.
(2-52) Ecclesiastes 7:13–29. Does Man Control His
Destiny?
The theme here is resignation to the will of God.
Become content by changing and controlling yourself
and by refraining from doing wicked and foolish
things. Part of wisdom lies in changing what can be
changed and in accepting what cannot.
(2-53) Ecclesiastes 9:11. To Him Who Endures to the End
“The race is not to the swift, nor riches to men of
wisdom. Do not fret, nor be so anxious about property,
nor think that when you have gathered treasures, they
alone will produce joy and comfort; for it is not so.
“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the
strong, nor riches to men of wisdom. The Lord gives
the increase: he makes rich whom he pleases. You may
inquire, ‘Why not make us rich?’ Perhaps, because we
20
would not know what to do with riches.” (Brigham
Young, in Journal of Discourses, 7:241.)
(2-54) Ecclesiastes 10. More Proverbs from the
Preacher
This chapter is primarily a collection of proverbs.
The unifying theme seems to be that without God life
is vanity without purpose. Aside from their pessimistic
outlook, these proverbs differ little from those in the
book of Proverbs.
(2-55) Ecclesiastes 11. Must One Accept What Is?
The stress here is threefold: (1) each individual must
take advantage of opportunities while he has them;
(2) life is uncertain, and there is no guarantee that
opportunities lost will ever return; and (3) one’s future
lies not in changing or in challenging but in accepting
what is and making the most of it.
Jesus taught that we can control our destiny. We do
have some influence on our circumstances as well as
responsibility for how we respond to them. Our
obligation is to do all we can and not just learn to be
resigned to our lot.
(2-56) Ecclesiastes 11:1. The Law of the Harvest
We reap what we sow; we cast our bread on the
waters and get a just return. Every good deed will
have its reward, and every unworthy thought will
register in some recess of the mind.
(2-57) Ecclesiastes 11:3. As the Tree Falls
Brigham Young interpreted this expression as follows,
tieing it to death and the Judgment: “Ere long we will
have to lay down these tabernacles and go into the spirit
world. And I do know that as we lie down, so judgment
will find us, and that is scriptural; ‘as the tree falls so
it shall lie,’ or, in other words, as death leaves us so
judgment will find us.” (In Journal of Discourses, 4:52–53.)
(2-58) Ecclesiastes 12. Life Does Have Meaning
This passage sounds negative, cynical, and without
hope, but one must remember that the Preacher is
speaking from the viewpoint of a man without God.
From the standpoint of the natural man, it is difficult
to argue against Ecclesiastes. When a person puts his
trust in things under the sun (the things of the world),
he finds no lasting spiritual benefits. Energy and labor
expended, wisdom and knowledge acquired, fortune
and prestige gained, goodness and virtue dispensed
are empty without God and pointless in the eternal
scheme of things without accompanying spiritual life.
The purpose of Ecclesiastes is not to grind us down
between futility and despair but to help us remember
that there is meaning only through God and keeping
His commandments. Otherwise all is vanity.
(2-59) Ecclesiastes 12:7. “The Spirit Shall Return unto
God”
“Obviously we could not return to a place where
we had never been, so we are talking about death as a
process as miraculous as birth, by which we return to
‘our Father who art in heaven’” (Harold B. Lee, in
Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 6; or Ensign, Jan.
1974, p. 4).
In a related passage of scripture, Doctrine and
Covenants 88:15–16, the Lord states that the body and
the spirit together make up the soul. The separation of
the body and the spirit is called death; their reuniting
is called resurrection.
(2-60) Ecclesiastes 12:13. “Fear God, and Keep His
Commandments”
This one verse gives meaning to the entire book of
Ecclesiastes. The Preacher finally sums up his whole
philosophy and tells us to “fear God, and keep his
commandments” (v. 13), to put first things first and
all else will have meaning and not be just vanity. Life
need not be empty or useless, spent in pursuing riches,
fame, pleasure, or even wisdom.
Elder Henry D. Taylor, an assistant to the Quorum
of the Twelve, said: “If we keep all of God’s
commandments, we will enjoy a feeling of calmness,
serenity, and strength. This will serve as a bulwark to
protect us against the winds and storms created by the
tensions and uncertainties of present chaotic world
conditions. We need not wait until we get to heaven to
obtain peace and happiness. We can have heaven on
earth, here and now.” (In Conference Report, Oct.
1961, p. 103.)
POINTS TO PONDER
(2-61) Using the Proverbs As a Guide for
Self-Improvement
As you read the book of Proverbs and the book of
Ecclesiastes, many gems of wisdom will attract your
attention. Select the passages that are most important
to you in your own pursuit of a more fulfilling life.
Perhaps you need to work on one of the seven deadly
sins, listed in Proverbs 6:16–19. Or maybe you need to
improve in an aspect of your life such as the following:
1. Taking school and homework more seriously (see
Proverbs 4:7).
2. Controlling your thoughts (see Proverbs 23:7).
3. Controlling your temper (see Proverbs 14:29;
25:28).
4. Developing more self-control (see Proverbs
16:32).
5. Accepting adversity with courage and hope (see
Proverbs 24:10).
6. Keeping your word (see Ecclesiastes 5:4).
7. Putting wealth and comfort in their proper
perspective (see Ecclesiastes 6:2; 9:11).
These are just a few suggestions; you select your
own.
21
© Quebecor World Inc.
Job
3
“Hast Thou
Considered My
Servant Job?”
(3-1) Introduction
“The daily newspaper screamed the headlines:
‘Plane Crash Kills 43. No Survivors of Mountain
Tragedy,’ and thousands of voices joined in a chorus:
‘Why did the Lord let this terrible thing happen?’
“Two automobiles crashed when one went through
a red light, and six people were killed. Why would
God not prevent this?
“Why should the young mother die of cancer and
leave her eight children motherless? Why did not the
Lord heal her?
“A little child was drowned; another was run over.
Why?
“A man died one day suddenly of a coronary
occlusion as he climbed a stairway. His body was
found slumped on the floor. His wife cried out in
agony, ‘Why? Why would the Lord do this to me?
Could he not have considered my three little children
who still need a father?’
“A young man died in the mission field and people
critically questioned: ‘Why did not the Lord protect
this youth while he was doing proselyting work?’”
(Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 95.)
Why do the righteous, those who love and serve
God, suffer? In Job 1:8 the Lord called Job a “perfect
and an upright man.” Why then did the Lord permit
Satan to afflict His righteous servant?
Who is responsible for man’s troubles? Was it the
Lord who directed the plane into the mountainside?
Did God cause the highway collision? Was it He who
prompted the young child to toddle into the canal or
the man to suffer the heart attack? Responding to
these questions, President Kimball said:
“Answer, if you can. I cannot, for though I know
God has a major role in our lives, I do not know how
much he causes to happen and how much he merely
permits. Whatever the answer to this question, there is
another I feel sure about.
“Could the Lord have prevented these tragedies?
The answer is, Yes. The Lord is omnipotent, with all
power to control our lives, save us pain, prevent all
accidents, drive all planes and cars, feed us, protect
us, save us from labor, effort, sickness, even from
death, if he will. But he will not.” (Faith Precedes the
Miracle, p. 96.)
The book of Job is a beautiful literary masterpiece
that deals with this very question: Why do the righteous
suffer? Many lessons are to be learned from the book,
but one distinct lesson emerges above all others: after
his suffering was ended, Job discovered that the Lord
had “blessed the latter end of Job more than his
beginning” (Job 42:12). See if you can discover through
your reading just what blessings Job obtained as a
result of his suffering. In what way was his “end”
better than his “beginning”?
Instructions to Students
1. A study of Job presents a particular challenge
in a limited work such as this manual. Typical
commentaries on the book of Job run to several
hundred pages. The book is long, and its poetic
form is often difficult to follow. Reading 3-2 is an
analysis of the book of Job that captures the
essence of the message and the effect of the
literary form. If you study this reading carefully,
when you read the book of Job itself you will find
it much easier to understand.
2. A short Notes and Commentary is included;
however, Reading 3-2 is your primary reading
assignment. Read both before reading Job.
3. Read the book of Job.
4. No Points to Ponder section is included in
this chapter because of the length of your reading
assignment.
(3-2) The Book of Job
At the Sixth Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium
held at Brigham Young University in January 1978,
Keith H. Meservy, associate professor of ancient
scripture at Brigham Young University, delivered the
following address, entitled “Job: ‘Yet Will I Trust in
Him.’”
“What I say today can be regarded more as my
reflections on the book of Job than any systematic
analysis of its contents. It is a marvelous book and
many superlative statements have been made about it.
In particular, Victor Hugo notes, ‘The book of Job is
perhaps the greatest masterpiece of the human mind’
(Henry H. Halley, Pocket Bible Handbook, Chicago, 1946,
p. 232). Thomas Carlyle says, ‘I call this book apart
from all theories about it, one of the grandest things
ever written. Our first, oldest statement of the never
ending problem—Man’s Destiny, and God’s ways with
him in the earth. There is nothing written, I think of
equal literary merit’ (ibid). An Old Testament scholar,
H. H. Rowley, reflects, ‘The book of Job is the greatest
work of genius in the Old Testament, and one of the
world’s artistic masterpieces’ (H. H. Rowley, The
Growth of the Old Testament, 1966, p. 143). . . .
“I’m impressed that the book of Job vividly
illustrates a teaching from the Lectures on Faith, that if
anyone is to endure in faithfulness in his life, he must
know three things: that God exists, that he is perfect in
his character and in his attributes, and that the course
of life which one pursues is pleasing to the Lord. If
any one of these elements is missing then the full basis
for faith is missing. Job is regarded as a man of faith;
let’s look for these elements in his life.
23
“The very first verse in the book described him as a
man who was ‘perfect and upright, and one that feared
God, and eschewed [or turned away from] evil’ (1:1).
Significantly, the Lord acknowledged in identical
phraseology the goodness of this man (1:8). This
matter-of-fact acceptance of Job’s goodness by the
writer and especially the Lord is paramount to any
satisfactory understanding of the question underlying
this book—why a righteous man suffers. This very
goodness, however, became an issue with the Adversary
(Hebrew: satan; adversary, here: hassatan = the
Adversary). He cynically stated that Job’s good behavior
and reverence had been heavily underwritten by the
Lord when he blessed Job with such a prosperous and
rewarding life—who wouldn’t serve God under such
circumstances?
“He who poses such questions seems never to learn.
On another occasion, he would take this same Lord, the
Word now made flesh, to the top of a high mountain
and offer to buy his allegiance, in a way reminiscent of
the way he thought the Word had bought the allegiance
of Job—by showing him all the kingdoms of the world
and the glory thereof, and then promising him who
had no place even to lay his head, that, ‘all these things
will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me’
(Matt. 4:8–9). How frustrated Satan must be to realize
that for such occasions he never has the true coin.
Ironically, he who said, ‘Get thee hence, Satan: for it is
written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him
only shalt thou serve’ (vs. 10), placed Job in the hands
of this same Adversary with the words, ‘All that he
hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth
thine hand’ (Job 1:12).
“In one day, Job was impoverished—all the bases of
his wealth—oxen, asses, servants, sheep, camels, even
his posterity, were obliterated. Job’s submissive response
to such a negating blow was as complete as Jesus’,
‘Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked
shall I return thither: The Lord gave, and the Lord
hath taken away: Blessed be the name of the Lord’
(1:21). ‘In all this,’ says the record, ‘Job sinned not,
nor charged God foolishly’ (1:22).
“Satan had erred in concluding that goods, wealth
and even posterity, were the essence of Job’s life, since
the meaning of life for him transcended the loss of all
of these things. . . .
“With impeccable faith he had kept his hand on the
plow and maintained his integrity (2:3).
“Satan, seeking deeper reasons for Job’s fidelity,
concluded that Job would ultimately turn from the
Lord if he could be hurt enough. ‘Skin for skin, yea,
all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put
forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his
flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.’ The Lord
replied simply, ‘He is in thine hand; but save his life’
(2:4–6). With devilish power Satan then inflicted Job
with sore boils, making him so miserable that his wife
urged him to curse God and die. Heroically, Job replied
simply, ‘What? Shall we receive good at the hand
of God, and shall we not receive evil?’ Our author
succinctly concluded, ‘In all this did not Job sin with his
lips’ (2:10). Thus, Satan’s contention was demonstrably
wrong, Job’s faith had not and did not fail and the
Lord was vindicated.
“As becomes apparent, however, Job’s struggle was
not over. His test, as severe as it was, was not merely
24
to be impoverished, left without offspring, and afflicted
with pain for a day and then, having passed the test,
find release. Time’s leavening must sharpen his
pain, deepen his disappointment and intensify his
discouragement, to see if heightened tension would
break his spirit and drive him from the Lord. Job had
well sustained the initial shock but when successive
waves engulfed the total reality of his daily life, would
he still endure? This question neither he nor the devil
could answer initially. Thus, time was assigned to
chew away at Job’s inner strength until he became
miserable—miserable in spirit and body, so miserable
in fact, that death appeared in his mind as a coveted,
comforting, liberating friend. Who can imagine the
state of his mind at this point? Perhaps some of us,
maybe none of us. One thing, however, is clear. If we
are to empathize at all with his feelings, we must see
his life from his own perspective. Job permitted us this
by opening his heart and vividly contrasting his
present misery with his former blessed state.
“The author himself supplied the note that formerly
Job had been one of the greatest of all men of the east.
He then showed Job looking back nostalgically through
his grief to those days when God matter-of-factly
preserved him, when his candle shined on Job’s head
and when by his light he walked through the darkness.
At that time, all men, young, aged, princes, nobles
alike paid deference to Job. Highly regarded at all
levels of society, his counsel was often sought and
never superseded. Beloved by all, he was a boon to
anyone in need. In such circumstances, Job took great
comfort in feeling that he was as secure as a root in a
well-watered soil. His days ahead would multiply like
sand and he would die securely in his nest with his
glory round about him, dwelling as a chief among his
people. [Note Job’s words in 29:2–11, 18–20.]
“Then the change. We have noted already the loss of
wealth, health, and posterity. But his hurts continued
to rise in successive waves till death seemed to be a
deliverer from a pain-engulfed life. What were these
hurtful waves?
“First: We must recognize without knowing exactly
what it was that he suffered from physically. From the
symptoms, some have said that it appears that he had
elephantiasis. Sore boils, one of the symptoms of this
disease, had attacked ‘Job’s body, forming large
pustules which itched so greatly that a piece of pottery
was used to scrape them. Job’s face was so disfigured
that his friends could not recognize him. Worms or
maggots were bred in the sores (7:5). His breath became
so foul and his body emitted such an odor, that even
his friends abhorred him (19:17ff), and he sought refuge
outside the city on the refuse heap where outcasts and
lepers lived. Pain was his constant companion (30:17,
30) as were also terrifying nightmares (7:14).’ (The
Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible, The
Westminster Press, Philadelphia, p. 641, note.) . . .
“Second: whereas, formerly old, young, princes and
nobles alike honored Job, he now felt abused by those
whom society itself rejects; who live on the outskirts
of town, among the bushes, along the ditchbanks, or
in caves.
“Job says of them: ‘They that are younger than I
have me in derision, whose fathers I would have
disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock . . .
They were driven forth from men, (they cried after
them as a thief) . . . they were children of fools, yea
children of base men: they were viler than the earth.
And now I am their song, yea, I am their byword.
They abhor me, they flee far from me and spare not to
spit in my face. Because he hath loosed my cord, and
afflicted me. They have also let loose the bridle before
me. Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push
away my feet, and they raise up against me the days
of their destruction. They mar my path, they set
forward my calamity . . .’ (30:1, 5, 8–13). . . .
“The loss of his prosperity, property and wealth
with its related loss of security was one thing; and loss
of health and strength with pain and misery as daily
attendants, was another, but for some unexplained
reason, at this critical juncture in his life Job suffered
a loss that, in its way, may have been as significant
as any of these others. He lost the support that loyal
friends and loving kinsfolk might have given had they
but rallied around him in this trying moment of his
life. But, oddly enough, this was not to be. Thus, in his
deepest need, Job stood awesomely alone, isolated
from any who might have commiserated with him in
this trying time. And, here again, he held the Lord
responsible for having effected this rupture between
him and his friends.
“‘He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine
acquaintance are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk
have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.
They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count
me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight. I called
my servant, and he gave me no answer; I entreated
him with my mouth. My breath is strange to my wife,
though I entreated for the children’s sake of mine own
body. Yea young children despised me; I arose, and
they spake against me. All my inward friends abhorred
me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.
My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am
escaped with the skin of my teeth. Have pity upon me,
have pity upon me, O ye my friends: for the hand of
God hath touched me. Why do ye persecute me as
God?’ (19:13–22).
“Even Job’s wife became hopeless and, failing to
comfort him, helpless, challenging him rather to ‘curse
God and die.’ Under these circumstances, ‘when other
helpers fail and comforts flee,’ many in their deepest
need and most trying time have looked to the ‘Help of
the helpless’ to abide with them, needing his presence;
what else but his grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Job, too. Hadn’t God’s candle always before shined
upon his head whenever he walked through the
darkness? Hadn’t he always been a party to the secrets
of the Lord? (21:3–5). Surely Job could turn again to
the Lord in this time of distress. . . .
“. . . But the heavens remained still silent. And for a
good reason too, as we know, silence itself had become
part of the test. But what a problem this posed for Job.
Deep, depressing darkness cowed him by its awful
blackness and terrified him by its pervasiveness. Listen
to his anguished plea with the Lord for soul-relief,
relief that included an answer to his persistent but
continually unanswered question: Why? Why? Why?
“. . . ‘Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for
thine enemy?’ (13:20–24, emphasis added.) ‘Behold, I cry
out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is
no judgment. He hath fenced up my way that I cannot
pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths’ (19:6–8,
emphasis added). ‘O that one might plead for a man
with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbor!’ (16:21).
‘Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might
come even to his seat! I would order my cause before
him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know
the words which he would answer me, and understand
what he would say unto me. Will he plead against me
with his great power? No; but he would put strength
in me. There the righteous might dispute with him; so
should I be delivered for ever from my judge. Behold,
I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but
I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth
work, but I cannot behold him: He hideth himself on the
right hand that I cannot see him’ (23:3–13, emphasis
added).
“Thus, Job, in turn deprived inexplicably in his own
mind of his wealth, his family, and his health, living
daily in much pain, deprived of the psychological and
spiritual support of friends and loved ones who
should have cared, ultimately finds himself deprived
of the support of the Lord—the greatest of all comforters.
No one seems to have asked Job which of these losses
afflicted him the most; but, at least, initially, Job was
able to say of the Lord that he had given, he had also
taken away. One, therefore, suspects that in the long
run his greatest loss and deepest need came when he
finally realized that the Lord was not responding to
his heart-felt cries. . . .
“These personal sentiments of Job expose somewhat
his physical, psychological and spiritual suffering
and prepare us to accept his feeling that under such
circumstances death, by way of contrast, would be a
great comfort. We note emphatically, however, that Job
never appeared to have contemplated suicide. He
just longed for death. In these circumstances, three
comforters appeared on the scene. To their credit, out
of deference to Job they remained silent until he had
spoken. The first remarks they heard him make,
showed how much and how earnestly he desired a
death that constantly eluded his chastened aspirations.
[See Job 6:8–11.] . . .
“Job, partially unburdened, was addressed by the
first of the comforters, who presented to Job what
now became his ultimate affliction—the uncomfort
of comforting men to whom he finally said,
‘Miserable comforters are ye all.’ He had attempted
to express to them how deep his anguish was, they,
uncomprehending, rejected the cry of his soul and
drew conclusions about his ultimate need, inferring
in the process that he had forsaken the Lord and,
consequently, suffered divine affliction. They prescribed
repentance if ever he hoped to regain divine favor
again. Their imputation of sin to him when he knew
that he was sinless, angered him. Blindly they spoke
not to his need but to their own. When he affirmed his
integrity, they charged him with self-righteousness,
and increasingly attempted to shake him loose from
what they regarded as a self-complacency born
of his insuperable self-righteousness. This mutual
misunderstanding led ultimately to the frustration
of both Job and his comforters.
“The first imputation of sin was made by Eliphaz,
who began generally enough but ended up finally
charging Job with specific sins, sins that anyone who
really knew his character could not and would not
believe.
25
Animals are forms of Eastern wealth.
“By noting that Job himself had been the kind
of person who has always ‘strengthened the weak
hands . . . and upholden him that was falling and
strengthened the feeble knees,’ (4:3–4) they felt
encouraged to offer Job the kind of help that they felt
he had formerly given to others. In Eliphaz’ mind this
meant facing Job up to his real need—an honest
assessment of his situation. Said Eliphaz, ‘Remember,
I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? Or
where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen,
they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness reap the
same, By the blast of God they perish, and by the
breath of his nostrils are they consumed (4:7–9).’ No
question in his mind, Job appeared to have been cut
off, to have felt the blast of God, and the breath of his
nostrils. The implication was all too clear to Job.
“Granted the validity of the ‘law of the harvest’
or the principle of cause and effect, but for them to
reason from the effects to the cause and conclude that
only a life out of harmony with the Lord could
produce the kind of effects that Job was getting is
something that we, the readers, the Lord, Satan, and
Job all know was not true. And this invalid judgment
made their counsel irrelevant. But this was not the
only problem their counsel possessed for Job. His
double loss by their kind of comfort was to be
deprived of the much-needed support they could
have given him if they had understood his true
position, and also to be forced to listen to an
insinuating, demoralizing kind of criticism that must
have undermined his personal reserve, and devastated
a man whose days already were spent without hope.
Eliphaz’ concluding counsel to Job was for him to
humble himself, commit his life to God and despise
not his chastening, and then the Lord would heal him
and bind up his wounds. Galling balm indeed!
26
“Job attempted communication on another level,
hoping to gain some empathy by telling them how
hurtful his hurts really were: ‘Oh that my grief were
thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the
balances together! For now it would be heavier than
the sand of the sea’ (6:2–3). He asked of them
something which he had been asking of the Lord. If
they really wanted to serve his needs they must help
him see clearly what he must do in order to obtain
divine favor again. ‘Teach me, and I will hold my
tongue; and cause me to understand wherein I have
erred. How forcible are right words? But what doth
your arguing reprove?’ (6:24–25). Job knew they had
not yet perceived the source of his problem but
honestly invited their clearer perception of his
predicament.
“After Bildad’s insinuation (8:2–6) and Job’s
extended speech (chs. 9–10), Zophar stepped into the
discussion, wondering if such a long speech could
vindicate anyone. Actually, he suspected that Job was
rationalizing and charged him, in addition, with lying
and mocking. ‘Should thy lies make men hold their
peace? And when thou mockest, shall no man make
thee ashamed? For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure,
and I am clean in thine (God’s) eyes. But oh that God
would speak, and open his lips against thee: and that
he would show thee the secrets of wisdom, that they
are double to that which is! Know therefore that God
exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth’
(11:3–6). As a friend, it seemed that Zophar willingly
twisted the blade that Eliphaz had deftly driven into
Job’s tender heart. ‘Prepare thine heart,’ said he, pray
to God, and ‘if iniquity be in thine hand, put it far
away’ (11:13–20).
“Time will not allow us to discuss the rest of the
speeches. Job insisted that as a man of integrity he was
following the correct course for him. If he were to do
as they suggested, and go either right or left from where
he was, he would be deviating from the truth. Having
asked both the Lord and his fellows for better direction,
he had learned that the Lord had said nothing, and the
comforters, though saying much, had misjudged his
situation, and consequently said nothing relevant.
“Some infer from the positive nature of Job’s
statements that he was an arrogant, self-righteous
person, yet, our data suggests just the opposite. He
was a man whose right relationship with the Lord led
him to speak with great confidence. There are some
marvelous passages in the book that vividly reflect his
sense of integrity. For example: ‘As God liveth, who
hath taken away my judgments; and the Almighty who
hath vexed my soul; All the while my breath is in me,
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; my lips shall
not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.
God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will
not remove mine integrity from me. My righteousness
I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not
reproach me so long as I live’ (27:2–6, cf. ch. 31).
“Job’s statements about himself indicate an
important reason why he continued to trust the Lord.
He knew that the course of life he was pursuing was
pleasing to the Lord. He also knew that he had
maintained this course under considerable stress,
which he also regarded as being a test from the Lord.
Thus, Job, as a God-fearing man, maintained his
integrity not only to God, but also to himself, knowing
that the two of them were in complete harmony. At the
same time, his continuing trust in the Lord under such
intense stress says volumes about the quality of the
knowledge he had about the nature and character of
the Lord whom he served. And that, of course, was
at the heart of his test—why should he continue to
serve the Lord when life and its meaning seemed
so adverse to his (Job’s) own nature and character?
The Adversary himself had concluded that intolerable
circumstances such as these would drive the last
feelings of loyalty out of the heart of the most ardent
follower of the Lord. He did not, however, know how
well Job knew the Lord and that the better anyone
knows the Lord the more worthy of trust he appears.
This experience, then, with Job must have shattered
and discouraged him in his adversary role. And Job,
almost as if he knew what had been in the Adversary’s
mind, cried out to his comforters in such words of
integrity and faith that under the circumstances it
would be hard, if not impossible, to parallel, and
provided, in doing so, the ultimate answer to the
Adversary.
“‘Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak,
and let come on me what will. Wherefore do I take
my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand?
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will
maintain mine own ways before him. He also shall be
my salvation: for a hypocrite shall not come before him.
Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with
your ears. Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I
know that I shall be justified’ (13:13–18, emphasis
added). This is not an arrogant, proud voice, but the
voice of a divinely assured son of God, who knows
the source of his strength and integrity.
“In the fiery furnace, Job had shown not only the
Adversary but also himself that the correct knowledge
about God and a right relationship with him were of
more value than anything he had obtained out of
life—including length of days, offspring, friends, and
loved ones, even wealth and health. Job’s simple but
profound, ‘though he slay me, yet will I trust in him’
becomes then an absolute refutation of every argument
of the adversary about why men serve the Lord and
shows that the devil either lied or was deluded when
he said otherwise. Thus, it is in this, the thirteenth
chapter where Job demonstrates how profound his
knowledge and faith in God is, and not the nineteenth
or forty-second, that for me the high point of the book
of Job is reached.
“In this light President McKay has said that he has
always ‘thought that the purpose of the book of Job
was to emphasize the fact that the testimony of the
spirit—the testimony of the Gospel, is beyond the
power of Satan’s temptation or any physical influence’
(Dedication of the Salt Lake Temple Annex in 1963,
Deseret News). The book of Job therefore becomes a
great testimonial to us of this great truth. Thus, the
three things that any person must know if he is to
have faith in the Lord are all reflected in Job’s life.
His marvelous testimony, ‘I know that my Redeemer
liveth’ (19:25), indicates how well he knew of the Lord’s
existence. Statements like the one in ch. 13, ‘Though he
slay me, yet will I trust in him,’ indicated how well he
knew the Being in whom he trusted. And finally, the
knowledge that the course of life that he was pursuing
was pleasing unto the Lord, all gave him the strength
to endure in faithfulness when adversity came into his
life. His life, then vividly illustrates that such faith
comes when one knows that God exists, that he is
perfect in his character and attributes, and that the
course of life one pursues is pleasing to the Lord. . . .
“. . . Obviously, more was involved in this personal
encounter than first appears to the reader. There
was more going on here than the Lord showing the
Adversary why men serve him. One must infer that
the experience was ultimately most meaningful to Job
rather than to the Lord or Satan. . . .
“Elsewhere, we note that the Lord did stand by Job
and Job knew it. So it may well be that as with the rich
young man who came to Jesus asking, ‘what shall I do
that I may inherit eternal life?’, that Job, too, had one
thing that he lacked and that the Lord ‘beholding him
loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest
. . .’ (Mark 10:17–21), and the only thing that Job
lacked was the perfection of his faith, as the following
extract from the Lectures on Faith may suggest. For the
perfection of his faith could only come when he had
sacrificed his all and knew that he had sacrificed his
all because the Lord had commanded it—after all,
he did know that the Lord was responsible for his
predicament. And a sacrifice by its very nature is a test
of obedience and obedience is a sign of faith. Keep Job
in mind while reading the following text:
“‘An actual knowledge to any person, that the
course of life which he pursues is according to the will
of God, is essentially necessary to enable him to have
that confidence in God without which no person can
obtain eternal life. It was this that enabled the ancient
saints to endure all their afflictions and persecutions,
and to take joyfully the spoiling of their goods,
27
knowing (not believing merely) that they had a more
enduring substance.’ (Hebrews x. 34). . . .
“‘Let us here observe, that a religion that does not
require the sacrifice of all things never has power
sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and
salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith
necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation
never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all
earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this
only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy
eternal life; and it is through the medium of the
sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually
know that they are doing the things that are well
pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered
in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even
withholding his life, and believing before God that he
has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks
to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God
does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that
he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under
these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith
necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.
“‘Those, then, who make the sacrifice, will have the
testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of
God: and those who have this testimony will have
faith to lay hold on eternal life, and will be enabled,
through faith, to endure unto the end, and receive the
crown that is laid up for them that love the appearing
of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . .’ (Lectures on Faith,
N. B. Lundwall, Salt Lake City, Utah, n.d., pp. 57–59).
“The story of Job demonstrates the truth of this
concept. We come then to the end of the book where
we find the Lord through vivid figures of speech
attempting to unsettle Job for presuming to question
the Lord’s dealings with him (chs. 38–39). Job is then
challenged to explain why he did this. ‘Shall he
that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him?
He that reproveth God, let him answer it’ (40:2). Job
acknowledged that he had spoken once, but, for reasons
apparent later (see below), he promised not to speak
twice (40:3–5). The Lord then asked ‘Wilt thou condemn
me, that thou mayest be righteous?’ (40:8). What
soul-searching questions! Further vivid figures of the
Lord’s power and wisdom follow in chapters 40–41,
leading Job to confess that he had uttered things that
he did not understand (42:3). Job had learned anew
not to counsel the Lord but to ‘take counsel from his
hand’ (Jacob 4:10). . . .
“This is something that Job understood (ch. 9), but
now in some way inexplicable to us he had come to
understand something more about the Lord through a
‘seeing’ experience than he had then understood when
he had only ‘heard’ of him. Said he, ‘I have heard of
thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth
thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and
ashes’ (42:5–6).
“The trial being over, this blessing had come to Job,
he now perceived the imperceivable. The implication
is that Job now accepted all that had happened to him
without further questioning of the divine providence.
It is almost as though Job ended up by saying, ‘All is
well! All is well!’ His most recent personal encounter
with the Lord, whatever it consisted of, had taught
him this.
“It is difficult to live with tension, but mortality—
where we see through the glass darkly—is filled with
28
it. There are always ultimate answers to what may
appear to be meaninglessness or inexplicability in our
lives, though these are not immediately apparent to us,
the Lord however, has promised to supply them—
eventually (D&C 121:28–32; 101:27–35). Any individual
who insists that a good religious belief must explain
all of life’s contingencies if it is to be believable and
acceptable, should re-read Job or take counsel from
Elder Harold B. Lee who affirmed:
“‘It is not the function of religion to answer all
questions about God’s moral government of the
universe, but to give courage (through faith) to go on
in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in
his present status. Therefore, take heed of yourselves,
and as a wise world thinker once said, “If the time
comes when you feel you can no longer hold to your
faith, then hold to it anyway. You cannot go into
tomorrow’s uncertainty and dangers without faith”’
(Church News, source not quoted).” (Keith H. Meservy,
“Job: ‘Yet Will I Trust in Him,’” pp. 139–53.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
JOB
(3-3) Job. How Is the Book of Job Organized?
Many Bible scholars divide the book of Job into
three parts: the prologue, the poem, and the epilogue.
Chapters 1 and 2 are the prologue, which sets the stage
and introduces the plot. Chapters 3 through 42:6 are
the poem, which is written in a Hebrew poetic form
(even though the language of the King James Version
is very poetic in these chapters, it does not quite
capture the poetic quality and form of the original
Hebrew). The poem includes the speeches of Job’s
three friends, Job’s replies to them, and the discourses
of the young man, Elihu, who thinks he can do a better
job of solving the riddle of Job’s suffering than did
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. The last eleven verses of
Job are the epilogue, which simply reports the final
blessing and benediction of the Lord. It, like the
prologue, is written in prose.
(3-4) Job 1:1. Was Job a Real Person?
Scholars have not been as concerned with who Job
was as they have been with whether or not he was a
real person. Adam Clarke wrote of Job’s identity and
existence: “I shall not trouble my readers with the
arguments which have been used by learned men, pro
and con, relative to the particulars already mentioned:
were I to do this, I must transcribe a vast mass of
matter, which, though it might display great learning
in the authors, would most certainly afford little
edification to the great bulk of my readers. My own
opinion on those points they may naturally wish to
know; and to that opinion they have a right: it is such
as I dare avow, and such as I feel no disposition to
conceal. I believe Job to have been a real person, and his
history to be a statement of facts.” (The Holy Bible . . .
with a Commentary and Critical Notes, 3:5.)
Meservy noted: “Although some scholars have felt
that the book is not a true story about a real man, I
think the majority of the scholars do. Granted, it is
a literary work with a prologue (chs. 1–2) and an
epilogue (ch. 42) that were composed in narrative form
and a body of the work (3–41) that was composed in
Hebrew poetry, but to say that it is a literary composition
is not to deny its basis in fact, any more than to say
that a book, play, or even a musical based on Joseph
Smith’s life is not true because it is an artistic or literary
work. Ezekiel and James, for example, regarded him as
historical and referred to Job among the great individuals
known for their faith and prayer power (Ezekiel 14:14,
20; James 5:11). This is significant. There are other
reasons for regarding Job as an historical person but,
to me, the most decisive criterion in this regard, is the
fact that when Joseph Smith and his people were in
great distress, and Joseph Smith went to the Lord and
said, ‘Oh God, where art thou? Where is the pavilion
that covereth thy hiding place.’ The Lord responded to
his appeal for help by saying, ‘my son, peace be to thy
soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but
a small moment; and then if thou endure it well, God
shall exalt thee on high . . . Thou art not yet as Job; thy
friends do not contend against thee, neither charge
thee with transgressions, as they did Job’ (D&C 121:7–10,
emphasis added). Now, if Job were not real and his
suffering, therefore, were merely the figment of some
author’s imagination, and Joseph Smith on the other
hand was very real, and his suffering and that of his
people were not imaginary, then for the Lord to chide
him because his circumstances were not as bad as Job’s
were, would provide an intolerable comparison, since
one cannot compare real with unreal things. On the
other hand, since the Lord did make the comparison,
it must be a real one. I would, therefore, conclude on
this basis alone, that Job was a very real person. The
Brethren, also, when they have referred to Job, have
regarded him as a real person, for example, John
Taylor, Journal of Discourses 7:197–198; 18:309–310;
20:305–306; 22:319–320; Wilford Woodruff, Journal of
Discourses 18:30; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses
19:315.” (“Job: ‘Yet Will I Trust in Him,’” pp. 154–55.)
(3-5) Job 1:7–12; 2:1–6. Did God Converse with Satan?
Some have questioned whether God converses with
the devil and his spirit-followers as described here.
These verses may be a poetic way of setting the stage
for what follows in Job’s life—his afflictions, temptations,
loss of worldly goods—rather than a reporting of an
actual conversation. The Lord does not bargain with
Satan or agree to his evil deeds. However, Satan is
permitted by the Lord to afflict and torment man until
Lucifer’s allotted time on earth is done. Thus, Job’s
trials would be consistent with the concept that Satan
was allowed by God to bring the afflictions upon Job,
not because of a bargain God made with Satan, but
because it fit God’s purposes for Job.
Meservy suggested that the appearance of Satan to
the “sons of God,” however, can be explained literally:
“Is the portrayal of the devil in chs. 1–2 a true one? I
believe so. We are told there that Satan came among
the sons of God? Who are these sons? Usually this
term means in the scriptures those who have covenanted
to serve the Lord and are willing to take his name
upon them by baptism and are born again, and are
then led by the Spirit of God. These are his sons and
these are they who cry ‘Abba Father.’ (Moses 6:65–68,
7:1; Mosiah 5:7–10, 15:10–12; D&C 11:30, 39:4–6,
76:23–24, 51–60; Romans 8, esp. vv. 14–17). Our author
says, ‘there was a day when the Sons of God came to
present themselves before the Lord and Satan came
also among them’ (Job 1:6). This would suggest that
Satan came among the faithful when they met to carry
out their religious devotions. At the time the Lord
chose to single out one of them in a remark to Satan.”
(“Job: ‘Yet Will I Trust in Thee,’” p. 155.)
(3-6) Job 13:7–28. Trust in God
Job, while he did not understand why God permitted
his affliction, would not judge the Lord nor lose his
faith in Him. “Let me alone,” he said to his friends,
“let come on me what will” (v. 13). God was his
salvation, and Job trusted in Him alone. Job saw his
afflictions in perspective. As President Spencer W.
Kimball said: “If we looked at mortality as the whole
of existence, then pain, sorrow, failure, and short life
would be calamity. But if we look upon life as an
eternal thing stretching far into the premortal past
and on into the eternal post-death future, then all
happenings may be put in proper perspective.” (Faith
Precedes the Miracle, p. 97.)
Job’s friends challenged God’s wisdom, and they
saw Job’s suffering as a punishment sent from God.
But Job had a greater understanding. He knew that
God was there, although his prayers for relief were
not answered as he might wish. Should his suffering
really have been the result of personal sin, he begged
the Lord to cause him to know so that he could
repent (v. 23).
But suffering is not always the result of sin.
Suffering has a larger purpose, part of which is
educative. President Kimball said:
“Is there not wisdom in his giving us trials that we
might rise above them, responsibilities that we might
achieve, work to harden our muscles, sorrows to try
our souls? Are we not exposed to temptations to test
our strength, sickness that we might learn patience,
death that we might be immortalized and glorified?
“If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all
the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed,
the whole program of the Father would be annulled
and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency,
would be ended. No man would have to live by faith.
“If joy and peace and rewards were instantaneously
given the doer of good, there could be no evil—all
would do good but not because of the rightness of
doing good. There would be no test of strength, no
development of character, no growth of powers, no
free agency, only satanic controls.
“Should all prayers be immediately answered
according to our selfish desires and our limited
understanding, then there would be little or no
suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death,
and if these were not, there would also be no joy,
success, resurrection, nor eternal life and godhood.”
(Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 97.)
(3-7) Job 19:26. “Yet in My Flesh Shall I See God”
In the King James Version, this verse affirms Job’s
faith in a physical resurrection. In many other versions
of the Bible, however, this verse does not affirm such
a belief; in fact, in these versions Job says he will see
God but not in his flesh. How is it possible that two
29
completely contradictory translations could come from
the same text? Meservy explained:
“We might note parenthetically that the great
testimony of Job in 19:26 has been interpreted in two
ways: ‘Yet in my flesh shall I see God’ (King James
Version) and ‘Then without my flesh shall I see God.’
(Jewish Publication Society Version, 1917). The first of
these implies the literal resurrection, the other does
not. The Hebrew text says, ‘from my flesh,’ and this
can be interpreted in either sense. The same ambiguity
applies to English usage. If I say, ‘from the house I saw
him coming,’ I could have been inside the house or
just outside the house when I saw him coming. Thus,
one’s theology determines how one translates this
passage.
“Latter-day Saints do not depend upon this passage
to establish their belief in a literal resurrection, but
point to it as one more glorious affirmation of it.”
(“Job: ‘Yet Will I Trust in Him,’” p. 158.)
(3-8) Job 29:16–17. A Truly Righteous Man
Perhaps this is the secret of Job’s perfection: he did
not help only those who asked for his help; he sought
out people to give help to.
As a king Job was obligated to defend those who
relied on him for defense. For example, when Job
found someone who had been plundered by robbers,
he hunted down the thieves and used force, if
necessary, to recover the stolen goods and restore
them to their owner.
Job was not a Robin Hood, plundering one segment
of society to provide for another. The only rich man
he plundered was himself, and he did that freely.
Commenting on Job’s righteousness. Clarke wrote:
“As supreme magistrate he chose out their way, adjusted
their differences, and sat chief, presiding in all their
civil assemblies.
“As captain general he dwelt as a king in the midst of
his troops, preserving order and discipline, and seeing
that his fellow soldiers were provided with requisites
for their warfare, and the necessaries of life.
“As a man he did not think himself superior to the
meanest offices in domestic life, to relieve or support
30
his fellow creatures; he went about comforting the
mourners—visiting the sick and afflicted, and ministering
to their wants, and seeing that the wounded were
properly attended. Noble Job! Look at him, ye nobles
of the earth, ye lieutenants of counties, ye generals of
armies, and ye lords of provinces. Look at JOB! Imitate
his active benevolence, and be healthy and happy. Be
as guardian angels in your particular districts, blessing
all by your example and your bounty. Send your hunting
horses to the plough, your game cocks to the dunghill;
and at last live like men and Christians.” (Commentary,
3:132.)
This was not the Job of the ash heap and the boils;
this was the great man of the East whom God called
perfect (see Job 1:8).
(3-9) Job 42:10, 13. Why Didn’t the Lord Double the
Number of Job’s Children?
Job 42:10 states that “the Lord gave Job twice as
much as he had before.” Then, after listing double the
number of livestock, the writer added: “He had also
seven sons and three daughters” (v. 13; emphasis
added). Originally Job had seven sons and three
daughters. A doubling of his former blessings might
suggest that he would then receive fourteen more sons
and six more daughters, but instead he had just the
original number restored to him. How could that be
viewed as a doubling? C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch gave
an answer that should have more meaning to Latter-day
Saints than to anyone in the gentile world:
“The numbers of the stock of cattle [see Job 1:3] now
appear doubled, but it is different with the children.
“Therefore, instead of [doubling] the seven sons and
three daughters which he had, he receives just the
same again, which is also so far a doubling, as
deceased children also, according to the Old Testament
view, are not absolutely lost [see 2 Samuel 12:23]. The
author of this book, in everything to the most minute
thing consistent, here gives us to understand that with
men who die and depart from us the relation is
different from that with things which we have lost.”
(Commentary on the Old Testament, 4:2:390.)
Enrichment
The Divided
Kingdoms
(A-1) Introduction
Before Israel had even entered the promised land,
Moses prophetically counseled them about establishing
kings to rule over them. The instructions were clear:
if the people ever chose to have a king, they must
select someone who met certain criteria.
A king had to be—
1. One chosen by the Lord.
2. A member of the house of Israel and not a Gentile.
3. One who did not seek to “multiply horses”
(a Hebrew idiom meaning to make extensive
preparations for aggressive warfare).
4. One who would not lead Israel back to Egypt
(back to their worldly ways).
5. One who would not multiply wives and wealth
unto himself.
6. One who followed the law of God in ruling the
people.
7. One who kept the statutes of God (see
Deuteronomy 17:14–20; Mosiah 23:8; 29:13).
In the days of the prophet Samuel, the people rejected
the rule of the judges and sought for a king to be their
ruler. They forgot, however, what the Lord had directed
them centuries before. They wanted a king such as
other nations had so “that [Israel] also may be like all
the nations” (1 Samuel 8:20). Samuel warned them of
the consequences of having a king such as this. He
warned of military and civil service to the monarch
and of the burden of taxation. (See 1 Samuel 8:9–18;
Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel
[religion 301, 2003], p. 271; Mosiah 29:21–23.)
Nevertheless, Israel rejected the Lord as their rightful
king (see 1 Samuel 8:7); so the Lord directed His
prophet to provide them a king.
Saul was chosen as the first king, and under his
leadership the foundations of the kingdom were laid.
The land was united and greatly strengthened under
the kingship of David. Finally, under Solomon, Israel
reached its greatest glory and its greatest expansion.
The first three kings of Israel achieved many significant
things, but their worldly government cultivated the
seeds of the destruction that was to come upon the
nation. (See chapter 1 of this manual, “Solomon: Man
of Wisdom, Man of Foolishness.”)
After the death of Solomon, a schism over taxation
divided the nation into two kingdoms. Rehoboam,
Solomon’s son and anointed successor, ruled over the
Southern Kingdom, which was composed of the
territory belonging to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
The house of David continued to govern this nation
until the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. A newly
proclaimed king, Jeroboam, ruled over the Northern
Kingdom, called the kingdom of Israel, which was
composed of the territory of the remaining ten tribes.
Jeroboam was followed by a series of kings for the
next two hundred years. In both the Northern and the
Southern Kingdoms, the criteria established by the
Lord was largely ignored, and both Israel and Judah
reaped the sad results.
A
(A-2) Overview of the Kingdom of Israel (Northern
Kingdom)
Jeroboam, an Ephraimite who had been a military
leader in the army of Israel during Solomon’s reign,
was rewarded for his accomplishments with a
building project in the city of David. He was made an
administrator over all the house of Joseph, that is, over
the territorial districts of the tribes of Ephraim and
Manasseh, two of the most powerful tribes in Israel
(see 1 Kings 11:26–28). Later, Ahijah, a prophet of that
day, revealed to Jeroboam that he, Jeroboam, would
become the ruler of the northern ten tribes (see
1 Kings 11:29–39).
Solomon, fearful of Jeroboam, sought his life.
Jeroboam fled to Egypt, where he lived in exile until
after Solomon’s death (see 1 Kings 11:40; 12:2–3). The
people of the north called Jeroboam out of Egypt to
lead their confrontation with Rehoboam, Solomon’s
son (see 1 Kings 12).
As part of this rebellion, the northern people
seceded from Judah and made Jeroboam their king.
They became known as the kingdom of Israel, or the
Northern Kingdom. This kingdom was often referred
to as Ephraim, particularly by the prophets, because
the tribe of Ephraim was a dominant power from the
days of Joshua to the time of Jeroboam (see Numbers
13:3, 8; 14:6).
The capital of the Northern Kingdom was established
first in Shechem and later in Samaria, both of which
cities were located in the territory of the tribe of
Ephraim. Sometimes the names of these cities were
used to mean the whole of the Northern Kingdom.
(See Isaiah 7:1–9; Jeremiah 7:15; 31:9; Ezekiel 37:16–19;
Hosea 4:17.)
With the power of kingship, Jeroboam established
a state religion of idolatrous worship (see 1 Kings
12:25–33). The new nation never repented of this
wickedness, which contributed to its downfall.
Twenty monarchs ruled the Northern Kingdom from
its beginning until its destruction by the Assyrians.
Five different family dynasties were set up in the
Northern Kingdom, but all were short-lived, and
all were ended by assassination or violence. Seven
monarchs were murdered, and one committed suicide.
The scriptural record characterizes every ruler of the
northern tribes as evil or wicked. Such prophets as
Elijah, Elisha, Amos, and Hosea ministered in the
Northern Kingdom during this period, calling on the
kings and the people to repent. At the same time, the
prophets of Judah, including Isaiah and Micah, also
warned the people of the Northern Kingdom of their
coming destruction if they did not repent.
The following list of the kings of Israel gives notes
on their reigns and the prophets who were contemporary
with them. The dates used are those generally accepted.
They were adapted from Edwin R. Thiele, A Chronology
of the Hebrew Kings. Other chronologies may vary
slightly from the one used here. The chronologies of
the kings of both kingdoms and the correspondence
33
between the reigns of the monarchs and the ministries
of the prophets is shown in Maps.
Dynasty of Jeroboam
Jeroboam I (931–909 B.C.). See 1 Kings 12:25–14:20.
Introduced worship of idols. Corrupted the priestly
offices for his new religion. The curse of idolatry
remained with the Northern Kingdom until its fall
(see 2 Kings 17:21–22).
Before Solomon’s death, Ahijah, the prophet from
Shiloh, prophesied the coming division of the
kingdom, stating that the Lord would give ten of the
tribes to Jeroboam to rule over (see 1 Kings 11:28–40).
Later, when Jeroboam became king, Ahijah prophesied
that the king’s house would become extinct because
Jeroboam encouraged idolatry (see 1 Kings 14:6–16).
Nadab (909–908 B.C.). See 1 Kings 15:25–31. Son of
Jeroboam I. Assassinated by Baasha in a military revolt
during an engagement with the Philistines.
Dynasty of Baasha
Baasha (908–886 B.C.). See 1 Kings 15:32–16:7.
Executed all the descendants of Jeroboam. Defeated by
Asa, king of Judah, and by the Syrians.
The prophets Havani and Jehu prophesied during
his reign.
Elah (886–885 B.C.). See 1 Kings 16:8–14. Son of
Baasha. Assassinated by Zimri, one of his high military
officers, who assumed the throne.
Zimri (885 B.C.). See 1 Kings 16:15–20. Ruled only
seven days. Executed all the descendants of Baasha.
Besieged by Omri, chief officer of the military.
Committed suicide to avoid being captured alive.
Tibni (885 B.C.). See 1 Kings 16:21–22. Led part of the
people against Omri. Was defeated by Omri, who
gained control of the entire Northern Kingdom.
Dynasty of Omri
Omri (885–874 B.C.). See 1 Kings 16:23–28. Moved the
capital to Samaria. Conquered the land of Moab and
placed it under tribute.
Ahab (874–853 B.C.). See 1 Kings 16:29–22:40. Son
of Omri. Married the Zidonian princess Jezebel and
worshiped the idols of pagan neighbors. Joined as
an ally with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, against the
Syrians. Rejected the prophet Elijah. (During Ahab’s
reign Elijah had the contest with the priests of Baal.)
Finally entered an alliance with Syria against the
invading Assyrians. Returned in league with Judah to
fight Syria, who had rebelled against Israel. Was killed
just as the battle was lost.
Ahaziah (853–852 B.C.). See 1 Kings 22:51 through
2 Kings 1:18. Son of Ahab. Opposed the revolt of Moab
against Israel. Injured in a fall at the palace and sought
blessing and direction of idol god.
The prophet Elijah’s prophecy of Ahaziah’s death
was fulfilled. There were, evidently, numerous other
prophets in the Northern Kingdom at the time.
Jahaziel and Eliezer are two who are named (see
2 Chronicles 20:14, 37).
Joram/Jehoram (852–841 B.C.). See 2 Kings 3:1–8:15.
Brother of Ahaziah. Forbade the worship of foreign
gods but retained the idol worship instituted by
Jeroboam. Joined in an alliance with Judah against
Moab. Successfully held off Syrian attacks on the
34
people of Israel. Was killed by Jehu in a bloody purge
of the Omri dynasty.
Elisha received the mantle of the prophetic ministry
from Elijah during this time (see 2 Kings 2:9–15).
Dynasty of Jehu
Jehu (841–814 B.C.). See 2 Kings 9:1–10:36. Anointed
king over Israel by a young prophet who acted under
the direction of Elisha. Killed King Joram and mortally
wounded King Ahaziah of Judah, Israel’s ally. Destroyed
the descendants of Ahab and the remnants of foreign
idol worship. Since there is no record of his violent
death, it is assumed he was one of the few to die of
natural causes.
Jehoahaz (814–798 B.C.). See 2 Kings 13:1–9. Son of
Jehu. Surrendered the kingdom of Israel to the Syrian
conquerors and paid tribute to them. Saw much of the
nation’s military power destroyed.
Elisha’s ministry of about fifty years, begun in
Joram’s reign, continued through the reign of
Jehoahaz’s son Jehoash. Some scholars believe Joel’s
ministry was also about this time.
Jehoash (798–782 B.C.). See 2 Kings 13:10–25. Son of
Jehoahaz. Continued paying tribute to Syria. Freed
Israel from tributary status and defeated the Syrians
three times when a change of leadership in Syria and
conquest there by the Assyrians brought war again
between Syria and Israel.
Jeroboam II (792–753 B.C.). See 2 Kings 14:23–29. Son
of Jehoash. Maintained Israel’s independence from
Syrian control. Took part of the kingdom of Judah.
The ministry of Amos, who called on the kingdom
of Israel to repent or face destruction, began about this
time.
Zachariah (753 B.C.). See 2 Kings 15:8–12. Son of
Jeroboam II. Was the last king of the lengthy dynasty of
Jehu. Assassinated by his successor after only six
months on the throne.
The ministry of Hosea began about this time and
continued until the fall of the Northern Kingdom in
721 B.C.
Shallum (752 B.C.). See 2 Kings 15:13–15. Assassinated
by Menahem, his successor, after only one month as
king.
Dynasty of Menahem
Menahem (752–742 B.C.). See 2 Kings 15:16–22.
Brutally murdered the pregnant women in the cities
that refused to support him as king. Controlled by the
Assyrians under Pul (Tiglath-pileser IV), who placed
Israel under heavy tribute.
Pekahiah (742–740 B.C.). See 2 Kings 15:23–26. Son of
Menahem. Was assassinated by Pekah, a military leader.
About this time Isaiah began his ministry in the
kingdom of Judah, although much of what he said
was directed at Israel as well.
Pekah (740–732 B.C.). See 2 Kings 15:27–31. Formed
an alliance with Syria against Assyria. Threatened and,
with Syria, finally attacked Judah but with limited
success. Attacked by the Assyrians. Lost all of Galilee,
whose inhabitants were exiled to Assyria. Was
assassinated by Hoshea, his successor.
Hoshea (732–722 B.C.). See 2 Kings 17:1–23.
Surrendered to the Assyrians and agreed to pay heavy
tribute. Sought the aid of Egypt against the Assyrians
to relieve the heavy burden. This intrigue resulted in
a three year siege of the Northern Kingdom and the
collapse of Israel. The Assyrians sent into exile most
of the people of Israel.
The captivity of the ten tribes of the Northern
Kingdom eventually ended in their escape into the
north countries and their becoming known as the lost
tribes (see Enrichment D).
(A-3) Overview of the Kingdom of Judah (Southern
Kingdom)
When Rehoboam was anointed king to succeed his
father Solomon (see 1 Kings 11:43), a political crisis
was developing because of severe economic problems
caused by excessive government building, particularly
for the military but also for the royal household.
Rehoboam had to go to Shechem, the power center
of the north, to attempt to obtain the support of the
northern tribes. The leaders of the people sought for
assurance that relief from heavy taxation would be
forthcoming. Being ill-advised by inexperienced,
power-seeking aides, King Rehoboam refused any
relief and even threatened further increases. (See
1 Kings 12:1–11.) The northern tribes then refused to
uphold him as king. They revolted against the attempted
enforcement of the king’s decrees and formed their
own nation with Jeroboam as their new king. (See
1 Kings 12:12–20.)
B.C.
681
Sennacherib
Manasseh
686
Hezekiah
695
705
Sargon II
715
Ahaz
722
Shalmaneser
Hoshea
727
Tiglath-pileser III
731
732
Pekah
735
739
740
742
Pekahiah
745
Menahem
Kings of Assyria
Kings of Israel
Northern Kingdom
Jotham
Uzziah
Kings of Judah
Southern Kingdom
The contemporary kingdoms of Israel, Judah, and Assyria
35
The tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, the
smallest and weakest tribe, as well as the closest
territorial neighbor to the capital, Jerusalem, supported
Rehoboam and together formed the kingdom of Judah
(see 1 Kings 12:21–24; 2 Chronicles 11:1–4, 12, 23).
Through the years that followed, many members of
other tribes migrated to the Southern Kingdom and
became a part of the nation of Judah. Specific mention
is made of Levi (see 2 Chronicles 11:13–17), Ephraim,
Manasseh, and Simeon (see 2 Chronicles 15:9).
It had been prophetically declared that Judah would
remain under the control of the house of David (see
1 Kings 11:13, 32). The prophecy was fulfilled, for
David’s royal line retained the throne throughout
Judah’s existence as a nation. One attempt to move the
kingship to another family through the actions of the
wife of one of the kings was thwarted, and the family
rule was preserved. (The genealogy of the kings of
Judah is shown in the chart at the end of this
enrichment section.)
Of the twenty rulers who reigned over Judah from the
death of Solomon to the fall of Jerusalem and the Jews’
captivity and exile at the hands of the Babylonians,
twelve are characterized in the scriptural record as evil
or wicked. Only four advanced their nation economically
and religiously. As in the north, numerous prophets
were called to cry repentance to Judah, including
Micaiah, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah,
Lehi, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
The Kings of Judah
Rehoboam (931–913 B.C.). See 1 Kings 12:1–24; 14:21–31;
2 Chronicles 9:31–12:16. Permitted idolatrous practices
to be established in the land. Was defeated by Shishak
(Sheshonk I of the Twenty-second Dynasty of the
Pharaohs of Egypt), who pillaged the temple and palaces
of Judah. Fought with Israel throughout his reign.
Abijam/Abijah (913–910 B.C.). See 1 Kings 15:1–8;
2 Chronicles 13:1–22. Son of Rehoboam. Warred against
Israel. Defeated a number of cities of the Northern
Kingdom and brought them under the control of Judah.
Asa (911–869 B.C.). See 1 Kings 15:9–24; 2 Chronicles
14:1–16:14. Son of Abijam. Began religious reform in the
nation with the encouragement of Ahijah the prophet.
Destroyed the idols of the people of Judah and banned
idolatrous worship. Was attacked by Baasha of Israel
but defeated him. Withstood the attack of an Ethiopian
force. Allied with Syria late in his reign against further
attacks from Israel. Because of his sickness, three years
before his death he appointed his son Jehoshaphat to
reign jointly with him.
Jehoshaphat (870–848 B.C.). See 1 Kings 22:41–50;
2 Chronicles 17:1–20:37. Son of Asa. Ruled jointly
with his father for three years before becoming king.
Strengthened military fortifications in the kingdom
and promoted further religious reform. Established
instructional programs directed by the priesthood.
Received tribute from the Philistines and Arabians as
a guarantee of peace because of Judah’s great military
presence as a nation. Joined in an alliance with King
Ahab of Israel against the Syrians. King Ahab was killed
in the war, but the Syrians were defeated. The marriage
of Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram to Ahab’s daughter
Athaliah promoted idolatrous worship and eventually
threatened the continuation of David’s line on the
36
throne of Judah. Established a system of religious and
civil courts. Miraculously withstood an attack from the
Ammonites and their allies. Continued the alliance
with Israel in an attempt to jointly establish ships for
trade, but the venture failed.
Elijah’s ministry, though primarily in the Northern
Kingdom, took place during Jehoshaphat’s reign.
Jehoram (848–841 B.C.). See 2 Kings 8:16–24;
2 Chronicles 21. Firstborn of Jehoshaphat. Became king
and ruled jointly during his father’s last years as king.
Killed his brothers to obtain their wealth and secure
the throne after he became the sole ruler. Allowed his
idolatrous wife to promote the evil religious practices of
Israel in Judah. Withstood a rebellion by the Edomites,
who had been a tributary state since the days of David
and Solomon. Prevented an Edomite attack on Judah
but could not regain control of Edom. Attacked by the
Philistines and Arabians, who sacked the capital and
destroyed the king’s house and family. His people
refused him a royal burial.
Ahaziah (841 B.C.). See 2 Kings 8:25–29; 9:27–29;
2 Chronicles 22:1–9. Son of Jehoram. Influenced by his
mother, Athaliah, daughter of Ahab of Israel, to follow
the idol worship of the north. Allied with Jehoram, his
cousin, the king of Israel, against the Syrians. Visited
Jehoram of Israel at his palace in Samaria when
Jehoram was wounded in the war with Syria. Killed
while in Samaria during the coup executed by Jehu, a
military leader in Israel who had been anointed king by
Elisha the prophet. Jehoram of Israel was assassinated
in the same coup.
Athaliah (841–835 B.C.). See 2 Kings 11; 2 Chronicles
22:10–23:21. Mother of Ahaziah and daughter of Ahab
of Israel. Sought to establish the house of Ahab (of the
Northern Kingdom) on the throne of Judah. Ordered
her own grandchildren killed to seize the throne for
herself. A righteous priest rescued the youngest heir,
however, and hid him in the temple. After a number
of years this religious leader organized a revolt. Queen
Athaliah was put to death, and her grandson Joash
was upheld as king of Judah.
Joash/Jehoash (835–796 B.C.). See 2 Kings 12;
2 Chronicles 24. Son of Ahaziah. Supported the
priesthood and renewed the worship of Jehovah.
Repaired the temple. Turned to idolatrous worship
after the death of the leading priest, who had saved
his life and his throne. Murdered his cousin Zechariah,
who was a prophet raised up by God to call the people
to repentance (see 2 Chronicles 22:10–11; 24:20–21).
Was severely wounded in an attack on Judah by the
Syrians. Gave tribute from the treasures and sacred
furnishings of the temple to the Syrians to secure the
safety of his people. Was assassinated by his own
servants for his wicked deeds, especially those against
the priestly family that had preserved his life.
Amaziah (796–767 B.C.). See 2 Kings 14:1–22;
2 Chronicles 25. Son of Joash. Prepared his people and
led them victoriously against their long-time enemies,
the Edomites, who had been weakened by Assyrian
attacks. Reestablished the worship of idols among the
people of Judah. Challenged the kingdom of Israel for
power and was defeated. As had been prophesied,
Jerusalem’s walls were partially destroyed and the
temple ransacked. Because of that destruction, an
insurrection arose against Amaziah. Fled to Lachish
for safety but was discovered and put to death.
Azariah/Uzziah (767–740 B.C.). See 2 Kings 15:1–7;
2 Chronicles 26. Son of Amaziah. Became king at the
age of sixteen and reigned for a total of fifty-two years,
jointly occupying the throne with his father for over
twenty years. Strengthened the nation of Judah. Sought
to obey God in his early years but could not purge the
land of idolatry. Destroyed the Philistine strongholds
and controlled the Philistines and the Arabians.
Received tribute from the country of Ammon, which
recognized Judah’s strength. Built up the defenses
of Jerusalem and established a large military force.
Unlawfully entered the sanctuary of the temple to
officiate in priestly rites and was afflicted of the Lord
with leprosy for his presumptuous act. Lived in isolation
until his death. Ruled jointly with his son Jotham for
the last ten years of his life.
Jotham (740–732 B.C.). See 2 Kings 15:32–38;
2 Chronicles 27. Son of Azariah. Continued to strengthen
the fortifications of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah.
Constructed an addition to the temple complex. Put
down a rebellion of the Ammonites when they attempted
to free themselves from being a tribute state. Ruled in
righteousness all his days, but idolatry continued
among the people.
Ahaz (732–715 B.C.). See 2 Kings 16; 2 Chronicles 28.
Son of Jotham. Ruled jointly with his father for four
years. Encouraged Judah to engage in idolatrous
worship after the death of his father. Even offered
human sacrifice by burning his own children. Warned
by the prophet Isaiah of the consequences of doing
this evil deed, but refused to follow Isaiah’s counsel.
Defeated by the alliance of Israel under King Pekah
and Syria. Thousands of his people were taken captive
into the Northern Kingdom, though they were later
released at the request of the prophet Oded. Attacked
by the Edomites and Philistines, who gained control
of some villages. Finally sought aid from Assyria.
Became an Assyrian vassal, paying high tribute.
Sacrificed to the Assyrian gods, desecrated the temple
in Jerusalem, and gave of its sacred treasures to
the Assyrians. Established places of idol worship
throughout Judah. Was refused a royal burial by the
people at the time of his death.
The prophet Micah’s ministry continued through
Ahaz’s reign and into the reign of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah (715–686 B.C.). See 2 Kings 18:1–20:21;
2 Chronicles 29:1–32:33. Instituted religious reforms
and restored the temple to the worship of Jehovah.
Destroyed the brazen serpent Moses had made because
the people misused it as an object to be worshiped.
Besieged in the fourteenth year of his reign by the
Assyrian emperor Sennacherib, the successor of
Sargon II. Repaired Jerusalem’s defenses and constructed
a water tunnel for the security of the city. Sought
help from the Lord on this occasion, and Judah was
miraculously delivered from the invading Assyrians as
Isaiah had predicted. Became very sick, but his pleading
with the Lord brought him a blessing through Isaiah
that lengthened his days of kingship. Ruled in goodness
until his death.
Manasseh (686–642 B.C.). See 2 Kings 21:1–18;
2 Chronicles 33:1–20. Son of Hezekiah. Ruled jointly
with his father for eleven years because of his father’s
illness and to prepare himself to govern the people.
Continued Judah’s tributary status with Assyria.
Rebuilt all the idolatrous places his father had destroyed.
Placed idols in the temple in Jerusalem and offered his
children in human sacrifice. Was responsible for the
shedding of much innocent blood.
Numerous prophets labored with this wicked king
to no avail, and he killed several of them. Tradition
says he martyred Isaiah. The Assyrians took Manasseh
hostage for a time. Upon his return he restored the
temple and repaired the city walls.
Amon (642–640 B.C.). See 2 Kings 21:19–26;
2 Chronicles 33:21–24. Son of Manasseh. Turned to all
the wicked practices of his father and was assassinated
by his own servants.
It was probably during this time that Nahum
prophesied.
Josiah (640–609 B.C.). See 2 Kings 22–23:30;
2 Chronicles 33:25–35:27. Son of Amon. Was upheld by
the people as king at the age of eight years. Turned his
heart continually to the Lord as he grew. Purged the
land of idolatrous practices and sanctuaries. Renovated
and restored the temple. Discovered sacred records in
the temple during its renovation. Established religious
reform and administered by covenant to the people.
Although outward changes came to the kingdom, it
was prophesied that Judah would be spared until after
Josiah’s day. Assyria fell to Babylonia, and Judah was
freed from tribute. The Egyptians, however, were
allied with Babylonia and marched through Judah to
assist with the conquest. Josiah attempted to stop the
Egyptians but was defeated in the process and died of
wounds received in the battle at Megiddo. Judah then
became a vassal of Egypt.
Zephaniah, and probably Nahum, prophesied during
the early years of Josiah’s reign. Lehi was living in the
land of Jerusalem about that time. Jeremiah’s ministry
began in the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign (see
Jeremiah 1:1–2), and Habakkuk seems to have
prophesied shortly after Josiah’s reign ended.
Jehoahaz (609 B.C.). See 2 Kings 23:31–33; 2 Chronicles
36:1–4. Son of Josiah. Reigned only three months.
Removed from office and exiled to Egypt where he
later died. His half brother was made the new ruler.
Eliakim/Jehoiakim (609–597 B.C.). See 2 Kings 23:34–24:7;
2 Chronicles 36:5–8. Son of Josiah. Chosen by the
Egyptians to replace his half brother as king. Was
forced to change his name to Jehoiakim and pay tribute
to Egypt. Taxed the people very heavily to fulfill this
obligation. Was attacked by the Syrians, Moabites,
and Ammonites. Was as wicked as Manasseh, his
great-grandfather, and was responsible for the
shedding of much innocent blood. Became a vassal
of Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. when the Babylonians
defeated the Egyptians. Gave the vessels from the
temple as tribute to the conquering Babylonians, and
sent a group of royal and noble families as exiles to
the master nation. (Daniel was among that group.)
Rebelled against Babylonia after three years of
vassalage, and was taken captive by the Babylonians.
Apparently killed while on his way to Babylon (see
reading block 19–16).
37
Jehoiachin (597 B.C.). See 2 Kings 24:8–17;
2 Chronicles 36:9–10. Son of Eliakim/Jehoiakim.
Continued to resist the Babylonians but surrendered
within months of his ascension. Went to Babylon as
a hostage together with political and religious leaders,
skilled craftsmen, and educated people, as well as the
treasure of the temple. Among those exiled were many
of the Levites. Ezekiel was a part of this group. This
was the first major deportation of Judah into Babylon.
Zedekiah/Mattaniah (597–587 B.C.). See 2 Kings 24:18
through 25:26; 2 Chronicles 36:11–21. Brother of
Jehoahaz and half brother of Eliakim/Jehoiakim.
Established as king by the Babylonians, who changed
his name to Zedekiah. Showed loyalty at first to
Babylonia, but later rebelled at the encouragement
of those who preferred an alliance with Egypt.
38
Nebuchadnezzar finally sent his forces against Judah,
destroying the temples, palaces, and city proper of
Jerusalem. Most of the people were then exiled to
Babylon, and the kingdom of Judah became only a
memory. During the first year of Zedekiah’s reign Lehi
prophesied and was then told to flee from Jerusalem
(see 1 Nephi 1:4, 2:2). During the terrible times at the
end of his reign, Zedekiah imprisoned Jeremiah for
prophesying of the impending destruction of Judah.
The fall of Judah and the exile in Babylon began
another era in the history of the Lord’s people. For
a more complete historical view of this captivity, see
Enrichment G. The period of exile and the experiences
of Judah during this period of time are treated in
Enrichment H.
Maacah
2 Samuel 3:3
David
1 Samuel 16:1, 11-13
Bath-sheba
2 Samuel 11:27
Absalom
2 Samuel 3:3
Solomon
2 Samuel 12:24
Naamah
1 Kings 14:21
Maachah
1 Kings 15:2
1*
Rehoboam
1 Kings 11:43
2
Abijam
1 Kings 14:31
3
Asa
1 Kings 15:8
4
Jehoshaphat
1 Kings 15:24
5
Jehoram
1 Kings 22:50
Azubah
1 Kings 22:42
7 Athaliah, queen
2 Kings 8:26, 11:1,3
6
Ahaziah
2 Kings 8:25; 9:27; 11:1
Zibiah
2 Kings 12:1
8
Joash/Jehoash
2 Kings 11:2; 12:1
Jehoaddan
2 Kings 14:2
9
Amaziah
2 Kings 14:1
Jecoliah
2 Kings 15:2
Azariah/Uzziah
2 Kings 14:21; 15:13
Jerusha
2 Kings 15:33
10
11
Jotham
1 Kings 15:32
Ahaz
2 Kings 15:38; 16:1
Abi
2 Kings 18:2
Hezekiah
2 Kings 16:20; 18:1
Hephzi-bah
2 Kings 21:1
14
Manasseh
2 Kings 20:21
Meshullemeth
2 Kings 21:19
15
Amon
2 Kings 21:18
Jedidah
2 Kings 22:1
16
Josiah
2 Kings 21:24
Hamutal
2 Kings 23:31
12
13
Zebudah
2 Kings 23:36
Nehushta
2 Kings 24:8
Jehoiakim/Eliakim
2 Kings 23:34, 36
18
17
Jehoahaz
2 Kings 23:30
Zedekiah/Mattaniah
20 2 Kings 24:17
Jehoiachin/Coniah
2 Kings 24:6
19
*Numbers indicate order of rule.
The house of David
39
The Twelve Districts of Solomon
in the Kingdom of Israel
Hazor
Acco
Boundary of tax districts
Places fortified by Solomon
Sea of
Chinnereth
Ashtaroth
Mt
.C
arm
el
Dor
Megiddo
Ramoth-gilead
Mt
Taanach
lboa
. Gi
Ibleam
Beth-shan
Pla i n
A
D
of Sha
ro n
The Great Sea
Succoth
Shechem
G
I
L
E
Joppa
Lower
Beth-horon
Gezer
AMMON
Bethel
Rabbah
Gibeon
Jericho
Gibeah
Ekron
Heshbon
Jerusalem
TI
A
Ashdod
IS
IL
Bethlehem
Medeba
PH
Ashkelon
Beth-shemesh
Lachish
Hebron
Gaza
Dibon
Aroer
En-gedi
Salt Sea
Gerar
Preferential tax area
Beersheba
Arad
Ar
MOAB
Kir-hareseth
1 Kings 12–16
4
A Kingdom
Divided against
Itself
(4-1) Introduction
The Lord has said, “Every kingdom divided against
itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house
divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25).
A great lesson to be learned in life is to live in harmony
with others. Where there is disharmony, unhappiness
and tragedy result. On the other hand, where there
is harmony, happiness and progress follow. Not only
is this true in nations or kingdoms, but it is also true
in personal and family relationships. Harmonious
relationships can be developed and enhanced by
understanding and applying insights from the scriptures.
As you complete your study of this chapter, notice
how the kings of Israel and Judah present both good
and bad examples of the application of these principles.
Instructions to Students
Excavated ruins at ancient Shechem
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study 1 Kings 12–16. See also
2 Chronicles 10–16.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
Jerusalem to do homage to Rehoboam, but chose
Sichem [Shechem] as the place of meeting, and had
also sent for Jeroboam out of Egypt, showed clearly
enough that it was their intention to sever themselves
from the royal house of David. . . .
“Rehoboam went to Shechem, because all Israel had
come thither to make him king. ‘All Israel,’ according
to what follows [compare 1 Kings 12:20–21], was the
ten tribes beside Judah and Benjamin. The right of
making king the prince whom God has chosen, i.e.
of anointing him and doing homage to him . . . , was
an old traditional right in Israel, and the tribes had
exercised it not only in the case of Saul and David
[see 1 Samuel 11:15; 2 Samuel 2:4; 5:3], but in that of
Solomon also [see 1 Chronicles 29:22]. The ten tribes
of Israel made use of this right on Rehoboam’s ascent
of the throne; but instead of coming to Jerusalem, the
residence of the king and capital of the kingdom, as
they ought to have done, and doing homage there to
the legitimate successor of Solomon, they had gone to
Sichem, the present Nabulus [see Genesis 12:6; 33:18],
the place where the ancient national gatherings were
held in the tribe of Ephraim [see Joshua 24:1]. . . . On
the choice of Sichem as the place for doing homage
Kimchi has quite correctly observed, that ‘they sought
an opportunity for transferring the government to
Jeroboam, and therefore were unwilling to come to
Jerusalem, but came to Sichem, which belonged to
Ephraim, whilst Jeroboam was an Ephraimite.’ If there
could be any further doubt on the matter, it would be
removed by the fact that they had sent for Jeroboam
the son of Nebat to come from Egypt, whither he had
fled from Solomon [see 1 Kings 11:40], and attend
this meeting, and that Jeroboam took the lead in the
meeting, and no doubt suggested to those assembled
the demand which they should lay before Rehoboam.”
(Commentary on the Old Testament, 3:1:191–93.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
1 KINGS 12–16
(4-2) 1 Kings 12:1. Who Was Rehoboam?
Rehoboam was the son and successor of King
Solomon (see 1 Kings 11:43). The Bible does not
mention any other sons or daughters of Solomon.
Since Rehoboam’s mother, Naamah, was an Ammonite
(see 1 Kings 14:21), he was only half Israelite. But his
mother’s ancestry was Semitic since the Ammonites
were descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew.
(4-3) 1 Kings 12:1. Why Did Israel Gather at Shechem
to Support Rehoboam Instead of Gathering at
Jerusalem?
From the early years after the settlement of Israel in
Canaan, there had been jealousy between the two most
powerful tribes, Ephraim and Judah. Solomon’s son
Rehoboam was the rightful successor to the throne,
but northern Israel did not support him. C. F. Keil and
F. Delitzsch explained why:
“Apart from the fact that the tribes had no right to
choose at their pleasure a different king from the one
who was the lawful heir to the throne of David, the very
circumstance that the tribes who were discontented
with Solomon’s government did not come to
41
This national meeting in which Rehoboam sought
a vote of confidence was an important event. Life in
Israel was never to be the same thereafter.
(4-4) 1 Kings 12:2–3. Who was Jeroboam and What
Important Part Did He Play in the Division of Israel?
Jeroboam was the son of Nebat (see 1 Kings 12:15),
an Ephraimite. He was one of Solomon’s twelve
superintendents and had jurisdiction over all the taxes
and labors exacted from the house of Joseph (see
1 Kings 11:28). The prophet Ahijah had prophesied
that Jeroboam would someday take over much of the
Israelite nation. To illustrate his prophecy, Ahijah tore a
cloak in twelve pieces, gave ten to Jeroboam, and said:
“Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God
of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the
hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: (but
he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake,
and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen
out of all the tribes of Israel:)” (1 Kings 11:31–32.)
Thus, he prophetically outlined events which would
soon transpire.
(4-5) 1 Kings 12:4. Why Did Israel Want to Lighten the
Yoke Imposed by Solomon?
All of Samuel’s prophecies about Israel’s having a
king were fulfilled in Solomon’s reign. Israel desired
relief from the burdens of Solomon’s extravagance,
which had brought upon them exorbitant taxes and
conscript labor. The yoke mentioned here was
symbolic of that burden.
One scholar noted that “Solomon’s kingdom barely
outlived him. At his death his son and heir, Rehoboam,
sought to ascend the throne of Israel and Judah. There
was no difficulty in the south. The elders of Judah
were no doubt pleased to anoint another native son to
continue the rule which had favored Judah in so many
ways. In the north, in Israel, it was a different story
altogether. Before there was to be an acclamation of
any son of Solomon, there must be some plain talk
about certain policies of state which the men of the
northern hills and valleys thought discriminatory if
not unbearable. Forced labor gangs for royal building
projects simply must not continue. Heavy and
inequitable taxation favoring Judah would have to
be modified. The new king would either have to find
other ways to carry out his personal and imperial
ambitions or else temper his desires. In any case, the
northern tribes were clearly unwilling to bear the
brunt of the monarchical burden. Underlying these
real grievances was the reviving strength of the tribal
elders. Solomon had not completely destroyed their
power after all.” (Harry Thomas Frank, Discovering the
Biblical World, p. 99.)
(4-6) 1 Kings 12:4–14. Is It Folly to Reject the Counsel
of the Aged?
The episode recorded in these verses demonstrates
the value of age when wise counsel is needed. Because
of their experience, older people are generally wiser
than younger people. But because of their great energy
and ability to adapt, youth can be very effective leaders.
It is often best to allow the wisdom of the aged to
guide the energy of youth. (Concerning the wisdom
of the counsel given to Rehoboam by the old men,
42
compare 1 Kings 12:7; Matthew 20:25–28; 23:11–12;
Mosiah 2:9–18.)
The reference to scorpions (see 1 Kings 12:14) seems
to be an allusion to scourges or whips made of several
thongs of leather which had metal barbs embedded in
the ends (see William Smith, A Dictionary of the Bible,
s.v. “scorpion”). Rehoboam was simply announcing
that he would deal even more sternly with the tribes
of Israel than Solomon had.
(4-7) 1 Kings 12:16. What Does the Phrase “What
Portion Have We in David? . . . See to Thine Own
House, David” Mean?
Those assembled made it clear that they no longer
considered themselves to be part of the house of
David (Judah). They rebelled against the dominion of
Rehoboam and moved to establish their own kingdom.
“To your tents” is an idiom meaning “Let’s go home!”
(D. Guthrie and J. A. Motyer, eds., The New Bible
Commentary: Revised, p. 337; see also 1 Kings 12:19;
2 Samuel 20:1–2; 2 Chronicles 10:16). The northern
tribes withdrew their allegiance from Rehoboam and
the house of David and said in essence, “David, you
take care of your own house. We will no longer be
associated nor have an inheritance with you” (see
Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible . . . with a Commentary
and Critical Notes, 2:436).
(4-8) 1 Kings 12:18. What Was the Significance of the
Stoning of Adoram?
Rehoboam must not have thought the people were
serious about their rebellion, for he sent Adoram
to them. Since Adoram “was the person who was
superintendent over the tribute, he was probably sent
to collect the ordinary taxes; but the people, indignant
at the master who had given them such a brutish answer
[to their request for relief from burdens], stoned the
servant to death. The sending of Adoram to collect the
taxes, when the public mind was in such a state of
fermentation [particularly after they had disavowed
any allegiance to Rehoboam], was another proof of
Rehoboam’s folly and incapacity to govern.” (Clarke,
Commentary, 2:436.)
(4-9) 1 Kings 12:17. Who Were the “Children of Israel
Which Dwelt in the Cities of Judah”?
“These ‘sons of Israel’ are members of the ten
tribes who had settled in Judah in the course of ages
[compare 1 Kings 12:23]; and the Simeonites especially
are included, since they were obliged to remain in the
kingdom of Judah from the very situation of their
tribe-territory, and might very well be reckoned among
the Israelites who dwelt in the cities of Judah, inasmuch
as at first the whole of their territory was allotted to the
tribe of Judah, from which they afterwards received
a portion [see Joshua 19:1].” (Keil and Delitzsch,
Commentary, 3:1:196.)
First Kings 12:17 has particular interest for students
of the Book of Mormon. This passage helps to
explain why such men as Lehi and Nephi, who were
descendants of Manasseh (see Alma 10:3), and the
family of Ishmael, who were descendants of Ephraim
(see 1 Nephi 7:2; Erastus Snow, in Journal of Discourses,
23:184), were living in the land of Jerusalem several
generations after Rehoboam. Laban, a record-keeper
Kings of Judah
Rehoboam
Kings of Israel
Scripture Accounts
930–913 B.C.
1 Kings 12:1–24; 14:21–31 2 Chronicles 9:31–12:16
Jeroboam I
930–909 B.C. 1 Kings 12:25–14:20
Abijam
913–910 B.C.
1 Kings 15:1–8
2 Chronicles 13
Asa
910–869 B.C.
1 Kings 15:9–24
2 Chronicles 14:1–16:14
Jehoshaphat*
Nadab
909–908 B.C. 1 Kings 15:25–31
Baasha
908–886 B.C. 1 Kings 15:32–16:7
Elah
886–885 B.C. 1 Kings 16:8–14
Zimri
885 B.C.
Tibni
885–880 B.C. 1 Kings 16:21–22
Omri
885–874 B.C. 1 Kings 16:23–28
Ahab
874–853 B.C. 1 Kings 16:29–22:40
872–848 B.C.
1 Kings 16:15–20
1 Kings 22:41–50
Ahaziah
2 Chronicles 17:1–20:37
853–852 B.C. 1 Kings 22:51–2 Kings 1
Joram/Jehoram 852–841 B.C. 2 Kings 3:1–8:15
Jehoram*
853–841 B.C.
2 Kings 8:16–8:24
Ahaziah
841 B.C.
2 Kings 8:25–29; 9:27–29
Athaliah
841–835 B.C.
2 Kings 11
2 Chronicles 22:10–23:21
Joash/Jehoash
835–796 B.C.
2 Kings 12
2 Chronicles 24
Jehu
Amaziah
Azariah/Uzziah*
841–814 B.C. 2 Kings 9:1–10:36
Jehoahaz
814–798 B.C. 2 Kings 13:1–9
Jehoash
798–782 B.C. 2 Kings 13:10–25
796–767 B.C.
2 Kings 14:1–22
Jeroboam II
2 Chronicles 21
2 Chronicles 25
793–753 B.C. 2 Kings 14:23–29
792–740 B.C.
2 Kings 15:1–7
Zachariah
753 B.C.
2 Kings 15:8–12
Shallum
751 B.C.
2 Kings 15:13–15
Menahem
752–742 B.C. 2 Kings 15:16–22
Pekahiah
742–740 B.C. 2 Kings 15:23–26
Pekah
752–740 B.C. 2 Kings 15:27–31
2 Chronicles 26
Jotham*
750–732 B.C.
2 Kings 15:32–38
2 Chronicles 27:1–9
Ahaz*
735–715 B.C.
2 Kings 16
2 Chronicles 28
Hoshea
732–722 B.C. 2 Kings 17:1–23
Hezekiah
715–686 B.C.
2 Kings 18:1–20:21
2 Chronicles 29:1–32:33
Manasseh*
697–642 B.C.
2 Kings 21:1–18
2 Chronicles 33:1–20
Amon
642–640 B.C.
2 Kings 21:19–26
2 Chronicles 33:21–24
Josiah
640–609 B.C.
2 Kings 22:1–23:30
2 Chronicles 33:25–35:27
Jehoahaz
609 B.C.
2 Kings 23:31–34
2 Chronicles 36:1–4
Jehoiakim/Eliakim
609–598 B.C.
2 Kings 23:34–24:7
2 Chronicles 36:5–8
Jehoiachin
598–597 B.C.
2 Kings 24:8–17; 25:27–30 2 Chronicles 36:9–10
Zedekiah/Mattaniah 597–586 B.C.
2 Kings 24:18–25:27
2 Chronicles 36:11–21
The dating in this chart represents a consensus of commonly held views of scholars. The dates are best taken as
approximate and may differ slightly from those in other chronologies.
* Joint rule
Chronological correlation of the reigns of the kings of Israel and of Judah
43
for the tribe of Joseph, also lived in Jerusalem at the
time of Lehi and Ishmael (see 1 Nephi 3:2–4). This
matter is explained more fully in 2 Chronicles 11:13–17
and 15:9 than in 1 Kings.
(4-10) 1 Kings 12:20. Was the Tribe of Judah Left by
Itself?
The statement “there was none that followed the
house of David, but the tribe of Judah only” is true
only in very general terms. The members of the tribe
of Benjamin, long associated with the tribe of Judah,
and the Levites already living in and near Jerusalem
and serving in the temple must also be included
with Judah (see 1 Kings 12:21). Also, once Jeroboam
established idolatry, many Levites and no doubt
righteous individuals from all of the northern tribes
migrated to the kingdom of Judah.
(4-11) 1 Kings 12:22–24
Although the people of Judah were not a righteous
people (see 1 Kings 11:33), they were willing, in this
case, to listen to the counsel of the Lord’s prophet
(see also 2 Chronicles 11:1–12).
(4-12) 1 Kings 12:25–32. Why Did Jeroboam Lead His
People into Idolatry?
With the kingdom divided, the ten tribes could
not conveniently worship in the temple at Jerusalem
because Judah controlled the city. Jeroboam, concerned
with keeping Israel under his control, devised a new
scheme for worship that would cause his people to
worship away from Jerusalem. He built two golden
calves in northern cities and invited his people to
worship them. Adam Clarke said that Jeroboam
“invented a political religion, instituted feasts in
his own times different from those appointed by the
Lord, gave the people certain objects of devotion, and
pretended to think it would be both inconvenient and
oppressive to them to have to go up to Jerusalem to
worship. This was not the last time that religion was
made a state engine to serve political purposes.”
(Commentary, 2:437.)
Even though he made golden calves, “that Jeroboam
had in his mind not merely the Egyptian Apis-worship
generally, but more especially the image-worship which
Aaron introduced for the people at Sinai, is evident
from the words borrowed from [Exodus 32:4], with
which he studiously endeavoured to recommend his
new form of worship to the people: ‘Behold, this is thy
God, O Israel, who brought thee up out of the land of
Egypt.’ . . . What Jeroboam meant to say . . . was, ‘this
is no new religion, but this was the form of worship
which our fathers used in the desert, with Aaron himself
leading the way.’ . . . And whilst the verbal allusion to
that event at Sinai plainly shows that . . . Jehovah was
worshipped under the image of the calves or young
oxen; the choice of the places in which the golden calves
were set up also shows that Jeroboam desired to adhere
as closely as possible to ancient traditions. He did not
select his own place of residence, but Bethel and Dan.
Bethel, on the southern border of his kingdom, which
properly belonged to the tribe of Benjamin [see
Joshua 18:13, 22], the present Beitin, had already been
consecrated as a divine seat by the vision of Jehovah
which the patriarch Jacob received there in a dream
[see Genesis 28:11, 19], and Jacob gave it the name of
44
Bethel, house of God, and afterwards built an altar there
to the Lord [see Genesis 35:7]. . . . Dan, in the northern
part of the kingdom, . . . was also consecrated as a place
of worship by the image-worship established there by
the Danites, at which even a grandson of Moses had
officiated; and regard may also have been had to the
convenience of the people, namely, that the tribes living
in the north would not have to go a long distance to
perform their worship.” (Keil and Delitzsch,
Commentary, 3:1:198–99.)
In ordaining a feast on the fifteenth day of the
eighth month, Jeroboam subverted the great feast of
Tabernacles (which was held on the fifteenth day of the
seventh month). He held a similar feast but at the
same time undermined the ordinance. (See Clarke,
Commentary, 2:437–38.)
Jeroboam cast off the Levite priests (see 2 Chronicles
11:14; 13:19) and ordained “priests of the lowest of the
people” (1 Kings 12:31), allowing any to be appointed
if they would just consecrate themselves by offering
“a young bullock and seven rams” (2 Chronicles 13:9).
He also assumed priestly functions himself (see
1 Kings 12:33). His rejection of the Levites resulted
in their evacuation from his kingdom and uniting
themselves with the kingdom of Rehoboam in
Jerusalem (see 2 Chronicles 11:13–16).
(4-13) 1 Kings 13:3, 5. What Was the Significance of
Pouring the Ashes Out?
“The pouring out of the sacrificial ashes in
consequence of the breaking up of the altar was a penal
sign, which indicated, along with the destruction of the
altar, the desecration of the sacrificial service performed
upon it” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:204).
The fulfillment of 1 Kings 13:1–10 is recorded in
2 Kings 23:15–20.
(4-14) 1 Kings 13:11–34. Do Prophets Ever Lie or
Disobey the Lord?
True prophets obey the word of God; false prophets
do not. In this story are two prophets, one pictured
as lying and the other pictured as disobeying God’s
instructions. Ellis T. Rasmussen wrote: “There are some
problems in this story of the man of God who came
from Judah to warn the king of northern Israel and lost
his life in the mission. Some help is available in the
[Joseph Smith Translation] of verse 18, which indicates
that the old prophet said, ‘Bring him back . . . that I
may prove him; and he lied not unto him.’ Also there
is a change in verse 26, in which the last part reads:
‘. . . therefore the Lord hath delivered him unto the
lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to
the word of the Lord, which he spake unto me.’ These
make the account more understandable and more
acceptable. The young prophet should have obeyed
God.” (An Introduction to the Old Testament and Its
Teachings, 2:4; emphasis added.)
(4-15) 1 Kings 13:22. “Thy Carcase Shall Not Come
unto the Sepulchre of Thy Fathers”
This passage means that the “man of God that came
from Judah” (1 Kings 13:21) would meet an untimely
death and not be buried in his homeland. The ancient
Hebrews believed it a great tragedy not to be buried
properly.
(4-16) 1 Kings 14:1–3. Why Did Jeroboam Send His
Wife to the Prophet Ahijah Instead of Going Himself?
Perhaps Jeroboam felt that the prophet of the Lord
would listen or yield more to a mother’s enticings than
to a father’s. Certainly he knew that he was not worthy
to ask for any blessings from the Lord. This incident
teaches the great lesson that one should live so that in
a crisis he can call upon the Lord with confidence and
faith. Jeroboam could not do so, and so he sent his wife
instead. He also caused her to be disguised so that she
might not be recognized as his wife. He had her take a
gift to the prophet, as was considered proper in such
instances, but the gift was the kind that a common
citizen’s wife would take, thus adding to the deception.
the natural senses (see Jacob 2:5; Job 42:1; 1 Kings 8:39;
Hebrews 4:12–13; D&C 6:16; 33:1).
(4-19) 1 Kings 14:8. Why Was David Referred to As an
Example of Righteousness When He Had Committed
Very Serious Sins?
There is an error in this verse. In the Joseph Smith
Translation the verse reads as follows: “And rent the
kingdom away from the house of David and gave it
thee, because he kept not my commandments. But thou
hast not been as my servant David, when he followed me
with all his heart only to do right in mine eyes.” (Emphasis
added; see also JST, 1 Kings 11:33, 38; 15:3, 5, 11.)
(4-20) 1 Kings 14:9. “Hast Cast Me Behind Thy Back”
(4-17) 1 Kings 14:4. What Does It Mean That Ahijah
“Could Not See; for His Eyes Were Set”?
Ahijah was blind, or at least his eyes had become
so weak with his old age that he could hardly see. The
phrase “his eyes were set” indicates that he could not
properly focus and follow images.
“The expression, to cast God behind the back, which
only occurs here and in [Ezekiel 23:35], denotes the
most scornful contempt of God, the strict opposite of
‘keeping God before the eyes and in the heart’” (Keil
and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:210–11).
(4-18) 1 Kings 14:5–6. Those Who Have the Spirit of
Revelation Cannot Be Deceived
(4-21) 1 Kings 14:10. Isn’t This Phrase Inappropriate
for the Bible? Why Was It Used, and What Does It
Mean?
This fallen world is rampant with deception and
dishonesty. Though men often deceive one another, the
Lord’s anointed can draw upon the gift of revelation
and thereby see into the hearts of others or have things
made known to them which cannot be obtained through
Though this phrase is offensive to modern readers,
it was not so when the King James Version was
translated, nor was it in ancient times. The Hebrew
idiom originally meant “every male.” The phrase
“is only met within passages which speak of the
ASSYRIA
The
Great
Sea
I
S
R
A
E
L
Eup h
r
ates
Ri
ve r
BABYLON
ISR AEL
Persian
Gulf
JUDAH
Israel was taken captive into Assyria.
45
destruction of a family or household to the very last
man [see also 1 Kings 14:10; 16:11; 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8]”
(Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 2:2:242). The same
idea occurs in modern revelation without the offensive
expression in Doctrine and Covenants 121:15.
(4-22) 1 Kings 14:10–13. Ahijah’s Prophecy about
Jeroboam’s Posterity
The prophet indicated that all of Jeroboam’s posterity
would be slain and none would receive a proper burial
except his son “because in him there is found some
good thing toward the Lord” (1 Kings 14:13). Among
the Hebrews, to be unburied is the worst thing that
can happen to a dead person (see Philip Birnbaum, A
Book of Jewish Concepts, p. 531; Notes and Commentary
on 1 Kings 13:22).
(4-23) 1 Kings 14:15. What Did the Lord Mean When
He Said He Would “Root Up Israel out of This Good
Land . . . and Shall Scatter Them beyond the River”?
This passage refers to the captivity of the ten tribes
of Israel: “After many minor losses in war the kingdom
of Israel met an overwhelming defeat at the hands of
the Assyrians, in or about the year 721 B.C. We read
that Shalmanezer IV, king of Assyria, besieged Samaria,
the third and last capital of the kingdom, and that after
three years the city was taken by Sargon, Shalmanezer’s
successor. The people of Israel were carried captive
into Assyria and distributed among the cities of the
Medes. Thus was the dread prediction of Ahijah to the
wife of Jeroboam fulfilled. Israel was scattered beyond
the river, probably the Euphrates, and from the time of
this event the Ten Tribes are lost to history.” (James E.
Talmage, The Articles of Faith, pp. 322–23.)
(4-24) 1 Kings 14:19. The Other Account of Jeroboam’s
Acts
Second Chronicles 13:1–20 records some of the “rest
of the acts of Jeroboam.” Reference is made in 1 Kings
14:19 and other places to “the book of the chronicles of
the kings of Israel” (or Judah; see 1 Kings 14:29). These
references are not to the present books of Chronicles
but to official records kept by the kings, which were
used as source books by the author or authors of the
present books of Kings. These records are lost to us.
high hills, green trees, were all associated with the
false and reprehensible forms of worship that often led
Israel far from the Lord and that Judah, too, practiced
under Rehoboam and at other times: “Among early
nations it was the custom to erect altars on hilltops
(Gen. 12:7–8; 22:2–4; 31:54). After the settlement in
Canaan heathen altars were found set up on various
hills and were ordered to be destroyed (Num. 33:52;
Deut. 12:2–3). Altars to Jehovah were built at several
high places (Judg. 6:25–26; 1 Sam. 9:12–25; 10:5, 13;
1 Chr. 21:26; 1 Kgs. 3:2–4; 18:30). Such altars became
local centers of the worship of Jehovah. When idolatry
came in, many of these altars were desecrated and
used for heathen worship.” (Bible Dictionary, s.v.
“high places.”)
Concerning the sanctuaries wherein worship of Baal
took place, one author explained: “Each place has its
own Baal, who is worshipped at the local sanctuary.
The sanctuary is at an elevated spot outside the town
or village, either on a natural eminence or on a mound
artificially made for the purpose; these are the ‘high
places’ of the Old Testament; originally Canaanite
places of worship, they drew to themselves also the
worship of Israel. The apparatus of worship at these
shrines is of a very simple nature. An upright stone
represents the god. . . . He was supposed to come to
the stone when meeting with his worshippers; and in
the earliest times of Semitic religion this stone served
the purpose of an altar: the gifts, which were not
originally burned, were laid upon it, or the blood of
the victim was applied to it. But besides the altar and
the upright stone of massebah the Canaanite shrine had
another piece of furniture. A massive tree-trunk, fixed
in the ground and with some of its branches perhaps
still remaining, represented the female deity who is
the invariable companion of the Baal. This is the
Ashera of Canaan, a word which in the Authorized
Version is translated ‘grove,’ after an error of the
Vulgate, but which in the Revised Version is rightly left
untranslated. [Judges 3:7; 6:25, 2 Kings 23:6.] The word
Ashera is in such passages the designation of the tree
which stood to represent the goddess.” (Allan
Menzies, History of Religion, 172; see also Old Testament
Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel [religion 301, 2003],
pp. 245–48, 255.)
(4-25) 1 Kings 14:22–24. What Were the Abominable
Practices of Judah?
(4-26) 1 Kings 14:22. What Does the Scripture Mean
When It Says God Was Jealous? Why Was He
Jealous?
After the Israelites settled in the land of Canaan, they
began to adopt many of the practices and religious rites
of the corrupt heathen nations that surrounded them.
For example, they followed many of the aspects of
Baalism. The sun god Baal, the supreme god of the
Phoenicians, was a fertility god. Those who worshiped
Baal felt that such worship would ensure the generative
and reproductive power of the soil and their animals
as well as themselves. Settled in Canaan, Israel became
a more sedentary, agricultural people, whereas before
they had been more nomadic. Their dependence upon
the productivity of the soil enticed them to turn to the
worship of Baal. In such worship, with its emphasis on
fertility, such practices as ritual prostitution of both
sexes became rampant. Those who engaged in such
practices were referred to by the Lord as sodomites.
Other terms, such as high places, images (idols), groves,
The word jealousy used here means much the same as
it did in Exodus 20:5. The Hebrew root kanah denotes
“ardour, zeal, jealousy” (William Gesenius, A Hebrew
and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 888). The
implication is that the Lord possesses sensitive and deep
feelings about false and degrading forms of worship
(see Exodus 20:5b). The reason seems clear: the only
power to save mankind from sin lies with God. Any
false worship, therefore, cuts the sinner off from that
power. Since God loves His children and wishes only
their best eternal welfare, He is jealous (that is, feels
very strongly) about any vain or false worship they
perform.
The Lord was jealous of the sins of Judah because
by these sins they, like Israel, were being turned from
Him to a course that would deprive them of the
salvation that only He could offer.
46
(4-27) 1 Kings 14:25. Who Was Shishak?
(4-31) 1 Kings 15:9. Asa’s Reign
The king of Egypt referred to here as Shishak was
most probably the “Libyan prince who founded
Egypt’s XXIInd Dynasty as the Pharaoh Sheshong I.
He reigned for 21 years c. 945–924 B.C. He harboured
Jeroboam as a fugitive from Solomon, after Ahijah’s
prophecy of Jeroboam’s future kingship [see 1 Kings
11:29–40]. Late in his reign, Shishak invaded Palestine
in the fifth year of Rehoboam, 925 B.C. He subdued
Judah, taking the treasures of Jerusalem as tribute [see
1 Kings 14:25–26; 2 Chronicles 12:2–12], and also asserted
his dominion over Israel, as is evidenced by a broken
stele of his from Megiddo. At the temple of Amun in
Thebes, Shishak left a triumphal relief-scene, naming
many Palestinian towns.” (J. D. Douglas, ed., The New
Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Shishak”; see also 2 Chronicles
12:5–12 for a detailed account of Shishak’s invasion.)
For a detailed account of Asa’s reign, see
2 Chronicles 14–16. (Concerning very large numbers,
such as in 2 Chronicles 14:9, see Old Testament Student
Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, pp. 193–95.)
(4-28) 1 Kings 14:31. “Rehoboam Slept with His
Fathers”
The phrase “slept with his fathers” is a euphemism
that means that someone has died and his spirit has
passed on to join the other departed spirits. The phrase
is also used to indicate burial in the family tomb.
(See Guthrie and Motyer, Commentary, p. 326).
(4-29) 1 Kings 15:4. What Does It Mean That “for
David’s Sake” God Gave Abijam a “Lamp in
Jerusalem”?
Abijam was unrighteous, as his father had been.
“But for David’s sake,” for the sake of the promises
made about the house of David and to preserve the
royal lineage through which the Messiah would come
(see Isaiah 9:6–7; Luke 1:32; Acts 13:22–23), the Lord
did not reject Abijam, who was David’s great-grandson,
but allowed the throne to pass to him and then to
his son (see Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:217).
The word lamp refers to the idea of a light or a candle
that continues to burn rather than being put out.
Symbolically, then, Abijam’s line, or light, was allowed
to continue rather than being extinguished. (Concerning
Christ as the Son of David, see Bruce R. McConkie, The
Promised Messiah, pp. 188–95).
For an account of Abijam’s reign, see 2 Chronicles
13 (where he is called Abijah). Although he was not a
righteous man, neither was he completely unrighteous,
for he called Jeroboam and his army to repentance (see
2 Chronicles 13:4–12), and his army prevailed over
Jeroboam’s “because they relied upon the Lord” (v. 18).
(4-32) 1 Kings 15:9–10. Was Maachah Asa’s Mother?
Since Abijam’s mother was Maachah and Asa was a
son of Abijam, it is highly likely that the word mother as
used here was intended to be grandmother. She was still
queen because she was still alive during Asa’s reign.
(4-33) 1 Kings 15:11–13. What Project Did Asa
Undertake after the Death of His Father Abijah?
Asa came to the throne of Judah after his father’s
death. He had seen the tragic consequences of sin and
had also seen his father start a reform from these sinful
practices. Asa launched an all-out campaign to complete
the job his father had begun. He had idolatrous altars
and images torn down. He also began to eliminate the
male and female prostitutes who attended the pagan
temples, groves, altars, and shrines. The reforms soon
brought peace among the people, which made them
more happy and content. He realized that the pagan
peoples might again try to impose their false religious
practices on his people, so he also used this interval of
peace to build up his territorial defenses (see
2 Chronicles 14:7).
Asa’s actions towards his mother are important (see
1 Kings 15:13), for, although family ties are of great
importance, allegiance to God is more so (see Matthew
10:34–35; Luke 12:51–53).
(4-30) 1 Kings 15:5. Did David Always Do Right
Except in the Case of Uriah?
See Joseph Smith Translation, 1 Kings 15:5, for
a clarified translation of this verse. The statements
throughout the Bible that credit David with being
perfect, except for the one episode with Bath-sheba,
are correct in that David was no idolator, nor did
idolatry prosper while David was king. Idolatry and
its accompanying vices were the greatest sin of Israel
and the one least excused by the Lord. Although
David succumbed to personal temptation and brought
spiritual tragedy upon himself, he was faithful to the
Lord in the sense that he did not tolerate idolatry in
Israel.
Nebi Samwil may be ancient Ramah.
(4-34) 1 Kings 15:17. What Was Ramah?
Adam Clarke explained: “As the word signifies
a high place, what is here termed Ramah was probably
a hill, (commanding a defile through which lay the
principal road to Jerusalem,) which Baasha fortified in
order to prevent all intercourse with the kingdom of
Judah, lest his subjects should cleave to the house of
David. Ramah was about two leagues [six miles]
northward of Jerusalem.” (Commentary, 2:446–47.)
47
(4-35) 1 Kings 15:18–22. Was Asa’s League with
Ben-hadad a Wise Move?
The alliance with Ben-hadad, king of Syria, displeased
the Lord (see 2 Chronicles 16:1–9). Asa trusted and
used an enemy—Ben-hadad—instead of a friend—the
Lord—who had already both shown Asa and told him
that he needed no other friends (see 2 Chronicles 15:2–4).
(4-36) 1 Kings 15:23–24. The Final Years of Asa’s Life
First Kings 15:23 says that Asa “was diseased in his
feet” during “his old age.” 2 Chronicles 16:12 says the
disease began in the thirty-ninth year of Asa’s reign
and became “exceeding great.” Asa relied solely upon
physicians rather than turning to the Lord for help. He
seems to have moved further from the Lord as he grew
older (see 2 Chronicles 16:10). He died in the forty-first
year of his reign, and the people “made a very great
burning [of sacrifices] for him” (2 Chronicles 16:13–14).
(4-37) 1 Kings 15:28. Who Did Baasha Slay?
The antecedent of him in verse 28 is Nadab. Baasha
slew Nadab, not Asa.
(4-38) 1 Kings 16:1–2. Did God Raise Up a Wicked
Man to Be King over Israel?
Concerning the Lord’s message to Baasha, “I . . . made
thee prince over my people Israel” (1 Kings 16:2), Clarke
commented: “That is, in the course of my providence,
I suffered thee to become king; for it is impossible that
God should make a rebel, a traitor, and a murderer,
king over his people, or over any people. God is ever
represented in Scripture as doing those things which,
in the course of his providence, he permits to be done.”
(Commentary, 2:448.)
In addition to his procuring Samaria and building it
into a well-fortified capital city for northern Israel, the
stone inscription of Mesha, King of Moab, admits that
he [Omri] conquered Moab and exacted tribute all his
days. And later inscriptions, such as the annals of
Shalmaneser III, designated Israel as the ‘land of the
house of Omri,’ and its kings were called in that text
‘sons of Omri’ even after his dynasty had been long
replaced by another ruling family. Ben Hadad of Syria
said his father took certain cities from Omri and forced
him to allow free trade in Samaria. Omri made an
alliance with Ethbaal, King of Tyre (Phoenicia), and
took the Phoenician princess Jezebel for his son Ahab
to marry. That alliance had deep and serious results in
the religion and politics of Israel for forty-five years,
and also in Judah some fifty years later.” (Introduction
to the Old Testament, 2:5–6.)
(4-42) 1 Kings 16:24. Of What Significance Was the
“Hill Samaria Shemer”?
Josephus wrote that the city built on this hill was
called “by the Greeks Samaria; but he [Omri] himself
called it Semareon, from Semer, who sold him the
mountain whereon he built it” (Antiquities of the Jews,
bk. 8, chap. 12, par. 5). Today the ruins of the city are
called both Samaria and Sebastia, a name given to the
city by Herod. The city, located six miles northwest of
Shechem, remained the capital of the ten tribes until
they were carried away captive. It was rebuilt into a city
of great magnificence by Herod but was destroyed by
the Romans in the First Jewish Revolt about A.D. 68 or 69.
(4-39) 1 Kings 16:2–13. Prophecy Concerning Baasha’s
Posterity
Jehu prophesied that Baasha’s posterity would be
totally cut off—a consequence considered by Hebrews
to be one of the greatest evils that could come upon
a person. Zimri fulfilled this prophecy (see 1 Kings
16:11–13), but even though Zimri “did as had been
prophesied and wiped out the house of Baasha, it is
not to be supposed that he was ordained of the Lord
to do so. Prophets can prophesy what men will bring
upon themselves without necessitating the Lord’s
predestining and controlling them to make it so.”
(Rasmussen, Introduction to the Old Testament, 2:5.)
Samaria, or Sebastia, in the land of Manasseh
(4-43) 1 Kings 16:29–30. Who Were Ahab and Jezebel?
(4-40) 1 Kings 16:11. Why Were Baasha’s Friends and
Kinsfolk Killed?
In slaying the friends and kinsfolk of Baasha, Zimri
“endeavoured to exterminate his race, and blot out his
memory; and the Jews say, when such a matter is
determined, they not only destroy the house of the
person himself, but the five neighbouring houses, that the
memory of such a person may perish from the earth”
(Clarke, Commentary, 2:449).
(4-41) 1 Kings 16:21–23. What Is Known about Omri’s
Reign as King over Israel?
Rasmussen wrote of Omri: “Non-Biblical sources tell
more about his eleven years of reign than does the Bible.
48
Ahab, son of Omri, was even more evil than his
father, who had “[done] worse than all that were
before him” (1 Kings 16:25). The scripture states that
Ahab “did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that
were before him” (1 Kings 16:30). Ahab married
Jezebel, daughter of King Ethbaal of Phoenicia, who
practiced idolatry of a most depraved kind. Ahab built
a house of Baal in the capital city of Samaria and
placed an altar to the Phoenician sun god inside it (see
1 Kings 16:32). He then made a grove in which the
people could indulge themselves in immoral practices
around a symbol dedicated to the fertility goddess
Ashtaroth. Four hundred priests, who ate at Jezebel’s
table at state expense, assisted her in the extravagant
and unholy religion she had brought into Israel.
(4-44) 1 Kings 16:31. How Offensive to the Lord Was
Ahab’s Marriage to Jezebel?
POINTS TO PONDER
Clarke summed up this marriage, as well as
Jezebel’s life, in these words:
“This was the head and chief of his offending; he
took to wife, not only a heathen, but one whose hostility
to the true religion was well known, and carried to the
utmost extent. 1. She was the idolatrous daughter of
an idolatrous king; 2. She practised it openly; 3. She not
only countenanced it in others, but protected it, and
gave its partisans honours and rewards; 4. She used
every means to persecute the true religion; 5. She was
hideously cruel, and put to death the prophets and
priests of God; 6. And all this she did with the most
zealous perseverance and relentless cruelty.
“Notwithstanding Ahab had built a temple, and made
an altar for Baal, and set up the worship of Asherah, the
Sidonian Venus, . . . yet so well known was the hostility
of Jezebel to all good, that his marrying her was
esteemed the highest pitch of vice, and an act the most
provoking to God, and destructive to the prosperity
of the kingdom.” (Commentary, 2:450–51.)
(4-46) The Price of Contention
(4-45) 1 Kings 16:34. “Laid the Foundation . . . in . . .
His Firstborn, and Set Up the Gates . . . in His
Youngest Son”
The prophecy by Joshua in Joshua 6:26 concerning
Jericho referred not just to building houses there but
to restoring the city as a fortification (see Keil and
Delitzsch, Commentary, 2:1:73).
Clarke outlined three opinions about the correct
interpretation of Joshua’s prophecy:
“1. It is thought that when he [Hiel] laid the
foundation of the city, his eldest son, the hope of his
family, died by the hand and judgment of God, and
that all his children died in succession; so that when
the doors were ready to be hung, his youngest and last
child died, and thus, instead of securing himself a
name, his whole family became extinct.
“2. These expressions signify only great delay in the
building; that he who should undertake it should
spend nearly his whole life in it; all the time in which he
was capable of procreating children; in a word, that if
a man laid the foundation when his first-born came
into the world, his youngest and last son should be
born before the walls should be in readiness to admit
the gates to be set up in them; and that the expression
is of the proverbial kind, intimating greatly protracted
labour, occasioned by multitudinous hinderances and
delays.
“3. That he who rebuilt this city should, in laying
the foundation, slay or sacrifice his first-born, in order
to consecrate it, and secure the assistance of the objects
of his idolatrous worship; and should slay his
youngest at the completion of the work, as a gratitudeoffering for the assistance received. This latter opinion
seems to be countenanced by the Chaldee, which
represents Hiel as slaying his first-born Abiram, and
his youngest son Segub.
“. . . None of these versions [Chaldee, Vulgate,
Septuagint, Syriac, or Arabic], the Chaldee excepted,
intimates that the children were either slain or died;
which circumstance seems to strengthen the opinion,
that the passage is to be understood of delays and
hinderances.” (Commentary, 2:451.)
As you read the story of the tragedy that befell the
house of Israel following the death of Solomon, did
you feel sorrow for those who suffered and died during
this period of time? What went wrong? How could
they have averted the troubles that befell them? Your
answers may give a pattern to follow in living your
own life without such troubles. Give some real thought
to the questions of how you can control disobedience
and rebellion in your life. What results do you expect?
Is it true of families as it is of nations that elimination of
wickedness and selfishness will also produce harmony
and unity? Why do you feel as you do? On a separate
sheet of paper write your answers to these questions.
The Lord admonished the Israelites to maintain
proper relationships, especially within their families
and religious groups. He said, “Ye shall not go up, nor
fight against your brethren” (2 Chronicles 11:4). He
also told them that as long as they followed His advice
they would prosper; but if they forsook Him, He would
forsake them (see 2 Chronicles 15:2). The Israelites
disregarded His admonition, and soon disputations,
violence, and hatred broke out. The scriptures, in
describing this situation, record: “And in those times
there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him
that came in, but great vexations were upon all the
inhabitants of the countries” (2 Chronicles 15:5). Thus,
the kings of Judah and Israel failed to give their subjects
the legal basis of peace. The spirit of contention is of
the devil (see 3 Nephi 11:29). Do you have any need
for improvement in this area? How would more
harmonious relationships with your parents, brothers
or sisters, and other people in your life affect your
happiness and theirs? Write your answers on paper.
President David O. McKay said of unity: “In
branches and wards, there is no virtue more conducive
to progress and spirituality than the presence of this
principle [unity]. When jealousy, backbiting, evilspeaking supplant confidence, self-subjection, unity,
and harmony, the progress of the organization is
stifled.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1939, p. 102.)
(4-47) The Importance of Unity
If you hope to fulfill your potential as a child of
God, you must learn to work with others toward an
established goal. You need to give help and accept
help. This principle is true in society, in the Church,
and, especially, in the home. President McKay said:
“I can imagine few if any things more objectionable
in the home than the absence of unity and harmony.
On the other hand, I know that a home in which unity,
mutual helpfulness, and love abide is just a bit of
heaven on earth. I surmise that nearly all of you can
testify to the sweetness of life in homes in which these
virtues predominate. Most gratefully and humbly, I
cherish the remembrance that never once as a lad in
the home of my youth did I see one instance of discord
between father and mother, and that goodwill and
mutual understanding have been the uniting bond
that has held together a fortunate group of brothers
and sisters. Unity, harmony, goodwill are virtues to be
fostered and cherished in every home.” (In Conference
Report, Oct. 1939, p. 102.)
49
(4-48) The Dangers of Double-Mindedness
The Apostle James wrote: “A double minded man is
unstable in all his ways. . . . Draw nigh to God, and he
will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners;
and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 1:8;
4:8.) These statements teach the necessity of avoiding
hypocrisy and of always being true to the principles
by which we claim to live.
Most of the kings of Israel and Judah were
double-minded in the scriptural sense recorded by
James. This double-mindedness created instability
in their own lives as well as in the lives of all Israel.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie tersely but fully described a
double-minded man in these words: “A fickle, wavering
man, as contrasted with one who is constant and firm,
who always sustains the cause of righteousness. A
member of the Church who tries both to forsake and
to follow the world and who does not serve the Lord
with an eye single to his glory.” (Doctrinal New
Testament Commentary, 3:248.)
Elder Alvin R. Dyer said: “Many centuries ago Jesus
made clear the fact that ‘man cannot serve two masters’;
he will either love one and despise the other or hate
the one and love the other. (See Matt. 6:24.) The Apostle
James emphasized the importance of constantly
choosing right over wrong. For those who attempt
an allegiance to both, there will come instability. One
psychologist calls such an individual a neurotic freak.”
(The Nobility of Teaching, Brigham Young University
Speeches of the Year, 20 Jan. 1970, p. 3.)
To be double-minded in the classical, scriptural sense
is to be astride the high, sharp fence that separates
allegiance to the kingdom of God from allegiance to the
world. On one side of the fence are Jehovah and Zion;
on the other side are idols and Babylon.
Review the lives of the kings you have read about
in this chapter of the Old Testament. Were any of them
completely on the Lord’s side of the fence—not even
peeking enviously through a knothole? Or did they try
to maintain a position on both sides—an absolute
impossibility?
50
What made the case of these kings even worse was
that accepting the throne of either Israel or Judah meant
accepting a position of agency or trust. The earthly
king should always have been the embodiment of the
Heavenly King, the only true king in Israel. The earthly
king should have accepted the responsibility of leading
the people to obey the Heavenly King and of punishing
all who disobeyed Him. But apostasy set in; kings
were no longer chosen by revelation and anointed by
prophets. Therefore, it is not surprising that the rulers
of both kingdoms so often led their people in a way
directly opposed to the ways of God. Consider the
following record.
The King and the Record
Rehoboam (Judah) Forsook the law of the Lord
Jeroboam (Israel) Set up idols and false priesthood
Nadab (Israel) Followed Jeroboam’s pattern
Abijam (Judah) “Walked in all the sins of his father”
Baasha (Israel) Followed the pattern of Jeroboam
Jehoshaphat (Judah) Did not take down high places,
but was otherwise right
Elah (Israel) Was a drunkard—“made Israel to sin”
Zimri (Israel) Was a murderer, idolater (reigned seven
days)
Omri (Israel) Was a worse idolater than all before him
Ahab (Israel) Was even worse than Omri; married
Jezebel
What was the one cause of downfall? Was it not
double-mindedness that led to disobedience? Did not
Israel trust more in the world and work harder to
obtain its rewards than they trusted in the Lord and
worked to obtain His rewards?
Enrichment
B
Prophets and Seers
in Ancient Times
(B-1) What Was a Prophet among the Hebrews?
God raised up prophets in ancient Israel for the same
reasons He raises up prophets today. They are to teach
the people the laws of God and how to live them, call
the people to repentance when necessary, and bear
witness of Jesus Christ. The work of all true prophets
of all ages is to act as God’s messenger and make
known God’s will.
Elder John A. Widtsoe explained that “a prophet is
a teacher. That is the essential meaning of the word.
He teaches the body of truth, the gospel, revealed by
the Lord to man; and under inspiration explains it to
the understanding of the people. He is an expounder
of truth. Moreover, he shows that the way to human
happiness is through obedience to God’s law. He calls
to repentance those who wander away from the truth.
He becomes a warrior for the consummation of the
Lord’s purposes with respect to the human family.
The purpose of his life is to uphold the Lord’s plan of
salvation. All this he does by close communion with
the Lord, until he is ‘full of power by the spirit of the
Lord.’ (Micah 3:8; see also D. & C. 20:26; 34:10; 43:16) . . .
“In the course of time the word ‘prophet’ has come to
mean, perhaps chiefly, a man who receives revelations,
and directions from the Lord. The principal business
of a prophet has mistakenly been thought to foretell
coming events, to utter prophecies, which is only one
of the several prophetic functions.
“In the sense that a prophet is a man who receives
revelations from the Lord, the titles ‘seer and revelator’
merely amplify the larger and inclusive meaning of the
title ‘prophet.’ . . .
“A prophet also receives revelations from the Lord.
These may be explanations of truths already received,
or new truths not formerly possessed by man. Such
revelations are always confined to the official position
held. The lower will not receive revelations for the
higher office.” (Evidences and Reconciliations, pp. 257–58.)
What qualifies a man to be a prophet? Elder
A. Theodore Tuttle answered that question by saying:
“Foremost, God must choose him as his prophet! This is
entirely different than for man to choose God. The
Savior, speaking to his apostles, said, ‘Ye have not
chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you,
that ye should go and bring forth fruit. . . .’ (John 15:16.)
“‘We believe that a man must be called of God, by
prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who
are in authority to preach the Gospel and administer
in the ordinances thereof.’ (Article of Faith 5.)
“A prophet, then, is the authorized representative of
the Lord. While the world may not recognize him, the
important requirement is that God speaks through him.” (In
Conference Report, Apr. 1973, p. 11; or Ensign, July 1973,
p. 18; emphasis added.)
(B-2) What Is a Seer?
“A seer is one who sees with spiritual eyes. He
perceives the meaning of that which seems obscure to
others; therefore he is an interpreter and clarifier of
eternal truth. He foresees the future from the past and
the present. This he does by the power of the Lord
operating through him directly, or indirectly with
the aid of divine instruments such as the Urim and
Thummim. In short, he is one who sees, who walks in
the Lord’s light with open eyes. (Book of Mormon,
Mosiah 8:15–17)” (Widtsoe, Evidences and
Reconciliations, p. 258.)
As Ammon said, “A seer is a revelator and a
prophet also” (Mosiah 8:16). When necessary he can
use the Urim and Thummim, or holy interpreters (see
Mosiah 8:13; 28:13–16; 1 Samuel 9:9; 2 Samuel 24:11;
2 Kings 17:13; 1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29;
33:19; Isaiah 29:10; 30:10; JST, John 1:42; 2 Nephi
3:6–14; D&C 21:1; 107:92; 134:94, 125; 127:12; 135:3;
Moses 6:36, 38.)
(B-3) The Role of a Prophet
Although the prophets doubtless thought much
about the future, most of their work among their
contemporaries was certainly of a practical and current
nature. They were teachers, statesmen, and guides
of the people. They were expounders of truth. They
showed that the way to human happiness is obedience
to God’s will. They called to repentance those who
wandered away from the truth. They upheld the
Lord’s plan of salvation. It was and is their right and
responsibility to counsel the Saints in all ages.
The prophets were spokesmen of God, yet they
were not impersonal machines that simply repeated
His messages. They were great individuals, colorful in
their personalities and expressions. They saw things
through their own eyes according to their circumstances.
They spoke in the language and understanding of the
people of their day.
Individual prophets were raised up at particular
times to fill a special need. Obviously the Lord’s hand
was in their call. For example, Amos was called at a
time when affluence and religious formalism combined
to produce a high tide of social decadence and
permissiveness. He responded in a style and with a
message fitting the times. Hosea addressed the people
of an era in which established social forms were
dissolving. Ezekiel, fearless in his cry for right, declared,
“Then shall they know that a prophet hath been among
them” (Ezekiel 33:33), speaking of the time when
predicted calamities would befall the people. His were
cries of warning while he was in exile with his people.
Isaiah preached to a people who, by rejecting his
message, would pass the point of no return and
condemn themselves. Jeremiah lived amid the final
agonies of Jerusalem. He warned a king who chose
to ignore the warning and suffered the consequences.
Elder Mark E. Petersen said of the importance of the
role of prophets:
“The whole program of the Lord’s dealings with his
people centered about them. So well established was
this procedure that one of them said, ‘Surely the Lord
53
God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto
his servants the prophets.’ (Amos 3:7.)
“The entire pattern of the Bible, as shown in both
Old and New Testaments, reflects this important fact.
“Whenever God had a people on earth whom he
recognized as his own, he provided constant guidance
for them, and this guidance was by divine revelation
given through living prophets.” (In Conference Report,
Apr. 1970, p. 82.)
Sometimes there was more than one prophet in
Israel, and sometimes there were many prophets. Lehi
and Jeremiah were contemporaries (see 1 Nephi 5:13;
7:14), as were many others. Isaiah and Micah are
thought to have lived at the same time, addressing
different audiences. The question of which prophet
had ecclesiastical authority over the others (if one
did) cannot be answered because there is insufficient
information about their times. Latter-day Saints are
more aware of the role of a presiding prophet because
the expanded nature of the Church today requires
it and because the Lord has directed that there be
a presiding prophet today. Elder John A. Widtsoe
explained: “When others besides the President of the
Church hold the title ‘prophet, seer, and revelator,’ it
follows that the ‘power and authority’ thus represented
are called into action only by appointment from the
President of the Church. For example, a man may be
ordained a High Priest, an office in which the right of
presidency is inherent, but he presides only when called
to do so. It is even so with the exercise of authority under
these sacred titles.” (Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 257.)
The prophets portrayed God in such a way as to
make Him comprehensible to the weak understanding
of His people. The Lord was therefore shown as
possessing attributes much in common with man.
He was described as being a jealous God and as being
very concerned about the reverence due Him. He
desired to be a personal God, to reveal Himself to His
people (see Exodus 19:10–11). But the people became
frightened and refused to let Him come directly into
their lives (see Exodus 20:18–19).
It must be remembered in studying the lives and
messages of the prophets that their day and time were
not exactly like man’s today. There were no television
sets, no automobiles, no jet aircraft. Generally the
prophets were confined to a rather small geographical
area. They acted within their culture, just as do the
prophets of today. (For more detail on the role of a
prophet see Exodus 4:12, 16, 30; Numbers 12:6;
2 Kings 17:13; Jeremiah 1:7; Ezekiel 2:7; Matthew 28:20;
Hebrews 1:1; Mosiah 8:15; Helaman 5:18; D&C 1:38;
20:26; 21:5; 84:36.)
(B-4) The Spirit of Prophecy: A Gift for the Righteous
In a broad sense, every Saint should be a prophet.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained:
“Prophets are simply members of a true Church
who have testimonies of the truth and divinity of the
work. They are the saints of God who have learned by
the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of the living God.
“A heavenly visitant, upon whom the Lord had
placed his name, told the Beloved Revelator: ‘The
testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ (Rev. 19:10.)
That is, every person who receives revelation so that
he knows, independent of any other source, of the
54
Elder John A. Widtsoe
divine Sonship of the Savior, has, by definition and in
the very nature of things, the spirit of prophecy and is
a prophet. Thus Moses exclaimed, ‘Would God that all
the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord
would put his spirit upon them!’ (Num. 11:29.) And
thus Paul counseled all the saints, ‘Covet to prophesy,’
and promised the faithful among them, ‘Ye may all
prophesy.’ (1 Cor. 14:31–39.)
“A testimony comes by revelation from the Holy
Ghost, whose mission it is to bear ‘record of the Father
and the Son.’ (Moses 1:24.) Of Christ, Moroni says: ‘Ye
may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost.’
(Moro. 10:7.) Prophecy comes from the same source
and by the same power. In Peter’s language, ‘Prophecy
came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men
of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
(2 Pet. 1:21.)
“When a person abides the law which enables him
to gain a revealed knowledge of the divine Sonship of
our Lord, he thereby abides the law which empowers
him, as occasion may require, to prophesy. In Nephite
history we find an account of a people who gained
testimonies and as a consequence had also the gift of
prophecy. After expounding the plan of salvation, as
such operates through the atoning blood of Christ,
King Benjamin desired ‘to know of his people if they
believed the words which he had spoken unto them.’
Their answer: ‘We believe all the words which thou
hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety
and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord
Omnipotent.’ That is, they had gained testimonies.
Then they said, ‘We, ourselves, also through the
infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his
Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and
were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.’
(Mosiah 5:1–3.) That is, the testimony of Jesus is the
spirit of prophecy; both testimony and prophecy come
by the power of the Holy Ghost; and any person who
receives the revelation that Jesus is the Lord is a
prophet and can, as occasion requires and when
guided by the Spirit, ‘prophesy of all things.’” (The
Promised Messiah, pp. 23–24.)
(B-5) The Call and Training of the Prophets
Elder John A. Widtsoe gave this important insight
about prophets as men:
“Men are called to the prophetic office because of
their humility and their willingness to be in the hands
of the Lord as clay in the hands of the potter. Yet a man
called to the prophetic office is almost without exception
of high native endowment, often with large experience
in life, and possessed of wisdom and sound judgment.
That is, the prophet, though but a man, is an able man,
rising in ability above the multitude. An examination
of sacred history from Adam to the present will show
that able men, in the words of Jethro, men ‘such as fear
God, men of truth, hating covetousness’ (Exodus 18:21),
have been called to the prophetic office. The unofficial
views and expressions of such a man with respect to
any vital subject, should command respectful attention.
Wise men seek the counsel of those wiser or abler than
themselves. . . .
“How may the rank and file of the Church recognize
the prophetic voice, whether official or unofficial, when
it speaks? The answer is simple enough. A person who
is in harmony in his life, in thought and practice, with
the gospel and its requirements, who loves truth so
well that he is willing to surrender to it, will recognize
a message from the Lord.” (Evidences and Reconciliations,
pp. 237–38.)
Elder Widtsoe also explained that “the teacher must
learn before he can teach. Therefore, in ancient and
modern times there have been schools of the prophets,
in which the mysteries of the kingdom have been
taught to men who would go out to teach the gospel
and to fight the battles of the Lord.” (Evidences and
Reconciliations, p. 257.)
The disciples of the prophets were called sons, just as
teachers were sometimes called fathers (see 2 Kings 2:12;
6:21). These “sons of the prophets” formed a peculiar
group. Possibly they assisted the prophets in their
duties, and in time succeeded them. These “sons of
the prophets” were trained teachers of religion. Some
of them were married and probably lived in houses
of their own. Others were unmarried and occupied
a building in common, eating at a common table.
It is supposed that the schools of the prophets were
founded by the prophet Samuel. A description of him
instructing them is found in 1 Samuel 19:19–20. But
just how long the schools of the prophets lasted in
Old Testament times is not known. They seem to have
flourished in the times of Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha.
Eventually they degenerated into an unscrupulous
guild that divined for money and power. (See C. F. Keil
and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament,
2:2:199–206.)
(B-6) False Prophets
All prophets are not of God. There are false
prophets who call people away after other gods (see
Deuteronomy 13). The wicked prophets of Baal were
prominent in Israel during the reign of Ahab. They
officiated in the perverted Canaanite religion and won
great favor in the eyes of Ahab’s wife, Jezebel. The
Lord’s true prophets had to compete with these and
other false prophets for the people’s attention, and in
the case of Elijah, supernatural demonstration was
necessary to convince the people that the prophets of
Baal were unreliable. Probably all of the true prophets
had to contend constantly with false prophets (see
Jeremiah 23:13–17).
A classic example of a confrontation between false
prophets and a true prophet is found in 1 Kings 22.
The kings of Judah and Israel had joined forces to
fight the Syrians, and Ahab suggested to Jehoshaphat
that they go together and take the city of Ramoth.
Jehoshaphat asked for the opinion of the prophets.
All of Ahab’s prophets counseled them to go to battle.
Jehoshaphat pressed Ahab, saying, “Is there not here
a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire
of him?” (v. 7), and he was told there was one,
Micaiah. But Ahab hated him because, he said, “He
doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil”
(v. 8). Micaiah was called, but Ahab’s servant
instructed him, “The words of the prophets [of Baal]
declare good unto the king with one mouth; let thy
word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and
speak that which is good” (v. 13). And Micaiah said,
“As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that
will I speak” (v. 14). Though it put his own life in
jeopardy, he spoke the truth. The false prophets said
whatever would please the king and help them
maintain their favored status in the court.
President Spencer W. Kimball said this of the true
prophet:
“What the world needs is a prophet-leader who gives
example—clean, full of faith, godlike in his attitudes
with an untarnished name, a beloved husband, a true
father.
“A prophet needs to be more than a priest or a
minister or an elder. His voice becomes the voice of
God to reveal new programs, new truths, new solutions.
I make no claim of infallibility for him, but he does need
to be recognized of God, an authoritative person. He
is no pretender as numerous are who presumptuously
assume position without appointment and authority
that is not given. He must speak like his Lord: ‘ . . . as
one having authority, and not as the scribes.’ (Matt. 7:29.)
“He must be bold enough to speak truth even
against popular clamor for lessening restrictions.
He must be certain of his divine appointment, of his
celestial ordination, and his authority to call to service,
to ordain, to pass keys which fit eternal locks.” (In
Conference Report, Apr. 1970, p. 120.)
For a more complete understanding of the
wide-spread existence of false prophets in Old
Testament times, read Deuteronomy 18:20; Isaiah
9:15–16; 28:7; Jeremiah 2:8; 5:31; 23:9, 11, 16; 27:15;
28:15; Lamentations 2:14; Ezekiel 22:25; Micah 3:5, 11;
Zechariah 10:2.
55
(B-7) True Prophets Are Messengers of Hope
Much prophecy comes because of the panoramic
view prophets have of events from the beginning to
the end. Although they saw the calamities of their day
and the subsequent punishments God would administer
to Israel, the Old Testament prophets also saw in the
future a day of gladness and rejoicing. They recognized
that national salvation would not come during their
time but that it would occur at some future date, and
they gave a glimpse of that hopeful sight.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said of the actions and
purposes of prophets:
“In this day we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and
gain salvation, and the prophets and apostles of our
day reveal him to the world and serve as the legal
administrators to perform the ordinances of salvation
in his name so that such ordinances will be binding on
earth and sealed everlastingly in the heavens. So
likewise was it in days of old. Salvation was in Christ
then as it is now, and the prophets of those days taught
the same doctrines we teach today.
“At the very beginning of his ministry, the prophet
Nephi recorded his purpose and summarized his
divine commission by saying, ‘For the fulness of mine
intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the
God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob, and be saved.’ (1 Ne. 6:4.) King Benjamin (reciting
the words spoken to him by an angel) affirmed and
expanded the same concept in these words: ‘Salvation
cometh . . . through repentance and faith on the Lord
Jesus Christ. And the Lord God hath sent his holy
prophets among all the children of men, to declare
these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that
thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should
come, the same might receive remission of their sins,
and rejoice with exceeding great joy, even as though he
had already come among them.’ (Mosiah 3:12–13.)
“Alma’s son Corianton, rebellious and carnally
inclined, was unable to understand ‘concerning the
coming of Christ.’ His father said to him, ‘I will ease
your mind somewhat on this subject. Behold, you
marvel why these things should be known so long
beforehand.’ And this was Alma’s reasoning:
“‘Is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as
a soul will be at the time of his coming?’
“‘Is it not as necessary that the plan of redemption
should be made known unto this people as well as
unto their children?’
“‘Is it not as easy at this time for the Lord to send
his angel to declare these glad tidings unto us as unto
our children, or as after the time of his coming?’ (Alma
39:15–19.) . . .
“‘These glad tidings’—that salvation was in Christ
and came by obedience to his holy gospel—were
declared unto those in the so-called pre-Christian era
so ‘that salvation might come unto them,’ and also
56
‘that they may prepare the minds of their children to
hear the word at the time of his coming.’ (Alma 39:16.)
“That relatively few who lived when he came, or
who have thereafter dwelt on this benighted globe,
were in fact prepared to receive him as Savior, Lord,
and King is the saddest commentary found in all the
history of his dealings with men. However, many of
the prophecies (together with much of the doctrine
interwoven as an essential part thereof) are still extant,
and, the Lord guiding, many sincere souls will yet
be brought to a knowledge of the truth through a
Spirit-led study of them.” (Promised Messiah, pp. 29–30.)
Later in the same work, Elder McConkie continued:
“Such sectarian scholars as happen to believe
in Messianic prophecies suppose that these divine
statements are few in number and came from a
comparatively few seeric souls. The fact is, these
prophecies are in number as the sands upon the
seashore, and those who spoke them are sufficient in
number to people cities, populate nations, and cover
continents. All of the prophets, all of the ancient
preachers of righteousness, all of the citizens of Zion,
all of the saints of old, all of those from Adam to John
who had the gift of the Holy Ghost—all of these bore
testimonies in Messianic terms. They all had a Spiritborne hope in Christ who was to come, and fortunately
some few of them were called to be prophets to the
people and have had portions of their words preserved
for us.” (p. 77.)
To the Jews in His own day the Savior said, “Your
father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it,
and was glad” (John 8:56). Others saw it and prophesied
concerning it (see Jacob 4:4–5; Acts 3:21–24; Helaman
8:16–18).
(B-8) Conclusion
Elder John A. Widtsoe summarized the role of
prophets in these words:
“A prophet is a teacher of known truth; a seer is
a perceiver of hidden truth, a revelator is a bearer of
new truth. In the widest sense, the one most commonly
used, the title, prophet, includes the other titles and
makes of the prophet, a teacher, perceiver, and bearer
of truth.
“One who bears the title of prophet, and they who
sustain him as such, are first of all believers in God,
and in a divine plan of salvation for the human family;
and, secondly, they commit themselves to the task of
bringing to pass the purposes of the Almighty. They
believe that the children of men are capable of receiving
and obeying truth. Were it not so, the title ‘prophet, seer,
and revelator’ would be empty, hollow words. As it is,
they are clarion calls of the Church of Christ to a world
walking in the dim shadows of misunderstanding.”
(Evidences and Reconciliations, pp. 258–59.)
1 Kings 17–2 Kings 2
5
Elijah and the
Sealing Power of
the Holy Priesthood
(5-1) Introduction
What would you think about a man who had the
power to raise the dead, call down fire from heaven,
cause the heavens to withhold rain, and render a barrel
of flour inexhaustible?
Elijah was such a man, a man of power, a man of
miracles, a prophet so worthy that he was translated
and taken from the earth in a chariot of fire.
Small wonder that Elijah became one of the great
heroes in Israel’s history. Small wonder, too, that
in Jewish households a place is set for him at every
Passover feast in anticipation of his return as predicted
by the prophet Malachi (see Malachi 4:5–6).
This assignment deals with the reasons Elijah is one
of the greatest prophets of all time and why he was
rejected by the people of his own day.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help you
as you read and study 1 Kings 17 through 2 Kings 2.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
1 KINGS 17–2 KINGS 2
(5-2) 1 Kings 17:1. What Is a Tishbite?
Elijah is here called “the Tishbite, who was of the
inhabitants of Gilead.” Some scholars say that Elijah
came from Tishbeh, in upper Galilee (see C. F. Keil and
F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 3:1:234).
Adam Clarke suggested a different place. Elijah came,
he said, from Gilead beyond the Jordan in the land
given to the tribe of Gad (see The Holy Bible . . . with
a Commentary and Critical Notes, 2:452). Whichever is
correct, it is clear that the title Tishbite refers to the
place from which Elijah came.
(5-3) 1 Kings 17:1. Elijah Sealed the Heavens against
Rain by Priesthood Power
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith found a special
significance in verse 1:
“The first appearance of Elijah we read of is in the
17th chapter of 1st Kings, when he came before the
king and said, ‘As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before
whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these
years, but according to my word.’
“There is something very significant in that edict.
I want you to get it. Follow me again closely: ‘As the
Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there
shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to
my word.’ The reason I put emphasis upon this is to
impress you with the sealing power by which Elijah was
able to close the heavens, that there should be no rain
or dew until he spoke.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:102.)
(5-4) 1 Kings 17:3. Where Is the Brook Cherith?
“We do not know which of the Jordan tributaries the
brook Cherith might have been, but apparently it was
an obscure and isolated place where Elijah could hide
safely without being accidentally discovered by soldiers,
shepherds or passersby. It was also a desolate place
where no animal life existed, therefore Elijah was
completely dependent upon the Lord for his sustenance.”
(W. Cleon Skousen, The Fourth Thousand Years, p. 336.)
(5-5) 1 Kings 17:4, 6. Who Fed Elijah?
Some scholars insist that the word raven is a
mis-translation and that merchants or traders is the
correct rendering. Other scholars disagree. They insist
that the Hebrew word is properly translated just as
it stands. The fact that Elijah was in hiding makes it
unlikely that merchants or traders would come to him
twice a day, and the tone of the writer suggests that it
was miraculous care rather than a normal interaction
between Elijah and other men.
(5-6) 1 Kings 17:9. The Widow of Zarephath
Zarephath was on the coast of the Mediterranean
between Tyre and Sidon, in what is now Lebanon and
was then Phoenicia, outside the boundaries of Israel.
The poor widow had only a little flour with which to
make a patty to fry. Her barrel would have been an
earthen jar and her cruse a clay bottle. Wooden barrels
are not suitable for storing flour in the Middle East
because they do not protect the flour from insects.
Elijah’s request for the widow to prepare his food
was not a selfish request but rather a test of her faith.
Because she passed the test, Elijah’s promise that her
barrel of flour and cruse of oil would not fail for the
duration of the famine was fulfilled. This widow not
only provided for her own needs in a time of great
distress but provided for others an example of great
faith. In an attempt to open the eyes of his prejudiced
countrymen, Jesus spoke of this Sidonian woman who
obeyed God’s command and physically sustained His
prophet. “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were
in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was
shut up three years and six months, when great famine
was throughout all the land; but unto none of them
was Elias sent, save unto Serepta, a city of Sidon, unto
a woman that was a widow” (Luke 4:25–26).
59
(5-7) 1 Kings 17:17–24. Elijah Raised the Dead
This is the fourth miracle mentioned in this chapter
which Elijah performed by means of his priesthood
power. First he brought famine by his word (see v. 1),
then he was fed by ravens (see v. 6), then he caused
the widow’s food supply to miraculously continue (see
vv. 13–16). Then he worked another mighty miracle
through the power of God. The widow’s cry (see v. 18)
was more a plea for help than a criticism. In essence
she was saying, “I thought sheltering a prophet would
bring blessings and protection; instead, tragedy has
struck my home.”
(5-8) 1 Kings 18:1–16. Elijah Was Sent to Meet Ahab
Obadiah was the king’s chamberlain, or governor of
his house. As such it was his responsibility to arrange
the king’s appointments. That is why Elijah told
Obadiah to set up an interview between the prophet
and King Ahab. The fact that a king and his chief
steward had to look for water and grass by themselves
shows that the famine had become acute (see vv. 5–6).
Ahab knew that Elijah had brought this distress, so
he searched for him. Apparently Ahab had considerable
power and authority among surrounding nations, for he
was able to exact promises for them that they were not
concealing Elijah or that they knew of his whereabouts
(see v. 10). Sometimes, however, someone would see
the prophet. But when he reported seeing Elijah, the
prophet had disappeared by the time Ahab got there.
Ahab then killed the person who said he had seen Elijah.
Obadiah’s fear that Elijah would disappear again was
caused by his awareness that Ahab would not hesitate
to have him executed if he failed to deliver Elijah (see
vv. 12–16). Elijah promised Obadiah that he would
appear before Ahab (see v. 15).
Whether this Obadiah, who “feared the Lord greatly”
(v. 3), is the author of the Old Testament book of the
same name is not known, but it is doubtful.
(5-9) 1 Kings 18:17–18. Who Has Troubled Israel?
These verses have inspired many sermons, for the
wicked usually blame someone else for their misfortunes.
Elijah had no power by himself to bring on the famine.
He was only the agent of the Lord. Ahab and his
policies were the true cause of Israel’s distress, but
the king refused to accept that responsibility.
(5-10) 1 Kings 18:19. Mount Carmel
Mount Carmel is a mountain ridge several miles long
that runs from southeast to northwest. Its southeastern
slopes are very near the northwestern corner of the
great Jezreel Valley, and its northwest edge juts into
the Mediterranean on the northern coasts of modern
Israel. (See “Old Testament Canaan” in Maps.) Rising
abruptly to about eighteen hundred feet above sea
level, it is an impressive prominence and became
synonymous with beauty. It is referred to figuratively
in the Doctrine and Covenants. (See D&C 128:19.)
(5-11) 1 Kings 18:21. “How Long Halt Ye between Two
Opinions?”
Clarke offered the following comment on Israel’s
indecision: “Literally, [the phrase means] ‘How long
hop ye about upon two boughs?’ This is a metaphor
60
Mount Carmel
taken from birds hopping about from bough to
bough, not knowing on which to settle. Perhaps the
idea of limping through lameness should not be
overlooked. They were halt, they could not walk
uprightly; they dreaded Jehovah, and therefore could
not totally abandon him; they feared the king and
queen, and therefore thought they must embrace the
religion of the state. Their conscience forbade them to
do the former; their fear of man persuaded them to do
the latter; but in neither were they heartily engaged;
and at this juncture their minds seemed in equipoise,
and they were waiting for a favourable opportunity
to make their decision. Such an opportunity now,
through the mercy of God, presented itself.”
(Commentary, 2:457.)
(5-12) 1 Kings 18:22–24. The Challenge
The contest that Elijah proposed should have
appealed to the prophets of Baal, since their god, the
“Sun-god,” could surely send down fire if anyone could.
Added to the four hundred and fifty priests of Baal
were four hundred priests of his female counterpart,
Ashtoreth, or Venus, whom Jezebel worshiped. Elijah
commented on the number of prophets of Baal in
contrast to the number of prophets of the Lord (see v. 22).
(5-13) 1 Kings 18:25–29. How Long Did the Priests of
Baal Call upon Their God? Why?
Elijah’s mocking words recorded in verse 27 furnished
cause for a renewed frenzy among Baal’s prophets.
Elijah was really saying, “Cry louder; if he is a god, he
can surely hear you. But then, perhaps, he’s away on
a trip, or he’s out hunting (pursuing game), or maybe
he’s asleep.” Such taunting kept the priests of Baal in
action all day long. Clarke commented: “From morning
even until noon. It seems that the priests of Baal
employed the whole day in their desperate rites. The
time is divided into two periods: 1. From morning until
noon; this was employed in preparing and offering the
sacrifice, and in earnest supplication for the celestial
fire. Still there was no answer, and at noon Elijah began
to mock and ridicule them, and this excited them to
commence anew. And, 2. They continued from noon till
the time of offering the evening sacrifice, dancing up and
down, cutting themselves with knives, mingling their
own blood with their sacrifice, praying, supplicating,
and acting the most frantic manner.” (Commentary,
2:457.)
(5-14) 1 Kings 18:28. Why Did the Priests of Baal Cut
Themselves as They Called Out to Their God?
Apparently they thought this act of self-abasement
would endear them to their god, get his attention, and
prove their sincerity. One ancient author told of antics
very similar to these that he observed in Gaza in
Roman times:
“‘A trumpeter went before them who proclaimed
their arrival in the villages, the farmyards, or the streets
of towns, by flourishes on his instrument—a twisted
horn. The begging Galli followed in fantastic array,
after a leader: an ass in their midst, carrying their
begging bag and a veiled image of the goddess. . . .
They danced along the streets to the sound of wild
music, holding huge swords and bills, with whips for
scourging themselves, in their hands, and making a
hideous noise with rattles, fifes, cymbals or kettledrums. When they came to a farmyard they began
their ravings. A wild howl opened the scene. They then
flew wildly one past the other: their heads sunk low
towards the earth, as they turned in circles: their loose
hair dragging through the dust. Presently they began
to bite their arms, and next to hack themselves with
the two-edged swords they carried.’ . . .
“Then began a new scene. ‘One of them, the leader
in this frenzy, commenced to prophesy, with sighs and
groans, lamenting aloud his past sins, which he would
now avenge by the chastisement of his flesh. He then
took the knotted whip and lashed his back, cutting
himself also with his sword till the blood ran down.’”
(In Cunningham Geikie, Hours with the Bible, 3:399–400.)
(5-15) 1 Kings 18:33–35. Why Did Elijah Have the
Place of Sacrifice Drenched with Water?
The priests of Baal were so unscrupulous that they
rigged their altars with fires beneath them to make the
sacrifices appear to ignite spontaneously. One ancient
writer said he “had seen under the altars of the heathens,
holes dug in the earth with funnels proceeding from
them, and communicating with openings on the tops
of the altars. In the former the priests concealed fire,
which, communicating through the funnels with the
holes, set fire to the wood and consumed the sacrifice;
and thus the simple people were led to believe that
the sacrifice was consumed by a miraculous fire.”
(In Clarke, Commentary, 2:459.)
Elijah undoubtedly drenched the altar and sacrifice
with water as much for the heathen priests as for the
people. He wanted to convince them that there was no
trickery and to show them that the power of the Lord
was manifest. It was a bold and dramatic move that
demonstrated his absolute confidence in the power
of the true God.
9:24]), the supernatural origin of which was manifested
in the fact, that it not only consumed the sacrifice with
the pile of wood upon the altar, but also burned up . . .
the stones of the altar and the earth that was thrown
up to form the trench, and licked up the water in the
trench. Through this miracle Jehovah not only accredited
Elijah as His servant and prophet, but proved Himself
to be the living God, whom Israel was to serve; so that
all the people who were present fell down upon their
faces in worship, as they had done once before, viz. at
the consecration of the altar in [Leviticus 9:24], and
confessed ‘Jehovah is God.’” (Keil and Delitzsch,
Commentary, 3:1:249.)
(5-17) 1 Kings 19:2–8. Elijah Fled Jezebel
These verses show how powerful and corrupt Jezebel
was. Even after the miraculous fire from heaven, this
woman was moved only to anger and swore she
would take Elijah’s life in revenge. Elijah fled, first into
the territory of Judah (at Beersheba) and then to Mount
Horeb (or Sinai) 150 miles further south.
Elijah was either fasting or receiving food provided
by the Lord during this period. If Elijah truly went
without food for forty days, as verse 8 suggests, then
he had an experience similar to that of Moses (see
Exodus 24:18; 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9–25) and the
Savior (see Matthew 4:2). And like Moses at Sinai,
Elijah there received revelations.
It must have been very lonely for Elijah during this
period. Men were seeking his life, he felt himself to be
the only faithful prophet left in Israel, and he was
hiding in a cave. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:
“When he was there, the Lord called upon him and
asked him what he was doing there; and in his sorrow,
because of the hardness of the hearts of the people, he
told the Lord the condition, that he alone remained,
that they sought his life to take it away. But the Lord
showed him that there were others who had remained
true unto him, even 7,000.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:106.)
Those who listen for God’s voice know that it is not
in the power to break rocks and earth (see v. 11), nor in
the fire, but in the “still small voice” that speaks to the
heart of man. When Elijah heard the still small voice,
he “went out” to converse with the Lord (v. 13).
Encouraged, Elijah returned at the Lord’s request and
completed his assigned mission. The word jealous as
used in verses 10 and 14 means diligent. The new
prophet chosen to succeed Elijah was Elisha.
(5-18) 1 Kings 19:4–16. Where Did Elijah’s Travels
Take Him?
The accompanying map shows the journeys of
Elijah from the time he left the Brook Cherith until
he arrived at Damascus, Syria, where he anointed an
earthly king in a foreign country. It provides a picture
of how far-reaching his ministry was.
(5-16) 1 Kings 18:38. What Was the Fire of the Lord?
(5-19) 1 Kings 19:15. Jehovah, the God of Many
Nations
“The fire proceeding from Jehovah, was not a natural
flash of lightning, which could not produce any such
effect, but miraculous fire falling from heaven, as in
[1 Chronicles 21:26; 2 Chronicles 7:1] (see [Leviticus
This verse shows that God and Israel’s prophets
influenced nations other than Israel. Nothing more is
known about the circumstance that made it possible
for Elijah to anoint a king of Syria.
61
Zarephath
Mt. Carmel
Jezreel
Tishbe
Samaria
Beersheba
(5-22) 1 Kings 19:19. What Was the Mantle of the
Prophet That Was Placed on Elisha?
A mantle is a coat or similar covering.
“When Elijah walked up to the plow where Elisha
was standing the prophet simply removed his rough
mantle and placed it across the shoulders of Elisha.
The astonished Elisha seemed to have known exactly
what this emblematic gesture meant. He was being
designated for the prophetic calling and being chosen
as the understudy and future successor of Elijah. No
lengthy discussion or art of persuasion was employed
to induce Elisha to accept the call. It was not needed.
He was one of the choice 7,000 referred to by the Lord
who had not bowed the knee to Baal but respected the
Holy Priesthood of God and accepted with enthusiasm
the discipline and obedience required by such a calling.”
(Skousen, Fourth Thousand Years, p. 359.)
Out of this simple act, the phrase “mantle of the
prophet” has come to mean the calling and office of
the prophet.
(5-23) 1 Kings 20:11. “Let Not Him That Girdeth on
His Harness Boast”
This is like saying “Don’t boast of the deed until it
is done.” The imagery comes from the harnessing of
work animals. It would be easy for an ox to boast of
how much he can plow while he is being harnessed in
the morning, but the boast would be meaningful only
after the work was done, that is, when the harness is
taken off.
(5-24) 1 Kings 20, 22. Battles with Syria
These chapters detail two separate battles between
Israel and Syria. Israel won the first battle but lost the
second.
Mt. Horeb
(Sinai)
Elijah’s journeys
(5-20) 1 Kings 19:17. Whom Did Elisha Slay?
There is no record of Elisha slaying anyone. This
passage may mean that Elisha would prophesy the
death of certain people. Of course, the Bible record as
it is now is fragmentary at best, and the details of the
incident referred to here may be lost.
(5-21) 1 Kings 19:19–21. Twelve Yoke of Oxen
Elisha must have been wealthy to have been plowing
with twelve yokes of oxen, for each yoke pulled a plow
and was driven by a servant. The feast of two oxen also
indicates wealth. Eating the oxen and burning their
equipment symbolically represents Elisha’s rejection of
worldly wealth as Elisha prepared to follow Elijah and
to make the considerable material sacrifice involved in
responding to the prophetic call.
62
(5-25) 1 Kings 20:28. What Is Meant by the Phrase
“the Lord Is God of the Hills, but He Is Not God of
the Valleys”?
“There seems to be an allusion here to the opinion,
prevalent among all heathen nations, that the different
parts of the earth had different divinities. They had gods
for the woods, for the mountains, for the seas, for the
heavens, and for the lower regions. The Syrians seem
to have received the impression that Jehovah was
specially the God of the mountains; but he manifested
to them that he ruled every-where.” (James M.
Freeman, Manners and Customs of the Bible, p. 165.)
(5-26) 1 Kings 20:38–43. Ahab’s Death Pronounced
In his encounter with the prophet of the Lord, Ahab
unwittingly pronounced his own doom. The prophecy
was fulfilled in the next battle with the Syrians (see
1 Kings 22:34–35). That was his reward for failing to
slay Ben-hadad as the Lord had commanded.
(5-27) 1 Kings 21:2–24. Naboth’s Vineyard
Ahab’s offer to buy Naboth’s vineyard may seem
fair at first glance, but Naboth could not sell. His land
had been inherited from his forefathers, and the law
of Moses did not permit the sale of one’s inheritance,
except in cases of extreme destitution, and then it
could be sold or mortgaged only until the time of
jubilee, when it would be reclaimed. Ahab wished to
the reader that the Scriptures repeatedly represent God
as doing what, in the course of his providence, he only
permits or suffers to be done? Nothing can be done in
heaven, in earth, or hell, but either by his immediate
energy or permission. This is the reason why the
Scripture speaks as above.” (Commentary, 2:476.)
(5-31) 1 Kings 22:34. What Are the “Joints of the
Harness”?
An ancient warrior was covered with armor. To kill
him, an arrow had to pass through the spaces where
one piece of armor joined another.
(5-32) 2 Kings 1:1. Who Were the Moabites Who
“Rebelled against Israel after the Death of Ahab”?
Tel Jezreel, Ahab’s winter palace, overlooks the Jezreel Valley.
acquire the land permanently. Hence Naboth’s reply:
“The Lord forbid it me” (v. 3). Ahab’s tantrum over
being refused (see v. 4) gives an insight into the
character of Ahab. The king owned ten-twelfths of the
land of Israel already, but he was miserable because he
could not get everything he wanted.
These verses also show how Ahab’s wife, Jezebel,
arranged her husband’s affairs without hindrance
of any sort (see v. 16). The phrase “sons of Belial,”
was a catch-all term that applied to almost any evil
persons—liars, thieves, murderers. Notice how the
punishment pronounced on Ahab and Jezebel matched
their character (see vv. 19, 23).
(5-28) 1 Kings 21:27–29. Sins of the Fathers and the
Sons
The Moabites occupied the territory east of the Dead
Sea. They were the descendants of Lot (see Genesis
19:37.) Years earlier David had conquered them and
their distant relatives the Ammonites, who were also
descendants of Lot and who occupied a territory just
north of Moab. The Moabites now saw an opportunity
to break connection with the Israelites, and they were
determined to make the most of it. Their king, a man
named Mesha, was so proud of the Moabites’ rebellion
that he wrote about it on a large black stone that has
been discovered by archeologists. More details of the
rebellion are found on this stone than are recorded in
the Bible. Mesha recorded on the stone the account of
hundreds of cities being added to his kingdom and
how he built reservoirs, aqueducts, and fortifications.
(5-33) 2 Kings 1:3. Who Is Baalzebub?
Because of Ahab’s wicked life, the Lord prophesied
that he would lose his posterity (see 1 Kings 21:21).
Verses 27 through 29 show the relationship between
repentance and the consequences of sin. Because Ahab
repented, the “evil” was delayed until Ahab’s son
was king.
“This name for Satan signifies his position as the
prince or chief of the devils. It is the same name
(Baalzebub) as was given to an ancient heathen god.
(2 Kings 1:3.) In their rebellion against light, the ancient
Jews applied the name Beelzebub to Christ (Matt. 10:25),
and also said that he cast out devils by the power of
Beelzebub. (Matt. 12:22–30.)” (Bruce R. McConkie,
Mormon Doctrine, p. 75.)
(5-29) 1 Kings 22:2–16. Ahab and Jehoshaphat
(5-34) 2 Kings 1:8. Elijah’s Description
The friendship between Ahab, king of Israel, and
Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, may have developed
because Jehoram, Jehoshaphat’s son, had married
Ahab’s daughter Athaliah. This friendship did not
please the Lord, and Jehoshaphat was severely rebuked
for encouraging it (see 2 Chronicles 19:1–3).
Ahab and Jehoshaphat were considering whether they
should combine to fight against the Syrians. Ahab’s false
prophets, or counselors, said yes, but Micaiah, a prophet
of God, said no. The words of Micaiah in verse 15,
“Go and prosper,” were said with great sarcasm. It is
as though Micaiah said: “All your false prophets have
predicted success. You want me to do the same, so I
will: ‘Go and prosper.’” This was said scornfully to let
King Ahab know that it was contrary to Micaiah’s true
advice. Hence the King’s response in verse 16.
The statement that Elijah “was a hairy man” refers
to the fact that the prophet was dressed in a rough
garment, probably made of either goat’s or camel’s
hair. Perhaps he actually wore an animal’s skin with
the hair still on it (see Hebrews 11:37).
(5-30) 1 Kings 22:23–24. Did the Lord Place a “Lying
Spirit” in Ahab’s Prophets?
The Lord does not place a lying spirit in anyone. As
Clarke explained, the Hebrew expression means that
the Lord “hath permitted or suffered a lying spirit to
influence thy prophets. Is it requisite again to remind
(5-35) 2 Kings 1:9–14. Was It an Act of Cruelty to
Destroy These Soldiers?
“Some have blamed the prophet for destroying these
men, by bringing down fire from heaven upon them.
But they do not consider that it was no more possible
for Elijah to bring down fire from heaven, than for them
to do it. God alone could send the fire; and as he is just
and good, he would not have destroyed these men had
there not been a sufficient cause to justify the act. It was
not to please Elijah, or to gratify any vindictive humour in
him, that God thus acted; but to show his own power
and justice. No entreaty of Elijah could have induced
God to have performed an act that was wrong in itself.
Elijah, personally, had no concern in the business. God
led him simply to announce on these occasions what he
himself had determined to do. If I be a man of God, i. e.,
as surely as I am a man of God, fire shall come down
63
from heaven, and shall consume thee and thy fifty. This is
the literal meaning of the original; and by it we see
that Elijah’s words were only declarative, and not
imprecatory.” (Clarke, Commentary, 2:482.)
(5-36) 2 Kings 1:17. Jehoram and Jehoram
There were two Jehorams who were contemporaries:
Jehoram, son of Ahab, in the Northern Kingdom; and
Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, in the Southern Kingdom.
(5-37) 2 Kings 2. Where Did the Journeys of Elijah
and Elisha Take Them?
It is clear from this chapter that Elijah and Elisha
moved about a great deal during this period. See the
accompanying map for the course of their travels.
The
Great Sea
(5-40) 2 Kings 2:14. Elijah’s Mantle
Elijah’s cloak, or mantle, was a symbol of his
authority. Possession of it symbolized that Elijah’s
former authority now rested on Elisha. (See Notes
and Commentary on 1 Kings 19:19.)
(5-41) 2 Kings 2:20. Does Salt Purify Water?
The use of salt makes this a greater miracle, since
salt normally corrupts rather than purifies water.
Mt. Carmel
Jezreel
(5-42) 2 Kings 2:23–24. Should Elisha Be Blamed for
the Death of These “Children”?
Samaria
Bethel
Gilgal
Salt Sea
Jericho
Jerusalem
The journeys of Elijah and Elisha
(5-38) 2 Kings 2:8. Crossing the Jordan with Elijah
Here is yet another miracle performed by the
priesthood Elijah held. He divided, or unsealed, the
waters of the Jordan. He brought this same priesthood
power, and the keys to exercise it, to Peter, James, and
John on the mountain of transfiguration (see Matthew
17:1–13; Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph
Smith, p. 158).
(5-39) 2 Kings 2:11. Was Elijah Really Taken into
Heaven?
The term heaven has more than one meaning.
Sometimes it is used to mean the sky; at other times it
refers to the celestial glory. Elijah was taken from this
earth as a translated being, but not into celestial glory.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
“Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation
was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately
into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness,
but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is
that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for
such characters He held in reserve to be ministering
angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not
entered into so great a fullness as those who are
64
resurrected from the dead. ‘Others were tortured, not
accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better
resurrection.’ (See Hebrews 11:35.)
“Now it was evident that there was a better
resurrection, or else God would not have revealed
it unto Paul. Wherein then, can it be said a better
resurrection. This distinction is made between the
doctrine of the actual resurrection and translation:
translation obtains deliverance from the tortures and
sufferings of the body, but their existence will prolong
as to the labors and toils of the ministry, before they
can enter into so great a rest and glory.” (Teachings of
the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 170–71.)
In answering this question consider the following
interpretations:
1. The word that in the King James Version is
translated “little children” means young as compared
to old, and can be translated not only as child, but as
young man, meaning a servant or one fit to go out to
battle.
2. In verse 24 the idea ends. This ending is indicated
by a period after “and cursed them in the name of the
Lord.” The verse then states that two she bears came
out of the woods. The assumption that Elisha directed
the bears may not be justified. Clarke suggested: “But
is it not possible that these forty-two were a set of
unlucky young men, who had been employed in the
wood, destroying the whelps of these same she-bears,
who now pursued them, and tore them to pieces, for
the injury they had done? We have already heard of
the ferocity of a bear robbed of her whelps; see at the end
of [2 Samuel chap. 17]. The mention of she-bears gives
some colour to the above conjecture; and, probably,
at the time when these young fellows insulted the
prophet, the bears might be tracing the footsteps of the
murderers of their young, and thus came upon them
in the midst of their insults, God’s providence ordering
these occurrences so as to make this natural effect
appear as a Divine cause. If the conjecture be correct,
the bears were prepared by their loss to execute the
curse of the prophet, and God’s justice guided them
to the spot to punish the iniquity that had been just
committed.” (Commentary, 2:486.)
POINTS TO PONDER
(5-43) The Living and the Dead Prophets
This section’s reading concerned two prophets,
Elijah and Micaiah, whose counsel Ahab disliked.
Even though Jehoshaphat did not like the counsel he
and Ahab received, Ahab still did not want to seek
advice from Micaiah, for Micaiah refused to flatter him
(1 Kings 22). Because Ahab did not like what any of the
prophets had to say about him, he persecuted them.
Now, however, Elijah is honored by people the world
over, Jew, Christian, and Moslem, as one of history’s
greatest prophets.
Is it easier to believe a dead prophet because his
counsel applies more directly to another time? Elder
Bruce R. McConkie said:
“It seems easy to believe in the prophets who have
passed on and to suppose that we believe and follow
the counsel they gave under different circumstances
and to other people. But the great test that confronts
us, as in every age when the Lord has a people on
earth, is whether we will give heed to the words of his
living oracles and follow the counsel and direction
they give for our day and time.
‘We be Abraham’s children, the Jews said to Jove;
We shall follow our Father, inherit his trove.
But from Jesus our Lord, came the stinging rebuke:
Ye are children of him, whom ye list to obey;
Were ye Abraham’s seed, ye would walk in his path,
And escape the strong chains of the father of wrath.
‘We have Moses the seer, and the prophets of old;
All their words we shall treasure as silver and gold.
But from Jesus our Lord, came the sobering voice:
If to Moses ye turn, then give heed to his word;
Only then can ye hope for rewards of great worth,
For he spake of my coming and labors on earth.
‘We have Peter and Paul, in their steps let us trod;
So religionists say, as they worship their God.
But speaks He who is Lord of the living and dead:
In the hands of those prophets, those teachers and
seers,
Who abide in your day have I given the keys;
Unto them ye must turn, the Eternal to please.’”
(In Conference Report, Apr. 1974, pp. 100–101; or
Ensign, May 1974, pp. 71–72.)
Sometimes modern Saints fall into the same traps as
did ancient Israel. Have you heard people extol the
teachings of Joseph Smith but murmur and criticize
current Church leaders for a statement or a stand they
take that contradicts the individual’s personal ideas
or preference? Do we say we honor the prophets and
yet not follow their instructions from the last general
conference? Some who read the Old Testament have a
tendency to shake their heads sorrowfully over those
proud and rebellious people. But the great value of our
studying this work is that it provides a clear standard
for measuring our own behavior.
(5-44) Who Was It That Troubled Israel?
Do you remember the exchange between Ahab and
Elijah at the end of the three-year drought? Ahab
asked the prophet, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?”
And Elijah replied, “I have not troubled Israel; but
thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken
the commandments of the Lord“ (1 Kings 18:17–18).
By himself Elijah had no power to create a drought,
call down fire from heaven, bring about the end of
Ahab and his house, or punish or destroy Israel. He
was only an instrument in the hands of the Lord. It
was the wickedness of Israel that created the chaos
and calamity. In some cases the Lord intervened to
punish directly. In others He simply let the laws He
gave the world (see D&C 88:42) run their course. Elijah
knew what he prophesied only because he was the one
chosen to reveal it. Who would think that idolatry could
lead people to break as many other laws as it did in
Elijah’s day?
It is easy to look back and see how foolish Ahab,
Jezebel, and the Israelites who halted between two
opinions were. But what of today? Are men still inclined
to vacillate between serving God and serving the
devil? Do they still want to hear only good things
about their evil choices? Do they still tend to place the
blame for life’s reversals on someone else? Or will they
learn the eternal fact that men reap precisely what
they sow? “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the
flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit
shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:8).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said that “the great need
in the world today is not for the Lord to send a prophet
to reveal his mind and will. He has done that; we have
a prophet; we are guided by many men who have the
spirit of inspiration. The great need today is for men
to have a listening ear and to give heed to the words
that fall from the lips of those who wear the prophetic
mantle.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1974, p. 104;
or Ensign, May 1974, p. 73.)
65
Enrichment
C
The Messianic
Hope in Ancient
Israel
(C-1) The Jewish Nation Believed the Scriptural
Promise of a Messiah
For centuries the prophets of Israel had foretold
the coming of a Messiah. From Adam to Malachi, the
prophets told the people of the day when the God of
Israel would come to earth, take flesh upon Him, and
become their Savior and Redeemer. Isaiah’s prophecy
represents the Messianic hope that existed among the
covenant people: “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. 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.” (Isaiah 9:6–7.)
And yet when the long-awaited day arrived, most
of the Jewish people failed to see that the prophecies
were fulfilled and rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
The Apostle John wrote that Jesus was “the true
Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into
the world,” and yet, “the world knew him not. He
came unto his own, and his own received him not.”
(John 1:9–11.)
The English word Messiah comes from the Hebrew
Meshiach, meaning “anointed.” The Greek equivalent
is Christos. Both words carry the idea of one who is
anointed of God. The Hebrew word Yeshua (Jesus in
Greek) means “Savior” or “deliverer.” The two words
combined denote one anointed of God to save or
deliver His people.
Dozens of prophecies clearly signaled the coming of
this Messiah, and Jesus fulfilled them all. Then why did
so many of His own people reject Him? The answer to
that question lies partly in an understanding of the
Messianic hope of Israel.
(C-2) The Jewish Nation Looked beyond the Mark
When Jesus made His appearance on earth, the Jews
were in bondage to the Romans. It was not the first
time a foreign nation had controlled the Jewish land,
nor would it be the last. But the Jews chafed under the
Roman yoke and regarded their gentile overseers as
hard taskmasters. During the years of bondage to the
great empires, the idea of a deliverer began to take on
political overtones. Many overlooked the spiritual
significance of the coming Messiah because they
longed for one with the power to throw off the hated
enemies that ruled them.
The people came to see the Messiah not as one who
would provide Atonement for their sins but as one who
would deliver them from their enemies by physical
force. A Book of Mormon prophet explained: “But
behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they
despised the words of plainness, and killed the
prophets, and sought for things that they could not
understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness,
which blindness came by looking beyond the mark,
they must needs fall.” (Jacob 4:14.)
They stumbled upon the very “stone upon which
they might build and have safe foundation” (Jacob 4:15).
The “mark” beyond which they looked was Christ.
When He did not come in the manner they anticipated,
they looked beyond Him for another who should
come. Thus, “they still wait for the coming of the
Messiah” (2 Nephi 6:13).
(C-3) The Messianic Hope Taught from the Beginning
The expectation of an Anointed Deliverer is called
the messianic hope. This hope was very real for the
ancient house of Israel and extended into the distant
past, even into the premortal council in heaven. After
explaining the need for a redeemer, Father in Heaven
asked, “Whom shall I send?” (Abraham 3:27). Lucifer
replied, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son,
and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not
be lost, . . . wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses
4:1). Jehovah replied, “Here am I, send me “ (Abraham
3:27). “Thy will be done, and the glory be thine
forever” (Moses 4:2). Jehovah was chosen as Messiah,
and Lucifer, with a third of the spirit children of God,
rebelled against the Father’s decision. As a result,
Lucifer became the devil. He, with all his followers,
was cast from heaven to the earth. (See Revelation
12:7–9.)
Adam was then placed on earth. After his fall from
Eden, Adam was taught about the Messiah who would
come to redeem “all mankind even as many as will”
(Moses 5:6–9). Later, Enoch was shown in vision the
mortal mission of the Son of God (see Moses 7:47), and
Enoch rejoiced in these words: “Blessed is he through
whose seed Messiah shall come; for he saith—I am
Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven”
(Moses 7:53).
(C-4) Jesus Would Be Like Moses
From Enoch to Abraham and from Abraham to
Moses, the messianic hope was perpetuated. Moses
taught his brethren: “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”
(Deuteronomy 18:15).
Jesus identified Himself to the Nephites as the very
prophet of whom Moses spoke. “Behold, I am he,” he
said, “of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall
the Lord your God raise up unto you” (3 Nephi 20:23).
67
(C-5) The Messiah Would Sit on David’s Throne
Like Moses, King David of Israel was a type, or
symbol, of Christ. It was said that Messiah would sit
on David’s throne and judge the house of Israel (see
Isaiah 9:7). Jeremiah wrote: “Behold the days come,
saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous
Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall
execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days
Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and
this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD
OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:5–6.)
(C-6) Why Did So Many Misinterpret Prophecy
Regarding the Deliverer?
As the years passed and the messianic expectation
remained unfulfilled, many interpreted the sayings
and writings of the prophets erroneously. It is not
surprising that they came to see only the political
aspects of the Messiah, since there was a scriptural
basis for such a belief. Several hundred years before
the birth of Christ Zechariah wrote of a day when the
Lord (Messiah) would fight against the Jewish enemies
“as when he fought in the day of battle [anciently]”
(Zechariah 14:3). Zechariah pictured Jerusalem being
delivered in great power from all who had opposed
her (see Zechariah 14:1–15). Isaiah spoke of the
Messiah as having the government upon His shoulder
(see Isaiah 9:6). That phrase certainly suggested a
political kingdom. Numerous other prophets foretold
His coming in power and glory.
When one studies the prophecies carefully, however,
a dual picture of the Messiah emerges. One picture
is that of the “suffering servant.” Isaiah 53 is an
outstanding example of the “suffering servant” kind
of prophecy. It foretells the sufferings of the Messiah:
He will be “a man of sorrows” (v. 3), one who stands
“as a sheep before her shearers” (v. 7), one who takes
our transgressions upon Himself. The other picture of
the Messiah is that of the “King of Glory.” Zechariah 14
and Isaiah 9 contain examples of the “King of Glory”
prophecies, which paint a picture of deliverance, political
power, and the destruction of the enemies of Israel.
Latter-day Saints, with the benefit of modern
revelation and a perspective of history, easily understand
this dualism. There are two comings of the Messiah.
Christ came the first time as a mortal. He was born in
a stable, lived in a town of little reputation, took no
political role, and flatly rejected attempts to make Him
a king. This coming was foretold in the “suffering
servant” prophecies. His second coming will be in
fulfillment of the “King of Glory” prophecies. He will
put down all kingdoms and deliver Israel from the
powers of Babylon.
David H. Yarn explained:
“From the time of the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
until the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in
A.D. 70, with the exception of the short-lived and
insecure Maccabean revolt, the Palestinian remnant of
Israel was a subject people of the great powers. First
they were victims of the Babylonian captivity; then
they were ruled in turn by the Persians, the Greeks,
the Ptolemies, and the Seleucids. And the efforts of the
zealous Maccabeans to establish Judaic control was
succeeded by subjection to the rising world power,
Rome.
68
“As the centuries passed and the seemingly endless
servitude to heathen powers continued, the Jews
hungered for their liberation. It seems that the messianic
vision of the prophets, which included the first coming
of the Messiah, with his personal redeeming sacrifice,
and his second coming to usher in the messianic age
(millennial reign) in the last days, became fused in the
minds of the people, or at least in the desires of the
people.
“They remembered the prophets had promised one
‘like unto Moses,’ and a ‘son of David,’ who would be
raised up as the Messiah to deliver them even as Moses
and David had delivered them, but when the Lord
came into the world they seem to have forgotten the
personal aspects of the Redeemer’s life and remembered
only those parts of the prophecies which had to do with
political matters, or the establishing of a permanent
kingdom.” (“The Messianic Expectation,” Ensign, Apr.
1972, pp. 20–21.)
Thus when the Savior refused to take up the sword
against Rome, the Jews’ hopes were dashed. And
His Crucifixion was seen by the majority not as a
fulfillment of prophecy but as proof that He could not
have been the promised deliverer.
(C-7) The Messianic Expectation in the Book of
Mormon
The Old Testament and Book of Mormon prophets
understood the true picture. In a great vision given
some six hundred years before the Savior’s advent in
the flesh (1 Nephi 11:13–33), Nephi learned that the
Messiah would be born of a virgin “after the manner
of the flesh,” (v. 18), would be baptized by a “prophet
who should prepare the way before him” (v. 27),
would go forth “ministering unto the people, in power
and great glory” (v. 28), and would heal the sick and
infirm.
They knew that He would “suffer temptations,
and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even
more than man can suffer, except it be unto death;
for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great
shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the
abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7). Nephi and
others foresaw that He would be treated as a thing of
naught, rejected by His people, scourged, spit upon,
and crucified (see 1 Nephi 19:9; Jacob 4:3–4).
(C-8) The Messianic Expectation in the New
Testament
Other messianic prophecies revealed the life and
mission of the Messiah in detail. Those who believed
in Christ saw the fulfillment of these prophecies in His
life. The writers of the four Gospels in the New
Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, pointed
out how Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament
prophecies that referred to the coming Messiah. For
example, Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea
(compare Micah 5:2 with Matthew 2:1–6), would be an
object of great adoration (compare Psalm 72:10 with
Matthew 2:1–11), would be preceded by a forerunner
(compare Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1 with Luke 1:17
and Matthew 3:1–3). His ministry was to begin in
Galilee (compare Isaiah 9:1–2 with Matthew 4:12,
16–23), He would teach in parables (compare Psalm
78:2 with Matthew 13:34–35). His ministry would be
When Christ appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He revealed that He was the risen Lord.
marked by miracles (compare Isaiah 35:5–6 with
Matthew 11:4–5) and by rejection of His message
(compare Psalm 69:8 and Isaiah 53:3 with John 1:11
and John 7:5). Near the end, Messiah would enter
Jerusalem in triumph on the back of an ass (compare
Zechariah 9:9 with Matthew 21:4–5), would be sold
for thirty pieces of silver (compare Zechariah 11:12
with Matthew 26:15), would be betrayed by a close
friend (compare Psalm 41:9 and 55:12–14 with John
13:18, 21), and would be deserted by His associates
(compare Zechariah 13:7 with Matthew 26:31–56). He
would be smitten on the cheek (compare Micah 5:1
with Matthew 27:30), spat upon (compare Isaiah
50:6 with Matthew 27:30), mocked (compare Psalm
22:7–8 with Matthew 27:31, 39–44), and beaten
(compare Isaiah 50:6 with Matthew 26:67; 27:26, 30).
His hands and feet were to be pierced (compare
Psalm 22:16 and Zechariah 12:10 with John 19:33–37);
yet not a bone in His body would be broken (compare
Psalm 34:20 with John 19:33–36). He would be
numbered with transgressors (compare Isaiah 53:9 with
Matthew 27:38). He would be given vinegar to drink
(compare Psalm 69:21 with Matthew 27:34) while
thirsting and in pain (compare Psalm 22:15 and John
19:28). When dead, He would be buried with the rich
(compare Isaiah 53:12 with Matthew 27:57–60); but His
body would not see corruption (compare Psalm 16:10
and Acts 2:31), for He would rise from death (compare
Psalms 2:7; 16:10 with Acts 13:33), making it possible
for all the dead to rise (compare Isaiah 26:19 and
Daniel 12:2 with Matthew 27:52–53).
(C-9) Jesus Is the Christ, the Expected Messiah
Jesus is the Son of God. He was born of a mortal
mother and an immortal father. He made an infinite
Atonement for man’s sins. He was resurrected, thus
opening the doors of immortality and eternal life for
all mankind. Jesus is the only individual who ever
lived to have the details of His birth, life, mission,
death, and resurrection spelled out in public documents
centuries before.
Who could have written the life of any great man
before it happened? Nothing but divine foreknowledge
and power could have revealed the life of Jesus in
such detail and then brought it to pass. No person
could have done this. It was God’s way of placing His
divine stamp on the life and work of His Only
Begotten Son, a means for letting all mankind know
that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the hope and
desire of the ages. President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., said:
“We of our faith know that Jesus of Nazareth is the
Christ. This is our knowledge. We must proclaim it at
all times and under all circumstances. . . .
“So as I conceive it, we must stand adamant for the
doctrine of the atonement of Jesus the Christ, for the
divinity of his conception, for his sinless life, and for,
shall I say, the divinity of his death, his voluntary
69
surrender of life. He was not killed; he gave up his
life. . . .
“It is our mission, perhaps the most fundamental
purpose of our work, to bear constant testimony of
Jesus the Christ. We must never permit to enter into
our thoughts and certainly not into our teachings,
the idea that he was merely a great teacher, a great
philosopher, the builder of a great system of ethics.
It is our duty, day after day, year in and year out,
always to declare that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ
who brought redemption to the world and to all the
inhabitants thereof.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1955,
pp. 22–24).
(C-10) Summary
Messianic prophecy was given by revelation.
To understand it, one must have the same spirit of
prophecy as the one who gave it. Peter said, “No
prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of
man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved
70
by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20–21). And John was
told that the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of
Jesus (see Revelation 19:10). The Jewish nation did not
have this spirit. Because the leaders of the Jews had
interpreted privately many prophecies concerning the
Messiah, they did not recognize Him as the Savior
when He came to earth the first time. When prophecies
began to be fulfilled, the Jews did not have the
spiritual eyes to see the signs.
Today Latter-day Saints have every expectation
that Jesus will come again. The prophecies and signs
concerning His Second Coming are found in the
scriptures. Those who have interpreted privately
or have built false notions of the Savior’s Second
Coming may not recognize the signs. The prophecies
concerning the expected return of the Messiah “are
plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit
of prophecy” (2 Nephi 25:4). It is an individual
responsibility to seek diligently with pure hearts in
order to recognize the signs.
2 Kings 3–13
6
Hearkening unto
the Counsel of God
IC
OE
N
SYRIA
ISRAEL
TI
A
AMMON
IL
Jerusalem
PH
Instructions to Students
PH
The Great Sea
IS
“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness,
and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When
they are learned they think they are wise, and they
hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it
aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore,
their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not.
And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they
hearken unto the counsels of God.” (2 Nephi 9:28–29).
This scripture applies very well to the children of
Israel in ancient times. Israel seems to have had great
difficulty listening to and obeying the counsel of their
prophets. They trusted in their own wisdom and rejected
the counsel of the Lord. Elisha found no better response,
even though his ministry was as remarkable as Elijah’s.
As he wrestled with the problems of prophetic
leadership, he found the nation of Israel plagued
with apostate kings and leaders. The common people
followed the example of their leaders in having
trouble heeding the prophetic call to righteousness.
Second Kings 3–13 tells of such people as Gehazi,
Naaman, and a woman of Shunem. The wicked kings
of Moab, Israel, and Syria are also encountered. Each
person responded to Elisha’s counsel in a different
way and for different reasons.
IA
(6-1) Introduction
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study 2 Kings 3–13.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
MOAB
JUDAH
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
2 KINGS 3–13
EDOM
(6-2) 2 Kings 3–13
The accompanying map indicates the relative locations
of the kingdoms and places written of in 2 Kings 3–13.
Note especially Judah, Israel, Edom, Moab, and Syria.
Red Sea
(6-3) 2 Kings 3:2–3. The Idolatry of Jehoram
Israel and Moab
C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch noted that Jehoram’s
attempt to reform Israel was only partial. “Joram or
Jehoram was not so ungodly as his father Ahab and his
mother Jezebel. He had the statue or pillar of Baal, which
his father had erected in Samaria, removed; and it was
only to the sin of Jeroboam, i.e., the calf-worship, that
he adhered. Joram therefore wished to abolish the
worship of Baal and elevate the worship of Jehovah,
under the image of the calf (ox), into the religion of his
kingdom once more. . . . He did not succeed, however,
in exterminating the worship of Baal. It not only
continued in Samaria, but appears to have been
carried on again in the most shameless manner . . . at
which we cannot be surprised, since his mother Jezebel,
that fanatical worshipper of Baal, was living throughout
the whole of his reign.” (Commentary on the Old
Testament, 3:1:300–301.)
The worship of Baal, who was a fertility god,
involved all sorts of immorality, temple prostitution,
and other wicked practices that were extremely difficult
to stop when most of the people were themselves
immoral and wicked. (See Old Testament Student
Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel [religion 301, 2003],
pp. 245–48.)
Elisha’s Spring at Jericho
73
(6-4) 2 Kings 3:4–10. Why Did Judah and Edom Unite
with Israel against Moab?
The Moabites had paid tribute to Israel since the days
of King David. They gave a hundred thousand lambs
and the same number of rams to the king of Israel each
year (see v. 4). With the death of Ahab, King Mesha of
Moab thought Israel was weakening, so he rebelled
and began to attack nearby towns and villages.
Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, had maintained friendly
relations with Ahab (see 1 Kings 22:4) and wanted to
maintain them with Jehoram, Ahab’s son and successor.
Judah had also been attacked by Moab (see 2 Chronicles
20:1), so it was natural for Jehoshaphat to agree to an
alliance with Israel against a common enemy. By
marching through Edom, Judah and Israel could
increase their army with Edomite soldiers, who were
in servitude to Judah. They could also surprise Moab
by attacking from the geographically most difficult,
and therefore the least likely, direction.
(6-5) 2 Kings 3:11–15. Why Was Elisha Upset?
Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, desired the advice of a
true prophet of God before he went into battle because
he was a follower of Jehovah. The kings went to the
prophet Elisha, who was irritated by the presence of
Jehoram, king of Israel. Elisha sarcastically advised
him to seek the counsel of the false prophets of his
father (see v. 13).
A minstrel, or harpist, was then called to soothe
Elisha before he complied with King Jehoshaphat’s
request to seek the Lord’s direction. It seems ironic
that even though they were not willing to follow
Elisha’s counsel, they were anxious to have his
blessing on their endeavor.
(6-6) 2 Kings 3:11. What Was the Meaning of Elisha’s
Pouring “Water on the Hands of Elijah”?
In the East a servant pours water over the hands of
his master after each meal so he can clean them. The
expression merely indicates that Elisha was the servant
and disciple of Elijah (see James M. Freeman, Manners
and Customs of the Bible, pp. 169–70).
(6-7) 2 Kings 3:19. Besides in Actual Combat, How
Was Israel to Destroy Her Enemies?
and said: ‘That is blood: the (allied) kings have destroyed
themselves and smitten one another; and now to the
spoil, Moab!’ Coming with this expectation to the
Israelitish camp, they were received by the allies, who
were ready for battle, and put to flight. The divine help
consisted, therefore, not in a miracle which surpassed
the laws of nature, but simply in the fact that the Lord
God, as He had predicted through His prophet, caused
the forces of nature ordained by Him to work in the
predetermined manner. . . .
“From the reddish earth of the freshly dug trenches
the water collected in them had acquired a reddish
colour, which was considerably intensified by the rays
of the rising sun, so that when seen from a distance it
resembled blood. The Moabites, however, were the less
likely to entertain the thought of an optical delusion,
from the fact that with their accurate acquaintance with
the country they knew very well that there was no
water in the wady at that time, and they had neither
seen nor heard anything of the rain which had fallen
at a great distance off in the Edomitish mountains.
The thought was therefore a natural one, that the water
was blood, and that the cause of the blood could only
have been that their enemies had massacred one another,
more especially as the jealousy between Israel and
Judah was not unknown to them, and they could have
no doubt that Edom had only come with them as a
forced ally.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:305–6.)
(6-9) 2 Kings 3:26–27. Why Did the Moabite King
Offer His Son As a Sacrifice?
The king of Moab made a desperate attempt to flee
the city because of its imminent destruction. But his
flight was stopped by the Edomites, and he was forced
back into the city. When his attempted flight failed,
the king offered his firstborn son, who would have
succeeded him, as a burnt offering. Chemosh, god of
the Moabites, was frequently offered human sacrifice
to appease his anger. This custom may have prompted
the Moabite king in this case.
With the death of the heir, Israel lifted their siege
and departed, perhaps feeling that Moab’s power as
a nation had ended. This feeling, however, was a
mistake (see 2 Kings 13:20).
(6-10) 2 Kings 4:1–7. How Could Debts Be Paid?
The prophet Elisha commanded Israel to do three
things as they went through the land of Moab: (1) cut
down all trees that could be used to build fortifications
(see Deuteronomy 20:19–20 for the justification of
this practice); (2) destroy the wells that provided the
life-giving waters of the land; and (3) throw rocks on
the fields. A large army passing through an area could
quickly cover the land with rocks. It would then take
months of hard work to uncover the land so crops could
again be grown. The reasoning was that the defeated
enemy would have to spend its labor in recovering
from war rather than in preparing to wage it again.
Anciently, when one was unable to meet a legal debt,
one could bind out one’s sons as servants to satisfy the
obligation (see Leviticus 25:39–40). If a thief could not
restore what he had stolen, he could be sold to square a
debt (see Exodus 22:3). Sometimes creditors would even
take children from their parents and sell them into
slavery to pay a debt (see Nehemiah 5:5, 8). The custom
of paying off a debt through servitude was apparently
still practiced in the days of Jesus, for the Savior referred
to it in one of his parables (see Matthew 18:25).
(6-8) 2 Kings 3:20–24. Why Was Moab Deceived?
Those who receive the servants of the Lord also
receive Him (see D&C 84:36). The Shunammite woman
showed her love for God by her kindness to His chosen
servant Elisha. She, in turn, was assured that she would
be blessed with a child. Like the widow who helped
Elijah, she received a special blessing from the prophet.
“On hearing the report of the march of the allied
kings, Moab had raised all the men that were capable
of bearing arms, and stationed them on the frontier. In
the morning, when the sun had risen above the water,
the Moabites saw the water opposite to them like blood,
74
(6-11) 2 Kings 4:8–17. A Faithful Woman Rewarded
(6-12) 2 Kings 4:10. What Is a “Chamber . . . on the
Wall”?
“The aliyah, ‘chamber,’ is an upper room of an Eastern
house, being sometimes built on the roof, and sometimes
making a second story to the porch, to which it has
access by stairs. It is hence called in 2 Sam. xviii, 33,
‘the chamber over the gate.’ . . . In the text it is called
a chamber ‘in the wall,’ probably because its window,
opening to the street, made a break in the dead wall,
and was thus about the only evidence to an outside
spectator of the existence of rooms in the house. It is
usually well furnished, and kept as a room for the
entertainment of honored guests.” (Freeman, Manners
and Customs of the Bible, p. 171.)
(6-13) 2 Kings 4:17–44. Miracles Performed by Elisha
These verses recount three great miracles Elisha
performed through the power of the priesthood. First,
he raised from the dead the son of the Shunammite
woman who had shown so much kindness to him.
Second, he blessed food that was bitter and inedible
and made it whole, or good. And third, he multiplied
a small number of loaves of barley bread and ears of
corn to feed many people.
Many features of Elisha’s ministry parallel those of
the Savior’s. He truly was a type of the Messiah, as
Elijah had been before him.
(6-14) 2 Kings 4:16. Did the Shunammite Woman
Doubt the Promise Made to Her?
The woman’s response to Elisha’s promise of a child
is not one of doubt but one of hope. In essence she was
saying, “Let not your words be a lie,” or “Let your
words come true.”
(6-15) 2 Kings 4:23. Why Did the Husband Question
His Wife about the Day on Which She Went to See
Elisha?
“The Shunammite’s husband did not connect his
wife’s proposed visit to the prophet with the death of
his child, but with some religious duty. The new moon
(i.e. the first day of the month) and the sabbath were
feasts at which the prophets might be asked to preside,
as Samuel did at the feast held at the high place of
Ramah [see 1 Samuel 9:12–13].” (J. R. Dummelow, ed.,
A Commentary on the Holy Bible, p. 231.)
(6-16) 2 Kings 5:1. What Is Known about Naaman?
Naaman was a great warrior and appears to have
been a very good man, for “by him the Lord had given
deliverance unto Syria” from the Assyrians. He was
captain of the entire army of the Syrians, but he was
plagued with leprosy. Leprosy, which has been called
the living death, is any of a variety of chronic skin
diseases. Its most mild form is characterized by skin
that is scaly with reddish patches. In the most extreme
cases of leprosy, the flesh actually falls off the bone.
The law of Moses required that those afflicted with it
live apart from society (see Leviticus 13:46). It is not
known how severe Naaman’s leprosy was.
(6-17) 2 Kings 5:2–19. The Miraculous Healing of
Naaman, the Syrian Leader
Learning from an Israelite girl in his household that
there was a prophet in Samaria who could heal him,
Naaman asked the king of Syria for a letter to introduce
him to Jehoram, king of Israel. However, Jehoram’s
response, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive?” (v. 7),
shows that he immediately saw the difficult situation
Naaman’s request put him in. Jehoram was saying, in
essence, “Only God can perform such miracles.” If
Jehoram sent him to Elisha and the prophet failed
to heal him, the situation could cause a difficult rift
between Israel and Syria. Perhaps, if Naaman were not
healed, Jehoshaphat would grow angry and declare
war on Jehoram.
When Elisha learned of the distress of the king of
Israel, he sent for Naaman. Elisha tested Naaman’s
faith by telling him to wash in the Jordan seven times.
Though skeptical at first, Naaman complied because of
the persuasion of his servants, and he was made whole.
(6-18) 2 Kings 5:17–19. Why Did Naaman Carry Soil
Back with Him?
“It is very evident from Naaman’s explanation, ‘for
thy servant,’ etc., that he wanted to take a load of earth
with him out of the land of Israel, that he might be able
to offer sacrifice upon it to the God of Israel, because he
was still a slave to the polytheistic superstition, that no
god could be worshipped in a proper and acceptable
manner except in his own land, or upon an altar built
of the earth of his own land. And because Naaman’s
knowledge of God was still adulterated with
superstition, he was not yet prepared to make an
unreserved confession before men of his faith in Jehovah
as the only true God, but hoped that Jehovah would
forgive him if he still continued to join outwardly
in the worship of idols, so far as his official duty
required.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:320.)
Elisha told Naaman to go in peace, evidently
accepting the sincerity of his conversion, even though
Naaman obviously had more to learn about the true
God.
(6-19) 2 Kings 5:15–16, 20–26. Why Did Elisha Refuse
Gifts from Naaman?
Shunem, at the southwest foot of the Hill of Moreh
Elisha refused the gifts Naaman offered for his use
of God’s power, but Gehazi did not. The temptation to
use priesthood power for personal gain has plagued
man throughout history (see for example the account
75
of Balaam in Jude 1:11 and the account of Nehor in
Alma 1). Nephi called such employment priestcraft
and said it is forbidden by the Lord (see 2 Nephi
26:29–31). Paul suggested that if one charged for his
service in the priesthood, he would abuse his power in
the gospel (see 1 Corinthians 9:18). And Jesus taught His
ministering servants, “Freely ye have received, freely
give” (Matthew 10:8). It is, after all, by divine power
that men are able to perform priesthood miracles.
Elisha understood this truth perfectly, but Gehazi
saw a chance for personal gain slipping away and let
his greed overpower his good judgment.
(6-20) 2 Kings 5:26. What Was the Significance of
Elisha’s Question: “Is It a Time to Receive Money?”
Keil and Delitzsch noted that Elisha was asking, “Is
this the time, when so many hypocrites pretend to be
prophets from selfishness and avarice, and bring the
prophetic office into contempt with unbelievers, for a
servant of the true God to take money and goods from
a non-Israelite for that which God has done through
him, that he may acquire property and luxury for
himself? . . . It was not too harsh a punishment that
the leprosy taken from Naaman on account of his faith
in the living God, should pass to Gehazi on account of
his departure from the true God. For it was not his
avarice [greed] only that was to be punished, but the
abuse of the prophet’s name for the purpose of carrying
out his selfish purpose, and his misrepresentation of
the prophet.” (Commentary, 3:1:322–23.)
(6-21) 2 Kings 6:1–7. Why Did Elisha Perform This
Miracle?
The scarcity of iron and its great value were not
sufficient reason to perform such a miracle. “The
prophet’s powers were exerted to help one who was
honest enough to be the more concerned for his loss
because the axe was not his own” (Dummelow,
Commentary, p. 232).
(6-22) 2 Kings 6:8–23. The Lord’s Host
Syria attacked Israel several times but was always
defeated. When it finally came to the attention of the
king of Syria that his soldiers were losing because of
the prophetic power of Elisha, he sent a large army
to destroy Elisha. The Syrian army located Elisha in
Dotham (see v. 13) where they surrounded the city so
he could not escape. The next morning Elisha’s servant,
realizing the precarious situation they were in, said to
his master, “How shall we do?” (v. 15.) Elisha asked
the Lord to let his servant see that “they that be with
us are more than they that be with them” (v. 16). Elisha’s
servant was then allowed to see the Lord’s host that
had been sent to protect them. (For other examples
of the Lord’s host, see Joshua 5:13–15; History of the
Church, 2:381–83.)
(6-23) 2 Kings 6:23–24. Was There Peace or War
between Syria and Israel?
Josephus explained the apparent contradiction
between these two verses: “Now when these men were
come back, and had showed Ben-hadad how strange
an accident had befallen them, and what an appearance
and power they had experienced of the God of Israel,
he wondered at it, as also at that prophet with whom
76
God was so evidently present; so he determined to
make no more secret attempts upon the king of Israel,
out of fear of Elisha, but resolved to make open war
with them, as supposing he could be too hard for his
enemies by the multitude of his army and power.”
(Antiquities of the Jews, bk. 9, chap. 4, par. 4.)
(6-24) 2 Kings 6:24–29. Scarcity of Food in Samaria
Instead of trying to take Samaria by force, the king
of Syria surrounded it and attempted to starve its
inhabitants. The severity of the famine is attested
to by this verse. The ass was an unclean animal (see
Leviticus 11) and was not to be eaten by an Israelite.
The head of an animal was also the most inedible part.
To eat bird dung for what little nutritional value there
was in it also graphically illustrates the severity of the
siege. A cab of dove dung would be a little less than
two quarts. A fourth part, then, would be about one
pint. (See Dummelow, Commentary, p. 232.)
Eventually the famine became so severe that some
even resorted to cannibalism (see vv. 28–29). Like
Ahab, who had blamed Elijah and sought his life (see
1 Kings 18:17-18), King Jehoram refused to see that his
own actions had caused Israel’s problems. Instead, he
blamed Elisha and tried to kill him.
(6-25) 2 Kings 6:27. What Does the Expression “out of
the Barnfloor, or out of the Winepress” Mean?
The king of Israel was simply saying that he could
not provide food or drink.
(6-26) 2 Kings 7. The Lord Saved Israel
Elder Orson Hyde said:
“Once on a time there was a great famine in Samaria,
and so sore was that famine that a mule’s head sold
for four score pieces of silver in the market, and a cab
of dove’s dung sold for food in the market, I can not
recollect for how much. We should consider it pretty
much of a task or penalty to be compelled to use an
article like that for food, but the people of Samaria were
sorely distressed with famine, and which way to turn
to save themselves they knew not. About this time, the
King of Syria, with a large army, came to besiege the city,
and there was a mighty host of them, and they brought
everything in the shape of food that was necessary for
the comfort and happiness of man; and although the
famine was so sore among the Samaritans, the old
Prophet, Elisha . . . , told them that on the next day
meal should be sold in the gate of their city at very
low figures, lower than it had ever been known to be
sold before. A certain nobleman, who heard the
prophecy of Elisha expressed his doubt of its truth, and
he said that if the windows of heaven were opened and
meal poured down from above it could not fall to such
low figures. Now see what he got by doubting the words
of the Prophet—said Elisha to him—‘Your eyes shall see
it, but you shall not taste it.’ That night the Lord sent
forth the angels of his presence and they made a rustling
in the trees, and sounds like horses’ hoofs and chariots,
as if the whole country had combined to go out to battle
against the Syrians, and they did not know what to make
of it, and they were frightened, and fled, leaving almost
everything they had brought with them in the borders
of the town; and as they went, the rustling of the trees
and the noise of the horses and chariots seemed to
pursue them, and in order to make their burdens as
light as possible, they threw away everything they had
with them, and their track was strewed with everything
good and desirable. The next morning the people of
Samaria went out and brought the spoils into the market,
and it was overstocked with provisions, and the word
of the Lord through the Prophet was fulfilled.
“Now, you see, the Lord knew they had eaten mules’
heads long enough, and that they had need of something
more palatable; he had had the matter under advisement,
no doubt, when the crusade was inaugurated against
the people of Samaria, and he, in all probability, inspired
them to take abundant supplies, that they might feel
all the more confident on account of their great numbers
being so well provided for. They no doubt calculated
that they had the sure thing, little thinking that God
was making them pack animals to take to his people
what they needed. Their Father in heaven knew that
they had need of them, and he sent them, and the
people of Samaria brought them into market, and
behold and lo the multitude rushed together just as
hungry people will, and this nobleman came out also,
and he was trodden down under foot and stamped
to death—he saw it but he never tasted it. That is the
reward of those who disbelieve the Prophets of God; it
was so then, and if the same thing does not occur in
every instance something of a similar character is sure
to take place. There was no living faith in that man, he
could not believe the testimony of the Prophets, and in
this he was like some of our—what shall I say, great
men, whose faith is weak and sickly, and they think
they know it all, and can chalk out right and left that
which would be best for building up the kingdom of
God.” (In Journal of Discourses, 17:6–7.)
In a similar prophecy, Heber C. Kimball prophesied
that the Saints in the Salt Lake Valley would be able to
purchase goods more cheaply than they could back
East. The prophecy was fulfilled when thousands
came through the valley during the California gold
rush. (See B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the
Church, 3:349–53.)
(6-27) 2 Kings 8:7–15. Prophecy to Hazael and
Ben-hadad
It is probable that more than one king of Syria bore
the name Ben-hadad. The name means “son of Hadad”
(J. D. Douglas, ed., The New Bible Dictionary, s.v.
“Ben-hadad”).
The Syrian leaders were well acquainted with the
prophet Elisha, for they knew of Naaman’s miraculous
healing. They also remembered Elisha’s leading a
contingent of the Syrian army into captivity singlehandedly and then releasing them (see 2 Kings 6:18–23).
Ben-hadad’s reaction, when he heard that Elisha was
in Damascus, was one of jubilation. Perhaps the prophet
of God would tell him whether he would recover from
his disease.
Verse 9 indicates that the gifts Ben-hadad sent with
Hazael to Elisha were not just a token gesture. It took
forty camels to carry them. Elisha informed Hazael
(see v. 10) that the disease the king was suffering from
was not fatal, but he would die by other means. Elisha
knew the heart of Hazael and the evil he would cause,
for the wicked cannot look unashamedly into the
piercing eye of the righteous (see v. 11). Upon his return
Hazael smothered Ben-hadad and became the king.
He ruled Syria for forty-two harsh and brutal years in
which he did Israel much harm, fulfilling Elisha’s
prophecy.
(6-28) 2 Kings 8:16–23. Jehoram, King of Judah
Jehoram, king of Judah, married Athaliah, who was
the daughter of Ahab, king of Israel, and Jezebel. She,
Aphek
Sea of
Chinnereth
Great Sea
ZEBULUN
Jokneam
ISSACHAR
Ashtaroth
BASHAN
Shunem
Megiddo
Jezreel
Beth-shan
Dothan
Ramoth-gilead
Jabesh-gilead
Tirzah
Jehu went to Jezreel from Ramoth-gilead.
77
like her mother, was an evil woman who worshiped
the gods of Baal, and she helped corrupt the Southern
Kingdom of Judah as her mother had done the Northern
Kingdom of Israel. (See Enrichment A for more
information on Athaliah.)
Because of the wickedness of Jehoram, the Lord
would not support him during his administration,
and he was greatly afflicted. Edom revolted, as did
Libnah, against his rule. Libnah was a royal city of the
Canaanites that had first been conquered by Joshua.
Jehoram probably lost Libnah at the time the Philistines
attacked Judah and plundered Jerusalem (see
2 Chronicles 21:16–17). Jehoram finally died of a
terrible disease (see 2 Chronicles 21:18–20).
(6-29) 2 Kings 8:26. Was Athaliah the Daughter of Omri?
Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab, who was the son
of Omri (see 2 Chronicles 21:6). “The terms ‘son’ and
‘daughter’ were used not only of remote descendants
but even of successors who were not blood relations”
(Dummelow, Commentary, p. 233). The phrase here
means that Athaliah was of the Omride dynasty.
worthless woman; he simply looked up to the window
and inquired: ‘Who is (holds) with me? who?’ Then
two, three chamberlains looked out (of the side
windows), and by Jehu’s command threw the proud
queen out of the window, so that some of her blood
spurted upon the wall and the horses (of Jehu), and
Jehu trampled her down, driving over her with his
horses and chariot.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary,
3:1:345.)
The death of Jezebel fulfilled the prophecy of Elijah
(see 1 Kings 21:23).
(6-33) 2 Kings 10:1–6. Were the Seventy Sons Ahab’s
Children?
By this time Ahab had been dead fourteen years.
Some of the seventy sons mentioned in verse 6 could
have been Ahab’s; however, sons as used in these
verses could also mean grandsons of Ahab. Master’s
sons, as used in verse 2, is an obvious reference to the
sons of Joram.
Jehu wanted to kill all the sons or grandsons of
Ahab who were part of the royal line and therefore
heirs to the throne of Israel.
(6-30) 2 Kings 9:1–13. Why Was Jehu Anointed King?
One of the last commissions the Lord gave Elijah
was to anoint Jehu as king of Israel (see 1 Kings 19:16).
Elisha now carried out that commission for Elijah. The
purpose of Jehu’s reign was, according to verse 7, to
completely destroy the house, or family, of the wicked
Ahab and Jezebel. Notice the prophecy about Jezebel
in verse 10. The young man Elisha sent to deliver this
message and anoint Jehu was probably a priesthood
bearer.
Verse 13 describes a special ceremony in which a
man was acknowledged king. Those present laid their
cloaks down at his feet as a symbol of their loyalty and
recognition of his authority.
(6-34) 2 Kings 10:13. Who Were the Brethren of
Ahaziah?
Brethren, as used in this verse, could not be a reference
to the actual brothers of Ahaziah because the Philistines
had taken them in a battle many years before (see
2 Chronicles 21:17). It is, however, a reference to the
relative of Ahaziah who lived in the royal household
(see 2 Chronicles 22:8).
(6-35) 2 Kings 10:30–31. How Pleased Was the Lord
with Jehu?
Jehu met King Joram and King Ahaziah in the
vineyard called Naboth (see v. 21). This was the very
vineyard that Jezebel had obtained by murdering
Naboth. This was also the exact spot where Elijah had
appeared to Ahab years before and prophesied that his
posterity would one day be exterminated (see 1 Kings
21:21–23). That day had come.
Jehu’s being anointed by Elisha’s servant to be king
and the prophecy of his brutal destruction of the house
of Omri should not be construed to mean that the Lord
commanded Jehu to do these things. The prophet simply
foresaw what would happen, but Jehu himself was a
wicked man (see 2 Kings 10:31), although he was a
means for destroying the wickedness out of Israel.
“Jehu is promised the possession of the throne to the
fourth generation of his sons for having exterminated
the godless royal house of Ahab. . . . The divine
sentence, ‘because thou hast acted well to do right in
mine eyes, (because thou) hast done as it was in my
heart to the house of Ahab,’ refers to the deed as such,
and not to the subjective motives by which Jehu had
been actuated. For it is obvious that it had not sprung
from pure zeal for the honour of the Lord, from the
limitation added in ver. 31: ‘but Jehu did not take heed
to walk in the law of Jehovah with all his heart, and
did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam.’—Vers. 32,
33.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:354–55.) In
other words, the house of Omri had reached such a
state of wickedness that it deserved destruction. Jehu
was the means of bringing about the Lord’s will in this
regard, but that does not mean the Lord was pleased
with his brutal methods or his wickedness.
(6-32) 2 Kings 9:30–37. Death of Jezebel
(6-36) 2 Kings 11. Jehoash Became King
“Jezebel [painted her face] that she might present an
imposing appearance to Jehu and die as a queen; not
to allure him by her charms. . . . For (ver. 31) when Jehu
entered the palace gate, she cried out to him, ‘Is it
peace, thou Zimri, murderer of his lord?’ She
addressed Jehu as Zimri the murderer of the king, to
point to the fate which Jehu would bring upon himself
by the murder of the king, as Zimri had already
done [vv. 32–33]. But Jehu did not deign to answer the
When Athaliah killed the heirs to the throne (see
vv. 1–3), Jehoash escaped through the intervention of
his aunt (see vv. 2–3). After hiding Jehoash in the temple
for six years, Jehoiada the priest decided to make the
child’s existence known and install him as Judah’s
king. He sent the king’s bodyguard throughout the
land of Judah to gather in the Levites and chief rulers
to sustain Jehoash as king of Judah (see 2 Chronicles
23:1–3). Because Jehoash was only seven years old at
(6-31) 2 Kings 9:14–26. Vineyard of Naboth
78
(6-38) 2 Kings 12:1–16. Why Did Jehoash Take Away
the Collection from the Priests?
The account in Kings is a little difficult to follow,
and it is not clear what exactly is happening. But the
parallel account in 2 Chronicles 24:4–14 is more clearly
written. Under Athaliah, Solomon’s temple had been
vandalized and images of Baal set up within it. It
seems to have been in a poor state of repair, and the
king decided to take up a collection from the people
to restore it. He gave the priests charge of this fundraising, but “the Levites hastened it not” (2 Chronicles
24:5). In other words, they did not carry out their task
very successfully. Therefore King Jehoash took the
responsibility away from them (See 2 Kings 12:7–8).
Instead, he set up a chest within the temple courtyard
into which the people put money. He had his scribes
collect it each day and used it to pay the workmen on
the project.
(6-39) 2 Kings 12:20–21. Why Did the Servants of
Jehoash Murder Him?
When Jehoash turned to idolatry, the Lord sent
prophets to testify against him and to call the people
of Judah to repentance. One such prophet was
Zechariah, son of Jehoiada the priest. Jehoash had him
killed along with the other sons of Jehoiada. Because
Jehoash had murdered the sons of Jehoiada, some of
his own servants slew him while he lay on his bed
(see 2 Chronicles 24:20–22, 25–26).
(6-40) 2 Kings 13:1–9. Jehoahaz, King of Israel
The holy sanctuaries were vandalized.
the time he began to reign, he would certainly have
received the counsel and guidance of Jehoiada in
administering the affairs of Judah.
“As soon as Athaliah heard the loud rejoicing of the
people, she came to the people into the temple, and
when she saw the youthful king in his standing-place
surrounded by the princes, the trumpeters, and the
whole of the people, rejoicing and blowing the trumpets,
she rent her clothes with horror, and cried out,
conspiracy, conspiracy! . . . Jehoiada then commanded
the captains . . . those placed over the army, i.e., the
armed men of the levites, to lead out Athaliah between
the ranks, and to slay every one who followed her, i.e.,
who took her part.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary,
3:1:362–63.)
(6-37) 2 Kings 12. The Reign of Jehoash
The reign of Jehoash, or Joash, lasted forty years.
It appears that the single most important factor in
Jehoash’s reign was the wise advice and support he
received from the high priest, Jehoiada (see v. 2). During
Jehoash’s administration the temple was repaired,
but unfortunately, Jehoash did not continue as he had
commenced. Later in his reign he turned to idolatry
and led Judah into sin (see 2 Chronicles 24:17–18), for
soon after Jehoiada’s death, Jehoash became weak and
allowed heathen rituals to be performed in Judah again
(see 2 Chronicles 24:16–22). He also sought to appease
Hazael, king of Syria, through bribery. He even sent
Hazael holy objects from the temple (see 2 Kings 12:18).
Josephus wrote the following about this king who
ruled in the Northern Kingdom at the same time
Jehoash ruled in Judah: “He did not [properly] imitate
his father, but was guilty of as wicked practices as
those that first had God in contempt: but the king of
Syria [Hazael] brought him low, and by an expedition
against him did so greatly reduce his forces, that there
remained no more of so great an army than ten thousand
armed men, and fifty horsemen. He also took away
from him his great cities, and many of them also, and
destroyed his army. And these were the things that the
people of Israel suffered, according to the prophecy of
Elisha, when he foretold that Hazael should kill his
master, and reign over the Syrians and Damascenes.
But when Jehoahaz was under such unavoidable
miseries, he had recourse to prayer and supplication
to God, and besought him to deliver him out of the
hands of Hazael, and not overlook him, and give him
up into his hands.” (Antiquities, bk. 9, chap. 8, par. 5.)
(6-41) 2 Kings 13:4–6. Who Was the “Savior” That
Delivered Israel from Syria?
The narrative here is difficult to follow because
the historian continually moves ahead of the
circumstances he is discussing. He could do so
because he was writing many years later.
The Lord’s response to Jehoahaz’s prayer promised
a Savior to deliver Israel from the Syrians. Because the
title of Savior is associated with Jesus, some may think
the Lord was promising a deliverer, but all that was
being promised was deliverance. Deliverance from
Hazael, king of Syria, and later his son, Ben-hadad,
79
was to come through the son and grandson of Jehoahaz.
Keil and Delitzsch explained: “In this oppression
Jehoahaz prayed to the Lord . . . and the Lord heard
this prayer, because He saw their oppression at the
hands of the Syrians, and gave Israel a saviour, so that
they came out from the power of the Syrians and dwelt
in their booths again, as before, i.e. were able to live
peaceably again in their houses, without being driven
off and led away by the foe. The saviour . . . was neither
an angel, nor the prophet Elisha, . . . nor a victory
obtained by Jehoahaz over the Syrians, . . . but the Lord
gave them the savior in the two successors of Jehoahaz,
in the kings Jehoash and Jeroboam, the former of whom
wrested from the Syrians all the cities that had been
conquered by them under his father (ver. 25), while
the latter restored the ancient boundaries of Israel
(ch. xiv. 25). According to vers. 22–25, the oppression
by the Syrians lasted as long as Jehoahaz lived; but
after his death the Lord had compassion upon Israel,
and after the death of Hazael, when his son Ben-hadad
had become king, Jehoash recovered from Ben-hadad
all the Israelitish cities that had been taken by Syrians.”
(Commentary, 3:1:375.)
The Jehoash mentioned here is not the same Jehoash
who was king of Judah (discussed in Notes and
Commentary on 2 Kings 11; 2 Kings 12; 2 Kings
12:1–16). There were two kings by the same name.
Jehoash who became king of Israel, the Northern
Kingdom, was the son of Jehoahaz and helped deliver
Israel from the Syrians. The other Jehoash, also called
Joash, was the one hid by the priests in Judah when
Athaliah had the royal seed killed (see 2 Kings 11:1–3).
He became king of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, at
the age of seven and ruled for forty years.
(6-42) 2 Kings 13:14–20. Death of Elisha
These verses record the death of Elisha. Jehoash,
king of Israel, sought the prophet before his death,
perhaps feeling that Elisha alone held the key to Israel’s
future safety. Elisha responded by inviting Jehoash to
open a window and shoot an arrow toward the east.
The arrow symbolized the Lord’s deliverance of Israel
from the Syrians. Elisha also told the king to shoot
some arrows into the ground, which he did. “The
shooting of the arrows to the earth was intended to
symbolize the overthrow of the Syrians” (Keil and
Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:377). The king shot only
three arrows. For this Elisha chastised him, saying that
had Jehoash shot five or six times he would “have
smitten the Syrians to destruction” (2 Kings 13:19).
POINTS TO PONDER
(6-43) The Prophets: Key to Spiritual Survival
As you read 2 Kings 3–13, you probably noticed that
every time people obeyed the counsel of the prophet
Elisha they were blessed, and every time they rejected
80
his counsel they suffered. Just how important is it for
men to receive the counsel of the Lord? Study the
following scriptures to help you formulate your answer:
Doctrine and Covenants 103:5–8; 105:37; 124:84; 136:19;
2 Nephi 9:28–29.
President Spencer W. Kimball spoke of the importance
of these prophets and of the flimsy reasons people
have for rejecting them:
“Various excuses have been used over the centuries
to dismiss these divine messengers. There has been
denial because the prophet came from an obscure place.
‘Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?’
(John 1:46.) Jesus was also met with the question, ‘Is
not this the carpenter’s son?’ (Matt. 13:55.) By one means
or another, the swiftest method of rejection of the holy
prophets has been to find a pretext, however false or
absurd, to dismiss the man so that his message could
also be dismissed. . . . Perhaps they judged Paul by the
timbre of his voice or by his style of speech, not the
truths uttered by him.
“We wonder how often hearers first rejected the
prophets because they despised them, and finally
despised the prophets even more because they had
rejected them. . . .
“The trouble with rejection because of personal
familiarity with the prophets is that the prophets are
always somebody’s son or somebody’s neighbor. They
are chosen from among the people, not transported
from another planet, dramatic as that would be!
“The prophets have always been free from the evil
of their times, free to be divine auditors who will still
call fraud, fraud; embezzlement, embezzlement; and
adultery, adultery.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1978,
pp. 115–17; or Ensign, May 1978, pp. 76–77.)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that “the basic truths
are always the same, but the emphasis needed will be
made by the living prophets under inspiration from
the living God, and the people of the living Church
will respond. . . .
“In the living Church, members must have living
testimonies of the living prophets as well as of the
living scriptures and living God. President Lee once
gave a speech to seminary and institute faculty members
on ‘The Place of the Living Prophet’ in which he
observed how proximity and familiarity sometimes
get in the way of people’s following the living prophet
because ‘he is so close.’ He commented on the
responsiveness of heaven to changing circumstances:
‘. . . had you ever thought that what was contrary to
the order of heaven in 1840 might not be contrary to
the order of heaven in 1960?’ (Address to Seminary
and Institute Faculty, Brigham Young University,
July 8, 1968.)” (Things As They Really Are, pp. 67, 71.)
Write a short essay on what caused the people of
ancient Israel to reject Elisha in spite of marvelous
demonstrations of his power. Draw parallels to our
own time. Do people still reject the prophets for the
same reasons?
Joel
7
God Will Not
Be Mocked
(7-1) Introduction
Prophets of the Lord were called to labor among
people whose lives remained in spiritual darkness. Joel
was one of these prophets called to minister to a people
who refused to repent. His prophecies have a common
theme with those of Isaiah, Jonah, Amos, and others:
repent or face destruction.
Joel is particularly significant to us because he
prophesied of our day. On the night he visited Joseph
Smith, Moroni quoted from Joel and said that the
prophecies would shortly be fulfilled. (See Joseph
Smith—History 1:41.) Joel is also a major source of
information on the battle of Armageddon, one of the
momentous events in the coming history of the world.
So, although the book of Joel is a short work, it is
full of valuable insights and information. They are
applicable to us today, although they were written
over twenty-five hundred years ago.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study the book of Joel.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
JOEL
(7-2) Joel 1:1. Who Was Joel and When Did He Live?
Biblical scholars do not agree on when Joel lived.
Some think he preceded Amos and Hosea because
both men quoted him (compare Amos 1:2 with Joel
3:16), but it is also possible that Joel quoted them, so
this evidence is not conclusive. Joel may have served
before the time of Isaiah, for Isaiah quoted one of
Joel’s prophecies (compare Isaiah 13:6 with Joel 1:15),
but it may be that Joel quoted Isaiah.
All things considered, it seems probable that Joel’s
ministry took place about the time that Joash reigned
in Judah (see Enrichment A for more information on
the reigns of the kings). Joel’s ministry evidently came
before Uzziah’s reign but after the rule of the infamous
Athaliah, the queen who tried to exterminate the
Davidic line.
(7-3) Joel 1:1–2. “Give Ear, All Ye Inhabitants of the
Land”
The message of the book of Joel is simple and
straightforward. The house of Israel has fallen into
a state similar to drunkenness caused by iniquity.
Therefore, great judgments will come upon them from
the Lord. The judgments will be so terrible that Joel
calls on the Lord’s people to howl and cry for
repentance. They are to call solemn assemblies (see
Joel 1:14; 2:15–17) and tell the people of these judgments
so that they can cry for deliverance through repentance.
Though the warnings are grim and terrible, Joel holds
out the assurance that if the people will turn to God
in sorrow and repentance, He will respond and the
disasters can be averted (see 2:12–14).
As is typical of Old Testament prophecies, Joel’s
prophecies are dualistic: They warn of an immediate
and impending destruction (through the conquests of
Assyria and Babylonia), but they also refer directly to
the last days and the destruction that will again threaten
Israel just before the Millennium.
(7-4) Joel 1:1–4. The Use of Imagery in Hebrew
Literature
Hebrew literature is noted for its rich imagery. In
these verses and those that follow, Joel used the figure
of a famine to portray Judah’s future. The palmerworm
is the Hebrew gazam, which means “gnawer.” The
locust is in Hebrew arbeth, which means “many.” The
cankerworm is the Hebrew yeleq, which means “licker”;
and the caterpillar is the Hebrew chasil, which means
“consumer” (see Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible . . . with
a Commentary and Critical Notes, 4:658). These Hebrew
terms refer to the stages of development in the life of a
locust. Such imagery fixed forever in the minds of the
Jews the devastation prophesied by Joel for the latter
days.
Is the famine spoken of only literal and physical?
Or does it have a symbolic and spiritual meaning?
Looking at what happened to Judah in Joel’s day,
many scholars feel that the palmerworm was a metaphor
for the Assyrian-Babylonian invasions of the Holy
Land. What these two empires left, the Medes and
Persians “ate” during their invasions. Joel 1:4 can be
seen as an example of the Hebrew dualism previously
mentioned. A prophet may refer to one incident and
also mean another. For example, the cankerworm
could also represent the invasions and suppression of
the Holy Land by Greece under Alexander the Great
and his successors. Then the caterpillar would
represent the invasion that consumed Judah when she
was overrun by Rome and eventually destroyed by
Titus. These references seem also to apply to the
coming battle of Armageddon, when armies from the
north will gather and fight just before the Millennium.
(7-5) Joel 1:5–7. What Is to Be Understood by the
Wine, the Lion, the Vine, and the Fig Tree?
Judah had become drunken with the wine of
iniquity and would have cause to weep and to howl,
for the Lord would not tolerate their glorying in sin.
Judah’s security and wealth, which lay at the root of
this wickedness, were compared to the vine from
which the grapes for wine are taken. They vineyard
was to be cut off: Judah would be humbled by the
Lord’s almighty hand so they could be drunken no
more.
83
with destruction again threatening Judah. (The phrase
“day of the Lord,” in verse 15, is a phrase often
associated with the time just before the Second Coming.
Chapters 2 and 3 of Joel definitely apply to the final
days.)
(7-7) Joel 2:1. What Are “Zion” and “My Holy Mount”?
Joel predicted the destruction of the temple.
The vine and the fig tree, among the most stable and
enduring of the plants that nourished Israel anciently,
represented the finest that the Lord had given His chosen
people. But they had rejected the gift and the Giver,
and all would be laid waste by the numberless nation
of invaders who, as a lion, would not be denied. The
lion is the most feared of animals and pulls down his
prey with great savagery. A tree is barked by stripping
the bark from the trunk, which kills the tree. The
imagery was clear. The house of Israel would be pulled
down, or cut off, and spoiled by powerful outside
nations. Their vineyards and orchards would be desolate.
(7-6) Joel 1:8–20. The Loss of Temple Worship
One of the consequences of Judah’s destruction and
scattering as a nation was the loss of her temple worship,
the source of joy and gladness (see Joel 1:16). Their
field was wasted; they were no longer a fruitful people
unto the Lord (see vv. 10, 12).
At this time a husbandman was a person who tended
an orchard, and a vinedresser was one who cultivated a
vineyard. (In New Testament times a husbandman also
took care of a vineyard.) The girding in verse 13 refers
to putting on clothing of sackcloth (coarse cloth made
of animal hair), which would constantly remind them
of the great tragedy coming to their people. Joel called
upon all the people to howl and lament because the
temple would fall and the people of God would undergo
national disaster.
Just as Moses had instructed Israel to learn a song
(see Deuteronomy 31:30–32:43), the words of which
would remind them of their condemnation if they broke
their covenants, so Joel instructed Judah to learn the
words they would cry in the last days as a reminder
of her future sorrow. A solemn assembly was held to
gather priesthood leaders and members to consider
these sacred matters (see v. 14).
“The seed [being] rotten under their clods” (v. 17)
refers to the fact that when the sprout was bitten off by
the locusts, the seed simply rotted away. When Israel
and Judah were devoured by their invaders, they, too,
would spoil. The barns would be of no value, for they
would house nothing.
These dire predictions were fulfilled when the
covenant people fell, first to Assyria and then to Babylon,
and then were ruled by a series of empires. But these
verses also seem to require a latter-day fulfillment
84
The Lord’s holy mountain is the place where His
temple is, or the place from which He speaks to the
people. Sometimes it is the temple (see Isaiah 2:1–3)
or the New Jerusalem (see D&C 84:2). The Zion of the
latter days, also frequently referred to in scripture as
“my holy mount” (D&C 45:66–70; 82:14; 133:2, 13, 18,
26–32, 56), is a spiritual condition as well as a place.
“Verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is
Zion—THE PURE IN HEART” (D&C 97:21).
Speaking of Zion as a spiritual condition Elder
Bruce R. McConkie said:
“Zion is people. Zion is the saints of God; Zion is
those who have been baptized; Zion is those who have
received the Holy Ghost; Zion is those who keep the
commandments; Zion is the righteous; or in other words,
as our revelation recites: ‘This is Zion—the pure in
heart.’ (D&C 97:21.)
“After the Lord called his people Zion, the scripture
says that Enoch ‘built a city that was called the City
of Holiness, even ZION’; that Zion ‘was taken up into
heaven’ where ‘God received it up into his own bosom’;
and that ‘from thence went forth the saying, Zion is
fled.’ (Moses 7:19, 21, 69.)
“After the Lord’s people were translated—for it was
people who were caught up into heaven, not brick and
mortar and stone, for there are better homes already
in heaven than men can build on earth—after these
righteous saints went to dwell beyond the veil, others,
being converted and desiring righteousness, looked
for a city which hath foundation, whose builder and
maker is God, and they too ‘were caught up by the
powers of heaven into Zion.’ (Moses 7:27.)
“This same Zion which was taken up into heaven
shall return during the Millennium, when the Lord
brings again Zion; and its inhabitants shall join with
the New Jerusalem which shall then be established.
(See Moses 7:62–63.)” (“Come: Let Israel Build Zion,”
Ensign, May 1977, p. 117.)
The Prophet Joseph Smith also taught that the place
of Zion, or the “land of Zion,” is North and South
America (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 362).
Though the context makes it difficult to say in which
sense Joel used the terms, Zion and holy mountain, they
are probably yet another example of Hebrew dualism.
Mount Zion was one of the names of Jerusalem, and
thus it is a cry for the inhabitants to awaken. But
Mount Zion also has a meaning in the latter days.
(7-8) Joel 2:2–11. “The Day of the Lord Is Great and
Very Terrible”
The “day of the Lord” will be great because Zion
will be a reality, but the events associated with it will
also make it terrible, as these verses make clear (see
Notes and Commentary on Ezekiel 38 and 39).
An event of the latter days known as the battle of
Armageddon is described in these verses. Like the
locusts that devour the crops and cover the heavens
with blackness because of their numbers, so “a great
people and a strong” (v. 2) shall descend upon the
land of Israel in the latter days. (Compare this language
with that of John and Ezekiel when they describe the
battle of Armageddon in Revelation 9:1–10 and Ezekiel
38:8–9.) So great shall be the number of this people that
“the earth shall quake before them” (v. 10). The sun,
moon, and stars will be darkened.
The horses (see v. 4) symbolize war. Chariots (see v. 5)
symbolize a very powerful army.
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said of the warning given
in these verses: “Here we have a great, terrible army,
marching with unbroken ranks and crushing everything
before it, finding the garden like Eden before them,
leaving the wilderness behind, causing mourning,
causing suffering; and so the prophet raises the warning
voice, and that voice is to us, if you please, that we
might turn unto the Lord and rend our hearts.”
(The Signs of the Times, p. 160.)
When these events occur they will strike fear into the
hearts of Jerusalem’s inhabitants. The siege against the
city will be severe. The relentless army will overrun the
land of Israel. The city walls will be breached and the
houses plundered (see v. 9). The phrase “when they
fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded” (v. 8)
may simply be a way of saying that the armaments used
against the invaders will be ineffectual. But the Lord is
strong, and He will keep His word. He has promised
to rescue the people, and He will (see v. 11; see also
Zechariah 14; Revelation 9, 11; Ezekiel 38–39).
Other events, such as the land being “as the garden
of Eden before them” (v. 3), refer specifically to the latter
days. Today the Galilee area and the Jezreel Valley in
modern Israel have truly “blossomed as the rose.”
(7-9) Joel 2:12–22. The Lord Will Redeem and Bless
His People
The Lord calls to His children in all ages: “Turn ye
unto me with all your heart” (v. 12). He desires them
to become His people so that He can be their God.
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith commented on the Lord’s
powerful intervention and redemption in the latter
days: “You know, they used to rend their garments and
sit in sack cloth when they were repentant. So the Lord
says, ‘Rend your heart and not your garments.’
Humble yourselves. Prepare yourselves, oh Israel, that
you may receive My blessings, that you might be
protected from this condition that is going to come.
And then the last words that I have read from this part
of this chapter, the Lord says that He will take that
great army in hand, that He also has an army. His
army is terrible, just as terrible as the other army, and
He will take things in hand. When I say the other
army, the Lord’s army, do not get an idea He is thinking
about England or the United States. He is not. He is
not thinking about any earthly army. The Lord’s army
is not an earthly army, but He has a terrible army; and
when that army marches, it will put an end to other
armies, no matter how terrible they may be; and so
He says in these closing words I have read to you that
He would do this thing. He would drive this terrible
northern army into the wilderness, barren and
desolate, with his face towards the east sea and his
hinder part towards the utmost sea. He would do
that, and then He would bless His people—having
references, of course, to Israel.” (Signs of the Times,
pp. 160–61.)
The figure of the bride and bridegroom (see v. 16)
is very apt. Israel was married to the Lord in the
Abrahamic covenant (see Jeremiah 3:14; see also Notes
and Commentary on Hosea). The Bridegroom was
Jehovah, and the bride was Israel. The Bridegroom
returned to claim His bride, who had been temporarily
set aside for wickedness. (See Joel 2:13–14 notes for
further clarification.)
(7-10) Joel 2:23–27. “Ye Shall Know That I Am in the
Midst of Israel”
These verses describe Judah’s and Israel’s eventual
deliverance. The years of the locust, the cankerworm,
the caterpillar, and the palmerworm indicate generations
of oppression for scattered and rejected Israel. All was
not lost, however, for the Lord promised “the former
rain and the latter rain” (v. 23). After a punishing
drought, these rains returned, a symbol of God’s
acceptance of His people, who had been chastened
and redeemed. “And ye shall know that I am in the
midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and
none else: and my people shall never be ashamed”
(v. 27; see also Philippians 2:10–11). One major theme
of the Old Testament prophets is that although there
will be a great apostasy in Israel, in the end Israel will
be restored to the covenant (the gospel) and become
faithful.
(7-11) Joel 2:28–32. “I Will Pour Out My Spirit upon
All Flesh”
When Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith
he quoted these verses, saying that they were not yet
fulfilled but soon would be. Moroni also explained
that the “fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in”
(Joseph Smith—History 1:41). These statements clearly
put the fulfillment of this part of Joel’s prophecy after
A.D. 1823. It obviously applies to the latter days in its
language and content, although it has also been fulfilled
previously. Verse 32 is a reference to Jesus Christ
(see Romans 10:13).
Sidney B. Sperry added: “In the mind of the writer
no doubt remains that Joel foresaw the dispensation in
which we live and God’s judgments upon the world.
This he expressed in figures that would be easily
understood by his people. So acutely and painfully
were the judgments that Joel saw impressed upon his
mind that he cried out in anguish—as if he were
present—to the people of our day to repent and escape
God’s wrath.” (The Voice of Israel’s Prophets, p. 297.)
The last days are to be characterized by the pouring
out of the Spirit upon all flesh. Peter, experiencing a
rich and wonderful outpouring of the Spirit on the day
of Pentecost, quoted Joel (see Acts 2:17–21), who spoke
of the latter days, the time just before the Lord’s
Second Coming when He would pour out His Spirit
upon all flesh. That Spirit is not only the Holy Ghost
but also the Spirit of Christ, that Spirit which enlightens
everyone (see Moroni 7:16; D&C 93:2). Sons and
daughters will prophesy—preach, exhort, pray, and
instruct so as to benefit the Church. Direct revelation
will be given. Young men and women who are
representatives of the Lord will be inspired. The gifts
of teaching and inspiration will be given to all classes
and levels of people. The Lord will call and qualify
those He chooses. He will pour out His Spirit upon
85
them, and they will be endowed with the gifts
necessary to convert sinners and to build up the
Church. Certainly this prophecy is now beginning to
be fulfilled.
The message of this passage is fourfold: (1) there
will be a rich outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord in
the latter days; (2) certain signs will be fulfilled before
Christ’s Second Coming in the clouds of heaven;
(3) His coming will be great for the righteous and
terrible for the wicked; and (4) the “remnant” (v. 32),
Israel of the latter days, will be those who are left after
the period of tribulation and scattering is over.
(7-12) Joel 3:1–8. “I Will Gather All Nations”
These verses add to the picture described in
chapter 2. Joel used allusions and figures well
understood by his people to describe the great signs
and judgments to take place in the latter days just
before the return of the Lord. In chapter 3 Joel gave
another picture of God’s judgment upon the nations.
Israel, who had been scattered among the nations, will
receive a change in her fortunes, and retribution will
come upon her enemies in the Valley of Jehoshaphat,
literally, the “Valley of Decision” in Hebrew. Just
where this valley is located is not entirely clear. Most
likely it is the Kidron, a narrow valley between
Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives (see D&C 45:47–49;
133:19–21; Robert Young, Analytical Concordance to the
Bible, s.v. “Jehoshaphat”). This passage seems to refer to
the final scenes of the battle of Armageddon in
Jerusalem, when the great earthquake will strike the
massive army and Jesus will appear on the Mount of
Olives to deliver Israel (see Notes and Commentary on
Ezekiel 38–39 for a more detailed treatment of
Armageddon).
These verses are a declaration of war on the Lord’s
part. They are also a challenge to those who would test
His might. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “We find
Joel, Zephaniah, Zechariah, all proclaiming that in this
last day, the day when the sun shall be darkened and
the moon turned to blood and the stars fall from heaven,
that the nations of the earth would gather against
Jerusalem. All of them speak of it; and when that time
comes, the Lord is going to come out of His hiding
place.” (Signs of the Times, p. 170.)
The Lord will be the strength of Israel and will
smite her enemies with plagues so severe that their
flesh will rot and fall from their bones, their eyes will
be consumed in their sockets and their tongues in their
mouths—both man and beast (see Zechariah 14:12–15).
And then Judah will know that Christ is the Lord their
God, for He will stand on the Mount of Olives, which
will cleave in twain and Judah will see Him as their
delivering Messiah. They will ask about His wounds
and learn that He is the Christ, and their mourning
will know no bounds, for they will know that this is
He for whom they have waited and whom their fathers
crucified (see Zechariah 12:9–11; 13:6; D&C 45:51–53).
(7-13) Joel 3:17. Jerusalem to Be Pure
Strangers as used in the Old Testament refers to
Gentiles, or those not of Israel. This verse states that
no strange god nor impure people will be permitted
to enter or pass through the city. This promise is yet to
be fulfilled.
(7-14) Joel 3:18. “A Fountain Shall Come Forth”
See Notes and Commentary on Ezekiel 47:1–12.
(7-15) Joel 3:18–21. “The Hills Shall Flow with Milk”
Upon accepting Jesus Christ as their Redeemer, the
Jews will enter into a new era. The very mountains
and hills will flow with the riches of heaven. This
imagery implies more than just an abundance of
tangible fruits. Judah will know her God, and He will
own His people; they will build their Jerusalem and
inhabit it in peace thereafter. (See Smith, Signs of the
Times, pp. 171–72.)
POINTS TO PONDER
(7-16) The Imagery of Joel and His Message for Us
The Kidron Valley is also known as the Valley of Decision.
86
The message of Joel is important for us as Latterday Saints. Although he used imagery that is not
always familiar to us, he dealt with four major issues
quite clearly:
1. A lamentation over the devastation of the land
by great armies (symbolized by locusts) and other
judgments.
2. The destruction of the army of locusts and a
renewal of spiritual and material blessings.
3. The outpouring of God’s Spirit upon all flesh.
4. The judgment upon the nations and deliverance
of God’s people.
Joel saw the days preceding the Second Coming. He
attempted to warn as well as prophesy concerning
those events. Because Moroni quoted a part of the
book of Joel to Joseph Smith and said it was “not yet
fulfilled, but was soon to be” (Joseph Smith—History
1:41), we should carefully study the message and learn
of the things we need to do before the great and
terrible day of the Lord.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 43:17–30 and answer
the following questions:
1. When is the great day of the Lord?
2. What is our obligation to the nations?
3. What should our message be to the world?
4. What will some of the signs in the heavens be
prior to the Lord’s coming?
5. Knowing that the prophecies of Joel are “about
to be fulfilled” what application do you see in Joel’s
writing for you? In other words, how can the book of
Joel benefit you today?
87
Amos
8
The Lord Reveals
His Secrets to His
Servants the Prophets
(8-1) Introduction
Jericho
He was a shepherd from Tekoa, a small village in
the hill country of Judah, but his message was for the
whole house of Israel and the nations of the world. It
was not then a new message, and it has significance
even today. Though Amos spoke of the judgments which
were about to descend on the nations surrounding
Israel and on the two kingdoms of the house of Israel,
his message is the same one God has given since the
earliest history of the world. It is a simple yet profound
message that carries a solemn warning: there is a way
to come into God’s favor and gain eternal life. That way
is always open to the penitent and obedient, but to the
impenitent, those who harden their hearts against the
Lord, the way is shut. In the place of life there is death;
in the place of joy there is sorrow; punishments replace
blessing; judgments and destruction replace protection
and power.
Study Amos carefully, for his message is one that
can help each of us find the way to life and peace.
Instructions to Students
1. Use the Notes and Commentary below to
help you as you read and study the book of Amos.
2. Complete the Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
AMOS
(8-2) Amos 1:1. Who Was Amos and When Did He
Minister?
The Hebrew name Amos means “bearer” or “burden”
and refers to the weighty warning that the Lord
commissioned Amos to carry to the kingdom of Israel.
Amos was a shepherd from a city called Tekoa, now
a hilltop of ancient ruins about six miles south of
Bethlehem, away from the normal trade routes.
Although small and obscure, Tekoa was strategic
enough that Rehoboam fortified it as a southern city
of defense for Jerusalem (see 2 Chronicles 11:6). Amos
was an alert observer of people and nations, and
scholars agree that he was far from being an untutored
rustic, even though he described himself as a simple
herdsman (see 1:1; 7:14–15).
Since the contemporaneous reigns of Judah’s Uzziah
and Israel’s Jeroboam II are specifically mentioned in
the scripture, the ministry of Amos has been estimated
to have been about B.C. 750. If so, he may have been
contemporary with Isaiah and Hosea.
Jerusalem
Tekoa
Hebron
Salt Sea
Amos was from Tekoa.
(8-3) Amos 1:2. “The Lord Will Roar from Zion”
“This introduction was natural in the mouth of
a herdsman who was familiar with the roaring of lions,
the bellowing of bulls, and the lowing of kine [cattle].
The roaring of the lion in the forest is one of the most
terrific sounds in nature; when near, it strikes terror
into the heart of both man and beast.” (Adam Clarke,
The Holy Bible . . . with a Commentary and Critical
Notes, 4:672.)
The term Zion sometimes refers to Jerusalem,
where there is a hill by that name, but that is not
always the case, as the following references indicate:
Joel 3:16–17; Isaiah 2:2–3; 40:9; 64:10. Isaiah 2:2–3
speaks of a latter-day Zion. This Zion will be located
on the American continent (see Article of Faith 10). For
a broader listing of references concerning the
geographical location of Zion, see Bible Dictionary,
s.v. “Zion.” See also Notes and Commentary on
Joel 2:1.
(8-4) Amos 1:3–2:16. The Lord Will Pour Out
Judgments
Here the prophet Amos forecast the Lord’s
judgments upon the Syrians (see Amos 1:3–5),
Philistines (see Amos 1:6–8), Tyrians (see Amos
1:9–10), Edomites (see Amos 1:11–12), Ammonites (see
Amos 1:13–15), and Moabites (see Amos 2:1–3). All of
these people were neighbors of the Israelites and in
most cases had been enemies to the covenant people.
Once those judgments had been pronounced, Amos
89
outlined the judgments coming upon the kingdoms of
Judah (see Amos 2:4–5) and Israel (see Amos 2:6–16).
His linking the two kingdoms of the Israelites with
other nations suggests that Israel was no longer a
“peculiar people” (see Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 14:2)
but had become like the gentile nations around them.
Even though Amos was sent especially to Israel,
he spoke for God against the evils of all the nations.
Some have termed Amos a prophet of doom, but he
only warned the people of the calamitous paths they
were following. All of these territories or kingdoms
eventually fell.
(8-5) Amos 1:3, 6, 11. “For Three Transgressions . . .
and for Four”
The expression “for three transgressions . . . and
for four” indicates that the sins alluded to have been
exceedingly abundant. The same style is used in
Proverbs 6:16, “these six things . . . yea, seven,” and in
Matthew 18:21–22, “seventy times seven,” referring to
an infinite number. A modern English equivalent
would be the expression “a hundred and one times.”
The implication of the idiom is that three
transgressions are too many, and you have even
exceeded that. Or as C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch
explained: “The expression, therefore, denotes not a
small but a large number of crimes, or ‘ungodliness in
its worst form.’” (Commentary on the Old Testament,
10:1:242.)
(8-6) Amos 1–2. Why Were These Nations to Be
Punished?
The reasons given by Amos in his pronouncements
of the judgments upon the various nations may seem
puzzling at first. One could question whether one evil
act, no matter how serious, normally brings the
judgments of God upon a nation. Amos was inspired
to use a poetic device. He selected the act or trait of
each nation that dramatically illustrates the extent of
their wickedness. The one act mentioned is proof of
how far that nation has sunk in iniquity. The following
table summarizes the items mentioned and their
significance.
Nation
Reason Mentioned
Significance
Damascus
(Syria)
They “threshed Gilead with
threshing instruments of iron”
(Amos 1:3).
Gilead was part of the land on
the east side of the River Jordan
inherited by the tribes of Gad,
Reuben, and Manasseh (see
Deuteronomy 3:10–13). When the
Syrians conquered it under Hazael
(2 Kings 10:32–33), they evidently
treated their captives with barbaric
cruelty, crushing them under iron
threshing sleds. (A similar incident
is recorded in 2 Samuel 12:31.)
Gaza
(Philistines)
They carried away “the whole
captivity” to Edom (Amos 1:6).
This passage seems to refer to the
time when the Philistines raided
Judah under the reign of Joram (see
2 Chronicles 21:16–17). They sold all
their captives to the archenemy of
Israel, the Edomites.
Tyrus or Tyre
(Phoenicia)
They delivered up the Israelite
captives to Edom (Amos 1:9).
Like Gaza, Phoenicia also sold
Israelite captives although it may be
that Phoenicia bought the captives
from other enemies of Israel such as
Syria and then sold them to Edom,
since there is no record of Tyre
capturing Israelites directly.
Edom
(Idumea)
Pursued his “brother” with the
sword and kept his great wrath
(Amos 1:11).
The Edomites were the descendants
of Esau, whose name was also
Edom (see Genesis 25:30). Thus,
they were closely related peoples
(“brothers”) to Israel, but showed
only bitter hatred and hostility.
The Edomites were some of Israel’s
most determined enemies.
90
Nation
Reason Mentioned
Significance
Ammon
(Ammonites; Rabbah was the
capital of Ammon)
They “ripped up the women with
child of Gilead” (Amos 1:13).
The incident mentioned here is not
recorded in the Old Testament, but
the Ammonites were a fierce desert
people who often conquered parts
of Israel. To kill pregnant women
shows a particularly brutal nature.
Moab
(Moabites)
The king of Moab burned the
bones of the king of Edom
(see Amos 2:1).
Keil and Delitzsch noted: “The
burning of the bones of the king of
Edom is not burning while he was
still alive, but the burning of the
corpse into lime, i.e. so completely
that the bones turned into powder
like lime. . . . No record has been
preserved of this event in the
historical books of the Old
Testament; but it was no doubt
connected with the war referred to
in 2 Kings iii., which Joram of Israel
and Jehoshaphat of Judah waged
against the Moabites in company
with the king of Edom; so that the
Jewish tradition found in Jerome,
viz. that after this war the Moabites
dug up the bones of the king of
Edom from the grave, and heaped
insults upon them by burning them
to ashes, is apparently not without
foundation.” (Commentary, 10:1:250.)
(8-7) Amos 2:4–16. The Punishments of Judah and
Israel
The reasons for the punishment of Judah and Israel
differ from those for the punishment of the gentile
nations. No acts are mentioned except for the forsaking
of the Lord and turning to wickedness. Israel had been
given the law of God. Therefore, more was expected of
them.
Panting “after the dust of the earth upon the head
of the poor” (v. 7) refers to the people being general
oppressors of the poor, showing them neither justice
nor mercy. The idea is that the people longed to see
the poor in such a state of misery that they threw dust
on their heads (a sign of mourning). Verses 11 and 12
refer to the Nazarites, who were instituted by the Lord
to show the spiritual nature of His religion (see
Numbers 6:2–21). Amos condemned Israel for polluting
the Nazarites by giving them wine to drink. He also
chastized them for commanding the prophets not to
prophecy. Apparently, Israel would have liked to set
these servants of the Lord aside so that they could live
every man according to his own way and feel
comfortable in doing so.
(8-8) Amos 3:1–8. God Will Not Do Anything without
Forewarning His Prophets
Amos spoke to the whole of Israel, all twelve families
or tribes. Using the metaphor of a husband, the Lord
reminded Israel that He had chosen no other (see
Amos 3:2; Deuteronomy 7:6). He spoke of Himself as
a faithful husband and reminded Israel of her covenant
relationship with Him (see Jeremiah 3:19–20). In
verse 3 He asked Israel to remember the need for unity
in her relationship with Him. It is necessary, if they are
to walk together, for them to be in agreement. The
images are all chosen to express the same thing: God,
has foreknowledge of all calamities (see vv. 2–6), but
He never sends a calamity unless He first notifies His
prophet of it (see v. 7; see also 2 Nephi 30:17; Jacob
4:8). Prophecy comes by direct revelation. God has
knowledge of all His children and their doings and
justly warns and threatens with His judgments. The
fact that the prophets prophesy correctly is an indication
that they are in communion with God and that they
do indeed walk together.
Amos 3:7 is a clear statement concerning the role
of prophets. President N. Eldon Tanner said: “There
are many scriptures which assure us that God is as
interested in us today as he has been in all his children
from the beginning, and thus we believe in continuous
revelation from God through his prophets to guide us
in these latter days. The Prophet Amos said, ‘Surely
the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his
secret unto his servants the prophets.’” (In Conference
Report, Apr. 1975, p. 52.)
(8-9) Amos 3:9–11. What Is the Significance of the
Mention of Ashdod and Egypt?
“Ashdod, one of the Philistian capitals, is mentioned
by way of example, as a chief city of the uncircumcised,
who were regarded by Israel as godless heathen; and
Egypt is mentioned along with it, as the nation whose
91
unrighteousness and ungodliness had once been
experienced by Israel to satiety [fulness]. If therefore
such heathen as these are called to behold the
unrighteous and dissolute conduct to be seen in the
places, it must have been great indeed.” (Keil and
Delitzsch, Commentary, 10:1:262–63.)
Amos 3:11 says “an adversary there shall be,” which
means there should be no escape. Wherever the people
turned they would meet a foe, for God’s judgments
and retributions are sure.
(8-10) Amos 3:12–15. What Is the Significance of the
Imagery Amos Used Here?
Amos used vivid imagery to show that scarcely any
would escape and those who did would do so with
extreme difficulty. It is like a shepherd who can recover
no more of a sheep carried away by a lion than two of
its legs or a piece of its ear, just enough to prove that
they belonged to his sheep. This prophecy saw
fulfillment when Sargon took Samaria, part of the
Northern Kingdom, captive about B.C. 721.
In the East the corner is the most honorable place,
and a couch in the corner of a room is the place of
greatest distinction. These words were used to mean
that even in the cities which were in the most honorable
part of the land, whether Samaria in Israel, or
Damascus in Syria, none would escape the judgments.
In that day the Lord would remove His power from
among Israel, as symbolized by the cutting off of the
horns of the altar (see Old Testament Student Manual:
Genesis–2 Samuel [religion 301, 2003], pp. 166–67 for an
explanation of the horns as a symbol of power).
Bethel (see v. 14) was the official religious capital of
the Northern Kingdom. The prophet was saying that
not only the poor habitations of the villages and the
country would be smitten but also those of the nobility,
those who had summer and winter homes adorned
with ivory vessels and carvings.
(8-11) Amos 4:1–3. The Evils of Israel’s Women
The quality of life in any community is largely what
its women make it. If they are cruel and covetous,
their children will likely be the same. Here Amos
compared the women of Samaria with the cows (kine)
which fed upon the rich pastures east of the Sea of
Galilee, caring for little but eating and drinking. Their
sin consisted of urging their husbands to bring them
food bought with money squeezed from the poor.
Thus, in the same way that fish are caught with hooks
and pulled from the pond, these women and their
children would become ensnared by Israel’s enemies
and violently torn from their affluence and debauchery.
(See Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 10:1:266–68.)
(8-12) Amos 4:4–5:3. How Did the Lord Regard Israel’s
Spiritual Condition?
The sacrifices of Israel had degenerated into heartless
ritual. It did no good to go to religious centers, to Bethel
or Gilgal, and offer sacrifice in a sinful state. The
outward sacrifices should have symbolized repentance,
an inward change; but outward sacrifice without inward
change is a mockery, and God will not be mocked.
Sidney B. Sperry wrote: “Israel was meticulous in
its performance of the outward requirements of its
religion, but the inner and less tangible requirements
92
of love, mercy, justice and humility either were not
understood or were disregarded. In an endeavor to
bring His people to their senses the Lord, said Amos,
had sent upon them seven natural calamities. Cleanness
of teeth [hunger], drought, blasting and mildew, insect
pests, pestilence, death by the sword, and burning
were brought in succession, but all to no avail. (4:6–11)
Amos’s heart was bleeding over the sinful state of
Israel. He could do nothing but warn the nation of the
final blow which God would send and for which the
people must prepare themselves. (4:12, 13) It was no
pleasure for him to pronounce judgment upon his
brethren.” (The Voice of Israel’s Prophets, p. 311.)
The God of hosts (see Amos 4:13) is the Lord Jesus
Christ, the Creator of heaven and earth (see Topical
Guide, s.v. “Jesus Christ, Creator”). The first three
verses of chapter 5 are a lamentation over Israel’s fallen
state. The pure virgin (Israel) became an evil woman,
and “there is none to raise her up” (Amos 5:2).
(8-13) Amos 5:4–27. “Hate Evil and Love the Good”
Here the Lord appealed to fallen Israel to repent
and mend her evil ways: “Seek me, and ye shall live”
(v. 4). This message is the same for every generation
and people (see 2 Nephi 1:20; Mosiah 26:30). The Lord
wants to be a personal God to His faithful, obedient
children. It was not too late for Israel to repent. Failure
to do so, however, would result in a situation like that
of a man running from a lion only to meet a bear (see
v. 19). Neither would various sacrificial offerings help
unless true repentance followed: “Of what avail would
feasts, solemn assemblies, burnt and meal offerings be
in the worship of a righteous God, when their hearts
and minds were evil and their actions toward their less
fortunate brethren were unjust? All of this outward
display was unavailing, and Amos cries out for justice
in two lines that have become famous: ‘But let justice
well up as waters, and righteousness as a perennial
stream.’ (5:24) This clarion call to repentance is one of
the finest of all times.” (Sperry, Voice of Israel’s Prophets,
p. 313.)
(8-14) Amos 5:26. Who Were Moloch and Chiun?
Moloch and Chiun were heathen gods that the
Israelite women had adopted. So grievously addicted
to idolatry were those in Samaria that they carried
miniature replicas of these gods everywhere they went.
The Lord promised “captivity beyond Damascus”
(v. 27) for this sin.
(8-15) Amos 6. “Woe to Them That Are at Ease in
Zion”
The Lord enlarged here on the captivity that He
foresaw for degenerate Israel. But first He invited
them to visit other places of destruction—Calneh
in Mesopotamia, Hamath in Syria, and Gath in
Philistia—and observe what happened to the people
there. Were the Israelites any better than they?
Certainly not. They had been punished, and so would
Israel. Moreover, the wealthy—those who lay on ivory
beds and ate sumptuous food—would be the first to
suffer (see Amos 6:3–7; 2 Nephi 28:21–25).
“Amos next turns his invective on the careless and
reckless rich of Israel, on those who are at ease, on the
self-satisfied and the arrogant—in short, on those who,
Carchemish
Haran
ME
DI
A
Nineveh
Calneh
The
Hamath
Great
Tirqa
EL
Sea
Tigr
i
A
NI
LO
Damascus
M
A
BA
BY
Susa
sR
i ve r
Babylon
Tyre
Eup
Jerusalem
hrates
Riv er
Ur
Gaza
Major cities were destroyed because of wickedness.
having plenty, take no thought of the sad social and
religious state of their country. These persons are
absolutely indifferent to the threatened ruin of their
people. The prophet indicates (6:1–8, 11–14) that exile
is to be their portion, that the nation is to be destroyed
because its inhabitants pervert truth and righteousness
and trust in their own strength.” (Sperry, Voice of
Israel’s Prophets, p. 313.)
Thus, Israel’s destruction was made sure by her own
choice. Horses cannot run on rocks without slipping,
nor can a man plough rocks in order to plant (see v. 12).
By the same token, rebellious Israel could not expect
to prosper in her state of evil. Verse 13 is an indictment
against Israel, who rejoiced in casting off the Lord’s
power and feeling sufficient in and of herself. What
Amos had predicted came to pass within thirty years.
(8-16) Amos 7–9. The Visions of Amos
The last three chapters of Amos deal with five visions
Amos had. The first four of these visions begin with a
phrase such as “Thus hath the Lord God showed me”
(see Amos 7:1, 4, 7; 8:1). The fifth commences with the
words “I saw the Lord” (Amos 9:1). The first four
visions show the various judgments of the Lord upon
Israel, while the fifth vision portends the overthrow of
their apostate theocracy and the restoration of fallen
Israel. The visions are (1) a swarm of locusts (Amos
7:1–3); (2) devouring fire (Amos 7:4–6); (3) the master
builder with the plumbline (Amos 7:7–9); (4) the
basket of summer fruit (Amos 8); and (5) the smitten
sanctuary (Amos 9:1–6). Each has a symbolic meaning
that clearly shows that the Lord intended to bring the
kingdom of Israel to an end if His people did not
repent. The meaning of each vision will be considered
individually.
A swarm of locusts (Amos 7:1–3). “The king, who has
had the early grass mown, is Jehovah; and the mowing
of the grass denotes the judgments which Jehovah has
already executed upon Israel. The growing of the second
crop is a figurative representation of the prosperity
which flourished again after those judgments; in actual
fact, therefore, it denotes the time when the dawn had
risen again for Israel (ch. iv. 13).” (Keil and Delitzsch,
Commentary, 10:1:306–7.)
Devouring fire (Amos 7:4–6). The fire that devoured
the great deep (presumably the ocean) is symbolic of
the partially destructive wars that Israel was later
involved in. Like the fire which “did eat up a part” of
the great deep, Israel’s land was partly despoiled and
many of its people led away.
The master builder with the plumbline (Amos 7:7–9). A
plumbline is used to obtain exactness and accuracy in
construction work. Here it seems to symbolize that
God’s strict justice will prevail in judging Israel for her
evil ways. All wickedness will be sought out, measured
(judged), and destroyed.
The basket of summer fruit (Amos 8:1–9). The harvest
of summer fruit symbolized the ripening of Israel. Just
as summer fruit must be eaten when picked or it will
spoil, Israel was ripe for picking and spoiling by
enemies.
The sun going down at noon (Amos 8:9–14). A man’s
sun can be said to set at noon if he is taken by death
during the prime of his life. A nation’s sun figuratively
sets at noon when the country is destroyed in the
midst of prosperity. But Amos’ dual prophecy is also
a reminder that before the Second Coming of the Lord,
the sun will be darkened and refuse to give her light.
Indeed, it will be a sign for the wicked of the latter
days that their sun is about to set at noon. (See Keil
and Delitzsch, Commentary, 10:1:317.)
The smitten sanctuary (Amos 9:1–6). From His dwelling
place, the Lord will smite the wicked. There is none to
escape, hide where they may. Only the Second Coming
93
of the Lord fulfills such a description, for when the
Lord comes in His glory, the rewards of justice will be
met. No mountain is high enough, no sea so deep that
the unrepentant sinner can hide from the judgments of a
just God.
(8-17) Amos 8:11–12. A Famine in the Land
Here again one finds a clear case of prophetic dualism.
Amos predicted a famine of the word of the Lord,
which famine certainly occurred during the period of
apostasy in Israel and Judah. The hardness of their
hearts reached such a state that from 400 B.C. until the
ministry of John the Baptist, which began in A.D. 30, as
far as we know there were no prophets in Israel (see
Enrichment K).
But Amos’s prophecy was also fulfilled at a later
time. After Christ reestablished His Church on earth,
it too eventually fell into apostasy. Again revelation
ceased, and there was a great famine of the word of
God, this famine lasting for well over a thousand
years. President Spencer W. Kimball, after quoting
Amos 8:11–12, said of this famine:
“Many centuries passed and that day came when a
blanket of disbelief covered this earth, not a blanket of
cotton or wool, but a blanket of apostasy, and a hunger
and a thirst by many which was not satisfied.
“It was the Lord our God who came to the earth
and manifested himself and brought truth again to the
earth with prophecy, revelations, authority, priesthood,
organization and all of the benefits of mankind. It was
the Lord our God who did all this for us.” (In Conference
Report, Temple View New Zealand Area Conference
1976, p. 4.)
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, who at the time was the
Executive Area Administrator for one of the European
areas, spoke of the effect this famine had had upon
Europe: “We have observed a restless spirit of searching
today among the people of Europe. Why? Because there
is a gnawing hunger in the human heart that, if not fed
by the truths of the gospel, leaves life empty and devoid
of peace. The hodgepodge of economic ‘isms’ advocated
by so-called wise men of the world has solved few, if
any, problems, and has brought no real joy. Such empty
nostrums have led mankind to seek worldly goods and
symbols of material power, blinding humanity to the
truth that only the righteous life firmly established in
the daily living of God’s commandments brings true
happiness. Anything less leaves the heart unfed, with
a yearning inner hunger—a hunger which it is our
mission to identify and define and of which we should
make the people aware. I have seen in Europe the
fulfillment of the words of Amos, that there would be
‘a famine in the land, not a famine of bread . . . but of
hearing the words of the Lord.’ (Amos 8:11.)” (In
Conference Report, Oct. 1975, pp. 154–55.)
With the restoration of the gospel, the famine came
to an end, not for every individual at once, but for the
earth in general. Elder Spencer W. Kimball said, “After
centuries of spiritual darkness, . . . we solemnly
announce to all the world that the spiritual famine is
ended, the spiritual drought is spent, the word of the
Lord in its purity and totalness is available to all men.
One needs not wander from sea to sea nor from the
north to the east, seeking the true gospel as Amos
predicted, for the everlasting truth is available.” (In
Conference Report, Apr. 1964, pp. 93–94.)
94
(8-18) Amos 9:7–15. “I Will Sift the House of Israel
among All Nations”
Amos told Israel that they could not expect
deliverance simply because they were the chosen
people (see Amos 9:7). The kingdom of Israel, he said,
would be destroyed, except for a remnant of Jacob
whom the Lord would preserve because of His mercy
(see v. 8). The gathering of the righteous remnant will
be such that not one worthy soul will be unnoticed
(see v. 9), and the Lord will establish His work, even to
the raising of the temple in Jerusalem to its proper
place (see v. 11a).
Every righteous soul who has taken upon himself
the name of the Lord—be he Israelite or Gentile—will
be brought into the kingdom (see Amos 9:12). And the
lands of the earth will shed forth their riches. The
promises to scattered Israel are secure, for they will be
gathered back into the kingdom of God, inheriting
every blessing promised to the righteous with no fear
of losing them evermore (see vv. 14–15).
POINTS TO PONDER
(8-19) Amos: An Example for Today’s World
Amos was a discerning observer of the religious and
social conditions of his times. The kingdom of Israel to
the north was prosperous. Greed, corruption, and vice
were common among the wealthy. The condition of the
poor was pitiful. Religion had lost its vitality. Morals
seemed forgotten. When called by the Lord, Amos was
a herdsman, one who kept flocks and tended vineyards.
Yet he rose fearlessly to the occasion and worked among
the people, prophesying of their future as individuals
and as a nation. The same counsel was given to other
generations in similar words (see 2 Nephi 1:9–10).
One of the main values in having the scriptures and
reading them is that we can become acquainted with
the Lord and with His ways; we can then transfer the
principles we learn to our own lives. This generation is
under a greater obligation to live His commandments,
for greater light and knowledge have been given to us.
In the face of Amaziah, the priest, Amos fearlessly
declared his call from the Lord. In reply to Amaziah’s
attempt to intimidate him, we can almost imagine him
saying, as Paul did, “I am not ashamed of the gospel
of Christ” (Romans 1:16). Amaziah was one of many in
Old Testament times who preached for hire. They
taught what the people wanted to hear and belittled
the Lord’s authorized servants. Are there Amaziahs in
our day? Has their method changed? In quiet dignity
the servants of the Lord go on, and in time the selfappointed prophets fade into obscurity.
Take a moment to read again Amos’s recounting of
his call from the Lord (see Amos 7:12–17). Can you
relate this event to similar events in the lives of some
of the Lord’s prophets today? What really qualifies a
man to be a prophet? (See Enrichment B.)
Amos 8:7–10 gives a view of some of the
circumstances associated with the Second Coming of
Christ and the Judgment. Remember that Amos had
seen the Lord and received His message. All the
prophets through the ages have had a knowledge of
the Lord Jesus Christ and have testified of His mission
(see Helaman 8:16; Jacob 4:4–5; Acts 3:21–24).
Jonah
9
One Should Not
Flee from One’s
Responsibilities
(9-1) Introduction
The prophet Jonah was an unusual servant of the
Lord. Jonah was called on a mission very similar to
that of other prophets: he was to cry repentance to a
people ripening in iniquity. Unlike other prophets,
however, Jonah responded by attempting to flee from
his assignment. Had his reason been cowardice, though
still wrong, it would have been understandable. The
brutality of the Assyrians in the treatment of their
enemies was well known (see Enrichment D). But
Jonah’s problem does not seem to be cowardice.
Rather, it seems to have been resentment against the
Lord for giving the hated enemy a chance to repent
(see Jonah 4:1–2.)
To someone who has been taught to have Christian
love for all men, Jonah’s attitude may seem almost
unbelievable. But to an Israelite who had been taught
that he was of the chosen people and that the Gentiles
were corrupt and therefore not acceptable to God,
Jonah’s attitude was more understandable. Though
surprising because we expect a different response from
the Lord’s prophets, Jonah’s response was very human.
As you read Jonah’s story, see if you can understand
what made him respond as he did.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study the book of Jonah.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
to Joshua 19:10–13, was located in the territory of the
tribe of Zebulun. According to monastic tradition it
was the same as the present Arab village of ElMeshed, some three miles northeast of Nazareth,
where one of the many Moslem tombs of Nebi Yunus,
the Prophet Jonah, is pointed out. St. Jerome (circa 400
A.D.) also speaks of Gath-hepher as being situated two
Roman miles from Sepphoris towards Tiberias.
“Jonah’s name means ‘dove’ and that of his father
‘truthful.’
“Since Jonah lived during the reign of Jeroboam, it
is possible to date him at approximately 788 B.C.” (The
Voice of Israel’s Prophets, p. 326.)
Both Jonah and Jesus were from the Galilee area.
That Jonah’s story is a true one, and not an allegory as
some scholars maintain, is evidenced by 2 Kings 14:25
and three New Testament references. ‘The story of
Jonah was referred to by our Lord on two occasions
when he was asked for a sign from heaven. In each
case he gave ‘the sign of the prophet Jonah,’ the event
in that prophet’s life being a foreshadowing of Jesus’
own death and resurrection (Matt. 12:39–41; 16:4; Luke
11:29–30).” (Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Jonah.”)
(9-3) Jonah 1:3. “Jonah Rose Up to Flee unto Tarshish”
Jonah’s life and experiences, like Job’s, provide a
universal lesson similar to an allegory, and the
application to all men is drawn from one man’s actual
experiences.
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
JONAH
(9-2) Jonah 1:1. Where and When Did Jonah Live?
Sidney B. Sperry, a well-known Latter-day Saint
Bible scholar, answered that question by saying:
“We know little of the life of Jonah, but that little is
more than we know about some of the other prophets
discussed in this volume. In the first verse of the book
under his name he is said to be ‘the son of Amittai.’ But
the Book of Jonah is not the only Old Testament book in
which he is mentioned. In II Kings 14:25 we are told that
Jeroboam II, king of Israel, ‘. . . restored the border
of Israel from the entrance of Hamath unto the sea of
Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of
Israel, which he spoke by the hand of His servant Jonah
the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher.’
“There can be little doubt, therefore, that Jonah was
a historical person and was engaged in prophetic
activities. The prophet’s home, Gath-hepher, according
The seaport at Joppa
97
Jonah was a type of Christ in that he was in the
belly of the whale—in “hell,” in his own words (Jonah
2:2)—just as Jesus was in the grave for three days, and
then came forth again. C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch showed
that the significance of Jonah’s story is broader than
that:
“The mission of Jonah was a fact of symbolical and typical
importance, which was intended not only to enlighten Israel
as to the position of the Gentile world in relation to the
kingdom of God, but also to typify the future adoption of such
of the heathen, as should observe the word of God, into the
fellowship of the salvation prepared in Israel for all nations.
“As the time drew nigh when Israel was to be given
up into the power of the Gentiles, and trodden down by
them, on account of its stiff-necked apostasy from the
Lord its God, it was very natural for the self-righteous
mind of Israel to regard the Gentiles as simply enemies
of the people and kingdom of God, and not only to
deny their capacity for salvation, but also to interpret
the prophetic announcement of the judgment coming
upon the Gentiles as signifying that they were destined
to utter destruction. The object of Jonah’s mission to
Nineveh was to combat in the most energetic manner,
and practically to overthrow, a delusion which had a
seeming support in the election of Israel to be the
vehicle of salvation, and which stimulated the inclination
to pharisaical reliance upon an outward connection
with the chosen nation and a lineal descent from
Abraham. . . . The attitude of Israel towards the design
of God to show mercy to the Gentiles and grant them
salvation, is depicted in the way in which Jonah acts,
when he receives the divine command, and when he
goes to carry it out. Jonah tries to escape from the
command to proclaim the word of God in Nineveh
by flight to Tarshish, because he is displeased with
the display of divine mercy to the great heathen world,
and because, according to ch. iv. 2, he is afraid lest the
preaching of repentance should avert from Nineveh the
destruction with which it is threatened. In this state of
mind on the part of the prophet, there are reflected the
feelings and the general state of mind of the Israelitish
nation towards the Gentiles. According to his natural
man, Jonah shares in this, and is thereby fitted to
be the representative of Israel in its pride at its own
election. . . . The infliction of this punishment, which
falls upon him on account of his obstinate resistance to
the will of God, typifies that rejection and banishment
from the face of God which Israel will assuredly bring
upon itself by its obstinate resistance to the divine call.
But Jonah, when cast into the sea, is swallowed up by
a great fish; and when he prays to the Lord in the fish’s
belly, he is vomited upon the land unhurt. This miracle
has also a symbolical meaning for Israel. It shows that
if the carnal nation, with its ungodly mind, should
turn to the Lord even in the last extremity, it will be
raised up again by a divine miracle from destruction
to newness of life. And lastly, the manner in which
God reproves the prophet, when he is angry because
Nineveh has been spared (ch. iv.), is intended to set
forth as in a mirror before all Israel the greatness of the
divine compassion, which embraces all mankind, in
order that it may reflect upon it and lay it to heart.”
(Commentary on the Old Testament, 10:1:383–85.)
(9-4) Jonah 1:2–3. Why Did Jonah Flee to Tarshish?
“A call on a mission—and direct from the Lord! But
it was no surprise to the prophet to be called, for he
had probably carried out many missions for the Lord
in Israel before. His surprise lay not in the fact of the
call but in the kind of call, and rebellion arose in his
heart. It was a call to go to Nineveh, ‘the great city’ of
Assyria, and preach to its heathen inhabitants, for their
wickedness had come up before the Lord. . . .
“Jonah was torn between his loyalty to God and the
whip of his emotions. The latter were at a fever pitch
and in the end determined his actions. Because he
couldn’t face the mission call, he determined to flee
the country and get away from the unpleasant
responsibility. He did not intend to lay down his
prophetic office; he merely wanted to absent himself
without leave for a time until an unpleasant situation
adjusted itself.” (Sperry, Voice of Israel’s Prophets,
pp. 328–29.)
The exact location of Tarshish is unknown, but it is
supposed by Adam Clarke and others that it is the
same place as Tartessus in Spain, near the Straits of
Gibraltar (see The Holy Bible . . . with a Commentary and
Critical Notes, 4:700). Whether it was there that Jonah
fled or some other port on the Mediterranean, it is
certain that Tarshish was in the opposite direction of
Nineveh. Joppa was a significant seaport on Israel’s
coast in Jonah’s day. From there ships sailed to points
throughout the Mediterranean. Joppa is the same as
the present-day city of Jaffa, beside which the modern
city of Tel Aviv has grown.
(9-5) Jonah 1:4–7. What Was the Practice of Casting Lots?
In ancient times lots were cast when an impartial
decision was desired. The character and shape of the
objects used in biblical times are not known, nor is
the precise method by which they were cast, although
some scholars suggest that smooth stones or sticks
distinguished by colors or symbols were used. The
heathens cast lots because, they believed, the gods
would guide what happened. In Jonah’s case, the Lord
seems to have guided the outcome.
(9-6) Jonah 1:8–10. The Greatness of Jonah’s God
Jonah fearlessly proclaimed that Jehovah is the one
God over all creation.
(9-7) Jonah 1:11–16. Jonah Suggested His Own Fate
How do these verses show that Jonah’s running
away was not because he was a coward? The men did
not accept Jonah’s offer until they had made every effort
to save themselves in other ways. Jonah’s willingness
also shows his awareness that his actions had displeased
God. Jonah 1:14–16 witnesses that only reluctantly did
the sailors cast Jonah overboard, as he had commanded
them to do. In an attempt to absolve themselves from
offense against any of the gods, the sailors offered a
prayer to the Lord and begged that their deed might
not be counted against them.
(9-8) Jonah 1:17. “Now the Lord Had Prepared a Great
Fish”
The account of Jonah being swallowed by a “great
fish” has been the subject of much ridicule and
98
controversy on the part of the world. They use this
verse as one argument to sustain the belief that the
book of Jonah is simply a parable and not a record
of historical fact. Speaking to those who take such
a position, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“Are we to reject it as being an impossibility and
say that the Lord could not prepare a fish, or whale,
to swallow Jonah? . . . Surely the Lord sits in the
heavens and laughs at the wisdom of the scoffer, and
then on a sudden answers his folly by a repetition of
the miracle in dispute, or by the presentation of one
still greater. . . .
“I believe, as did Mr. William J. Bryan, the story of
Jonah. My chief reason for so believing is not in the
fact that it is recorded in the Bible, or that the incident
has been duplicated in our day, but in the fact that
Jesus Christ, our Lord, believed it. The Jews sought him
for a sign of his divinity. He gave them one, but not
what they expected. The scoffers of his day,
notwithstanding his mighty works, were incapable,
because of sin, of believing.
“‘He answered and said unto them, An evil and
adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there
shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the Prophet
Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in
the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three
days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’”
(Doctrines of Salvation, 2:314–15.)
The Hebrew word taneen used in Jonah and the
Greek word katos used in the New Testament describe
any sea creature of immense proportion. Sharks are
common to the Mediterranean and have throats
sufficiently large to admit the body of a man. Of course,
the miraculous nature of this event lies in the fact that
Jonah could survive in the digestive tract of a large
fish for three days as much as in the fact that he could
be swallowed whole.
(9-9) Jonah 2. Jonah Prayed to the Lord and Was
Saved
Jonah, in his extremity, finally turned back to God.
His prayer was one of sincere and meaningful
repentance. His use of hell (sheol in Hebrew, which
means the spirit world and is sometimes translated as
“grave”) adds to the parallels with Christ’s burial. The
language of Jonah’s prayer (see Jonah 2:3–5) and the
language the Lord used with the Prophet Joseph Smith
while he was imprisoned in Liberty Jail (see D&C
122:7) are similar, both even speaking of the “jaws of
hell [gaping] open the mouth.” Also compare Jonah 2:7
with the language in Alma 36:18. Jonah’s vow to “pay
that that I have vowed” was his way of saying he
would fulfill the mission given him, and so “the Lord
spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the
dry land” (see Jonah 2:9–10).
(9-10) Jonah 3:1–3. Why Is Nineveh Called “the Great
City?”
Nineveh was a well-known trade center in Jonah’s
day. It had terraces, arsenals, barracks, libraries, and
temples. The walls were so broad that chariots could
drive abreast on them. Beyond the walls were great
suburbs, towns, and villages. The circumference of the
great city was about sixty miles, or three days’ journey.
(See Sperry, Voice of Israel’s Prophets, pp. 331–32n.)
Jonah’s burial in the belly of the fish symbolized the burial of Christ
in the tomb. The Burial of Christ by Carl Bloch. Original at King’s
Prayer Chair, Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark. Used by permission of
the National Historic Museum at Frederiksborg.
(9-11) Jonah 3:5–9. What Is Signified by Sackcloth and
Ashes?
Jonah’s words appear to have had an immediate
and very positive effect upon the Ninevites. Why a
non-Hebrew people would believe a Hebrew prophet
one can only conjecture. Perhaps they were shocked
into repentance by the appearance of a foreigner who,
apparently without thought of personal safety, would
come such a distance to unveil the sins of a people he
did not know. At any rate, his mission had the
intended result: Nineveh repented in “sackcloth and
ashes.” Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:
“A coarse, dark cloth made of hair of camels and
goats and used anciently for making sacks and bags
was called sackcloth. It was also used for making the
rough garments worn by mourners, and so it became
fixed in the prophetic mind as a symbol for sorrow
and mourning. It was the custom for mourners, garbed
in sackcloth, either to sprinkle ashes upon themselves
or to sit in piles of ashes, thereby showing their joy
had perished or been destroyed. (Gen. 37:34; Esther
4:1–3; Isa. 61:3; Jer. 6:26.)
“The use of sackcloth and ashes anciently was also
a token of humility and penitence. When righteous
persons used the covering of sackcloth and the
sprinkling of ashes to aid them in attaining the
spiritual strength to commune with Deity, their usage
was always accompanied by fasting and prayer.
Daniel, for instance, prefaced the record of one of his
99
great petitions to the throne of grace with this
explanation: ‘I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek
by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth,
and ashes: And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and
made my confession.’ (Dan. 9:3–4; Isa. 58:5; 1 Kings
21:17–29.)
“Sackcloth and ashes (accompanied by the fasting,
prayer, and turning to the Lord that attended their
use) became a symbol of the most sincere and humble
repentance.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 659.)
(9-12) Jonah 3:10. Does God Need to Repent?
The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible renders
this verse as follows: “And God saw their works that
they turned from their evil way and repented; and
God turned away the evil that he had said he would
bring upon them” (JST, Jonah 3:10).
(9-13) Jonah 4:1–11. Jonah Was Displeased with
the Lord
Here Jonah demonstrated a second weakness: he
pouted because the people did repent and God turned
His wrath away. Jonah was so upset that he wished he
were dead. Though he had repented of his desire to
escape the call of the Lord and went to Nineveh, Jonah
had not substantially changed his attitude toward the
Gentiles.
The Lord taught Jonah in a way that he could
understand that all things are in His hand—the gourd,
the worm, even life itself. First, the Lord sent the
dreaded east wind, which was very destructive, for
it blew off the hot, dry Arabian Desert. Then the Lord
caused the sun to beat upon Jonah, making him so
uncomfortable that he wished for death. Once Jonah
was in that position, the Lord was able to teach him
the worth of souls in Nineveh. Because the thousands
who lived in Nineveh were ignorant of the saving
gospel principles, they could not fully “discern between
their right hand and their left hand” (Jonah 4:11).
Surely the Lord felt more pity for them than Jonah felt
for the gourd (see Alma 26:27, 37). By means of this
simple plant, the Lord taught Jonah about the way in
which God loves all of His children.
100
POINTS TO PONDER
(9-14) Trying to Run Away from the Lord
Now that you have read through the book of Jonah,
what do you think of its message? How do you feel
about Jonah’s running away from a call to serve? Is
there a difference between Jonah, Joel, and Amos?
Write a short essay discussing the differences and
similarities and the application of their messages to
you today.
Nineveh had a reputation for being wicked (see
Nahum 3:1–4). There are many wicked cities in our
day. Does their wickedness lessen the Lord’s feelings
for the people of those cities? What is our obligation
when we are called to serve in a way that we might
consider distasteful?
It is apparent throughout the story that Jonah could
not stand to see God’s love, so often promised to Israel
and cherished by her, bestowed on others, particularly
her heathen oppressors. Have you ever known anyone
who has tended to resent someone newly baptized
or recently activated and the attention and favor they
received in the Church? Is there not a parallel here?
Though most Latter-day Saints may never be called
to do anything as dramatic as calling on a whole city
to repent or be destroyed, we receive numerous calls
of our own from the Lord. Sometimes, like Jonah, we
seem to run away or at least to escape our responsibility.
Consider the following:
1. A person who refuses to accept a call in the
Primary because she would not be able to attend Relief
Society meetings.
2. A young man who turns down a mission call so
he can accept a scholarship from a university.
3. A family who does not hold regular family home
evenings.
4. A person who gets behind on his bills and does
not pay his tithing.
5. A young woman too shy to accept a call as a
Young Adult Relief Society teacher.
We all receive calls, and sometimes we try to escape
them. But we can repent, accept the call, and reap joy
in our service.
Hosea
10
The Ministry of
Hosea: A Call to
Faithfulness
(10-1) Introduction
Have you ever given love and trust, or even made
solemn covenants, and then been betrayed? Or have
you ever been loved and trusted by someone but then,
in weakness, betrayed that trust and damaged the
relationship and thus know the yearning to be loved
and trusted again?
Read carefully Hosea’s description of God’s feelings
toward those who have covenanted with Him and then
betrayed the trust. Examine your own life for experiences
that will help you understand Hosea’s message.
During the time of Hosea, the Israelites were
influenced heavily by the worship and ways of the
Canaanites. The sophistication of the city-based
Canaanite farmers who surrounded them, the fertility
of their flocks and fields (apparently elicited from the
gods and goddesses of fertility) attracted the Israelite
farmers. The rites by which the people supplicated the
gods of fertility were lewd, licentious, and immoral.
Even though Israel had covenanted at Sinai to become
a kingdom of priests and a holy nation unto God, by
the time of Hosea, God’s people had become deeply
involved in the practices of their neighbors, whose
way of life should have repelled them.
Using the imagery of a marriage, the Lord, through
Hosea, taught His people that though they had been
unfaithful to Him, ye He would still not divorce them
(cast them off) if they would but turn back to Him.
Though Hosea speaks of a nation, the same principle
holds true for individuals. Even those who have been
grossly unfaithful to God can reestablish their
relationship with Him if they will but turn back
to Him with full purpose of heart.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study the book of Hosea.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
(10-2) Hosea 1–14. “The Manner of Prophesying
among the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:1)
Nephi said that to understand the writings of Isaiah,
one has to understand the Jewish way of prophesying
(see 2 Nephi 25:1). The same is true of Hosea because
he, like Isaiah, made extensive use of metaphors and
symbolism (see Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–
2 Samuel [religion 301, 2003], pp. 111–15). Each chapter
contains at least one metaphor, and all need to be seen
against the background of Israel’s history and tradition
to be understood.
One metaphor that is central to Hosea’s message
is marriage. Throughout history every culture has
prescribed ways to celebrate the covenants of marriage.
Because most people had personal knowledge of
marriage, they understood the Lord better when the
prophets used marriage terms to describe symbolically
the covenants God made with them and they with
Him. The covenant relationship between Jehovah and
His people Israel was likened to the relationship
between a man and his wife.
In the symbolic marriage covenant, God is the
husband and Israel, the covenant people, is the bride.
God wed Israel in the covenant of Abraham (see
Genesis 17). That covenant was renewed with Moses’
people at the foot of Mount Sinai (see Exodus 19:4–8).
Isaiah 54:5 reads, “For thy Maker is thine husband,”
and Jeremiah 3:14 reads, “For I am married unto you.”
Further references to God’s role as husband in the
covenant are found in Jeremiah 3:20; 31:32 and
Revelation 19:7.
When Israel turned away from her husband to
worship other gods, then she broke the covenants.
She “hath committed great whoredom, departing from
the Lord” (Hosea 1:2) and “hath played the harlot”
(Hosea 2:5; see also Jeremiah 2:20; 3:1, 9; 5:7; Exodus
34:14–16; Deuteronomy 31:16). Elder Bruce R. McConkie
explained: “In a spiritual sense, to emphasize how
serious it is, the damning sin of idolatry is called
adultery. When the Lord’s people forsake him and
worship false gods, their infidelity to Jehovah is
described as whoredoms and adultery. (Jer. 3:8–9; Hos.
1:2; 3:1.) By forsaking the Lord, his people are unfaithful
to their covenant vows, vows made to him who
symbolically is their Husband.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 25.)
The symbolism is central to Hosea’s message. He
depicts Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord as that of a
wife who has turned her back on a faithful husband to
follow her lovers.
(10-3) Hosea 1:1. Who Was Hosea?
“The superscription of this book informs us that
Hosea was the son of Beeri. Unfortunately we know
nothing about the father. The Hebrew name of the
prophet, Hoshea, signifies ‘help,’ ‘deliverance,’ and
‘salvation,’ and is derived from the same root as the
names of Joshua and Jesus. By reason of numerous
allusions in the prophecy to the Northern Kingdom,
it is commonly supposed by commentators that Hosea
was a native of that commonwealth. The superscription
further informs us that Hosea was a prophet ‘in the
days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of
Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash,
king of Israel.’ Jeroboam II, the king of Israel, reigned
from 788 B.C. until 747 B.C. and Hezekiah, the last-named
of the kings of Judah, began to reign in 725 B.C. We may
103
not be far off from the truth if we date Hosea’s ministry,
therefore, from about 755 B.C. to 725 B.C. He was, then,
a contemporary of three other great prophets, Isaiah,
Amos, and Micah.” (Sidney B. Sperry, The Voice of
Israel’s Prophets, p. 274.)
(10-4) Hosea 1:1. What Was Happening in Hosea’s
Time?
“The years of Hosea’s life were melancholy and
tragic. The vials of the wrath of heaven were poured
out on his apostate people. The nation suffered under
the evils of that schism, which was effected by the
craft of him who has been branded with the indelible
stigma—‘Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin.’ The
obligations of law had been relaxed, and the claims of
religion disregarded; Baal became the rival of Jehovah,
and in the dark recesses of the groves were practiced the
impure and murderous rites of heathen deities; peace
and prosperity fled the land, which was harassed by
foreign invasion and domestic broils; might and murder
became the twin sentinels of the throne; alliances were
formed with other nations, which brought with them
seductions to paganism; captivity and insult were
heaped upon Israel by the uncircumcised; the nation
was thoroughly debased, and but a fraction of its
population maintained its spiritual allegiance.”
(Samuel Fallows, ed., The Popular and Critical Bible
Encyclopedia and Scriptural Dictionary, s.v. “Hosea”;
see also Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2
Samuel, pp. 245–48.)
(10-5) Hosea 1:2–3. How Are We to Understand God’s
Commanding Hosea to Marry a Harlot?
Would God literally command one of His servants
to take an immoral woman for His wife? Or is this
command to be interpreted only in a symbolic sense?
Interpretations fall into five general categories:
1. Hosea was actually asked by God to marry a
harlot. Those scholars who maintain this view think
that such a marriage served as an object lesson to call
Israel’s attention to their carnal state. Others have felt
that such an act would be inconsistent with God, who
“cannot look upon sin with the least degree of
allowance” (Alma 45:16). While the Lord was not
commanding Hosea to sin, some have felt God would
not use sinful behavior even in an object lesson of this
kind. Sidney B. Sperry said that this “would be
imputing to God a command inconsistent with His
holy character. Furthermore, for Hosea to marry a
woman with a questionable past would make it
impossible for him to preach to his people and expose
their sexual immoralities. They could point the finger
of scorn at him and say, ‘You are as guilty as we are;
don’t preach to us.’” (Voice of Israel’s Prophets, p. 281.)
2. The whole experience came to Hosea in a dream
or vision. There was neither harlot nor marriage, but
Hosea was asked to accept the burden of being
prophet (husband) to immoral Israel (Gomer).
Although possible, most scholars reject this alternative
because of the intensity of Hosea’s involvement with
the imagery.
3. Hosea married a woman who at the time was
good and faithful but later became a faithless wife, a
104
harlot, when she left her husband to participate in the
fertility rites of the neighboring Canaanites. In this
case Hosea’s life was an “enacted parable,” and the
phrase “wife of whoredoms” (Hosea 1:2) refers to
what Gomer became. In other words, Hosea did marry
Gomer, but she was not a harlot then. Those scholars
who sustain this view explain that later in life, Hosea,
looking back on his experiences and all that he had
suffered and learned through them, recorded incidents
that helped illustrate his teachings. The difficulty with
this interpretation is that the Lord commanded Hosea
to take a “wife of whoredoms” (v. 2). If Gomer were
faithful and true at the time of the marriage, this
phrase would seem like a peculiar way to describe her.
4. A variation of the interpretation in number three
is that Gomer was not an actual harlot but was a
worshiper of Baal; therefore, she was guilty of spiritual
harlotry. But even so, it seems peculiar that God
would ask a prophet to marry a nonbelieving wife.
5. Another approach that avoids some of these
difficulties is that the words present an allegory
designed to teach the spiritual consequences of Israel’s
unfaithfulness. Sperry felt that Hosea never did
actually contract such a marriage. He explains: “The
Lord’s call to Hosea to take a harlotrous woman to
wife represents the prophet’s call to the ministry—a
ministry to an apostate and covenant-breaking people.
The . . . children of this apparent union represent the
coming of the judgments of the Lord upon Israel,
warning of which was to be carried to the people by
the prophet. The figure of the harlotrous wife and
children would, I believe, be readily understood at the
time by the Hebrew people without reflecting on
Hosea’s own wife, or, if he was unmarried, on
himself.” (Voice of Israel’s Prophets, p. 281.)
Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles commented on his experience years before
teaching Hosea to his early morning seminary classes:
“The book of Hosea, like the writings of Isaiah, uses
what seem to me almost poetic images. The symbols in
Hosea are a husband, his bride, her betrayal, and a test
of marriage covenants almost beyond comprehension.
. . . Here are the fierce words of the husband, spoken
after his wife has betrayed him in adultery: [Hosea
2:6–7].
“He goes on (through verse 13) to describe the
punishment she deserves, and then comes a
remarkable change in the verse that follows. . . . :
[Hosea 2:14–15, 19–23].
“At that early point in the story, in just two
chapters, even my youngest students knew that the
husband was a metaphor for Jehovah, Jesus Christ.
And they knew that the wife represented his covenant
people, Israel, who had gone after strange gods. They
understood that the Lord was teaching them, through
this metaphor, an important principle. Even though
those with whom he has covenanted may be horribly
unfaithful to him, he would not divorce them if they
would only turn back to him with full purpose of
heart.
“I knew that too, but even more than that, I felt
something. I had a new feeling about what it means to
make a covenant with the Lord. All my life I had heard
explanations of covenants as being like a contract, an
agreement where one person agrees to do something
and the other agrees to do something else in return.
“For more reasons than I can explain, during
those days teaching Hosea, I felt something new,
something more powerful. This was not a story about
a business deal between partners, nor about business
law. . . . This was a love story. This was a story of a
marriage covenant bound by love, by steadfast love.
What I felt then, and it has increased over the years,
was that the Lord, with whom I am blessed to have
made covenants, loves me, and you, . . . with a
steadfastness about which I continually marvel and
which I want with all my heart to emulate” (Covenants
and Sacrifice [address to religious educators, 15 Aug.
1995], pp. 1–2).
(10-6) Hosea 1:4–11. Symbolic Names
Biblical names often were taken from the
circumstances surrounding the child’s birth. In Hosea’s
narrative Gomer bore her husband three children: two
sons and a daughter. The names given to the children
symbolize the destruction that lies in Israel’s future as
a result of her idolatrous (adulterous) ways—that is,
children (judgments) are the natural result of Israel’s
harlotry (unrighteousness).
The name of the first child, Jezreel, is the same as that
of the valley of former King Jehu’s bloody purge, and
foreshadowed Israel’s overthrow in that strategic valley.
It is a valley overlooked by Megiddo (New Testament
“Armageddon”; see Revelation 16:16) and famed for
crucial battles past and future. Jezreel means “God
shall sow,” or scatter abroad, since anciently sowing
was done by casting handfuls of seed. It undoubtedly
alludes to the overthrow and scattering of Israel.
The name Lo-ruhamah in Hebrew means “not having
obtained mercy” and suggests that no amount of mercy
from God would set aside divine justice and save
northern Israel; the ten tribes would be taken captive
and led away.
The name of the third child, Lo-ammi, in Hebrew,
“not my people,” is like a lament and shows that by
their harlotry Israel could not be thought of as God’s
people.
With the last two symbolic names, the Lord predicted
the negative results of sin (see Hosea 1:6, 9), but in the
next verses He held out a promise of hope (vv. 7, 10).
Throughout the book, Hosea interweaves the promise
of destruction or a curse with the promise of future
restoration to favor.
The Jezreel Valley
105
(10-7) Hosea 2. What Are the Meanings of the Metaphors?
Verse 1
Ammi
“My people”
Verse 1
Ruhamah
“Having obtained mercy,” or “those who have obtained
mercy”
Verse 2
your mother
The nation Israel
Verse 3
wilderness
The captivity
Verse 5
lovers
The priests, priestesses, and idols of the Canaanite
temples or, in the larger sense, any person one loves
more than God.
Verses 5–9, 13
bread, corn, wool, and jewels
Worldly values and treasures
Verses 9–10
her nakedness and her lewdness
Israel’s sin
Verses 11–14
allure her
Jehovah still cares for her and will try to win her back.
Verse 15
Valley of Achor, a rich valley north
of Jericho, near Gilgal
The Lord will restore her to great blessings.
Verse 16
Ishi (Hebrew for “my husband”)
and Baali (Hebrew for “my master”)
Eventually Israel will accept God as her Lord and her
true husband.
Verses 19–20
betroth thee unto me forever
The fulness of the new and everlasting covenant
restored to Israel in the latter days and the eternal
blessings that will result from Israel’s faithful marriage
to Jehovah.
Verse 22
Jezreel (Hebrew for “God shall sow”)
The downtrodden and poor Israel. Like the Jezreel
Valley, they have great potential and will be resown and
made fruitful by the Lord.
(10-8) Hosea 3:1–3. What Is Represented by the
Marriage in Chapter 3?
In the first and third chapters of Hosea the Lord
commands His prophet to marry. Scholars disagree on
whether these represent two separate marriages or the
same one. Either way, they were an effective means for
the Lord to teach the people of His own relationship
with faithless Israel. From the beginning Israel played
the part of the harlot (see Hosea 1:2). Even after
entering into covenants of obedience and faithfulness
to the Lord as a married spouse, she forsook her
husband, the Lord, and went whoring after idol gods
(see Hosea 3:1–3).
Keil and Delitzsch write: “The price paid . . . is not
to be regarded as purchase money, for which the wife
was obtained from her parents; for it cannot be shown
that the custom of purchasing a bride from her parents
had any existence among the Israelites. . . . It was
rather the marriage present . . . which a bridegroom
gave, not to the parents, but to the bride herself, as
soon as her consent had been obtained” (Commentary,
10:1:69). Through paying this price, Hosea
(symbolizing the Lord) was able to place her (Israel)
beyond her former consorts and receive her back as his
own.
(10-9) Hosea 3:2. Come unto Me
Verse 2 gives the price of redeeming the woman
spoken of in verse one. Keil and Delitzsch write that
“it is a very natural supposition . . . that at that time an
ephah of barley was worth a shekel, in which case the
whole price would just amount to the some of which,
according to Ex. xxi. 32, it was possible to purchase a
slave, and was paid half in money and half in barley.
106
. . . The circumstance that the prophet gave no more
for the wife than the amount at which a slave could be
obtained, . . . and that this amount was not even paid
in money, but half of it in barley—a kind of food so
generally despised throughout antiquity . . . —was
intended to depict still more strikingly the deeply
depressed condition of the woman. . . . [If] the woman
was satisfied with fifteen shekels and fifteen ephahs of
barley, she must have been in a state of very deep
distress” (Commentary, 10:1:68–69).
When one considers Gomer as symbolic of Israel,
the purchase price implies that Israel’s freedoms had
been or would be lost, and in addition she suffered the
slavery of sin, which also requires a purchase price
before Israel can be reconciled with her Savior. Hosea
desired to purchase his wife from slavery just as
Heavenly Father seeks after His children to redeem
them from Satan’s power with the blood of His Son
Jesus Christ.
(10-10) Hosea 3:3. “Thou Shalt Not Play the Harlot”
Even though the purchase price mentioned in
Hosea 3:2 has been paid, there is a time of testing, of
waiting and preparing, before one is reinstated to all the
blessings of the covenant and enjoys the company of a
husband and a savior. This principle is valid whether
applied to Gomer as a person or to Gomer as a figure
for Israel.
(10-11) Hosea 3:4–5. The Captivity
Hosea 3:4 alludes to Israel’s impending captivity
when they would be without leadership (“kings,”
“princes”) and without the temple and the religious
practices they believed in (“sacrifice”). They would
also be without revelation (represented by the ephod,
to which the Urim and Thummim were attached). The
teraphim were worshiped by the Canaanites as givers
of earthly prosperity and deities who revealed the
future. Commentators believe that these objects of
Canaanite worship were included with objects from
the worship of Jehovah to show the people that the
worship of idols would also be lost. “David their king”
(v. 5) is one of the titles of the Messiah or Jesus Christ
(see Notes and Commentary on Isaiah 11:1).
As noted in Hosea 3:3, Gomer had to purify her life
before she could feel Hosea’s love. In their captivity
Israel would suffer without God’s help until she purified
her life. Then she would know of God’s continued
love.
A lamb in a large place suggests a helpless animal
lost in a large open area with no protection. This figure
suggests Israel’s being scattered among the Gentiles.
(10-12) Hosea 4:3. “Therefore Shall the Land Mourn”
See also Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, in which
the Lord outlines the relationship between the bounties
of the land and the righteousness or wickedness of the
people.
(10-13) Hosea 4:8. What Is Meant by the Phrase “They
Eat Up the Sin of My People”?
Keil and Delitzsch explained that the Hebrew phrase
translated as the “sin of my people” referred to “the
sin-offering of the people, the flesh of which the priests
were commanded to eat, to wipe away the sin of the
people (see [Leviticus 6:26], and the remarks upon
this law at [Leviticus 10:17]). The fulfillment of this
command, however, became a sin on the part of the
priests, from the fact that they directed their soul, i.e.
their longing desire, to the transgression of the people;
in other words, that they wished the sins of the people
to be increased, in order that they might receive a good
supply of sacrificial meat to eat.” (Commentary,
10:1:78–79.)
(10-14) Hosea 4:12. What Are Stocks and Staffs?
The stocks were wooden idols. The staffs were
divining rods, instruments used to foretell the future,
to find lost or hidden objects, and so forth. All were
consulted within the Canaanite culture much like
divining instruments are used in today’s Satanic cults.
Thus, instead of seeking counsel from the living God,
they looked to the idols.
(10-15) Hosea 4:15. Why Avoid Gilgal and Bethaven?
Gilgal was where the law of circumcision was
renewed after Israel crossed over Jordan in Joshua’s
day, but it had become polluted by idolatry since the
days of Jeroboam. Bethaven means “house of iniquity,”
and Bethel means “house of God.” Hosea, like Amos
in Amos 4:5, applied the name Bethaven to the town
Bethel to show that the house of God had now become
the house of iniquity and idols.
(10-16) Hosea 4:16. “A Backsliding Heifer” and “a
Lamb in a Large Place”
A backsliding heifer is one who refuses to follow
when led and sets her feet and slides in the dirt. She is
an unmanageable animal and will not pull together
with the other ox yoked with her, nor will she submit
to the guidance of the driver.
A valley in the mountains of Ephraim
(10-17) Hosea 4:17; 5:3, 9, 11–14; 6:4. Why Is There So
Much Emphasis on Ephraim and Judah and No
Mention of the Other Tribes?
Because they were the two dominant tribes, Judah
came to represent all the Israelites in the Southern
Kingdom, and Ephraim came to represent the Israelites
in the Northern Kingdom. Thus, as used here, Judah
means the Southern Kingdom, and Ephraim the
Northern Kingdom.
(10-18) Hosea 5:1–2. Nets and Snares
Mizpah and Tabor, both mountains, were famous
for hunting; hence, the “net” and “snare.” Revolters
were those who drove animals into a pit that had been
camouflaged. The metaphor depicts the rulers and
priesthood in the bloody role of the hunters who
spiritually killed their prey, Israel.
(10-19) Hosea 5:7. “Begotten Strange Children”
“Israel ought to have begotten children of God in
the maintenance of the covenant with the Lord; but in
its apostasy from God it had begotten an adulterous
generation, children whom the Lord could not
acknowledge as His own” (Keil and Delitzsch,
Commentary, 10:1:89).
(10-20) Hosea 5:10–11. “Remove the Bound”
Deuteronomy 27:17 says, “Cursed be he that removeth
his neighbour’s landmark” (see also Deuteronomy
19:14). In ancient Israel, property was marked with
stone markers or “landmarks.” To move such a mark
was a serious offense, for it was the same as stealing
land. If one who destroyed a neighbor’s boundaries
was cursed, how much more cursed were the princes
of Judah who destroyed the moral and spiritual
boundaries that guarded the worship of Jehovah? In
Hosea 5:11 the phrase “walked after the
commandment” indicates that Ephraim was oppressed
because it willingly walked after filth instead of
walking after true commandments (see Hosea 5:11a).
107
(10-21) Hosea 6:1–3. A Call to Return
Hosea 6:2 may be a symbolic reference to the gathering
of Israel and the Millennium. If a day is a thousand
years (see 1 Peter 3:8), Israel is to be revived and blessed
some two or three thousand years in the future.
Hosea 6:3 is a call to seek the knowledge of Jehovah,
whose rising is fixed like the morning dawn and whose
blessing is “as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”
To the farmer in ancient Israel, two “rains” were very
critical. The former (or first) rains softened the earth
so that he could plow it and plant the seed; the latter
(or second) rains gave the crop its growth. (See also
Joel 2:23.)
(10-22) Hosea 6:6. What Did Israel Lack in Her
Relationship to Jehovah?
“Israel’s fidelity, then, was that of a fickle woman.
It lacked the steadfastness, the trustworthiness of true
covenant love. In Hosea’s native language, Israel lacked
hésed. This word is exceedingly difficult to render into
English. (The Revised Standard Version usually
translates it ‘steadfast love.’) It is a covenant word that
refers to the faithfulness or loyal love that binds two
parties together in covenant. When a person shows
hésed to another, he is not motivated merely by legal
obligation but by an inner loyalty which arises out of
the relationship itself. Such covenant love has the quality
of constancy, firmness, steadfastness. In Hosea’s vivid
figure, Israel’s hésed was like a transient morning
cloud, or like the morning dew that evaporates quickly
(6:4). Hence Yahweh [Jehovah] scorned the existing
forms of worship:
“‘For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the
knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.’—
Hosea 6:6
“We probably should not press Hosea’s words to
mean that he was opposed to formal worship. But
clearly he was opposed to forms that were devoid of
the spirit of true faithfulness to the God of the covenant.
Jesus twice asked his hearers to go and reread Hosea
6:6 when he was accused of breaking the formal rules
of orthodoxy (cf. Matt. 9:13 and 12:7).” (Bernhard W.
Anderson, Understanding the Old Testament, p. 248.)
(10-23) Hosea 7:8–9. How Is Ephraim a “Cake Not
Turned”?
Because Ephraim (the Northern Kingdom) had mixed
with other nations, worshiped their idols, and learned
their ways, she had only fulfilled half the requisites for
the conquest of Canaan, or she was only “half baked.”
“Israel had thereby become a cake not turned. [The
image in Hebrew is of] a cake baked upon hot ashes or
red-hot stones, which, if it be not turned, is burned at the
bottom, and not baked at all above. The meaning of this
figure is explained by ver. 9. As the fire will burn an
ash-cake when it is left unturned, so have foreigners
consumed the strength of Israel, partly by devastating
wars, and partly by the heathenish nature which has
penetrated into Israel in their train.” (Keil and Delitzsch,
Commentary, 10:1:107–8.)
(10-24) Hosea 7:11–13. What Were the Dangers of
Israel’s Entangling Alliances?
“We live at a time when the drums of war cause many
people . . . to debate whether or not we ought to make
108
alliances with other countries in self-defense. During
Hosea’s ministry there occurred conspiracies and other
internal disturbances that seriously weakened Israel
(2 Kings 15). In desperation the people alternately
sought aid from Assyria and Egypt, paying tribute to
both, with the result that they lost their independence
and national autonomy, being forced to accept vassalage
to Assyria. Hosea warned the nation of its folly
in seeking alliances with foreign nations. Political
alliances would not remedy the real cause of their
trouble—moral disease and rebellion against God.
Hosea doubtless believed that God would protect His
own if they but trusted Him.
“‘And Ephraim is become like a silly dove, without
understanding; They call unto Egypt, they go to
Assyria.’ (7:11)
“Hosea wanted his people to avoid making covenants
with nations whose sole reliance was on force. Let the
big nations fight their own wars; little nations that
elected to mix up with them were sure to be worsted.
The big nations, furthermore, had religious practices
that were utterly opposite to prophetic ideals. Their
immoralities, added to those already prevalent in Israel
would, in time, wreck the nation. So Israel would
spread the net of destruction over herself. Instead
of courting God’s love and protection, her courting of
the nations would only put her in a trap—and it did.”
(Sperry, Voice of Israel’s Prophets, pp. 285–86.)
(10-25) Hosea 7:14. Why Would the People Cry for
Corn and Wine?
When hardships come, some cry upon their beds.
Rather than pray to God with all their heart, they look
for corn and wine—something to take away the hurt.
They do not seek that which brings the Lord’s help.
(10-26) Hosea 7:16. A Deceitful Bow
A “deceitful bow” is one that flies back to its curved
position while the archer is stringing it or breaks while
he has it drawn. In either case, the archer can be
wounded.
(10-27) Hosea 8:8–9. A Wild Ass
A wild ass is one of the most independent and
unreliable beasts on earth. Because Israel wanted to go
her own way and be alone, she was likened to a wild ass.
She would go alone into Assyria and be swallowed up
by the Gentiles. The “lovers” hired by Ephraim represent
her continued attempt to find security and friends
through political alliances rather than through
obedience to God.
(10-28) Hosea 8:13; 9:3, 6. Egypt
Egypt was the land of the first captivity—between
the times of Joseph and Moses. The word here refers to
captivity or bondage in general; thus, Assyria is the
new Egypt.
(10-29) Hosea 9:7. Why Did Hosea Say the “Prophet Is
a Fool”?
Hosea was referring to false prophets who were
saying that all was well in Israel and that their
enemies would not come against them.
(10-30) Hosea 9:10–17. The Imagery of Hosea
Hosea used several figurative expressions that ancient
Israel would clearly understand but which are not
clearly understood by modern readers.
Grapes in the wilderness; first ripe fruit of the fig (v. 10).
Both grapes and figs were viewed as choice fruits by
the people anciently. Jehovah found Israel, at first, a
delightful thing.
Baal-peor (v. 10). Another way of saying the people
were committing immoral acts (see Numbers 25:1–3;
Psalm 106:28).
Ephraim’s glory flies away (v. 11). The Northern
Kingdom shall see no conception, no pregnancy, no
birth—Ephraim will be left totally desolate.
Have children but be bereaved (v. 12). Even their
grown-up sons shall be cut off.
Ephraim and Tyre (Tyrus) (v. 13). Tyre was renowned
for its glory and splendor. God had chosen Ephraim
for similar blessings, but because of their wickedness
they would be barren.
Gilgal (v. 15). See Notes and Commentary on Hosea
4:15.
The princes are revolters (v. 15). See Notes and
Commentary on Hosea 5:1–2.
(10-31) Hosea 10:12. How Can Israel or Any Child of
God Obtain Mercy?
“Mercy is not showered [indiscriminately] upon
mankind, except in the general sense that it is manifest
in the creation and peopling of the earth and in the
granting of immortality to all men as a free gift. Rather,
mercy is granted (because of the grace, love, and
condescension of God), as it is with all blessings, to
those who comply with the law upon which its receipt
is predicated. (D. & C. 130:20–21.) That law is the law
of righteousness; those who sow righteousness, reap mercy.
(Hos. 10:12.) There is no promise of mercy to the wicked;
rather, as stated in the Ten Commandments, the Lord
promises to show mercy unto thousands of them that
love him and keep his commandments. (Ex. 20:6; Dan.
9:4; D. & C. 70:18.)” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 484.)
admonished in these words: ‘For if you will that I give
unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare
yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded
you and required of you’ (D&C 78:7). If you want a
celestial life, you will have to plant celestial seeds. Pure
religion comes from God. If you want pure religion in
your life, you must plant the gospel of Jesus Christ in
your heart. Remember, ‘As a man thinketh in his heart,
so is he.’ If you think as a celestial being, you will be a
celestial being. If you think as a child of God should
think, you will be a member of his celestial family.”
(“Be Worthy of Celestial Exaltation,” in Speeches of the
Year, 1974, pp. 386–87.)
(10-33) Hosea 10:14. Who Was Shalman?
Shalman may be Shalmaneser and Beth-arbel may
be the Armenian city Arbela, which Shalmaneser
destroyed while still a general under Tiglath-pileser
(see Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible . . . with a Commentary
and Critical Notes, 4:645).
(10-34) Hosea 11:1. Israel’s Coming out of Egypt
Matthew saw the emergence of Israel from Egypt as
a type or pattern of Jesus’ coming out of Egypt (see
Matthew 2:15). When the Israelites were humble, God
could work miracles with them. (See also Hosea 12:13.)
(10-35) Hosea 11:4. “As They That Take off the Yoke”
“This is an agricultural simile, and refers to the custom
of raising the yoke from the neck and cheeks of the oxen
so that they can more readily eat their food. Henderson
says: ‘The ol, yoke, not only included the piece of wood
on the neck by which the animal was fastened to the
pole, but also the whole of the harness about the head
which was connected with it. The yokes used in the East
(10-32) Hosea 10:12–13. The Law of the Harvest
If one plants or does works of righteousness, he
reaps mercy and the blessings of obedience (see D&C
130:20–21). If one plants wickedness, he reaps iniquity.
What one gets is the result of what one does. What one
does is a result of where one puts one’s trust. We can
trust God, or power, or friends, or money; but what
we receive will depend on what we trusted (see also
Hosea 8:7).
Elder Bernard P. Brockbank counseled college
students: “If you sow seeds of righteousness, you will
harvest righteousness. If you sow thorns and corruption,
you will reap thorns and corruption. A prophet of the
Lord said, ‘For they have sown the wind, and they
shall reap the whirlwind’ (Hosea 8:7). If you sow seeds
of purity, you will harvest purity. If you sow seeds of
petting, immorality, and promiscuity, you will harvest
destruction to your godlike attributes. If you sow
seeds of pure love, you will receive pure love. If you
love God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind, you will reap God’s love. If
you would obtain celestial glory, you must plant into
your heart and character God’s heavenly ways. Jesus
A yoke for oxen
are very heavy, and press so much upon the animals
that they are unable to bend their necks.’ . . .
“Compare this statement with what Jesus says about
his yoke in Matthew [11:28–30].” (James M. Freeman,
Manners and Customs of the Bible, p. 317.)
(10-36) Hosea 12:1. Feeding on the Wind
“Feeding on the wind” (see Hosea 12:1) is believing
that which has not truth or substance. Carrying oil into
Egypt (see v. 1) represents the attempt to get protection
through tribute from an alliance with Egypt.
109
(10-37) Hosea 13:13–14. What Are the Analogies in
These Verses?
The travailing woman is Israel, and “as there is a
critical time in parturition [the process of giving birth]
in which the mother in hard labour may by skillful
assistants be eased of her burden, which, if neglected,
may endanger the life both of parent and child; so there
was a time in which Ephraim might have returned to
God, but they would not; therefore they are now in
danger of being finally destroyed.” (Clarke,
Commentary, 4:651.)
Hosea 13:14 uses the figures of resurrection as a
metaphor that promises the gathering and restoration
of Israel. The “dry bones” metaphor in Ezekiel 37:1–14
conveys the same message. The fact that the resurrection
is symbolic of the gathering of Israel does not diminish
the usefulness of these passages in proving that the
resurrection was a firm doctrine among the Israelites.
In fact, just the opposite is true; for a metaphor of this
type loses its force if the type or figure used is not real.
At the end of Hosea 13:14, the Lord says “repentance
shall be hid from mine eyes.” This could mean that
the Lord will not swerve in His purpose even though
Israel may cry out for deliverance. When the grave is
conquered, however, and the judgments rendered,
there will be no more sin; hence, no more repentance
because all will be assigned to a kingdom whose laws
they can obey.
(10-38) Hosea 14:2. “The Calves of Our Lips”
This verse deals with one’s resolves to do better. To
present the sincere prayers of one’s lips as an offering
to the Lord was as precious as the best offerings in the
Mosaic law, which were young oxen or bullocks; hence,
“the calves of our lips.”
POINTS TO PONDER
(10-39) Concepts Taught in Hosea
Some individual verses in Hosea, because of the
symbolism, contain whole concepts or sermons. Listed
below are some examples for your consideration. Read
them and underline the ones you like in your Bible. Try
to understand their symbolic meaning. Commit some
to memory to use as a spiritual thought or short sermon.
Hosea 6:1. “Come, and let us return unto the Lord:
for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten,
and he will bind us up.”
Hosea 6:4. “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O
Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as
a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.”
Hosea 8:7. “For they have sown the wind, and they
shall reap the whirlwind.”
Hosea 10:13. “Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have
reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because
thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy
mighty men.”
Hosea 11:1. “When Israel was a child, then I loved
him, and called my son out of Egypt.”
Hosea 11:8. “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?
how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee
as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart
is turned within me, my repentings are kindled
together.” (Emphasis added. Note God’s agony over
the impending captivity.)
110
Hosea 13:4. “Yet I am the Lord thy God from the
land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for
there is no saviour beside me.”
Hosea 13:9. “Oh Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself;
but in me is thine help.”
Hosea 14:1. “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God;
for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.”
Hosea 14:5. “I will be as the dew unto Israel.” (In a
land of little rain, dew gives life to the desert as God’s
love gives life to us.)
(10-40) Gomer and Hosea: A Story of Hope
In the book of Hosea we can see two applications for
the symbols Hosea and Gomer. We can think of each as
having been living people, or we can apply the second
analogy where Hosea represents God and Gomer
represents a nation—Israel. The second representation
illustrates God’s love for an unfaithful people, while
the first application has a personal message of comfort
and encouragement for you to remain faithful to your
covenants and promises.
Review the two suggested applications of Hosea’s
message and see if Hosea and Gomer’s experiences are
like those of someone you know.
(10-41) Dealing with Betrayal
The modern world entices people as it did in the days
of Hosea to worship at the shrine of pleasure. Because
the sin is as enticing as ever, many people give into
temptation. Someone you know well may betray your
trust. What can compare to the hurt that accompanies
betrayed trusts, friendships, confidences, and even
covenants? Feelings of bitterness, revenge, pride, and
withdrawal are immediately experienced.
How could Hosea still have loved Gomer? How could
God still have loved Israel? How could Jesus have said,
“Forgive them; for they know not what they do”?
(Luke 23:34). How can you still love someone who has
betrayed you?
Dealing with the feelings that come with betrayal may
be one of the greatest trials of your life. Humility must
replace pride; charity, revenge; hope, despair; faith, fear.
These trials may require your greatest prayers as you
seek to forgive someone who has betrayed you.
(10-42) Hope for You in the Story of Gomer
God loves you, no matter what you have ever done
to hurt or disappoint Him, and He has provided a way
for you to return to Him. The story of Gomer clearly
shows God’s love for you. Even when you break His
commandments and your life seems to fall apart, God’s
greatest desire is to see you repent and come back to
receive the happiness of a good life.
The world today exhibits many of the same social ills
that existed in Gomer’s time. Perhaps in the past you
have forgotten covenants in order to respond to the
promises and flattery of the world. Now you know the
longing to be loved and trusted again. For you, the story
of Gomer testifies of hope and a Redeemer who longs
to have you restored to the close relationship you once
had with Him (see Hosea 3:1–2). Her story is a promise
that if you will return “home” and prove your repentance
and faithfulness (see Hosea 3:3–4), then all that you
desire will be restored to you (see Hosea 2:19–23).
Enduring or overcoming trials in proving your
repentance and faithfulness will require your greatest
efforts in prayer and acts of obedience to God’s laws.
Enrichment
D
The Assyrian
Conquest and the
Lost Tribes
(D-1) Assyria: Masters of War
(D-2) The Standardization of Terror
In 721 B.C. Assyria swept out of the north, captured
the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and took the ten
tribes into captivity. From there they became lost to
history.
Assyria, named for the god Ashur (highest in
the pantheon of Assyrian gods), was located in the
Mesopotamian plain. It was bordered on the west by
the Syrian desert, on the south by Babylonia, and on
the north and east by the Persian and Urarthian hills
(see J. D. Douglas, ed., The Illustrated Bible Dictionary,
s.v. “Assyria,” 1:137). This area today is primarily the
nation of Iraq.
Perhaps the earliest inhabitants of the area were the
Subareans, who were joined later by the Sumerians.
In the third millennium B.C. came the Semites who
eventually merged with the Subareans and Sumerians.
“They took their common language and their arts
from Sumeria, but modified them later into an almost
undistinguishable similarity to the language and arts of
Babylonia. Their circumstances, however, forbade them
to indulge in the effeminate ease of Babylon; from
beginning to end they were a race of warriors, mighty
in muscle and courage, abounding in proud hair and
beard, standing straight, stern and solid on their
monuments, and bestriding with tremendous feet the
east-Mediterranean world. Their history is one of
kings and slaves, wars and conquests, bloody victories
and sudden defeat.” (Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage,
The Story of Civilization, 1:266.)
Assyria’s ascent as a formidable power in the Near
East was due in large measure to strong kings who
increased her borders and subjected other nations as
tributaries. Assyria first became an independent nation
between 1813 and 1781 B.C. under Shamshi-Adad (see
LaMar C. Berrett, Discovering the World of the Bible,
p. 180). Other powerful kings who left their mark
on Assyrian history included Tiglath-pileser I
(1115–1077 B.C.), Ashurnasirpal II (883–859 B.C.),
Shalmaneser III (858–824 B.C.), Shamshi-Adad V
(824–811 B.C.), Tiglath-pileser III (744–727 B.C.),
Shalmaneser V (726–722 B.C.), Sargon II (721–705 B.C.),
Sennacherib (704–681 B.C.), Esarhaddon (680–669 B.C.),
and Ashurbanipal (668–627 B.C.) (see Berrett, World of
the Bible, p. 180; see also Douglas, Illustrated Bible
Dictionary, s.v. “Assyria,” 1:139).
Under these kings Assyria reached its greatest apex
of power, controlling the area that included not only
Assyria but also Babylonia, Armenia, Media, Judea,
Syria, Phoenicia, Sumeria, Elam, and Egypt. This empire
“was without doubt the most extensive administrative
organization yet seen in the Mediterranean or Near
Eastern world; only Hammurabi and Thutmose III had
approached it, and Persia alone would equal it before
the coming of Alexander” (Durant, Our Oriental
Heritage, 1:270).
The most vital part of the Assyrian government was
its army. Warfare was a science to the leaders of Assyria.
Infantry, chariots, cavalry (introduced by Ashurnasirpal
to aid the infantry and chariots), sappers, armor made
from iron, siege machines, and battering rams were all
developed or perfected by the Assyrians. Strategy and
tactics were also well understood by the Assyrian
officers. (See Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 1:270–71.)
But it was not just Assyrian effectiveness in warfare
that struck terror to the hearts of the Near Eastern
world. They were savage and brutal as well.
“A captured city was usually plundered and burnt
to the ground, and its site was deliberately denuded
by killing its trees. The loyalty of the troops was secured
by dividing a large part of the spoils among them;
their bravery was ensured by the general rule of the
Near East that all captives in war might be enslaved
or slain. Soldiers were rewarded for every severed
head they brought in from the field, so that the
aftermath of a victory generally witnessed the wholesale
decapitation of fallen foes. Most often the prisoners,
who would have consumed much food in a long
campaign, and would have constituted a danger and
nuisance in the rear, were dispatched after the battle;
they knelt with their backs to their captors, who beat
their heads in with clubs, or cut them off with cutlasses.
Scribes stood by to count the number of prisoners
taken and killed by each soldier, and apportioned the
booty accordingly; the king, if time permitted, presided
at the slaughter. The nobles among the defeated were
given more special treatment: their ears, noses, hands
and feet were sliced off, or they were thrown from
high towers, or they and their children were beheaded,
or flayed alive, or roasted over a slow fire. . . .
“In all departments of Assyrian life we meet with a
patriarchal sternness natural to a people that lived by
conquest, and in every sense on the border of barbarism.
Just as the Romans took thousands of prisoners into
lifelong slavery after their victories, and dragged
others to the Circus Maximus to be torn to pieces by
starving animals, so the Assyrians seemed to find
satisfaction—or a necessary tutelage for their sons—in
torturing captives, blinding children before the eyes of
their parents, flaying men alive, roasting them in kilns,
chaining them in cages for the amusement of the
populace, and then sending the survivors off to
execution. Ashurnasirpal tells how ‘all the chiefs who
had revolted I flayed, with their skins I covered the
pillar, some in the midst I walled up, others on stakes
I impaled, still others I arranged around the pillar on
stakes. . . . As for the chieftains and royal officers who
had rebelled, I cut off their members.’ Ashurbanipal
boasts that ‘I burned three thousand captives with fire,
I left not a single one among them alive to serve as a
hostage.’ Another of his inscriptions reads: ‘These
King Ashurbanipal of Assyria
113
warriors who had sinned against Ashur and had
plotted evil against me . . . from their hostile mouths
have I torn their tongues, and I have compassed their
destruction. As for the others who remained alive, I
offered them as a funerary sacrifice; . . . their lacerated
members have I given unto the dogs, the swine, the
wolves. . . . By accomplishing these deeds I have rejoiced
the heart of the great gods.’ Another monarch instructs
his artisans to engrave upon the bricks these claims on
the admiration of posterity: ‘My war chariots crush men
and beasts. . . . The monuments which I erect are made
of human corpses from which I have cut the head and
limbs. I cut off the hands of all those whom I capture
alive.’ Reliefs at Nineveh show men being impaled or
flayed, or having their tongues torn out; one shows a
king gouging out the eyes of prisoners with a lance
while he holds their heads conveniently in place with
a cord passed through their lips.” (Durant, Our Oriental
Heritage, 1:271, 275–76.)
(D-3) Assyria Came to the Land of Israel
The prophet Isaiah warned Israel that if they did not
repent, the Lord would use Assyria as “the rod of mine
anger” (Isaiah 10:5). Assyria was at the height of its
power, and its reputation for terror and brutality should
have been sufficient to turn Israel back to their
God, but they would not heed. Under the reign of
Tiglath-pileser II, Assyria began consolidating its power
in the western part of the empire. Around 738 B.C. he
demanded and received tribute from Damascus, the
capital of Syria, and Samaria, the capital of Israel (see
2 Kings 15:19–20). But four years later, the two Syrian
states rebelled, and once again Tiglath-pileser moved in.
Damascus was conquered, as was part of the territory
of the Northern Kingdom, and the people were carried
off into captivity (see 2 Kings 15:29).
It seems to have been Tiglath-pileser who originated
large-scale deportations of conquered peoples. By
deporting a conquered people en masse to a foreign land,
Tiglath-pileser hoped to break their unity and destroy
their national identity (see The Interpreter’s Dictionary
of the Bible, s.v. “Assyria and Babylonia,” 1:272).
The practice of large deportations continued
under Shalmaneser and later Sargon II, successors to
Tiglath-pileser who also played an important role in
the history of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Because
of the revolt of Hoshea, king of Israel, Shalmaneser laid
siege to Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom.
The siege lasted three years, during which time
Shalmaneser died and was succeeded by Sargon II.
Sargon II finally destroyed Samaria and carried the
survivors captive into Assyria (see 2 Kings 17:1–6), thus
ending the history of Israel in the Old Testament and
setting the stage for the loss of the ten northern tribes.
Not long after the destruction of the Northern
Kingdom (Israel), the Southern Kingdom (Judah) was
also threatened with destruction by Assyria. Sennacherib,
successor to Sargon II, attacked Judah during the reign
of King Hezekiah and destroyed most of her principal
cities. Through the intervention of the Lord, however,
Sennacherib was unable to capture Jerusalem (see
Notes and Commentary on 2 Kings 19:35). Having
failed to conquer Judah, Sennacherib returned home to
Nineveh, capital of Assyria at the time.
114
(D-4) Assyria Passed from the Scene
Nineveh, the city in which Jonah had preached
repentance, was the last capital of the Assyrian
Empire (Ashur and Calah were the first two capitals).
Sennacherib rebuilt the city, strengthened its walls,
and built a canal system to bring water into it. But
Zephaniah and Nahum both prophesied that Nineveh
would be destroyed (see Zephaniah 2:13–15; Nahum 3).
The destruction of Nineveh in 612 B.C. fulfilled the
words of these two Old Testament prophets.
The Assyrian Empire, too, was destroyed, in part
because, as Durant noted, “the qualities of body and
character that had helped to make the Assyrian armies
invincible were weakened by the very victories that
they won; in each victory it was the strongest and
bravest who died, while the infirm and cautious
survived to multiply their kind; it was a dysgenic
[biologically defective] process that perhaps made for
civilization by weeding out the more brutal types, but
undermined the biological basis upon which Assyria
had risen to power. The extent of her conquests had
helped to weaken her; not only had they depopulated
her fields to feed insatiate Mars [the god of war], but
they had brought into Assyria, as captives, millions
of destitute aliens who bred with the fertility of the
hopeless, destroyed all national unity of character and
blood, and became by their growing numbers a hostile
and disintegrating force in the very midst of the
conquerors. More and more the army itself was filled
by these men of other lands, while semi-barbarous
marauders harassed every border, and exhausted the
resources of the country in an endless defense of its
unnatural frontiers.” (Our Oriental Heritage, 1:283.)
Finally, under Nabopolassar, the Chaldeans and
Babylonians drove the Assyrians out of Babylonia in
625 B.C. The Medes and Babylonians then united and
captured Ashur in 614 B.C. Two years later Nineveh,
capital of Assyria itself, fell. With the destruction of
Assyria, Babylon became the world empire that all
countries in the Near East feared and paid tribute to.
(D-5) What Became of the Tribes of Israel?
How long Israel remained in Assyria after they had
been carried away captive by Sargon II is not known.
It is likely that many accepted the life and culture of
their captors and lost their identity. They had gone into
captivity because of their extreme wickedness, so it
would not be surprising to find them accepting the
pagan culture of the Assyrians. One of the books of the
Apocrypha, however, records that one group of the
captives saw that their captivity was the result of their
own wickedness and sought the Lord in repentance
(see Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Apocrypha”). The Lord
heeded their cries and led them away into the north
countries.
In the Apocrypha, Esdras describes the following
vision: “But they took this counsel among themselves,
that they would leave the multitude of the heathen,
and go forth into a further country, where never
mankind dwelt, that they might there keep their
statutes, which they never kept in their own land. And
they entered into Euphrates by the narrow passages of
the river. For the most High then shewed signs for
them, and held still the flood, till they were passed
over. For through that country there was a great way to
go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region is
called Arsareth. Then dwelt they there until the latter
time.” (2 Esdras 13:41–46.)
Elder George Reynolds commented on the direction
of the travels of the tribes of Israel: “They determined
to go to a country ‘where never man dwelt,’ that they
might be free from all contaminating influences. That
country could only be found in the north. Southern
Asia was already the seat of a comparatively ancient
civilization; Egypt flourished in northern Africa; and
southern Europe was rapidly filling with the future
rulers of the world. They had therefore no choice but
to turn their faces northward. The first portion of their
journey was not however north; according to the
account of Esdras, they appear to have at first moved
in the direction of their old home; and it is possible
that they originally started with the intention of
returning thereto; or probably, in order to deceive the
Assyrians, they started as if to return to Canaan, and
when they crossed the Euphrates and were out of
danger from the hosts of Medes and Persians, then
they turned their journeying feet toward the polar
star.” (In James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, p. 512.)
The account in Esdras is supported by what the
Savior taught the Nephites, for He said the lost tribes
had been “led away out of the land” by the Father
(3 Nephi 15:15). Elder Reynolds’s explanation takes
into account the numerous prophecies that indicate
that when the ten lost tribes return, they will come
out of the north (see, for example, Jeremiah 3:18; 16:15;
31:8; D&C 110:11; 133:26). Where they went is not known,
and this fact has led to much speculation about their
present whereabouts. The Lord has not seen fit to
reveal their location, however, and until He does so, it
is useless to try to identify their present locality.
Certain things about this intriguing group have
been revealed through latter-day scriptures and the
writings of living prophets. These are discussed below
(see 3 Nephi 15:15).
(D-6) The Return of the Ten Tribes
The prophets of old saw that in the last dispensation,
the dispensation of the fulness of times, would come
a complete gathering and restoration of the house of
Israel. With the organization of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints on 6 April 1830, this great
restoration began. The ensign (see Isaiah 11:12) has
been unfolded to the nations, and Israel is invited by
her King to gather again in preparation for the great
day when He will personally reign in their midst.
At a conference held 3–6 June 1831 in Kirtland, Ohio,
the Prophet Joseph Smith explained that John the
Beloved was then ministering among the lost tribes of
Israel, preparing them for their return to again possess
the lands of their fathers (see History of the Church, 1:176;
D&C 77:14). Five years later, Moses appeared in the
Kirtland Temple to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery
and committed to them the keys of the priesthood for
“the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth,
and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the
north” (D&C 110:11). It is apparent from this passage
that though the main body of ten of the tribes is lost,
there are representatives of all twelve tribes scattered
throughout the earth. This statement can be explained
as follows:
1. When Assyria attacked the Northern Kingdom,
many fled to the safety of the Southern Kingdom.
2. When the Lord led Israel out of Assyria, some
remained behind (see Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 325).
3. As the ten tribes traveled north, some stopped
along the way—many possibly being scattered
throughout Europe and Asia.
4. From time to time the Lord has led groups of
Israelites into other areas of the earth: the Nephites
and the Mulekites being two such groups (see 1 Nephi
22:3–5). Concerning this scattering, Elder Joseph Fielding
Smith wrote: “One of the most interesting and significant
parables ever written is that revealed to Zenos and
recorded in the fifth chapter of Jacob in the Book of
Mormon. It is a parable of the scattering of Israel. If we
had the full key to the interpretation, then we would
have in detail how Israel was transplanted in all parts
of the earth.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:56–57.)
5. The scriptures teach that remnants of all the tribes
of Israel were scattered among the nations of the earth
and in the last days will be gathered out from among
these nations and from the four quarters of the earth.
The remnant known as the lost ten tribes will return as
a body out of the north countries. (See Deuteronomy
4:27; 28:29, 64; Jeremiah 16:14–15; 31:8; Ezekiel 11:15–17;
Hosea 9:16–17; Daniel 9:7; 1 Nephi 22:3–4; 19:16;
3 Nephi 5:23–24; 21:26–29; D&C 110:11; 133:26–32.)
The Doctrine and Covenants clearly foretells the time
when the prophets among these tribes will lead the
people back in a great and marvelous show of power
(see D&C 133:26–34). Jeremiah promised that so
marvelous would be this event that no longer would
God be called the Lord who led Israel out of Egypt but
the Lord who brought up the children of Israel from
the land of the north (see Jeremiah 16:14–15). The
appointed time will come when the lost tribes of Israel
will return to Zion to receive their blessings at the hands
of Ephraim. “This great gathering will take place under the
direction of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, for he holds the keys” (Bruce R. McConkie,
Mormon Doctrine, p. 458). The lost tribes, as well as all
others who want to be numbered in the house of Israel
and receive the blessings of the priesthood, must come
to Ephraim, who holds the birthright blessings (see
Genesis 48:15–22; 1 Chronicles 5:1–2; Jeremiah 31:9).
Elder Wilford Woodruff taught that when the ten
tribes returned, they would come to Ephraim to obtain
the priesthood as well as their endowments and sealings
(see Journal of Discourses, 4:231–32; 18:127). Elder Orson
Pratt stated: “God is determined to raise up Prophets
among that people, but he will not bestow upon them
all the fulness of the blessings of the Priesthood. The
fulness will be reserved to be given to them after they
come to Zion.” (In Journal of Discourses, 18:25.)
(D-7) The Lost Tribes to Come to Zion
When the ten tribes return, they will bring their rich
treasures to the children of Ephraim (see D&C 133:30).
Part of this rich treasure will be the records, which they
have kept all these centuries. In them will be found the
account of their miraculous escape from Assyria, their
journey into the land to the north, their history, their
prophets, and the appearance to them of the Savior
after His Resurrection (see 2 Nephi 29:12–13; 3 Nephi
16:1–3).
115
Elder James E. Talmage
In April conference of 1916, Elder James E. Talmage,
a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke of the
lost tribes and their records: “There is a tendency
among men to explain away what they don’t wish to
understand in literal simplicity, and we, as Latter-day
Saints are not entirely free from the taint of that
tendency. . . . Some people say that prediction is to be
explained in this way: A gathering is in progress, and
has been in progress from the early days of this Church;
and thus the ‘Lost Tribes’ are now being gathered; but
that we are not to look for the return of any body of
people now unknown as to their whereabouts. True,
the gathering is in progress, this is a gathering
dispensation; but the prophecy stands that the tribes
shall be brought forth from their hiding place . . . [and
their] scriptures shall become one with the scriptures
of the Jews, the holy Bible, and with the scriptures
of the Nephites, the Book of Mormon, and with the
scriptures of the Latter-day Saints as embodied in the
volumes of modern revelation.” (In Conference
Report, Apr. 1916, p. 130.)
Then in October conference Elder Talmage spoke
again of the lost tribes and made this remarkable
prediction: “The ten tribes shall come; they are not
lost unto the Lord; they shall be brought forth as hath
been predicted; and I say unto you there are those now
116
living—aye, some here present—who shall live to read the
records of the Lost Tribes of Israel, which shall be made
one with the record of the Jews, or the Holy Bible, and
the record of the Nephites, or the Book of Mormon,
even as the Lord hath predicted” (in Conference
Report, Oct. 1916, p. 76; emphasis added).
The ten tribes will remain in the land of Zion among
the tribe of Ephraim for some time. Elder Orson Pratt
explained: “How long will they who come from the
north countries tarry in the heights of Zion? Sometime.
They have got to raise wheat, cultivate the grape, wine
and oil, raise flocks and herds, and their souls will
have to become as a watered garden. They will dwell
in Zion a good while, and during that time, there will
be twelve thousand chosen out of each of these ten
tribes, besides twelve thousand that will be chosen
from Judah, Joseph, and the remaining tribes, one
hundred and forty-four thousand in all [see Revelation
7:4–8; D&C 77:11]. Chosen for what? To be sealed in
their foreheads. For what purpose? So that the power
of death and pestilence and plague that will go forth
in those days sweeping over the nations of the earth
will have no power over them. These parties who are
sealed in their foreheads will go forth among all people,
nations and tongues, and gather up and hunt out the
house of Israel, wherever they are scattered, and bring
as many as they possibly can into the Church of the
first-born, preparatory to the great day of the coming
of the Lord. One hundred and forty-four thousand
missionaries! Quite a host. All this has got to take
place.” (In Journal of Discourses, 18:25.)
The ten tribes, however, are to eventually receive
their land inheritance with Judah and not with Ephraim
(see Ether 13:11), and there will come a time after they
have received their priesthood blessings when they
will go to Jerusalem. In that day will be fulfilled the
statement of Jeremiah: “In those days the house of
Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they
shall come together out of the land of the north to the
land that I have given for an inheritance unto your
fathers” (Jeremiah 3:18).
Elder Orson Pratt stated further: “By and by, when
all things are prepared—when the Jews have received
their scourging, and Jesus has descended upon the
Mount of Olives, the ten tribes will leave Zion, and
will go to Palestine, to inherit the land that was given
to their ancient fathers, and it will be divided amongst
the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the
inspiration of the Holy Ghost. They will go there to
dwell in peace in their own land from that time, until
the earth shall pass away. But Zion, after their departure,
will still remain upon the western hemisphere, and she
will be crowned with glory as well as old Jerusalem,
and, as the Psalmist David says, she will become
the joy of the whole earth. ‘Beautiful for situation is
Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the
great King.’” (In Journal of Discourses, 18:68.)
Micah
11
Promise of
Judgments, Promise
of Salvation
(11-1) Introduction
Several prophets with books in the Old Testament
were contemporaries or near contemporaries: Joel,
Amos, Hosea, and Micah. Micah was called by the
Lord to cry warning to Israel and Judah. As Nephi
wrote, none of the house of Israel had even been
destroyed “save it were foretold them by the prophets
of the Lord” (2 Nephi 25:9). The literal fulfillment of
that statement is shown in this period of Israel’s history.
In some ways the messages of these prophets were
similar, as one would expect, but they also have
differences. Sidney B. Sperry explained: “Since Micah
was a contemporary of Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos, the
problems he faced were much the same as theirs. . . .
Micah was not a statesman like Isaiah; consequently, he
was not so much concerned about his nation’s political
sins. The prophet was more like Amos in that his
grievances were social in character. He was especially
concerned with the attempts of the nobles to build up
large estates by ejecting small property owners. Corrupt
judges assisted their greedy friends in robbing the weak;
widows and orphans without means of defense were
deprived of their goods by force and oftentimes sold
into slavery. The common people were kept in bondage
through high taxation, and creditors were unmerciful
on their victims. Micah held the nobility to be responsible
for the terrible moral and social corruption among his
people. He likened the nobles to cannibals, who eat the
flesh of the people and chop their bones in pieces for
the pot. There was no end to their greed and rapacity,
and decisions were given to those who paid the largest
bribes.” (The Voice of Israel’s Prophets, pp. 334–35.)
Social and individual corruption and greed are
evidenced everywhere today. Though you are studying
the writings of a man who lived over twenty-five
hundred years ago, you will find his message
remarkably up-to-date.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study the book of Micah.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
MICAH
(11-2) Micah 1:1. Some Facts about Micah
“From the superscription of the Book of Micah it is
apparent that the prophet’s ministry was during reigns
of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. His
preaching, therefore, took place during the years from
approximately 740 B.C. to 697 B.C. We may assign to him
an approximate date of 725 B.C. This date reveals Micah
as a contemporary of the great Isaiah and possibly also
of Hosea and Amos.
“The name Micah is an abbreviation of Micaiah, as the
prophet is called in Jer. 26:18, which in turn is probably
a contraction of Mikayahu, ‘who is like unto Jehovah?’
The prophet is to be distinguished from the elder
prophet Micah, the son of Imlah (1 Kgs. 22:8 ff.), as well
as from ten other persons of the same name in the Old
Testament. The fact that Micah is called the Morashtite
would point strongly to his being a native of
Moresheth-Gath, which is mentioned in the text. (1:14)
The name of the town means Territory or Property of Gath
and seems to have been located in the Shephelah or low
hill region of Judea some twenty miles southwest of
Jerusalem. If our location of Moresheth is correct . . . it
commands a marvelous view of the surrounding country
and anciently must have been of considerable
importance. Micah was, therefore, a product of the
open hills and valleys and seems to have had no
special love for the cities. (1:5; 5:11; 6:9)” (Sperry, Voice
of Israel’s Prophets, p. 334.)
(11-3) Micah 1:4. “The Mountains Shall Be Molten
under Him”
Compare the language in Micah 1:4 with that of
Isaiah 64:1–2; 2 Peter 3:10; Doctrine and Covenants
101:23–25; 133:40–41.
(11-4) Micah 1:8–16. Judgments on Villages of Judah
Micah used word play to pronounce an indictment
against Judah (see Micah 1:8–16). The technique is
readily apparent in the Hebrew and can be
appreciated in this more-literal translation of Micah
1:10–14:
“Weep tears at Teartown (Bochim),
grovel in the dust at Dustown (Beth-ophrah)
fare forth stripped, O Fairtown (Saphir)!
Stirtown (Zaanan) dare not stir,
Beth-êsel . . .
And Maroth hopes in vain;
for doom descends from the Eternal
to the very gates of Jerusalem.
“To horse and drive away, O Horsetown (Lakhish)
O source of Sion’s sin,
where the crimes of Israel centre!
O maiden Sion, you must part with
Morêsheth of Gath;
and Israel’s kings are ever balked
at Balkton (Achzib).”
(James Moffatt, A New Translation of the Bible [1954],
p. 1009.)
119
The phrase “her wound is incurable” (v. 9) refers
to the wickedness of the Northern Kingdom. The
statement “it is come unto Judah” shows that the
spiritual sickness had spread to the Southern Kingdom
as well.
(11-5) Micah 2:1–11. What Added Indictment Did
Micah Lay at His People’s Feet?
Micah had strong feelings about the social injustices
of his day. He spoke here of those who “devise iniquity,
and work evil upon their beds” (Micah 2:1), probably
referring to those who lay awake at night thinking up
evil things to do. Then when daylight came, they put
their nighttime plots into action. One specific charge
seems to be against individuals in power who were
using their positions to acquire the land and property
of others as their own. Sperry wrote:
“Micah felt keenly the social injustices that plagued
Israel in his own day. Coming as he did, from the
country, he no doubt felt these wrongs more acutely
than he would had he come from the city. He could
not help but cast his invective [condemnations] at the
wealthy, greedy land grabbers, who descended upon
the rural districts and made the poor their debtors.
Even today, the agricultural communities in our own
nation could well take a leaf from Micah’s note book
and beware letting their properties go into the hands
of money lenders. . . .
“Micah was not so much concerned about the taking
of mere chattels [pieces of property]. What ground his
soul and made him righteously indignant was that
unscrupulous men were allowed to commit wrongs so
easily and put human beings in their power. Personal
independence was lost and the security of home and
family was put in the hands of a few capricious men.”
(Message of the Twelve Prophets, pp. 112–13.)
When prophets like Micah inveighed against these
evils, those spoken against replied: “Prophesy ye not”
(Micah 2:6). Their reply only caused Micah to renew his
accusations against them. To these money-and-landhungry pirates he said, “Ye pull off the robe with the
garment” and “the women of my people have ye cast out
from their pleasant houses” (vv. 8–9). Sperry explained:
“Such preaching on the part of Micah does not please
the corrupt great men, for they imagine that his threats
are irreconcilable with the goodness of the Lord.
Micah interposes (verse 7) by pointing out that God is
not wrathful and has no love for chastening, but that
He is stirred up to anger by the nation’s sins and is
obliged to punish. When the prophet has overthrown
(verses 7–9) the objections to his prophecies by pointing
out the transgressions of the people, he repeats the
prediction of punishment in the form of a summons
to Israel (verse 10) to depart out of the land because
it cannot bear uncleanness and abominations. To this
Micah adds the point that the people only want to
hear predictions of good, that they would rather hear
the lies of false prophets who pursue the wind (i.e.,
emptiness and nothingness) than to be impelled by the
Spirit of the Lord.
“‘If a man walking in the wind and falsehood do lie:
“I will preach into thee of wine and of strong
drink”;
He shall even be the preacher of this people.’”
(Message of the Twelve Prophets, pp. 113–14.)
120
(11-6) Micah 2:12–13. The Future Gathering of Israel
Promised
After he castigated the false prophets for telling the
people all was well, Micah prophesied salvation. This
prophecy concerns a people who had been scourged
because of iniquity, and only a remnant remained of
the once mighty house of Israel. Micah foretold a
miraculous growth as the people were gathered. He
used the illustration of the sheep-rich area of Bozrah
to illustrate how the people will become mighty.
He compared their scattered condition to a form
of imprisonment and foretold a Savior and Redeemer
who would break the prison walls and lead the people
to the promised land.
(11-7) Micah 3:1–3. Who Were the “Heads of Jacob”?
Micah, referring to the iniquity that lay before him,
spoke to the “heads of Jacob” (Micah 3:1), or the
current rulers of the house of Israel. He accused them
of hating good and loving evil, and he likened them
and their use of administrative powers to a group of
cannibals who eat the flesh and break the bones of
their own people (see Micah 3:2–3)—vivid imagery
that seared in its condemnation of their wickedness.
(11-8) Micah 3:4–12. What Did Micah Mean by the
“Prophets Who Make My People Err”?
Continually encountered throughout the Old
Testament are true and false prophets. The true
prophets speak the word of God; the false prophets
speak the pleasant but often untrue things that
people like to hear. Sperry wrote: “It seems that
in the generation of Amos and Micah the leaders
of Israel—tyrants would be a better name—used
professional prophets and seers to cloak their misdeeds.
Religion, unfortunately, lends itself, or rather its cloak,
very easily to the uses of the hypocrite. So the rich and
unscrupulous leaders of Israel found it easy—for a
price—to hire professional religionists to cover their
actions by flattery and falsehood. The hireling prophet
depended upon his rich clients for a living. He could
not, therefore, be independent in his thinking and in
his judgment. He was high-pressured into siding with
the rich, and consequently shut his eyes to the real
conditions among the people. Naturally he could not
attack the sins of the day that made it possible for his
clients to exploit Israel’s common people.” (Message of
the Twelve Prophets, pp. 116–17.)
Micah, a true prophet of God, did not speak pleasant
words to Israel when evil was to be denounced.
He accused the heads of the country as judging “for
reward,” the priests, or religious leaders, of teaching
“for hire,” and the prophets of divining, or prophesying,
for money (Micah 3:11). Using these false religionists
allowed the leaders to rationalize, to think that they
were relying on the Lord, and to say, “Is not the Lord
among us? None evil can come upon us” (Micah 3:11).
What, then, Micah asked, would be the result?
When these false prophets prophesied their lies, true
prophecy would cease throughout the land and gross
apostasy would set in. What better way is there to
describe this deplorable condition than to compare it
to a night without vision or a day without light? (See
v. 6.) When men cry unto God, “he will not hear them”
(v. 4). As a result, “there is no answer from God” (v. 7).
NEW
JERUSALEM
JERUSALEM
The two Jerusalems of latter-day Zion
(11-9) Micah 4:1–2. What Special Meaning Do These
Verses Have for Latter-day Saints?
President Harold B. Lee gave the following
commentary on these verses:
“With the coming of the pioneers to establish the
Church in the tops of the mountains, our early leaders
declared this to be the beginning of the fulfillment of
the prophecy that out of Zion should go forth the law
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
“I have often wondered what that expression meant,
that out of Zion should go forth the law. Years ago I
went with the Brethren to the Idaho Falls Temple, and
I heard in that inspired prayer of the First Presidency
a definition of the meaning of that term—‘out of Zion
shall go forth the law.’ Note what they said:
“‘We thank thee that thou hast revealed to us
that those who gave us our constitutional form of
government were wise in thy sight and that thou didst
raise them up for the very purpose of putting forth that
sacred document [as revealed in Doctrine and Covenants
101]. . . . We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples
of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the
blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason
of their freedom under thy guidance and be
constrained to adopt similar governmental systems,
thus to fulfill the ancient prophecy of Isaiah and Micah
that “. . . out of Zion shall go forth the law and the
word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”’ (Improvement Era,
Oct. 1945, p. 504.)
“The history of nations records the efforts of statesmen
to adopt these basic principles as the basis of sound
fundamental structures. I have often speculated as to
the meaning of the Lord’s injunction to our early leaders,
not only to keep his commandments, but also to assist in
bringing forth his work according to his commandments,
with the promise that they would then be blessed.
Also, they were to seek to bring forth and to establish
Zion. All of this emphasized what the Church was told
by the Lord in another revelation. He said, ‘For if you
will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world,
you must prepare yourselves by doing the things
which I have commanded you and required of you.’
(D&C 78:7.)
“You will note that it was not merely enough to be
good; all must also be willing to bring forth his work
and to bring forth and establish Zion. This meant to
work and labor with all one’s might, mind, and strength
if he would obtain a place in the celestial world.
“Many people, so these prophets said, would say,
‘Show me your path, that we may walk in your way.’”
(In Conference Report, Manchester England Area
Conference 1971, pp. 138–39.)
(11-10) Micah 4:8–13. If Jerusalem Is Overthrown and
Her People Scattered, How Will She Then Become
Great?
Micah used the figure of travail or childbirth to
illustrate that Judah would bring upon herself the pain
out of which would eventually come a new life
in the Lord. Shortly she would be driven from her city
and find herself a captive of Babylon. This prophecy is
amazing because Assyria was mistress of the world in
Micah’s day, Babylon being only a province of Assyria.
This part of Micah’s vision projected nearly 130 years
into the future, but time is nothing to a prophet. Then,
looking several millennia into the future, Micah saw
Israel return in the strength of God. Using the symbol
of horns like iron and hooves like brass, he predicted
that Israel would trample her enemies as easily as an
ox threshes grain.
This passage has great significance for Latter-day
Saints because Jesus referred to it when He visited the
Nephites. After speaking of the gathering of Israel in
the latter days, Jesus used Micah’s prophecy to depict
the kind of destruction that awaited the Gentiles of
that period if they did not repent (see 3 Nephi
20:17–21).
121
(11-11) Micah 5:1–4. “But Thou, Beth-lehem, . . . out of
Thee Shall He Come . . . That Is to Be Ruler in Israel”
This is one of the best-known messianic prophecies
in the Old Testament. It is, in fact, the one quoted by
Matthew in the New Testament as having been fulfilled
in the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Ephratah is
simply an additional name to distinguish the Bethlehem
in Judah from another Bethlehem in the land assigned
to the tribe of Zebulun (see Joshua 19:15). The prophecy
was fulfilled, of course, when Jesus was born in
Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king
(see Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:1–20).
Ironically, this prophecy was used by some of the
Jews to try to disprove that Jesus was the Messiah. Not
knowing that he was born in Bethlehem but thinking
he was from Nazareth, these people cited Micah to
show that Jesus could not be the Messiah (see John
7:40–43).
(11-12) Micah 5:5–15. Will Israel Become Powerful?
Still looking into the far distant future, Micah
prophesied of the great last battles through which
Israel, under Christ, will at last triumph over all
enemies. “In this relation the Messiah is called the
Prince of peace in [Isaiah 9:5], as securing peace for
Israel in a higher and more perfect sense than Solomon.
But in what manner? This is explained more fully in
what follows: viz. (1) by defending Israel against the
attacks of the imperial power (vers. 5b, 6); (2) by
exalting it into a power able to overcome the nations
(vers. 7–9); and (3) by exterminating all the materials
of war, and everything of an idolatrous nature, and so
preventing the possibility of war (vers. 10–15). Asshur
is a type [symbol] of the nations of the world by which
the people of the Lord are attacked, because in the
time of the prophet this power was the imperial power
by which Israel was endangered. Against this enemy
Israel will set up seven, yea eight princes, who,
under the chief command of the Messiah, i.e. as His
subordinates, will drive it back, and press victoriously
into its land. . . . Seven is mentioned as the number
of the works proceeding from God, so that seven
shepherds, i.e. princes, would be quite sufficient; and
this number is surpassed by the eight, to express the
thought that there might be even more than were
required.” (C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on
the Old Testament, 10:1:486–87.)
When Christ appeared to the Nephites, He quoted
this prophecy of Micah (compare 3 Nephi 21:12–21
and Micah 5:8–15) to stress the power that would be
upon Israel as the Lord gathered them out from the
nations and by them purified those Gentiles who
would hear His word. Those who would not hear His
word and opposed His work would be cut off and
trodden down.
(11-13) Micah 6:6–8. A Summary of What the Lord
Requires of His Children
The laws of God can all be summarized, as Micah
did in verses 6–8, in three words: keep the commandments!
Micah said in these verses that sin is the breaking of a
divine law and that the offering of blood sacrifices
could have no effect in remitting sin unless there was
also a change of heart.
122
“It is true that under the Law of Moses the Lord
required sacrifice and other ritualistic practices, but
they were all symbolic of principles that were to lead
His people to higher and better things. But Israel’s
worship had become formalized and the wickedness
of the people had rendered their ritual unacceptable
to God.
“Micah conveyed to the people the fundamental
requirements of true religion in an answer that is one
of the noblest of all time.
“‘It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, And
what the Lord doth require of thee: Only to do justly,
and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.’
“In these few lines Micah has summed up the
essence of the teachings of the prophets. They were
coined in the same spirit as the lines of the Christ
when He said:
“‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the great and first commandment. A second is
like it, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.’”
(Sperry, Message of the Twelve Prophets, pp. 125–26.)
(11-14) Micah 6:9–16. What Was Israel’s Wickedness
before the Lord?
The Lord once again turned His attention to Israel’s
specific sins. The rich of Israel did much violence and
spoke lies (see Micah 6:12), but worst of all “the
statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the
house of Ahab” (v. 16). Adam Clarke wrote:
“Omri, king of Israel, the father of Ahab, was one
of the worst kings the Israelites ever had; and Ahab
followed in his wicked father’s steps. The statutes of
those kings were the very grossest idolatry. Jezebel, wife
of the latter, and daughter of Ithobaal, king of Tyre,
had no fellow on earth. From her Shakespeare seems
to have drawn the character of Lady Macbeth; a woman,
like her prototype, mixed up of tigress and fiend, without
addition. Omri, Ahab, and Jezebel, were the models
followed by the Israelites in the days of this prophet. . . .
“There are few chapters in the prophets, or in the
Bible, superior to this for genuine worth and importance.
The structure is as elegant as it is impressive; and it is
every way worthy of the Spirit of God.” (The Holy Bible
. . . with a Commentary and Critical Notes, 4:725.)
(11-15) Micah 7:1–6. What Is the Meaning of the
Figures of Speech Used by Micah?
The prophet Micah employed three figures to
portray the gross state of Israel’s wickedness: (1) the
picture of a solitary grape upon the vine (see Micah
7:1); (2) a battle between a man with a net and a man
without a net (see v. 2); and (3) the comparison of a
wicked man to a briar or a thorn hedge (see v. 4).
“Here the prophet points out the small number of the
upright to be found in the land. He himself seemed
to be the only person who was on God’s side; and he
considers himself as a solitary grape, which had escaped
the general gathering. . . . He desired to see the first-ripe
fruit—distinguished and eminent piety; but he found
nothing but a very imperfect or spurious kind of
godliness. . . .
“They hunt every man his brother with a net. This
appears to be an allusion to the ancient mode of duel
between the retiarius and secutor. The former had a
casting net, which he endeavoured to throw over the
head of his antagonist, that he might then despatch
him with his short sword. The other parried the cast;
and when the retiarius missed, he was obliged to run
about the field to get time to set his net in right order for
another throw. While he ran, the other followed, that he
might despatch him before he should be able to recover
the proper position of his net; and hence the latter was
called secutor, the pursuer, as the other was called
retiarius, or the net man. . . .
“. . . The best of them is as a brier. They are useless
in themselves, and cannot be touched without wounding
him that comes in contact with them. He alludes to the
thick thorn hedges, still frequent in Palestine.” (Clarke,
Commentary, 4:726.)
The Savior appears to have had Micah 7:6 in mind
when He spoke the words recorded in Matthew
10:35–36.
(11-16) Micah 7:7–20. What Did Micah Foresee and
Prophesy Of?
In these verses Micah prophesied of Israel’s
eventual restoration as a people and of that day when
Israel has learned to “look unto the Lord, . . . the God
of [her] salvation” (Micah 7:7). Though her enemies
have prevailed against her because of her wickedness,
“the Lord shall be her light.” He will plead her cause
and bring her “forth to the light” (vv. 8–9). Her
enemies shall see it too and be ashamed (see v. 10).
The walls of her cities shall be rebuilt, and her people
shall be gathered from throughout the earth (see
vv. 11–12). She shall again inhabit her land as in
previous times and “shall be afraid of the Lord our
God” (v. 17), for He is with His people then as He was
in former days (see vv. 13–17).
Sperry identified Micah 7:14–20 as a prayer:
“After promising Israel’s restoration, Micah prays
beautifully for its fulfillment. The prayer is distinguished
for the poetical elevation of its style and the
appropriateness of its petition. Like many other
Old Testament prayers it is prophetic in its spirit. . . .
“Micah ends with a doxology. He revels in the
prospect of Israel’s glorious future and breaks out into
a strain of sublime praise and admiration for the divine
attributes of loving-kindness, faithfulness, and
compassion to be manifested by God in her deliverance.”
(Message of the Twelve Prophets, pp. 126–27.)
POINTS TO PONDER
(11-17) Overcoming Spiritual Blindness
Like Micah, a modern prophet talked about the
problems that face our own society.
“While the iron curtains fall and thicken, we eat,
drink, and make merry. While armies are marshalled
and march and drill and officers teach men how to kill,
we continue to drink and carouse as usual. While bombs
are detonated and tested, and fallout settles on the
already sick world, we continue in idolatry and
adultery.
“While corridors are threatened and concessions are
made, we live riotously, and divorce and marry in
cycles, like the seasons. While leaders quarrel and
editors write and authorities analyze and prognosticate,
we break all the laws in God’s catalog. While enemies
filter into our nation to subvert and intimidate and
soften us, we continue on with our destructive
thinking—‘It can’t happen here.’
“If we would but believe the prophets! For they
have warned that if the inhabitants of this land are
ever brought down into captivity and enslaved, ‘it
shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound
cursed shall be the land . . .’ (2 Ne. 1:7.) . . .
“O that men would listen! Why should there be
spiritual blindness in the day of brightest scientific and
technological vision? Why must men rely on physical
fortifications and armaments when the God of heaven
yearns to bless them? One stroke of his omnipotent
hand could make powerless all nations who oppose,
and save a world even when in its death throes. Yet
men shun God and put their trust in weapons of war,
in the ‘arm of flesh.’ . . .
“Will we ever turn wholly to God?” (Spencer W.
Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 317–19.)
Take a moment to consider your life. All of us have
some spiritual blindness that we can strive to overcome.
In what ways in your life have you not turned
completely to God? Which of these most hampers
your spiritual growth?
That is a place to begin. Read the promise in Ether
12:27. You can take your weakness and make it a
strength. That is essentially what Micah tells us.
Read again Micah 6:8.
Jerusalem in the last days, as seen in prophecy
123
Kingdom of
Israel
Assyria 721 B.C.
Kingdom of
Judah
2 Kings 14–20
12
The Fall of the
Northern Kingdom
(12-1) Introduction
The story is told of two young men in a canoe sailing
down the river to Niagara Falls. Although the water was
placid and calm, they were approaching the area where
the water began to pick up speed as it headed for the
falls. A man on the shore, sensing the danger, called
out, “Young men, ahoy, the rapids are below you!”
But the young men, who heard the warning, did not
heed the call. Instead they went on laughing and joking,
paying no attention to the danger.
On the shore, the man watching began to run and
shouted in desperation, “Ahoy, the rapids are below
you!”
Still the young men did not heed his warning. Faster
and faster ran the current until the young men were
entrapped in the rapids and began to fear. With all the
power at their command they tried to turn the canoe
but it was too late. Over the falls they went—all because
they refused to heed the warning voice. (Adapted from
David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 512.)
Ancient Israel could be compared to these two young
men. Repeated warnings from the prophets were
ignored. The withholding of blessings failed to check
Israel in their mad rush to destruction. In the year
721 B.C. the Northern Kingdom fell before the vigorous
attack of the Assyrian enemy, and its people were taken
to a foreign land as captives. Later some escaped and
went into the north countries. They are often referred
to as the lost ten tribes. (See Enrichment D.)
This chapter will deal with the history of this tragic
fall. In previous chapters, it has been shown that the
Lord again and again gave clear warning through the
prophets, who worked feverishly to bring Israel to her
senses. Isaiah, Micah, Joel, Amos, Hosea, and probably
many others called again and again to a rebellious
Israel. These chapters of the Old Testament answer this
question: Could God have done more to bring this
recalcitrant people back to Him?
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study 2 Kings 14–20.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
2 KINGS 14–20
(12-2) 2 Kings 14–20
The period encompassed by this section of study
is roughly 800 B.C. to 721 B.C., a period of eighty years
(see Enrichment A, where a chronology of the kings is
given).
(12-3) 2 Kings 14:3–11. Was Amaziah a Righteous
King?
Second Chronicles 25:2 comments that Amaziah’s
heart was not perfect in what he did. This is a way of
saying he was double-minded, an attitude that makes
bad the good things that are done. His instability is
shown in (1) his failure to eliminate the high places
used for worship of false gods; (2) his desire to make
war with the help of enemies; and (3) his failure to
heed Joash’s warning.
(12-4) 2 Kings 14:7. Why Did Amaziah Attack Edom?
The kingdom of Judah had controlled Edom and
exacted tribute from that kingdom since the days of
King David. In the days of King Joram, however,
Edom revolted (see 2 Kings 8:20). Amaziah raised a
large army and again made Edom subordinate to Judah.
(12-5) 2 Kings 14:8–14. Why Did Amaziah Want to
Look King Joash in the Face?
To “look one another in the face” is a Hebrew idiom
for going to war with one another. Although in the
version here no explanation is given for why Amaziah
asked for war, the parallel version in Chronicles explains
what occurred (see 2 Chronicles 25:1–13). As he was
strengthening his army for the war with the Edomites,
Amaziah hired a hundred thousand mercenaries from
the Northern Kingdom of Israel, or Ephraim. A prophet
warned him that since Israel was in such disfavor with
God, to add these mercenaries to Judah’s army would
cause Judah to lose the battle. Amaziah sent the men
back, and they were greatly angered by the act.
While Amaziah went south to battle the Edomites,
the mercenaries vented their anger by ravaging several
of Judah’s towns on their return to the north. When
Amaziah learned of their actions, he declared war on
Israel.
Joash’s answer was a contemptuous insult. In his
parable, Amaziah and Judah are the thistle, a weed
that dries up and blows away in the summer heat.
Joash and Israel are the cedar, an allusion to the cedars
of Lebanon, giant and majestic trees that grew to over
one hundred feet in height. Amaziah evidently asked
for a royal princess as part of an official state apology.
Joash said he would be like a wild beast instead and
tromp the thistle weed down. Amaziah took the
challenge and was badly beaten. The Chronicles account
explains that the loss came because Amaziah had
brought back the gods of Edom with him after the
victory there, and he had worshiped them. (See
2 Chronicles 25:14–16, 20.)
(12-6) 2 Kings 14:22. Elath
Elath was also known as Ezion-Geber. It was an area
that had been controlled by Solomon and used as a
home port for his Red Sea trading fleet to Ophir and
Arabia (see 1 Kings 9:26; 2 Chronicles 8:17).
125
(12-7) 2 Kings 15:1, 13. Who Were Azariah and
Uzziah?
They were the same person. It is not clear why the
text here uses the two different names.
(12-8) 2 Kings 15:5. Why Did the Lord Smite Uzziah,
and What Is a “Several House”?
A favorite passage of missionaries and teachers
is 2 Chronicles 26:16–21. They use it to show that
it is necessary to have divine authority to act in the
ordinances and offices of the Church. Uzziah was
smitten because he took it upon himself to perform
rites reserved only for the priesthood. Uzziah was a
fairly good king and, as such, prospered and became
strong. But at that point he became lifted up and
usurped priesthood authority, with disastrous results.
A “several house” gets its name from the word sever.
The “several house” in which Uzziah lived was one
severed or separated from society to house lepers, who
were separated from society because of their disease.
(12-9) 2 Kings 15:11. The Chronicles of the Kings of
Israel
This record is not what is now called the books of
Chronicles in the present Old Testament. They are the
chronicles, or record, of the kings of Judah. The record
of the kings of Israel was lost and is not available today.
(12-10) 2 Kings 15:19. Who Was Pul?
Pul is the personal name of King Tiglath-pileser III
of Assyria. The kings of Israel paid tribute to him in
return for protection against Egypt and other powers.
He invaded Israel in 733 B.C. and captured some towns
later taken over by his successor, Shalmaneser V.
(12-11) 2 Kings 15:25. Who Were the Gileadites?
The Gileadites were mainly of the tribes of Reuben,
Gad, and Manasseh (see Numbers 26:29–30; 27:1; 36:1;
Joshua 17:1, 3; 1 Chronicles 2:21, 23; 7:14–17).
(12-12) 2 Kings 16:3. Did Ahaz Sacrifice a Son to
Molech?
This verse leaves some doubt about what Ahaz
did. Did he kill his son or merely initiate him into
the worship of a false god? Second Chronicles 28:3
supports the idea of an actual human sacrifice, and the
commentators generally agree that Ahaz did murder
some of his children in this fashion.
“So far as the fact is concerned, we have here the
first instance of an actual Moloch-sacrifice among the
Israelites, i.e. of one performed by slaying and
burning. . . .
“The offering of his son for Moloch took place, in all
probability, during the severe oppression of Ahaz by the
Syrians, and was intended to appease the wrath of the
gods, as was done by the king of the Moabites in similar
circumstances [2 Kings 3:27].” (C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch,
Commentary on the Old Testament, 3:1:399–400.)
Damascus, Ahaz saw an altar, probably to a false god,
that caught his admiration. He had a duplicate made
in Jerusalem and set aside the great altar in the temple
to use the new one in its place (compare with
2 Chronicles 28:23–5).
(12-14) 2 Kings 16:18. What Is a “Covert for the
Sabbath”?
The covert for the Sabbath may have been a shelter
or an awning where the royal family sat to hear the
law on the Sabbath. Some suppose it was a covered
passageway to the temple from the royal house. (See
Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible . . . with a Commentary and
Critical Notes, 2:534; Samuel Fallows, ed., The Popular
and Critical Bible Encyclopedia and Scriptural Dictionary,
s.v. “covert for the Sabbath.”)
(12-15) 2 Kings 17:6. Destruction of Samaria
Samaria was destroyed in the first or second year
of the reign of Sargon, who took his official name from
a king of about twenty-two hundred years before whom
he claimed as an ancestor. He finished the capture of
Samaria his predecessors had started. The date is
thought to be 721 B.C., but it may have been 722.
The destruction of Samaria, the capital of the
Northern Kingdom, was foretold by Hosea and Micah
(see Hosea 13:16; Micah 1:6) and is treated in more
detail in Enrichment D.
(12-16) 2 Kings 17:9. What Does the Expression “from
the Tower of the Watchmen to the Fenced City” Mean?
Towers were built by owners of vineyards (see
2 Chronicles 26:10) so they could observe the countryside
and protect their possessions. The expression “from
the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city” simply
means from thinly populated areas to heavily populated
areas. It is another way of saying that all Israel, the
Northern Kingdom, had turned to the worship of idols.
(12-17) 2 Kings 17:16. What Is Meant by the Worship
of the “Host of Heaven”?
This is the first time this form of idolatry is mentioned
in the Northern Kingdom. To worship the host of heaven
was to worship the sun, moon, and stars—something
that Moses had forbidden the people to do (see
Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:3).
(12-13) 2 Kings 16:11. “Made It against King Ahaz
Came from Damascus”
This phrase means that Urijah had the altar made by
the time King Ahaz got back. Evidently, while in
126
The fortified city of Samaria was destroyed.
(12-18) 2 Kings 17:18. What Tribes Were Carried Away
and What Tribes Were Left?
The statement that “there was none left but the tribe
of Judah only” can be understood correctly only if one
realizes that at this time Benjamin, Levi, and all other
Israelites who had left the nation of Israel and joined
Judah were included under the title of Judah. The ten
tribes carried into captivity at this time were Reuben,
Simeon, Issachar, Zebulon, Gad, Dan, Asher, Naphtali,
Ephraim, and Manasseh. The three remaining tribes
were Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. Some of the tribe of
Levi were still with Israel (the ten tribes), however,
and some of Ephraim, Manasseh, and other tribes
were with Judah. So, the division is not as clear as
a superficial reading might indicate.
(12-19) 2 Kings 17:24–41. The Beginnings of the
Samaritans
Some time after the ten tribes of Israel were taken
into captivity, Assyria moved some of its own people
into the area formerly occupied by the Israelites. When
the new residents failed to prosper, the king of Assyria
sent an Israelite priest to the area to instruct the people
in the worship of Jehovah, though it was liberally mixed
with the paganism of Assyria (vv. 28–29). Living as they
did in Samaria and its environs, these new occupants
of the land became known as Samaritans. Eventually,
intermarriage of the Assyrian settlers with those
stragglers who had survived the captivity (not all
Israelites were removed) caused the Samaritans to claim
Israelite covenant blessings. The Jews of later years
refused to accept this claim because of the Samaritans’
gentile blood and pagan religious tendencies. This refusal
led to the increasing hostility between the Jews and
Samaritans that was evident in the time of Jesus (see
Notes and Commentary on Ezra 4–5). The Jews simply
refused to associate with their Samaritan neighbors
(see John 4:9).
(12-20) 2 Kings 18:4. Why Did Hezekiah Destroy the
Brazen Serpent?
During their forty-year journey in the desert, the
ancient Israelites often murmured against God and
His prophet, Moses. The Lord sent among the people
“fiery serpents” that threatened great destruction as
a punishment. As a means of physical salvation and as
a type of the spiritual salvation to be wrought by Jesus
Christ (see John 3:14–15; 2 Nephi 25:20; Helaman
8:13–15), Moses made a serpent of brass, placed it on a
pole, and taught his people that if they would gaze upon
the serpent when they were bitten, physical healing
would follow (see Numbers 21:4–9). The brass serpent
was preserved in Israel and, in time, became an object
of adoration and was worshiped by the Israelites much
as they worshiped idols. In his zeal to eradicate all
forms of idolatry in Judah, King Hezekiah had the
brazen serpent destroyed along with the idols.
The word nehushtan comes from the Hebrew and
means an object made of brass. The implication may
be that Hezekiah was speaking contemptuously of the
object being worshiped, saying it was merely a “thing
of brass” and nothing more.
Tel Lachish
(12-21) 2 Kings 18:13. What Is Known about
Sennacherib, King of Assyria?
The account in 2 Kings 18:13–19:37 is very similar to
the account in Isaiah 36–37. Sennacherib was the son
of Sargon II and had numerous conquests to his credit.
Clay tablets recording his various campaigns have been
preserved and deciphered. The portion of one tablet that
relates to the partial conquest of Judah reads as follows:
“As for Hezekiah the Jew, who did not submit to my
yoke, forty-six of his strong, walled cities, as well as the
small cities in their neighborhood, which were without
number—by constructing a rampart out of trampled
earth and by bringing up battering-rams, by the attack
of infantry, by tunnels, breaches, and [the use of] axes,
I besieged and took [those cities]. Two hundred
thousand, one hundred and fifty people, great and
small, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels,
cattle, and sheep without number, I brought away from
them and counted as spoil. Himself like a caged bird I
shut in Jerusalem his royal city. Earthworks I threw up
against him; the one coming out of the city gate I turned
back to his misery.” (In Madeleine S. Miller and J. Lane
Miller, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Sennacherib.”)
Sennacherib’s account squares very well with the
accounts given in 2 Kings 18:13–19:37 and Isaiah 36–37.
(12-22) 2 Kings 18:14. How Important Was Lachish?
Lachish was a fortified city in the land of Judah that
guarded the main highway to Jerusalem from the south.
By destroying Lachish, the Assyrians would deprive
Judah of any support from Egypt as well as depriving
them of one of their strongest fortifications (see
2 Chronicles 32:9).
(12-23) 2 Kings 18:17. Who Were Tartan, Rabsaris, and
Rabshakeh?
The King James Version of the Bible treats these as
personal names, but scholars now think that they were
the titles of Assyrian officials appointed by Sennacherib
to conclude terms for the surrender of Jerusalem (see
The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 3:293).
127
(12-24) 2 Kings 18:17. What Were the “Conduit of the
Upper Pool” and the “Highway of the Fuller’s Field”?
A fuller was one who cleaned, pressed, bleached,
and dyed cloth for a living. Since this work required a
great deal of water, the “fuller’s field” or place of work
was always near a pool or spring of water. The Spring
of Gihon was a natural water source in the Kidron
Valley. In early times, before Israelite occupation, the
inhabitants of Jerusalem sent their women to the
spring for water. Standing on an elevated platform, the
women let their leather buckets down a forty-foot shaft,
or conduit, that led to the spring below and hauled up
their water. Some think this was the “conduit of the
Upper Pool.” Located nearby was the “fuller’s field.”
(See Miller and Miller, Harper’s Bible Dictionary,
s.v. “Gihon.”) Remains of a large, man-made pool west
of the city have been found, however, and some scholars
think that may have been the location.
Lord answered through His servant Isaiah, although
the answer must have tested the faith of Hezekiah.
While Assyrian campfires could be seen on all sides,
Isaiah promised that not even an arrow would be
shot against Jerusalem, for the Lord Himself would
defend the city (see 2 Kings 19:32–34).
(12-25) 2 Kings 18:26. Why Did the Jewish Leaders
Want to Speak in the Syrian Language?
The Jews were under siege, with a large population
shut up in Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders did not want
their people to hear the Assyrian conditions for fear that
the people would panic and give in to their demands.
Rabshakeh ignored their request and only cried louder
(see 2 Kings 18:28).
(12-26) 2 Kings 18:34. To What Do the Words Hamath,
Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah Refer?
These are the names of various cities conquered by
Sennacherib during his numerous military campaigns.
Many cities in ancient times had their own idols upon
whom they relied in times of stress (see Interpreter’s
Dictionary of the Bible, 3:296). Rabshakeh contemptuously
dismissed the main consolation of the Jews (the idea that
their God, Jehovah, would save them) by noting how
unsuccessful other gods had been in defending their
cities.
(12-27) 2 Kings 19:3. What Does the Expression “for
the Children Are Come to the Birth, and There Is Not
Strength to Bring Forth” Mean?
“A figure denoting extreme danger, the most
desperate circumstances. If the woman in travail has
not strength to bring forth the child which has come to
the mouth of the womb, both the life of the child and
that of the mother are exposed to the greatest danger;
and this was the condition of the people here (see the
similar figure in [Hosea 13:13]).” (Keil and Delitzsch,
Commentary, 1:3:442.)
(12-28) 2 Kings 19. Hezekiah Prayed for Deliverance,
and Isaiah Brought the Lord’s Answer
In these verses and the parallel account in Isaiah 37
is found one of the most remarkable stories in scriptural
history. The Assyrian army, with all its might and power,
encircled Jerusalem. The Northern Kingdom had
already fallen; all of Judah except Jerusalem itself was
in Assyrian hands. There was no cause to hope that
they could successfully resist. No cause but one.
Hezekiah had been a righteous king (see 2 Kings
18:4–6), and now he trusted in God again. In deep and
pleading prayer, he asked Him for the solution. The
128
A rendering of the ark of the covenant at Capernaum
That very night Isaiah’s promise was fulfilled. Some
mysterious plague struck the Assyrian camp, and in
the morning 185,000 Assyrians lay dead. Assyria’s
remnant left the scene like a dog with its tail tucked
between its legs. (See vv. 35–36.) Judah could say, as
did Elisha, “They that be with us are more than they
that be with them” (2 Kings 6:16).
(12-29) 2 Kings 19:15. Does God Dwell “between the
Cherubims”?
This imagery is taken from the ark of the covenant
(see Exodus 25:22).
(12-30) 2 Kings 19:22–28
The Lord addressed Assyria through Isaiah. Though
Assyria had taken credit for all she had done, the Lord
set the record straight: Assyria was but a tool in His
hands. Since she was only a tool, He still controlled
her, and she was at His mercy.
(12-31) 2 Kings 19:35
The Joseph Smith Translation corrects this verse to
read that “they who were left arose” to find that those
smitten had died.
(12-32) 2 Kings 20:5–6. Is There a Time Appointed to
Die?
President Spencer W. Kimball explained:
“Just as Ecclesiastes (3:2) says, I am confident that
there is a time to die, but I believe also that many people
die before ‘their time’ because they are careless, abuse
their bodies, take unnecessary chances, or expose
themselves to hazards, accidents, and sickness.
“Of the antediluvians, we read:
“‘Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men
have trodden?
“‘Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation
was overflown with a flood.’ (Job 22:15–16.)
In Ecclesiastes 7:17 we find this statement:
“‘Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish:
why shouldest thou die before thy time?’
“I believe we may die prematurely but seldom exceed
our time very much. One exception was Hezekiah,
25-year-old king of Judah who was far more godly
than his successors or predecessors.
“‘In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And
the prophet Isaiah . . . came to him, and said unto him,
Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou
shalt die, and not live.’
“Hezekiah, loving life as we do, turned his face to
the wall and wept bitterly, saying:
“‘. . . remember now how I have walked before thee
in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that
which is good in thy sight. . . .’
“The Lord yielded unto his prayers.
“‘. . . I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears:
behold I will heal thee. . . .
“‘And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and
I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the
king of Assyria. . . .’ (2 Kings 20:1, 3, 5–6.)
“A modern illustration of this exceptional extension
of life took place in November, 1881.
“My uncle, David Patten Kimball, left his home in
Arizona on a trip across the Salt River desert. He had
fixed up his books and settled accounts and had told
his wife of a premonition that he would not return. He
was lost on the desert for two days and three nights,
suffering untold agonies of thirst and pain. He passed
into the spirit world and described later, in a letter of
January 8, 1882, to his sister, what happened there. He
had seen his parents. ‘My father . . . told me I could
remain there if I chose to do so, but I pled with him
that I might stay with my family long enough to make
them comfortable, to repent of my sins, and more fully
prepare myself for the change. Had it not been for this,
I never should have returned home, except as a corpse.
Father finally told me I could remain two years and to
do all the good I could during that time, after which
he would come for me. . . . He mentioned four others
that he would come for also. . . .’ Two years to the day
from that experience on the desert he died easily and
apparently without pain. Shortly before he died
he looked up and called, ‘Father, Father.’ Within
approximately a year of his death the other four men
named were also dead.” (Faith Precedes the Miracle,
pp. 103–5; see also D&C 42:48.)
(12-33) 2 Kings 20:11. What Is the “Dial of Ahaz”?
Ahaz was the father of King Hezekiah. In his lifetime
he invented a special mechanism for telling time. The
instrument appears to have consisted of a series of
graduated lines, or steps, over which a column towered.
As the earth moved, the sun would cast a shadow at a
certain angle and thus measure the passing of the
hours. (See William Smith, A Dictionary of the Bible,
s.v. “dial.”)
POINTS TO PONDER
(12-34) A Lesson from History
There are few more dramatic contrasts in the history
of the world than the one you have just studied in
these chapters. Within a twenty-year period the mighty
Assyrian army encircled the capitals of both Israel and
Judah. In the first instance, the Assyrians went home
victorious, laden with the spoils of war and herding the
sorry remnants of a once-proud people before them.
Behind them a nation lay smoldering in ruins. In the
second instance, the same Assyrian army went home
stunned and decimated. They took no booty and no
captives and left behind 185,000 of their troops lying
dead on the hillsides of Jerusalem.
There are many profound lessons to be learned from
this. Read the following references and answer the
questions as you ponder the lessons you could learn
from this contrast.
1. Read Leviticus 26:3–8 and Deuteronomy 28:7, 10.
How were these prophecies fulfilled in Judah’s case?
2. Read Leviticus 26:14, 17, 37–39 and Deuteronomy
28:20, 25, 33, 36, 41. How were these prophecies fulfilled
in the case of the Northern Kingdom of Israel?
3. As you studied these chapters, what one factor
seems to you to have made the difference between
Judah’s and Israel’s experience with Assyria? (See
2 Kings 17:6–18; 18:1–7.)
4. Read Doctrine and Covenants 54:10; 88:83;
Proverbs 8:17. How are these scriptures related to
Hezekiah’s prayers for deliverance?
5. If you were asked to give a sacrament meeting
talk on what Latter-day Saints can learn from this
period of Israelite history, what would you say?
129
Enrichment
E
Understanding
Isaiah
(E-1) The Importance of Isaiah’s Writings
Isaiah’s name means “Jehovah saves” or “the Lord
is salvation.” His life and teachings proclaim the
message of Christ and the way of salvation Christ
provided. John wrote that “the testimony of Jesus is
the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Using that
statement as a criterion to evaluate, we must classify
Isaiah among the greatest of the prophets, because he
powerfully and eloquently testified of Christ and His
work.
The Savior Himself affirmed the importance of
Isaiah’s writings when, in His visit to the Nephites,
He commanded them to search diligently the words
of Isaiah (see 3 Nephi 20:11). The Lord said, “Great are
the words of Isaiah. For surely he spake as touching all
things concerning my people which are of the house of
Israel” (3 Nephi 23:1–2). The words Jacob spoke to his
people can also be applied to us. Jacob said, “There are
many things which have been spoken by Isaiah which
may be likened unto you, because ye are of the house of
Israel” (2 Nephi 6:5). We also are of the house of Israel.
The writings of Isaiah are quoted extensively in other
scripture. In fact, Isaiah is quoted in other scriptures
more often than any other prophet. There are sixty-six
chapters in the book of Isaiah, making a total of 1,292
verses. The prophets in the Book of Mormon quoted
414 of those verses (32 percent of the book of Isaiah).
They paraphrased at least another 34 verses
(3 percent). The Nephite prophets considered Isaiah’s
writings to be of such great worth that they put
approximately 35 percent of the book of Isaiah in the
valuable space they had on the plates. The writers of
the New Testament had a similar respect for Isaiah’s
teachings and prophecies. In the New Testament,
Isaiah is quoted at least fifty-seven times.
In latter-day revelation there is a similar emphasis
on the words of Isaiah. The Doctrine and Covenants
makes approximately one hundred references to Isaiah’s
writings by quoting, paraphrasing, or interpreting his
teachings. The close connection between Isaiah’s words
and those of the Doctrine and Covenants is apparent
in Doctrine and Covenants 113, which contains inspired
interpretations of chapters 11 and 52 of Isaiah. The key
to understanding Isaiah 65 is in Doctrine and
Covenants 101; Doctrine and Covenants 133 opens
up an understanding of Isaiah 35, 51, 63, and 64.
Numerous examples of Isaiah’s phraseology can be
found in the Doctrine and Covenants; compare Doctrine
and Covenants 133:3, 15, 27, 40–53, 67–70 with Isaiah
52:10, 12; 51:10; 64:1–4; 63:1–9; 50:2–3, 11.
The prophet Nephi said that Isaiah spoke many
things that were hard for his people to understand
(see 2 Nephi 25:1). The same is true of people today.
Even among the Saints who have the gift of the Holy
Ghost there are many who understand very little of
what Isaiah taught. Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:
“If, as many suppose, Isaiah ranks with the most
difficult of the prophets to understand, his words are
also among the most important for us to know and
ponder. . . .
“. . . His prophetic words can and should shine
brightly in the heart of every member of the Church.”
(“Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah,” Ensign, Oct.
1973, p. 80.)
Nephi studied, expounded upon, and loved the
writings of Isaiah (see 2 Nephi 11:8; 12–24; 25:1–5).
Concerning our need to understand Isaiah as Nephi
did, Elder McConkie said: “It just may be that my
salvation (and yours also!) does in fact depend upon
our ability to understand the writings of Isaiah as fully
and truly as Nephi understood them” (“Ten Keys to
Understanding Isaiah,” p. 78).
Elder McConkie explained that if we desire to go
where Isaiah and Nephi have gone, then we must
believe, think, know, teach, and live as they did.
Certainly the writings of Isaiah deserve our careful
and prayerful study. They can be understood by those
who sincerely desire to do so.
(E-2) Keys to Understanding Isaiah
For those who sincerely desire to understand the
writings of Isaiah, several keys are helpful. Through
the use of these keys, individuals can gain great insight
into Isaiah’s teachings and can grow in the knowledge
of the truth until the writings of Isaiah become as clear
to them as they were to Nephi. These keys are
discussed below.
(E-3) Pay the Price in Study and Effort
Isaiah’s writings could properly be called an
advanced level of scripture. He seldom explained
his doctrine but assumed that the reader already had
a knowledge of the gospel and the Lord’s plan of
salvation. Isaiah’s book is written in a poetic, literary
style that makes extensive use of symbolism to
communicate to those who are spiritually mature.
Isaiah’s words are similar to the parables of Jesus in
their manner of teaching. When Jesus’ disciples asked
Him why He taught in parables, He said: “Because it
is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom
of heaven, but to them [the people in general] it is
not given. . . . Therefore I speak to them in parables:
because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not,
neither do they understand. . . . For this people’s heart
is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and
their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should
see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and
should understand with their heart. . . . But blessed
are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they
hear.” (Matthew 13;11, 13, 15–16.)
Many of the people of Jesus’ time were spiritually
immature and unprepared to receive the doctrines
He taught. Through parables He was able to teach the
more spiritually mature and at the same time veil His
131
teachings from those who were not prepared to
understand or follow them. In that manner He kept
many from being condemned for having a knowledge
of principles they were unable to live (see Alma 12:9–11;
Jacob 4:14). A similar charge in teaching was given to
Isaiah (see Isaiah 6:9–10). For this reason, Isaiah also
veiled his teachings in language that preserved his
teachings for those who would understand with their
heart. Spiritually speaking, Isaiah’s writings are meat,
not milk (see 1 Corinthians 3:1–3; Hebrews 5:13–14;
Isaiah 28:9). It requires spiritual maturity to
understand them.
When the Lord commanded the Nephites to study
Isaiah’s words, He told them how to study those words.
He said, “Search these things diligently” (3 Nephi 23:1;
emphasis added). It is not sufficient to merely read
Isaiah’s writings. To come to an understanding of the
book of Isaiah, one must diligently study and search
by prayerfully pondering Isaiah’s teachings, analyzing
them, and relating them to other scriptures. Individual
phrases and verses must be studied carefully in the
broad context of the gospel and the prophecies of the
latter days.
(E-4) Have the “Spirit of Prophecy”
Nephi taught that the words of Isaiah “are plain unto
all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy”
(2 Nephi 25:4). The “testimony of Jesus [which comes by
the power of the Holy Ghost] is the spirit of prophecy”
(Revelation 19:10). The spirit of prophecy, however, is
far more than just a belief that Jesus lives. It includes
an understanding that Jesus is the literal Son of God. It
includes a correct knowledge of His purpose in coming
into mortality and of the significance and nature of His
mission. It includes an understanding of the gospel plan
for His children, particularly those who spiritually
become His sons and daughters through the covenant
of baptism. All of this comes through the power of
the Holy Ghost. The prophet Isaiah wrote under the
influence of the spirit of prophecy. His writings must
be interpreted under the influence of that same spirit.
Those who desire to understand Isaiah should learn of
Christ and seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Peter made it clear that since prophets deliver their
message through inspiration from the Holy Ghost, a
correct understanding of their message must come from
the same source (see 2 Peter 1:20–21; D&C 50:17–22).
The Book of Mormon teaches the way to obtain the
spirit of prophecy. Righteous people who are serving
the Lord and seeking to do His will can obtain the spirit
of prophecy by searching the scriptures diligently
and giving themselves “to much prayer, and fasting”
(Alma 17:3). The Lord will give knowledge to those
who prepare themselves and sincerely seek it.
The Prophet Joseph Smith once said, “God hath not
revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make
known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may
know all things as fast as he is able to bear them”
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 149). This truth,
of course, also applies to gaining an understanding of
the writings of Isaiah.
(E-5) Understand the Manner of Prophesying
of the Jews
One reason the prophet Nephi gave for his people
being unable to understand the writings of Isaiah was
132
that they “[knew] not concerning the manner of
prophesying among the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:1). This
manner of prophesying includes several elements.
The Law of Moses. The house of Israel in Old Testament
times lived under the law of Moses, which is found in
the first five books of the Old Testament. One of Isaiah’s
main objectives in his writings was to bring the people
to a consciousness of, and conformity to, the covenants
of the law. The law, in turn, was designed to teach
them of Christ, to keep them in remembrance of Him,
and bring them to Him (see Mosiah 3:15; 13:31; 16:14;
Alma 25:15–16; 34:14). The law of Moses was the root
from which the prophesying of the Jews sprang. To
understand the manner of their prophesying, one must
understand their law.
Isaiah began his book with a quotation from the
song of Moses, which is contained in the law (compare
Isaiah 1:2 with Deuteronomy 32:1). This song was
immediately recognizable to the Hebrew people, for it
was very familiar to them. A word or phrase from the
law, which was thoroughly known by most Hebrews,
brought to their minds much more than was on the
written page. Isaiah was able to communicate very
effectively with those who knew the law, for he did
not need to explain in detail what he meant by each
word or phrase. This phenomenon should not seem
strange to the Latter-day Saints. They, too, experience it.
No doubt a majority of active members of the Church
could complete the statement of President David O.
McKay, “No success can compensate. . . .” When the
reader and the writer are dealing with material
familiar to both of them, much can be assumed that
otherwise would have to be explained. Such was the
case with Isaiah and his Hebrew audience.
Imagery and figurative language. Isaiah used in his
writing images and figures of speech that were well
understood by the Hebrew people. For those with
other backgrounds, understanding the Hebrew
manner of writing is often difficult. Isaiah did not
intend for every word he used to be interpreted in its
most literal sense. He made constant use of metaphors,
similes, analogies, parables, types, and shadows. The
following are some examples:
In Isaiah 1:1 the prophet said that he was speaking
about Judah and Jerusalem, yet in Isaiah 1:10 he said,
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; . . . ye
people of Gomorrah.” He could not literally be
speaking to Sodom and Gomorrah, for they were
destroyed in the time of Abraham because of their
wickedness (see Genesis 19:24–25). Isaiah used the
names Sodom and Gomorrah to tell Judah even more
forcefully that they were very wicked and were close
to being destroyed, just as Sodom and Gomorrah had
been.
The passage in Isaiah 28:23–29 illustrates the need
for understanding Isaiah’s writings in the context of
his cultural background and writing style. To one who
is familiar with the agricultural lifestyle of the people
in Isaiah’s day, his description of preparing the ground
for planting, of sowing the seeds, and of threshing the
crop paints a very clear mental picture. Someone who
is unfamiliar with those processes would have difficulty
understanding the simile Isaiah uses in verse 29. There
he likens the sowing and harvesting of crops to the
Lord’s dealings with His people and the threshing of
the world in which He will separate the righteous
from the wicked. C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch explain
the passage this way: “The expression is one of such
grandeur, that we perceive at once that the prophet
has in his mind the wisdom of God in a higher sphere.
The wise, divinely inspired course adopted by the
husbandman in the treatment of the field and fruit, is a
type of the wise course adopted by the divine Teacher
Himself in the treatment of His nation. Israel is Jehovah’s
field. The punishments and chastisements of Jehovah
are the ploughshare and harrow, with which He forcibly
breaks up, turns over, and furrows this field. But this
does not last for ever. When the field has been thus
loosened, smoothed, and rendered fertile once more,
the painful process of ploughing is followed by a
beneficent sowing and planting in a multi-form and
wisely ordered fulness of grace. Again, Israel is
Jehovah’s child of the threshing-floor (see [Isaiah
21:10]). He threshes it; but He does not thresh it only;
He also knocks; and when He threshes, He does not
continue threshing for ever, i.e. as Caspari has well
explained it, ‘He does not punish all the members of
the nation with the same severity; and those whom He
punishes with greater severity than others He does not
punish incessantly, but as soon as His end is attained,
and the husks of sin are separated from those that have
been punished, the punishment ceases, and only the
worst in the nation, who are nothing but husks, and
the husks on the nation itself, are swept away by the
punishments’ (compare [Isaiah 1:25; 29:20–21]). This is
the solemn lesson and affectionate consolation hidden
behind the veil of the parable.” (Commentary on the Old
Testament, 7:2:16.)
In chapter 48 Isaiah used the metaphor “thy neck
is an iron sinew” (v. 4) to show the stubbornness of the
people. In verse 10 the Lord alluded to the “furnace
of affliction” in which He would purify and refine His
people. Verse 18 uses the simile “thy peace . . . as a
river” to convey the idea of peace of mind that comes
to the righteous. Verse 19, in simile, says “thy seed . . .
as the sand” to indicate the multitude of descendants
(as numerous as grains of sand) that could be theirs
if Israel hearkened to the Lord. Such use of imagery
adds power, beauty, and life to the message of the
writer.
In Isaiah 44:13–20 the prophet poetically described the
idolatry of Israel. In describing how some wood from
trees was made into gods to be worshiped, while
other wood from the same source was used to serve
domestic purposes, Isaiah created a mental image which
powerfully illustrated the foolishness of worshiping
idols. This manner of speaking was much more
convincing than if he had just told the people not to
worship idols.
Dualism and esoteric terms. As is often the case in
prophetic declarations, some of Isaiah’s writings have
a dual meaning. That is, they can apply to more than
one situation or may be fulfilled at more than one
time. He also at times combined dualistic phrases with
terms that were intended for or understood by only a
certain group. Such esoteric language brings to mind
religious concepts that only those who have the proper
religious background readily understand without
further explanation. For example, Isaiah 2:2 refers to
the “mountain of the Lord’s house” being “established
in the top of the mountains.” President Harold B. Lee
said that the phrase “mountain of the Lord’s house”
referred to both “a place as well as a definition of a
righteous people” (“The Way to Eternal Life,” Ensign,
Nov. 1971, p. 15). The establishment of the “mountain
of the Lord’s house in the top of the mountains” has
been fulfilled by the coming of the pioneers to establish
the Church and temple in the tops of the mountains
in Utah (see Lee, “The Way to Eternal Life,” p. 15) and
will be further fulfilled by the return of Judah to
Jerusalem, where the Lord’s house will be built (see
D&C 133:13). It applies generally to those places
where God’s power and authority reside and where
He communicates with His people. The phrase “all
nations shall flow unto it” (Isaiah 2:2) can refer both to
the early gathering of the Saints to the valleys of the
mountains in Utah and also to the general gathering
of Saints to Zion. The term Zion (v. 3), as well, has
several applications. It refers to the New Jerusalem in
America, the Jerusalem of Judah, and also the Lord’s
people or their places of gathering in all parts of the
world. By using such terms as these, Isaiah conveys
profound spiritual meaning to those who understand
the special significance of his language.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters, Isaiah wrote
of the gathering of Israel and their eventual triumph
over Babylon. This figure is an excellent example of
dualism. Babylon is used to refer both to the nation of
Babylon as it existed at the time of Isaiah and also to
the wickedness of the world and the dominions of Satan
in the world, which the nation of Babylon epitomized.
In his writings about Babylon in these chapters, Isaiah
used concepts that applied to the future fall of Babylon
(as a nation and as the symbol of the world), to the
triumph of Israel, and to the pre-mortal overthrow of
Lucifer and his hosts (see Isaiah 14:4–23). His words
are not only dualistic but esoteric as well, for only those
who understand the Lord’s plan of salvation can grasp
the full message Isaiah presented. Many of Isaiah’s
chapters are dualistic in the sense that the message
fulfilled in Isaiah’s time is a type or shadow of events
to take place in the last days.
This richness of language and meaning seems to
be what Nephi meant when he spoke of the manner
of prophesying among the Jews. There is frequent
reference to the law of Moses and extensive use of
imagery, figurative language, and phrases that have
dualistic and esoteric meanings. Though modern
readers cannot fully grasp the culture and times of
ancient Israel, understanding the methods Isaiah used
to convey his meaning can give the reader a far greater
understanding of Isaiah.
(E-6) Become Familiar with the Geography of the
Holy Land and Regions Surrounding It
Isaiah frequently referred to cities and towns of the
Holy Land as well as to neighboring nations. To one
who knows the geography of the areas of which Isaiah
spoke, his writings are much more clear and have
greater impact. A good example of this kind of reference
is found in Isaiah 10:24–34. Isaiah spoke of the Lord’s
using His protective power on Israel’s behalf in the
face of the advancing armies of Assyria. In verses
28–32 he mentioned several towns that lie near
Jerusalem and said that though the Assyrians would
pass through them overthrowing them one by one
until they came to Nob, the Lord would preserve the
133
Understanding the topography and the geography of the land is useful
in understanding Isaiah.
inhabitants of Jerusalem. To know that the towns
mentioned lie in a ten-mile path north of Jerusalem,
with the little settlement of Nob right outside the walls
of Jerusalem overlooking the eastern gates of the
temple, gives this passage great significance.
Isaiah also used geography figuratively, a technique
which, if understood, adds great depth to his message.
As mentioned above, Babylon was a symbol of
wickedness and corruption. Egypt, Assyria, and other
unrighteous nations were also used by Isaiah as symbols
of wickedness. The wicked cities of Sodom and
Gomorrah similarly represented unrighteousness. The
names of idolatrous people such as the Canaanites,
Philistines, and Amorites, that surrounded Israel were
often used to represent the practice of idolatry in Israel
during times of apostasy. Idumea typified the world or
worldliness (see D&C 1:36). Lebanon and Bashan with
their northern mountains and lofty cedars connoted
pride and haughtiness. Ephraim, the leading tribe of
the Northern Kingdom, and its capital in Samaria are
commonly mentioned to represent the whole Northern
Kingdom. In many cases where geographical figures
are used, their meaning is dualistic, referring to the
actual place as well as to the concept they typified.
(E-7) Learn of the Judgments of God and the
Fulfillment of His Prophecies
The Lord is consistent in His dealings with His
children in all ages of the world. “God doth not walk
in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right
hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that
which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight,
and his course is one eternal round” (D&C 3:2). This
consistency is of the greatest importance to His
children as they seek to work out their salvation.
It is also very helpful to them in seeking to understand
and follow the counsel He gives through His prophets.
To understand Isaiah’s writings, one should know of
the Lord’s teachings and workings given through other
prophets. Blessings and cursings came to the people of
Isaiah’s time according to the same principles that
134
have been set down in any age of the world. As one
learns of the patterns of actions that cause people
to withdraw from God and of the actions that bring
down the Lord’s wrath upon them, the warnings and
pronouncements of Isaiah can be better understood.
That which was condemned by Isaiah is treated
similarly by the Lord in all ages. The Lord’s message
in all dispensations is that there are laws upon which
all consequences are based. To know the Lord’s laws
provides a framework from which to interpret the
writings of Isaiah or any other prophet.
The Lord has revealed to many prophets the grand
panorama of the earth’s history. By learning of what
they have written, it is possible to see where Isaiah’s
writings fit into the Lord’s overall plan. For example,
a greater understanding of Isaiah’s writings can be
gained by looking at them in the light of the allegory
of Zenos about the olive trees (see Jacob 5). In the
allegory a delineation of the history and destiny of
the house of Israel is given. With a knowledge of the
scatterings, nurturings, gatherings, and ultimate destiny
of Israel, as taught by Zenos and cited by Jacob, Isaiah’s
writings can be viewed from the proper prospective.
Frequently the prophecies of one prophet help one to
properly view the prophecies and writings of another.
Nephi prophesied that “in the days that the prophecies
of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at
the times when they shall come to pass . . . for . . . they
shall be of great worth unto them in the last days; for in
that day shall they understand them” (2 Nephi 25:7–8).
One can look for the fulfillment of many of Isaiah’s
words in the events that are transpiring in this
dispensation. Nephi knew that those who saw Isaiah’s
prophecies come to pass could understand them (see,
for example, Isaiah 29).
(E-8) Understand the Historical Setting of Isaiah’s
Writings
To understand Isaiah one needs also to understand
the historical background of the people among whom
he ministered. It is valuable to gain an overall view of
the exodus of Israel from Egypt and their wanderings
in the wilderness, their covenants with God, their
conquest of Canaan, the reigns of the judges and the
birth of the kingdom of Israel, the golden age of the
great King David, and the division of Israel into two
kingdoms. One should learn of Israel’s apostasies and
the struggle they had with the influence of the nations
that surrounded them and by which they were often
led from God. Isaiah used numerous concepts and
figures of speech that came directly from that history.
It is often necessary to be familiar with Israel’s history
to see the point that Isaiah was trying to make. It is
imperative to view the writings of Isaiah in their
proper context, for he often spoke of the conditions of
his time and their effect on the Lord’s people (see
Enrichment F.)
(E-9) Use the Book of Mormon
“The Book of Mormon is the world’s greatest
commentary on the book of Isaiah” (McConkie, “Ten
Keys to Understanding Isaiah,” p. 81). The Book of
Mormon prophets loved the writings of Isaiah and
quoted from them often. Large blocks of material are
found in the Book of Mormon with inspired commentary
and explanations. The Book of Mormon prophets
obtained this material from the brass plates, which
were written before 600 B.C. The Isaiah material in the
Book of Mormon is, therefore, the oldest and most
accurate available and provides commentary by
prophets who, in some cases, had the same historical
and cultural background as Isaiah had. The Lord
Himself swore to the truthfulness of the Book of
Mormon and, thus, to the truthfulness of Isaiah’s
writings that are found therein (see D&C 17:6).
As you learn more and more from the scriptures, the
pieces come together as in a puzzle and begin to form
one great and beautiful whole.
(E-11) The Church Has Published Bible Study Aids
with the Scriptures
The Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible contains
many aids to help in one’s understanding of the
writings of the prophets. It can be a very helpful study
resource. Its footnote system contains references to the
Topical Guide and cross-references to all four of the
standard works. This system provides ready access to
many helpful, related scriptures. The footnotes also
contain alternate translations of words from Hebrew,
explanations of idioms and difficult constructions, and
explanations of archaic words. In addition, the inspired
translations of passages made by Joseph Smith in his
work on the Bible are cited. The headings provided at
the beginning of each chapter of the Bible contain
helpful summaries of the contents. There is a maps
section in the back that is helpful in determining
geographical relationships. A Bible Dictionary gives
clear and concise definitions and explanations of terms
in light of Latter-day Saint doctrine. Similar Bible
study aids are found in triple combinations published
by the Church in dozens of the world’s languages.
(E-12) Isaiah Is Understood “Line upon Line”
The Book of Mormon provides commentary on the book of Isaiah.
(E-10) Study All Scriptures and Learn Them
Thoroughly
Passages from Isaiah are quoted and explained in
the Book of Mormon, and New Testament writers gave
many interpretations of Isaiah as well. In the Doctrine
and Covenants, specific passages of Isaiah are explained
(see D&C 113), and many others are quoted in a context
that sheds light on their meaning.
The more one knows of the scriptures, the better one
can understand Isaiah. All elements of the gospel plan
are interrelated. The consistency of the gospel enables
gospel writers of all ages to speak with common terms
and connected ideas. It is possible to draw from the
latest scriptural sources to understand teachings of the
earliest available scriptures.
The Lord always provides a way for His children to
fulfill His commandments (see 1 Nephi 3:7). When He
gave instructions to study the words of Isaiah, He fully
intended that those who followed His instructions
would be able to understand Isaiah’s message and be
positively affected by it. To those who are willing to
pay the price, Isaiah can become an open book. Its
greatest message is for the Saints of today, who live in
an era when one can see the fulfillment of Isaiah’s
prophecies. For all who seek, Isaiah provides
enlightenment that will be of great value in their
efforts to perfect their lives and to contribute to the
building up of the Lord’s kingdom. Understanding
will come, though not all at once. It will come “line
upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30),
according to the efforts of the seekers of truth.
135
Isaiah 1–12
13
The Establishment
of Zion
(13-1) Introduction
Has someone ever recommended a book to you?
Did it make any difference who recommended it? Did
the recommendation influence your feelings toward
the book? Ponder the following recommendation given
the writings of Isaiah: “And now, behold, I say unto
you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a
commandment I give unto you that ye search these
things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.”
(3 Nephi 23:1). This instruction was given by the Savior
to the Nephites, but the commandment to “search these
things diligently” forms a challenge that continues
for us today. Isaiah had a wide perspective of God’s
workings with His children. He understood the power
and principles of the Zion society and saw their
application for his day and for the future. While
strengthening the spiritual of his own day, he prophesied
of the establishment of Zion for those who would be
called to carry it out. The first part of his writings
contains many references to this great event.
The book of Isaiah is a compilation of the prophet’s
writings, possibly even an abridgment of some of his
work. Chapters 1 through 39 deal with the ministry of
Isaiah, and chapters 40 through 66 with his visions and
revelations of the future. Chronological order is not
always adhered to; therefore each chapter should be
examined carefully within its own historical context.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study Isaiah 1–12. Refer to
Enrichment E throughout your study of the book
of Isaiah. Enrichment F will provide an overview of
the historical setting of the prophet Isaiah’s
ministry.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
ISAIAH 1–12
(13-2) Isaiah 1:1. “The Vision of Isaiah”
Great prophetic insight to the problems of the world
in which he lived and into the challenges of the future
came about through the revelation (“vision”) the
prophet Isaiah received. The kings, the times of these
kings and their people, and the prophet Isaiah’s labor
with them are discussed in Enrichment F.
(13-3) Isaiah 1:1–9. Rebellion against the Lord
p. 175). Jehovah had nourished and brought them up
as children (in Egypt and the wilderness), and now in
their adulthood (in the promised land) they had turned
against the Lord. Their affliction is like wounds or sores
that have not healed. The totality of their rebellion is
illustrated by the references to head and heart, to the
whole person from foot to head. In other words, the
spiritual cancer had infested the whole body of Israel.
Little spiritual health was left in the nation. That was
why the land would be left utterly desolate.
(13-4) Isaiah 1:4. “Holy One of Israel”
This sacred title of the Savior appears about thirty
times in the writings of Isaiah but only twice in
Jeremiah, once in Ezekiel, and three times in Psalms. It
is not used elsewhere in the Old Testament, except in
2 Kings 19:22, which is Isaiah speaking. The Book of
Mormon prophets Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob used this
expression thirty-nine times, only four of which are
passages from Isaiah.
(13-5) Isaiah 1:8. What Is a “Cottage in a Vineyard”?
When the vineyard and the cucumber crops were
ready to harvest, small booths, or huts, were built in
the fields so the owner or his servants could watch
over the harvest and protect it from thieves or animals.
These huts were generally crudely made and hastily
erected. After the harvest, they were abandoned and
quickly became dilapidated and forlorn relics of the
harvest. Jerusalem was to be like that—once proud
and useful, but now, through her own spiritual neglect,
an empty and forlorn relic. (See Edward J. Young, The
Book of Isaiah, 1:55–56.)
(13-6) Isaiah 1:9. “Left unto Us a Very Small
Remnant”
The prophetic declaration promises the preservation
of the lineage of Judah for future time. Paul cited this
passage in this same context (see Romans 9:29; Isaiah
10:22).
(13-7) Isaiah 1:10–15. The Hypocrisy of Insincere
Worship
These verses do not mean that the Lord rejected
the law of Moses, particularly the performances and
ordinances of the law. The condemnation here is of the
hypocritical fulfillment of the Mosaic offerings and
feasts. Israel misused these religious activities because
they fulfilled only the outward requirements and did
not worship with full purpose of heart, turning their
worship toward the Savior. (See Joseph Smith, Teachings
of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 58–59; Young, Book of
Isaiah, 1:61–62). To refer to the people of Israel as
Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 10) vividly depicts how
deeply the people had sunk into sin and depravity.
“Israel’s rebellion is evidence of the highest degree
of sin” (Sidney B. Sperry, The Spirit of the Old Testament,
137
(13-8) Isaiah 1:16–20. Call to Repentance, Promise of
Forgiveness
In the midst of a scathing denunciation of the house
of Israel, the Lord reminded them that they could be
saved as a nation if they would truly repent. This
scripture is often used to encourage individuals to
repent and seek forgiveness, but it was originally given
to a nation, not a person. President Joseph Fielding
Smith wrote:
“This is not an individual promise, but one to a
rebellious nation. No matter how many prophets the
Lord sent to Israel and Judah, and how many times he
pleaded with them, all through their history they were
rebellious.
“Here we find a promise that if they would return
to the Lord, their past sins would be forgotten, and
he would again receive them as his people and bless
them abundantly, and they should continue to be his
covenant people.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:180.)
Nephi, however, said that he took the words of Isaiah
and “did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be
for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23). Certainly
this beautiful promise, though originally given to Israel
as a nation, can be “likened” to individuals. Elder
Charles W. Penrose applied Isaiah’s promise from the
Lord to all who meet certain requirements: “Now here
is the pattern: Those who believe and repent must be
taken down into the water and be buried from their
old lives, must put off the old man with his deeds,
must be buried in the likeness of Christ’s burial and
raised up again in the likeness of Christ’s resurrection.
Then, when they come forth from the water, if they
have believed, repented, and been baptized by a man
sent of God to baptize—then, ‘though their sins be as
scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they
be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’ They are
cleansed, they come forth to a new birth, they are born
of the water, and every time they partake of the holy
sacrament they witness to God that they will continue
in his ways, and walk in his paths, that they have put
on Christ, and that they will remember him to keep his
commandments in all things. Now when people are
thus properly cleansed, and purified and made white,
like unto newborn babes on entering into the world,
without blemish or spot, then their tabernacles are fit to
receive the Holy Ghost.” (In Journal of Discourses, 22:91.)
President Joseph Fielding Smith suggested that the
washing mentioned in verse 16 could be baptism (see
Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:51). From the Book of
Mormon it is known that Isaiah taught baptism at least
one other time (see 1 Nephi 20:1).
(13-9) Isaiah 1:19–20. A Blessing or a Curse
This same conditional promise and warning was
given to the Saints of the latter days (see D&C 64:34–35).
(13-10) Isaiah 2:1–5. “In the Last Days . . . the
Mountain of the Lord’s House Shall Be Established”
These same verses appear in Micah 4:1–5. It is not
known whether they were revealed first to Isaiah or to
Micah.
The “mountain of the Lord” in the last dispensation
refers to the restoration of the Church. President
Harold B. Lee said: “The coming forth of his church in
these days was the beginning of the fulfillment of the
138
The Salt Lake Temple at Church headquarters
ancient prophecy when ‘the mountain of the Lord’s
house shall be established in the top of the mountains’”
(in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, p. 5).
On another occasion President Lee observed that
“with the coming of the pioneers to establish the
Church in the tops of the mountains, our early leaders
declared this to be the beginning of the fulfillment of
that prophecy” (“The Way to Eternal Life,” Ensign,
Nov. 1971, p. 15).
The establishment of the Church headquarters in
Salt Lake City is only a beginning of the fulfillment of
that inspired declaration. Obviously, the effect of the
Church center in Utah has been great. Elder LeGrand
Richards said: “How literally [Isaiah 2:3] has been
fulfilled, in my way of thinking, in this very house of
the God of Jacob right here on this block! This temple
[Salt Lake], more than any other building of which we
have any record, has brought people from every land
to learn of his ways and walk in his paths.” (In
Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 143.)
But this scriptural statement extends far beyond Salt
Lake City. Verse 3 suggests that eventually other world
centers will be included. Then this prophetic statement
will reach its fulfillment.
(13-11) Isaiah 2:3. “Out of Zion Shall Go Forth the
Law . . . the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem”
President Joseph Fielding Smith gave the following
explanation of this prophetic statement of Isaiah:
“We are informed in the revelation given to Joseph
Smith the Prophet, that the city of Zion and the New
Jerusalem is one and the same. [D&C 28:9; 42:9;
45:66–67; 57:2; 58:7.] . . .
“Jerusalem of old, after the Jews have been cleansed
and sanctified from all their sin, shall become a holy
city where the Lord shall dwell and from whence he
shall send forth his word unto all people. Likewise, on
this continent, the city of Zion, New Jerusalem,
shall be build, and from it the law of God shall also
go forth. There will be no conflict, for each city shall be
headquarters for the Redeemer of the world, and from
each he shall send forth his proclamations as occasion
may require. Jerusalem shall be the gathering place of
Judah and his fellows of the house of Israel, and Zion
shall be the gathering place of Ephraim and his fellows,
upon whose heads shall be conferred ‘the richer
blessings.’ . . .
“These two cities, one in the land of Zion and one in
Palestine, are to become capitals for the kingdom of God
during the millennium.
“In the meantime, while the work of preparation is
going on and Israel is being gathered, many people are
coming to the land of Zion saying: ‘Come ye, and let
us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of
the God of Jacob.’ The Latter-day Saints are fulfilling
this prediction, since they are being gathered from all
parts of the earth and are coming to the house of the
Lord in these valleys of the mountains. Here they are
being taught in the ways of the Lord through the
restoration of the gospel and by receiving blessings in
the temples now erected. Moreover, before many years
have passed away, the Lord will command the building
of the City Zion, and Jerusalem in Palestine will in
due time be cleansed and become a holy city and the
habitation of the Jews after they are cleansed and are
willing to accept Jesus Christ as their Redeemer.”
(Doctrines of Salvation, 3:69–71.)
While the Saints await the time of the establishment
of these world centers, the principle of sending forth
the law has been associated not only with the spread of
the gospel and its blessings, but also with the providing
of a climate in which the gospel work can grow.
President Harold B. Lee said:
“I have often wondered what that expression meant,
that out of Zion shall go forth the law. Years ago I went
with the brethren to the Idaho Falls Temple, and I heard
in that inspired prayer of the First Presidency a definition
of the meaning of that term ‘out of Zion shall go forth
the law.’ Note what they said: ‘We thank thee that
thou hast revealed to us that those who gave us our
constitutional form of government were men wise in
thy sight and that thou didst raise them up for the very
purpose of putting forth that sacred document [the
Constitution of the United States—see D&C 101:80]. . . .
“‘We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples
of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the
blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason
of their freedom and under thy guidance and be
constrained to adopt similar governmental systems,
thus to fulfill the ancient prophecy of Isaiah and Micah
that “. . . out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word
of the Lord from Jerusalem.”’ (Improvement Era, October
1945, p. 564.)” (“The Way to Eternal Life,” p. 15).
(13-12) Isaiah 2:4–5. Establishment of the Millennium
These verses deal with the ushering in of the
millennial era and with the changes that will accompany
it. The writings of Isaiah as found in the Book of
Mormon show the following additional phrase in
verse 5: “Yea, come, for ye have all gone astray, every
one to his wicked ways” (2 Nephi 12:5). This verse
indicates a widespread apostasy in Israel and the return
of Israel to the Lord before the Second Coming.
(13-13) Isaiah 2:6–22. The Proud and the Wicked to Be
Brought Low
Isaiah 2 summarizes the basic spiritual problems
that troubled Israel in Isaiah’s day and that will prevail
again among the people before the Second Coming.
This passage is another excellent example of dualistic
prophecy (see Enrichment E for a discussion of
prophetic dualism). Though Isaiah’s prophecy was
given “concerning Judah and Jerusalem” (v. 1), it is
obviously also related to the last days and the Second
Coming of Jesus.
Verse 6. They were “replenished from the east,” or in
other words, they looked to the religious philosophies
and the gods of the Assyrians and other heathen
countries for power and sustenance. Today people
look to many other religions and philosophies of men
for wisdom and guidance instead of to the gospel.
Verse 6. They “hearken unto soothsayers” (2 Nephi
12:6), those false prophets who claimed to be able
to foretell the future. Today, true prophets are largely
ignored, and all kinds of false religionists and counselors
are looked to for guidance.
Verse 6. “They please themselves in the children of
strangers” or, as C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch translated
the phrase, “and with the children of foreigners they
go hand in hand” (Commentary on the Old Testament,
7:1:118). In short, ancient Israel was joining the heathen
nations in all their wickedness, and modern society is
joining with the influences of the world rather than
looking to the Lord.
Verse 7. The land was “full of silver and gold,” that
is, the people were wealthy and materialistic. Their
hearts were set on the things of the world. Again in
the last days, materialism runs rampant.
Verse 7. The land was “full of horses, neither is there
any end of their chariots.” The horse was a symbol of
warfare, as was the chariot. Today is an age characterized
by “wars and rumors of war” (see JS—M 1:28.)
Verse 8. The land was filled with idolatry then, and
people still turn to false gods today, though not
necessarily to idols made of wood or stone.
Verse 9. The “mean man boweth not down, and
the great man humbleth himself not” (2 Nephi 12:9;
emphasis added). The differences in the Book of
Mormon account of Isaiah’s writings, noted by the
italics, show that Isaiah was not making further
reference to idolatry but was referring to the fact that
men would not worship the true God. In the preface
to the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord indicated this
failure would be a major concern of the last days.
(See D&C 1:16.)
Because of her sins, ancient Israel brought upon
herself the judgments of God, and because of the same
problems the people of the last days will likewise bring
sorrow and problems upon themselves.
The brass plates contained other differences that
clarify Isaiah’s meaning. Compare Isaiah 2:10, 12–14,
16, 19, 21 with 2 Nephi 12:10, 12–14, 16, 19, 21.
(13-14) Isaiah 2:13. What Were the “Cedars of
Lebanon” and the “Oaks of Bashan”?
They were the loftiest and most impressive trees in
the ancient Middle East. They therefore symbolized
not only the great beauty of the land that would be
destroyed but also the proud and lofty people of the
earth (see Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:122–23).
139
(13-15) Isaiah 2:16. What Is Meant by the Phrase
“Ships of Tarshish”?
(13-18) Isaiah 3:9. “The Shew of Their Countenance
Doth Witness against Them”
Trade with other nations would cease. Such trade
had been established and had prospered during the
reign of kings Uzziah and Jotham (see Enrichment F;
Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:124).
Again the Book of Mormon affirms the completeness
of the record from which its Isaiah citations were taken.
Sperry illustrated this contribution:
“In 2 Nephi 12:16 (cf. Isaiah 2:16) the Book of Mormon
has a reading of remarkable interest. It prefixes a phrase
of eight words not found in the Hebrew or King James
versions. Since the ancient Septuagint (Greek) Version
concurs with the added phrase in the Book of Mormon,
let us exhibit the readings of the Book of Mormon
(B.M.), the King James Version (K.J.), and the
Septuagint (LXX) as follows:
The Book of Mormon clarifies the meaning of this
significant verse (see 2 Nephi 13:9). Individuals radiate
the quality of their spirit and attitude. They manifest
the real person—good or evil. Isaiah warned that the
disobedient cannot hide the effects of their transgressions
from others. President David O. McKay provided the
following insights into this principle:
“Every man and every person who lives in this
world wields an influence, whether for good or for
evil. It is not what he says alone; it is not alone what
he does. It is what he is. Every man, every person
radiates what he or she really is. . . . It is what we are
and what we radiate that affects the people around us.
“As individuals, we must think nobler thoughts. We
must not encourage vile thoughts or low aspirations.
We shall radiate them if we do. If we think noble
thoughts; if we encourage and cherish noble aspirations,
there will be that radiation when we meet people,
especially when we associate with them.’ (Man May
Know for Himself, p. 108.)
B.M.
K. J.
LXX
And upon all the ships of the sea,
–––– –––– –––– –––– –––– ––––
And upon every ship of the sea,
and upon all the ships of Tarshish
And upon all the ships of Tarshish
–––– –––– –––– –––– –––– ––––
and upon all pleasant pictures.
and upon all pleasant pictures.
and upon every display of fine ships.
“The Book of Mormon suggests that the original
text of this verse contained three phrases, all of which
commenced with the same opening words, ‘and upon
all.’ By a common accident, the original Hebrew (and
hence the King James) text lost the first phrase, which
was, however, preserved by the Septuagint. The latter
lost the second phrase and seems to have corrupted
the third phrase. The Book of Mormon preserved all
three phrases. Scholars may suggest that Joseph Smith
took the first phrase from the Septuagint. The prophet
did not know Greek, and there is no evidence that he
had access to a copy of the Septuagint in 1829–30 when
he translated the Book of Mormon.” (The Voice of
Israel’s Prophets, pp. 90–91.)
(13-16) Isaiah 2:22. “Cease Ye from Man”
This expression is a warning about the weaknesses
of trusting merely in man (see also 2 Nephi 4:34; 28:31;
Topical Guide, s.v. “trust not in the arm of flesh”).
(13-17) Isaiah 3:1–8. Prophetic Declaration of the Fall
of Judah
Isaiah described the eventual fall of Judah and
Jerusalem in terms of the noted officials and respected
persons of his day. These included government,
military, educational, and religious leaders. With the
loss of such individuals, the nation would fall under
despotic reign at the hands of youthful puppets.
Finally, it would rush toward anarchy as the last
struggles for power were exercised within the ruling
family. (See Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:130–35.)
The people would be so desperate for leadership that
they would select rulers because they were able to dress
decently, but even family leaders would refuse to help.
The Book of Mormon provides textual clarification for
verse 6, showing that the people pleaded that the ruler
not let ruin come upon them (see 2 Nephi 13:6).
140
(13-19) Isaiah 3:14. Why Should the Lord Be Upset
Because the People Have “Eaten Up the Vineyard”?
The vineyard is a symbol of the chosen people (see
Isaiah 5:7), and the rulers of Israel were called to be
watchmen over the vineyard. Instead of guarding the
Lord’s vineyard they had oppressed the people and
consumed the vineyard (compare Matthew 21:33–40).
(13-20) Isaiah 3:16–24. The “Daughters of Zion” to
Succumb to Worldliness in the Latter Days
In these verses one can see a good example of
dualism (see Enrichment E). Isaiah shows that the
wickedness prevailing in Israel and Judah included the
women, who were proud, arrogant, and more concerned
with their clothing, jewels, and personal appearance
than with righteousness. But these verses can also
be applied in the latter days, when women will once
more lose sight of proper priorities. President Joseph
Fielding Smith said of this passage:
“Isaiah, one of the great prophets of early times,
saw our day, and he described the conditions that
would prevail among the ‘daughters of Zion’ in these
latter days. . . .
“Now, in this modern day, Isaiah’s prophecy has
been and is being fulfilled. . . .
“The standards expressed by the General Authorities
of the Church are that women, as well as men, should
dress modestly. They are taught proper deportment
and modesty at all times. It is, in my judgment, a sad
reflection on the ‘daughters of Zion’ when they dress
immodestly. Moreover, this remark pertains to the men
as well as to the women. The Lord gave commandments
to ancient Israel that both men and women should
cover their bodies and observe the law of chastity at
all times.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:172–74.)
(13-21) Isaiah 3:16–24. Difficult Idioms and Archaic
Expressions
The following explanations may be helpful in
understanding the power of Isaiah’s condemnation
of the women’s apostasy.
Verse 16. “Stretched forth necks” is an idiom
describing haughtiness—pride in self and scorn toward
others (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:162).
Verse 16. “Mincing . . . and making a tinkling with
their feet.” The women wore costly ornamental chains
connecting rings about the ankles. These were often
adorned with bells. (See Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary,
7:1:143.)
Verse 17. “Discover their secret parts” is an idiom
meaning that they would be put to shame (see Isaiah
3:17a).
Verse 18. “Cauls . . . round tires like the moon” were
ornamental jewelry in the shape of suns and moons
according to the fashions of that day (see Young, Book
of Isaiah, 1:165).
Verses 19–23. These terms describe fashions that
were popular among the worldly women in Isaiah’s
day: “muffler”—veil; “bonnet”—headdress;
“tablets”—perfume boxes; “earrings”—charms or
amulets; “nose jewels”—nose rings; “changeable suits
of apparel”—clothing for festivals only; “mantle”—
overcloak; “wimples”—a type of shawl or veil worn
over the head; “crisping pins”—erroneously rendered
as hair curling implements. The Hebrew suggests a
bag, like modern purses or handbags; “glasses”—most
authorities translate as a metal mirror, although some
suggest transparent clothing, “hoods”—turbans, head
cover wrapped by hand. (See Young, Book of Isaiah,
1:165–66; Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:144–47.)
(13-22) Isaiah 3:24–26. The Fruits of Transgression
upon the Daughters of Zion
The prophet contrasts their former beauty with the
results of judgment. Because of their wickedness, the
beauty, the pride, and the fashion will become tragedy,
disaster, and slavery. The girdle in verse 24 was the
sash used to fasten the outer clothing. Keil and Delitzsch
showed that the “rent” which was to replace it was the
rope used to bind slaves. Sackcloth was black goat’s
hair worn at times of great mourning. The “burning”
refers to the branding that often accompanied one’s
being made a slave. Thus Keil and Delitzsch translated
this verse: “And instead of balmy scent there will be
mouldiness, and instead of the sash, a rope, and instead
of artistic ringlets a baldness, and instead of the dress
cloak a frock of sackcloth, branding instead of beauty”
(Commentary, 7:1:147).
(13-23) Isaiah 4:1. “Take Away Our Reproach”
Verse 1 of chapter four seems to continue the thought
of chapter three rather than to begin a new thought.
This phrase suggests that the condition mentioned in
verse 1 is caused by the scarcity of men, a result of the
devastation of war mentioned in Isaiah 3:25–26. The
conditions under which these women would accept
this marriage (“eat our own bread, and wear our own
apparel”) are contrary to the Lord’s order of marriage
(see Exodus 21:10; D&C 132:58–61). To be unmarried
and childless in ancient Israel was a disgrace (see
Genesis 30:23; Luke 1:25). So terrible would conditions
in those times be that women would offer to share
a husband with others and expect no material
support from him, if they could claim they were
married to him.
(13-24) Isaiah 4:2. What Is the “Branch of the Lord”?
See Notes and Commentary on Isaiah 11:1.
(13-25) Isaiah 4:4. “Washed . . . Purged . . . Burning”
This passage describes the purification of Zion in
preparation for the establishment of God’s kingdom in
the last days (see also Isaiah 4:4a). Through chastisement
and various judgments, Israel will finally be purged of
wickedness and turn back to God (compare Isaiah 5:16;
Zechariah 13:9; Helaman 12:1–3).
(13-26) Isaiah 4:5–6. Zion to Be a Place of Refuge
In Doctrine and Covenants 45:66–72, the sacred and
protected status of “Zion” for the gathered Israel in the
latter days is described. Doctrine and Covenants
105:31–32 speaks of how the glory of Zion shall be her
defense. Isaiah compared the protecting divine influence
with that experienced by Moses (see Exodus 14:19–20;
Deuteronomy 1:33). Elder Orson Pratt suggested that
the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy would be literal:
“The time is to come when God will meet with all
the congregation of his Saints, and to show his approval,
and that he does love them, he will work a miracle by
covering them in the cloud of his glory. I do not mean
something that is invisible, but I mean that same order
of things which once existed on the earth so far as the
tabernacle of Moses was concerned, which was carried
in the midst of the children of Israel as they journeyed
in the wilderness. . . . But in the latter days there will be
people so pure in Mount Zion, with a house established
upon the tops of the mountains, that God will manifest
himself, not only in their Temple and upon all their
assemblies, with a visible cloud during the day, but
when the night shall come, if they shall be assembled
for worship, God will meet with them by his pillar of
fire; and when they retire to their habitations, behold
each habitation will be lighted up by the glory of
God,—a pillar of flaming fire by night.
“Did you ever hear of any city that was thus favored
and blessed since the day that Isaiah delivered this
prophecy? No, it is a latter-day work, one that God
must consummate in the latter times when he begins
to reveal himself, and show forth his power among the
nations.” (In Journal of Discourses, 16:82.)
(13-27) Isaiah 5:1–7. Isaiah’s Parable of the Vineyard
The prophet used the parable of the vineyard to
illustrate the impending destruction and scattering of
Israel (Judah). For additional examples of similar
applications of this parable see James E. Talmage, Jesus
the Christ, pp. 541–42.
The loss of protection for the vineyard, the neglect,
and the effects of famine would result from Israel’s
transgression (see vv. 5–7).
(13-28) Isaiah 5:8–25. Warning of the Consequences
of Apostasy and Transgression
After the parable that introduces this chapter, the
prophet Isaiah gave many examples of the wickedness
of the people of his day.
Verse 8. They built up great estates through
wickedness. Keil and Delitzsch explained: “‘They, the
insatiable, would not rest till, after every smaller piece
of landed property had been swallowed by them, the
141
President Spencer W. Kimball
whole land had come into their possession, and no one
beside themselves was settled in the land’ [Job 22:8].
Such covetousness was all the more reprehensible,
because the law of Israel had provided so very
stringently and carefully, that as far as possible there
should be an equal distribution of the soil, and that
hereditary family property should be inalienable.”
(Commentary, 7:1:166.)
An acre is the amount a yoke of oxen could plow in
a day. A bath is about 5.5 gallons. A homer is about 6.5
bushels, and an ephah is one tenth of a homer. These
measurements show how unproductive the land would
become because of this wickedness.
Verse 11. Drunkenness and partying prevail, with no
regard for God.
Verse 12. There is no knowledge of truth and true
principles. Ignorance is a hindrance in any field of
endeavor, but especially in spiritual things. The Prophet
Joseph Smith gave instruction on this important
principle: “The Church must be cleansed, and I proclaim
against all iniquity. A man is saved no faster than he
gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he
will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the
other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge,
and consequently more power than many men who
are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us,
and give us knowledge of the things of God.”
(Teachings, p. 217.)
Verse 18. They draw sin and iniquity with ropes of
vanity. Isaiah 5:18c helps explain Isaiah’s idiomatic
expressions: “They are tied to their sins like beasts to
their burdens.”
Verse 20. They pervert righteousness and goodness,
calling them evil, and try to pass off evil things as
good. It is the nature of sinners to reject the reality of
the consequences of their transgressions, and so they
attempt to explain them away.
142
Verse 21. They are “wise in their own eyes.” President
N. Eldon Tanner illustrated the necessity of heeding this
warning. He noted that when people “become learned
in the worldly things such as science and philosophy,
[they] become self-sufficient and are prepared to lean
unto their own understanding, even to the point where
they think they are independent of God; and because
of their worldly learning they feel that if they cannot
prove physically, mathematically, or scientifically that
God lives, they can and should feel free to question
and even to deny God and Jesus Christ. Then many of
our professors begin to teach perverse things, to lead
away disciples after them; and our youth whom we
send to them for learning accept them as authority,
and many are caused to lose their faith in God. . . .
“How much wiser and better it is for man to accept
the simple truths of the gospel and to accept as authority
God, the Creator of the world, and his Son Jesus Christ,
and to accept by faith those things which he cannot
disprove and for which he cannot give a better
explanation. He must be prepared to acknowledge that
there are certain things—many, many things—that he
cannot understand.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1968,
pp. 48–49.)
Verse 23. They “justify the wicked for reward.” Those
who were guilty of crimes were declared innocent by
bribed judges and other officials, whereas the innocent
were found guilty so that they could be silenced or
their property exploited. Obviously the dark evils that
prevailed among the Israelites of the ancient kingdom
of Judah help modern readers understand why the
judgments of God come upon them. But today’s world
can also learn a great lesson, for one need only look to
see the same evils prevailing on many sides. The effects
of sin today are as devastating as they were anciently.
That is the message of Isaiah for today.
(13-29) Isaiah 5:26–30. “He Will Lift Up an Ensign to
the Nations” in the Latter Days
The gathering of Israel in haste and with means not
known in Isaiah’s day is portrayed in the conclusion
of this chapter. Elder LeGrand Richards provided this
modern-day application of the prophet’s words:
“Since there were neither trains nor airplanes in that
day, Isaiah could hardly have mentioned them by
name. However, he seems to have described them in
unmistakable words. How better could ‘their horses’
hoofs be counted like flint, and their wheels like a
whirlwind’ than in the modern train? How better could
‘their roaring . . . be like a lion’ than in the roar of the
airplane? Trains and airplanes do not stop for night.
Therefore, was not Isaiah justified in saying: ‘none shall
slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins
be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken’? With
this manner of transportation the Lord can really ‘hiss
unto them from the end of the earth,’ that ‘they shall
come with speed swiftly.’” (Israel! Do You Know?, p. 182.)
The expression “ensign to the nations” is discussed
in Notes and Commentary on Isaiah 11:10, 12.
(13-30) Isaiah 5:26. What Does It Mean to “Hiss” to
the Nations?
This expression describes a signal, such as a whistle,
to summon or alert someone to an event. (See Isaiah
5:26b and Isaiah 7:18a.)
(13-33) Isaiah 6:1. “I Saw . . . the Lord”
(13-31) Isaiah 6:1–4. Vision of the Lord and the
Celestial Realms
A vision of the celestial sphere would be difficult if
not impossible to describe. That was the dilemma of
the prophet Isaiah. He endeavored in these verses to
portray something of the power and glory of his
experience, using images and terms with which his
readers could identify. Even then he sensed how much
he fell short of communicating the reality of the
experience. Later in his writing, Isaiah described the
inadequacy of words and even of the senses of mortal
man to comprehend heavenly things. He wrote: “For
since the beginning of the world men have not heard,
nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O
God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that
waiteth for him” (Isaiah 64:4).
Others who have experienced visions of the celestial
realms have cited Isaiah in an attempt to explain their
limited ability to tell of what they had been shown
(see 1 Corinthians 2:9; D&C 76:10). The Prophet Joseph
Smith provided a perspective on such experiences when
he said: “Could we read and comprehend all that has
been written from the days of Adam, on the relation
of man to God and angels in a future state, we should
know very little about it. Reading the experience of
others, or the revelation given to them, can never give
us a comprehensive view of our condition and true
relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be
obtained by experience through the ordinances of God
set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven
five minutes, you would know more than you would
by reading all that ever was written on the subject.”
(Teachings, p. 324.)
(13-32) Isaiah 6:1. “In the Year That King Uzziah Died”
The approximate year of King Uzziah’s death was
740 B.C. The events preceding it and following it can be
reviewed in Enrichment F.
Both John and Nephi testified that the Lord whom
Isaiah saw was the premortal Jesus Christ (see John
12:41; 2 Nephi 11:2–3). In addition, some have witnessed
a similar scene (see Revelation 4:1–11).
(13-34) Isaiah 6:2. What Are Seraphim?
“Seraphs are angels who reside in the presence of
God, giving continual glory, honor, and adoration to
him. ‘Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all
his hosts.’ (Ps. 148:2.) It is clear that seraphs include
the unembodied spirits of pre-existence, for our Lord
‘looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the
seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made.’
(D. & C. 38:1.) Whether the name seraphs also applies
to perfected and resurrected angels is not clear. While
petitioning on behalf of the saints, the Prophet prayed
that ‘we may mingle our voices with those bright,
shining seraphs around thy throne, with acclamations
of praise, singing Hosanna to God and the Lamb!’
(D. & C. 109:79.)
“In Hebrew the plural of seraph is seraphim or, as
incorrectly recorded in the King James Version of the
Bible, seraphims. Isaiah saw seraphim in vision and
heard them cry one to another ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the
Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’
([JST], Isa. 6:1–8.) The fact that these holy beings were
shown to him as having wings was simply to
symbolize their ‘power, to move, to act, etc.’ as was the
case also in visions others had received. (D. & C.
77:4.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 702–3.)
(13-35) Isaiah 6:4. “The Posts of the Door Moved . . . ,
and the House Was Filled with Smoke”
Another rendering of the first phrase from the
Hebrew suggests more clearly what was intended: “the
foundations of the thresholds trembled” (Isaiah 6:4a).
Amaziah
Uzziah (Azariah)
Jotham
Kingdom of Judah
Ahaz
Amos
Jonah
Micah
Joel
Isaiah
Hosea
Prophets
Hoshea
Jeroboam II
Jehoash
Zechariah
Shallum
Kingdom of Israel
Pekah
Pekahiah
Menahem
790 B.C.
780 B.C.
770 B.C.
760 B.C.
750 B.C.
740 B.C.
730 B.C.
720 B.C.
Contemporaries of King Uzziah
143
The presence of smoke was symbolic of the presence
and glory of God (see Exodus 19:18; Revelation 15:8).
Fire and smoke are frequently used to depict the glory
of celestial realms. In the language of Joseph Smith:
“God Almighty Himself dwells in eternal fire; flesh
and blood cannot go there, for all corruption is devoured
by the fire. ‘Our God is a consuming fire. [Deuteronomy
4:24; Hebrews 12:29].’ When our flesh is quickened by
the Spirit, there will be no blood in this tabernacle.
Some dwell in higher glory than others.
“. . . Immortality dwells in everlasting burnings.”
(Teachings, p. 367.)
(13-36) Isaiah 6:5–8. The Prophet Received Forgiveness
The expression “Woe is me! For I am undone” is
an idiom declaring Isaiah’s overwhelming feeling of
unworthiness before God. (See Young, Book of Isaiah,
1:247–48). Likewise, the purging by a live coal is
symbolic of purifying, cleansing, and forgiveness
(see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:250–51). Joseph Smith had
similar experiences in connection with his call and the
carrying forth of his ministry (see JS—H 1:29; D&C
29:3; 36:1; 50:36; 60:7).
(13-37) Isaiah 6:9–13. Prophecy of the Rejection of
Spiritual Things
The words the prophet Isaiah was commissioned
to deliver were in part to bring the people to a full
accountability for their choices, so that they would be
left without excuse. The Book of Mormon rendering of
verse 9 shows that the Lord was telling Isaiah the people
would for the most part reject his words: “And he said:
Go and tell this people—Hear ye indeed, but they
understood not; and see ye indeed, but they perceived
not” (2 Nephi 16:9; emphasis indicates differences
from the King James Version).
The people claimed to hear and see, but they did
not understand the spirit of the message.
The command to “make the heart of this people
fat, . . . their ears heavy, and shut their eyes” is used to
describe the process of making the people accountable.
The command, of course, refers to “their spiritual
sight, spiritual hearing, and spiritual feeling.” (Keil
and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:200). “There is a
self-hardening in evil. . . . Sin from its very nature
bears its own punishment. . . . An evil act in itself is the
result of self-determination proceeding from a man’s
own will.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:201).
An individual cannot resist or reject the truth without
eventually becoming spiritually hardened (see History
of the Church, 4:264). Isaiah’s indictment of the kingdom
of Judah was cited again in the New Testament to
show that the people of that time were no different.
The inability of many to understand the parables is a
fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (see Matthew 13:10–17;
Luke 8:9–10). The significance of many of the miracles
was also misunderstood (see John 12:37–41). The
testimony of the Messiah and His Sonship was
understood, at least in part, by the disciples, but it was
rejected by others (see Luke 10:21–24).
The prophet Isaiah asked the Lord how long some
men would be hardened against truth (v. 11); the
answer—until mortal man no longer exists (see Isaiah
6:11a).
144
(13-38) Isaiah 6:13. Scattering and Gathering of the
Remnant of Judah
This verse records the prophecy that the house of
Israel would survive the coming devastation as does
a tree that is stripped of its leaves in winter but still
remains alive (see Isaiah 6:13b).
(13-39) Isaiah 7:1–9. A Prophetic Warning against an
Alliance between Israel (Ephraim) and Syria
The kingdom of Israel (Ephraim) in the north had
formed an alliance with Syria for mutual strength and
protection against the conquering empire of Assyria.
When Judah refused to join the alliance, they threatened
to subjugate Judah and attacked their southern foe.
(See 2 Kings 15:36–38; 16:1–6).
Isaiah was directed to warn King Ahaz against
seeking political alliances for Judah in order to defend
his people. The king, the third of the kings of Judah
that Isaiah was sent to counsel, eventually rejected
the Lord’s warning (see 2 Kings 16:7–20; see also
Enrichment F.
(13-40) Isaiah 7:3. Who Was Shear-jashub?
He was one of the sons of the prophet Isaiah who
accompanied his father in visiting the king. His name
was a prophetic one that meant “the remnant shall
return” (Isaiah 7:3a; see also Notes and Commentary
on Isaiah 8:18).
(13-41) Isaiah 7:3. What Was the “Conduit of the
Upper Pool”?
See Notes and Commentary on 2 Kings 18:17.
(13-42) Isaiah 7:4. Why Were Rezin of Syria and
Pekah of Israel Called “Smoking Firebrands”?
The image is that of a torch that has burned out. The
charred pieces of wood have no strength and carry no
real threat (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:273).
(13-43) Isaiah 7:8. “Within Threescore and Five Years”
Because the chronologies of biblical and contemporary
texts are neither complete nor in harmony, it is difficult
to review the history with year-to-year precision.
The fulfillment of this prophecy, however, is generally
regarded as extending past the initial invasions of
both Tiglath-pileser III and Shalmaneser V to the final
conquest and displacement of the majority of the
population under the Assyrian king Esarhaddon.
Throughout the period of disruption and migrations,
Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom, was able to maintain
some identity until the final deportation. (See
Enrichment F; see also Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary,
7:1:211–12; Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:275–76.)
(13-44) Isaiah 7:10–16. The Messianic Promise a
Protection
King Ahaz was reluctant to accept counsel, so the
prophet challenged him to seek the confirming witness
of the Lord: “ask a sign” (v. 11). Still the king refused,
not because he was unwilling to tempt God as he said
(v. 12), but because he did not want the Lord interfering
in his plans to make an alliance with other nations.
But the Lord revealed the sign anyway, confirming the
(13-46) Isaiah 7:14. What Is the Meaning of the Name
Immanuel?
This name is also a title that describes Jehovah’s
mission in mortality. The New Testament provides a
correct interpretation of its meaning in Hebrew.
Matthew recorded: “Now all this was done, that it
might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by
the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with
child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call
his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God
with us” (Matthew 1:22–23).
(13-47) Isaiah 8. Warning of the Impending Assyrian
Invasion
Isaiah’s vision of the birth of Christ
prophetic promise that the Messiah would be born of
the remnant of Judah and that Judah would not totally
perish. In contrast to the promise to Judah, the writer
prophesied the fall of the Northern Kingdom, “the
land thou abhorrest” (v. 16), which opposed King
Ahaz. The two kings who reigned in the north at that
time were put to death by the Assyrians. (See Monte S.
Nyman, “Great Are the Words of Isaiah,” pp. 58–59;
Enrichment F).
(13-45) Isaiah 7:14. “A Virgin Shall . . . Bear a Son”
This passage is cited in the New Testament as being
fulfilled by the birth of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1:25).
Some commentators point out that the word translated
virgin means only a young woman and not someone
who has never had sexual relations. They do this in
an attempt to refute this passage as proof of the virgin
birth of Jesus Christ. But it can be shown that the term
is properly translated and did mean an unmarried
woman (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:286–88).
The Book of Mormon, likewise, testifies of Mary’s
virginity at the time of Christ’s conception (see 1 Nephi
11:13, 15, 18, 20–21). Thus, the vision of Nephi affirms
Isaiah’s ancient prophecy that it was indeed a virgin
who would conceive.
President Marion G. Romney spoke of the importance
of spiritual direction in understanding the prophet
Isaiah’s declaration:
“Here is another example in which men revise the
scriptures without the inspiration of the Spirit. Isaiah,
in predicting the birth of Christ, said: ‘Behold, a virgin
shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name
Immanuel.’ (Isaiah 7:14. Italics added.) When Isaiah used
the word virgin, he was saying that a woman who had
not known a man should bear a son.
“The modern translators say: ‘Behold, a young woman
shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name
Immanuel.’ (Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version
[1952], Isaiah 7:14. Italics added.) You see, they do not
believe that Christ was divine, so it does not make any
difference to them whether they say a ‘young woman’
or a ‘virgin.’” (In Conference Report, Tokyo Japan Area
Conference 1975, p. 46.)
The chapter is a continuation of the historical events
introduced in chapter 7 (see Enrichment F). The prophet
Isaiah is again to warn Judah against alliances, for, as
he prophesies, they will be ineffective. The Messianic
promise of Immanuel (“God is with us”) would prevail
in their behalf. The Assyrian invasion would come, but
Judah would still survive. Isaiah concluded his writing
with a warning against the false teachings and practices
that would pull Judah away from the law and
testimony that had been revealed to them.
(13-48) Isaiah 8:1–4. Who Was “Maher-shalal-hash-baz”?
This is the longest proper name in the Bible, and in
the Hebrew it has a meaning that was a message of
warning to Judah. The name means “to speed the spoil,
he hasteneth the prey” (see Isaiah 8:1d). The Lord
commanded the prophet to give this name to his
newborn son. The expression “prophetess” is used
here only to designate the prophet’s wife, not a prophetic
office or gift (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:303). This son
and Shear-jashub were both given prophetic names to
dramatize Isaiah’s message. (See also Notes and
Commentary on Isaiah 7:3 and 8:18.)
(13-49) Isaiah 8:14. “A Stone of Stumbling and . . . a
Rock of Offence”
The Messiah is referred to in the scriptures as a
“stone” (see Genesis 49:24; Psalm 118:22) and also as
a “rock” (see Deuteronomy 32:4, 15; 1 Samuel 2:2).
The prophet here uses this expression to describe the
rejection of the Savior, the stumbling and offence, by
the unbelieving of Israel and Judah. The New Testament
writers also cited this passage in showing how the
Jews for the most part rejected the Savior (see Romans
9:33; 1 Peter 2:8).
(13-50) Isaiah 8:18. “I and the Children Whom the
Lord Hath Given Me Are for Signs and for Wonders
in Israel”
The name Isaiah means “Jehovah saves.” The names
of his two known sons, Shear-jashub (Isaiah 7:3)
and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isaiah 8:1), also convey
a message to the people in Judah. (See Notes and
Commentary on Isaiah 7:3; 8:1–4.) Whenever anyone
saw or heard Isaiah and his sons, he was given a
message through their names, which were a sign or
witness against the people.
145
(13-51) Isaiah 8:19. Warning against Familiar Spirits,
Peepers, and Mutterers
The expression “familiar spirits” is not an accurate
term to convey the significance of the Hebrew term used
anciently. The Hebrew word ’ob means “a leather bottle
or bag” (see William Gesenius, A Hebrew and English
Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 15). This object was used
by the practitioners of necromancy, a deceptive craft
of pretended communication with the dead. The art
involved a kind of ventriloquism wherein the voice or
message of the “departed spirits” was called forth from
the bag or sometimes a pit. (See G. Johannes Botterweck
and Helmer Ringgren, Theological Dictionary of the Old
Testament, 1:131, 133–34.) The peeping (chirping) and
muttering (twittering) somewhat like birds was intended
to invoke the departed spirits or to convey the
pretended message (see Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:318).
The Lord warned Israel and Judah of such deceptions
early in their history (see Leviticus 19:31; 20:27;
Deuteronomy 18:10–11). President Joseph Fielding
Smith in commenting on these ancient practices gave
this warning that applies even today:
“To seek for information through . . . any way contrary
to the instruction the Lord has given is a sin. The Lord
gave positive instruction to Israel when they were in the
land of their inheritance that they were to go to him for
revelation and to avoid the devices prevalent among
the heathen nations who occupied their lands. . . .
“All through the Bible, the New Testament as well as
the Old, the Lord and his prophets have expressed their
displeasure when the people turned from the Lord to
‘familiar spirits.’” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:33.)
(13-52) Isaiah 9:1–7. The Messianic Promise Reaffirmed
As the Assyrians swept down against the alliance
of Israel (Ephraim) and the Syrians, they destroyed
Damascus and captured the northern region of Israel,
later called the Galilee (see 2 Kings 15:27–31;
Enrichment F). In spite of this invasion and the threat
it posed for the rest of Israel and for Judah in the south,
Isaiah prophesied of the coming of the Messiah as the
coming of a light. The lands inherited by the tribes of
Zebulun and Naphtali were in northern Israel, or the
Galilee, where Jesus was raised and spent most of His
ministry. The Keil and Delitzsch translation of verse 1
shows more clearly what is promised: “‘For it does not
remain dark where there is now distress: in the first
time He brought into disgrace the land of Zebulun and
the land of Naphtali, and in the last He brings to honour
the road by the sea, the other side of Jordan, the circle
of the Gentiles’” (Commentary, 7:1:243).
They added this explanation: “The reason assigned
for the fact that the unbelieving people of Judah had
fallen into a night without morning, is, that there was
a morning coming, whose light, however, would not
rise upon the land of Judah first, but upon other parts
of the land. . . . The meaning is, There is not, i.e. there
will not remain; a state of darkness over the land, . . .
which is now in a state of distress; but those very
districts which God has hitherto caused to suffer deep
humiliation He will bring to honour by and by. . . . The
height of the glorification would correspond to the depth
of the disgrace.” (Commentary, 7:1:243.)
Matthew saw the fact that the Messiah dwelt in the
area of Galilee as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy
(see Matthew 4:12–16).
146
The inconsistency of verse 3 is corrected when the
purer Book of Mormon text is used. The word not does
not appear (see 2 Nephi 19:3).
(13-53) Isaiah 9:5. “Every Battle . . . Shall Be with
Burning”
The prophet wrote in this chapter of Christ’s coming
as “a great light” (v. 2), His first appearance, and as a
“burning” (v. 5), the cleansing and destruction by fire
that will accompany His coming in glory (see Isaiah
9:5b).
(13-54) Isaiah 9:6. “Unto Us a Son Is Given . . . and
His Name Shall Be Called Wonderful, Counselor, the
Mighty God, the Everlasting Father”
President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote about the
Savior’s various titles:
“Isaiah . . . speaks of Christ as ‘Wonderful, Counselor,
the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of
Peace.’ (Is. 9:6)
“These titles, and the sayings that Jesus was the
Creator and all things were made by him, have proved
to be a stumbling block to some who are not well
informed. The question arises, ‘How could he, if he
had not body and flesh and bones, before he was born
of Mary, accomplish these things as a spirit?’ Jesus
had no body of flesh and bones until he was born at
Bethlehem. This he fully explained to the brother of
Jared. The answer to this question is simply that he did
these wonderful works because of the glory his Father
had given him before he was born (John 17:5–24) and
because at that time he was God. In an epistle issued
by the First Presidency and Council of Twelve Apostles
in 1916, these matters are clearly explained. (See Era,
Vol. 19:34.) From this epistle the following is taken:
“‘. . . scriptures that refer to God in any way as the
Father of the heavens and in the earth are to be
understood as signifying that God is the Maker, the
Organizer, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
President Joseph Fielding Smith
“‘With this meaning, as the context shows in every
case, Jehovah, who is Jesus Christ, the Son of Elohim,
is called “the Father,” and even “the very eternal Father
of heaven and earth.” (See . . . Mosiah 16:15.) With
analogous meaning, Jesus Christ is called “The
Everlasting Father,” (Isaiah 9:6; compare 2 Nephi 19:6.)
The descriptive titles “Everything” and “eternal” in
the foregoing texts are synonymous.
“‘That Jesus Christ who we also know as Jehovah,
was the executive of the Father, Elohim, in the work of
creation is set forth in the book Jesus the Christ, Chap. 4.
Jesus Christ, being the Creator, is constantly called the
Father of heaven and earth in the sense explained above;
and since his creations are of eternal quality, he is very
properly called the Eternal Father of heaven and earth.’”
(Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:168).
(13-55) Isaiah 9:6. “The Prince of Peace”
The angels at the time of the Messiah’s birth declared
“peace on earth” with His coming (see Luke 2:14).
President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., discussed this important
title and its meaning:
“Heralded centuries before his birth as the ‘Prince
of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6), heavenly angels announced his
coming. . . .
“Modern man sometimes vainly thinks that Jesus’
mission was to wipe out war; and scoffers have cried
that since war still curses the earth, Christ’s mission
has failed and Christianity is a blight.
“Yet Christ himself sent forth his Twelve, saying:
“‘Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:
I came not to send peace, but a sword.’ (Matt. 10:34.)
“Christ did proclaim a peace—the peace of everlasting
righteousness, which is the eternal and mortal enemy
of sin. Between righteousness and sin, in whatever form,
there can only be unceasing war, whether in one man,
among the people, or between nations in armed conflict.
This war is the sword of Christ; whatever its form this
war cannot end until sin is crushed and Christ brings
all flesh under his dominion. Righteousness is peace
wherever it abides; sin in itself is war wherever it is
found.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1939, pp. 104–5).
(13-56) Isaiah 10:1–19, 24–34. The Destruction of
Assyria—the Wicked
Immediately after the prophecy of the destruction of
Israel, Isaiah gave a prophecy concerning the destiny
of Assyria lest anyone conclude that this heathen nation
was righteous and noble because of its success against
Israel and Judah. The fulfillment of this detailed
prophecy has been historically confirmed. Isaiah
mentioned some of the successful military campaigns
of Assyria (see v. 9) and prophesied of the eventual
intrusion and success against Judah, even listing the
names of many of the cities of Judah that would fall to
Assyria (see vv. 28–32). The destruction both of Israel
and of Assyria is described as complete (vv. 15–19).
The destruction of Israel and Assyria is also a type of
the destruction of the wicked in any age and has its
prophesied parallel even for the latter days.
(13-57) Isaiah 11:1. Who Was the “Stem of Jesse” and
the “Rod out of the Stem of Jesse”?
The Prophet Joseph Smith
stem of Jesse is stated to be Christ. The rod out of the
stem of Jesse was said to be “a servant in the hands of
Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as
of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there
is laid much power” (D&C 113:4). This scripture seems
to be a reference to the Prophet Joseph Smith and to
Ephraim’s leadership in the restoration in the last days.
President Joseph Fielding Smith summarized Ephraim’s
role when he wrote: “It is Ephraim, today, who holds
the priesthood. It is with Ephraim that the Lord has
made covenant and has revealed the fulness of the
everlasting gospel. It is Ephraim who is building
temples and performing the ordinances in them for
both the living and for the dead. When the ‘lost tribes’
come—and it will be a most wonderful sight and a
marvelous thing when they do come to Zion—in
fulfilment of the promises made through Isaiah and
Jeremiah, they will have to receive the crowning
blessings from their brother Ephraim, the ‘firstborn’
in Israel.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:252–53).
President Brigham Young affirmed the place of
Ephraim and the Prophet Joseph Smith in bringing to
pass the purposes of this dispensation: “It is the house
of Israel we are after, and we care not whether they
come from the east, the west, the north, or the south;
from China, Russia, England, California, North or South
America, or some other locality; and it is the very lad
on whom father Jacob laid his hands, that will save the
house of Israel. The Book of Mormon came to Ephraim,
for Joseph Smith was a pure Ephraimite, and the Book
of Mormon was revealed to him, and while he lived he
made it his business to search for those who believed
the Gospel.” (In Journal of Discourses, 2:268–69.)
The Doctrine and Covenants provides the
interpretation for this verse (see D&C 113:1–6). The
147
(13-58) Isaiah 11:1. Who Is the “Branch”?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote the following analysis
of the meaning of the Branch:
“Since it takes a first and a second coming to fulfill
many Messianic prophecies, we of necessity must
consider them here, and in the case of the DavidicMessianic utterances show also how they apply to our
Lord’s Second Coming. Christ is the Son of David, the
Seed of David, the inheritor, through Mary his mother,
of the blood of the great king. He is also called the Stem
of Jesse and the Branch, meaning Branch of David.
Messianic prophecies under these headings deal with
the power and dominion he shall wield as he sits on
David’s throne, and have reference almost exclusively
to his second sojourn on planet earth.
“Jesse was the father of David. Isaiah speaks of the
Stem of Jesse, whom he also designates as a branch
growing out of the root of that ancient worthy. He recites
how the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; how he
shall be mighty in judgment; how he shall smite the
earth and slay the wicked; and how the lamb and the
lion shall lie down together in that day—all of which
has reference to the Second Coming and the millennial
era thereby ushered in. (Isa. 11.) As to the identity of
the Stem of Jesse, the revealed words says: ‘Verily thus
saith the Lord: It is Christ.’ (D&C 113:1–2.) This also
means that the Branch is Christ, as we shall now see
from other related scriptures.
“By the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord foretells the
ancient scattering and the latter-day gathering of his
chosen Israel. After they have been gathered ‘out of all
countries whither I have driven them,’ after the kingdom
has been restored to Israel as desired by the ancient
apostles in Acts 1:6, then this eventuality, yet future
and millennial in nature, shall be fulfilled: ‘Behold the
days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David
a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper,
and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In
his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell
safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called,
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ (Jer. 23:3–6.)
That is to say, the King who shall reign personally upon
the earth during the Millennium shall be the Branch
who grew out of the house of David. He shall execute
judgment and justice in all the earth because he is the
Lord Jehovah, even him whom we call Christ.
“Through Zechariah the Lord spoke similarly: ‘Thus
saith the Lord of hosts: . . . I will bring forth my servant
the BRANCH. . . . I will remove the iniquity of the land
in one day [meaning that the wicked shall be destroyed
and the millennial era of peace and righteousness
commence]. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall
ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and
under the fig tree.’ (Zech. 3:7–10.) Of that glorious
millennial day the Lord says also: ‘Behold the man
whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up
out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the
Lord: Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and
he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his
throne.’ (Zech. 6:12–13.)
“That the Branch of David is Christ is perfectly clear.
We shall now see that he is also called David, that he
is a new David, an Eternal David, who shall reign
forever on the throne of his ancient ancestor. ‘It shall
come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, ‘that
148
is, in the great millennial day of gathering, that ‘they
shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king,
whom I will raise up unto them.’ (Jer. 30:8–9.)
“‘In those days, and at that time, will I cause the
Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he
shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall
dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall
be called, The Lord our righteousness,’ which is to say
that because the Great King himself reigns in her midst,
even the city shall be called after him. ‘For thus saith
the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the
throne of the house of Israel. . . . If ye can break my
covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night,
and that there should not be day and night in their
season; Then may also my covenant be broken with
David my servant, that he should not have a son to
reign upon his throne.’ (Jer. 33:15–21.) David’s temporal
throne fell long centuries before our Lord was born, and
that portion of Israel which had not been scattered to
the ends of the earth was in bondage to the iron yoke
of Rome. But the promises remain. The eternal throne
shall be restored in due course with a new David sitting
thereon, and he shall reign forever and ever. . . .
“Through Ezekiel, the Lord speaks of this One
Shepherd in this way: ‘I will save my flock. . . . And I
will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed
them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and
he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their
God, and my servant David a prince among them.’
When that day comes, ‘I will make with them a
covenant of peace,’ the Lord says, meaning they shall
have again the fulness of the everlasting gospel. Then
‘there shall be showers of blessing’; all Israel shall
dwell safely and know that the Lord is their God.
(Ezek. 34:22–31.)
“Through Ezekiel, the Lord also tells of the coming
forth of the Book of Mormon, which becomes the
instrument in his hands to bring to pass the gathering
of Israel. Of that day of gathering he says, ‘I will make
them one nation in the land upon the mountains of
Israel; and one king shall be king to them all.’ In that
day he promises to ‘cleanse them,’ by baptism, ‘so
shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And
David my servant shall be king over them; and they
all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in
my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto
Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt;
and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their
children, and their children’s children for ever: and
my servant David shall be their prince for ever.’
“Then the Lord restates that his gathered people
shall have his everlasting gospel with all its blessings;
that he will set his sanctuary, meaning his temple, in
their midst forevermore (as Zechariah recorded); and
all Israel shall know that the Lord is their God. (Ezek.
37:15–28.)
“How glorious shall be the coming day when the
second David, who is Christ, reigns on the throne of
the first David; when all men shall dwell safely; when
the earth shall be dotted with temples; and when the
gospel covenant shall have full force and validity in all
the earth!” (The Promised Messiah, pp. 192–95).
(13-59) Isaiah 11:9. “The Earth Shall Be Full of the
Knowledge of the Lord”
The sacred knowledge of God will prevail on earth
(see Smith, Teachings, p. 93), truth from which no one
can hide. Elder Orson Pratt wrote: “The knowledge of
God will then cover the earth as the waters cover the
mighty deep. There will be no place of ignorance, no
place of darkness, no place for those that will not serve
God. Why? Because Jesus, the Great Creator, and also
the Great Redeemer, will be himself on the earth, and
his holy angels will be on the earth, and all the
resurrected Saints that have died in former dispensations
will all come forth, and they will be on the earth. What
a happy earth this creation will be, when this purifying
process shall come, and the earth be filled with the
knowledge of God as the waters cover the great deep!
What a change! Travel, then, from one end of the earth
to another, you can find no wicked man, no drunken
man, no man to blaspheme the name of the Great
Creator, no one to lay hold on his neighbor’s goods,
and steal them, no one to commit whoredoms—for all
who commit whoredoms will be thrust down to hell,
saith the Lord God Almighty, and all persons who
commit sin will be speedily visited by the judgments
of the Almighty!” (In Journal of Discourses, 21:325.)
The promises of revelation for this great era are
outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants (see D&C
101:32–34).
(13-60) Isaiah 11:10–16. The Gathering of Israel from
the World
Elder Wilford Woodruff summarized the spirit of
this gathering in light of Isaiah’s words when he said:
“Isaiah’s soul seemed to be on fire, and his mind
wrapt in the visions of the Almighty, while he declared,
in the name of the Lord, that it should come to pass in
the last days that God should set His hand again the
second time to recover the remnant of His people,
assemble the outcasts of Israel, gather together the
dispersed of Judah, destroy the tongue of the Egyptian
sea and make men go over dry-shod, gather them to
Jerusalem on horses, mules, swift beasts, and in chariots,
and rebuild Jerusalem upon her own heaps; while, at
the same time, the destroyer of the Gentiles will be on
his way; and while God was turning the captivity of
Israel, he would put all their curses and afflictions upon
the heads of the Gentiles, their enemies, who had not
sought to recover, but to destroy them, and had trodden
them under foot from generation to generation.
“At the same time the standard should be lifted up,
that the honest in heart, the meek of the earth among
the Gentiles, should seek unto it; and that Zion should
be redeemed and be built up a holy city, that the glory
and power of God should rest upon her, and be seen
upon her; that the watchman upon Mount Ephraim
might cry—‘Arise ye, and let us go up unto Zion, the
city of the Lord our God;’ that the Gentiles might come
to her light, and kings to the brightness of her rising;
that the Saints of God may have a place to flee to and
stand in holy places while judgment works in the earth;
that when the sword of God that is bathed in heaven
falls upon Idumea, or the world,—when the Lord pleads
with all flesh by sword and by fire, and the slain of the
Lord are many, the Saints may escape these calamities
by fleeing to the places of refuge, like Lot and Noah.”
(History of the Church, 6:26).
(13-61) Isaiah 11:10, 12. “An Ensign of the People”
President Joseph Fielding Smith described the ensign
and its significance:
“Over 125 years ago, in the little town of Fayette,
Seneca County, New York, the Lord set up an ensign to
the nations. It was in fulfilment of the prediction made
by the Prophet Isaiah, which I have read. That ensign
was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
which was established for the last time, never again
to be destroyed or given to other people. It was the
greatest event the world has seen since the day that
the Redeemer was lifted upon the cross and worked
out the infinite and eternal atonement. It meant more
to mankind than anything else that has occurred since
that day. . . .
“Following the raising of this ensign, the Lord sent
forth his elders clothed with the priesthood and with
power and authority, among the nations of the earth,
bearing witness unto all peoples of the restoration of
his Church, and calling upon the children of men to
repent and receive the gospel; for now it was being
preached in all the world as a witness before the end
should come, that is, the end of the reign of wickedness
and the establishment of the millennial reign of peace.
The elders went forth as they were commanded, and
are still preaching the gospel and gathering out from
the nations the seed of Israel unto whom the promise
was made.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:254–55; see also
Isaiah 5:26.)
(13-62) Isaiah 11:11. “The Lord Shall Set His Hand
Again the Second Time to Recover the Remnant of
His People”
Elder LeGrand Richards commented on this
scripture as follows:
“From this scripture we learn that the events
described were to be in the future: ‘The Lord shall set
his hand again the second time to recover the remnant
of his people.’ There could not be a ‘second time’
unless there had been a first. The first time was when
the Lord led Israel out of Egyptian bondage and
captivity. When did the Lord set his hand the ‘second
time’ to recover the remnant of his people? This we
will now consider. From the above scripture we learn
that three important events were to transpire: (1) He
shall set up an ensign for the nations; (2) he shall
assemble the outcasts of Israel; (3) he shall gather
together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners
of the earth.
“It is clear there are to be two gathering places—one
for Israel and one for Judah. . . .
“Since Moses was the prophet the Lord raised up
to lead Israel out of the land of Egypt and gave him
power to perform such mighty miracles before
Pharaoh, even to the leading of the children of Israel
through the Red Sea on dry land, it seems very
appropriate that Moses should hold the keys of the
gathering of Israel when the Lord would ‘set his hand
again the second time to recover the remnant of his
people.’ These were the keys Moses committed to
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
149
“When speaking of Israel, most people have the Jews
in mind, and when referring to the gathering of Israel,
they have in mind the return of the Jews to the land of
Jerusalem. It should be remembered that the Jews, the
descendants of Judah, represent but one of the twelve
branches, or tribes, of the house of Israel—the family
of Jacob.” (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 207–9).
(13-63) Isaiah 11:13–14. “Ephraim Shall Not Envy
Judah, and Judah Shall Not Vex Ephraim”
Anciently, during the days of the divided kingdoms,
Judah (the leading tribe of the Southern Kingdom) and
Ephraim (the leading tribe of the Northern Kingdom)
were often in competition. Sometimes they were even
at war with each other. Isaiah prophesied that in the
last days that conflict would come to an end. Ezekiel,
in a similar prophecy, promised that the house of Israel
would no longer be divided, but under their true king,
the New David (see Notes and Commentary on Isaiah
11:1) there would be one united nation again. (See
Ezekiel 37:15–25.) Jeremiah and Zechariah also spoke
of the future reuniting of the house of Israel (see
Jeremiah 3:18; Zechariah 10:6–7).
Elder LeGrand Richards explained how this prophecy
must be fulfilled:
“We are from Ephraim. The Lord expects us, since
we are the custodians of his gospel as restored in these
latter days, according to my understanding, to extend
the hand of friendship to Judah, because after all we
are all descendants of the prophets Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, and we come under the promises that through
their descendants should all the nations of the earth
be blessed.
“I do not know how the enmity and the envy
between Ephraim and Judah can disappear except that
we of the house of Ephraim, who have the custody of
the gospel, should lead out in trying to bring to this
branch of the house of Israel the blessings of the
restored gospel. . . .
“And it seems to me that the only way that the tribe
of Judah can be sanctified to dwell in his presence
forever and ever will be when we bring to them the
gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior promised
them it would be brought in the latter days.” (In
Conference Report, Oct. 1956, pp. 23–24.)
(13-64) Isaiah 11:15–16. “The Lord Shall Utterly Destroy
the Tongue of the Egyptian Sea . . . and There Shall
Be an Highway”
Elder Parley P. Pratt describes the literal meaning of
the verses as a part of this gathering of Israel: “We
have also presented before us, in verse 15, the marvelous
150
power of God, which will be displayed in the destruction
of a small branch of the Red Sea, called the tongue of
the Egyptian Sea, and also the dividing of the seven
streams of some river [perhaps the Nile], and causing
men to go over dryshod; and lest any should not
understand it literally, verse 16 says that ‘there shall be
an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall
be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day
that he came up out of the land of Egypt.’ Now we
have only to ask whether, in the days of Moses, the
Red Sea was literally divided or whether it was only a
figure? for as it was then, so it shall be again.” (Voice of
Warning, p. 35).
(13-65) Isaiah 12. A Millennial Hymn
This brief chapter is a hymn of praise for the great
millennial era when the Lord will reign “in the midst”
of His people (Isaiah 12:6).
(13-66) Isaiah 12:2. “God Is My Salvation . . . the Lord
Jehovah Is My Strength”
A literal translation of this verse reveals the sacred
names and name-titles of Deity as they are used
scripturally.
“‘Behold El is my salvation,
I shall trust and not be afraid;
For my strength and my song is Yah, Yehovah,
And he has become my salvation.’
“‘El’ is the singular of Elohim. It seldom occurs in
the Bible in singular. In the English Bible both singular
and plural are rendered by the word ‘God.’ ‘Yah’ is
a contracted form of Jehovah or Yehovah, which in the
Bible is usually rendered in English as ‘LORD.’ In the
King James Version here, to avoid LORD LORD, they
have rendered it as LORD JEHOVAH. This is one of
the few times the name is written out fully as Jehovah
in the King James translation. [See also: Exodus 6:3; Ps.
83:18; Isa. 26:4.] The short form Yah occurs in Hebrew
also in Exodus 15:2 and Psalms 118:14.” (Ellis T.
Rasmussen, An Introduction to the Old Testament and
Its Teachings, 2:46.)
POINTS TO PONDER
(13-67) The Significance of Isaiah
Once you have carefully read and studied these
chapters of Isaiah and the interpretive commentary on
them, write on a separate sheet of paper the things
Isaiah said that have significance and application for
Latter-day Saints and the world today.
Isaiah 13–23
A Voice of Warning
to the Wicked
(14-1) Introduction
Isaiah 13–23 contains a collection of “burdens” or
pronouncements upon nations of Isaiah’s time.
Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Damascus (Syria),
Egypt, and others all came under the prophet’s gloomy
oracles of judgment. These chapters may seem like a
vengeful series of pronouncements, but in context,
these burdens provide significant insights into both
the ancient and modern worlds.
In Isaiah 14 the Lord condemned the wickedness of
the house of Israel and prophesied that it would be
brought into great judgments because of its evils.
Generally these judgments were to be carried out by
other nations. We could say: “Granted that Israel was
wicked, but even at her worst she was no worse than
her heathen neighbors, and often was much better.
Why should she be destroyed and the others escape?”
The Lord showed through these burdens that the
world too would be brought to judgment. Here, as in
the previous chapters, Isaiah often used dualism to
prophesy simultaneously to his own people and to us
in modern times. Though chapters 13–23 were given to
nine different nations, giving them notice that the
divine timetable for their repentance had run out and
that they were to reap the judgments of God, each
nation was also a symbol of the modern world. You may
feel a spirit of doom associated with the condition and
future of Babylon and the other nations, but you should
also realize that ancient Babylon with its evil and
judgment was a shadow and a type of present-day
Babylon, or the world. It is to present-day Babylon
that Isaiah delivered the sharpest warnings.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study Isaiah 13–23. Refer to
Enrichment E throughout your study of the book
of Isaiah. Enrichment F will provide an overview of
the historical setting of the prophet Isaiah’s
ministry.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
ISAIAH 13–23
(14-2) Isaiah 13. Babylon Is a Term Used by the Lord
to Typify Wickedness in the Latter-day World
Isaiah foresaw the graphic destruction of Babylon,
the degradation of its nobility, and the universal
wickedness of its masses. In his characteristic way he
also uses the term Babylon to typify a latter-day
14
condition and judgment. Each era of the earth has
known its own Babylon, but the Babylon of the latter
days was seen by the prophets as being among the most
wicked of any era and the object of destruction at the
coming of the Lord.
Though at the time Babylon was only a province in
the mighty Assyrian Empire, Isaiah accurately foresaw
that Babylon and not Assyria would bring judgments
upon the kingdom of Judah. He prophesied that Babylon
would eventually come into a judgment of its own. At
the same time Isaiah used Babylon as a symbol of the
world and its wickedness. So when Isaiah speaks of
Babylon he refers to both the empire of that name and
spiritual Babylon.
God issued a call for His forces to gather together to
overthrow Babylon. In this case, these forces were the
Medes (see Isaiah 13:17). The call was answered about
130 years later when an alliance of Medes and Persians
under Cyrus the Great dammed the Euphrates River
and marched through the riverbed and under the walls
of Babylon to capture the city and overthrow the empire.
The significance of the incident is more clearly indicated
by considering the imagery of the term Babylon in a
spiritual sense. The call is for the “sanctified ones”
(Isaiah 13:3), the Saints of the latter days, to gather
together and join with God in overthrowing wickedness
(Babylon) from the world.
In this chapter of Isaiah one can see an excellent
example of the Jewish dualism so frequently found in
Isaiah and in other Old Testament writings (see
Enrichment E).
(14-3) Isaiah 13. Notable Changes in the Text of Isaiah
Nephi quoted Isaiah 13 in its entirety (see 2 Nephi 23),
but it is somewhat different from the King James text.
The most significant differences are found in verses 3,
8, and 22. Compare the two versions carefully to see
what has been lost from the King James Version.
(14-4) Isaiah 13:1. What Was the Burden of Babylon?
Since Babylon is a scriptural symbol for the peoples
and governments that oppose the kingdom of God, the
“burden” of Babylon refers to the weighty judgments
that inevitably await it. Indeed, the threshing floors of
Babylon will be fanned and its chaff burned. (See
Jeremiah 51:1–2; Matthew 3:12.)
(14-5) Isaiah 13:2, 4–5. What Were the Banner, the
Mountain, and the Multitude?
In a beautiful metaphor Isaiah 13 refers to the gospel
standard or ensign being lifted up in the last days as a
“banner” (v. 2) to which the world may gather
(compare Isaiah 5:26; 62:10; 2 Nephi 15:26).
The “mountain” (Isaiah 13:2) is discussed in Notes
and Commentary on Isaiah 2:1–5.
The “multitude” is “a great people” (Isaiah 13:4)
who come together, mustered by the Lord of Hosts,
153
ready to do battle (compare 2 Nephi 23:3–5). These
multitudes are the Saints who will be gathered from
every nation in the last days and enlisted in the army
of the living God to wage war against wickedness.
(Compare D&C 10:64–67; 29:7–11; 45:66–71; 76:28–29;
84:2; 103:22–25; Matthew 24:30–31.)
(14-6) Isaiah 13:9–10. Many Prophets Have Spoken of
the Signs in the Heavens
A very dramatic sign of the coming of the Lord will
be the great wonders to be manifest in the heavens
(compare D&C 29:14; 34:9; 45:42; 88:87; 133:49; Joel
2:31; Matthew 24:29; Revelation 6:12–17).
(14-7) Isaiah 13:11–12. What Was Implied by a Man
Being More Precious Than Gold?
In chapter 13, verses 11–12, Isaiah repeats a refrain
used earlier (see Isaiah 4:1–4), that righteous men will
become as difficult to find as precious gold and will be
treasured as highly. The wicked will be cleansed from
the earth, and the worthy righteous will remain to
become the precious jewels in the royal diadem of the
Lord (see D&C 60:4; Isaiah 62:1–3). Indeed, the treasure
of “the golden wedge of Ophir” (Isaiah 13:12), the rich,
gold-producing province of India, is insignificant
compared to the worth of one righteous man (compare
D&C 18:10).
(14-8) Isaiah 13:13. What Was Meant by the Heavens
Being Shaken and the Earth Being Removed?
To have the heavens shaken and the earth removed
was a Jewish figure of speech suggesting a time of
great calamity and disaster. Such would be the fall of
Babylon. The whole political climate and circumstances
of the world would be shaken.
The prophecy also has a literal fulfillment in the
latter days. All things are to be restored. The heavens
will flee as the earth is brought back to a condition it
once enjoyed. The earth will then receive its paradisiacal
glory. Its paradisiacal glory is not to be confused with
the celestial state that is the eventual destiny of this
sphere; it is, rather, the millennial condition wherein
all life will enjoy continual peace. (See Joseph Fielding
Smith, The Signs of the Times, pp. 34–38.)
(14-9) Isaiah 13:14–18. What Was Meant by the Medes
Destroying Babylon?
Isaiah declared that as the Medes, those of the higher
mountainous country above Babylon, would descend
upon the worldly gem of the Euphrates and decimate
it, so in a spiritual sense a higher power, not interested
in wealth, would come upon the Babylon of the latter
days and destroy its proud, its wicked, and its
confederates (see 2 Nephi 23:15).
Ruins of Babylon
undertook a building program which made Babylon
one of the most remarkable cities of the ancient world
(see Enrichment G). To predict the total devastation
and desolation of such a city was remarkable, for some
ancient cities, such as Jerusalem, Damascus, and Jericho,
have continued through the centuries and still exist
today. But after its conquest by Cyrus, Babylon steadily
declined. Several hundred years passed before Babylon
was abandoned, but by the first century after Christ it
lay deserted and in ruins, and so it has remained. The
silent ruins stand as an eloquent witness that Isaiah
spoke with divine accuracy.
Spiritual Babylon shall likewise become a waste
and desolation when God comes upon the world in
judgment and ushers in the millennial reign of Christ.
(See Revelation 18.)
(14-11) Isaiah 14. Notable Changes in the Text of Isaiah
The entire chapter of Isaiah was quoted by Nephi
with two important changes. Compare verses 2 and 4
in both versions.
(14-12) Isaiah 14:2. What Was the Relationship of
Israel to the People Spoken of Here?
The gathering process that restores Israel to her
promised lands will be facilitated by other nations
(people) who will assist in Israel’s return from the
ends of the earth. Then these other nations will
espouse Israel’s cause, and the captive (Israel) will
become a ruler over her captors. This favored condition
will be fully realized in the glorious millennial peace
enjoyed by the faithful who have truly conquered
Babylon (the world). (See Isaiah 14:3.) In other words,
as C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch put it, “Babylon falls that
Israel may rise” (Commentary on the Old Testament,
7:1:306).
(14-10) Isaiah 13:19–22. Was Babylon’s Curse to
Extinction?
(14-13) Isaiah 14:4–21. Isaiah Sang a Song for Babylon
Isaiah’s description of Babylon in these verses was
literally fulfilled. (Remember that at the time Isaiah
wrote, Babylonia was not a world empire.) Under
Nebuchadnezzar, Babylonia overthrew Assyria and
took over the reins of world power. Nebuchadnezzar
This satirical or taunting song, given in Isaiah’s own
beautiful poetry, is a song of judgment against the
Babylon of unrighteousness. Isaiah strides through the
future in this powerful Hebrew meter, leaving Babylon
trodden down and vanquished in the triumph of Israel.
154
(14-17) Isaiah 15–16. The Lord’s Judgment against Moab
Moab was the eldest son of Lot’s older daughter
(see Genesis 19:37). His people settled east of the Dead
Sea from the Zered River northward. The Moabites
were cousins of the Israelites; but there was continual
strife between them, and the Lord used them as His
chastening rod against Israel. Nevertheless, lest Israel
feel that the wickedness of the Moabites was preferred
before the Lord, Isaiah revealed the Moabites’ destiny
in these two chapters. Isaiah promised that some day
the Lord would remember His covenants with Israel
and gather them from the world and establish His
covenant with them forever, while Moab would receive
the sentence of destruction. In this sense Moab was
also a symbol for the wicked world, and none of her
powerful cities nor her lucrative trade routes nor her
prominence among her sister nations would be able to
stand in that day, but all would be destroyed.
Jordan
Isaiah again used dualism. Chapters 13 and 14
describe the downfall of Babylon, both of Babylon as
an empire and of Babylon as the symbol of the world
(see D&C 133:14). Thus, most scholars think “Lucifer,
son of the morning” is the king of Babylon, probably
Nebuchadnezzar. In the symbolic use of Babylon,
(Babylon as spiritual wickedness and the kingdom of
Satan), Lucifer is Satan. This interpretation is confirmed
in latter-day revelation (see D&C 76:26–8). Satan and
Babylon’s prince (both represented by Lucifer in this
passage) aspire to take kingly glory to themselves,
but in fact will be thrust into hell where there will be
weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Compare Isaiah 13:13–14 with Moses 4:1–4, where
Lucifer’s conditions for saving all men are given. What
adds to the power of the imagery is the fact that the
word congregation (v. 13) is translated by Keil and
Delitzsch as the “assembly of gods” (Commentary,
7:1:312).
In still another example of Isaiah’s beautiful dualism,
even the kings of the world lie in their tombs (house)
in respect (see vv. 18–19), but Babylon’s king was to
be cast aside and trodden under foot. This reward was
literally visited upon the city of the Chaldees, and
though Nebuchadnezzar was certainly buried in great
splendor, there is no grave found for him today in
the ruins of Babylon. Think for a moment of Satan’s
“grave.” Never having received a body, he shall never
have a tomb or monument of any kind, though he was
king and ruler of the great world-wide and history-wide
empire of spiritual Babylon. No wonder the kings of
the earth, who, though wicked in mortality, could still
inherit the telestial kingdom, would marvel at his
demise.
Judah, who had made an alliance with him. In spite of
the hatred of the Philistines and their persecution of
Israel, the Lord’s people were established in the land. In
like manner will Zion be established while all her
enemies (Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, and so on) will be
powerless to make it otherwise, but they will fall.
Penuel
River Jabbok
Succoth
ISRAEL
River
(14-14) Isaiah 14:12–15. Who Was “Lucifer, Son of the
Morning”?
Jazer
(14-15) Isaiah 14:24–27. Assyria Was Like Babylon
In addition to his use of the Babylonian Empire as
a symbol of spiritual Babylon, Isaiah also sketches the
demise of the great Assyrian Empire, which in the days
of Hezekiah met crushing defeat upon the hills of
Jerusalem at the hands of an angel of destruction (see
Isaiah 37:33–38). Assyria also served as a type of the
world. In like manner will all evil nations feel the hand
of God’s judgments (see Isaiah 14:26).
(14-16) Isaiah 14:28–32. The Burden of Philistia
Elealeh
Heshbon
Bezer
Sibmah
En-Egaim
Mt. Nebo Jehaz
Medeba
AMMON
Ataroth
Salt Sea
Debon (Dimon)
Aroer
River Arno n
Ar
Luhith
W
at
N
Zoar
of
ers rim
im
These verses reveal the judgment of destruction,
which Isaiah lived to witness, against Philistia. The
Philistines were long-time enemies of Israel, and
warfare between the two peoples had gone on for
centuries. (See Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Philistines.”)
They controlled parts of the Holy Land’s coastal
regions, though their power waned considerably from
the time of David on. In Roman times, the Holy Land
was known as Judea until the Jewish revolt of A.D.
132–35, after which the Emperor Hadrian changed the
name to Syria Palaestina to show the Jews that they
had no claim there any longer.
The King James Version used the Latin form and
called it “Palestina,” but what is meant is the Philistines,
not Palestine, as the terms are used today.
The Assyrian emperor Tiglath-pileser captured the
Philistines about the time of the death of Ahaz, king of
Jericho
Kir
MOAB
Horonaim
Ri v e r
EDOM
Zere
d
Sela (Petra)
Cities of Moab and neighboring nations
155
(14-18) Isaiah 15:2–3. What Did Baldness Have to Do
with the Lord’s Judgment against Moab?
The clipping of the hair and beard was an indication
of great shame in ancient Israel and in this verse means
that Moab’s supposed pride and prominence would
turn to shame and reproach. The sorrow of the wicked
is portrayed by Isaiah in his use of “sackcloth” and his
reference to the professional howling and weeping that
was the custom in the Middle East in times of grief
(see James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 324–25).
(14-19) Isaiah 15:5. What Was Meant by Moab Being
a Heifer of Three Years Old?
Isaiah recognized that Moab was a youthful, vibrant
nation. “A three-year-old ox, is one that is still in all
the freshness and fulness of its strength” (Keil and
Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:326). In spite of Moab’s
vigor and strength, Isaiah foretold that powerful forces
from the north countries would destroy her only three
years hence (see Isaiah 16:14). This prophecy was
fulfilled with the Assyrian invasion under Sennacherib
(see Enrichment F).
(14-20) Isaiah 15:8–9. Moab’s Destruction Was Universal
The cry of destruction of Moab is universal, even
beyond her borders to Eglaim (En-Eglaim) northwest
of the Salt Sea. To show the extent of the tragedy that
Moab would experience, Isaiah prophesied that the
heart of the rich pastoral land around Dibon would
have its waters (called Dimon) stained with the blood of
the people. In other words, there would be widespread
slaughter and destruction of the people, the enemy
penetrating even the very heart of Moab.
In the Hebrew text, the word translated “lion” is
actually a single lion. Isaiah revealed that the
relationship of Judah and Moab would change, for the
“lion,” Judah, would come upon the remnant of Moab
that was spared and make them her vassal.
(14-21) Isaiah 16:6–11. Calamity of Mourning Would
Visit Moab Throughout
The nations of the earth who are likened to Moab are
high and mighty forces but will be brought to howl and
mourn. Their defenses will come to naught, their wealth
and abundance of food will fail, and in place of their
joy, as they suppose, they will be pierced with sorrow
to the center. At that day all the world will finally
come to understand that wickedness never was
happiness.
Although Moab was Israel’s bitter enemy, Isaiah still
wept over the great tragedy of her sin and resulting
destruction.
(14-22) Isaiah 16:12–14. Moab’s Days Are Numbered
Isaiah simply reaffirmed what he said earlier (see
Isaiah 15:5), that the trans-Jordan Moab would see
destruction within three years.
(14-23) Isaiah 17. Power and Might, As the World
Knows It, Are Destined for Destruction
All the powers of the world, including the neighbors
of Judah as well as the nations of the world that
despoiled the Lord’s people, will themselves be
156
destroyed by the mighty judgments of God. (Syria is
represented by “Damascus,” and the Northern
Kingdom of Israel is represented by the mountain
defense of Ephraim.) Both Israel and the nations of the
world are humbled by the hand of God. Yet the Lord
promises, in Isaiah 17:6–8, that a remnant of these
nations, like the Israelites, will also be preserved.
“Gleaning grapes” (v. 6) are those few missed by the
harvesters, and olives were harvested by shaking the
branches, which always left a few scattered fruits in
the topmost branches (see v. 6). Also like Israel, this
remnant of the Gentiles will turn to God and forsake
their false religions (see vv. 7–8).
(14-24) Isaiah 18. Isaiah Saw the Gospel Taken to the
Nations from America
President Joseph Fielding Smith commented that
Isaiah 18:1 “is a mistranslation. In the Catholic Bible it
reads: ‘Ah, land of the whirring of wings, beyond the
rivers of Cush,’ and in Smith and Goodspeed’s
translation it reads: ‘Ah! Land of the buzzing of wings,
which lies beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.’ The chapter
shows clearly that no woe was intended, but rather a
greeting, as indicated in these other translations. A
correct translation would be, ‘Hail to the land in the
shape of wings.’ Now, do you know of any land in the
shape of wings? Think of your map. About twenty-five
years ago one of the current magazines printed on the
cover the American continents in the shape of wings,
with the body of the bird between. I have always
regretted that I did not preserve this magazine. Does
not this hemisphere take the shape of wings; the
spread out wings of a bird?” (Signs of the Times, p. 51;
see also History of the Church, 6:322; Orson Pratt, in
Journal of Discourses, 16:84–85; Spencer W. Kimball,
“Why Call Me Lord, Lord and Do Not the Things
Which I Say?” Ensign, May 1975, p. 4.)
President Smith went on to say that the vessels are
vessels of speed; that the nation scattered and peeled
refers to the land of Israel, which was denuded of its
forests; that the ensign refers to the restoration of the
gospel that is published as a standard before the nations;
that the missionaries are going to gather Israel who
were scattered; and that only the Latter-day Saints can
fully understand this chapter because it deals with the
great work of gathering, in which they are engaged
(see Signs of the Times, pp. 51–55).
(14-25) Isaiah 18:7. What Gift Will the Saints Present
to the Lord?
The Saints are so determined to offer to the Lord
a worthy gift of gathered Israel that, as the Prophet
Joseph Smith said, they “have labored without pay, to
instruct the United States [and now the world] that the
gathering had commenced in the western boundaries
of Missouri, to build a holy city, where, as may be seen
in the eighteenth chapter of Isaiah, the present should
‘be brought unto the Lord of Hosts.’” (History of the
Church, 2:132.) Mount Zion is identified in modern
revelation as the New Jerusalem (see D&C 84:2). Thus,
once the Church is restored and Ephraim begins the
work of gathering Israel from their scattered and peeled
condition (see Notes and Commentary on Isaiah
11:13–14), they can present a restored house of Jacob
to the Lord as a gift that will delight Him.
The Jerusalem Bible renders the phrase in Isaiah 18,
“a people terrible from their beginning,” as “the nation
always feared”; and it renders the phrase “whose land
the rivers have spoiled” as “the country criss-crossed
with rivers.” These passages seem to refer to America,
where the Restoration was to take place.
(14-26) Isaiah 19:3. What Was a Wizard That Dealt with
Familiar Spirits?
“One of the most evil and wicked sects supported
by Satan is that which practices witchcraft, such craft
involving as it does actual intercourse with evil spirits.
A witch is one who engages in this craft, who practices
the black art of magic, who has entered into a compact
with Satan, who is a sorcerer or sorceress. Modernly the
term witch has been limited in application to women.
“There are no witches, of course, in the sense of
old hags flying on broomsticks through October skies;
such mythology is a modernistic spoofing of a little
understood practice that prevailed in all the apostate
kingdoms of the past and which even now is found
among many peoples.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon
Doctrine, p. 840.)
(14-27) Isaiah 19:8–9. What Was the Significance of
Fishing, Fine Flax, and Weaving?
These three things represent the major industries
of Egypt for which she had gained a fine reputation.
Fishing was universally important in this river-nation.
The fine flax represents the fine-twined linen that was
world renowned. It was the white material used in
the sacred coverings of the tabernacle of Moses (see
Exodus 25:4). The “network” weaving is the process of
making the cotton garment common in Egypt. To have
all three fail would be a national calamity.
(14-28) Isaiah 19:11–25. Was This Burden More Than
a Judgment against Egypt?
Once again Isaiah used prophetic dualism. His
“burden” on Egypt has (1) a physical fulfillment
experienced by the nation and her people both in
Isaiah’s time and in future times, and (2) a spiritual
fulfillment that pertains to the world of the latter days.
Isaiah used a phrase to signal to the reader the parts
of his vision that pertained to the last days. “In that
day,” in verses 16, 18, 19, 23, and 24, suggests future
fulfillment. (For other uses of this phrase and its
meaning see Isaiah 2–4, 11.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie used a quotation that shows
why Isaiah may have used such neighbors as Egypt,
Moab, and Babylon to describe the wicked of latter
days. Speaking of the world, he said: “‘Babylon marks
its idolatry, Egypt its tyranny, Sodom its desperate
corruption, Jerusalem its pretensions to sanctity on the
ground of spiritual privileges, whilst all the while it is
the murderer of Christ in the person of his members.’
([Robert Jamieson and others, Commentary on the Whole
Bible,] p. 577.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary,
3:510.)
(14-29) Isaiah 19:11–25. What Are Some Possible
Fulfillments of This Prophecy?
Isaiah 19:11–14 clearly promises that the leaders of
Egypt’s major centers would be as fools and unable to
save their nation. Zoan was Tanis, Noph was Memphis,
and No was Thebes. The prophecy in verses 16–17
that in the latter days Judah would strike terror in the
hearts of the Egyptians may have been partially
fulfilled in some of the battles of those two nations
during the 20th century. Verses 24–25 are of particular
interest to Latter-day Saints, for they promise that
Egypt and other nations of that part of the world will
embrace the restored gospel.
(14-30) Isaiah 19:23–25. What Might Be Some Spiritual
Fulfillments of the Prophecy?
The meaning of Isaiah 19:23–25 is not clear. These
verses seem to suggest some future alliance among
Israel, Egypt, and Assyria (or the nations that inhabit
those ancient territories). Keil and Delitzsch explained
the alliance in this way: “Israel has now reached the
great end of its calling—to be a blessing in ‘the midst
of the earth’ . . . all nations being here represented by
Egypt and Assyria. Hitherto it had been only to the
disadvantage of Israel to be situated between Egypt
and Assyria. The history of the Ephraimitish kingdom,
as well as that of Judah, clearly proves this. If Israel
relied upon Egypt, it deceived itself, and was deceived;
and if it relied on Assyria, it only became the slave of
Assyria, and had Egypt for a foe. Thus Israel was in a
most painful vise between the two great powers of the
earth, the western and the eastern powers. But how
will all this be altered now! Egypt and Assyria become
one in Jehovah, and Israel the third in the covenant.
Israel is no longer the only nation of God, the creation
of God, the heir of God; but all this applies to Egypt
and Assyria now, as well as to Israel.” (Commentary,
7:1:368.)
(14-31) Isaiah 20:1. Who Was Tartan?
Tartan was the cupbearer, the most trusted servant
of Sargon (see the Jerusalem Bible). Tartan probably
became the chief captain of Sennacherib at the siege of
Jerusalem (see 2 Kings 18:17; Keil and Delitzsch,
Commentary, 7:1:370).
(14-32) Isaiah 20:2. What Was Meant by Isaiah
Walking “Naked and Barefoot”?
“With the great importance attached to the clothing
in the East, where the feelings upon this point are
peculiarly sensitive and modest, a person was looked
upon as stripped and naked if he had only taken off
his upper garment. What Isaiah was directed to do,
therefore, was simply opposed to common custom,
and not to moral decency. He was to lay aside the
dress of a mourner and preacher of repentance, and to
have nothing on but his tunic (cetoneth); and in this, as
well as barefooted, he was to show himself in public.”
(Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:372.)
(14-33) Isaiah 21:1–2. What Was the “Desert of the Sea”?
The use of this phrase has puzzled many
commentators. Specific countries have received the
burden, yet no known country is named. Keil and
Delitzsch believed Isaiah used a symbolic name, and
they believe it alluded to Babylon. That city sat on
a hot and dusty plain in the Euphrates valley, but
anciently, before flood control dams were built, the
157
(14-35) Isaiah 21:10. What Did the Reference to
Threshing Mean?
Israel was threshed: mowed off its own field,
beaten, and carried captive into Babylon. This verse
seems to be a foreshadowing of the event that is
portrayed in some detail in Isaiah 22 (see especially
the “threshing” language in vv. 3–4).
(14-36) Isaiah 21:11–17. What Significance Was
Attached to the Mention of the Arabians and Edomites?
The Euphrates River Valley
whole plain was flooded each spring during the high
water runoff of the Euphrates. Thus, Babylon sat both
in a desert and on a sea. (See Commentary, 7:1:377.)
This interpretation seems to be supported by Jeremiah’s
description of Babylon as she that “dwellest upon
many waters” (Jeremiah 51:13) and his promise that
her waters would be “dried up” (Jeremiah 50:38).
Spiritually or symbolically, John described Babylon as
sitting upon many waters. He then explained that the
waters represent the nations and peoples of the earth.
(See Revelation 17:1, 15.) If Isaiah used the same concept,
then the sea would represent Babylon’s dominion and
the desert, the coming loss of those dominions.
(14-34) Isaiah 21:3–10. Why Was Isaiah Made So
Sorrowful by His Vision?
The pain caused by the vision given to Isaiah was so
intense that its descriptive words in Hebrew portray his
condition to be more than mere sorrow: “Chalchalah is
the contortion produced by cramp, as in Nahum ii. 11;
tzirim is the word properly applied to the pains of
childbirth; na avah means to bend, or bow one’s self,
and is also used to denote a convulsive utterance of
pain; ta ah, which is used in a different sense from Ps.
xcv. 10 (compare, however, Ps. xxxviii. 11), denotes a
feverish and irregular beating of the pulse. The
darkness of evening and night, which the prophet
loved so much (cheshek, a desire arising from inclination,
1 Kings ix. 1, 19), and always longed for, either that he
might give himself up to contemplation, or that he
might rest from outward and inward labour, had been
changed into quaking by the horrible vision.” (Keil
and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:379.)
The destruction of Babylon was not a pleasant thing
to behold. But some commentators believe that here
again Isaiah saw another destruction, the destruction
of the Babylon of the world before the advent of the
Lord Jesus Christ in the last days. Although necessary,
this destruction would be a great tragedy.
The description of the many asses and camels and
horsemen seems to refer to the physical trappings of
the Persian Army. The animals provided useful carriage
for food and implements of war but were also effectively
used by the Persians “to throw the enemy into
confusion” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:381).
158
As Isaiah used the destruction of every major sister
nation to Israel as a type of the judgment that is to be
administered to the wicked and their organizations in
the last day, so he here, almost parenthetically,
prophesied the destruction of even the minor nations
of the east. Dumah is located in the northern heart of
the Arabian Desert; Dedanim identifies the residents of
Dedan, which is southeast of the gulf of Aqaba along the
coast of the Red Sea; and Kedar is the region eastward
from Mount Hermon that includes the area called Bashan.
(14-37) Isaiah 22:1–7. What Was Meant by the “Valley
of Vision”?
Undoubtedly Isaiah here refers to Jerusalem (see
Isaiah 22:9). Because it was his home, and therefore the
place where he received his visions and revelations, it
is not surprising that he would call it the place of vision.
After making it clear that the enemies of Israel would
not go unpunished by revealing the various “burdens”
upon them (see Isaiah 13–21), the Lord had Isaiah return
to the theme he was developing before—that Israel and
Judah faced the judgments of God. Thus, following the
pronouncements on the world, a pronouncement was
added for Jerusalem, who had become part of the world.
(14-38) Isaiah 22:8. What Was the House of the Forest?
“The forest-house [was] built by Solomon upon
Zion for the storing and display of valuable arms and
utensils . . . and so called because it rested upon four
rows of cedar columns that ran all round (it was in the
centre of the fore-court of the royal palace . . .)” (Keil
and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:394).
(14-39) Isaiah 22:12–13. A Call to Sorrow and
Mourning
The descriptive terms used here by Isaiah are clearly
signs of great sorrow and grief. Baldness (not natural
baldness, but the shaving of the hair) was a great shame
and signified great calamity (compare Isaiah 3:24). The
Lord suggests that when Judah saw their impending
doom they should have seen it as a call to deep
repentance and clothed themselves with sackcloth and
baldness. Instead, they acted as though they had been
called to a joyous feast, and they were singing the refrain
of the world: “let us eat and drink; for to morrow we
shall die” (Isaiah 22:13). As is typical of the wicked in
a time of crisis, they would prefer to indulge their
passions than to repent (see vv. 17–19).
(14-40) Isaiah 22:15–25. Types of Christ
Shebna, a leading official in the royal courts of Judah,
had become proud and wicked (see Isaiah 22:15–16)
and thus had been rejected by the Lord (see vv. 17–19).
Eliakim was the righteous son of Hilkiah the priest.
Though the Lord described Eliakim’s power and
authority and the position which he would be given
(see Isaiah 36:3; 37:2), as used in these last verses of this
chapter, Eliakim is clearly a type for the Savior. The
description may have accurately described the actual
authority of Eliakim, but it is also a powerful description
of Jesus Christ, who will ultimately replace the rulers
of Israel who, like Shebna, had become full of pride.
“Eliakim signifies The resurrection of the Lord; or, My
God, he shall arise.” Thus, even the name typified Christ,
“for the hope of salvation and eternal life comes only
through Eliakim, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from
the dead.” (Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible . . . with a
Commentary and Critical Notes, 4:107.)
When the patriarch Israel gave his son Judah his
blessings, he said, among other things: “The sceptre shall
not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between
his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the
gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:10). Thereafter,
the ruling power in Israel was enjoyed by Judah and
was particularly evident in the reign of King David.
The key of the house of David, the right to rule, was a
symbol for the real right to rule, which is only enjoyed
through the holy priesthood of God. This power was
focused upon and centered in the Lord Jesus Christ, to
whom was given power to “shut” and to “open” with
no one who could override that power. John and
Isaiah both clearly show that the key of David, or the
government, was to be upon the shoulders of the Savior
of the world (see Isaiah 9:6; Revelation 3:7).
The “nail in a sure place” (Isaiah 22:23) is messianic
and symbolizes the terrible reality of the cross, though
only a part of the total suffering of the Lord that caused
Him to “tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every
pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:18).
Just as the nail of the cross that was driven in the sure
place secured the body of the one being crucified, so
the Savior Himself is, to all who will, a nail in a sure
place, for He has given them power so that none need
be lost (see John 17:12). As Christ brings the redeemed
to the Father, the glory becomes His own, and the
redeemed and their offspring will become part of the
family of heaven under the throne of Christ (see D&C
19:2; Matthew 28:18; 1 Corinthians 15:27–28;
Philippians 2:5–11; 3:21).
(14-43) Isaiah 23:2–3. Zidon, a City-State
Sidon (Zidon) was the older city of the Phoenicians,
whereas Tyre was the newer site that had gained
supremacy during the Assyrian era. Sidon received her
revenue from the grain (seed) of Sihor (the Nile waters
of Egypt). So renowned had the merchants become
that they were honored by their national associates as
great ones. (Compare Revelation 18:23; Isaiah 23:8.)
(14-44) Isaiah 23:14–18. Why Was Tyre Called a Harlot?
Like Babylon, Tyre represented the world and so
eventually would come under the judgments of God.
Like Babylon, she was seen as a harlot committing
fornication (joining in wickedness) with the kingdoms
of the world (see Isaiah 23:15, 17–18; compare
Revelation 17:1–2). The seventy years may refer to her
coming judgments. Isaiah 23:18 shows that eventually
the merchandise of Tyre (the world) will be put to
proper use in building the kingdom of Jehovah.
POINTS TO PONDER
(14-45) The “Burden” Prophecies
Suppose someone told you that the so-called
“burden” chapters of Isaiah (chapters 13–23) were
valuable for Isaiah’s day, but they have little application
for modern times. How would you respond? What
specific verses could you use to refute that statement?
Write your answers on a separate sheet of paper.
North
Atlantic
Ocean
EUROPE
Tarshish?
Th
(14-41) Isaiah 23. The Lord’s Hard Line against Tyre
rea
t
Sea
Chittim
A ra
bia
Se
a
AFRICA
Re d
Mizraim
This chapter closes one phase of Isaiah’s prophecies
against Israel’s heathen neighbors and their types
of wickedness. Even though Babylon would have
possession of the world’s imperial power in the near
future, Tyre had control of, and was the commercial
center of, that contemporary world. Therefore, holding
a grasp upon the traffic in the world’s wealth, it was
fitting that the Lord address them with a separate
warning. (Compare Ezekiel 26–28.)
eG
(14-42) Isaiah 23:1. Where Were Tarshish and the Land
of Chittim?
Tarshish may have been Tartessus in Spain, a sister
merchant to Tyre in shipping and trade. Chittim was
an early name for present-day Cyprus. Phoenicia
should properly be seen as the center of world trade
during this period.
Ancient Tarshish may have been in present-day Spain.
159
Isaiah 24–35
15
Prophecies of the
Dispensation of the
Fulness of Times
(15-1) Introduction
Isaiah was not only a prophet but also a seer. “A
seer,” said Ammon, “is greater than a prophet,” for a
“seer is a revelator and a prophet also” (Mosiah 8:15–16).
Ammon continued: “A seer can know of things which
are past, and also of things which are to come, and by
them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret
things be made manifest, and hidden things shall
come to light” (Mosiah 8:17).
Isaiah was one of the mightiest seers of all time.
Undoubtedly he was one of those the Prophet Joseph
Smith had in mind when he said: “Search the revelations
of God; study the prophecies, and rejoice that God
grants unto the world Seers and Prophets. They are
they who saw the mysteries of godliness; they saw the
flood before it came; they saw angels ascending and
descending upon a ladder that reached from earth to
heaven; they saw the stone cut out of the mountain,
which filled the whole earth; they saw the son of God
come from the regions of bliss and dwell with men on
earth; they saw the deliverer come out of Zion, and
turn away ungodliness from Jacob; they saw the glory
of the Lord when he showed the transfiguration of the
earth on the mount; they saw every mountain laid low
and every valley exalted when the Lord was taking
vengeance upon the wicked; they saw truth spring out
of the earth, and righteousness look down from heaven
in the last days, before the Lord came the second time
to gather his elect; they saw the end of wickedness on
earth, and the Sabbath of creation crowned with peace;
they saw the end of the glorious thousand years, when
Satan was loosed for a little season; they saw the day
of judgment when all men received according to their
works, and they saw the heaven and the earth flee away
to make room for the city of God, when the righteous
receive an inheritance in eternity. And, fellow sojourners
upon earth, it is your privilege to purify yourselves
and come up to the same glory, and see for yourselves,
and know yourselves.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph
Smith, pp. 12–13.)
A clear and dramatic shift in emphasis takes place
in Isaiah 24. There, Isaiah’s seership becomes profoundly
evident as he looks forward in time to the final
dispensation.
When you consider the scope of Isaiah’s vision
and its application for all generations of men, it is not
surprising that Jesus Himself said, “Great are the words
of Isaiah” and commanded that we should “search
these things diligently” (3 Nephi 23:1).
Did you notice Joseph Smith’s final statement in the
quotation above? He said, “It is your privilege to . . . see
for yourselves, and know for yourselves” all the things
the seers have seen. One way to do that is by carefully
studying the writings of the seers. Strive to see what
Isaiah saw as you study this very significant part of
his words.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study Isaiah 24–35. Refer to
Enrichment E throughout your study of the book
of Isaiah. Enrichment F will provide an overview of
the historical setting of the prophet Isaiah’s
ministry.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
ISAIAH 24–35
(15-2) Isaiah 24:1–6. Of What Period or People Was
the Lord Speaking?
In one sense, Isaiah 24:1–6 could be used to speak of
apostasy in any day. The passage speaks of a time
when the Lord will make the earth “empty” (v. 1) and
will scatter its inhabitants abroad because the people
have defiled the earth. “They have transgressed the
laws [of God], changed the ordinance, broken the
everlasting covenant” (v. 5). As a result the earth will
be “burned, and few men left” (v. 6).
(15-3) Isaiah 24:2. “As with the People, So with the
Priest”
President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“The term priest is here used to denote all religious
leaders of any faith. Isaiah said: ‘The earth also is defiled
under the inhabitants thereof; because they have
transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken
the everlasting covenant.’ (Isa. 24:5.) From among the
discordant voices we are shocked at those of many
priests who encourage the defilement of men and wink
at the eroding trends and who deny the omniscience
of God. Certainly these men should be holding firm,
yet some yield to popular clamor.
“I give some quotes from the press:
“‘Many churchmen are reluctant to give a definite yes
or no to marijuana.’ ‘It depends upon circumstances.’
(Time, August 16, 1968.)
“They have developed ‘situation ethics,’ which seem
to cover all sins.
“Other religious leaders are saying: ‘. . . precise rules
of Christian conduct should not necessarily apply to
problems of sexuality.’ (London—British Council of
Churches.)
“In contrast hear the strong voice of a prophet. Peter
prophesied:
161
“‘But there were false prophets also among the people,
even as there shall be false teachers among you, who
privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying
the Lord that bought them. . . .
“‘And many shall follow their pernicious ways. . . .’
(2 Pet. 2:1–2.)” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 9.)
tears from off all faces” (Isaiah 25:8). This figure is
used twice in the book of Revelation (Revelation 7:17;
21:4) and obviously represents a millennial condition.
(15-8) Isaiah 26. “In the Way of Thy Judgments,
O Lord, Have We Waited for Thee”
The punishment decreed for breaking God’s
everlasting covenant is to be burned with fire. These
verses describe the great mourning that will accompany
the destruction.
Isaiah 26 is a song, or psalm, of praise that gives
tribute to the Lord. It appears to be a response to God’s
release of Israel from her scattered condition in the
earth (see v. 15). Isaiah rejoiced that the righteous are
highly blessed of God and observed that wicked are
those who do not respond to the Lord’s opportunities
(see vv. 10–11). In typical fashion, Israel turned unto
the Lord for help only when they were in great pain.
In the same way a woman struggling to give birth is
delivered of pain only when her child is born, so Israel
will be free of pain when the Lord restores Zion once
again (see vv. 16–18). Verse 18 is a clear statement of
the fact of resurrection, the Lord’s and our own.
C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch said of the song of Isaiah:
“The prophet, whom we already know as a psalmist
from [Isaiah 12], now acts as choral leader of the church
of the future, and praises Jehovah for having destroyed
the mighty imperial city, and proved Himself a defence
and shield against its tyranny towards His oppressed
church” (Commentary on the Old Testament, 7:1:436–37).
(15-6) Isaiah 24:19–23. Great Physical Changes Will
Attend the Second Coming of the Lord
(15-9) Isaiah 27:1–6. What Are the Meanings of
Leviathan, Dragon, and Serpent?
Isaiah 24:19–23 describes events and conditions
as they will be just before or in conjunction with
the Second Coming of the Lord. A more penetrating
description of these same events is found in Doctrine
and Covenants 88:86–94. The “prisoners . . . gathered
in the pit” and those “shut up in the prison” (Isaiah
24:22) are those locked in the spirit world awaiting the
preaching of the gospel (see Joseph Fielding Smith,
Doctrines of Salvation, 2:155). According to Elder Orson
Pratt, the moon will be confounded and the sun will
be ashamed because the brilliance which attends
Christ in His return to earth will be a “superior light,”
one which will make all else seem dark by comparison
(in Journal of Discourses, 20:12).
When Israel is restored, she “shall blossom and bud,
and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isaiah 27:6).
That fruit is the gospel of peace (see vv. 5–6). At the
same time the Lord “shall punish leviathan the piercing
serpent, . . . and he shall slay the dragon” (v. 1). Both
dragon and serpent are scriptural terms for Satan,
the common enemy of God and all mankind (see
Revelation 12:9). Thus, leviathan probably includes not
only Satan personally but all who serve him. In other
words, what Isaiah saw is the necessary destruction
of Babylon, or the world, before Zion can be fully
established. Here again, as in chapter 26, Isaiah is so
taken with the joy of that future day that he couches
his words in a hymn of praise.
(15-7) Isaiah 25:1–11. The Second Coming Will Be a
Time of Great Rejoicing for the Righteous
(15-10) Isaiah 27:7–13. What Did Isaiah See in Store
for Jerusalem?
Though he spoke of great destruction and judgments,
Isaiah was filled not with despair but with joy. Here he
burst into a hymn of exultation because the Lord would
finally come and reign in Zion and Jerusalem (see
Isaiah 24:23).
The Second Coming will be a time of great rejoicing
that follows “much tribulation” (D&C 58:3–4). A great
“feast of fat things” (Isaiah 25:6) will also attend the
Lord’s return, meaning that men will feast upon the
fruits of the gospel until they are full (compare D&C
58:8). The Lord’s coming will help to dispel “the vail
that is spread over all nations” (Isaiah 25:7). This veil
may be the “dark veil of unbelief” (Alma 19:6; see also
Ether 4:15) which characterizes those of the latter days
who reject the gospel. Or, it could be a more literal
“veil of darkness,” such as that described in Moses 7:61
when the heavens shall be darkened and “shall shake,
and also the earth.” But great joy will also follow, for
the time will come when “the Lord God will wipe away
Before Jacob shall be restored, “the defenced city
[Jerusalem] shall be desolate, and the habitation
forsaken” (Isaiah 27:10), because “when the boughs
thereof are withered [when the tribes of Israel become
wicked], they shall be broken off” and cast into the fire,
that is, they shall come into judgments (v. 11). Later,
they shall “be gathered one by one” back to their holy
city, Jerusalem (v. 12; see also v. 13).
The allegory of Zenos in Jacob 5 contains similar
imagery and may be studied profitably in connection
with this chapter.
(15-4) Isaiah 24:5. Why Was Changing the Ordinances
So Serious?
The gospel ordinances are part of the specific means
outlined by the Lord whereby one can overcome his
natural state, receive a spiritual rebirth, and become like
God. Each ordinance was designed by God to teach
spiritual truths and move His children toward
godliness. When the ordinances are changed, their
power to save is lost. The Prophet Joseph Smith said of
the ordinances: “If there is no change of ordinances,
there is no change of Priesthood. Wherever the
ordinances of the Gospel are administered, there is the
Priesthood.” (Teachings, p. 158.)
(15-5) Isaiah 24:6–12. The Result of Apostasy
162
(15-11) Isaiah 28:1–8. “Woe to the Crown of Pride, to
the Drunkards of Ephraim”
Here Isaiah continues the theme that Israel (both the
Northern and Southern Kingdoms) must face judgments
before Jacob’s final restoration. Isaiah, chapter 28, speaks
of the rebellion of the ten tribes inhabiting northern
Israel, of which Ephraim was the acknowledged leader.
“The Lord hath a mighty and strong” nation, Assyria,
waiting like “a flood of mighty waters” to humble Israel
by casting her “down to the earth” (v. 2). Then, like a
flower that fades in the hot sun (see v. 4), or a drunken
man who staggers under wine (see v. 7), Israel will
be removed from her promised land. In 724 B.C.,
Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, besieged Samaria. The
siege ended after three years with Sargon II finally
carrying the ten tribes away into captivity.
(15-12) Isaiah 28:14–15. In What Way Had Judah
“Made a Covenant with Death, and with Hell”?
“The prophet confronts the rulers of Jerusalem with
the assertion that their policy and behavior are bringing
inevitable ruin. This time the fault is that they have
deliberately entered into a covenant to serve, in return
for protection, a god or gods other than their own.
Death, maweth, is here the god of the underworld, Sheol
or hell. Perhaps the Canaanite god of the underworld,
Mot, is intended, or the reference may be to the Egyptian
Osiris. It was customary for the prophets to speak of
the alien deities as lies and falsehood (compare Amos
2:4; Jer. 10:14). In contrast to this act of panic by the
rulers, Isaiah declares that faith in God is the only
secure foundation of Zion’s security, and that his justice
and righteousness alone can erect a building that will
stand. Those who in fright have sought to secure
themselves by worshiping other gods as well, will
experience in sheer terror the effects of Yahweh’s
decree of destruction.” (The Interpreter’s Bible, 5:317.)
Of course, the phrase may have a spiritual meaning
as well. Israel made a covenant with death because that
is what “the wages of sin” are—death (Romans 6:23).
For other references to the overflowing scourge in
modern times, see Doctrine and Covenants 29:17–19;
45:31; 84:96–97; 97:22–26; 105:15.
advocate and pleads our case with the Father (see
D&C 45:2–5).
“Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness
to the plummet” alludes to the building trades and
continues the imagery. Christ is the cornerstone from
which all other stones are laid. When something
plummets, it drops straight down. A builder uses a
plumb bob to find a straight vertical line. The plumb
bob is a weight attached to a cord that, when
extended, hangs perpendicular to its beginning point.
Thus the builder knows he has a straight line. With
righteousness and justice as His measuring tools, the
Savior starts with the chief cornerstone (Himself) and
lays out a perfect and firmly built house, one which
can resist any storm that would sweep away a house
reared through other means, especially one reared
through the “covenant with death” (Isaiah 28:18).
The imagery of the bed and the inadequate covers
is more easily understood than the imagery of the
plummet. Obviously, if we are not covered by the
atoning blood of Jesus Christ, we will find ourself like
a man in a bed too short for him with a blanket that is
too small to cover him. No matter how appealing sin
may look at first, it can never satisfy our inner needs.
The sinful person will be ever like the man in a short
bed with inadequate covers. He will twist and turn
and constantly seek comfort, but he cannot find it. The
Atonement of Christ for sin covers, or is efficacious
for, only those who trust in God with all their hearts
and keep His holy commandments.
(15-13) Isaiah 28:16. What Is the Tried and “Precious
Corner Stone”?
The tried and precious cornerstone is Jesus Christ
Himself. Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “One of
Isaiah’s great Messianic prophecies was that the
promised Messiah would be ‘for a stone of stumbling
and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for
a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be
broken, and be snared, and be taken.’ (Isa. 8:14–15.)
Both Paul (Rom. 9:33) and Peter (1 Pet. 2:7–8) record the
fulfilment of this prophecy.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 657.)
Jacob referred to this figure when he said that “by
the stumbling of the Jews they will reject the stone upon
which they might build and have safe foundation”
(Jacob 4:15).
Paul also used the same imagery when he said the
foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ was Apostles
and prophets, with Christ Himself being the chief
cornerstone (see Ephesians 2:19–20).
(15-14) Isaiah 28:17–22. What Was Meant by
“Righteousness to the Plummet” and a “Bed . . . Shorter
Than That a Man Can Stretch Himself” Upon?
With Christ as the chief cornerstone in our spiritual
“house,” we are prepared to face the justice of the
Lord with equity and faith. Jesus Christ becomes our
A threshing scene
(15-15) Isaiah 28:23–29. What Was the Significance of
the Parable of Sowing and Threshing?
Keil and Delitzsch explained the beauty and power
of Isaiah’s parable, noting that “fitches” (Isaiah 28:25)
were probably the black poppy, and cummin (see v. 25)
the same as modern cummin. Both are herbs derived
from the seeds of the plants mentioned.
“The ploughing . . . which opens the soil, i.e. turns it
up in furrows, and the harrowing . . . which breaks the
clods, take place to prepare for the sowing, and therefore
not interminably, but only so long as is necessary to
prepare the soil to receive the seed. When the seedfurrows have been drawn in the levelled surface of the
ground . . . , then the sowing and planting begin; and
this also takes place in various ways, according to the
different kinds of fruit. . . . The wheat he sows carefully
163
in rows . . . , i.e. he does not scatter it about carelessly,
like the other two, but lays the grains carefully in the
furrows, because otherwise when they sprang up they
would get massed together, and choke one another . . .
the barley is sown in a piece of the field specially marked
off for it, or specially furnished with signs . . . ; and . . . ,
the spelt [rye] . . . , along the edge of it, so that spelt
forms the rim of the barley field. It is by a divine instinct
that the husbandman acts in this manner; for God,
who established agriculture at the creation . . . , has
also given men understanding. . . .
“. . . (For) [v. 27] introduces another proof that the
husbandman is instructed by God, from what he still
further does. He does not use the threshing machine
. . . which would entirely destroy the more tender kinds
of fruit, but knocks them out with a staff. . . . Is bread
corn crushed? Oh no, he does not crush it. This would
be the case if he were to cause the wheel . . . of the
threshing cart with the horses harnessed in front to
rattle over it with all their might. . . . The wise, divinely
inspired course adopted by the husbandman in the
treatment of the field and fruit, is a type of the wise
course adopted by the divine Teacher Himself in the
treatment of His nation. Israel is Jehovah’s field. The
punishments and chastisements of Jehovah are the
ploughshare and harrow, with which He forcibly breaks
up, turns over, and furrows this field. But this does not
last for ever. When the field has been thus loosened,
smoothed, and rendered fertile once more, the painful
process of ploughing is followed by a beneficent sowing
and planting in a multi-form and wisely ordered
fulness of grace. Again, Israel is Jehovah’s child of the
threshing-floor [see Isaiah 21:10]. He threshes it; but
He does not thresh it only: He also knocks; and when
He threshes, He does not continue threshing for ever,
i.e. as Caspari has well explained it, He does not punish
all the members of the nation with the same severity;
and those whom He punishes with greater severity
than others He does not punish incessantly, but as soon
as His end is attained, and the husks of sin are separated
from those that have been punished, the punishment
ceases, and only the worst in the nation, who are
nothing but husks, and the husks on the nation itself,
are swept away by the punishments’ [compare Isaiah
1:25; 29:20–21]. This is the solemn lesson and affectionate
consolation hidden behind the veil of the parable.
Jehovah punishes, but it is in order that He may be
able to bless. He sifts, but He does not destroy. He does
not thresh His own people, but He knocks them; and
even when He threshes, they may console themselves
in the face of the approaching period of judgment, that
they are never crushed or injured.” (Commentary,
7:2:14–17.)
(15-16) Isaiah 29:1–4. What Does the Phrase “It Shall
Be unto Me As Ariel” Mean?
David dwelt in Jerusalem, and Ariel is another name
for that city. In typical prophetic fashion this prophecy
has a multiple application. It could be applied to any
time when Jerusalem faced a major catastrophe because
of its apostasy. Also, Jerusalem is sometimes used as
a generic name, not just for the city but for the entire
nation, much as people say Washington and mean
the United States or Moscow and mean Russia. Elder
LeGrand Richards noted the dualism of the prophecy:
164
“If you will read [Isaiah 29:1–2] thoughtfully, you
will know that [Isaiah] not only saw the destruction of
Jerusalem, but he saw the destruction of another great
center like unto Jerusalem. Then he adds:
“‘And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak
out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out
of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as one that hath
a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech
shall whisper out of the dust.’ [Isaiah 29:4.]
“Nobody in this world could explain that intelligently
or know what people Isaiah saw like unto Jerusalem
without the Book of Mormon. Here is the explanation
in the Book of Mormon. ‘After my seed and the seed
of my brethren shall have dwindled in unbelief, and
shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea, after the
Lord God shall have camped against them round about,
and shall have laid siege against them with a mount,
and raised forts against them; and 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, and
the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those
who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten.
“‘For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto
them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low
out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath
a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him
power that he may whisper concerning them, even
as it were out of the ground, and their speech shall
whisper out of the dust.
“‘For thus saith the Lord God: They shall write
the things which shall be done among them, and they
shall be written and sealed up in a book, and those
who have dwindled in unbelief shall not have them,
for they seek to destroy the things of God.’ (2 Nephi
26:15–17.)
“How could Joseph Smith have known these things
when the Book of Mormon was published even before
this Church was organized, except for the fact that the
Book of Mormon is the promised record that God said
he would bring forth and join to the record of Judah.
How could anyone understand this prophecy of Isaiah
without the explanation contained in the Book of
Mormon.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1963, p. 118.)
The Book of Mormon is truly the voice of a people
brought low, speaking from the dust, for the book was
in fact taken from the ground, just as Isaiah prophesied.
(15-17) Isaiah 29:11–12. What Was the “Book That Is
Sealed” and to Whom Were Its “Words” Delivered?
Early in the process of translating the Book of
Mormon, Martin Harris desired proof that the translation
Joseph Smith was making was genuine. He obtained
permission to carry a copy of several of the “words”
from the plates, together with their translation, to
some learned men. Martin Harris’s account given to
the Prophet Joseph Smith states that he took the copy
to Professor Charles Anthon of New York City, who
certified that the characters were real and correctly
translated. But when Professor Anthon discovered that
the record from which the characters were obtained
was itself received by supernatural means, he retracted
his statement by asking for his certificate back and
tearing it to bits. Martin Harris reports that Anthon
said that “if I would bring the plates to him he would
translate them. I informed him that part of the plates
were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them.
He replied, ‘I cannot read a sealed book.’ I left him, and
went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor
Anthon had said respecting both the characters and
the translation.” (Joseph Smith—History 1:65.)
The unlearned man to whom the book was delivered
was, of course, Joseph Smith. Elder Orson Pratt once
said: “Now in regard to Joseph Smith’s qualifications
or attainments in learning, they were very ordinary.
He had received a little education in the common
country schools in the vicinity in which he had lived.
He could read a little, and could write, but it was in
such an ordinary hand that he did not venture to act
as his own scribe, but had to employ sometimes one
and sometimes another to write as he translated. This
unlearned man did not make the same reply that the
learned man did. For when the book was delivered to
this unlearned youth and he was requested to read it,
he replied, ‘I am not learned.’ I suppose he felt his
weakness when the Lord told him to read this book;
for he thought it was a great work.” (In Journal of
Discourses, 15:186.)
(15-18) Isaiah 29:14. What Is the “Marvellous Work
and a Wonder” of Which Isaiah Prophesied?
While the Book of Mormon can accurately be
described as a marvelous work and a wonder, Isaiah’s
prophecy includes more than the book. Elder LeGrand
Richards exclaimed:
“What would really constitute a marvelous work
and a wonder? Why should not honest lovers of truth
welcome the pronouncement of such a work? Should
any generation reject revealed truth when sent from
heaven, even as they rejected the Christ when he came
among men? Why does it seem so much easier to
accept and believe in the dead prophets than in living
prophets?
“In the accomplishment of this promised marvelous
work and a wonder, the Lord had in mind a ‘restitution
of all things’ and moved upon Peter to so prophesy to
those who had crucified his Lord: [Acts 3:19–21].” (A
Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 34–35.)
Thus the entire restoration of the priesthood—the
Church, the ordinances, the gospel truths—constitute
the marvelous work and a wonder that Isaiah foretold.
(15-19) Isaiah 29:17. What Relationship Does This
Verse Have to the Coming Forth of the Book of
Mormon?
Elder Mark E. Petersen said:
“The gathering of the Jews to Palestine is one of the
most outstanding and significant of all the signs of the
times. The Lord said through Jeremiah: ‘. . . I will cause
them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers,
and they shall possess it.’ (Jer. 30:3.) Isaiah indicated
that Palestine, long languishing in the grip of the desert,
was destined to be turned into a fruitful field in
connection with the gathering of the Jews to their
homeland. . . .
“A sacred book was to come forth before that time—
one which was new to the world, one that told of a fallen
nation which was destroyed suddenly—a book to be
offered in the latter days to a learned man who would
reject it, but to be given by divine means to an unlettered
man through whom it was to be given to the world. . . .
Moroni buried the plates.
“Where is that book? It is one of the signs of the times.
“Not only did the prophets predict its appearance,
but Isaiah set a limit on the time of its publication.
That time limit was related to the period when fertility
would return to Palestine. Isaiah said that the book
would come forth first, and then added that in ‘a very
little while . . . Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful
field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a
forest.’ (Isa. 29:17.)
“The time limit has expired. This new volume of
scripture must have come forth before now or Isaiah
was not a true prophet, for Palestine is fruitful again.”
(In Conference Report, Oct. 1965, p. 61.)
The Book of Mormon came first, just as Isaiah
foresaw it would.
(15-20) Isaiah 29:18–19. What Do the Allusions to the
Deaf and Blind Mean?
One can be either spiritually or physically deaf
or blind, or both. Elder Bruce R. McConkie defined
spiritual deafness as “the state of those who are lacking
in spirituality, whose spirit ears are not attuned to
the whisperings of the still small voice of the Spirit.
Similarly, spiritual blindness is the identifying mark
which singles out those who are unable to see the
hand of God manifest in the affairs of men. Such have
‘unbelief and blindness of heart’ (D. & C. 58:15); they
are ‘hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds.’
(3 Ne. 2:1.)” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 184.)
165
(15-21) Isaiah 29:24. To Whom Does the Phrase
“They Also That Erred in Spirit Shall Come to
Understanding” Refer?
identifies the ‘latter day’” (“Great Are the Words of
Isaiah,” p. 121).
Many in the Christian world are sincere, and their
false doctrinal conclusions are not their own fault.
Elder Orson Pratt, who commented extensively on
Isaiah 29, explained:
“Oh, how my heart has been pained within me when
I have seen the blindness of the Christian world, and
I knew that many of them were sincere! I knew they
desired to know the truth, but they scarcely knew
whether to turn to the right or to the left, so great were
the errors that were taught in their midst, and so strong
the traditions which they had imbibed, the fear of the
Lord being taught them by the precepts of men instead
of by inspiration and the power of the Holy Ghost. ‘They
also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding’
when this book comes forth, and ‘they that murmur
shall learn doctrine.’
“. . . But those who have read this book will bear me
record that their minds have been forever set at rest
in regard to doctrine, so far as the ordinances of the
kingdom of God are concerned. Those who erred, and
did not know whether sprinkling, pouring or immersion
was the true method of baptism, now know? Why?
Because the Book of Mormon reveals the mode as it
was given to the ancient Nephites on this continent.
So in regard to every other principle of the doctrine of
Christ—it is set forth in such great plainness that it is
impossible for any two persons to form different ideas
in relation to it, after reading the Book of Mormon.”
(In Journal of Discourses, 15:188–89.)
(15-23) Isaiah 31. Trust in the Lord Instead of in the
“Arm of Flesh”
(15-22) Isaiah 30. “Woe to the Rebellious Children”
Israel and Judah had been cautioned by the Lord
not to put their trust in other nations. But this people
refused to hearken, and they turned to Egypt for
protection from the Assyrians (see Enrichment F).
The Lord berated them for seeking to “strengthen
themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in
the shadow of Egypt” (Isaiah 30:2). All of this, Isaiah
said, “shall help in vain, and to no purpose” (v. 7). As
a result, Israel would be broken as easily as a clay pot
(see v. 14).
But God will be gracious to Israel. Although He feeds
them for a time with “the bread of adversity, and the
water of affliction” (v. 20), yet in the last days their
teachers shall once again teach the true gospel and
show them how to walk in it (see v. 21). Not only will
prophets return, but great temporal blessings will be
restored. The earth “shall be fat and plenteous: in that
day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures” (v. 23). In the
end the Lord will redeem Israel. Even “the Assyrians”
who carried away the ten tribes into captivity shall
eventually “be beaten down” (v. 31).
The theme of Isaiah 30 is that men trust in the
wisdom of other men instead of looking to God for
counsel (see vv. 1–2) or to His prophets for instruction
(see vv. 9–11). The Lord stated that this rejection of
God’s word is the direct cause of their destruction
(see vv. 12–14).
Monte S. Nyman wrote: “The warning in verses
1 through 7 is here extended to our day by the Lord’s
commanding Isaiah to record it as a witness for the
latter days (verse 8); a marginal note in the KJV
166
This chapter follows a theme similar to that of the
chapter preceding it. However, “the first warning
speaks against trusting the wisdom of man, and the
second against trusting the power of man” (Nyman,
“Great Are the Words of Isaiah,” p. 118). “Woe to them
that go down to Egypt for help,” for there is none
there (Isaiah 31:1). “The Egyptians are men, and not
God”; they themselves and those they help “shall fail
together” (v. 3). Only the Lord can save Israel. Isaiah
said, “Turn ye unto him from whom the children
of Israel have deeply revolted,” and “then shall the
Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man,”
but of the Lord (vv. 6, 8). The “Egyptian” and the
“Assyrian” of the latter days may be those in whom
a modern people trust rather than in the Lord.
(15-24) Isaiah 32. Israel Will Be a Desolation until the
Messiah Begins the Preparation for His Return
Orson Pratt saw this scripture as applying not only
to ancient Israel but also to the Latter-day Saints, who
were driven from their homes in the East to the deserts
of the Rocky Mountains.
“Did you see it, Isaiah, as well as the people that
live in our day? Did you see a people go into the desert
and offer up thanksgiving and the voice of melody?
Did you see that desert and wilderness redeemed from
its sterile condition and become like the garden of Eden?
‘O yes,’ says Isaiah, ‘I saw it all, and I left it on record
for the benefit of the generation that should live some
two or three thousand years after my day.’ But Isaiah,
are we to understand that the people are to be gathered
together in that desert, and that the gathered people
are to be instrumental in the hands of God, in redeeming
that desert? Yes, Isaiah has told us all this. We will go
back to what we read in his thirty-second chapter—
‘Until the spirit be poured out upon us from on high,
and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful
field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell
in the wilderness and righteousness remain in the
fruitful field.’ What fruitful field? Why, the wilderness
that will be converted into a fruitful field. ‘The work
of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of
righteousness, quietness, and assurance forever; and
my people shall dwell in peaceable habitations, and
in sure dwellings and in quiet resting places.’
“Was that the way we dwelt in Missouri or Illinois?
Did we live in quietness and with assurance continually
in those States? Oh, no, we were tossed about; as
Isaiah says—‘tossed to and fro and not comforted.’
That was the case with Zion while down in the States,
and that was in accordance with a modern revelation,
in which, speaking of Zion, the Lord says—‘You shall
be persecuted from city to city and from synagogue to
synagogue, and but few shall stand to receive their
inheritance’ [D&C 63:31]. But when the time should
come for Zion to go up into the wilderness things
would be changed; then my people shall dwell in
peaceable habitations, in sure dwelling places, and in
quietness and assurance.
“Will they have any capital city when they get up into
the mountain desert? O, yes. Isaiah says here—‘When
it shall hail, coming down on the forest, the city shall
be low in a low place.’ How often have I thought of
this since we laid out this great city, twenty-eight years
ago! How often have this people reflected in their
meditations upon the fulfillment of this prophecy! they
have seen, on this eastern range of mountains and on
the range of mountains to the west of this valley, snow
and storms pelting down with great fury, as though
winter in all its rigor and ferocity had overtaken the
mountain territory, and at the same time, here, ‘low in
a low place,’ was a city, organized at the very base of
these mountains, enjoying all the blessings of a spring
temperature, the blessings of a temperature not
sufficient to cut off our vegetation. What a contrast!
‘When it shall hail, coming down on the forest, the city
shall be low in a low place.’ That could not be Jerusalem,
no such contrast in the land of Palestine round about
Jerusalem! It had reference to the latter-day Zion, the
Zion of the mountains.” (In Journal of Discourses,
18:148–49.)
(15-25) Isaiah 33:14–15. “Who . . . Shall Dwell with
Everlasting Burnings?”
Joseph Smith taught that some men “shall rise
to the everlasting burnings of God; for God dwells
in everlasting burnings, and some shall rise to the
damnation of their own filthiness, which is as exquisite
a torment as the lake of fire and brimstone” (Teachings,
p. 361; compare D&C 128:24; 130:7; 133:41; Hebrews
12:29). In one of the most beautiful scriptures of the
Old Testament, the Lord asked who would be able to
abide this devouring fire, and then described the kind
of person that would be able to abide it (see vv. 14–15).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie discussed Isaiah’s question
of “who among us shall dwell with everlasting
burnings?” (v. 14):
“That is, who in the Church shall gain an inheritance
in the celestial kingdom? Who will go where God and
Christ and holy beings are? Who will overcome the
world, work the works of righteousness, and enduring
in faith and devotion to the end hear the blessed
benediction, ‘Come, and inherit the kingdom of my
Father.’
“Isaiah answers: [Isaiah 33:15–16.]” (In Conference
Report, Oct. 1973, p. 55.)
Elder McConkie continued:
“Now if I may, I shall take these words of Isaiah,
spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost in the first
instance, and give some indication as to how they
apply to us and our circumstances.
“First, ‘He that walketh righteously, and speaketh
uprightly.’ That is, building on the atoning sacrifice of the
Lord Jesus Christ, we must keep the commandments.
We must speak the truth, and work the works of
righteousness. We shall be judged by our thoughts,
our words and our deeds.
“Second, ‘. . . he that despiseth the gain of
oppressions.’ That is, we must act with equity and
justice toward our fellowmen. It is the Lord himself
who said that he, at the day of his coming, will be a
swift witness against those that oppress the hireling in
his wages.
“Third, ‘. . . he that shaketh his hands from holding
of bribes.’ That is, we must reject every effort to buy
influence, and instead deal fairly and impartially with
our fellowmen. God is no respecter of persons. He
esteemeth all flesh alike; and those only who keep his
commandments find special favor with him. Salvation
is free; it cannot be purchased with money; and those
only are saved who abide the law upon which its
receipt is predicated. Bribery is of the world.
“Fourth, he ‘. . . that stoppeth his ears from hearing
of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil.’
That is, we must not center our attention on evil and
wickedness. We must cease to find fault and look for
good in government and in the world. We must take
an affirmative, wholesome approach to all things.”
(In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, pp. 55–56.)
(15-26) Isaiah 33:20–24. What Is Known of Zion’s
Future?
In its redeemed condition, Zion will be a place of
singular beauty and righteousness. Therefore, “look
upon Zion, the city of our solemnities” (Isaiah 33:20),
that is, consider what it will be like to live in Zion.
“There the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of
broad rivers and streams; . . . he will save us” (vv. 21–22).
Then too, “the inhabitant [of Zion] shall not say, I am
sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven
their iniquity” (v. 24). Clearly, these are those who have
applied the atoning blood of Christ in their own behalf.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said of the word stakes:
“In prophetic imagery, Zion is pictured as a great
tent upheld by cords fastened securely to stakes. Thus
Isaiah, envisioning the latter-day glory of Israel, gathered
to her restored Zion, proclaimed: ‘Enlarge the place
of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of
thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and
strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the
right hand and on the left. . . . For a small moment have
I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather
thee.’ (Isa. 54:2–7.) And of the millennial Zion, Isaiah
exulted: ‘Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities:
a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of
the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall
any of the cords thereof be broken.’ (Isa. 33:20.)
“In keeping with this symbolism, the great areas of
church population and strength, which sustain and
uphold the restored Zion, are called stakes. They are
the rallying points and the gathering centers for the
remnants of scattered Israel. (D. & C. 68:25–26;
82:13–14; 101:17–21; 115:6, 18; 124:134; 133:9.)”
(Mormon Doctrine, p. 764.)
(15-27) Isaiah 34:1–10. What Does the Term Idumea
Mean and Why Is It Used?
The Second Coming of Christ will be a day of
vengeance and recompense. As formerly seen, “the
indignation of the Lord is upon all nations,” for “he
hath delivered them to the slaughter” (Isaiah 34:2).
Moreover, the heavenly bodies, those luminaries such
as the sun, stars, and moon, “shall be dissolved,” that
is, “shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine”
while “the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll”
(v. 4). Isaiah’s description is reminiscent of a similar
one in Doctrine and Covenants 88:95 in which we
are taught that when the Lord returns, “the curtain of
heaven shall be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after
it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be
167
unveiled.” Then the sword of the Lord, which represents
His power and judgment, “shall come down upon
Idumea,” or the world (Isaiah 34:5).
President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “Now, some
Bible commentators, because of the name of Idumea,
a little country east of the Jordan, is mentioned, have
an idea that this had reference to that little country;
but the term Idumea is one that the Lord uses to mean
the world. You will find it so recorded in Section 1 of
the Doctrine and Covenants. He is speaking of the
world.” (The Signs of the Times, p. 150.)
Blood is a biblical symbol of wickedness. The whole
earth, stained with blood, will experience a “great
slaughter” at the time of the Second Coming, for “it
is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of
recompenses for the controversy of Zion” (Isaiah 34:6, 8).
President Joseph Fielding Smith again: “That is to
take place in the dispensation of the Fulness of Times,
and this prophecy had nothing to do with that little
country called Idumea but to the nations of the earth”
(Signs of the Times, p. 151).
Isaiah seems to parallel passages in Ezekiel, Joel,
and Jeremiah where the great battle of Armageddon is
foretold. This parallelism explains the reference to the
“armies” (Isaiah 34:2) and the vast slaughter that will
take place (see vv. 3, 5–7). The “pitch” and “brimstone”
and “smoke” of verses 9 and 10 suggest the results of
nuclear warfare, which could logically accompany the
last great wars. (See Enrichment I for more detail on
the battle of Armageddon.)
(15-28) Isaiah 34:16–17. What Is the “Book of the Lord”?
Not all people, of course, are wicked, and those who
are not will be saved from the destroying fire—both
the spiritual (hell) and the physical (see 1 Nephi
22:15–17). The names of the children of the Lord who
have kept their covenants are enrolled in a special
book known as “the book of the Lord” (Isaiah 34:16),
“the book of the law of God” (D&C 85:5; see also
vv. 9, 11), or “the book of life” (Revelation 20:12).
Records of our works are kept on earth by the Lord’s
clerks, but the book of life is the record kept in heaven.
Both records should agree (see D&C 128:6–9). Of those
whose names are recorded in the heavenly book, “no
one of these shall fail” (Isaiah 34:16). The promise that
“none shall want [lack] their mate” (JST, Isaiah 34:16)
is particularly interesting to Latter-day Saints since we
know that only through the ordinance of celestial
marriage can we have our mate eternally.
(15-29) Isaiah 35:1–7. “The Desert Shall Rejoice, and
Blossom as the Rose”
Several General Authorities have seen the settlement
of the mountain valleys of the Rockies by the Latter-day
Saints as a fulfillment of these verses in Isaiah (see
Milton R. Hunter, in Conference Report, Oct. 1965, p. 81;
LeGrand Richards, in Conference Report, Oct. 1966, p. 42;
Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:346–47; Orson Pratt, in
Journal of Discourses, 18:145). When the Saints arrived in
the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847, it could be described
as a “wilderness” and a “solitary place” (Isaiah 35:1).
The Saints went to work immediately, and soon the
desert valleys of Utah began to “blossom as the rose”
(v. 1). But this prophecy may also be fulfilled by the
168
settlement of modern Jews in the Holy Land, where
similar things are taking place.
After quoting Isaiah 35:3–4, Elder Orson Pratt
reasoned:
“That has never been fulfilled; but preparatory to
the time when God will come with vengeance to sweep
away wickedness from the face of the earth, the house
of Israel will be gathered back to their own lands, and
the people of God will be permitted to dwell in the
wilderness, and that wilderness will become a fruitful
field. It is even said that the desert should rejoice
because of those who are gathered, and should blossom
as the rose.
“Now that is something that has been fulfilled during
the last quarter of a century, here in this wilderness,
barren, desert country. The great latter-day work has
commenced, the kingdom of God has been reorganized
on the earth; in other words, the Christian Church
in all its purity and with all its ordinances, has been
reorganized upon the face of the earth, and the time
has at length come when the Spirit of God has been
poured out from on high. Until that period arrived,
there was no hope for Israel, no hope for the land of
Palestine, no hope for the redemption of the tribes
scattered in the four quarters of the earth; but when
the wilderness should become as a fruitful field, when
the spirit should again be poured out from on high,
through the everlasting Gospel of the Son of God,
then the people should be gathered together by the
commandment of the Lord. . . . Then we may look
out for a change upon the face of the land where this
gathering takes place; we may look for the deserts to
become like the garden of Eden, to blossom as the rose
that blossoms in rich and fertile gardens, to blossom
abundantly, and the desert to rejoice with joy and
singing. . . .
“The Prophet says that, when Jesus comes with
vengeance and destroys the wicked, redeems the
desert, and causes the wilderness to become a fruitful
field, then the lame man shall leap as a hart, the
tongue of the dumb shall speak, the ears of the deaf
shall be unstopped, for in the wilderness shall waters
break out, and streams in the desert, and the parched
ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land
springs of water.” (In Journal of Discourses, 18:145–46.)
(15-30) Isaiah 35:8–10. Who Are the “Ransomed of the
Lord” and What Does the Future Hold for Them?
Isaiah 35:8–10 is closely related to Doctrine and
Covenants 133:26–34 and is generally acknowledged to
refer to the return of the ten tribes. But these references
may also include all the tribes. Only the “redeemed” of
the Lord, that is the righteous, shall tread the “highway”
or “way of holiness”—“the unclean shall not pass
over it.” Since Ephraim is the source of the ten tribes’
blessings (see D&C 133:32), it stands to reason that
Ephraim must be gathered first. The ten tribes may
then “come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy
upon their heads” (Isaiah 35:10). Judah also shall be
gathered as part of this same picture. The Prophet
Joseph Smith wrote: “Our western tribes of Indians are
descendants from that Joseph who was sold into Egypt,
and . . . the land of America is a promised land unto
them, and unto it all the tribes of Israel will come,
with as many of the Gentiles as shall comply with the
requisitions of the new covenant. But the tribe of
Judah will return to old Jerusalem. The city of Zion
spoken of by David, in the one hundred and second
Psalm, will be built upon the land of America, ‘And
the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to
Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.’
[Isaiah 35:10]; and then they will be delivered from the
overflowing scourge that shall pass through the land.
But Judah shall obtain deliverance at Jerusalem. [See
Joel 2:32; Isaiah 26:20–21; Jeremiah 31:12; Psalm 1:5;
Ezekiel 34:11–13]. These are testimonies that the Good
Shepherd will put forth his own sheep, and lead them
out from all nations where they have been scattered in
a cloudy and dark day, to Zion, and to Jerusalem;
besides many more testimonies which might be
brought.” (Teachings, p. 17.)
POINTS TO PONDER
(15-31) Isaiah and the Doctrine and Covenants
You have now studied approximately half of
Isaiah’s writings. Again and again through numerous
cross-references other prophets have cited Isaiah. For
the New Testament and Book of Mormon writers this
is not too surprising, since the Old Testament was
their primary book of scripture. Some find surprising
the parallel phraseology between Isaiah’s writings
and the revelations of Joseph Smith, since by then
Christianity emphasized the New Testament writings,
often at the expense of the Old Testament.
But while removed from each other by more than
twenty-five hundred years, Isaiah and Joseph Smith
were both called by the same God, were engaged in
the same type of spiritual calling, and were blessed
with the same priesthood. Compare the revelatory
phrases of these two prophets to see how closely they
parallel each other:
Isaiah
1:2
1:16–17
1:18
1:19
8:16
11:1–10
24:5
24:20
25:6
28:10
28:15
28:21
29:14
34:4
34:5
34:8
35:3
35:10
D&C
76:1
88:123–24
50:10
64:34
88:84; 109:46
113:1–6
1:15
88:87
58:8
128:21
45:31
95:4; 101:95
6:1
88:87
1:13, 36
133:51–52
81:5
66:11; 101:18; 133:33
169
B.C.
681
Sennacherib
Manasseh
686
Hezekiah
Isaiah
Micah
695
705
Hosea
Sargon II
715
Ahaz
722
Shalmaneser
Hoshea
727
Tiglath-pileser III
731
732
735
739
Jotham
Pekah
Uzziah
740
Pekahiah
742
Menahem
745
Kings of Assyria
Kings of Israel
Prophets
Kings of Judah
Enrichment
The World of Isaiah
(F-1) Introduction
The importance of the prophet Isaiah is attested to
in many scriptural declarations. The Savior Himself
commanded that we should search his words diligently
(see 3 Nephi 23:1). When did Isaiah live? With whom did
he labor? What were the conditions and circumstances
in his day? Little is preserved about the life and times
of many of the Old Testament prophets, but the period
of Isaiah’s ministry has been generally well documented.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie identified fifteen chapters in
the writings of Isaiah as primarily about the local or
historical events of Isaiah’s day (see chart in “Ten Keys
to Understanding Isaiah,” Ensign, Oct. 1973, pp. 82–83).
This enrichment section is to help you better understand
the world in which Isaiah lived, the challenges he
faced, and the works he accomplished.
Date
Scriptural References
792 B.C.
2 Kings 15:1–4
768–750 B.C.
750 B.C.
2 Kings 15:5–6
F
(F-2) Chronological Chart of the Scriptural Record of
Isaiah’s Ministry
The following chart, with brief summary statements,
outlines the chronology of the events of the prophet
Isaiah’s ministry. The narrative from both the books of
Kings and Chronicles and the pertinent passages from
Isaiah present what is known of this period in the
history of the kingdom of Judah. (See the Old
Testament chronology chart in Maps, and Enrichment
A.) Dates in parentheses refer to happenings in the
Northern Kingdom of Israel. Dates with asterisks show
flashbacks in the chronology as it is recorded in the
scriptures.
Events
2 Chronicles
26:1–4
Azariah, or Uzziah (probably his royal or throne name),
was made king in Judah. He ruled twenty-four years
jointly with his father, fifty-two years total.
2 Chronicles
26:5–7
Uzziah sought counsel from the prophet Zechariah
(not the Zechariah who wrote the Old Testament book).
Uzziah subjugated the Philistines and the Arabians.
2 Chronicles
26:8–15
Judah was established as a strong military power.
Jerusalem was well fortified and the army well equipped.
Agriculture was also improved. Some neighbors paid
tribute to this powerful state.
2 Chronicles
26:16–21
Uzziah, lifted up in pride, assumed the right to officiate
in the temple. His unauthorized acts brought the
judgment of God against him: leprosy. His son Jotham
ruled jointly with him for ten years.
2 Chronicles
26:22
Isaiah is mentioned as having recorded the history of
Uzziah’s reign. We do not have this record today.
2 Chronicles
26:23
Jotham began his sole reign. (See the continuation of the
narrative below: 2 Kings 15:32–35; 2 Chronicles 27:1–6.)
740 B.C.*
2 Kings 15:7
(753 B.C.)
2 Kings 15:8–12
Zachariah ruled six months as king in Israel (Northern
Kingdom) after his father Jeroboam II.
(752 B.C.)
2 Kings 15:13–15
Shallum ruled one month in Israel before his assassination.
(752 B.C.)
2 Kings 15:16–18
Menahem began a ten-year reign of terror and wickedness
in the Northern Kingdom.
743 B.C.
2 Kings 15:19–21
The Northern Kingdom was attacked by the Assyrians.
Tiglath-pileser III (also known as Pul) secured tribute
from the king of Israel, who had exacted the money from
the wealthy of his kingdom. The ancient historical texts
of Tiglath-pileser III at Nimrod confirm this scriptural
account. These texts report tribute of gold and silver
paid by “Menahem of Samaria” (see James B. Pritchard,
ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old
Testament, p. 283).
171
(742 B.C.)
2 Kings 15:22–26
Pekahiah ruled two years in Israel before being
assassinated by his successor.
(740 B.C.)
2 Kings 15:27–31
Pekah, son of Remaliah, reigned over the Northern
Kingdom. The king formed an alliance with the Syrians
against the Assyrians. The coalition also threatened
Judah. (See the continuation of this narrative below:
2 Kings 15:37; 16:5–6.) Finally Tiglath-pileser III captured
the northern regions and took many of the inhabitants
hostage. This action opened the way for Hoshea to obtain
the throne of the Northern Kingdom. Isaiah referred to
this conquest in warning of further threats to the nations
of God—both Israel and Judah (see Isaiah 9:1).
740 B.C.
2 Kings 15:32–35
2 Chronicles
27:1–6
Jotham enlarged the temple gate and strengthened the
fortifications of the nation of Judah. The Ammonites
attempted to overthrow the tribute of Judah begun by
King Uzziah, but they were not successful.
735 B.C.
2 Kings 15:36–38
2 Chronicles
27:7–9
The coalition of Pekah, king of Israel, and Rezin, king of
Syria, began an attempt to subjugate Judah during this era.
2 Chronicles
27:9; 28:1
Ahaz ruled jointly with his father for three years until
Jotham’s death.
732 B.C.*
735 B.C.
2 Kings 16:1–4
2 Chronicles
28:1–4
Ahaz adopted idolatrous practices, including human
sacrifice of some of his own children.
735–720 B.C.
2 Kings 16:5–6
2 Chronicles
28:5–15
The coalition of Israel (Ephraim) and Syria attacked Judah
and Jerusalem. They were not successful in their
conquest, although they gained some territory.
Isaiah 7:1–6
Isaiah was directed to go to King Ahaz and warn him
against making any political alliances with Assyria.
Isaiah 7:6–9;
8:9–18
Isaiah prophesied that the threatened conquest would
not be successful. He further warned that Ephraim
(Israel) would be destroyed as a nation.
Isaiah 7:10–16;
9:6–7
The prophet testified that Judah would be preserved to
fulfill its foreordained destiny as the house of the Messiah.
Isaiah 7:17–25;
8:1–8; 9:8–12
Isaiah prophesied that Judah would be overrun by
the Assyrians but would not be destroyed as would the
people of Israel and Syria. He also prophesied the fall
of Syria and Damascus (see Isaiah 17:1–4) and even the
people of Israel (Samaria and Ephraim; see Isaiah 28:1–4).
Isaiah 10:5–19
Isaiah prophesied not only of Assyria’s destruction
of Samaria but also of the eventual fall of Jerusalem and
of all wickedness. Assyria’s destruction was also shown.
2 Kings 16:7
2 Kings 16:8–9
2 Kings 16:10–16
172
2 Chronicles
28:16
Ahaz rejected the counsel of the prophet Isaiah and
sought an alliance with Assyria.
2 Chronicles
28:17–19
Judah, with her weak leadership, was attacked by Edom
and Philistine neighbors, who occupied some cities and
territory of the nation.
2 Chronicles
28:20–21
In an attempt to secure the aid of the Assyrians, Ahaz
offered tribute from the treasures of the temple and the
throne. Wealthy people were forced to contribute. Ancient
Assyrian texts also report this tribute from Ahaz. (See
D. Winton Thomas, ed., Documents of Old Testament
Times, pp. 55–56.) The Assyrians did not, however, aid
Judah against her enemies.
Ahaz visited Tiglath-pileser III in the conquered city of
Damascus. He directed that a pagan, altar-like throne
patterned after one he saw in Damascus be erected at
the temple complex in Jerusalem.
2 Kings 16:17–20
2 Chronicles
28:22–23
Ahaz offered sacrifices to the idols of Damascus.
2 Chronicles
28:24–27
Ahaz destroyed or altered some of the temple vessels
and closed the temple. He also established places of
idolatry throughout the land.
(732 B.C.)*
2 Kings 15:30;
17:1–2
Hoshea was made king over Israel by the Assyrians.
The historical annals of the Assyrian kings found at
Calah, or Nimrod, attest to the enthronement of Hoshea
as vassal king by the Assyrians (see Pritchard, Ancient
Near Eastern Texts, pp. 283–84).
(725 B.C.)
2 Kings 17:3–4
In time King Hoshea rebelled against the Assyrians.
When Shalmaneser V became king of Assyria in 727 B.C.,
Hoshea used the change of rulers to break the tribute
agreement, and he conspired to obtain assistance from
Egypt. Messengers were sent to So of Egypt. This king
is generally believed to be the Ethiopian conqueror of
Egypt who ruled there as founder of the twenty-fifth
dynasty. (See Thomas, Documents of Old Testament Times,
p. 63; Alan Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs, p. 450.)
(724–721 B.C.)
2 Kings 17:5
The land of Israel and its capital Samaria were besieged
for three years. Near the end of this period, Sargon II
became ruler in Assyria.
(722 B.C.)*
2 Kings 17:6–17
The destruction of Samaria came at the hands of
Sargon II. The people of Israel were taken captive by
Sargon and exiled to Assyria. Some question Sargon’s
rule, but palace inscriptions about this ruler list him as
“conqueror of Samaria” (Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern
Texts, p. 284). These ancient writings likewise affirm the
exile of the inhabitants of the ten northern tribes (see
Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, pp. 284–85). This
large group later escaped from their captivity and were
lost to the scriptural narrative, hence the designation
“lost tribes” of Israel. (See Enrichment D.)
721 B.C.
2 Kings 17:18–19
The nation of Judah was the only nation remaining after
the Assyrian devastation.
(721 B.C.)
2 Kings 17:24
The Assyrians resettled the conquered and depopulated
territory of Israel, particularly the region of Samaria, the
capital. The wall inscriptions from Sargon’s palace affirm
that people from Mesopotamia were relocated in Israel
to be a new tribute state to Assyria.
(720 B.C.)
2 Kings 17:25–41
The new settlers experienced much difficulty there.
Their superstitious conclusion was that they did not
know the “God of the land” (2 Kings 17:26). Finally, the
Assyrians sent Levites and priests from captivity into
Israel to teach the new inhabitants of their God. They
worshiped both the Lord and the gods they had brought
with them. Eventually the new settlers worshiped chiefly
Jehovah and intermarried with the priestly families. In
time they became known as the Samaritans. (See Ezra
4:1–3.)
Isaiah 19:1–15;
20:1–6
Assyrian texts report a number of rebellions in the
conquered territories and even in the newly-conquered
Samaria. Gaza and Damascus were reestablished as
Assyrian provinces. (See Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern
Texts, p. 285.) The rebellious vassals of Assyria sought
aid from Egypt. In the face of such action, the prophet
Isaiah warned Judah against the unstable Egyptians.
The prophet further warned of Assyria’s defeat of
weakened Egypt, now dominated by foreign (Ethiopian)
rulers. The Babylonians were also rebelling, eventually
173
causing Assyria to shift her attention and presence from
the land of Israel. (See John Bright, A History of Israel,
p. 263.)
715 B.C.
2 Kings 18:1–6
715–701 B.C.
2 Chronicles
31:1–32:12
Hezekiah succeeded his father, Ahaz, as king. He
attempted to purge the land of the idolatry of his father.
Even the brazen serpent from the days of Moses (see
Numbers 21:8–9) had become an object of false worship,
so Hezekiah destroyed it.
2 Chronicles
29:1–11
Hezekiah reopened the temple and challenged the
Levites to prepare themselves to administer there.
2 Chronicles
29:12–19
The Levites carried out the work of cleansing and
restoring the temple.
2 Chronicles
29:20–36
True worship and sacrifice were reestablished in the
nation of Judah.
2 Chronicles
30:1–12
Hezekiah sent messengers inviting all the nation to
come to Jerusalem for the reinstitution of the feast of
the Passover. Many throughout the land scorned and
rejected his call.
2 Chronicles
30:13–27
The faithful who responded to the invitation rejoiced
in the celebration in Judah of the sacred festival of the
Passover.
2 Chronicles
31:1
The worshipers continued their efforts to rid the land
of the institutions of false worship.
2 Chronicles
31:2–10
The priesthood was organized and appointed to their
continuing functions. Tithes were given for the support
of the priests.
2 Chronicles
31:11–21
The administration of temporal affairs was appointed,
the rights of the Levites being established by lineal
descent and birthright.
705 B.C.
2 Kings 18:7
Sargon, king of Assyria, was killed in battle, and
revolutions followed throughout the Assyrian Empire.
Hezekiah refused to pay the heavy tribute that his
father had begun, and he sought an Egyptian alliance.
Isaiah had warned the people of the folly of expecting
help from Egypt. (See Isaiah 30:1–7; 31:1–3.)
(722 B.C.)*
2 Kings 18:9–12
The account of the fall of Israel and Samaria in the
north to Shalmaneser V and Sargon II is repeated. This
account was a reminder of the power of the Assyrians.
701 B.C.
2 Kings 18:13–16
Sennacherib, the successor to Sargon, swept into Judah
and the territory of the Philistines to enforce the tribute
agreements. The annals of this invader king record the
capture of forty-six cities or forts and many villages. The
extended siege of Hezekiah at Jerusalem is described:
“Himself I made a prisoner . . . like a bird in a cage”
(Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 288). The
Assyrians were headquartered in Lachish, twenty-five
miles southwest of Jerusalem. Hezekiah sent tribute,
mostly from the temple, to sue for peace. The receipt of
the tribute is confirmed in ancient texts. (See Pritchard,
Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 288.)
2 Chronicles
32:1–8
174
In spite of the offering, the siege continued. Hezekiah
sought to strengthen the fortifications of the city and
moved to protect the water supply. A conduit or water
course was dug out of limestone rock to bring the water
safely into the city where it could be stored (see
2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30). In warning of the
future destruction of Jerusalem, Isaiah spoke of these
preparations made by Hezekiah (see Isaiah 22:8–11).
This tunnel exists today and is known as Hezekiah’s,
or the Siloam, Tunnel. An ancient inscription in the
tunnel tells of the construction and is generally associated
with Hezekiah’s project. (See Pritchard, Ancient Near
Eastern Texts, p. 321; Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Hezekiah’s
Tunnel.”)
2 Kings 18:17–18
Isaiah 36:2–3
2 Chronicles
32:9–10
As the siege continued, the Assyrians sent representatives
of Sennacherib to demand the surrender of the city.
Hezekiah sent his officials outside the city walls to
negotiate.
2 Kings 18:19–25
Isaiah 36:4–10
2 Chronicles
32:11–12
The Assyrian spokesman challenged the people’s
ability to withstand his forces. He criticized the alliance
Judah had attempted to make with Egypt. Finally he
blasphemously claimed that the God of Judah had
commanded Judah’s destruction.
2 Kings 18:26
Isaiah 36:11
The representatives of Hezekiah requested that the
negotiations be carried out in the Syrian language
(Aramaic) rather than Hebrew, so the people would
not understand the exchange.
2 Kings 18:27–35
Isaiah 36:12–20
2 Chronicles
32:18–19
The Assyrian official ignored the plea and, speaking
loudly in the language of the people of Judah, declared
the futility of trusting Hezekiah or their God for
deliverance. He challenged the power of Judah’s God
with the results of Assyria’s victories.
2 Kings 18:36–37
Isaiah 36:21–22
2 Chronicles
32:16–17
Since Hezekiah’s representatives had been ordered to
remain silent, they said nothing at all but returned and
reported to the king. In addition to the spoken challenges,
the Assyrians sent written messages.
2 Kings 19:1–5
Isaiah 37:1–5
2 Chronicles
32:20
Upon receiving these challenges and the report of his
representatives, Hezekiah sought counsel and direction
from the prophet Isaiah.
2 Kings 19:6–13
Isaiah 37:6–13
Isaiah prophesied the departure of the Assyrians and
Sennacherib’s death upon his return to his homeland.
The chief negotiator for the Assyrians returned to
Sennacherib to report, and he found that the main force
was engaged against Tibnah, not far from Lachish.
The Assyrians were also threatened by attack from the
Ethiopian pharaoh of Egypt. As a result, the pressure
upon Jerusalem for surrender was increased.
2 Kings 19:14–35
Isaiah 37:14–36
2 Chronicles
32:21
Hezekiah, upon receiving the message from the
Assyrians, sought the Lord in prayer for deliverance.
The Lord’s response was revealed to the king though
the prophet Isaiah, who declared the destruction of the
Assyrians and the future blessing and prosperity of
Judah. Hezekiah stood firm and faithfully obeyed the
prophet’s direction. The people of Judah were delivered
by the Lord. The Assyrians encamped around Jerusalem
were smitten and suffered many casualties.
2 Kings 19:36–37
Isaiah 37:37–38
2 Chronicles
32:21–23
The Assyrians who survived broke off the campaign
and withdrew to their homeland. There Sennacherib
was assassinated, as Isaiah had prophesied. This
miraculous deliverance brought Hezekiah and his God
recognition and tribute from neighboring nations.
2 Kings 20:1–11
Isaiah 38
2 Chronicles
32:24
Hezekiah became very proud and became deathly ill.
The prophet Isaiah declared that he would die. Hezekiah
pleaded with the Lord, and before the prophet had left
the courts of the king, Isaiah was inspired to return and
tell Hezekiah that his life would be extended fifteen
years. The treatment for his illness was also revealed.
Isaiah also prophesied a sign as a witness of God’s hand
175
in Hezekiah’s recovery. The daylight was extended, as
indicated by the sundial of Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father (see
Helaman 12:13–15).
701–686 B.C.
2 Kings 20:12–13
Isaiah 39:1–2
2 Chronicles
32:25–26
Hezekiah continued to struggle with his pride, which
had brought the Lord’s wrath upon him and his people.
The Lord’s wrath was appeased only when Hezekiah
became sufficiently humble.
2 Chronicles
32:27–30
The people and the king were richly blessed with
material wealth.
2 Chronicles
32:31
Merodach-baladan (a Babylonian prince called Mardukapal-iddina in his own land), who had earlier rebelled
against Assyrian domination, sent messengers of good
will with gifts for the king of Judah. Hezekiah responded
by showing them all the state treasures and armaments.
2 Kings 20:14–19
Isaiah 39:3–8
The prophet Isaiah upbraided the king for openly
revealing the wealth and defense of the kingdom. He
also prophesied the future subjugation and destruction
of Judah by the Babylonians.
2 Kings 20:20–21
2 Chronicles
32:20, 32–33
The water tunnel in Jerusalem is mentioned as being
one of Hezekiah’s significant accomplishments.
697 B.C.*
2 Kings 21:1–2
2 Chronicles
33:1–2
Manasseh joined his father as king. He apparently ruled
jointly with his father during the last eleven years of his
father’s reign.
686 B.C.
2 Kings 21:3–16
2 Chronicles
33:3–10
When Manasseh began to reign alone, upon the death
of his father, he led the prosperous nation deep into
apostasy and idolatry. They did “more evil than did the
nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of
Israel” (2 Kings 21:9). Prophets foretold the judgments
and destruction that were to come upon this rebellious
nation. Manasseh shed much innocent blood.
2 Chronicles
33:11–17
Essarhaddon, the Assyrian ruler and one of the sons of
Sennacherib, again overran the land of Judah, placing
twenty-one cities, including Jerusalem, under tribute.
After this defeat and punishment at the hands of the
Assyrians, Manasseh attempted some reforms among
the people, but without result.
679 B.C.
(F-3) Summary
Isaiah was a prophet-statesman who ministered
during the reigns of four kings of Judah. The historical
records of this time come from three major sources: the
second book of Kings, the second book of Chronicles,
and the writings of Isaiah.
Tradition records that Isaiah died as a martyr by
being sawed in two at the hands of Manasseh (see
R. H. Charles, ed., The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
of the Old Testament in English, 2:162; Hebrews 11:37).
176
Isaiah 36–47
The God of Israel
and the Nations
(16-1) Introduction
This chapter deals with events in Judah during the
reign of King Hezekiah that were the prelude to the
Babylonian captivity. It treats the captivity period,
including the hope for the promised Messiah. Isaiah
dramatized the utter futility of trusting in man-made
gods and revealed both Judah’s future deliverance
from bondage and the destruction of the Babylon that
had been Judah’s oppressor.
Although some claim that Isaiah 40 and the chapters
that follow were written by different authors, Isaiah
merely shifted from a mix of prose and poetry to a
more completely poetic style. These later chapters use
his typical words and expressions. Further, his
authorship is attested by modern revelation.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study Isaiah 36–47. Refer to
Enrichment E throughout your study of the book
of Isaiah. Enrichment F will provide an overview of
the historical setting of the prophet Isaiah’s
ministry.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
ISAIAH 36–47
(16-2) Isaiah 36–39. Isaiah and the Assyrian Invasion
These chapters in the prophet’s writings parallel the
narrative account recorded in 2 Kings 18:2–20:19.
Because they cite the prophet Isaiah’s counsel and the
prophecy to King Hezekiah, they are included here. A
complete overview of the chronological events dealt
with is found in Enrichment F. The notes and
commentary that apply to these chapters are found in
chapter 12, which covers 2 Kings 14–20. Second Kings
18:14–20:11 parallels the account in Isaiah so Notes and
Commentary on 2 Kings 18:14–20:11 will not be
duplicated here. The correlation between the accounts
in 2 Kings, Isaiah, and 2 Chronicles is provided in the
accompanying table.
(16-3) Isaiah 40–47. Isaiah Changed His Style of Writing
to Prophetic Poetry
The preceding chapters in Isaiah include a mix of
prophetic poetry and historical prose. The prophet
used a beautiful poetic writing style for the entire
portion covered in this reading, with the brief
exception of 44:9–20. Hebrew poetry differs from poetry
written in English, primarily because it emphasizes
16
parallelism in thought, rather than rhyme and meter.
Its beauty and sense are wonderful and pleasing to
both the mind and the ear. (See Old Testament Student
Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel [religion 301, 2003],
pp. 303–6.)
(16-4) Isaiah 40:1–3. Why Did Isaiah Say Jerusalem’s
Warfare Was Over?
“The message of comfort to Jerusalem, ‘that her
warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned,’
clearly refers to the latter days. The Anchor Bible
translates this line ‘that her sentence is served, her penalty
is paid.’ Judah was to be sent through the ‘furnace
of affliction’ (see 48:10), so the message given here is
to be fulfilled after she has been through the furnace.
A look at history and at present-day circumstances
shows her still to be going through that furnace. The
rest of the chapter also supports a Second Coming
time period.” (Monte S. Nyman, “Great Are the Words
of Isaiah,” pp. 141–42.)
(16-5) Isaiah 40:3. “The Voice of Him That Crieth in
the Wilderness”
As with so many Old Testament prophecies, this
passage has more than one meaning. The Savior
clearly identified the “voice in the wilderness” as John
the Baptist (see Matthew 3:3; John 1:23; 1 Nephi
10:8–9). But if this forerunner was to prepare the way
for the person who was to tell Jerusalem that times of
trial were over (see Isaiah 40:1), then the prophet
clearly could not be referring only to John the Baptist’s
mortal ministry. Elder George Teasdale said: “Instead
of speaking comforting words to Jerusalem, He
[Christ] exclaimed: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that
killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent
unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy
children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens
under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your
house is left unto you desolate.’ Were these comforting
words to Jerusalem? I think not. It is very evident that
John the Baptist was not only the forerunner of His
first coming, but also of His second advent. The
Scriptures are plain on this matter.” (In Journal of
Discourses, 25:16.)
Only with the Second Coming of the Lord will
Jerusalem find forgiveness and peace. Therefore, the
reference to the voice in the wilderness (John the Baptist)
making a straight way in the desert applies to his
ministry as a forerunner for both the former and
the latter days. Luke quoted Isaiah 40:3–5 (see Luke
3:4–6)—not only verse 3 but also verses 4 and 5, which
are clearly millennial in application. When Joseph Smith
revised Luke’s passage, he added five verses that also
apply to the Second Coming and clearly identify the
Savior as Him for whom the forerunner would prepare
the way.
Since the five verses the Prophet Joseph added were
put in the middle of Luke’s quotation of Isaiah, it can
179
Parallels of the Scriptural Record
Isaiah 36–39; 2 Kings 18–21; 2 Chronicles 32–33
Isaiah
36:2
36:3
36:4
36:5
36:6
36:7
36:8
36:9
36:10
36:11
36:12
36:13
36:14
36:15
36:16
36:17–18
36:18
36:19
36:20
36:21
36:22
2 Kings
18:17
18:18
18:19
18:20
18:21
18:22
18:23
18:24
18:25
18:26
18:27
18:28
18:29
18:30
18:31
18:32
18:33
18:34
18:35
18:36
18:37
37:1
37:2
37:3
37:4
37:5
37:6
37:7
37:8
37:9
37:10
37:11
37:12
37:13
37:14
37:15–16
37:17
37:18
37:19
37:20
37:21
37:22
37:23
37:24
37:25
37:26
37:27
19:1
19:2
19:3
19:4
19:5
19:6
19:7
19:8
19:9
19:10
19:11
19:12
19:13
19:14
19:15
19:16
19:17
19:18
19:19
19:20
19:21
19:22
19:23
19:24
19:25
19:26
2 Chronicles
32:9
32:10
32:11
32:11–12
Isaiah
37:28
37:29
37:30
37:31
37:32
37:33
37:34
37:35
37:36
37:37
37:38
2 Kings
19:27
19:28
19:29
19:30
19:31
19:32
19:33
19:34
19:35
19:36
19:37
38:1
38:2
38:3
38:4
38:5
20:1
20:2
20:3
20:4
20:5
20:5
20:6
20:6
20:6
20:8
20:9
20:9
20:10
20:11
32:18
32:12
32:11–32:19
32:13
32:14
38:5
38:6
32:15–17
180
38:7
38:8
32:20
38:8
38:9–20
38:21
38:22
39:1
39:2
39:3
39:4
39:5
39:6
39:7
39:8
2 Chronicles
32:21
32:21
32:22–23
32:24
32:24
32:24
32:25
32:26
20:7
20:8
20:12
20:13
20:14
20:15
20:16
20:17
20:18
20:19
32:27–29
32:31
be assumed they were part of Isaiah’s original text.
They are therefore cited here (they were inserted
between verses 3 and 4 of Luke).
“For behold, and lo, he shall come, as it is written in
the book of the prophets, to take away the sins of the
world, and to bring salvation unto the heathen nations,
to gather together those who are lost, who are of the
sheepfold of Israel;
“Yea, even the dispersed and afflicted; and also to
prepare the way, and make possible the preaching of
the gospel unto the Gentiles;
“And to be a light unto all who sit in darkness, unto
the uttermost parts of the earth; to bring to pass the
resurrection from the dead, and to ascend up on high,
to dwell on the right hand of the Father,
“Until the fulness of time, and the law and the
testimony shall be sealed, and the keys of the kingdom
shall be delivered up again unto the Father;
“To administer justice unto all; to come down in
judgment upon all, and to convince all the ungodly of
their ungodly deeds, which they have committed; and
all this in the day that he shall come.” (JST, Luke 3:5–9.)
Clearly John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy twice.
But there was to be yet another fulfillment of the
prophecy.
Another forerunner who prepared for Christ’s coming
was the Prophet Joseph Smith. President Joseph
Fielding Smith observed that “Malachi [as does Isaiah]
speaks of the Lord sending his messenger to prepare
the way before him, and while that does have reference
to the coming of John the Baptist, it is one of those
prophecies in the scriptures that has a double fulfilment.
It has reference also to the coming of the Prophet Joseph
Smith, because that messenger which was to come and
prepare the way before him, was to come in this day. I
am going to take just a moment for that because it is
important, and I will show you when this messenger
was to deliver his message. . . .
“The Lord declared, through one of his prophets,
that before his second coming a messenger should be
sent to prepare the way and make it straight. You may
apply this to John if you will, and it is true. John, the
messenger who came to prepare the way before the
Lord in the former dispensation, also came in this
dispensation as a messenger to Joseph Smith; so it
applies, if you wish to apply it so, to John who came
as a messenger to prepare the way before the Lord.
“But I go farther and maintain that Joseph Smith
was the messenger whom the Lord sent to prepare the
way before him. He came, and under direction of holy
messengers laid the foundation for the kingdom of
God and of this marvelous work and a wonder that
the world might be prepared for the coming of the
Lord.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:193–95.)
(16-6) Isaiah 40:4. Earthquakes Will Change the Face
of the Land
President Joseph Fielding Smith declared that before
the Second Coming of the Lord, there will be an
earthquake that will be so destructive that mountains
will be made low, valleys will be elevated, and rough
places made as a plain. It will be so violent that the sun
will be darkened and the moon will be turned to blood.
The waters will be driven back into the north countries
and the lands joined as they were before the days of
All flesh is as grass.
Peleg. (See Doctrines of Salvation, 1:85; 2:317; D&C 49:23;
88:87; 109:74; 133:17–25, 44; Isaiah 54:10; Ezekiel 38:20;
Revelation 16:15–20.)
(16-7) Isaiah 40:6–8. What Does “All Flesh Is Grass”
Mean?
The metaphors the prophets drew from the land of
Canaan had poignant spiritual messages. The spring
rains, called the “latter rains” (Jeremiah 3:3), fall through
April and May. During these rains the grass springs up
in Israel as a spontaneous, green carpet over the land
in such abundance and splendor that it seems it could
never fail. Within a very short time the rains end,
however, and the fierce summer heat turns the grass
brown almost overnight. It simply seems to disappear
across the barren hills. The withered, lifeless grass was
the metaphor Isaiah chose to describe the wicked
whose ways seem to be so attractive to the world but
cannot endure long. Only those sanctified of the Lord
will withstand the glory of His coming, for the wicked
will be as the dried grass before a blazing fire.
(Compare D&C 101:24–25.)
(16-8) Isaiah 40:9. Who Was Called “Zion” in the High
Mountain?
Elder Orson Pratt said that this scripture was a
prophecy concerning the Lord’s Zion that would be
built up upon the earth before He comes in His glory.
The prophecy indicated that “the people called Zion”
would go to the high mountain territory (the mountain
valleys of Utah and nearby areas). He further stated
that Joseph Smith had also predicted the same thing
and concluded: “Thus the prophecy was uttered—thus
it has been fulfilled.” (In Journal of Discourses, 15:48.)
181
(16-9) Isaiah 40:10–11. Work Preparatory to His Coming
These verses clearly speak of the preparatory activity
required before the Lord comes again. Elder Levi Edgar
Young said:
“I sincerely believe that these days are bringing us
closer and closer to God. . . .
“May we become the pure in heart and see God,”
which is the happy lot of those who are “wise and
have received the truth, and have taken the holy Spirit
for their guide,” for they are the ones who shall not be
deceived and shall “abide the day.” (In Conference
Report, Apr. 1933, p. 121; see also D&C 45:57.)
(16-10) Isaiah 40:12–31. What Is the Significance of
“Measured” Waters and “Comprehended” Dust?
Verse 12 is Isaiah’s poetic way of saying that God
knows the world so intimately that He knows even the
measure of the waters of the ocean and the dust of the
earth. (See Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses,
7:141.)
The other verses emphasize through the impressive
use of contrasts the greatness of God and the nothingness
of mortal nations and the gods they worship.
(16-11) Isaiah 40:28. Isaiah Identified One of the
Names of God
“In the same sense in which one of the Lord’s names
is Endless and another Eternal, so Everlasting is also an
appellation of Deity. (Moses 1:3; 7:35; D. & C. 19:10.)
He is called the Everlasting God (Gen. 21:33; Isa. 9:6;
40:28; Jer. 10:10; Rom. 16:26; D. & C. 133:34), signifying
that he endures forever, for ‘his years never fail.’
(D. & C. 76:4.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine,
p. 243.)
(16-12) Isaiah 40:31. What Did Isaiah See as the
Reward of Those Who “Wait upon the Lord”?
Speaking of the ultimate power given to those who
wait upon the Lord, whose strength “the Lord shall
renew,” the prophet Isaiah said they shall “mount up
with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). Elder Orson Pratt
suggested that those who have been confined to the
mortal sphere and its laws may be renewed with the
light of truth and be enabled to move from place to
place at accelerated velocity, even with the speed of
light. (See Journal of Discourses, 3:104.)
The greater promise reserved for those who have
been true and faithful in keeping the commandments
by waiting upon the Lord is found in their being able
to “run and not be weary” and to “walk, and not
faint” (Isaiah 40:31; compare D&C 89:18–21.)
Since everyone who runs far enough experiences
some weariness, and anyone who walks long enough
feels at least somewhat faint, it is evident that these
promises apply also to the things of the Spirit, for the
Lord “fainteth not, neither is weary” (Isaiah 40:28).
While there are those who “run” without being
sent (see Jeremiah 23:21), the Lord’s servants are
commissioned to run His errand. One called by
the Lord to serve is engaged in a contest in which
“the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the
strong” (Ecclesiastes 9:11); but the reward is to those
who “endure to the end” (Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13).
182
To have the strength to run the race of life without
becoming weary is a valuable promise; to be able to
journey with safety and not faint or fall away from
the truth is a great blessing. What consolation and
encouragement it is to those who wait upon the Lord
to be able to serve mightily and not weary of it, to
walk with certainty and not fall away.
(16-13) Isaiah 41–44. A Key to Understanding
Isaiah 40–66 is prophetic. Although reference is
made to Isaiah’s immediate future, the burden of his
prophecy is for the latter days. Most Bible scholars feel
that these chapters are historical and that they were
written by others after Judah was exiled to Babylon.
Yet Book of Mormon prophets quote parts or all of
Isaiah 48–53, indicating these chapters must have been
included on the Brass Plates before the Babylonian
exile. Christ told the Nephites that Isaiah “spake as
touching all things concerning my people which are of
the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he
must speak also to the Gentiles” (3 Nephi 23:2).
Isaiah’s prophecies concerning Israel’s destiny are
more reliable than the limited perspective of
historians.
(16-14) Isaiah 41:1, 5. What Are the “Isles” Seen by
Isaiah?
From time to time the Lord has led away remnants
of Israel to “isles” from which He will eventually gather
them before the Second Coming. The Americas are one
of these isles. (See 2 Nephi 10:20–21; compare 1 Nephi
19:10, 16; 21:8; 22:3–4; 2 Nephi 10:8.) A study of these
references reveals that these “isles” were not known
by others (see especially 1 Nephi 22:3–4). Isaiah
alluded to scattered Israel when he used the metaphor
“isles” and suggested that there, in the isles, they
would learn to trust Him and wait upon His word and
be renewed together. All of this would come near the
time of the harvest. (See Isaiah 24:15; 41:1–5; 49:1; 51:5;
60:9.) Then scattered Israel will learn a new song, the
song of the redeemed, as they are gathered into the
kingdom (see also Isaiah 42:4, 10; Revelation 14:1–3).
John the Revelator has a part in the return of the ten tribes.
(16-15) Isaiah 41:2. Who Is the Righteous Man from
the East?
John saw a vision similar to Isaiah’s and spoke of
this righteous man as an “angel ascending from the
east, having the seal of the living God” (Revelation
7:2). The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that this angel
of the east was “Elias which was to come to gather
together the tribes of Israel and restore all things”
(D&C 77:9).
Of this “angel,” Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Who
has restored all things? Was it one man? Certainly not.
Many angelic ministrants have been sent from the
courts of glory to confer keys and powers, to commit
their dispensations and glories again to men on earth.
At least the following have come: Moroni, John the
Baptist, Peter, James and John, Moses, Elijah, Elias,
Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael. (D. & C. 13; 110;
128:19–21.) Since it is apparent that no one messenger
has carried the whole burden of the restoration, but
rather that each has come with a specific endowment
from on high, it becomes clear that Elias is a composite
personage. The expression must be understood to be a name
and a title for those whose mission it was to commit keys
and powers to men in this final dispensation. (Doctrines of
Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 170–174.)” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 221.)
Thus the “man from the east” seems to mean angels
of the Restoration, who are grouped together under
the composite title of Elias.
(16-16) Isaiah 41:21–29. The Wisdom of the Wicked Is
Futile
The Lord challenged the wisest of the world to
produce the smallest insight into the future (see
vv. 21–23) and reminded them that their works are
“nothing” (v. 24) and that in the end their values “are
all vanity” and will only bring “confusion” (v. 29).
(16-17) Isaiah 42:1–4. Who Is the Servant?
Only one servant was given power of judgment (see
v. 1; compare Romans 14:10; 2 Nephi 9:41), and that is
He upon whose law the isles shall wait (see Isaiah 42:4;
51:5; 60:9), the Mediator of Israel and the Savior of the
Gentiles. He did not cry or lift up His voice in the streets,
that is, raise a great tumult and boast in His own ways.
Matthew cited this passage in Isaiah after noting that
the Savior charged the multitudes not to make His
healings known (see Matthew 12:15–21), for His was
not an earthly kingdom wherein His voice and His
works and wonders were to be heralded abroad; rather,
His was a heavenly kingdom (see John 18:33–37).
Thus, He withdrew from multitudes and avoided the
honors of men, and He ministered with meekness and
gentleness. The spirit of judgment was to be withheld
until the Day of Judgment, at which time Christ will
claim victory as “King of kings, and Lord of lords”
(1 Timothy 6:15).
The imagery of the bruised reed and smoking flax
(see v. 3) means that even though He comes in judgment,
it is not to destroy souls but to save them. The phrase
“smoking flax” was translated by C. F. Keil and
F. Delitzsch as a “glimmering wick.” They explained
its use as follows: “In the statement that in such a case
as this He does not completely break or extinguish,
there is more implied than is really expressed. Not
only will He not destroy the life that is dying out, but
The Lord opens the eyes of those who are spiritually blind.
He will actually save it; His course is not to destroy,
but to save.” (Commentary on the Old Testament,
7:2:176.)
The phrase “he shall bring forth judgment unto truth”
that immediately follows the reference to the reed and
the flax was interpreted by Keil and Delitzsch “as
denoting such a knowledge, and acknowledgment of
the true facts in the complicated affairs of men, as will
promote both equity and kindness” (Commentary,
7:2:176).
(16-18) Isaiah 42:5–16. Who Is the Light That Opens
the Eyes of the Blind?
Isaiah’s frame of reference shifts from the Father’s
relationship with His Son to the Savior’s relationship
with covenant Israel, particularly with those who would
respond to the gospel invitation and be qualified to
sing the song of the exalted (both living and dead).
(Compare Isaiah 49:7–12; 1 Nephi 21:7–12; Revelation
14:1–3; Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation,
1:269–70; 1 Peter 3:18–21; 4:6; John 5:28.) When mortals
who are blind because they lack gospel light embrace
the gospel, they are as prisoners set free.
The Prophet Joseph Smith was speaking of the
crucified Christ when he said: “Here then we have an
account of our Savior preaching to the spirits in prison,
to spirits that had been imprisoned from the days of
Noah; and what did He preach to them? That they were
to stay there? Certainly not! Let His own declaration
testify. [Luke 4:18; Isaiah 42:7] It is very evident from
this that He not only went to preach to them, but to
deliver, or bring them out of the prison house. . . . Thus
we find that God will deal with all the human family
equally, and that as the antediluvians [those who lived
before the Flood] had their day of visitation, so will
those characters referred to by Isaiah, have their time
of visitation and deliverance, after having been many
days in prison.” (History of the Church, 4:596–97.)
Everything centers in the Savior, Jesus Christ. He is
the light of the world and “of the gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6).
His hand is extended to strengthen, support, and protect
covenant Israel; but that is not all. Every covenant person
becomes a light to the world by holding up the light of
the Savior through faithfully living His commandments
(see 3 Nephi 18:24; see also Acts 26:17–18).
183
(16-19) Isaiah 42:9–16. The Restoration of the Gospel
in the Latter Days Foretold
(16-22) Isaiah 43–47. The Lord Will Save Israel and
Destroy Babylon
The prophet Isaiah introduced the vision of the
restoration of the gospel in the latter days by explaining
that the truths and the keys of former days were to be
restored. He also observed the restoration of new keys
in the dispensation of the fulness of times (see v. 9).
Using the metaphor of childbirth he described the
restoration of the earthly kingdom following a long
period of apostasy, during which the heavens had been
sealed (see v. 14; compare Revelation 12:1–2, 13, 17).
The Church will be restored in the last days, before
the destruction that will make the mountains as plains
and dry up the waters, and before the return of the
scattered tribes of Israel, when they will come on paths
they have not known, and the light of the gospel will
dispel the darkness they have so long endured (see
Isaiah 42:15–16). Isaiah reiterated the Lord’s promise
that the restored gospel would not be taken again from
the earth and that the Lord will not forsake His own.
(See v. 16; compare Isaiah 2:2–3; 11:11–16; 29:14–15,
18–19; Daniel 2:44–45; Joel 2:25–29.)
In chapters 43–44 Isaiah assured Israel that the Lord
alone is in control and has the power to save her, that
He is her Redeemer and will blot out her sins. Then
speaking prophetically but in past tense (Isaiah had
already seen the redeeming sacrifice of the Lord,
although it had not yet occurred), he declared that the
Atonement had been made, and that Israel’s redemption
was predicted only upon her return to Him. (See
Isaiah 44:21–22.)
Chapter 45 reveals how and by whom the Lord will
redeem Judah, a remnant of Israel. Chapter 46 deplores
idols and states that the idol gods themselves are
in captivity. Chapter 47 reveals the dramatic final
destruction of temporal and spiritual Babylon.
(16-20) Isaiah 42:10. What Is the “New Song”?
Isaiah recorded the singing of the “new song” after
he recorded the restoration of the gospel. The song is
unique in that only those who are sanctified are worthy
to sing it (compare Revelation 14:1–3). The same spirit
is reflected in Doctrine and Covenants 84:98–102. In
another instance, the song is simply called the “song of
the Lamb” (D&C 133:56–57).
(16-21) Isaiah 42:17–25. Are the Servants of the Lord
Blind?
Isaiah was caught up in the majesty of his latter-day
prophecy; however, at this point he digressed to
expound upon the status of Israel between the day of
his prophecy and the day of its fulfillment. He gave a
clear reminder that all those, including wayward Israel,
who pay homage at the feet of idols are deaf and blind
to the message and light of the gospel (see vv. 17–18).
The Prophet Joseph Smith clarified verses 19–22 as
follows:
“For I will send my servant unto you who are 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.
“Thou art a people, seeing many things, but thou
observest not; opening the ears to hear, but thou
hearest not.
“The Lord is not well pleased with such a people,
but for his righteousness’ sake he will magnify the law
and make it honorable.
“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.” (JST, Isaiah 42:19–23.)
Clearly, it is not the servant who is blind, but
scattered Israel, who have adopted the idols of their
neighbors.
184
(16-23) Isaiah 43:1–7. A Shadow and a Type for One
Who Is Called, Before He May Be Owned by the Lord
In these verses, as Isaiah promised the eventual
restoration and regathering of Israel, he compared it
to a person’s walking on a perilous journey where fire
and flood threaten. The metaphor is as valid for an
individual as it is for the house of Israel. The Lord
called her by name, for Israel is the name given her
by covenant and symbolizes the fact that she would
eventually be preserved and belong to Him (see
Genesis 32:28–30). He then promised that as she passed
through the perils of her journey back He would be
with her. Neither waters nor flood nor the fires of trial
and persecution could take away His protection of His
chosen people. There may also be a spiritual symbolism
in these promises. When Israel escaped from Egypt,
she passed through the water (the Red Sea) and was
overshadowed with fire, the pillar of fire, and smoke
(see Exodus 13:21–22; 14:21–22). Paul saw these
phenomena as types or symbols of the baptism of
water and the Holy Ghost (see 1 Corinthians 10:1–4).
Here Isaiah showed Israel being gathered. One is
gathered into the fold by becoming baptized; thus, the
symbolism is both spiritually and temporally significant.
(16-24) Isaiah 43:4–10. The Gathering of Israel Is a
Universal Event
Isaiah used east, west, north, and south (see vv. 5–6)
to symbolize “all the nations” (v. 9) throughout the
world to which Israel was scattered and from which
she will be gathered. The promised gathering is to be
brought about in the last days by The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See Orson Pratt, in Journal
of Discourses, 18:228; Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to
Gospel Questions, 2:181–82.)
In connection with this promise, read Notes and
Commentary on Isaiah 42:17–25, concerning the servant
who sees and hears and will open the eyes and ears of
those who will be gathered.
(16-25) Isaiah 43:13. What Was Meant by the Words
“Let It”?
According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the whole
phrase should read: “I will work, and who shall
hinder it?” (JST, Isaiah 43:13).
(16-26) Isaiah 43:14–17. For Her Own Good, Israel Was
Delivered into Bondage
The Lord sent Israel into Babylonian bondage for a
wise cause. It is likely that the purpose in her captivity
was at least twofold: to humble proud and wicked Israel,
and to have indisputable cause for destroying Babylon
and showing the world that this attractive “daughter
of the Chaldeans” was a poor one to emulate, for she
would be no more (see Isaiah 47:1–6). And all of this
would be as sure as the destruction of the Egyptians
in the days of Moses, which had become legendary.
(16-27) Isaiah 43:18–21. What Was Meant by “a New
Thing” in the Wilderness?
After recalling the destruction of the Egyptians before
his day (see v. 3), and predicting the destruction of
Babylon in his own future (see vv. 14–17), Isaiah directed
the reader’s attention away from all of that, saying
“remember ye not the former things” (v. 18), and
reminded the reader that he was going to speak of a
“new thing” (v. 19). Thus casting his mind to another
prophetic vision, Isaiah spoke of a miraculous time
when the destruction would be reversed: the desert
would “blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1), in contrast
to the flower of Babylon becoming a desert. In a
conference talk given when he was Presiding Bishop,
LeGrand Richards described a literal fulfillment of
Isaiah’s words:
“Isaiah said: ‘Behold, I will do a new thing,’ and as
far as my understanding of this scripture is concerned,
that new thing was the great principle of irrigation. It
is true the Saints had to make the canals, they had to
make the ditches, they had to put in the dams, but the
land might have remained arid had not the Lord put
into their minds the inspiration to do this very thing,
and that is what Isaiah saw that the Lord would do.
He said: [Isaiah 43:19–20].
“If you want to see the rivers in the desert, just go
up through Idaho and see the great canals that come
out of the Snake River. They are greater than many of
the rivers of the land. [Isaiah 43:20–21; 41:18, 20.]
“So as you brethren gather in your crops by day in
the harvest time, remember that it was the Lord God
of Israel who did this new thing in this great wilderness
to make it to prosper as a rose and to be a land that
would attract the attention of all the world.” (In
Conference Report, Oct. 1948, pp. 44–45.)
After his prophetic interlude, Isaiah dropped back
to historical Israel (see Isaiah 43:22–28), with the single
reminder in verse 25 of a future forgiveness—a ray of
hope for better things.
(16-28) Isaiah 44:1–2. What Was Meant by the Term
Jesurun?
Isaiah began chapter 44 in the same spirit as he began
chapter 43, by reminding Israel that they were the
covenant people of the Lord. Jacob was the father of
Israel. The Lord renewed the covenant He had made
with Abraham with Jacob and changed his name to
Israel because of his righteousness (Gen. 35:9–11). It is
fitting, therefore, that the Lord also called this faithful
servant “Jesurun,” (or Jeshurun), which is the Hebrew
for upright or righteous. (See James Strong, The Exhaustive
Concordance of the Bible, no. 3484 in “Hebrew and Chaldee
Dictionary”; McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 323.)
The right hand is the covenant hand.
(16-29) Isaiah 44:5–20. “Is There Not a Lie in My Right
Hand?”
With great irony, Isaiah brought out the inconsistency
of those who work wood and metal, use it for
firewood and other mundane things, but fashion idols
from the same material and then expect those idols to
show forth great power and answer their prayers.
Such idolatry precipitates in man “a deceived heart”
that has “turned him aside” (v. 20), or in other words,
that has such a negative effect as to cause him to lose
his soul. Though this principle is true, and obvious to
the spiritually alert, the idolater cannot recognize nor
admit that there is “a lie in [his] right hand” (v. 20).
This tragic phrase reflects the dire consequences for
one who lives a lie. Since the right hand is the
covenant hand (see Smith, Doctrines of Salvation,
3:107–8), this phrase implies that those who continue
to seek treasures, or to worship false gods, become
blinded to the truth and cannot recognize that their
covenants are broken and become to them as lies that
will condemn them at the last day.
(16-30) Isaiah 44:21–28; 45:1–14. The Lord Prophesied
of Cyrus, King of Persia
At the time Isaiah prophesied, Babylon had not yet
come to power, and more than a hundred years would
pass before Babylon would carry Judah into captivity.
But of course, the calendar in no way affects a prophet’s
vision. After recording numerous prophecies of
Judah’s coming destruction and their fall to Babylon,
Isaiah revealed the Lord’s plan for Judah’s restoration
to their homeland under a king called Cyrus. At the
time Isaiah spoke his name, Cyrus was still in the
premortal existence.
185
“Numerous commentators deny that Isaiah could
foresee Cyrus so clearly as to be able to call him by
name. They commonly claim, therefore, that this part
of Isaiah was written by someone during the Exile and
after Cyrus had given Israel help. . . .—in other words,
after the event. Nevertheless, it is of great interest to
find that the Jewish historian Josephus accepted Isaiah’s
words and even quotes letters from Cyrus confirming
the prophet’s predictions. Part of the account of
Josephus is quoted herewith:
“‘. . . he (God) stirred up the mind of Cyrus, and
made him write this throughout all Asia:—
“‘“Thus saith Cyrus the king.—Since God Almighty
hath appointed me to be king of the habitable earth,
I believe that he is that God which the nation of the
Israelites worship; for indeed he foretold my name by
the prophets, and that I should build him a house at
Jerusalem, in the country of Judea.”
“‘This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book
which Isaiah left behind him of prophecies; for this
prophet said that God had spoken thus to him in a
secret vision:—
“‘“My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to
be king over many and great nations, send back my
people to their own land, and build my temple.”
“‘This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty
years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly,
when Cyrus read this, and admired the divine power,
an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill
what was so written; so he called for the most eminent
Jews that were in Babylon, and said to them, that he
gave them leave to go back to their own country, and
to rebuild their city Jerusalem, and the temple of God,
for that he would be their assistant and that he would
write to the rulers and governors that were in the
neighborhood of their country of Judea, that they
should contribute to them gold and silver for the
building of the temple, and, besides that, beasts for
their sacrifices.’ (Antiq. XI, 1, 2)” (Sidney B. Sperry, The
Voice of Israel’s Prophets, pp. 107–8.)
(16-31) Isaiah 45:1–4. How Could Cyrus, a Persian
King, Be Called the Lord’s “Anointed”?
Alfred Martin, in his work on Isaiah, gave an
excellent answer to this question: “Cyrus is the only
Gentile king who is called God’s ‘anointed.’ Since this
is the translation of the Hebrew word which we spell
in English as Messiah, Cyrus is in a sense a type of
the Anointed One, the Lord Jesus Christ. Typology is
often misunderstood and abused. A type is a divinely
appointed prophetic symbol, usually of Christ. When a
person or a thing is called a type, that does not alter its
literal meaning or deny its historical reality. Cyrus was
a Persian king, and we have no evidence that he ever
really knew the true God, although the Persian religion
was relatively free from the gross idolatries of the
Babylonians. Consequently when it is asserted that
Cyrus is a type of Christ, it is not said that he was like
the Lord Jesus Christ in every respect. The only intended
resemblance is in the fact that Cyrus was the anointed
one who delivered the people of Israel from their
captivity. As such he points us to the greater Anointed
One who saves His people from their sins.” (Isaiah, the
Salvation of Jehovah, pp. 77–78.)
186
(16-32) Isaiah 45:3. Did Cyrus Gain Riches from
Conquering Babylon?
When Cyrus conquered in Asia, he carried off “gold
and silver estimated by weight in this account, being
converted into pounds sterling, amount to one hundred
and twenty-six millions two hundred and twenty-four
thousand pounds” (Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible . . . with
a Commentary and Critical Notes, 4:178).
(16-33) Isaiah 45:7. Does the Lord Create Evil?
In the first part of this verse Isaiah laid out contrasts:
“I form the light, and create darkness”
“I make peace, and create evil”
Since the opposite of peace is sorrow or trouble, the
translation from the New American Catholic Bible makes
better sense: “I form the light, and create the darkness,
I make well-being and create woe.” The idea is that the
Lord is the author of peace, but that He also sends
judgments upon the wicked who are ripe in iniquity.
Therefore, even when the wicked are punished by the
wicked (see Mormon 4:5), it is under the direction of
the Lord.
(16-34) Isaiah 45:8. How Do the Heavens “Drop
Down” and the Skies “Pour Down Righteousness”?
There is little doubt that Isaiah was referring to the
same thing that is recorded in Psalm 85:11: “Truth shall
spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look
down from heaven.” Isaiah saw the earth open and a
message of salvation brought forth—a reference to the
coming forth of the Book of Mormon from the buried
Nephite record. (Compare Ezekiel 37:15–20; see also
James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, pp. 275–76;
McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 99; Orson Pratt, in
Journal of Discourses, 17:287–88.)
This latter-day event illustrates that the day truly
cannot say to its maker, “What makest thou?” (v. 9).
The many men who conspired against Joseph Smith
were not reviling merely a man but were reviling their
own maker, whose servant that man was.
(16-35) Isaiah 45:12. What Is the Lord’s and What Is
Man’s Own?
People and organizations often deal with the things
of the earth in terms of ownership. “I own a large
home,” one might say, or “I built this business up
through my own labors; therefore it is mine.” If these
statements were really true, then one could
understand their reluctance to share it with others or
to pay the Lord His required tenth. But people cannot
speak of ownership. Through Isaiah, the Lord
reminded Israel that He is the creator of the earth and
therefore only He can properly refer to it in terms of
ownership. In language similar to Isaiah’s, the Lord
reminded the Latter-day Saints that He created the
earth and that we are only stewards over His property
(see D&C 104:13–14, 54–57). Then He gave this
reminder: “And let not any among you say that it is
his own; for it shall not be called his, nor any part of
it” (D&C 104:70).
Elder Spencer W. Kimball asked some pointed
questions concerning this subject:
“‘Do you feel generous when you pay your tithes?
Boastful when the amount is large? Has the child
been generous to his parents when he washes the car,
makes his bed? Are you liberal when you pay your rent,
or pay off notes at banks? You are not generous,
liberal, but merely honest when you pay your tithes.’
[Isaiah 45:12.]
“Perhaps your attitudes are the product of your
misconceptions.
“Would you steal a dollar from your friend? A tire
from your neighbor’s car? Would you borrow a widow’s
insurance money with no intent to pay? Do you rob
banks? You are shocked at such suggestions. Then,
would you rob your God, your Lord, who has made
such generous arrangements with you?
“Do you have a right to appropriate the funds of your
employer with which to pay your debts, to buy a car, to
clothe your family, to feed your children, to build your
home?
“Would you take from your neighbor’s funds to send
your children to college, or on a mission? Would you
help relatives or friends with funds not your own?
Some people get their standards mixed, their ideals
out of line. . . . Would you supply gifts to the poor
with someone else’s money? The Lord’s money?” (In
Conference Report, Apr. 1968, p. 77.)
Honestly answering these questions may reveal
to modern Saints how dangerously close they are to
walking the same foolish path chosen by ancient Israel.
(16-36) Isaiah 45:15–25. The God of Israel Is the Lord,
the Savior Jesus Christ
This is one of the primary testimonies of Isaiah.
Many lose sight of the fact that the God of the Old
Testament was the premortal Jesus. Often they speak of
the theology of the Old Testament as being
significantly different from that of the New Testament.
Or they talk about how the concept of God mellowed
as people became more civilized and sophisticated.
The blind refuse to see, for it is not just modern
revelation that teaches Jehovah is Christ. Both Old and
New Testament writers testified of it again and again,
and none did it more frequently or more powerfully
than did Isaiah.
In this chapter the identity of the God of the Old
Testament is clearly revealed. Consider the witnesses
here given:
1. He is the Messiah, the Savior of the world
(see v. 15).
2. He shall save Israel with an everlasting salvation
(see v. 17).
3. He is the Creator (see v. 18).
4. He is just and is mighty to save (see v. 21).
5. There is no other name given by which we may
be saved (see vv. 21–22).
6. His words are truth and righteousness (see v. 23).
7. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess
that Jesus is the Christ (see v. 23; compare Romans
14:11; see also Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:20).
8. He is the Mediator for all the seed of Israel
(see v. 24).
(16-37) Isaiah 45:23. What Does It Mean to Say “Every
Knee Shall Bow, Every Tongue Swear”?
President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“I want to call attention to something that is stated
frequently in the scriptures, and I think very often
misunderstood, and that is the statement that, ‘every
knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess.’ [Isaiah
45:23; Romans 14:10–11; Philippians 2:9–11; D&C 76:110;
88:104] I wonder how many of us have an idea that if
a knee bows and a tongue confesses, that is a sign of
forgiveness of sin and freedom from sin, and that the
candidate is prepared for exaltation? If you do, you
make a mistake. It does not mean that at all.
“The time will come when ‘every knee shall bow, and
every tongue shall confess,’ and yet the vast majority
of mankind will go into the telestial kingdom eternally.
Let me read these verses: ‘The time shall come when
all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every
nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to
eye and shall confess before God that his judgments
are just.’ [Mosiah 16:1–4.]
“It is a wonderful thing when men reach the stage
when they will be willing to confess that the judgments
against them are just, and they will bow the knee and will
understand ‘eye to eye.’” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:30.)
Isaiah’s intent was to assure all the world, both the
wicked and the righteous, that Jesus Christ is the God
of Israel and that one day all will be constrained to
recognize that fact, whether or not they are or have
been His disciples.
(16-38) Isaiah 46. Idols Are Idols, but Christ Is God
The poetic refrain of this chapter is at once familiar
and new. It is a good example of how the Eastern
mind is taught. The same theme is repeated again and
again with only slight variations. In this manner the
listener is driven to the inescapable conclusion of the
teacher. Isaiah was a master of the technique. Isaiah
enumerated the ways the Lord had been solicitous of
Israel and has left her with only one conclusion: “I am
God, and there is none like me” (v. 9).
(16-39) Isaiah 46:11. What Was the “Ravenous Bird
from the East”?
Sacrifices were symbolic reminders of Jesus Christ, the God of the Old
Testament.
This metaphor describes Cyrus, who was
prophetically destined to humble Babylon swiftly and
decisively (see Isaiah 46:11a). This is a fitting insertion
187
Babylon of the Chaldees
Isaiah 47:5
Called “the lady of kingdoms.”
Isaiah 47:6
Showed no mercy to covenant Israel, but laid great
burdens upon her.
Isaiah 47:7
Boasted of being indestructible, but failed to see the
judgment that would finally destroy her.
Isaiah 47:8
Declared her pleasures to be the end and fulfillment
of life’s dream, not merely the means to it.
Isaiah 47:10
Through Babylon’s own wicked power subjected
men to her will.
Isaiah 47:10
So great had this “lady of the kingdoms” become
that her rulers gloried in the thought that they were
the center of knowledge and wisdom and forced
their subjects to kneel to the king, and not to God
(see Daniel 3:1–6; 6:1–7).
and serves as a prelude to chapter 47, where Babylon’s
destruction is again shown forth.
(16-40) Isaiah 47. Spiritual Babylon Is the Perverted
Counterfeit of Jehovah
This chapter demonstrates as well as any scripture
in the Old Testament the extent to which Satan has
gone to achieve his eternal lie. From the beginning
Lucifer said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit
also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides
of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the
clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13–14).
As Zion is the spiritual offspring of the Lord Jesus
Christ, so Babylon is the evil offspring of Lucifer, who
fell and became Satan, “the father of all lies” (Moses
4:4). The accompanying chart demonstrates how the
Babylon of this world has sought to assume dominion
over the children of men.
188
Babylon, or Spiritual Wickedness
As society is attracted to a beautiful woman, so the
children of men are attracted to the glitter and power
of spiritual Babylon.
Though the wickedness of Babylon may appear
attractive because it is easy or pleasurable, it only
enslaves its subjects.
In blindness, spiritual Babylon wreaks havoc upon
the world, failing to see the self-destructive nature
of her acts.
The Babylon of the world is enthroned triumphantly
when men worship the lusts of the flesh. She becomes
a counterfeit god. “They deny the power of God, the
Holy One of Israel; and . . . say unto the people . . .
there is no God” (2 Nephi 28:5), and “there is no hell”;
thus the devil “grasps them with his awful chains from
whence there is no deliverance” (2 Nephi 28:22).
The Babylon of the world, through wicked covenants
and deeds, binds a man’s loyalty to the prince of
darkness by the promise of secret gain (see Helaman
6:16–25).
The Babylon of the world assumes expertise in all
knowledge and decrees that men should worship at her
door. As men embrace this hellish doctrine, they begin
to believe that they know where others do not, and they
become self-appointed gods, even to the giving and
taking of life (compare the attitude of 2 Nephi 9:20).
“O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness
of men! When they are learned they think they are
wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for
they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves,
wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth
them not. And they shall perish.” (2 Nephi 9:28; emphasis
added.)
POINTS TO PONDER
(16-41) “Go Ye out from Babylon”
Though the claim to power and greatness may be
made boldly by the world and made so convincingly
that multitudes may follow, it does not give the boaster
the rights he claims. For every offense there is a
punishment, and whether we speak of the physical
Babylons of the world, which have continually
oppressed men under dictatorial force, or of the
spiritual Babylon of the world, which just as literally
enslaves her disciples, it is the same. Babylon will be
destroyed. Therefore, the Lord through His prophets
warns His people: “Go ye out . . . from Babylon, from
the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon”
(D&C 133:14). Note Isaiah’s warnings: Babylon will be
brought down to the dust (see Isaiah 47:1). She will
become damned as a slave of her own evil nature (see
Isaiah 47:2–3). She will fall from her favored place in
the world (see Isaiah 47:5). She will be denied the very
thing she boasted of possessing: children (subjects)
and marriage (that which saved a woman from
disgrace in a society) (see Isaiah 47:9). She will be
destroyed by sources she knows not of (see Isaiah
47:11). And she will be cleansed from the earth even as
by fire (see Isaiah 47:14).
Truly, Isaiah could say as did Alma, “Wickedness
never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).
Your experience in studying these chapters of Isaiah
should have been significant, for the words of Isaiah
were written to teach the great principle that safety
comes in following Messiah, the living God of heaven
and earth. From the perspective of history, it is easy
for people in our day to say, “O, those foolish
Israelites! Why couldn’t they see?” But all the while
they say that, they may themselves be feasting at the
tables of Babylon, blind to the destruction that awaits
her and those who serve her.
That is the message of Isaiah. It is just as pertinent
for us today as it was for ancient Israel.
189
Isaiah 48–54
The Gathering
of Israel and the
Coming of the
Messiah
(17-1) Introduction
Nephi loved to quote Isaiah. Of the fifty-five chapters
in his books, nineteen are from Isaiah, and he quoted
parts of other chapters of Isaiah as well. Small wonder,
then, that Nephi, rather than always mentioning Isaiah
by name, referred to him simply as “the prophet” (see
1 Nephi 19:24; 22:1–2; 2 Nephi 6:12, 14). He explained
that he read Isaiah to his people so that he “might
more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their
Redeemer” (1 Nephi 19:23).
Isaiah 48–54 includes some of Isaiah’s greatest work.
Six of the seven chapters, slightly changed in some
instances, are found in the Book of Mormon; the other
chapter, chapter 52, is scattered throughout the sacred
record. The Book of Mormon is, therefore, our greatest
help in understanding this part of Isaiah’s written
work.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study Isaiah 48–54. Refer to
Enrichment E throughout your study of the book
of Isaiah. Enrichment F will provide an overview of
the historical setting of the prophet Isaiah’s
ministry.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
ISAIAH 48–54
(17-2) Isaiah 48:1–11. “Hear Ye This, O House of Jacob”
Isaiah 48 is the first chapter of Isaiah quoted in the
Book of Mormon and is found there as 1 Nephi 20.
Every verse in the Book of Mormon reads differently
from the way it reads in the King James text, and many
of the differences are significant. It can be assumed that
the Book of Mormon text is more correct than the King
James Version because Nephi lived just a little more
than one hundred years after Isaiah’s time and most
likely possessed a purer text than the one the King
James translators worked from. Carefully compare
verses 1–2, 6–7, 11, 14, 16–17, and 22 in both versions
to see the significant changes.
(17-3) Isaiah 48:1–8. Judah’s Apostasy
Isaiah 48:1–2 describes Israel’s apostasy from God’s
revealed ways. While these chosen people of the Lord
17
have “come forth out of the waters of . . . baptism”
(1 Nephi 20:1; compare Isaiah 48:1–2 with 1 Nephi
20:1–2), “they do not stay themselves upon the . . .
Lord” (1 Nephi 20:2). In other words, they have
apostatized. For this reason, the Lord elected to
demonstrate His powers of omniscience. He had, He
told them, “declared . . . things from the beginning,”
that is, He spoke of them before their occurrence, and
then “shewed them . . . suddenly” by bringing them to
pass (Isaiah 48:3). This He had done, He said, lest the
apostates should say, “Mine idol hath done them” (v. 5),
or “Behold, I knew them” (v. 7), that is to say, “I
already knew that.” The Lord then promised to defer
His anger but utterly refused to give His glory to false
gods or to suffer His name to be polluted (compare
v. 11 with 1 Nephi 20:11). Thus the Lord’s purpose for
revealing the future unto man is partly made clear: it
is the solid proof that He is truly God, for no mute idol
could possibly duplicate such a feat.
(17-4) Isaiah 49. Israel Scattered on the Isles of the Sea
Monte S. Nyman observed that “chapter 49 is one
of the most important chapters in the whole book of
Isaiah, because it also clearly foretells the mission of
the Latter-day Saints and the destiny of the land
of America in connection with the house of Israel.
Nephi interpreted the chapter as foretelling that the
land of America would receive some of scattered Israel,
while his brother Jacob applied it both to the Jews in
Jerusalem and to the Gentiles. Chapter 49 is of such
importance that it ought to be studied diligently by
every member of the Church.” (“Great Are the Words
of Isaiah,” pp. 173–74.)
(17-5) Isaiah 49:1–3. “Thou Art My Servant, O Israel,
in Whom I Will Be Glorified”
The entire chapter of Isaiah 49 is quoted in 1 Nephi
21. Half of verse one is missing from the King James
text. What was lost from the Bible is the statement
that the scattering of Israel was a direct result of the
wickedness of the religious leaders. Those on the
isles who are invited to hearken are the broken-off or
scattered branches of the house of Israel. Nephi wrote
that by his time “the more part of all the tribes” of
Israel had been “scattered to and fro upon the isles of
the sea” (1 Nephi 22:4). Moreover it is made clear that
the person speaking in these verses, the “me” of Isaiah
49:1–2, was Israel herself. Her mouth was “like a sharp
sword” (v. 2) because she possessed the word of God
to give to the nations. In many places God’s message
is likened to a sword with a keen edge (see Ephesians
6:17; Revelation 1:16; 2:12; D&C 6:2; 33:1). It is doubleedged because it cuts regardless of the direction it is
moved.
191
‘polished shaft’ for this latter-day work. Joseph was
called to give this generation the word of God (see
D&C 5:10), which recalls also the sharp sword analogy
mentioned in verse 2.” (“Great Are the Words of Isaiah,”
pp. 176–77.)
(17-6) Isaiah 49:4–12. Did the Lord Forget Israel, His
Chosen People?
Lion, emblem of the tribe of Judah
But ancient Israel did not spread the word of God as
they might have done. Commissioned by the Lord and
placed under covenant to bless all nations with the
gospel and its priesthood power (see Abraham 2:11),
most of Israel refused even to live the teachings of the
Lord. Isaiah 49:2–3 may refer, therefore, to latter-day
Israel. Nyman’s explanation of why this may be so is
important:
“The Lord’s hiding Israel in ‘the shadow of his hand’
is clarified in the Doctrine and Covenants, where the
Lord declares that the priesthood holders of this last
dispensation are ‘lawful heirs, according to the flesh,
and have been hid from the world with Christ in God’
(D&C 86:8–9). This description of priesthood bearers
as ‘lawful heirs according to the flesh’ is a reference to
the covenant which the Lord made with Abraham that
all nations of the earth would be blessed through the
literal seed of his body, who would bear the ministry
and the priesthood (see Abraham 2:9–11). The Doctrine
and Covenants also identifies latter-day Israel as the
‘seed of Abraham’ (D&C 103:17). The world did not
know where scattered Israel was, but the Lord knew
and had concealed them in his protective hand.
“The ‘polished shaft’ hidden in the Lord’s quiver
may be a direct reference to Joseph Smith. As the
‘choice seer’ of the latter day, he was to be the Lord’s
servant in a special sense (see 2 Nephi 3:6; 3 Nephi
21:10). The Prophet Joseph’s description of himself is
interesting in this light:
“‘I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from
a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when
some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with
something else, striking with accelerated force against
religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft,
lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the
authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs,
blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and
women—all hell knocking off a corner here and a
corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished
shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, who will give me
dominion over all and every one of them, when their
refuge of lies shall fail, and their hiding place shall be
destroyed, while these smooth-polished stones with
which I come in contact become marred.’ (TPJS, p. 304.)
“The arrow shaft is polished that it might fly truer
and faster, and the shaft that is polished is generally
reserved for one’s most important shot. The last
dispensation, when all things are gathered in one,
is the Lord’s most important ‘shot,’ so he saved his
192
The Restoration was a long time in coming. During
the years of waiting, dispossessed Israel undoubtedly
felt lonely and forsaken by the Lord. Isaiah 49:4–12
shows that loneliness. Verse 4 describes the attitude of
one somewhat discouraged, yet not completely so: “I
have spent my strength . . . in vain: yet surely my
judgment is with the Lord” (Isaiah 49:4).
Nephi spoke of the Jews in their cast-off condition
as being “a hiss and a byword and . . . hated among
all nations” (1 Nephi 19:14). Isaiah 49:7 describes that
condition: men despise and abhor the Lord’s covenant
people. But Israel still has hope: “Though Israel be not
gathered, yet shall I (Israel) be glorious in the eyes of
the Lord” (v. 5). Jacob will yet be raised and restored
and stand as “a light to the Gentiles” and as a beacon
of “salvation unto the end of the earth” (v. 6). “In an
acceptable time” God will hear their cry and “give
thee [“my servant,” in 1 Nephi 21:8] for a covenant of
the people” (Isaiah 49:8). That began with the call of
Joseph Smith. Since then, the call has gone forth to
others, “to the [spiritual] prisoners, Go forth; to them
that are in [spiritual] darkness, Shew yourselves” (v. 9).
They shall be fed with the fruits of the gospel—not
“hunger nor thirst”—and shall be gathered into the
gospel net “from far . . . from the north and from the
west” (vv. 10, 12).
Urim and Thummim, emblem of the tribe of Levi
Nephi interpreted the foregoing verses in 1 Nephi
22. His brothers had asked if Isaiah’s words were to be
interpreted spiritually or temporally, and Nephi
replied that they were to be interpreted both ways (see
1 Nephi 22:1–3). He then described Israel’s scattering
and gathering by the Gentiles. First Nephi 22:8–12
gives a very clear interpretation of Isaiah 49.
(17-7) Isaiah 49:13–17. God Remembers All His
Covenants and Promises
Through the restoration in the latter days, God
would show that He remembered the covenant He
made with father Abraham.
Nephi quotes verse 1 differently than in the King
James Version (see 1 Nephi 21:1). The promise says
clearly that Zion will be restored and smitten no more.
But even so, Zion in her forlorn condition will come to
view herself as one “forsaken” of the Lord (Isaiah
49:14), but He will show that He has not forsaken her.
Can mothers forget their nursing children when they cry
for food? The Lord answered that question emphatically,
“Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house
of Israel” (1 Nephi 21:15; emphasis added). All that the
Lord has promised will be fulfilled, for His covenant
people are so much a part of Him that it is as if their
Wild ox, emblem of the tribe of Ephraim
name has been carved on His hands or on the walls
that are continually before His eyes (see Isaiah 49:16).
For this reason Israel’s children (or descendants) shall
“make haste against [their] destroyers; and they that
made thee waste shall go forth” (1 Nephi 21:17; note
the addition of the word against in the Book of Mormon).
The account in Nephi suggests that while God’s ancient
people were “wasted” by their enemies, the tables will
be turned in the latter days. In speaking of this truth,
President Wilford Woodruff said:
“This Zion of the Lord, in all its beauty, power and
glory is engraven upon the hands of Almighty God,
and it is before his face continually; his decrees are set
and no man can turn them aside.
“There never was a dispensation on the earth when
prophets and apostles, the inspiration, revelation and
power of God, the holy priesthood and the keys of
the kingdom were needed more than they are in this
generation. There never has been a dispensation when
the friends of God and righteousness among the
children of men needed more faith in the promises and
prophecies than they do to-day; and there certainly
never has been a generation of people on the earth that
has had a greater work to perform than the inhabitants
of the earth in the latter days. That is one reason why
this church and kingdom has progressed from its
commencement until today, in the midst of all the
opposition, oppression and warfare which have been
waged against it by men inspired by the evil one. If
this had not been the dispensation of the fulness of
times—the dispensation in which God has declared
that he will establish his kingdom on the earth never
more to be thrown down, the inhabitants of the earth
would have been enabled to overcome the kingdom
and Zion of God in this as well as in any former
dispensation. But the set time has come to favor Zion,
and the Lord Almighty has decreed in the heavens that
every weapon formed against her shall be broken.”
(In Journal of Discourses, 15:8–9.)
(17-8) Isaiah 49:18–21. Israel’s Latter-day Gathering
Shall Be Rapid and Sustained
In Isaiah 49:18–21, the latter-day gathering of Israel
is spoken of. In the same way that a new bride adorns
herself for her wedding day, so will the Zion of the
latter days spiritually adorn those who come to her for
blessings. This imagery of Christ as the Bridegroom
and His covenant people as His bride is seen elsewhere
in the scriptures (see Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14; Matthew
25:1–13; Revelation 19:7; D&C 33:17; 133:10, 19). And
just as a bride puts on her finest clothing in preparation
for the marriage, so will Israel clothe herself in
righteousness in preparation for her coming “marriage”
(see Revelation 19:8, where the “clothing” of the bride
is described).
So many people will come, both to Zion and the Old
Jerusalem, that they will complain that the land is “too
strait [narrow] for me: give place to me that I may
dwell” (Isaiah 49:20). This overcrowding has occurred
wherever the modern gathering has taken place. The
Church has a difficult time keeping up with needs for
chapels and leadership because of its many converts.
Modern Israel has received so many ingatherers that
the land is literally “too narrow by reason of the
inhabitants” (v. 19). Thus the reaction voiced in verse
21 is quite real: “Who hath begotten me these . . . ;
where had they been?” In other words, where in the
world did all these people (Israelites) come from?
(17-9) Isaiah 49:22–26. How Will the Gentiles Be
Nursing Fathers and Mothers to Israel?
Isaiah 49:22–26 speaks of the day when God’s
promises will be fulfilled and of how it will be done.
The “how” is made clear in verses 22 and 23. God will
set up His “standard,” the gospel, or the new and
everlasting covenant (see D&C 66:2), “and they [the
Gentiles] shall bring thy [the house of Israel’s] sons in
their arms and thy daughters shall be carried on their
shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers and
their queens thy nursing mothers.” (Isaiah 49:22–23.)
This prophecy has, as Nephi said, both a temporal and
spiritual fulfillment (see 1 Nephi 22:3).
The “when” of the prophecy is now. Converts from
throughout the world have joined the Church and then
Olive tree, emblem of the tribe of Asher
193
have gone throughout the world seeking to reclaim
the house of Israel and bring them back to the Lord.
President Spencer W. Kimball saw a partial fulfillment
of these verses in the Church’s modern missionary
efforts, specifically with the descendants of Lehi:
“This day of the Lamanite brings opportunity.
Millions farm the steep hillsides of Andean ranges and
market their produce with llamas and horses and burros.
They must have the emancipating gospel. Millions
serve in menial labor, eke out bare subsistence from
soil and toil. They must hear the compelling truths of
the gospel. Millions are tied to reservations, deprived,
untrained, and less than they could be. They must
have the enlightening gospel. It will break their fetters,
stir their ambition, increase their vision, and open new
worlds of opportunity to them. Their captivity will be
at an end—captivity from misconceptions, illiteracy,
superstition, fear. . . .
“The brighter day has dawned. The scattering has
been accomplished; the gathering is in process. May
the Lord bless us all as we become nursing fathers and
mothers (see Isa. 49:23 and 1 Nephi 21:23) unto our
Lamanite brethren and hasten the fulfillment of the
great promises made to them.” (In Conference Report,
Oct. 1965, p. 72.)
But there is another side as well. Following the end of
World War I, Great Britain was given the mandate over
Palestine and began to facilitate the ingathering of the
Jews scattered throughout the earth. Other gentile
nations, such as the United States, also rallied to assist.
President Joseph Fielding Smith spoke of the role
Great Britain played in the establishment of the nation
of Israel:
“From the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by
Titus until the year 1917, Jerusalem was trodden down
of the Gentiles. After General Allenby, at the head of the
British forces, captured Palestine, that country became
free from the tyranny and oppression of the Turkish
empire, and after peace was declared, England sent to
Palestine Dr. Herbert Samuel, a Jew, to be governor of
the land, and that is the first time in all those years
that a Jew has ruled in Palestine. . . .
“We see today a miracle being performed before
our eyes. Following the war, which we are pleased
to call the first world war, the British Premier issued
a proclamation to the Jews telling them they could
gather and they could have in Palestine a Jewish Home,
or state. They began to gather in great numbers. At
the beginning of [the 20th] century things in Palestine
were in a deplorable condition. They were using
wooden plows, water wheel irrigation; they had
infested wells and streams. They carried water in skins
as of old. Sanitation was deplorable.
“The British government changed all of this, when
they obtained the mandate. You see, the mandate of
Palestine was given to Great Britain. That nation and
other nations spent millions of pounds in rehabilitating
that land. The Sea of Galilee is now a great reservoir,
and the flood waters from the various streams are
being diverted into it.
“Canals have been built for irrigation, and the Jordan
has been changed from its natural channel into channels
or into canals on each side of the original stream.
These irrigate some seven million acres, which could
not be under cultivation otherwise. Hydro-electric
stations have been built on these streams.” (Doctrines
of Salvation, 3:259–60.)
In 1947 the United Nations voted to partition
Palestine and create a Jewish state in the land for the
first time in nearly two thousand years. Thus, the
Gentiles participated in the fulfillment of this prophecy,
although there may yet be future fulfillment.
The “prey” mentioned in Isaiah 49:24 is the house
of Israel in her scattered condition. She is “prey” or
“captive” because she has been unable throughout the
centuries to return to her promised home or to claim
her gospel blessings. Until recently many gentile
countries would not permit Jewish residents to
emigrate, and many still do not permit the gospel to
be preached freely in their borders. All of that will
change, for “even the captives of the mighty shall be
taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be
delivered” (v. 25). When Jacob quoted this verse in the
Book of Mormon, he added these significant words:
“For the Mighty God shall deliver his covenant
people” (2 Nephi 6:17), and thus, “all flesh shall know
that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the
Mighty One of Jacob” (v. 18). First the Lord predicts it,
then He brings it to pass; only a “mighty one” could
perform such a task. Nephi made it very clear that all
who seek to thwart the Lord in bringing this great
thing to pass shall be destroyed, for “they shall fall
into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of
the Lord” (1 Nephi 22:14).
(17-10) Isaiah 49:26. An Addition to Isaiah from the
Book of Mormon
In his work on Isaiah, Nyman noted a significant
addition to Isaiah: “As Nephi commented on Isaiah 49
in 1 Nephi 22, he quoted or paraphrased three verses
from ‘the prophet,’ obviously Isaiah. We do not have
these verses in the present Bible text, but they fit
very well into the context of Isaiah 49 and 50. We can
illustrate this by placing [1 Nephi 22:15–17] between
the last verse of chapter 49 and the first verse of
chapter 50.” (“Great Are the Words of Isaiah,” p. 191.)
(17-11) Isaiah 50. “Where Is the Bill of Your Mother’s
Divorcement?”
“The gathering is in process.”
194
The Lord employed the figure of a divorce and the
sale of a slave to teach that though Israel’s past
apostasy scattered them among the nations, the Lord
had not set aside the original covenant He made with
His people. Chapter 50 continues the theme begun in
chapters 48 and 49 that in the last days Israel would be
gathered and established again.
Under Mosaic law a man who divorced his wife was
required to give her a written bill of divorce. She was
then free to marry again (see Deuteronomy 24:1–4).
Likewise, under the ancient laws, a man could sell
himself or his children into slavery to satisfy his
creditors. But the Lord had no creditors; neither had
He divorced His “wife,” Israel. Instead, Israel had
separated herself from the Lord by her sins and was in
debt to her evil creditors. “For your iniquities have ye
sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your
mother put away” (Isaiah 50:1).
But the Lord has power both to redeem Israel from
their creditors and to forgive their transgressions against
Him. This He assured them He will do. Speaking of
the future as if it were already past, He reminded them
that He tried to do so once before when He, Jehovah,
came to earth as Jesus Christ. This statement is a
messianic passage, since Jesus is both Redeemer from
sin and Deliverer from evil ways. Yet when He appeared
on earth, there was no man ready to receive Him; when
He called upon men to repent, there was none to answer
(see v. 2). He gave His “back to the smiters” (He was
scourged) and hid not His face “from shame and
spitting” (v. 6; compare Matthew 26:67; 27:26). But in
spite of such rejection and treatment, He still did not
divorce Israel or sell her as a slave. The covenant was
still in effect, and Israel would be restored to the status
of a free and faithful wife of Jehovah.
The foregoing imagery may also refer to scattered
Israel, for Israel, too, has been smitten and spat upon and
scourged through the centuries. Still, Israel is represented
as saying that “the Lord will help me; . . . I know I
shall not be ashamed” (Isaiah 50:7). Israel’s confidence
and trust in God appears unbounded. “He is near that
justifieth me; who will contend with me?” (v. 8). The
“he” in this verse is clearly “the Lord” in a parallel
verse in 2 Nephi 7:8. “Behold, the Lord God will help
me; who is he that shall condemn me?” (Isaiah 50:9).
Israel then asks a question, as if they have learned
something by their past experiences. “Who is among
you . . . that walketh in darkness, and hath no light?”
(v. 10). People trust in themselves; they do not trust in
God. Instead, they “walk in the light of [their own]
fire, and in the sparks that [they themselves] have
kindled” (v. 11). They who refuse God’s revelations and
put their trust in their own reason “shall lie down in
sorrow” (v. 11).
(17-12) Isaiah 51:1–3. What Is Meant By the “Hole . . .
Whence Ye Are Digged”?
God’s promises to Israel were stated in a direct way
in the Abrahamic covenant. Most Latter-day Saints have
patriarchal blessings that declare their descent from
Abraham through one of the twelve tribes. Abraham,
then, is the “rock” from whence Israel was hewn and
the “pit” from whence they were digged. Israel, both
ancient and modern, is urged to “look unto Abraham
[our] father, and unto Sarah” (Isaiah 51:1–2). They are
the ones through whom the Saints claim their promised
blessings. By means of the covenant established with
Abraham and Sarah, “the Lord shall comfort Zion”
and make “her desert like the garden of the Lord”
(v. 3). This passage is a plain assurance that God will
fulfill for Abraham and his descendants all that He has
promised in the covenant.
(17-13) Isaiah 51:4. What Law Will Proceed from God?
Isaiah 51:4 contains a prophecy of the restoration of
the gospel law and covenant in the last days. That law
and covenant includes modern scripture and living
prophets to reveal God’s will anew.
(17-14) Isaiah 51:4–16. Who Is Speaking in These
Verses?
In Isaiah 51:4–16, great emphasis is placed on the
pronouns me and my: “my people,” “my nation,”
“my judgment,” “my righteousness,” “my salvation,”
“mine arm,” “my law” (vv. 4–8). The Lord emphasized
these things to stress His relationship with us. He is
our Creator, He is our Judge, He is our Savior, and He
is our perfect Exemplar. And though the earth itself
“shall vanish away like smoke, and . . . wax old like a
garment” (v. 6), the qualities He claims for Himself
will endure forever. God is permanent, stable, upright,
and dependable. Those who trust in Him need not fear
“the reproach of men” (v. 7) but should “awake” and
“put on strength . . . as in the ancient days” (v. 9). This
call is from God to His latter-day children to return to
Him and “come with singing unto Zion” where
“sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (v. 11).
As do many other passages in the Old Testament,
these verses bear strong witness that Jehovah, the God
of the Old Testament, is the same person as Jesus
Christ of the New.
(17-15) Isaiah 51:17–23. Who Were the “Two Sons”
Who Fainted?
For centuries the covenant people of the Lord have
“drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury,” or
in other words, they reaped the results of their refusal
to heed His word and this “wrung them out” (Isaiah
51:17). And the days of judgments for Israel are not
finished yet. In the battle of Armageddon, the Jewish
nation will once again undergo great oppression and
judgment (see Enrichment I).
The text of 2 Nephi 8:19–20 taken from the brass
plates suggests that the two sons may be the two
witnesses of Revelation 11:1–6 who will keep the
armies from defeating the Jews (see also D&C 77:15).
The two witnesses are discussed in detail in
Reading I-6.
By means of these two servants of God and the
miracles they work, God will remove from Israel’s
hand “the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup
of my fury.” The promise is “thou shalt no more drink
it again” (Isaiah 51:22.) Instead, the cup of fury shall
be given to those who have trampled on and walked
over the covenant people of the Lord. It will then be
their turn to know suffering. (See v. 23.)
(17-16) Isaiah 52:1–6. “Put on Thy Strength, O Zion”
As shown in Notes and Commentary on Isaiah 2:3,
there will be two headquarters for the Lord and His
195
Two prophets will be in Jerusalem.
people during the Millennium: Zion, the New Jerusalem,
on the American continent; and Zion, the Old
Jerusalem, in the Holy Land.
Isaiah 52:1–2 is quoted in three places in the Book of
Mormon (see 2 Nephi 8:24–25; 3 Nephi 20:36–37;
Moroni 10:31) and once in the Doctrine and Covenants.
In Doctrine and Covenants 113:7–8, Joseph Smith
answered questions about the meaning of Isaiah
52:1–2. He showed that the beautiful garments
symbolized the priesthood power restored to the house
of Israel in the last days and that the loosing of the
bands from her neck signified the removal of the curses
of God. If Israel would return to God, new revelations
would be given.
When the Savior cited passages from Isaiah 52,
He omitted verses 4 and 5, perhaps these verses did
not apply to the Nephites at that time (see 3 Nephi
20:36–40).
(17-17) Isaiah 52:7. “How Beautiful upon the Mountain
Are the Feet of Him That Bringeth Good Tidings”
Isaiah 52:7 is a scripture significant to missionary
work. Its interpretation was given in the Book of
Mormon where Abinadi was asked its meaning by the
priests of King Noah (see Mosiah 12:20–24). The bringer
of “good tidings” is Jesus Christ, the “founder of
peace.” Those who publish that peace are the servants
of the Lord who spread His word.
(17-18) Isaiah 52:8–10. A Passage Often Quoted
Nyman noted that “these verses are quoted four
times in the Book of Mormon, and always as a unit,
196
although the Savior once interpolated a comment
between verses 8 and 9 when he quoted them (see
3 Nephi 20:33). Although verse 8 speaks about Zion
while verse 9 speaks about Jerusalem, the Savior
quoted all three verses twice to the Nephites and said
they would be fulfilled through both the Nephites and
the Jews. This again shows the dual nature of Isaiah’s
prophecies. The Savior first quoted this passage
following His declaration that the land of America was
to be given to Lehi’s descendants after the Gentiles
reject the fulness of the gospel and are ‘trodden under
foot’ by the house of Israel; he said this would fulfill
the words of the prophet Isaiah (see 3 Nephi 16:10–20).
He later quoted the passage while instructing the
Nephites concerning the restoration of the Jews. He
changed the wording from ‘thy watchmen’ to ‘their
watchmen,’ as he was referring to Jerusalem’s watchmen
in this case rather than those of Zion (see 3 Nephi
20:29–35). Abinadi also recognized the universal
application of this passage in teaching that ‘the salvation
of the Lord shall be declared to every nation, kindred,
tongue, and people’ and quoting these three verses as
evidence (see Mosiah 15:28–31). Joseph Smith designated
Jackson County, Missouri, as the Zion spoken of in
verse 8 (see TPJS, pp. 79–80). The ‘watchmen’ are those
who preach the gospel, as indicated in verse 7. The song
to be sung in Zion will be a new song, sung when all
will know Christ (i.e., during the Millennium). The
words of the song, which will include parts of verse 8,
are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84:99–102.”
(“Great Are the Words of Isaiah,” p. 199.)
(17-19) Isaiah 52:11–12. Why Does the Lord Counsel
That the Departure from Babylon Be Not “with Haste”?
In language closely parallel to Isaiah’s, the Doctrine
and Covenants explains that the Lord’s servants, those
who “bear the vessels of the Lord” (D&C 133:5), are to
flee from Babylon, which is defined as “wickedness,
which is spiritual Babylon” (D&C 133:14). Then follows
what is almost a direct quotation of Isaiah 52:12 with
the additional admonition to “let all things be prepared
before you” and to “not look back lest sudden
destruction come upon [you]” (D&C 133:15). This
addition clarifies Isaiah’s command. He admonished
Israel to gather (depart from wickedness) but in an
orderly manner under the Lord’s direction. Had the
early Saints of this dispensation observed this direction
to the letter, their flight to Zion in Missouri and the
events that followed might have turned out differently
(see D&C 58:56; 63:24; 101:67–68, 70, 74). The presiding
elders in Missouri issued the following counsel in July
of 1833:
“For the disciples to suppose that they can come to
this land without ought to eat, or to drink, or to wear,
or anything to purchase these necessaries with, is a
vain thought. For them to suppose that the Lord will
open the windows of heaven, and rain down angel’s
food for them by the way, when their whole journey
lies through a fertile country, stored with the blessings
of life from His own hand for them to subsist upon, is
also vain. For them to suppose that their clothes and
shoes will not wear out upon the journey, when the
whole of it lies through a country where there are
thousands of sheep from which wool in abundance
can be procured to make them garments, and cattle
upon a thousand hills, to afford leather for shoes, is
just as vain. . . .
“. . . Do not conclude from these remarks, brethren,
that we doubt in the least, that the Lord will provide
for His Saints in these last days; or think that we would
extend our hands to steady the ark; for this is not the
case. We know that the Saints have the unchangeable
word of God that they shall be provided for; yet we
know, if any are imprudent, or lavish, or negligent, or
indolent, in taking that proper care, and making that
proper use of what the Lord has made them stewards
over, they are not counted wise; for a strict account of
every one’s stewardship is required, not only in time,
but will be in eternity. Neither do we apprehend that
we shall be considered putting out our hands to steady
the ark of God by giving advice to our brethren upon
important points relative to their coming to Zion, when
the experience of almost two years’ gathering, has
taught us to revere that sacred word from heaven, ‘Let
not your flight be in haste, but let all things be prepared
before you.’” (History of the Church, 1:382–83.)
(17-20) Isaiah 52:13–15. Who Is the Servant?
Isaiah 52:13–15 is a dualistic prophecy. On the one
hand, it refers to Jesus Christ. These verses belong
with Isaiah 53 as introductory material for the greatest
of the Old Testament messianic chapters. The Savior’s
“visage was so marred more than any man” (Isaiah
52:14) when He suffered for the sins of mankind
and was crucified on Calvary. Nails—metal spikes—
were driven into His hands and feet, and a spear
pierced His side to ensure His death (see John
19:17–18, 32–34).
On the other hand, the Savior Himself made it clear
that Isaiah 52:13 also had reference to a servant involved
in the “great and marvelous work” of the Father in the
latter days (3 Nephi 21:9). The Book of Mormon verse
undoubtedly refers to Joseph Smith and the Restoration.
Men “marred” him, persecuting him throughout his
life until they succeeded in killing him. Yet power
was given him by the Father “to bring forth unto
the Gentiles” the Book of Mormon as well as other
latter-day revelations (see 3 Nephi 21:10–11; see also
D&C 3; 10). As a result, kings and rulers of the earth
behold and consider things “which had not been told
them” (Isaiah 52:15).
(17-21) Isaiah 53:1–2. How Did Isaiah Foresee People
Receiving Christ?
When Isaiah spoke of the Savior as being a “tender
plant” without form and comeliness, he meant that
Jesus was born as a small, helpless infant just as all
people are. Jesus grew as other people do.
President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “Did not
Christ grow up as a tender plant? There was nothing
about him to cause people to single him out. In
appearance he was like men; and so it is expressed
here by the prophet that he had no form or comeliness,
that is, he was not so distinctive, so different from
others that people would recognize him as the Son
of God. He appeared as a mortal man.” (Doctrines of
Salvation, 1:23.)
Christ in Gethsemane
(17-22) Isaiah 53:3. In What Ways Was Jesus a “Man of
Sorrows and Acquainted with Grief”?
Jesus experienced tragedy and sorrow throughout
His life. Members of His own family did not accept
Him as the Messiah at first (see John 7:5). People
in His hometown sought to kill Him (see Luke
4:16–30). His countrymen, the Jews, rejected His
messianic calling (see John 1:11). One friend betrayed
Him; another denied knowing Him (see Luke 22:48,
54–62). In the end, “all the disciples forsook him, and
fled” (Matthew 25:56). His enemies demanded His
crucifixion (see Matthew 27:22–23).
President Joseph Fielding Smith asked: “Was not
Christ a man of sorrows? Was he not rejected of men?
Was he not acquainted with grief? Did not the people
(figuratively) hide their faces from him? Did not the
people esteem him not? Surely he knew our griefs and
carried our sorrows, but he was thought to be stricken
of God and forsaken by him. Did not the people say
that? How true all these things are!” (Doctrines of
Salvation, 1:24.)
(17-23) Isaiah 53:4–9. “He Was Wounded for Our
Transgressions”
Jesus suffered and was crucified for men’s
transgressions. “But few details of the actual crucifixion
are given us. We know however that our Lord was
nailed to the cross by spikes driven through the hands
and feet, as was the Roman method, and not bound
only by cords as was the custom in inflicting this form
of punishment among some other nations. Death by
crucifixion was at once the most lingering and most
197
painful of all forms of execution. The victim lived
in ever increasing torture, generally for many hours,
sometimes for days. The spikes so cruelly driven
through hands and feet penetrated and crushed
sensitive nerves and quivering tendons, yet inflicted
no mortal wound. The welcome relief of death
came through the exhaustion caused by intense and
unremitting pain, through localized inflammation
and congestion of organs incident to the strained and
unnatural posture of the body.” (James E. Talmage,
Jesus the Christ, p. 655.)
But it was not just on the cross Christ suffered. In
the Garden of Gethsemane He began the suffering that
allowed Him to take the sins of the world upon Himself,
or as Isaiah says, to bear our griefs and carry our
sorrows (see Isaiah 53:4). Speaking of this suffering
and pain, Elder Talmage wrote:
“Christ’s agony in the garden is unfathomable by the
finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. The thought
that He suffered through fear of death is untenable.
Death to Him was preliminary to resurrection and
triumphal return to the Father from whom He had
come, and to a state of glory even beyond what He
had before possessed; and, moreover, it was within
His power to lay down His life voluntarily. He struggled
and groaned under a burden such as no other being
who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible.
It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone,
that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce
an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual
agony of soul such as only God was capable of
experiencing. No other man, however great his powers
of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered
so; for his human organism would have succumbed,
and syncope would have produced unconsciousness
and welcome oblivion. In that hour of anguish Christ
met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, ‘the prince
of this world’ could inflict. The frightful struggle
incident to the temptations immediately following the
Lord’s baptism was surpassed and overshadowed by
this supreme contest with the powers of evil.
“In some manner, actual and terribly real though to
man incomprehensible, the Savior took upon Himself
the burden of the sins of mankind from Adam to the
end of the world. Modern revelation assists us to a
partial understanding of the awful experience. In March
1830, the glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, thus spake: ‘For
behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that
they might not suffer if they would repent, but if they
would not repent, they must suffer even as I, which
suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all,
to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore,
and to suffer both body and spirit: and would that I
might not drink the bitter cup and shrink—nevertheless,
glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my
preparations unto the children of men.’” (Jesus the
Christ, pp. 613–14.)
The Savior’s suffering was a vicarious act of one
totally innocent assuming responsibility for myriads
of guilty ones. Thus, Isaiah said, “He hath borne our
griefs, and carried our sorrows” and “was wounded
for our transgressions, [and] bruised for our iniquities”
(Isaiah 53:4–5).
When Jesus stood before Pilate, the governor of
Judea, “he was accused by the chief priests and elders”
198
of many evil things, but “he answered nothing” in
return (Matthew 27:12). “Then said Pilate unto him,
Hearest thou not how many things they witness against
thee?” But Jesus held His peace and “answered
him . . . never a word; insomuch that the governor
marvelled greatly.” (Matthew 27:13–14.) In fulfillment
of Isaiah’s prophecy, “as a sheep before her shearers is
dumb,” so Jesus “openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
While it was yet early in the morning, the soldiers
in charge of Jesus brought Him “from Caiaphas [the
high priest] unto the hall of judgment” of Pilate’s
residence (John 18:28). Later, at the time of crucifixion,
Jesus’ cross was placed between two evil men who
were thieves (see John 19:18; Luke 23:32–33). After
Jesus’ death on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea, a rich
man, went to Pilate and begged for permission to bury
Jesus. Joseph laid the body “in his own new tomb,
which he had hewn out in the rock” (Matthew 27:60).
An examination of Matthew’s account shows that the
remarkable detail with which Isaiah foretold the
Savior’s arrest, trial, death, and burial was accurate.
(17-24) Isaiah 53:10. Did It “Please” Father in Heaven
to “Bruise” His Son?
Obviously God was not pleased with the way Jesus
was treated, but He was pleased with His Son’s
“offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10). The Atonement met
the strictest demands of God’s innate justice and made
forgiveness and mercy possible on certain terms.
Elder Melvin J. Ballard explained why it pleased
God not to interfere: “In that hour I think I can see our
dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying
struggles until even he could not endure it any longer;
and, like the mother who bids farewell to her dying
child, has to be taken out of the room, so as not to look
upon the last struggles, so he bowed his head, and hid
in some part of his universe, his great heart almost
breaking for the love that he had for his Son. Oh, in
that moment when he might have saved his Son, I
thank him and praise him that he did not fail us, for
he had not only the love of his Son in mind, but he
also had love for us. I rejoice that he did not interfere,
and that his love for us made it possible for him to
endure to look upon the sufferings of his Son and give
him finally to us, our Savior and our Redeemer.
Without him, without his sacrifice, we would have
remained, and we would never have come glorified
into his presence. And so this is what it cost, in part,
for our Father in Heaven to give the gift of his Son
unto men.” (Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary
Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard, pp. 154–55.)
(17-25) Isaiah 53:10. In What Way Does Christ,
through His Righteous Offering, “See His Seed”?
Who Are the Seed of Christ?
Abinadi explained who the seed of Christ will be
(see Mosiah 15:10–13).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie summarized what Abinadi
taught as follows: “The seed of Christ are those who
are adopted into his family, who by faith have become
his sons and his daughters. (Mosiah 5:7.) They are the
children of Christ in that they are his followers and
disciples and keep his commandments. (4 Ne. 17;
Morm. 9:26; Moro. 7:19.)” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 700.)
All who come to Christ are His seed.
(17-26) Isaiah 53:11. How Did Christ’s Sacrifice
“Satisfy” the Father and Thus “Justify Many”?
The law of justice requires punishment for every sin.
In making an Atonement for the sins of all, Jesus
satisfied the full demands of justice and made
forgiveness of sins possible. President Joseph Fielding
Smith explained:
“Then Jesus Christ came upon the scene as the
Mediator between man and God, and the Advocate
for man with the Father. He pleads our cause. As our
Mediator, through his ministry, he labors to reconcile
us, to bring us into agreement with God his Father.
“An advocate is one who defends or pleads for or in
behalf of another. A mediator is one who reconciles or
brings about agreement between parties.
“That is part of his great mission. He stands between
the Father and man. When he was upon earth, he prayed
frequently for his disciples, pleading with his Father in
their behalf, and he has been pleading ever since, and
he stands between us and God our Father.” (Doctrines
of Salvation, 1:26–27.)
(17-27) Isaiah 53:12. How Will Jesus Receive a
“Portion with the Great” and “Divide the Spoil with
the Strong”?
As the literal and faithful Son of God, Jesus inherits
all that the Father has to give (see John 16:15). If we
accept the Atonement of Christ and live worthy lives,
we may become “joint-heirs” with Christ (Romans
8:17). Elder McConkie defined the term joint heir as
follows:
“A joint-heir is one who inherits equally with all
other heirs including the Chief Heir who is the Son.
Each joint-heir has an equal and an undivided portion
of the whole of everything. If one knows all things, so
do all others. If one has all power, so do all those who
inherit jointly with him. If the universe belongs to one,
so it does equally to the total of all upon whom the
joint inheritances are bestowed.
“Joint-heirs are possessors of all things. (D. & C.
50:26–28.) All things are theirs for they have exaltation.
(D. & C. 76:50–60.) They are made ‘equal’ with their
Lord. (D. & C. 88:107.) They gain all power both in
heaven and on earth and receive the fulness of the
Father, and all knowledge and truth are theirs.
(D. & C. 93:15–30.) They are gods. (D. & C. 132:20.)”
(Mormon Doctrine, p. 395.)
(17-28) Isaiah 54:1–8. The Bride of the Lord Is Prepared
Once again the figure of a marriage is employed.
Israel is called a barren wife because of her inability
or unwillingness to produce spiritual offspring for the
Lord. But in the end, when she is gathered once again,
there will be more children from the “desolate,” or
temporarily forsaken, wife than when she enjoyed
her wedded status in ancient times (Isaiah 54:1). This
being true, space must be found so that the latter-day
“tent” of Zion can be expanded to accommodate
them all. When one wishes to make a small tent
larger, one must pull up the stakes and move to a
further distance from the center pole. This is what is
meant by lengthening the cords and strengthening
the stakes (v. 2; see also Notes and Commentary on
Isaiah 33:20–24). Israel’s latter-day growth through
conversion and gathering is represented as breaking
“forth on the right hand and on the left” (Isaiah 54:3).
199
In ancient times, the inability to bear children was
considered a great curse by women of the Middle East.
As a gathered “wife,” Israel will forget the shame or
cast-off status of her earlier years and rejoice in her
new and prosperous condition. She is once again
“married” to the Lord (see vv. 4–5). The barren or
forsaken years, though they seemed long, were but a
small moment compared to the vast eternity that lies
ahead (see vv. 6–8).
(17-29) Isaiah 54:9–17. What Is Meant by the “Waters
of Noah”?
When God makes promises, He keeps them. He
vowed to send a flood to cleanse the earth in Noah’s
day and then covenanted with Noah that He would
never again destroy the earth in that manner (see
Genesis 9:13–17). His promise to restore Israel in the
latter days is “as the waters of Noah unto me” (Isaiah
54:9), that is, His promise to restore Israel is just as
sure as His promise to Noah. Mountains may depart
and “hills be removed” (v. 10), but God’s promise will
still see fulfillment.
In her gathered condition Zion shall be beautiful.
The precious gems mentioned in verses 11 and 12
represent the material and spiritual blessings that
redeemed Israel will enjoy (see also Revelation
21:19–21), including children being “taught of the
Lord” (Isaiah 54:13) and knowing great peace. Those
who gather together to oppress latter-day Israel “shall
fall for thy sake” (v. 15), for “no weapon that is formed
against thee shall prosper” (v. 17; see also Doctrine and
Covenants 71:9–10, where a similar promise is made to
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon).
200
POINTS TO PONDER
(17-30) Isaiah’s Witness of Christ Is of Value to
Latter-day Saints
As you read these chapters of Isaiah, did you notice
how Latter-day Saints are the only ones who can fully
understand what Isaiah foresaw? The scholars of
the world made a significant contribution to your
understanding of the history and language of Isaiah.
But only modern prophets can provide the key to
understanding what the prophet saw when he wrote
of future realms. More than any other people, the
Latter-day Saints can understand why the Savior said,
“Great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1).
(17-31) You Can Gain Greater Appreciation for the
Mission of Christ
When Jesus came the first time, He came to His own
people, but they knew Him not (see John 1:11). Isaiah
had been called to his ministry to testify of Christ so
that Christ’s own people would not be justified in
rejecting Him.
Read Isaiah 53, and then read the accounts in the
four Gospels of the last week of the Savior’s life (see
Matthew 26–28; Mark 14–16; Luke 22–24; John 18–21).
Reread Isaiah 53, slowly and thoughtfully. Ponder each
phrase carefully. Identify aspects of the Lord’s mortal
life that Isaiah prophesied of. How do the prophecies
in Isaiah 53 help you to understand and appreciate
the Savior?
Isaiah 55–66
18
The Last Days and
the Millennium
(18-1) Introduction
Jesus said, “Great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi
23:1). That statement is true not only of Isaiah’s powers
of expression but also of his ability to see into the future,
to reveal things of future generations. Of particular
interest are his revelations pertaining to our own
time—the last days—and the great Millennium that
will follow. Truly, as Jesus said, “great are the words
of Isaiah, for surely he spake as touching all things
concerning my people which are of the house of
Israel” (3 Nephi 23:1–2).
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study Isaiah 55–66.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
and unreserved allegiance to the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. . . .
“A half-hearted performance is not enough. We
cannot obtain these blessings and be like the rich young
man who protested that he had kept the commandments
from his youth up but who went away sorrowful when,
in answer to the question, ‘What lack I yet?’ Jesus said
unto him,
“‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast,
and give to the poor . . . and come and follow me.’
(Matt. 19:21.) Evidently he could live everything but
the welfare program.
“There can be no such reservation. We must be
willing to sacrifice everything. Through self-discipline
and devotion we must demonstrate to the Lord that
we are willing to serve him under all circumstances.
When we have done this, we shall receive an assurance
that we shall have eternal life in the world to come.
Then we shall have peace in this world.” (In Conference
Report, Oct. 1949, pp. 39, 43–44.)
(18-3) Isaiah 55:3. “The Sure Mercies of David”
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
ISAIAH 55–66
(18-2) Isaiah 55:1–2. “Come Ye to the Waters . . . Buy,
and Eat”
This passage about coming to the waters and eating
is repeated by Jacob in his sermon on the Atonement
and forms the basis for his plea that all will come and
partake of the blessings of redemption. The Book of
Mormon passage has some additions that are
significant. Carefully compare Isaiah 55:1 with 2 Nephi
9:50–51.
The meaning of the scriptures is clear. Jesus is the
“living water” and “the bread of life” (see John 4:13;
6:47–51), and His gracious gifts to men are free. The
invitation to come unto Christ and obtain those gifts
without money and without price suggests not that they
can be obtained without effort but that one does not
need the goods of this world to obtain them.
Elder Marion G. Romney explained what price is
required:
“When earth life is over and things appear in their
true perspective, we shall more clearly see and realize
what the Lord and his prophets have repeatedly told
us, that the fruits of the gospel are the only objectives
worthy of life’s full efforts. Their possessor obtains true
wealth—wealth in the Lord’s view of values. . . .
“I conceive the blessings of the gospel to be of such
inestimable worth that the price for them must be very
exacting, and if I correctly understand what the Lord has
said on the subject, it is. The price, however, is within
the reach of us all, because it is not to be paid in money
nor in any of this world’s goods but in righteous living.
What is required is wholehearted devotion to the gospel
For an explanation of who “David” is, see Notes
and Commentary on Isaiah 11:1.
(18-4) Isaiah 55:8–13. How May God’s Children
Partake of His Goodness?
God’s ways, words, and thoughts are not like ours:
they are higher and greater. As the rain comes down
from heaven to help crops grow and provide food for
us, so will the words of God feed and prosper our
souls if we incline our ears to hear His word. But often
we are tempted to forget God and trust in our own
wisdom or reject God’s way of doing things because
they are not done as we think they should be done.
Elder John Taylor commented on the passage
in Isaiah: “We know in part, and see in part, and
comprehend in part; and many of the things of God
are hid from our view, both things that are past, things
that are present, and things that are to come. Hence
the world in general sit in judgment upon the actions
of God that are passing among them, they make use
of the weak judgment that God has given them to scan
the designs of God, to unravel the mysteries that are
past, and things that are still hid, forgetting that no
man knows the things of God but by the Spirit of God;
forgetting that the wisdom of this world is foolishness
with God; forgetting that no man in and of himself
is competent to unravel the designs and know the
purposes of Jehovah, whether in relation to the past,
present, or future; and hence, forgetting this, they fall
into all kinds of blunders; they blunder over things
that are contained in the Scriptures, some of which are
a representation of the follies and weaknesses of men,
and some of them perhaps may be the wisdom and
intelligence of God, that are as far above their wisdom
and intelligence as the heavens are above the earth.”
(In Journal of Discourses, 1:368.)
203
(18-5) Isaiah 56:1–8. Who Are the “Son of the Stranger”
and the “Eunuch”? What Is Their Significance?
To understand Isaiah’s meaning in 56:1–8, one must
understand the significance of three words and their
meaning to ancient Israel. The words are Sabbath,
strangers, and eunuchs.
Sabbath. Modern readers think only of Sunday, or the
Lord’s day, as the Sabbath, but for ancient Israel Sabbath
had a wider meaning. The weekly sabbath was only
one of several days called the Sabbath. All of the feast
days, including Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, and
the day of Atonement, were also called sabbaths (see
Samuel Fallows, ed., The Popular and Critical Bible
Encyclopedia and Scriptural Dictionary, s.v. “Sabbath”;
James Hastings, ed., A Dictionary of the Bible,
s.v. “Sabbaths.”) Thus, to “keep my sabbaths [plural]”
(v. 4) implied a keeping of the whole law of Moses,
since the various feasts covered many aspects of the
Israelites’ commitment to God. Also, by revelation, the
Lord told Moses that keeping the Sabbath was a sign
of the covenant between Israel and God (see Exodus
31:13, 16–17). When Isaiah talked about polluting the
Sabbath, he meant far more than simply working or
playing on Sunday (Saturday for the Jews).
Strangers. “A stranger in the Mosaic law, and in the
Old Testament generally, means one not of Israelitish
descent dwelling with the Hebrews, as distinguished
from a foreigner temporarily visiting the land [Exodus
20:10; Leviticus 16:29; 17:8; 2 Samuel 1:13; Ezekiel 14:7].
The stranger was not a full citizen, yet he had recognized
rights and duties. He was under the protection of God,
and the Israelites were charged to treat him kindly
[Leviticus 19:33–34; Deuteronomy 10:18–19].” (Fallows,
ed., Bible Encyclopedia, s.v. “strangers.”)
Eunuchs. Under the Mosaic law, anyone who had
been sexually mutilated was not allowed into full
fellowship in the house of Israel (see Deuteronomy
23:1–2). The law was likely written because wholeness
of body typified or symbolized spiritual wholeness.
(See Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel
[religion 301, 2003], pp. 229–30.) A priest or Levite who
was a eunuch could not function in the priesthood
offices (see Leviticus 21:17–23).
With an understanding of these three words, one
can see the beauty of Isaiah’s promise given in
Isaiah 56. Strangers (Gentiles) and eunuchs (those
previously excluded from full fellowship with the
covenant people, and who felt they could produce no
fruit in the covenant, being “a dry tree” [v. 3]) would
now find the full blessings of God extended to them if
they kept the sabbaths (epitomizing the law of God).
Not only will the “outcasts of Israel” (those who were
scattered) be gathered in the last days, but so will
“others” (v. 8). Whether one is a literal descendant of
Israel will not matter as much as whether one will
make and keep the covenant with God. In the age of
restoration, the house of God will be “an house of
prayer for all people” (v. 7; emphasis added).
devour, the watchmen are blind, the dogs are mute and
greedy, and the shepherds are without understanding.
In a latter-day context, which this seems to be, these
figures may point to the Gentiles who reject the gospel
when it is presented to them and seek to have others
do the same. This passage may also refer to those who
have the gospel (watch over the flock) but do not make
it available to others.
“Kimchi observes, ‘The flock is intrusted to the care
of these watchmen. The wild beasts come; these dogs
bark not; and the wild beasts devour the flock. Thus
they do not profit the flock. Yea, they injure it; for the
owner trusts in them, that they will watch and be
faithful; but they are not. These are the false teachers
and careless shepherds.’” (Adam Clarke, The Holy
Bible . . . with a Commentary and Critical Notes, 4:212.)
These words are an apt description of the Christian
world of the last days. Read Nephi’s comments about
the churches of today (see 2 Nephi 28:3–9) and compare
them with Moroni’s comments (see Mormon 8:31–33,
37–39).
(18-7) Isaiah 57. “There Is No Peace, Saith My God, to
the Wicked”
When the righteous die, they go to paradise, a state
of peace and rest. The wicked, on the other hand, know
no peace. Isaiah 57:3–12 refers to general wickedness
and uses Israel’s faithlessness to God, described here
and in other places as adultery, for an example (see
vv. 7–8). “I will declare thy righteousness, and thy
works,” the Lord said, “for they shall not profit thee”
(v. 12). The book of Proverbs perhaps states it best:
“Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but
righteousness delivereth from death” (Proverbs 10:2).
(18-8) Isaiah 58:1–7. Is There a Proper Way to Fast?
Men who truly love the Lord seek to overcome their
sins and to draw nearer to the Lord in fasting and prayer.
Whether Isaiah 58:1–7 refers to ancient or to modern
Israel, or to both, is not clear. It is certain that there is
a proper way to fast and to commune with God. The
guilty Israelites described in these verses seem to have
been disturbed because they fasted and God seemed
(18-6) Isaiah 56:9–12. To Whom Might the Special
Figures in These Verses Refer?
There is no general agreement among scholars about
the meaning of “beasts,” “watchmen,” “dogs,” and
“shepherds” mentioned in Isaiah 56:9–12. The beasts
204
There will be no peace until He comes.
not to notice; they afflicted their souls and God failed
to regard their sufferings (see v. 3). But the Lord pointed
out that they were fasting for improper reasons. Instead
of abstaining from food and the activities of the world,
they continued in their labors and pleasures (see v. 3).
“Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and [seek for
strength] to smite with the fist of wickedness” (v. 4).
That is not the kind of fast the Lord enjoined. The Lord
challenged them to answer if their kind of fasting is
the fast “that I have chosen” (v. 5). In other words,
is it a proper fast, pleasing to Him? Does it show true
humility and reliance on God? Fasting has genuine
spiritual purpose: it breaks the bands of wickedness,
sets free the spiritually oppressed, and provides bread
for the hungry and covering for the naked (see vv. 6–7).
Bishop John H. Vandenberg explained:
“I suppose when he speaks of ‘loosing the bands
of wickedness’ of ‘undoing the heavy burdens,’ and
the ‘breaking of every yoke’ that he is referring to the
wickedness of people who think only of themselves
in selfishness, vanity, pride, and having hearts so
set upon the things of this world that the two great
commandments of loving God and loving neighbor
are entirely forgotten. The principles of loving thy
neighbor and of loving God are encompassed in the
true purpose of the fast.
“Certainly, it takes no imagination to understand
what is meant when he says, ‘. . . that thou bring the
poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest
the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not
thyself from thine own flesh?’
“He meant that in addition to taking care of the
poor, that we should watch over our own kin and be
responsible for our father, mother, brother, and sister
when they are in need.
“It is here that I would like to state that the Lord has
caused a day of fasting and prayer to be set up in this
day so that collectively the Church might join together
to fulfil the purposes of fasting.” (In Conference Report,
Apr. 1963, p. 28.)
(18-9) Isaiah 58:8–12. Promises for Those Who Fast
Properly
Bishop Vandenberg explained the significance of the
blessings promised in Isaiah 58:8–12:
“Listen again to Isaiah and this promise, ‘Then shall
thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health
shall spring forth speedily: . . .’ (Isa. 58:8.) What would
this be worth to you? Think of what it means. ‘. . . and
thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the
Lord shall be thy rereward. . . .’
“Further, ‘Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall
answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. . . .’
[Isaiah 58:9.] What more assurance would we need
than this as a promise that we may call upon the Lord
and he will answer?
“Then Isaiah reiterates: ‘. . . If thou take away from
. . . thee the yoke, (or wickedness) the putting forth of
the finger, (or accusing others) and speaking vanity;
“‘And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and
satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in
obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:
“‘And the Lord shall guide thee continually, (or the
Holy Ghost will direct your daily life) and satisfy thy
soul in drought, (This is your personal security in
times of need and difficulty.) and make fat thy bones:
(I believe this has to do with health. In the bone there
is marrow and marrow manufactures the blood that is
vital to the strength and well-being of the body.) and
thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring
of water, whose waters fail not (or inspiration and
wisdom will flow from you continually).
“‘And they that shall be of thee shall build the old
waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of
many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer
of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.’ (Ibid.,
58:9–12.) To me this is a promise to those working with
the members of the Church who are in need physically
and spiritually, ‘they that shall be of thee,’ or that you
may be able to help them—to do what? ‘Build the old
waste places,’ and as you help them to build ‘thou shalt
raise up the foundations of (their) many generations
(to follow); and then thou shalt be called, The repairer
of the breach.’ In other words, you have helped them
overcome their weaknesses, to restore their souls, to
bridge the gap through reactivating, rehabilitation,
and ‘restoring’ the path for them to walk in.” (In
Conference Report, Apr. 1963, p. 29.)
(18-10) Isaiah 58:8. What Is the Meaning of the Word
Rereward?
Rereward is an older word meaning “rear guard.”
The Hebrew word asaph has the root meaning of “to
gather” and, as used in Isaiah 58:8, “it is applied to the
gathering up of the scattered rear of an army, or the
keeping it from straggling, and defending it from the
attacks of an enemy” (William Wilson, Old Testament
Word Studies, s.v. “rereward.”) A better translation
would be “the glory of Jehovah will gather thee, or
keep thee together, i.e. be thy rear-guard” (C. F. Keil
and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament,
7:2:390).
“When Israel is diligent in the performance of works
of compassionate love, it is like an army on the march
or travelling caravan, for which righteousness clears
and shows the way as being the most appropriate gift
of God, and whose rear is closed by the glory of God,
which so conducts it to its goal that not one is left
behind” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:2:390).
(18-11) Isaiah 58:13–14. The Law of the Sabbath
In the same beautifully poetic language with which
he portrayed the law of the fast, Isaiah explained the
covenant of the Sabbath by using an “if-then”
construction: If we do our part (see Isaiah 58:13), then
God will bless us in specific ways (see v. 14).
Our part is to turn away our foot (the symbol of
following or obeying) from doing our own pleasure on
the Sabbath, to call the Sabbath a delight (that is, to
take delight in it), to call it the “holy of the Lord” (holy
means set apart or sanctified for the work of God), to
call it honorable (that is, capable of being honored),
and to honor God by not doing our own ways, finding
our own pleasures, or even speaking our own words
(see v. 13). If we do this, then we will be able to delight
ourself in the Lord (a promise similar to “then shall
thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God”
[D&C 121:45]). We will be able to ride upon the “high
places of the earth” (Isaiah 58:14; mountains, or the
205
high places of the earth, have long been the site of
revelation and communion with God; see Moses 1:1;
7:2; 1 Nephi 11:1; Ether 3:1; Isaiah 2:2). And we will
feed on the heritage of Jacob (eat or consume it so that
it becomes part of us). The word heritage comes from
the same root as heir and inherit. Latter-day revelation
teaches that Jacob’s inheritance is exaltation and
godhood (see D&C 132:37).
(18-12) Isaiah 59:1–8. Iniquity Separates Us from
the Lord
Those in any age who transgress God’s commands
are separated from His Spirit. In their separated
condition, they neither hear nor understand the word
of the Lord, as Elder Mark E. Petersen explained:
“The true Church must always produce new
scripture. . . . If it does not, we must admit that it has
drifted from the path of truth and right. It was Isaiah
who explained such a situation which existed anciently
when he said:
“‘. . . the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot
save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
“‘For your iniquities have separated between you
and your God, and you sins have hid his face from
you, . . .’ (Isa. 59:1–2.)
“To say that there can be no new scripture is itself
unscriptural and contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
If we truly believe the Bible, we must expect additional
scripture from time to time, and to do so we must look
for living prophets to receive the revelations which are
to become that new scripture. We cannot escape this
conclusion. It is a well-established pattern of God’s
hand-dealings with men all down through the ages.”
(In Conference Report, Oct. 1964, p. 122.)
(18-14) Isaiah 59:16–21. What Time Periods Do These
Verses Refer To?
Isaiah 59:16–21 refers to Jesus Christ, our intercessor
with the Father. He came to earth because “there was
no man” and “there was no intercessor” (v. 16) for the
people. If the Savior had not been sent, our state,
because of iniquity, would have been grim indeed (see
vv. 1–15; compare 2 Nephi 9:8–9). Therefore, Jesus was
sent to earth. “His arm brought [man’s] salvation unto
him,” which was possible because “his righteousness,
it sustained him,” much as a breastplate protects a
soldier in battle (v. 16). On His head was a “helmet of
salvation,” and He was clothed in “garments of
vengeance,” for He deals with men “according to their
deeds” (vv. 17–18).
When the Savior comes again, He will “come to Zion,”
and if Jacob, or the house of Israel, will “turn from
transgression” (v. 20) to the Lord, He will place His
Spirit upon them. Elder Orson Pratt said of that promise:
“Certainly Jesus, when he came eighteen centuries
ago, did not turn away ungodliness from Jacob, for
they then were filling up their cup with iniquity. They
have remained in unbelief from that day to this; hence,
there did not come a Deliverer out of Zion eighteen
centuries ago. But the Zion of the last days, that Zion
that is so frequently and so fully spoken of by the
ancient prophets, especially by Isaiah, is the Church
and kingdom of God; and out of that Church or kingdom
or Zion is to come a Deliverer, who will turn away
ungodliness from Jacob after the times of the Gentiles
are fulfilled.” (In Journal of Discourses, 14:64.)
(18-15) Isaiah 60:1–2. “Darkness Shall Cover the Earth”
The Light of Zion is the Lord Himself, and these
verses refer to conditions of the latter days when Zion
shines forth but darkness covers the earth. Elder Orson
Pratt wrote: “The Zion that is here spoken of is called
to ‘arise and shine, for the glory of the Lord is risen
upon thee.’ There is no one thing more fully revealed
in the Scriptures of eternal truth, than the rise of the
Zion of our God in the latter days, clothed upon with
the glory of God from the heavens—a Zion that will
attract the attention of all the nations and kindreds
of the whole earth. It will not be something that takes
place in a corner on some distant island of the sea,
or away among some obscure people; but it will be
something that will call forth the attention of all
people and nations upon the face of the whole earth.”
(In Journal of Discourses, 16:78.)
(18-16) Isaiah 60:3–18. “Who Are These That Fly As a
Cloud”?
Darkness is dispelled by the light of the Lord.
(18-13) Isaiah 59:9–15. What Occurs When We Refuse
to Hearken to God?
Failure to heed the word of the Lord causes people
to “wait for light” but none comes (Isaiah 59:9), and
thus they “walk in darkness” and “grope for the wall
like the blind” (v. 10). Judgment (righteousness)
disappears, transgression increases, and “truth faileth”
(v. 15). Apostasy occurs whenever people turn away
from the Lord.
206
Although Isaiah 60:3 is sometimes seen by scholars
as a prophetic utterance relating to the wise men who
came from the east to visit the child born in Bethlehem
(see Matthew 2:1–15), in context it is a prophecy of a
Zion of the latter days, perhaps the New Jerusalem.
Zion’s “sons shall come from far” (Isaiah 60:4), and
“the forces of the Gentiles” (v. 5) will do the same.
Gold, silver, camels, and dromedaries (symbols of
earthly wealth) will be brought to “glorify the house of
[God’s] glory” (v. 7). As these precious things are
gathered in, “the sons of strangers” (Gentiles) will
build her walls or help in rebuilding Jerusalem (v. 10;
compare Notes and Commentary on Isaiah 49:22).
About the phrase “thy gates shall be open continually”
(Isaiah 60:11), Elder Orson Pratt said: “‘They shall not
be shut day nor night, that men may bring unto thee
the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be
brought, for the nation and kingdom that will not serve
thee shall perish, yea, those nations shall be utterly
wasted.’ What! no people or nation left that will not
serve Zion? Not one. What will become of this great
republic [the United States] . . . ? If they will comply
with the ordinances of Zion, repent of their sins and be
prepared for this great and glorious day, God will save
them; but if they will not they will be utterly wasted
away. Thus have the prophets declared.” (In Journal of
Discourses, 14:355.)
(18-17) Isaiah 60:19–22. “The Sun Shall Be No More
Thy Light by Day”
When the New Jerusalem is eventually built, and
Jesus Christ returns to earth in glory, the need will
disappear for the sun and the moon to give light to
God’s covenant people. The Lord Himself will be an
everlasting light.
“Zion will not need the sun when the Lord is there,
and all the city is lighted up by the glory of his presence.
When the whole heavens above are illuminated by the
presence of his glory we shall not need those bright
luminaries of heaven to give light, so far as the city of
Zion is concerned. But there will be a great people round
about, dwelling in other cities that will still have need
of the light of the sun and the moon; but the great
capital city where the Lord will establish one of his
thrones—for his throne is not to be in Jerusalem alone,
it will also be in Zion, as you will find in numerous
places in this Bible. When therefore, he shall establish
his throne in Zion and shall light up the habitations
thereof with the glory of his presence, they will not
need this light which comes from the bright luminaries
that shine forth in yonder heavens, but they will be
clothed upon with the glory of their God. When the
people meet together in assemblies like this, in their
Tabernacles, the Lord will meet with them, his glory
will be upon them; a cloud will overshadow them by
day and if they happen to have an evening meeting
they will not need . . . lights of an artificial nature, for
the Lord will be there and his glory will be upon all
their assemblies. So says Isaiah the Prophet, and I
believe it.” (Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses,
14:355–56; see also D&C 133:57–58.)
(18-18) Isaiah 61:1–2. “The Lord Hath Anointed Me to
Preach Good Tidings”
Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1–2 to the people of Nazareth
in their synagogue. When He had finished, “the eyes
of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened
on him” (Luke 4:20). He then said, “This day is this
scripture fulfilled in your ears” (v. 21; see vv. 16–19).
These verses in Isaiah relate to Jesus as does the rest of
Isaiah 61—to Him and to the building of His Zion in
the latter days. He it is who is appointed of the Father
to preach the gospel unto men, to heal or provide
forgiveness to the wounded soul, to preach deliverance
to those captives in the spirit prison (see 1 Peter 3:18–19).
Jesus Himself cited this passage as evidence of His
divinity (see Matthew 11:2–5; Luke 7:19–22).
(18-19) Isaiah 61:3–11. What Are the Robes of
Righteousness and the Garments of Salvation?
The Lord does not work alone. Isaiah 61:3–11 refers
to the physical restoration of Zion and to the priesthood,
which Zion’s sons will use to restore again this glory
of the Lord. Once again the marriage figure is employed
to depict the covenant between the Lord and His
people in the latter days. Covered “with the robe
of righteousness” and dressed “as a bride adorneth
herself with pearls” (v. 10), Zion awaits the coming of
her “husband,” Jesus Christ. John the Revelator used
a similar figure when he spoke of “the marriage of the
Lamb [Jesus] and his wife [Zion]” (Revelation 19:7).
Here the bride is “arrayed in fine linen,” symbolic of
“the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8). Thus
will be fulfilled that part of the tenth article of faith
that states: “Christ will reign personally upon the
earth; and that the earth will be renewed and receive
its paradisiacal glory.” Verse 11 of Isaiah 61 clearly
describes that day when the Zion of the Lord, the New
Jerusalem, will bring forth righteousness and praise
“as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to
spring forth.”
(18-20) Isaiah 62. How Is the Latter-day Union of God
and His People Symbolized?
Once again Isaiah referred to the Old and New
Jerusalems. Both are to possess “righteousness” that
will “go forth as brightness” and offer salvation “as
a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62:1). Zion is to be called
by a “new name” (v. 2), the New Jerusalem, and the
Old Jerusalem shall “no more be termed Forsaken”
nor “Desolate” (v. 4). Once again Zion shall be married
to the Lord. This symbol represents her return to
spiritual righteousness, for “as the bridegroom rejoiceth
over the bride, so shall [our] God rejoice over
[Jerusalem’s restoration]” (v. 5).
(18-21) Isaiah 62:4–5. Why Will the Lord Call Israel
“Hephzi-bah” and “Beulah”?
The words that Isaiah used to describe this latter-day
condition of Zion are important. Hephzi-bah means
“delightful” in Hebrew and may refer to Jerusalem and
Zion’s latter-day righteousness. Beulah means “union”
(see Isaiah 62:4). A marriage is once again the symbol
of unity, but this time the marriage is not of the people
and God but of the land and God.
According to the Doctrine and Covenants, there will
come a time when “the land of Jerusalem and the land
of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and
the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was
divided” (D&C 133:24). In the days of Peleg the earth
was divided into continents (see Genesis 10:25), but
before that time it was all united in one land mass.
The joining of the continents once again can be likened
to a union or a marriage that is both hephzi-bah and
beulah, that is, delightful and united. The lands, like
a man and woman in holy wedlock, will be sealed by
the authority of the one officiating (see JST, Isaiah
62:4–5).
(18-22) Isaiah 63:1–9. “Wherefore Art Thou Red in
Thine Apparel?”
See Doctrine and Covenants 133:46–48.
207
tall mountains tremble; the mighty deep rolls back to
the north as in fear, and the rent skies glow like molten
brass. He comes! The dead Saints burst forth from their
tombs, and ‘those who are alive and remain’ are ‘caught
up’ with them to meet him [see 1 Thessalonians 4:17].
The ungodly rush to hide themselves from his presence,
and call upon the quivering rocks to cover them. He
comes! with all the hosts of the righteous glorified.
The breath of his lips strikes death to the wicked. His
glory is a consuming fire. The proud and rebellious are
as stubble; they are burned and ‘left neither root nor
branch’ [see Malachi 4:1]. He sweeps the earth ‘as with
the besom of destruction.’ [Isaiah 14:23]. He deluges
the earth with the fiery floods of his wrath, and the
filthiness and abominations of the world are consumed.
Satan and his dark hosts are taken and bound—the
prince of power of the air has lost his dominion, for
He whose right it is to reign has come, and ‘the
kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms
of our Lord and of his Christ.’” (“The Second Advent,”
in Millennial Star, 10 Sept. 1859, p. 583.)
(18-25) Isaiah 64:4–11. Is Our Righteousness like
“Filthy Rags” unto the Lord?
Isaiah 63:10–19 depicts a people gone astray, a people
who have broken their covenants with the Lord. These
verses explain the great judgment of the earth described
in verses 1–9. Verse 17 in the Joseph Smith Translation
contains a significant alteration. Instead of “O Lord,
why hast thou made us to err from thy ways and
hardened our heart,” it reads, “O Lord, why hast thou
suffered us to err from thy ways, and to harden our
heart?” God does not compel people to sin or to
harden their hearts. It is possible that the last part of
verse 17 is a plea for the Lord to restore the lost tribes
of Israel to the lands of their inheritance (see D&C
133:23–33).
When people do evil in the Lord’s sight, their ways
can be compared to “filthy rags.” “We are all as an
unclean thing” (Isaiah 64:6). God then hides His face
from such individuals (see v. 7), and they must repent
and plead to be forgiven (see vv. 8–9). Isaiah said that
“all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” or as Keil
and Delitzsch translated the passage: “All our virtues
[are] like a garment soiled with blood” (Commentary,
7:2:470). That is not to say that God despises virtue
and views it as filthiness, but rather to say that Israel’s
former righteousness has now become evil. Joseph Smith
changed Isaiah 64:5–6 to reflect this teaching more
clearly: “Thou meetest him that worketh righteousness,
and rejoiceth him that remembereth thee in thy ways;
in righteousness there is continuance, and such shall
be saved. But we have sinned; we are all as an unclean
thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;
and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the
wind, have taken us away.” (JST, Isaiah 64:5–6.)
(18-24) Isaiah 64:1–3. What Do the Great Physical
Disturbances Describe?
(18-26) Isaiah 65:1–7. Can Men Find the Lord If They
Do Not Seek Him?
The first five verses in Isaiah 64 are quoted almost
verbatim in Doctrine and Covenants 133:40–45. There,
the obligation of God’s servants to go forth preaching
the gospel and admonishing people to worship God so
they can escape these great devastations is explained
(see D&C 133:37–39). The description of the mountains
flowing down at God’s presence (see Isaiah 64:1, 3) is
probably a reference to the tremendous physical changes
that will attend the Savior’s Second Coming in glory
(see D&C 88:87–91). At that time, valleys shall be
“exalted” and mountains “made low” (D&C 49:23).
God’s voice “shall break down the mountains,” so that
“the valleys shall not be found” (D&C 133:22).
Jesus Christ is a celestial being. Since the sun is typical
of the glory of the celestial kingdom (see D&C 76:70),
the imagery of burning and fire that describes the
Second Coming could actually be caused by the glory
of Christ’s person. Elder Charles W. Penrose, writing
of this day, said: “He comes! The earth shakes, and the
Isaiah 65:1–7 speaks of God as being found by those
who did not seek Him. The Apostle Paul interpreted
these verses to mean the Gentiles (see Romans
10:20–21). The Prophet Joseph, in his inspired
translation of the Bible, expanded the text and
changed it: “I am found of them who seek after me, I
give unto all them that ask of me; I am not found of
them that sought me not, or that inquireth not after
me. I said unto my servant, Behold me, look upon me;
I will send you unto a nation that is not called after my
name, for I have spread out my hands all the day to a
people who walketh not in my ways, and their works
are evil and not good, and they walk after their own
thoughts.” (JST, Isaiah 65:1–2.)
There is a difference between those who know that
they should call upon the Lord but do not and those
who do not call upon Him because they do not know
they should. The Gentiles are in the latter category.
Paul wrote that God manifested Himself to the Gentiles
Treading the winepress
(18-23) Isaiah 63:10–19. “O Lord, Why Hast Thou
Suffered Us to Err?”
208
but not to the Jews because He had “stretched forth
[His] hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people”
all day long (for many generations), and they would
not respond (Romans 10:21). It is the Gentiles’ turn
now. Isaiah 65:3–7 describes the Lord’s attitude toward
those who, having been given much, return but little
to the Giver.
(18-27) Isaiah 65:17–25. To What Period of Time Do
These Verses Refer?
Isaiah 65:17–25 refers to the Millennium. People living
then will have no desire for things to be as they once
were. The old earth, in fact, “shall not be remembered,
nor come into mind” (v. 17). Everything will be
gloriously new, sorrow will cease (see v. 19), children
will not die in infancy (see v. 20), homes will be built,
and fruit trees and gardens planted and enjoyed. No one
will drive others from their lands, as the Saints were
driven in the early days of this dispensation (see
vv. 21–22).
In summarizing conditions in this glorious day, Elder
Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “Great and marvelous though
the changes will be incident to life during the millennial
era, yet mortality as such will continue. Children will
be born, grow up, marry, advance to old age, and pass
through the equivalent of death. Crops will be planted,
harvested, and eaten; industries will be expanded,
cities built, and education fostered; men will continue
to care for their own needs, handle their own affairs,
and enjoy the full endowment of free agency. Speaking
a pure language (Zeph. 3:9), dwelling in peace, living
without disease, and progressing as the Holy Spirit
will guide, the advancement and perfection of society
during the millennium will exceed anything men have
supposed or expected.” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 496–97.)
A great deal of information about the Millennium
has been revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 101:23–31.
(18-28) Isaiah 66:1–4. How Is “He That Killeth an
Ox . . . As If He Slew a Man”?
Anciently God required animal sacrifice as a token
of the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for the
sins of men. But the people took the form of worship
that was to teach them faith in the coming of Christ and
turned it into a mockery. They maintained the outer
form of the ordinances but lost the spiritual meaning,
for they showed no corresponding inward righteousness.
Thus, the very forms of worship that were intended to
save them became an abomination and worked to their
condemnation.
In strong language Isaiah revealed the Lord’s
feelings for their hypocritical religious observances.
Those who killed the ox for sacrifice were viewed as
though they offered a man, an act of great wickedness.
Other sacrificial offerings would mean nothing more
than sacrificing a dog or pig, both of which were
considered abominable (see v. 3). People had “chosen
their own ways” (v. 3) instead of the Lord’s. When
called by God through His prophets, they refused to
hearken. The result was “delusions” and “fears” (v. 4),
fit rewards for evildoers.
(18-29) Isaiah 66:5–14. How Can a “Nation Be Born
at Once” and the “Earth Be Made to Bring Forth in
One Day”?
Even though the Jews have long rejected Jesus Christ
as their Messiah, at a critical time in the future He will
appear to them. Elder Charles W. Penrose described
that great event, which will occur during the battle of
Armageddon:
“His next appearance will be among the distressed
and nearly vanquished sons of Judah. At the crisis of
their fate, when the hostile troops of several nations
are ravaging the city and all the horrors of war are
overwhelming the people of Jerusalem, he will set his
feet upon the Mount of Olives, which will cleave and
part asunder at his touch.
“Attended by a host from heaven, he will overthrow
and destroy the combined armies of the Gentiles, and
appear to the worshiping Jews as the mighty Deliverer
and Conqueror so long expected by their race; and
while love, gratitude, awe, and admiration swell their
bosoms, the Deliverer will show them the tokens of his
crucifixion and disclose himself as Jesus of Nazareth,
whom they had reviled and whom their fathers put to
death. Then will unbelief depart from their souls, and
‘the blindness in part which has happened unto Israel’
[see Romans 11:25] be removed. ‘A fountain for sin
and uncleanness shall be opened to the house of David
and the inhabitants of Jerusalem’ [see Zechariah 13:1],
and ‘a nation will be born’ unto God ‘in a day’ [see
Isaiah 66:8]. They will be baptised for the remission of
their sins, and will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,
and the government of God as established in Zion will
be set up among them, no more to be thrown down for
ever.” (In “The Second Advent,” p. 583.)
The allusion to a woman giving birth who is
“delivered of a man child” recalls a similar reference
in Revelation 12:1–7 in which a woman is depicted
as struggling to give birth and bringing forth “a man
child.” This child is identified in the Joseph Smith
Translation as the millennial kingdom of God (see
JST, Revelation 12:7). The man child referred to in
Isaiah (Zion), and the child referred to by John in
Revelation are probably the same. This is good news
for Jerusalem, who will rejoice at the word.
(18-30) Isaiah 66:15–24. The Final Scenes
An ox was used as a sacrifice.
These verses relate to the Second Coming of the
Lord and the events that will immediately precede it.
Verses 15–16 refer to the destruction of the great army
that will gather against Jerusalem just before the
Millennium begins (compare Isaiah 34:1–10; Jeremiah
25:31–33; Ezekiel 38:17–23; 39:1–16; Joel 3:1–2, 11–14;
Enrichment I).
209
Zechariah taught that once the battle was over, those
of the heathen nations who survived would eventually
turn to Jehovah, and great holiness would prevail in
Jerusalem or among God’s people (see Zechariah
14:16–21). This teaching closely parallels what Isaiah
revealed here. The wicked will be gathered for
destruction (see Isaiah 66:15–18), those who are scattered
throughout the heathen nations (Tarshish, Pul, Lud,
and so forth) will bring an offering to Jerusalem, and
the holy people of God (see vv. 19–23) will marvel at
what God has done to the wicked (see v. 24).
Evidently many will then join the Church, for the
Lord said He will take of the Gentiles “for priests and
for Levites” (v. 21); in other words, they shall receive
the priesthood.
POINTS TO PONDER
(18-31) Calamities and Troubles Are Increasing in the
Earth, but There Is a Place of Deliverance
Prophets in every age have warned their people
against sin. These are the last days, the period just
before the return of Jesus Christ to earth. Satan is
making one final effort to lead people away from God.
In June 1894 President Wilford Woodruff said: “When I
have the vision of night opened continually before my
eyes, and can see the mighty judgments that are about
to be poured out upon this world, when I know these
things are true, . . . while I am holding this position
before God and this world, can I withhold my voice
from lifting up a warning to this people, and to the
nations of the earth? . . . And from this very day they
shall be poured out. Calamities and troubles are
increasing in the earth, and there is a meaning to these
things. . . . Read the scriptures and the revelations.
They will tell you about these things.” (“A Remarkable
Statement,” Improvement Era, 22 June 1894,
pp. 1164–65.)
It should therefore not surprise us that the world is in
turmoil, that wars spring up constantly, that wickedness
increases. These things have been prophesied.
President Joseph Fielding Smith, commenting on
Doctrine and Covenants 1, taught: “There is in the
world today distress, turmoil, trouble, commotion, and
contention among the nations. There is no peace. There
will be no peace until the Prince of Peace comes to
bring it. And his warning is to the world to repent. This
I might have read, for it is the first verse of this
revelation I have been quoting. The righteous have
210
been called on to come out of Babylon, or the world, to
receive the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been
restored, and find a place in the kingdom of God.” (In
Conference Report, Apr. 1953, p. 20.)
President Marion G. Romney, also citing the promise
that peace would be taken from the earth (see D&C
1:35), said:
“Today, more than 140 years since the foregoing
words were spoken, peace has been taken from the earth.
The devil now has power over his dominion, and the
Lord has power over his saints. The day approaches
when he will ‘come down in judgment upon . . . the
world’ and reign in the midst of his people.
“Between now and then, however, if men and nations
continue on their present course, great tribulation will
come upon us. There shall be more ‘wars and rumors
of wars, . . . there shall be earthquakes also in divers
places, and many [other] desolations. . . . the whole
earth shall be in commotion. . . .’ (D&C 45:26, 33.)
Those are the words of the Lord himself.
“The Lord foresaw the coming of these calamities
and gave warning of them. He restored his gospel
and re-established his church as a means of escape
therefrom.” (“Why the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, Jan. 1973, p. 32.)
President Hugh B. Brown spoke words of comfort
and assurance: “I want to say to you, brethren, that in
the midst of all the troubles, the uncertainties, the
tumult and chaos through which the world is passing,
almost unnoticed by the majority of the people of the
world, there has been set up a kingdom, a kingdom
over which God the Father presides, and Jesus the
Christ is the King. That kingdom is rolling forward,
as I say, partly unnoticed, but it is rolling forward with
a power and a force that will stop the enemy in its tracks
while some of you live.” (“The Kingdom Is Rolling
Forth,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1967, p. 93.)
President Woodruff asked: “Can you tell me where
the people are who will be shielded and protected
from these great calamities and judgments which are
even now at our doors? I’ll tell you. The priesthood of
God who honor their priesthood, and who are worthy
of their blessings are the only ones who shall have this
safety and protection. They are the only mortal beings.
No other people have a right to be shielded from these
judgments. They are at our very doors; not even this
people will escape them entirely. They will come down
like the judgments of Sodom and Gomorrah. And
none but the priesthood will be safe from their fury.”
(In Young Women’s Journal, Aug. 1894, p. 512.)
2 Kings 21–25
Judah’s Return
to Wickedness
(19-1) Introduction
By now it is a familiar theme. It has been heard
again and again from the prophets: “Repent or perish!
Turn to God or face your enemies alone.” Israel heard
it and ignored it. They went to destruction. But even
more tragic is the story of Judah. Judah heeded the cry
of the Lord’s servants and was delivered from Assyria
in a most dramatic way. But they were like someone
who, snatched from the path of a speeding train,
jumps in front of a moving truck. The lesson of
deliverance was quickly forgotten. Idol worship was
begun again, and Babylon became the Lord’s
instrument of punishment. As Mormon noted,
affliction seems the only way the Lord’s children learn
(see Helaman 12:1–5), so Judah was enrolled in the
bitter school of experience.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study 2 Kings 21–25.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
2 KINGS 21–25
(19-2) 2 Kings 21. What Was Life Like during the
Reign of Manasseh?
“King Manasseh had ascended the throne in Jerusalem
at the age of twelve. He reigned for about fifty years
and became the most loathed and cursed king in the
history of Judah.
“Assyria was then at the height of her power. All the
world of Mesopotamia and the west lay subdued before
her. In 671 B.C.E. [before the common era, the Jewish
equivalent of B.C., before Christ] she would conquer
the Egyptian Delta as well, and Esarhaddon would die
in 669 B.C.E. during another military campaign against
the land of the Nile.
“In Judah, Assyria ruled not only politically but also
culturally. Her cults, gods, and fashions were introduced
into the land by Manasseh. This was the golden age
of astrology and divination in Assyria, and during
the reign of Esarhaddon priests and astrologers filled
the court with their omens and predictions. . . . The
Aramean-Assyrian gods were clearly superior to the
gods of all other lands, for all kingdoms were vassals
of the God Ashur. The astral gods of Assyria—Ishtar,
Shamash, Adad—were worshiped on rooftops
everywhere.
“Assyrian cultic texts carefully describe the rituals.
‘You clean the roof before Ishtar, sprinkle pure water,
you set up an altar of incense, you pour out flour, you
19
place honey and butter, and libate wine.’ ‘You clean the
roof, you sprinkle pure water, you place four bricks . . .
you pile up cuttings of poplar trees, you put fire on
them, you pour out juniper, you libate beer, prostrate,
and do not look backward.’ ‘I have set for you, Ishtar,
a pure . . . cake baked in ashes. . . .’
“Prophets, condemning the vile contagion that
infested the land during the days of Ahaz and Manasseh,
told of ‘them that worship the host of heaven upon the
housetops’ and described how ‘the children gather
wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women
knead the dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven.’
The southern writer of the Second Book of Kings tells
of those who ‘offered incense to Baal, to the sun, and
to the moon, and to the constellations, and to all the
host of heaven.’ . . .
“. . . Whole elements from the core and periphery
of the Assyrian world washed across the hills of
Judah, leaving behind gods and goddesses beneath
leafy trees, on tall hills, in groves, on rooftops. The
southern historian tells us, ‘He built again the high
places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and
he reared up altars for Baal . . . and worshiped all the
host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in
the house of the Lord. . . . And he made his son pass
through the fire, and practiced soothsaying, and used
enchantments. . . .’
“Less than a mile from where I write these words is
the valley of Hinnom outside the walls of the old city
of Jerusalem. There, to the din of drums, with smoke
and flames rising through the air, children were offered
to the god Molech, another name for the king of heaven.
The Greeklike word Gehenna, hell, comes from that
place: ge (pronounced gay)—valley, in Hebrew—of
Hinnom. . . .
“Within the temple of Solomon the fertility cult . . .
flourished as integral elements of the state cult practiced
by the people of YHWH. [YHWH is the sacred word
that many Jews still do not pronounce. It is translated
Jehovah by most Christian writers.] In the countryside
the populace too worshiped YHWH along with pagan
deities. It is probable that this would in time have
made YHWH the head of a pantheon, like El in the
tablets of Ugarit. The sins of Manasseh were never
forgotten.” (Chaim Potok, Wanderings: Chaim Potok’s
History of the Jews, pp. 134–36.)
(19-3) 2 Kings 21:2–9. How Did Manasseh Exceed the
Idolatry of His Predecessors?
Manasseh was only twelve years old when he
began to reign. Inexperienced as he was, he was easily
influenced by the worshipers of Baal and Asherah,
or Ashteroth. To the worship of these idolatrous gods
Manasseh added a third form of worship: devotion to
the heavenly bodies and the constellations. Remnants
of this worship are seen today in astrology.
“This worship differed from the Syrophoenician
star-worship, in which sun and moon were worshipped
under the names of Baal and Astarte as the bearers
213
of the male and female powers of nature, and was
pure star-worship, based upon the idea of the
unchangeableness of the stars in contradistinction
to the perishableness of everything earthly, according
to which the stars were worshipped not merely as the
originators of all rise and decay in nature, but also as
the leaders and regulators of sublunary things.”
(C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old
Testament, 3:1:469.)
In Judah the stars were worshiped, not by devotions
to images, but by simple contemplation in the open air
or on the rooftops. Small altars were constructed and
incense burned as part of the devotional exercise.
(19-4) 2 Kings 21:13–15. The Plummet
“The line [tape measure] of Samaria” (v. 13) and “the
plummet [plumb bob] of the house of Ahab” (v. 13) refer
to the destruction of the royal house of Israel. The
Lord was saying again that what had happened to
the ten tribes of Israel could just as easily happen to
Judah—and would, unless they changed their ways.
(19-7) 2 Kings 22:8–11. What Was the Book of the Law?
Some have suggested this book was the book of
Deuteronomy; others believe that it was the whole
Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy), written by the
prophet Moses (see D. Guthrie and J. A. Motyer, eds.,
The New Bible Commentary: Revised, p. 365). The account
of the great joy at finding the law suggests that the
scriptures had been lost for some time. That would
partly explain why evil and corruption had become
so widespread in Israel.
(19-8) 2 Kings 22:11. Why Did King Josiah Rend His
Clothes When He Heard the Law of Moses Read?
To rip or tear one’s clothes was to signify profound
sorrow and tragedy. When King Josiah heard the law
read, it instantly became obvious how far Israel had
strayed from what God required of them. Therefore,
Josiah rent his clothes to dramatize his profound sorrow
and shock at the spiritual state of the nation.
(19-9) 2 Kings 22:14–20. What Is the Significance of
Huldah and Her Prophecy?
“Nothing further is known of the prophetess Huldah
than what is mentioned here. All that we can infer
from the fact that the king sent to her is, that she was
highly distinguished on account of her prophetical
gifts, and that none of the prophets of renown, such
as Jeremiah and Zephaniah, were at that time in
Jerusalem. Her [husband] Shallum was keeper of the
clothes, i.e. superintendent over either the priests’
dresses that were kept in the temple . . . or the king’s
wardrobe.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:480.)
(19-10) 2 Kings 23:6–7. Josiah Destroyed the Idols
The ruins of Ahab’s palace symbolize the destruction of the kingdom
of Israel.
(19-5) 2 Kings 21:16. Manasseh Shed Innocent Blood,
or Murdered the Prophets
Josephus explained who these innocent people were:
“But when [Hezekiah’s] son, Manasseh, whose
mother’s name was Hephzibah, of Jerusalem, had
taken the kingdom, he departed from the conduct of
his father, and fell into a course of life quite contrary
thereto, and showed himself in his manners most
wicked in all respects, and omitted no sort of impiety,
but imitated those transgressions of the Israelites, by
the commission of which against God, they had been
destroyed; for he was so hardy as to defile the temple
of God, and the city, and the whole country; for, by
setting out from a contempt of God, he barbarously
slew all the righteous men that were among the
Hebrews; nor would he spare the prophets, for he
every day slew some of them, till Jerusalem was
overflown with blood.” (Antiquities of the Jews, bk. 10,
chap. 3, par. 3.)
Inspired by the words of the book of the law, Josiah
ordered the idols and the groves among the Israelites
to be destroyed. The grove mentioned in verse 6 was a
shrine dedicated to the idol Asherah, the nature goddess
or the goddess of the moon. The “hangings” mentioned
in verse 7 were coverings or curtains that enclosed the
booths where the impure rituals were performed.
(19-6) 2 Kings 22:1–2. King Josiah
Josiah was one of the best of all the kings of Judah
since the time of David. Although only eight years
of age when his reign began, Josiah continued all his
days in righteousness. Verse 2, therefore, is very
complimentary.
214
The valley of Hinnom
(19-11) 2 Kings 23:10. What Was Topheth?
Adam Clarke wrote that Topheth was in “the valley
of the son of Hinnom, or Gehenna. . . . here it appears
the sacred rites of Molech were performed, and to this
all the filth of the city was carried, and perpetual fires
were kept up in order to consume it. Hence it has been
considered a type of hell; and in this sense it is used in
the New Testament. [See, for example, Matthew 5:22,
where “hell fire” is used to translate the Hebrew
Gehenna.]” (The Holy Bible . . . with a Commentary and
Critical Notes, 2:563.)
(19-12) 2 Kings 23:12–16. The Burning of Idols
Josiah scattered the ashes and powder of the idols
and the bones of men on the sacred places of the
idolaters to defile them and make them abominable to
the idolaters so that they would not want to use them
anymore.
(19-13) 2 Kings 23:26. Josiah Could Not Undo What
Manasseh Had Done
“Manasseh is mentioned here and at [2 Kings 24:3
and Jeremiah 15:4] as the person who, by his idolatry
and his unrighteousness, with which he provoked
God to anger, had brought upon Judah and Jerusalem
the unavoidable judgment of rejection. It is true that
Josiah had exterminated outward and gross idolatry
throughout the land by his sincere conversion to the
Lord, and by his zeal for the restoration of the lawful
worship of Jehovah, and had persuaded the people
to enter into covenant with its God once more; but a
thorough conversion of the people to the Lord he had
not been able to effect. For, as Clericus has correctly
observed, ‘although the king was most religious, and
the people obeyed him through fear, yet for all that
the mind of the people was not changed, as is evident
enough from the reproaches of Jeremiah, Zephaniah,
and other prophets, who prophesied about that time
and a little after.’ With regard to this point compare
especially the first ten chapters of Jeremiah, which
contain a resumé of his labours in the reign of Josiah,
and bear witness to the deep inward apostasy of the
people from the Lord, not only before and during
Josiah’s reform of worship, but also afterwards.” (Keil
and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:492.)
(19-14) 2 Kings 23:29. Josiah’s Death at Megiddo
In the scramble for power that came with Babylonia’s
conquest of Assyria, Egypt sought to move north and
help Assyria, since they preferred a weak Assyria to
a powerful Babylonia. For reasons not named, Josiah
sought to stop Pharaoh Necho’s passage through the
promised land. It has been suggested that “Josiah’s
motives can only be conjectured, but it is probable that
in the downfall of Assyria’s power he hoped to extend
his authority over what had once been the northern
kingdom, and feared that his designs would be foiled
by the Egyptian advance. . . . Josiah took up his position
here [at Megiddo] to dispute the passage across
Carmel. . . . For the sorrow occasioned by Josiah’s
death see [2 Chronicles 35:25; Ecclesiasticus 49:2–3].”
(J. R. Dummelow, ed., A Commentary on the Holy
Bible, p. 246.)
(19-15) 2 Kings 24:1–4. Who Were the Principal
Persons Involved in the Capture and Fall of Judah?
Nebuchadnezzar was the son of Nabopolassar, king
of Babylon. Jehoiakim was the king of Judah. At the
time that Nebuchadnezzar first laid siege to Jerusalem,
Jehoiakim was paying tribute to Pharaoh Necho, king of
Egypt, in return for protection against the Babylonians.
The ploy did not work. At about 608 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar
“was sent by his father against the rulers of several
provinces that had revolted; and he took Carchemish
and all that belonged to the Egyptians, from the
Euphrates to the Nile” (Clarke, Commentary, 2:566).
Three years later, about 605 B.C., Jehoiakim revolted,
and “a mixed army of Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites,
and Ammonites was sent against him, who ravaged
the country, and took three thousand and twenty-three
prisoners, whom they brought to Babylon” (Clarke,
Commentary, 2:566; see also Jeremiah 52:28). Among
the prisoners were probably Daniel and Ezekiel, who
wrote the Old Testament books bearing their names.
That same year Nebuchadnezzar assumed the throne
of Babylon upon his father’s death. (For a more complete
discussion of Babylonia and its conquest of Judah see
Enrichment G.)
(19-16) 2 Kings 24:5–7. How Did Jehoiakim Die?
The phrase “slept with his fathers” (v. 6) is a way
of stating that Jehoiakim died. It may be taken, in
some instances, to mean a peaceful kind of death, but
2 Chronicles 36:6 records that Jehoiakim was bound
in fetters to be taken to Babylon, and Jeremiah 22:19
states that the king was given “the burial of an ass [no
burial at all], drawn and cast forth beyond the gates
of Jerusalem.” It seems possible that while being taken
to Babylon as a captive, Jehoiakim rebelled against
Nebuchadnezzar’s forces a second time, causing those
in charge to kill him and cast his body aside before
continuing their journey.
(19-17) 2 Kings 24:8–11. What Is Known about
Jehoiakim’s Successor, Jehoiakin?
Jehoiakin (also spelled Jehoiachin) was the son and
heir of Jehoiakim. Like his father in many respects,
“he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,
according to all that his father had done” (v. 9). Keil
and Delitzsch commented on the extent of his evil
deeds: “Ezekiel (xix. 5–7) describes him not only as a
young lion, who learned to prey and [who] devoured
men, like Jehoahaz, but also affirms of him that he
knew their (the deceased men’s) widows, i.e. ravished
them, and destroyed their cities,—that is to say, he did
not confine his deeds of violence to individuals, but
extended them to all that was left behind by those
whom he had murdered, viz. to their families and
possessions.” (Commentary, 3:1:506.)
(19-18) 2 Kings 24:12–16. How Many Times Was the
Temple in Jerusalem Desecrated under
Nebuchadnezzar’s Reign?
Verse 13 records that Nebuchadnezzar “carried out
thence [from the temple] all the treasures.” Evidence
indicates, however, that the temple of Solomon was
spoiled three times under Nebuchadnezzar. The first
time was when Jerusalem was attacked and Jehoiakim
215
was taken to Babylon. The vessels removed at this time
were those that Belshazzar profaned, as recorded in
Daniel 5:2, and that Cyrus, the Median-Persian king,
permitted the Jews to carry back to Jerusalem when they
were released (see Ezra 1:7–11). When Nebuchadnezzar
came against Jerusalem a second time, as recorded in
Isaiah, he also took spoil. The third time was when
Nebuchadnezzar pillaged the temple under Zedekiah,
the last king of Judah (see 2 Kings 25:13–17).
him, that the king of Babylon should carry him away
thither in bonds [see Jeremiah 34:3]; and because they
did not both say the same thing as to this circumstance,
he disbelieved what they both appeared to agree in,
and condemned them as not speaking truth therein,
although all the things foretold him did come to pass
according to their prophecies, as we shall show upon a
fitter opportunity.” (Antiquities, bk. 10, chap. 7, par. 2.)
As recorded in 2 Kings 25:7, both prophets were
vindicated by subsequent events. After chastising
Zedekiah for his unfaithfulness and treachery,
Nebuchadnezzar “commanded his sons and his
friends to be slain, while Zedekiah and the rest of
the captains looked on; after which he put out the
eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him, and carried him
to Babylon. And these things happened to him, as
Jeremiah and Ezekiel had foretold to him, that he
should be caught, and brought before the king of
Babylon, and should speak to him face to face, and
should see his eyes with his own eyes; and thus far
did Jeremiah prophesy. But he was also made blind,
and brought to Babylon, but did not see it, according
to the prediction of Ezekiel.” (Antiquities, bk. 10,
chap. 8, par. 2.)
(19-21) 2 Kings 25:7. “And They Slew the Sons of
Zedekiah”
Jerusalem, in the hills of Judah (model)
(19-19) 2 Kings 24:17–20. Who Was Mattaniah and
What Transpired in the First Year of His Reign?
Mattaniah, better known as Zedekiah, was a brother
of Jehoiakim and was, therefore, an uncle of Jehoiakin,
the deposed king.
During the last years of Judah’s existence, many
prophets were sent to warn the people. Lehi, the first
prophet recorded in the Book of Mormon, was one of
these prophets sent by the Lord to warn the Jews that
they must repent or face the destruction of Jerusalem
(see 1 Nephi 1:4). Since neither Zedekiah nor his people
heeded the warning voices of God’s messengers (see
1 Nephi 1:20; 2 Chronicles 36:16; Jeremiah 26:8–11),
the destruction of Jerusalem was assured (see 2 Nephi
1:4; 6:8).
(19-20) 2 Kings 25:1–7. Zedekiah Learned That the
Prophets Speak the Truth
Josephus recorded an interesting story about Zedekiah
and hearkening to the prophets: “Now as to Zedekiah
himself, while he heard the prophet [Jeremiah] speak,
he believed him, and agreed to every thing as true,
and supposed it was for his advantage; but then his
friends perverted him, and dissuaded him from what
the prophet advised, and obliged him to do what they
pleased. Ezekiel also foretold in Babylon what calamities
were coming upon the people, which when he heard,
he sent accounts of them unto Jerusalem. But Zedekiah
did not believe their prophecies, for the reason following:
It happened that the two prophets agreed with one
another in what they said as in all other things, that
the city should be taken, and Zedekiah himself should
be taken captive; but Ezekiel disagreed with him
[Jeremiah], and said that Zedekiah should not see
Babylon [see Ezekiel 12:13], while Jeremiah said to
216
Contrary to the biblical report, at least one of
Zedekiah’s sons survived. Mormon recorded that
Zedekiah’s son Mulek lived and went to the land now
known as America, where he and his people settled in
the land north of where Lehi and his posterity settled
(see Helaman 6:10; 8:21). This group was discovered
by Mosiah and his small group of Nephites (see Omni
1:12–19). Latter-day Saints generally refer to them as
Mulekites, although they are not called that in the
Book of Mormon itself. Some have seen Ezekiel 12:14
as a prophetic hint of Mulek’s escape.
(19-22) 2 Kings 25:18–26. Were All the Jews Killed or
Carried Away into Captivity?
These verses record that Nebuchadnezzar put to
death the leaders of Judah’s revolt against him. All the
healthy people were then carried out of the land to
Babylon (see v. 21), but “the poor of the land” (v. 12;
compare 2 Kings 24:14) were permitted to remain and
were given work as vinedressers and husbandmen
(planters and herdsmen). Nebuchadnezzar appointed
Gedaliah, a Jew, to be governor over Judea,
whereupon Ishmael, a zealous Jew of the royal family,
undertook to slay Gedaliah for his complicity with the
foreigners. Josephus recorded that Ishmael compelled
the Jews remaining in the Holy Land to accompany
him to the land of the Ammonites. Before their arrival
there, however, another Jewish patriot, Johanan, angry
with Ishmael for slaying Gedaliah, rescued his
countrymen from Ishmael’s grasp and took them to
Egypt to settle. This move was contrary to the counsel
of Jeremiah, who still resided in Judea and who urged
Johanan and the other Jews to do the same. They
refused, and they compelled Jeremiah and his scribe,
Baruch, to flee to Egypt with them. (See Josephus,
Antiquities, bk. 10, chap. 9.)
Jeremiah and his scribe were taken to Egypt.
(19-23) 2 Kings 25:27–30
After a long imprisonment in Babylon, Jehoiachin,
former king of Judah, was released from prison by
Evil-merodach, son of Nebuchadnezzar. From that
time until his death, the former king was kindly treated
by his Babylonian overlords.
POINTS TO PONDER
(19-24) The Face of Judah: A Spiritual as Well as
National Tragedy
The period between the death of Josiah and the final
deportation of the Jews to Babylon could be described
as the dying time of the kingdom of Judah. The cancer
of idolatry was too deep in the hearts of the people for
the surgery undertaken by Josiah to have any great
effect. After Josiah, Judah began to deteriorate at an
even greater rate than before. Nonetheless, spiritual
surgeons were sent to proclaim the cure. “And the Lord
God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers,
rising up betimes and sending [his warnings]; because
he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling
place” (2 Chronicles 36:15). Indeed, the nearer the end
came, the more voices were lifted up. The Book of
Mormon states that by the time of Zedekiah, eleven
years after the death of Josiah, “there came many
prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must
repent” (1 Nephi 1:4). Jeremiah appears to have been
the chief of these prophets. His ministry spanned the
whole period, but he was assisted by others. Zephaniah
was his immediate predecessor and his contemporary.
Then came Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Lehi—all
joining their voices with Jeremiah’s.
The Book of Mormon vividly portrays the feelings
of the leaders of the people against these prophets.
Their treatment of Lehi appears to have been typical.
“The Jews did mock him because of the things which
he testified of them. . . . they were angry with him;
yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had
cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought
his life, that they might take it away.” (1 Nephi 1:19–20.)
Such was the spiritual condition of Judah just before
their fall.
How does that condition compare with ours today?
Though the prophets were treated violently and
martyred in the earlier part of this dispensation, in
modern times the Lord’s prophets are for the most
part ignored by the world. Apathy brings less direct
condemnation upon an individual than violence and
murder, and yet the results of ignoring the modern
prophets will be the same as they were for Judah. The
world is rushing toward a spiritual disaster as great
as any it has ever known (see Joel 2:2). Once again the
prophets raise their voices, warning of impending
disasters and pointing the way for national and
personal salvation. And like Judah, the people of the
world are unheeding.
Fortunately, in this dispensation spiritual Israel
will begin to respond and will receive the promised
blessings. Work through the following scripture chain
and compare our times with those of Judah.
D&C 1:35. Does our generation face a threat today?
1 Nephi 22:16; D&C 133:48–51. Will the anger of the
Lord again be kindled in the last days? Why?
1 Nephi 22:17–19, 22; 2 Nephi 30:10; D&C 1:36; 133:52;
Moses 7:61–62. Is there any hope for the world? What?
D&C 1:14, 38; 56:14; 84:36; 90:5; 108:1; 121:16–21.
What will determine whether we will be able to pass
through these times in safety?
217
Assyrian Empire
Haran
Carchemish
ru s
Arvad
RI
er
Ri v er
v
SY
s
ri
Ri
Tyre
Tig
Eu phrates
A
Cy p
Nineveh
Damascus
Babylon
Samaria
Jerusalem
MOAB
JUDAH
EDOM
ARABIA
Thebes
218
Red Sea
Nahum
20
“The Burden
of Nineveh”
(20-1) Introduction
The word burden, which is used to render the Hebrew
massa, may be taken to mean both “a lifting up (of the
voice), utterance, oracle” and “a heavy lot or fate”
(Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “burden”). The prophets
used massa to describe the prophetic message, or oracles,
revealed against a people. In this case the prophecy
was against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.
Jonah fled from the Lord because he did not want to
call Nineveh to repentance. But when he finally accepted
the Lord’s call, Nineveh repented and was saved (see
chapter 9). By Nahum’s time, however, Nineveh had
again become extremely wicked. Therefore, Nahum
pronounced the Lord’s burden upon the city. Like
Judah, Nineveh had repented once and was saved but
then forgot the lesson and slid back into wickedness.
Now she would have to take the consequences.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study the book of Nahum.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
NAHUM
(20-2) Nahum 1:1. When Did Nahum Prophesy?
“The date of Nahum’s activities has to be deduced
from certain statements made in the prophecy. In
Chapter 3:8–10 reference is made to the destruction of
the city of No-Amon, the Egyptian Thebes, as an already
accomplished fact. We know Thebes was captured
by Assurbanipal, the Assyrian, in 663 B.C. Therefore,
Nahum’s prophecy must have been written after that
date. And since Nahum’s prophecy deals with the
coming destruction of Nineveh, we know it must have
been written before 612 B.C., the date of her downfall.
We may date Nahum’s ministry with some degree of
probability, therefore, between the years 663 B.C. and
612 B.C.” (Sidney B. Sperry, The Voice of Israel’s Prophets,
p. 353.)
(20-3) Nahum 1:1–14. The Prophecies of Nahum Were
Written in Superb Hebrew Poetry
“Nahum was a poet. When he saw in vision the
end of Assyria, he poured forth in unrestrained and
picturesque Hebrew the relief felt by his people. In
many ways his poetry vents the wrath, sighs the relief,
and bespeaks the hope of all who have been oppressed
when the oppressions at last have ceased and the
oppressor is no more. But Nahum was also a prophet;
and he saw in Assyria’s downfall an example of the
hand of God in justice reaping with a vengeance all
the enemies of good, while He preserves in mercy and
with patience those who try to do good. . . .
“Envisioning the overthrow of this cruel and mighty
empire, whose kings in their own records boast of
the captives they have maimed, the realms they have
subjected and the treasures they have confiscated,
Nahum tells how the doom of the mighty and the
wicked is decreed, deserved, and done. [For a detailed
description of Assyria’s brutality and cruelty, see
Enrichment D.]
“His book begins with an acrostic, with one strophe
(stanza) for each of the first fifteen letters of the Hebrew
alphabet, with two alterations of the sequence. The
first seven strophes (verses 2–5 in English) emphasize
God’s power over nature and over His enemies; but
the third (verse 3a) interrupts to tell of His goodness
and justice. The second seven strophes emphasize
His power over all enemies and evils, but again tells
by contrast in the third of the series (verse 7) of His
goodness and His mercy to those who take refuge in
Him. The fifteenth and final strophe (verse 10) provides
a summary and a transition to the next subject to be
treated: the castigation of Nineveh.
“Assyria and Judah are alternately addressed in
the next poem (verses 11–14); the one is to be punished
and the other to be redeemed. It concludes with a
hopeful verse, speaking of a peaceful age in terms that
seem to herald the Messianic age when all oppressors
shall have ceased.” (Ellis T. Rasmussen, “Nahum,
a Poet-Prophet,” Instructor, Aug. 1962, insert between
pp. 270–71.)
(20-4) Nahum 1:2–10. The Second Coming
The Way of the Sphinx at ancient Thebes
Nahum employed imagery usually associated with
the Savior’s Second Coming to depict Assyria’s future
219
devastation. Assyria would be as easily burned as dry
stubble in a field. Here is yet another example of the
prophetic dualism so common in the Old Testament
(see Enrichment E).
No-Amon (Thebes), which was earlier destroyed by
Assurbanipal, king of Assyria. Neither of the allies of
Thebes, Ethiopia or Libya, had been able to protect her.
Nineveh, too, would “seek strength” in allies and
find none.
(20-5) Nahum 1:11–13. “A Wicked Counselor”
Still prophesying of Judah’s future, Nahum spoke of
one very “wicked counsellor” whose yoke upon Judah,
probably a large yearly tribute (see 2 Kings 17:14), was
to be broken. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had invaded
Judah with a force of nearly two hundred thousand men.
The prophecy foretold that Sennacherib would die
shortly, and the house of his gods would become his
grave (see Nahum 1:14). While he was worshiping in
the temple dedicated to the god Nisrock, Sennacherib’s
two sons, Adrammelech and Sharazer, murdered their
father as Nahum had prophesied (see 2 Kings 19:37).
(20-6) Nahum 2:11–13. “I Am against Thee”
In these verses Nahum wrote a taunting hymn of
grief at the fall of Nineveh. “Where,” he asked, “is the
dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young
lions?” (v. 11). This is like saying, Where are those
ferocious ones who once discomfited and attacked my
people? “I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the
voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard” (v. 13).
(20-7) Nahum 3:1–7. “Woe to the Bloody City”
These verses pronounce the worst of woes on
Nineveh, “the bloody city” (v. 1). She was a harlot,
wicked in the extreme, and her punishments were
merited because she was a “mistress of witchcrafts,
that selleth nations through her whoredoms” (v. 4). In
other words, she not only turned to wickedness herself
but exported that wickedness to many others through
her power and influence.
(20-8) Nahum 3:8–11. “Art Thou Better?”
As other wicked cities had met destruction, so would
Nineveh. She was no better than the Egyptian city,
220
POINTS TO PONDER
(20-9) An Epitaph for Nineveh
Rasmussen summarized the lesson of Nahum in
these words:
“The final poem (chapter 3) opens with a prelude on
the evils of the oppressive city, Nineveh. Her lies, rape,
and sorcery; her prey in thousands slain; her harlotry
and witchcraft and the seduction of the nations all are
told. Because of all this, the prophet says she shall
become detestable (verses 5–7). Like all others strong
but wicked, Nineveh shall fall (verses 8–11); all her
defenses shall be useless when her leaders flee like
locusts (verses 12–17). Her end has come; there remains
for the prophet but to write the epitaph (verses 18–19):
Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria,
Thy worthies are at rest;
Thy people are scattered upon the mountains,
And there is none to gather them.
There is no assuaging of thy hurt,
Thy wound is grievous;
All that hear the report of thee
Clap the hands over thee;
For upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed
continually? [Holy Scriptures, 1946 ed., The
Jewish Publication Society of America.]
“Nahum’s message is still true: decadence ends in
destruction. Although the Lord is ‘slow to anger,’ He
is also ‘great in power, and will not at all acquit the
wicked.’ His mercy shall not rob justice, but neither
will justice rob His mercy. ‘The Lord is good, a
stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth
them that trust in Him.’” (“Nahum, a Poet-Prophet,”
insert between pp. 270–71.)
Zephaniah
The Day of the
Lord’s Wrath
(21-1) Introduction
Zephaniah was probably a contemporary of
Jeremiah, Lehi, Nahum, and possibly Habakkuk. “The
immediate occasion of his preaching appears to have
been the advance of an enemy which threatened Judah
and its neighbours with sudden and complete
destruction. Evidently the dreaded foe is not their old
masters, the Assyrians, nor their allies, the Egyptians,
but the barbarous Scythians, who had already disturbed
the politics of southwestern Asia. . . . A detachment of
these ruthless foes, who worshipped their swords and
gloried only in murder and plunder, was evidently
already sweeping down the eastern shore of the
Mediterranean. The prophet had his text, and his
audience good reason to listen. Their old complacency
was shaken. The awakened national conscience found
expression on the lips of the royal prophet. Rising
above the terror of the moment, he announced that
these pitiless destroyers were Jehovah’s instrument of
punishment, and the catastrophe that threatened His
day of judgment.” (J. R. Dummelow, ed., A Commentary
on the Holy Bible, pp. 592–93.)
C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch pointed out that Zephaniah
used the imminent danger to stress the universal nature
of God’s judgment: “Zephaniah’s prophecy has a
more general character, embracing both judgment and
salvation in their totality, so as to form one complete
picture. It not only commences with the announcement
of a universal judgment upon the whole world, out of
which the judgment rises that will fall upon Judah on
account of its sins, and upon the world of nations on
account of its hostility to the people of Jehovah; but
it treats throughout of the great and terrible day of
Jehovah, on which the fire of the wrath of God consumes
the whole earth [Zephaniah 1:14–18; 2:2; 3:8].”
(Commentary on the Old Testament, 10:2:122.) Such a
message has meaning for people today as the world
prepares for its spiritual and temporal judgment.
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study the book of Zephaniah.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
ZEPHANIAH
(21-2) Zephaniah 1:1. Who Was Zephaniah?
Zephaniah was commissioned by God to warn Judah
and encourage her to repent. He was a contemporary
of King Josiah, and his ministry probably played an
important part in the reform movement of that time.
21
Israel was at a pivotal point between peril and safety.
Zephaniah’s sweeping prose account of God’s
judgments upon the wicked and the eventual triumph
of His kingdom was the message vacillating Judea
needed to hear.
The brief genealogy in verse one traces Zephaniah
back to Hizkiah. It is not known whether this
individual was the same as Hezekiah the king, and
the other names are not of known individuals.
Nothing is known of the life of Zephaniah beyond
what can be inferred from his book.
(21-3) Zephaniah 1:1–9. Is This Prophecy of the Near
or the Distant Future?
Beyond his message for Judah, Zephaniah asserted
God’s right and power to judge the whole earth. His
design in cataloging all the various forms of life was to
stress the complete scope of judgment. The reference to
the wicked focuses attention on the main issue: sin and
its inevitable consequences. (See D. Guthrie and
J. A. Motyer, eds., The New Bible Commentary: Revised,
p. 776.)
This prophecy is in keeping with the dualism so
common in the writings of Hebrew prophets.
Zephaniah both anticipated Judah’s impending
disaster and foresaw the final destruction of all the
wicked (see Ellis T. Rasmussen, An Introduction to the
Old Testament and Its Teachings, 2:273). The phrase “day
of the Lord” in Zephaniah 1:7 usually refers in the
scriptures to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
(21-4) Zephaniah 1:10–18. The Great Day Comes: The
People Reap the Judgments
The imagery of these verses may be difficult to
understand because Zephaniah used terms familiar to
listeners in his day but unfamiliar to modern readers.
The following information will be helpful:
1. The “fish gate” (v. 10) was on the north end of
the city. People there would be the first to see an
enemy invading from the north.
2. The fish gate opened into the part of the city
known as the “second quarter” (v. 10), probably
because it was an expansion of the original city of
David. This quarter would be the first reached from
the north.
3. “Maktesh” (v. 11) was the name of the merchant
quarter, which lay in the second quarter; thus, the
reference to merchants, “they that bear silver.”
4. To “search with candles” (v. 12) suggests an
exhaustive search, since in the poorly lighted houses of
those times one would have to use a candle to look for
a lost object at night.
5. “Settled upon their lees” (v. 12) is a figure drawn
from wine making. The lees are the thick residue of the
pulp of the grapes. “Good wine, when it remains for a
long time upon its lees, becomes stronger; but bad wine
becomes harsher and thicker” (Keil and Delitzsch,
Commentary, 10:2:134). The interpretation of the symbol
223
is that wicked men, like bad wine, remain apathetic
about the true religion and become increasingly harsh
and bitter.
(21-5) Zephaniah 2. Is There Hope of Any Escaping
the Wrath When the Day of the Lord Comes?
Judah was not the only nation ripe for destruction.
The foreign peoples who taunted and reviled Judah
were even more worthy of annihilation. Each of them
would share in the impending doom. Still, there was
some hope.
“Those who see the worst in human nature are often
the first to see a gleam of hope. Following the gloom,
unmitigated and unrelieved in any way, Zephaniah
sends one shaft of light into the darkness. A remnant
may yet be saved [see vv. 2–3]. He does not see any
way of escape for any but for the humble, whom he
mentions in contrast to the proud who have provoked
the jealous wrath of God.” (Guthrie and Motyer, New
Bible Commentary, p. 777.)
(21-6) Zephaniah 3:1–7. A Warning and Promise
Zephaniah turned again to Jerusalem with both
warning and promise. He condemned many groups
in Judah’s society, including the political leaders, the
judges, the prophets, and the priests. Corruption was
at every level. He stressed the constant righteousness
and justice of the Lord, who continually brings down
wicked people and nations. All hope was not to be
lost, however, because there would still be a remnant
with whom God could work and bring to pass His
righteous purposes. In addition, there is always God’s
unbounded mercy. The righteous in any age can take
comfort in their righteousness.
(21-7) Zephaniah 3:8–20. Zephaniah’s Final Message
The prophet concluded on a note of optimism. The
day will come when God’s people “shall not see evil
any more” (Zephaniah 3:15). Those who have borne
the burden of reproach shall be gathered from afar and
become “a name and a praise” (v. 20) among men.
“Zephaniah saw our day and beyond. In it he both
suffered and rejoiced. He suffered in spirit because of
the desolation and destruction which he saw, but he
was able to use this as a warning and threat to his own
224
Zephaniah warned unrepentant Jerusalem.
people. In the redemption and final blessings of Israel
he saw a ray of hope to extend to Judah. No prophet
has written more clearly or vigorously of the Day of the
Lord. Zephaniah must be added to the list of prophets
who give us a grave warning of disaster.” (Sidney B.
Sperry, The Voice of Israel’s Prophets, p. 388.)
POINTS TO PONDER
(21-8) The Prophets and the Last Days
Do you find the language and imagery of the Old
Testament prophets difficult? Many do, but that
should not become discouraging. The language and
means of expression are far removed from the way we
speak today. But gaining an understanding of them is
worth the price of extra study, for the message has great
application. Even though the prophets spoke to their
own people and of their own times, through the
inspiration they received they also spoke again and
again of the last dispensation. There is great value in
studying the writings of these men, for they saw our
day and told us how to prepare for it.
Habakkuk
A Question Is
Asked of the Lord
(22-1) Introduction
Habakkuk “differs markedly from the other
prophetic books. Whereas most of the others contain
the words of the Lord addressed to the people, in the
Book of Habakkuk the prophet, as the representative
of the people, addresses and challenges the Lord. He
begins by complaining about the apparent indifference
of the Lord to violence, strife, and widespread
corruption in Judah. The prophet is puzzled over this
indifference, knowing as he does the righteous and
holy character of God. The Lord, in answer to this
complaining, states that He is about to raise up the
Chaldeans to execute judgment. The prophet is only
the more perplexed at this answer for he fails to
understand why the Lord should use the cruel and
fierce Chaldeans to execute judgment upon people
who are more righteous than they are. The Lord,
however, points out that the Chaldeans are to be but
temporarily triumphant; they shall eventually meet
with destruction, whereas the righteous shall live by
faith. The oppressed nations may begin at once to
rejoice over the fall of the Chaldeans; hence the
prophet’s ‘taunt-song’ against them, which takes the
form of five woes upon the corrupt traits in the
enemy’s character and his many cruelties. The book
ends in a beautiful anthem of praise, called in the title
of Chapter Three ‘A prayer of Habakkuk the Prophet.’”
(Sidney B. Sperry, The Voice of Israel’s Prophets,
pp. 365–66.)
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study the book of Habakkuk.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
HABAKKUK
(22-2) Habakkuk 1:1. Who Was Habakkuk and When
Did He Minister?
Habakkuk most probably served his ministry after
the appearance of the Chaldeans in world history.
Many scholars believe that he wrote after the battle
of Carchemish in which Nebuchadnezzar defeated the
Egyptians in 605 B.C. and before the first deportation
of the Jews in 597 B.C. From his writing it is also
believed he lived in Jerusalem. (See James Hastings,
ed., A Dictionary of the Bible, s.v. “Habakkuk.”) If this
is the case, then he was a contemporary of Lehi and
Jeremiah, prophesying to the same people.
Nothing is known about the man himself other than
what may be inferred from his writings. The traditional
The Egyptians were defeated at Carchemish.
22
material that has filtered down concerning him is
evidently legendary and cannot be comfortably relied
upon. It is known that he was a great prophet who left
“one of the noblest and most penetrating words in the
history of religion” (J. R. Dummelow, A Commentary on
the Holy Bible, p. 587).
(22-3) Habakkuk 1:2–4. “O Lord, How Long Shall
I Cry and Thou Wilt Not Hear?”
Habakkuk, like other prophets through the ages,
wondered why the Lord would not answer his prayers.
Doubtless everyone who believes in God has felt
forsaken at times. Joseph Smith and even Jesus
experienced this loneliness at least once in their lives
(see D&C 121:1–6; Matthew 27:46). Ellis T. Rasmussen
described Habakkuk’s dilemma in this way.
“Habakkuk’s miseries likely arose in the days
of Judah’s degeneration, after the time of Assyria’s
conquest of northern Israel, and before the time when
Babylonia came to carry the remaining tribe, Judah,
away into captivity. The religious reforms of Hezekiah
in his century, and those of Josiah a hundred years
later (about 620 B.C.) had put the just and the right at
the helm in Judah for a time. But as always, resurgent
corruption in politics, in morals, and in religion swiftly
reappeared when the champions of right were gone.
“Religious compromises, induced by the desires of
the liberal and the libertine, ever seeking to soften the
restrictions and responsibilities of Israel’s covenant
faith brought derision and persecution upon the ‘pious’
and the ‘faithful.’ Under these conditions Jeremiah
suffered, and it is likely that this was also the setting
of Habakkuk’s ministry.
“Thus it is that he cries out against the iniquity,
grievance, spoiling, violence, strife, and contention
on every side, for the processes of justice and execution
of the law seem endlessly delayed when the righteous
are encompassed about by the wicked.” (“Habakkuk,
a Prophet with a Problem,” Instructor, Sept. 1962, insert
between pp. 306–7.)
(22-4) Habakkuk 1:5–17. “I Raise Up the Chaldeans”
Habakkuk’s lament is one that has been raised by
many: Why does the Lord allow wicked people and
nations to operate, and why are they allowed, in some
cases, to punish God’s people? Habakkuk did not
mention the Babylonians (Chaldeans) in his question
(see vv. 1–4), but it is obvious from the Lord’s answer
that they were the ones of whom Habakkuk was
thinking.
The Lord replied that He intended to use the
Chaldeans for His righteous purposes in such a way
that it would be difficult for Habakkuk to believe it
(see vv. 5–6). The Lord’s response merely increased
Habakkuk’s confusion: how could God condone the
cruelties of a nation more wicked than Judah? Were
the Chaldeans never to get what was due them for
their evil ways? Habakkuk’s faith was being tested.
227
(22-5) Habakkuk 2. What Was Meant by “the Just
Shall Live by His Faith” (v. 4)?
Sperry wrote that this verse “is one of the great
passages of the Old Testament. It means essentially this:
There is a moral and spiritual distinction between the
Chaldeans and the people of Judah. The Chaldeans,
puffed up and arrogant, priding themselves in their
wealth and power and deceptive in their dealings with
other nations, do not possess the moral and spiritual
elements which alone can insure permanence and
stability. The people of the Lord, on the other hand,
[should] possess moral integrity, fidelity, and spiritual
insight which insure for them a future. ‘The future
belongs to the righteous.’ When the prophet says that
‘the righteous shall live by his faith (more accurately
faithfulness)’ he implies permanency.” (Voice of Israel’s
Prophets, pp. 371–72.)
(22-6) Habakkuk 3:1–2. What are a “Shigionoth”
and a “Selah”?
A shigionoth may have been a stringed instrument,
or perhaps a musical expression used to accompany
singers. Possibly this prayer of Habakkuk was set to
music and intended for use in the temple. A selah was
a cue for the person singing or chanting the words.
The use of this word in Psalms is further evidence that
Habakkuk’s prayer may have been set to music.
(22-7) Habakkuk 3:4–20. Trust in God
The entire chapter is excellent Hebrew poetry.
Habakkuk makes a number of references to events of
Moses and Joshua’s time. Anyone familiar with those
biblical events will recognize the ones alluded to. The
burden of Habakkuk’s prayer is for Jehovah to return
and sustain Israel as in days of old. This He will surely
do in the latter days. Habakkuk’s trust was fully in
God. Rasmussen said of Habakkuk’s song of praise:
“After [his] experience, Habakkuk felt inspired to
utter a psalm of praise to God and trust in Him. In
228
awe at the powers and glory of God, he poetically
describes the power of Deity over all facets and functions
of nature, and speaks of His might to overcome all of His
enemies. Then in the spirit expressed also by Job who
said, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him: . . . ,’
Habakkuk lists in six poetic lines the disasters that
could come to him, but strongly he avers in his last
five lines:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine
high places . . .
“It is for this trust in God in spite of the vicissitudes
of life that Habakkuk’s message is for us also today a
wholesome stimulant.” (“Habakkuk, a Prophet with a
Problem,” insert between pp. 306–7.)
POINTS TO PONDER
(22-8) Why Does God Suffer the Wicked to Punish
His People?
Using the book of Habakkuk as your primary source,
write an answer for the questions: “Why does God
allow the wicked to punish His people? It is true that
the people of Israel did some evil things, but were they
any worse than things done by Assyria or Babylon?
The Nephites in Captain Moroni’s time were not
perfect either, but weren’t they living at a higher level
than the Lamanites who attacked them? Were the Jews
of Jesus’ day less obedient than the Romans who
destroyed them?”
As you formulate your answer, you may also wish
to consider Doctrine and Covenants 82:3–4 and
Doctrine and Covenants 103:5–10.
Enrichment
Babylonia and the
Conquest of Judah
(G-1) Babylon: Symbol of Worldly Splendor
Not many years after Assyria had conquered the
Northern Kingdom of Israel and taken the ten tribes
captive, the empire began to crumble (see Enrichment
D). In the southern part of the empire, the Chaldeans
and Babylonians were in the ascendancy, and they
quickly seized power from the toppling Assyrians. In
609 B.C., King Nabopolassar, in league with Egypt and
Media, attacked and conquered Nineveh, the capital
of Assyria. Babylonia became the ruling empire and
set about to consolidate its position. Like Assyria
before it, Babylonia used a combination of conquest
and deportation of whole populations to do so.
Nebuchadnezzar inherited the empire when his
father, Nabopolassar, died. Under Nebuchadnezzar’s
leadership Babylon reached the summit of its greatness
and glory. Using slaves from various areas of the empire,
Nebuchadnezzar inaugurated a massive building
program and quickly made Babylon the greatest city in
the world. Through conquest and commerce, the wealth
of the world flowed into Babylon’s treasury, and
Nebuchadnezzar used that wealth to glorify the city.
The descriptive phrases found in the prophetic writings
of the Old Testament describe Babylon’s glory. Daniel
called it “this great Babylon” (Daniel 4:30); Jeremiah
described it as “the praise of the whole earth” (Jeremiah
51:41); Isaiah said it was “the lady of kingdoms” (Isaiah
47:5), “the glory of kingdoms,” and “the beauty of the
Chaldees’ excellency” (Isaiah 13:19).
Ancient historians spoke in detail of Babylon and
showed that such descriptive phrases were not
exaggerations. A modern scholar wrote that presentday archaeology supports the incredible claims of
these writers:
“Herodotus claimed that this wall was eighty-four
feet wide and three hundred and thirty-six feet high.
He also claimed that small one-story houses were built
on the top of the wall on either side, and there was
even then space enough between the houses to permit
four chariots to drive abreast.
“Herodotus has fared badly at the hands of modern
critics, but in this instance the explorers found that this
work of antiquity was even larger than he claimed.
The outer retaining wall was twenty-three and a half
feet thick and was made of baked bricks laid with
asphalt. Inside of this there was a filling of sand and
gravel which extended sixty-nine feet, and then the
inner retaining wall, which was forty-four feet thick.
The whole structure, therefore, was one hundred and
thirty-six and a half feet wide. They also verified the
statement of Diodorus to the effect that many of the
bricks of the wall and its citadels were beautifully
colored.” (Samuel Fallows, ed., The Popular and
Critical Bible Encyclopedia and Scriptural Dictionary,
s.v. “Babylon,” pp. 208–9.)
These massive walls encircled the entire city, running
an estimated fifty-six miles, about fourteen miles on
each side (see Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Bible Dictionary,
s.v. “Babylon,” p. 116).
The Lion Gate of Babylon
G
The walls were not the only amazing structure in
Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar married a Persian princess
named Amytis. Raised in the mountain highlands
around Ecbatana, she found the arid plains of Babylon
depressing. Nebuchadnezzar set about to create a
mountain paradise within the walls of Babylon to help
his wife feel more at home. Thus were built the
famous hanging gardens of Babylon, ranked as one of
the seven wonders of the ancient world. The sheer size
of the undertaking staggers the imagination. Fallows
wrote:
“Babylon was all flat; and to accomplish so
extravagant a desire an artificial mountain was reared,
400 feet on each side, while terraces one above another
rose to a height that overtopped the walls of the city,
that is, above 300 feet in elevation. The ascent from
terrace to terrace was made by corresponding flights
of steps, while the terraces themselves were reared to
their various stages on ranges of regular piers, which,
forming a kind of vaulting, rose in succession one over
the other to the required height of each terrace, the
whole being bound together by a wall of 22 feet in
thickness. The level of each terrace or garden was then
formed in the following manner: the top of the piers
was first laid over with flat stones, 16 feet in length
and 4 feet in width; on these stones were spread beds of
matting, then a thick layer of bitumen; after which came
two courses of bricks, which were covered with sheets
of solid lead. The earth was heaped on this platform; and
in order to admit the roots of large trees, prodigious
hollow piers were built and filled with mold. From the
Euphrates, which flowed close to the foundation, water
was drawn up by machinery. The whole, says Q. Curtius
(v:5), had, to those who saw it from a distance, the
appearance of woods overhanging mountains. Such was
the completion of Nebuchadnezzar’s work when he
found himself at rest in his house, and flourished in
his palace. The king spoke and said, ‘Is not this great
Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom by
the might of my power, and the honor of my majesty’?
[Daniel 4:30], a picture which is amply justified by the
descriptions of heathen writers. Nowhere could the
king have taken so comprehensive a view of the city
he had so magnificently constructed and adorned as
when walking on the highest terrace of the gardens of
his palace.” (Bible Encyclopedia, s.v. “Babylon,” pp. 204–5.)
(G-2) Babylon: Symbol of Worldly Wickedness
As so often happens, Babylon’s wealth and glory
were accompanied by moral decay, wickedness, and
iniquity. So terrible were the morals of Babylon that
the very name became the symbol for worldliness,
spiritual wickedness, and Satan’s kingdom. It is “the
great whore” (Revelation 17:1); “the mother of harlots
and abominations” (Revelation 17:5; see also D&C
133:14; 1:16; 1 Nephi 13:5–9). The secular historians
give information that helps to explain why the prophets
used the name Babylon to symbolize the antithesis of
godliness. Will Durant wrote that “even Alexander,
231
who was not above dying of drinking, was shocked by
the morals of Babylon” (Our Oriental Heritage, The
Story of Civilization, vol. 1, p. 244).
Fallows also described the great city: “Babylon, as
the center of a great kingdom, was the seat of boundless
luxury, and its inhabitants were notorious for their
addiction to self-indulgence and effeminacy. Q. Curtius
(v:I) asserts that, ‘nothing could be more corrupt than
its morals, nothing more fitted to excite and allure to
immoderate pleasures. The rites of hospitality were
polluted by the grossest and most shameless lusts.
Money dissolved every tie, whether of kindred, respect,
or esteem. The Babylonians were very greatly given to
wine, and the enjoyments which accompany inebriety.
Women were present at their convivialities, first with
some degree of propriety, but, growing worse and worse
by degrees, they ended by throwing off at once their
modesty and their clothing.’ On the ground of their
awful wickedness the Babylonians were threatened
with [appropriate] punishment, through the mouths of
the prophets; and the tyranny with which the rulers of
the city exercised their sway was not without a
decided effect in bringing on them the terrific
consequences of the Divine vengeance. Nor in the
whole range of literature is there anything to be found
approaching to the sublimity, force, and terror with
which Isaiah and others speak on this painful subject
[Isaiah 14:2; 47:1; Jeremiah 51:39; Daniel 5:1].” (Bible
Encyclopedia, s.v. “Babylon,” pp. 205–6.)
(G-3) Judah Failed to Heed the Prophetic Warnings
Abraham foresaw that Israel would be in bondage
in Egypt and not have an inheritance in the promised
land because, as the Lord revealed, “the iniquity of the
Amorites is not yet full” (Genesis 15:16; see also v. 13).
The Canaanites, of whom the Amorites were a part,
had not yet “ripened in iniquity” (see Ether 2:9; 9:20).
By the time Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan,
however, the Canaanites had become so degenerate
that the Lord commanded that they be utterly
destroyed (see Deuteronomy 7:1–5).
Of all peoples who ought to have understood that
wickedness will be punished, it should have been the
people living in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. They
had seen the Northern Kingdom fall to Assyria, and
they themselves had been miraculously delivered from
the Assyrian army because they had heeded the words
of Isaiah (see Notes and Commentary on
2 Kings 18–19 and Enrichment D).
God has clearly taught that He is no respecter of
persons (see Acts 10:34). He does not show favoritism.
All who are obedient receive blessings; all who are
ripened in iniquity lose their blessings. As Nephi told
his brothers, the Canaanites were destroyed because of
their iniquity, and if the Jews were no better, they faced
a similar fate (see Leviticus 18:24–28; 1 Nephi
17:32–35).
But Judah did not learn the lesson. After Assyria was
overthrown, the pressures on the Southern Kingdom
lessened while the new empire, Babylon, consolidated
its power. Like her northern sister, Judah was soon
deeply entrenched in idolatry and wickedness, so much
so that the Lord said that king “Manasseh seduced them
[Judah] to do more evil than did the nations whom
232
the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel”
(2 Kings 21:9). In that state, Judah lost the promise
of divine protection. And Babylon, hungry for power,
stood waiting to conquer the world. The Lord sent
His prophets to warn the people of their impending
destruction. Jeremiah, Lehi, and many others were called
(see 1 Nephi 1:4), but their warnings fell on deaf ears.
Under King Josiah (640–609 B.C.), one last attempt
was made at reformation (see 2 Kings 22–23), but it
was short-lived, and soon the people had forsaken
Jehovah. The political rulers looked to Egypt for
protection and power against Babylon’s growing
influence, even though Jeremiah had again and again
warned Judah not to trust in Egypt for deliverance.
Thus the stage was set for a second tragedy among the
people of Israel.
(G-4) The Fall of Judah to Babylon
The events of the twenty or so years that followed
Josiah’s reign saw the fruits of Judah’s disobedience
brought to maturity. Judah was caught in the power
struggle between Egypt and Babylonia. Jehoahaz
succeeded his father and reigned three months.
Then he was taken to Egypt, and his half brother who
was given the throne name of Jehoiakim ruled as an
Egyptian vassal. He exacted heavy taxes from his
people for Egypt.
Babylon defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish in
605 B.C. Judah became a vassal of the new conquerors.
Jehoaikim paid tribute to Babylon for three years before
unsuccessfully attempting to free his people. The
rebellious king was killed, and many of his people
were exiled to Babylon. The king’s wickedness had
accelerated the deterioration of the people of Judah.
He was succeeded by his young son Jehoiachin, who
continued to resist the Babylonians but was defeated
within three months.
The Babylonians deported many of the educated,
skilled, and religious to weaken the leadership capability
of Judah. Jehoiachin was likewise exiled, and his
uncle, who took the throne name Zedekiah, ruled in his
stead. He pledged loyalty as a vassal king but in time
found resistance among the people. A spirit of
nationalism rose against the weight of foreign
servitude. Revolt in Babylon caused the withdrawal of
the caretaker forces from Judah, and a growing
patriotic feeling among the people brought Zedekiah
to seek the support of Egypt in rebellion against the
power of the north.
With matters quieted at home, the Babylonians
returned with swift vengeance against Judah. Jerusalem
was besieged and other fortresses in the land of Judah
were attacked and reduced to rubble. The siege against
Jerusalem continued after the rest of the nation had
fallen. The conditions during this time were almost
beyond imagination.
An eyewitness recorded the following description:
“How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine
gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured
out in the top of every street. The precious sons of Zion,
comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as
earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!
Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give
suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is
become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. The
tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his
mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no
man breaketh it unto them. They that did feed delicately
are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up
in scarlet embrace dunghills.” (Lamentations 4:1–5.)
“They that be slain with the sword are better than
they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away,
stricken through for want of the fruits of the field.
The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their
own children: they were their meat in the destruction
of the daughter of my people.” (Lamentations 4:9–10.)
Bible historian Harry Thomas Frank wrote of the
demise of this people and their city:
“In July of 587 Zedekiah sought to surrender the
city and end the suffering. Once before, ten years ago,
the Babylonians had treated Jerusalem with what was
for those days extraordinary mercy. Not now. This
time they meant to be done with the center of intrigue.
Food ran out. So did the king. In the evening of
the day Babylonian soldiers poured into the city,
Zedekiah and some of his men fled, making for the
Jordan and hoping to escape to safety in the desert.
They got as far as Jericho before they were captured.
Nebuchadnezzar was in Syria at his headquarters. There
the Judahite and his sons were taken. No more Hebrew
kings were to live in luxurious exile as Jehoiachin had
done. With despatch Zedekiah was brought into the
presence of the great king of Babylon, his sons were
slain in his presence, and then he was blinded and
dragged off northward in chains.
“Jerusalem had meanwhile passed into Babylonian
hands. What the Babylonians found in the city, and
what they did to what they found does not require a
very fertile imagination. At the same time, somewhat
surprisingly, there seems not to have been any prior
decision as to what should be done with the city when
it fell. For a month further horrors and indignities were
visited upon the sorely tried people, who must have
believed that they were indeed abandoned by God
himself. Then Nebuzaradan, chief of Nebuchadnezzar’s
bodyguard and thus a person of considerable importance,
arrived in Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan was not a herald
of good news. Upon his orders high officials of the
state, and with them certain leading persons in
various professions, were taken to Riblah, the Syrian
headquarters, where they were executed. Others were
herded together to be taken into exile in Babylonia.
Jeremiah 52:29 mentions the number 832. But this
doubtless refers only to adult males and likely only
to inhabitants of Jerusalem. The number of deportees
was much larger. Finally the walls of Jerusalem were
leveled, and what remained after a year and a half of
siege, and a month of occupation and terror brought
by Nebuzaradan, was put to the torch.
“Not for the last time smoke hung heavy over the
Judean hills and blew gently across the Mount of Olives
and toward the wilderness near the Jordan. But on
that day, in the heat of the summer of 587, it rose from
Judah’s funeral pyre.” (Discovering the Biblical World,
p. 130. See Maps, “The First Exile and Return of Judah,”
for a detailed layout of this period of history.)
233
© Quebecor World Inc.
Jeremiah 1–19
23
As Ye Sow,
So Shall Ye Reap
(23-1) Introduction
It was Jeremiah’s privilege (or burden) to predict
and then live through the fall of Judah to Babylon.
One of the first things the Lord told Jeremiah was,
“I will hasten my word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12).
Jeremiah, like Mormon, was called to labor among
a people for whom there was no hope because they
refused to repent, and “the day of grace was passed
with them, both temporally and spiritually” (Mormon
2:15). Mormon, after witnessing the destruction of the
Nephite nation, cried out for his people (see Mormon
6:17–19). Here was a righteous man, one of the best,
lamenting over his people who were so blind, so foolish,
so spiritually dead. Jeremiah, too, mourned his people’s
wickedness. You may think of Jeremiah as a harsh man
as you read his scorching denunciations of the Jewish
people and the lives they were living, but he was not.
His motivation, like Mormon’s, was love.
A prophet does not select where and when he
serves. God chooses when and to whom a prophet is
sent. One may be an Enoch and build Zion, or a
David O. McKay and preside over the Church in times
of peace and prosperity. Another may be a Mormon or
a Jeremiah and try in vain to save a rebellious and
backsliding people. Each has his calling. Each has his
time. Each has his lesson for you to learn. Look for
Jeremiah’s lesson as you study this great prophet.
introduced the worship of the heavenly planets in
accordance with the dictates of the Assyro-Babylonian
religion. Jeremiah therefore found idolatry, hill-worship,
and heathen religious practices rampant among his
people. Heathen idols stood in the temple [Jeremiah
32:34], children were sacrificed to Baal-Moloch (7:31;
19:5; 32:35), and Baal was especially invoked as the
usual heathen deity. The worship of the ‘queen of
Heaven’ ought also to be mentioned. (7:18; 44:19)
The corruption of the nation’s religious worship was,
of course, accompanied by all manner of immorality
and unrighteousness, against which the prophet had
continually to testify. The poor were forgotten. Jeremiah
was surrounded on all sides by almost total apostasy.
But professional prophets there were aplenty. Says
Dr. H. L. Willett:
“‘He was surrounded by plenty of prophets, but they
were the smooth, easy-going, popular, professional
preachers whose words awakened no conscience, and
who assured the people that the nation was safe in
the protecting care of God. This was a true message in
Isaiah’s day, but that time was long since past, and
Jerusalem was destined for captivity. Thus Jeremiah
was doomed to preach an unwelcome message, while
the false prophets persuaded the people that he was
unpatriotic, uninspired, and pessimistic. (14:13, 14).’”
(Sidney B. Sperry, The Voice of Israel’s Prophets, p. 153.)
(23-3) Jeremiah 1:4–5. The Call of Jeremiah
Instructions to Students
1. Use Notes and Commentary below to help
you as you read and study Jeremiah 1–19.
2. Complete Points to Ponder as directed by
your teacher. (Individual-study students should
complete all of this section.)
NOTES AND
COMMENTARY ON
JEREMIAH 1–19
Jeremiah 1:4–5 is a powerful proof of our premortal
existence as individuals. The Lord certified to Jeremiah
that his calling to a mission as a prophet unto the
nations antedated his birth. The phrase “I knew thee”
(Jeremiah 1:5) means more than a casual acquaintance.
The Hebrew word yada, which is translated knew,
connotes a very personal, intimate relationship.
(See J. A. Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, The New
International Commentary on the Old Testament,
p. 145.) Indeed, Jeremiah’s premortal appointment
consisted of being foreordained, sanctified, and sent
forth (compare Abraham 3:23).
(23-4) Jeremiah 1:6–10. The Charge
(23-2) Jeremiah 1:1–3. The Setting
Jeremiah, a Levite, came from Anathoth, a town of
the priests that lay a few miles northeast of Jerusalem
in the tribal territory of Benjamin. He labored in his
prophetic calling during the reign of at least four kings
of Judah: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.
He began his labors as a youth in approximately 627 B.C.
and was the leading prophet in Jerusalem, serving with
Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Lehi, and others (see 1 Nephi 1:4).
Since Lehi and Nephi refer to Jeremiah’s prophecies, it
is safe to assume that some of them were recorded on
the brass plates (see 1 Nephi 5:14).
“With the exception of Josiah, all of the kings of Judah
during Jeremiah’s ministry were unworthy men under
whom the country suffered severely. Even during the
reign of an earlier king, the wicked Manasseh, the
Baal cult was restored among the Jews, and there was
Jeremiah, like others called by the Lord to such
heavy and humbling assignments, expressed his
feelings of inadequacy. Compare Jeremiah’s feelings
with those of such others as Enoch (see Moses 6:31),
Moses (see Exodus 4:10), and Gideon (see Judges 6:15).
In Jeremiah 1:9 the role of a prophet is succinctly set
forth. A prophet does not necessarily say what he
wants to say, for the Lord puts His own words into the
mouth of the prophet. That is why it does not matter
whether the word comes direct from God or through
His servant: “it is the same” (D&C 1:38).
(23-5) Jeremiah 1:11–16. “What Seest Thou?”
Jeremiah’s first vision was of a branch of an
almond tree (see Old Testament Student Manual:
Genesis–2 Samuel [religion 301, 2003], p. 207, for the
235
significance of Aaron’s rod being an almond branch).
An almond branch was evidently chosen because it is
the first tree to bud in spring. As the almond tree
hastens to come into blossom, so would the word of
the Lord through Jeremiah hasten to fulfillment.
Next, the vision of a “seething pot” was shown to
Jeremiah, symbolizing the disaster and pain which,
like the contents of a boiling cauldron, would spill over
and run down the kingdoms of the north to overwhelm
Judah (see C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on
the Old Testament, 8:1:43–44).
The burning of incense (see Jeremiah 1:16) is a symbol
of prayer (see Revelation 5:8; 8:3). Far more is implied
in the Lord’s accusation than just a ritual of burning
incense to false gods. The people were seeking help and
guidance from the false gods rather than from the Lord.
(23-6) Jeremiah 1:17–19. Arise and Speak
Jeremiah was told to stand stout and strong, to brace
himself, and to declare the Lord’s word without fear
of man. The Lord likened him to an invincible city,
preparing Jeremiah to stand firm against the onslaught
that would pour out on him on every hand once he
started his ministry and condemned the people’s sins.
(23-7) Jeremiah 2:1–19. The Waters of Life Forsaken
The sequence of Israel’s spiritual development is
outlined in Jeremiah, chapter 2:
• Israel’s early devotion and righteousness (see
vv. 2–3).
• Israel’s apostasy (see vv. 4–13). The Lord asked
what fault the people found in Him that justified their
turning away from Him.
• Tragic results of apostasy (see vv. 14–19). The
Lord’s people had forsaken Him, “gone far from” Him
(v. 5), and changed “their glory for that which doth not
profit” (v. 11).
In verse 13 the two evils committed by Judah are
told in figurative terms: They have forsaken the
fountain (Jehovah) of living water (life), and they have
hewn out broken cisterns (gods) which can hold no
water (life). Then the image is changed, and the Lord
states that Israel had partaken of the waters of “Sihor”
(the Nile) and of “the river” (v. 18) (the Euphrates). In
other words, they drank the spiritual waters of Egypt
and Babylon and were filled with the lifeless water of
idolatry.
Verse 19 teaches the important truth that one is
punished by as well as for one’s transgressions. The
phrase “my fear is not in thee” (v. 19) refers to the fear
of God. Fear in the Hebrew denotes a sense of reverent
awe and profound respect. If the Jews had this fear in
them, they would not need to learn through the
consequences of their transgressions.
(23-8) Jeremiah 2:20–37. Judah Denounced
Jeremiah used vivid imagery in denouncing Judah:
“Broken thy yoke and burst thy bands” (v. 20). The
Lord had delivered them from the bondage of Egypt.
“Playing the harlot” (v. 20). Judah had committed
idolatry, or spiritual adultery, with false gods as well
as actually engaging in unchaste practices.
“The degenerate plant of a strange vine” (v. 21).
This wild vine brought forth poisonous berries, or evil
works.
236
Judah, the lion of the Lord, is symbolized on the Lion Gate of Jerusalem.
“Wash thee with nitre [lye], and take thee much
soap, yet thine iniquity is marked” (v. 22). The most
powerful means of purification could not cleanse
Judah’s sins.
“In the valley” (v. 23). Probably this valley was the
Hinnom Valley, where children were sacrificed to
Molech (see Jeremiah 7:31).
“A swift dromedary traversing her ways; a wild
ass . . . that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure”
(vv. 23–24). The imagery indicates that as a camel or a
wild ass in heat runs back and forth during the mating
season, so did Israel run after false gods.
“Withhold thy foot from being shod and thy throat
from thirst” (v. 25). In their anxiety to follow after the
peoples of the world and worship false gods, they ran
out of the house barefoot and would not even stop to
slake their thirst.
“Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone,
Thou hast brought me forth” (v. 27). Israel worshiped
images of wood and stone as the gods to whom they
owed life and being.
“Where are thy gods?” (v. 28). The Lord challenged
Judah to find help from the false idols now that
destruction threatened her.
“In vain have I smitten your children” (v. 30).
Even the judgments of the past, such as the fall of the
Northern Kingdom and the siege of Judah by Assyria,
were not enough to bring the people to repentance.
“Your own sword hath devoured your prophets”
(v. 30). The people killed the prophets sent by God to
warn them.
“Can a maid forget her ornaments?” (v. 32; see also
vv. 33–34). Unlike the bride who adorns herself with
chastity and faithfulness to her husband, this bride
of Judah was found with soiled skirts, which were
so obvious that a search was not required to find them.
Israel had become so skilled in doing evil that she
could teach even the experienced harlots of idolatry
(see v. 33).
(23-9) Jeremiah 3:1–11. “Played the Harlot”
Jeremiah continued the marriage symbolism he began
in Jeremiah 2:32 (see Notes and Commentary on Hosea
for other uses of this same symbolism).
Jeremiah 3:1, 6, 9, 14, and 20 show that the children
of Israel had broken their vows to the Lord and had
“played the harlot” (v. 1) with other gods. Northern
Israel (the ten tribes), Judah’s sister, had also committed
adultery (idolatry) with false gods, and the Lord had
given her a bill of divorcement and sent her out of the
land (she was taken captive by the Assyrians).
(23-10) Jeremiah 3:12–19. A Latter-day Prophecy and
Promise
In the midst of condemning Judah for their apostasy,
Jeremiah turned to the future when Israel will again
become a faithful wife and be reclaimed. The Lord
reminded Israel that He is merciful and that all they
need do to be reclaimed is to turn back to Him. The
Lord’s promises include the following:
• Missionary work and gathering to Zion (see v. 14).
• Knowledge and understanding taught by faithful
pastors (church leaders) (see v. 15).
• The fulfillment of the old covenant and the
establishment of a new covenant (see v. 16).
• The restoration of Jerusalem to righteousness
(see v. 17).
• The gathering of Israel, including the return of
the lost tribes from the north and the reuniting of the
children of Judah in the lands of their inheritance
(see vv. 18–19; see also Isaiah 11:16; 35:8–10; 51:9–11;
D&C 133:26–35).
(23-11) Jeremiah 4:1–4. “Circumcise Yourselves to the
Lord”
Circumcision was a token given to Abraham as a sign
that a child was born into the covenant and was not
accountable for sin until he was eight years old (see
JST, Genesis 17:3–12). The Lord taught in numerous
places in the scriptures that the true circumcision after a
person is accountable is that of the heart (see
Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 9:25–26; Romans
2:25–29). One must accept the covenant in his heart
and become sinless through faith, repentance, and
baptism.
(23-12) Jeremiah 4:5–31. Approaching Disasters
The Lord used various figurative images in Jeremiah
4:5–31 to foretell the catastrophe that was about to
befall Judah.
“The lion” (v. 7). Renowned for its destructive
killing power, the lion, Babylon, was about to come
out of the thicket where it stayed hidden until it
sallied forth on the hunt.
The “dry wind” (v. 11). The scorching desert winds
were devastating in the Holy Land if they blew very
long or hard, for they sucked the moisture from plants,
animals, and people with terrible effect. This wind
was not the gentle breeze used to fan away the chaff
while winnowing grain, but a full, hard wind
(see v. 13).
“Clouds” and a “whirlwind” (v. 13). Babylon’s
troops would be like a huge thundercloud covering
the sky, and its effect would be that of a tornado.
Earth “without form, and void” (v. 23). See Genesis
1:2. So great would be the destruction that it would be
as if the Creation had been undone.
Clothed “in crimson” (v. 30). In her extremity, like a
harlot rejected by her former lovers, Judah would seek
for help from her false gods in an ever more desperate
search for relief, but she would find none.
(23-13) Jeremiah 5:1–31. National Corruption
Jerusalem had reached the point of no return. In an
offer similar to the one He made to Abraham for the
deliverance of Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis
18:23–33), the Lord promised to spare Judah if anyone
could be found who lived justly or sought the truth
(see Jeremiah 5:1).
But in a searing condemnation of Judah, Jeremiah
showed that there were none such. Instead of doing
righteous works, the people swore falsely (see v. 2);
their faces were as hard as rock—they showed no
repentance or compassion (see v. 3); they turned to
the houses of prostitution in troops (see v. 7); like
horses in the mating season, they neighed wildly for
their neighbor’s wife (see v. 8); they had “a revolting
and a rebellious heart” (v. 23); like those who trap birds,
the people laid snares for other men and grew fat with
the illegal gains (see vv. 26–28).
Nephi, a contemporary of Jeremiah, taught that the
Canaanites in the time of Moses “had rejected every
word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; . . . and the
Lord did curse the land against them . . . unto their
destruction.” He used similar language to describe the
children of Israel: “They have become wicked, yea,
nearly unto ripeness,” and warned that they too faced
destruction (1 Nephi 17:35, 43; emphasis added). It
was bad enough that the society of Judah was filled
with corrupt prophets and priests, but the real national
tragedy, described in Jeremiah’s summary comment,
was: “my people love to have it so” (Jeremiah 5:31).
Further, in Jeremiah 8:10, the prophet said: “Every one
from the least even unto the greatest is given to
covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest
every one dealeth falsely.”
Is it any wonder Judah had no hope? Is it surprising
that Jeremiah was so scathing in his denunciation?
(23-14) Jeremiah 6:14–15. “Peace, Peace”
Speaking of Jeremiah’s time, one scholar said:
“The prophets and priests of the day dressed the
nation’s wounds, but skin-deep only. Nor did they
have any sense of shame for the loathsome deeds they
perpetrated. They neither felt shame nor did they
know how to blush. They had become completely
insensitive to the evils in which they and their nation
were immersed. But continued active involvement in
evil has a way of dulling the conscience until a point is
reached when all awareness of evil is lost. Thereafter
leaders fall with the rest of those who fall. In the day
of divine reckoning they too would go down, for it
would be the day of their own doom.” (Thompson,
Book of Jeremiah, p. 258.)
237
(23-15) Jeremiah 7:1–28. The Temple Would Not Save
Judah
The boldness of Jeremiah’s statement can be realized
only when one recalls the importance given to the
temple by the reforms of Josiah in 621 B.C. Josiah had
made it the sole place of sacrificial worship of Jehovah
for all Jews in an attempt to stamp out idol worship.
The temple and its priests thus had acquired by this
time greater importance than ever before. Then, in the
name of Jehovah, Jeremiah issued a challenge that struck
at the very existence of the temple. He plainly told the
Jews that if they would mend their ways and become
righteous, they would be spared; otherwise, not even
the temple would save them, because they had made
the temple a “den of robbers” (v. 11). Because of the
great reverence the people had for the temple, though
it was a false reverence, it is not surprising that Jeremiah
was quickly arrested and imprisoned (see Jeremiah 26).
The language of Jeremiah 7:11, combined with that
of Isaiah 56:7, was used by Jesus when He cleansed the
temple (see Matthew 21:13).
else. The long hair of the Nazirite was a sign of his
consecration to Yahweh [Jehovah] (Num. 6:2–8). The
removal of the hair signified an abandonment of his
consecration (Judg. 16:15–22). In Jeremiah’s view,
Israel, now represented only by Judah and Jerusalem,
had abandoned her consecration to Yahweh and was
not worthy to wear the crown of her long hair.”
(Thompson, Book of Jeremiah, p. 293.)
(23-18) Jeremiah 8:1–3. “Bring out the Bones”
“In order to pour the utmost contempt upon the
land, the victorious enemies dragged out of their graves,
caves, and sepulchers, the bones of kings, princes,
prophets, priests, and the principal inhabitants, and
exposed them in the open air; so that they became,
in the order of God’s judgments, a reproach to them
in the vain confidence they had in the sun, moon, and the
host of heaven—all the planets and stars, whose worship
they had set up in opposition to that of Jehovah. This
custom of raising the bodies of the dead, and scattering
their bones about, seems to have been general. It was
the highest expression of hatred and contempt.” (Adam
Clarke, The Holy Bible . . . with a Commentary and
Critical Notes, 4:276.)
(23-19) Jeremiah 8:22. “There Is No Balm in Gilead”
Gilead was famous for its healing ointment (see
Genesis 37:25). Nevertheless, no healing ointment,
or medication, was available for rebellious Israel. The
balm of salvation could be administered only through
Israel’s Savior, Jehovah, whom they had rejected.
(23-20) Jeremiah 9. Jeremiah’s Lament
The temple at Jerusalem was completely destroyed.
(23-16) Jeremiah 7:12. Why Did the Lord Tell Them to
Go to Shiloh?
After the Israelites under Joshua conquered the land
of Canaan, the tabernacle, the equivalent of the temple,
was set up at Shiloh. Eventually Israel became so wicked
that they set up graven images and worshiped them
in direct competition with the tabernacle (see Judges
18:30–31). A short time later the Philistines attacked
the Israelites and defeated them. They overran Shiloh
and took the ark of the covenant in the battle (see
1 Samuel 4:10–12).
The parallel between Israel and Judah should have
been evident. For the wicked to look to the temple as
a source of protection was foolish. Jeremiah 7:21–23
reminded the people that obedience is more critical
to God than the outward rituals of sacrifice performed
in the temple.
(23-17) Jeremiah 7:29. “Cut Off Thine Hair”
“For their sins the people must take up a lament. The
cutting off of the hair was a symbol of grief (Job 1:20;
Mic. 1:16). The Hebrew text reads literally ‘Cut off your
crown (nezer).’ The hair was looked on as, in a sense,
a diadem. To cut off the hair was to bring down Israel’s
pride. But there may be here an overtone of something
238
Except, perhaps, for David’s cry over his son Absalom
(see 2 Samuel 18:33), or Jesus’ prophetic lament over
Jerusalem (see Matthew 23:37), or the lament of Mormon
over the destroyed Nephite nation (see Mormon
6:16–22), few passages lamenting the results of sin
in the scriptures are as moving as Jeremiah 9.
In Jeremiah 9:17–22, the Lord referred to the custom
in ancient Israel of hiring professional mourners,
women who were paid to wail and lament for long
periods of time at someone’s death. Jeremiah was told
to hire professional mourners to lament over Judah.
(23-21) Jeremiah 9:16. Was Judah to Be Completely
Consumed?
To be consumed does not mean to become extinct.
Being consumed and destroyed, in the context of
the prophecies of the scattering of Israel, meant to
be utterly disorganized and disbanded so that Israel’s
power, influence, and cohesiveness as a nation was
gone. Moses, in Deuteronomy 4:26, told all Israel that
they would “utterly be destroyed.” Yet the verses
following show that Israel still existed as homeless
individuals.
(23-22) Jeremiah 10:1–16. Some Common Logic
about Idols
In a profound and yet simple chain of reasoning,
Jeremiah showed the stupidity and sheer illogic of
worshiping an idol. People take such materials as
wood and precious metals which they work and shape
at their own will, making all kinds of objects of
service. Then they take those same materials, make
them into an idol by the work of their own hands, and
suddenly expect the idol to be filled with supernatural
power and be able to provide miraculous aid for the
person who made it.
(23-23) Jeremiah 11:1–14. None Shall Escape
Jeremiah 11:1–14 refers to the covenant the Lord
made with the house of Israel at the time of the Exodus.
“I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to
you a God” (Exodus 6:7). Even as the Jews’ forefathers
broke the covenant, so had their children in Judah
(see Jeremiah 11:10). Therefore, none would escape the
punishment decreed, nor would the prayers of Jeremiah
or those of the people help (see vv. 11–14).
Sperry wrote: “Jeremiah’s warning was in vain.
The Lord pointed out to him that there was a conspiracy
among the Jews and that they had turned back to
the iniquities of their forefathers. Their gods were as
numerous as their cities, and the number of altars set
up to Baal was according to the number of streets in
Jerusalem. But, warned the Lord, their gods would not
save them in the time of their trouble. In view of their
spiritual condition the prophet was commanded not to pray
for the people. Nor would the Lord hear their cries unto
Him. (11:9–14).” (Voice of Israel’s Prophets, pp. 165–66;
emphasis added.)
(23-24) Jeremiah 12:1–4. Why Do the Wicked Prosper?
Jeremiah raised age-old questions: Why do the
wicked sometimes prosper while the righteous do not?
(see Jeremiah 12:1). How much time will pass before
their wickedness will be punished? (see v. 4; Malachi
3:13–18).
“The enmity experienced by Jeremiah at the hands
of his countrymen at Anathoth excites his displeasure
at the prosperity of the wicked, who thrive and live
with immunity. He therefore begins to expostulate with
God, and demands from God’s righteousness that they
be cut off out of the land (vers. 1–4); whereupon the
Lord reproves him for this outburst of ill-nature and
impatience by telling him that he must patiently endure
still worse.—This section, the connection of which with
the preceding is unmistakable, shows by a concrete
instance the utter corruptness of the people; and it has
been included in the prophecies because it sets before
us the greatness of God’s long-suffering towards a
people ripe for destruction.” (Keil and Delitzsch,
Commentary, 8:1:219.)
“I believe the meaning is this, ‘If in a country now
enjoying peace thou scarcely thinkest thyself in safety,
what wilt thou do in the swellings of Jordan? in the
time when the enemy, like an overflowing torrent,
shall deluge every part of the land?’
“The overflowing of Jordan, which generally
happened in harvest, drove the lions and other beasts
of prey from their coverts among the bushes that lined
its banks; who, spreading themselves through the
country, made terrible havoc, slaying men, and carrying
off the cattle.” (Commentary, 4:287.)
(23-26) Jeremiah 12:9. How Is Judah like a “Speckled
Bird”?
Thompson explained the symbol of the speckled
bird in this way:
“Israel with her proud plumage has attracted the
attention of birds of prey (enemies) who move in
to attack her. An alternative translation arises from
rendering sabua as a noun, ‘hyena,’ which is possible.
This understanding of the word combined with the
[Septuagint] substitution of the word ‘cave’ for ‘bird of
prey’ leads to the translation:
“‘Is this land of mine a hyena’s lair
“‘With birds of prey hovering all around it? (NEB)’
“The picture that results is of a hyena’s lair with
vultures hovering around waiting to swoop down on
what is left of a carcass after the hyena has eaten. In
either case the people and land are under attack from
foes. There is a feast prepared for all the wild beasts
(lit. ‘beasts of the field’). The destruction of Judah will
provide pickings for all.” (Book of Jeremiah, p. 358.)
Ancient Jerusalem was despoiled and destroyed.
(23-25) Jeremiah 12:5. “How Canst Thou Contend
with Horses?”
(23-27) Jeremiah 12:14–17. Can the Spoilers of Judah
Ever Be Blessed of the Lord?
To Jeremiah’s question about why the wicked prosper,
the Lord gave a vivid answer that has helped many to
build up their courage. Clarke wrote: “If the smallest
evils to which thou art exposed cause thee to make so
many bitter complaints, how wilt thou feel when, in
the course of thy prophetic ministry, thou shalt be
exposed to much greater, from enemies much more
powerful? Footmen may here be the symbol of common
evil events; horsemen, of evils much more terrible. If thou
have sunk under small difficulties, what wilt thou do
when great ones come?
“The spoilers of the Lord’s heritage are also to be
carried off out of their land; but after they, like Judah,
have been punished, the Lord will have pity on them,
and will bring them back one and all into their own
land. And if the heathen, who now seduce the people
of God to idolatry, learn the ways of God’s people and
be converted to the Lord, they shall receive citizenship
amongst God’s people and be built up amongst them;
but if they will not do so, they shall be extirpated
[pulled out by the roots; wiped out]. Thus will the
Lord manifest Himself before the whole earth as
239
righteous judge, and through judgment secure the
weal [health or prosperity] not only of Israel, but of
the heathen peoples too. By this discovery of His
world-plan the Lord makes so complete a reply to the
prophet’s murmuring concerning the prosperity of the
ungodly (vers. 1–6), that from it may clearly be seen
the justice of God’s government on earth.” (Keil and
Delitzsch, Commentary, 8:1:228.)
Lord and comforted [Jeremiah 15:10–21]. Then he has
his course of conduct for the future prescribed to
him, since Judah is, for its sins, to be cast forth into
banishment, but is again to be restored [Jeremiah
16:1–17:4]. And the discourse concludes with general
considerations upon the roots of the mischief, together
with prayers for the prophet’s safety, and statements
as to the way by which judgment may be turned aside.”
(Commentary, 8:1:242–43.)
(23-28) Jeremiah 13:1–11. The Parable of the Loincloth
The linen girdle represents the priestly nation
of Judea, since linen was used for priestly garments
(see Leviticus 16:4). Sperry wrote: “The parable, so it
seems to me, should not be pressed too far by logical
Westerners. Its general outlines and explanation,
however, seem reasonably clear. The girdle represents
the whole house of Israel, including Judah. ‘For as the
girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused
to cleave unto Me the whole house of Israel and the
whole house of Judah, saith the Lord, . . .’ (13:11) By
reason of the iniquities of the Lord’s people (in this
case the Jews), they will become separated from Him.
The coming Captivity into Babylon could well be
represented by the hiding of the girdle near the
Euphrates. The fact that the girdle was ‘marred’ in its
hiding place simply indicates that the close relationship
between God and the Jews had been strained to the
breaking point.” (Voice of Israel’s Prophets, p. 167.)
(23-29) Jeremiah 13:22–27. Can a Leopard Change His
Spots?
Skin color, like a leopard’s spots, cannot be changed.
But what of Israel’s sins?
“So inured in this corrupt behavior have the people
become that they are hopelessly fixed in it. They are no
more capable of changing their ways than an Ethiopian
could change his skin or a leopard his spots. Therefore
they will be scattered, because they forgot the Lord
and ‘relied on what was false’ (Moffatt).
“It is hardly necessary to point out that Jeremiah is
not speaking in vs. 23 of ‘natural evil’ or of any ‘radical
defect in human nature.’ He is not saying that men are
so necessarily sinners that they are like the Ethiopian or
the leopard and can do nothing about it. He is, however,
saying that whether totally black or only spotted the
perspective of evil in the people is so fixed that they
will do nothing about it. The cause of it is the foundation
cause: they have forgotten the Lord. Therefore the
disasters come.” (The Interpreter’s Bible, 5:928.)
(23-30) Jeremiah 14–15. A Prophet’s Prayer
Jeremiah 14–15 presents a discussion between
Jeremiah and the Lord concerning a great drought and
the effects attending it. Both people and animals were
affected greatly, as Keil and Delitzsch wrote: “The
distress arising from a lengthened drought [Jeremiah
14:2–6] gives the prophet occasion for urgent prayer
on behalf of his people [Jeremiah 14:7–9, 19–22]; but
the Lord rejects all intercession, and gives the people
notice, for their apostasy from Him