Book of Mormon Lesson 08 (2 Nephi 11–25)
February 13–19

NEPHI TEACHES FROM ISAIAH (2 Nephi 11–16; Isaiah 2–6)

Nephi introduced further teachings from Isaiah for three major reasons: (2 Nephi 11:1–8).
— Nephi delighted in the words of Isaiah (v. 2).
— Nephi said we “may lift up [our] hearts and rejoice” because of Isaiah’s words (v. 8).
— The words of Isaiah prove the truthfulness of the coming of Christ (vv. 4, 6).

Scholars call such passages messianic since they center on the future Messiah. Nephi said earlier that he read Isaiah to his people so that he “might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer” (1 Nephi 19:23–24).

Temple Symbolism

Mountain of the Lord is normally a symbolic reference to Mt. Sinai, but parallelism shows us that Isaiah means “the house of the Lord” in this case (2 Nephi 12:1–4; Isaiah 2:2–3).

“Appearing before the Lord” means going to the temple. This suggests a temple at that site and that God is present at the site (Exodus 20:24).

Zion has several meanings in scripture:
• It refers to the New Jerusalem in America.
• It also refers to the Jerusalem of Judah.
• It also refers to the Lord’s people.
• It also refers to places of gathering in all parts of the world.

The Wicked Will Be Brought Low

Trust Not in Idols (2 Nephi 12:5–22; Isaiah 2:5–22).
— They are “the work of their own hands” (v. 8).
— As a result of their worship of idols, God will humble the “lofty looks of man” (v. 11).
— The “haughtiness of men (v. 17). . . The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day”.

The Wickedness of Zion

They Will Be Punished as a Result of Wickedness (2 Nephi 13:4–5, 8–12; Isaiah 3).
— The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah will be known among them (v. 9).
— Families will be undermined (v. 12).

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “And so today, the undermining of the home and family is on the increase, with the devil anxiously working to displace the father as the head of the home and create rebellion among the children. The Book of Mormon describes this condition when it states, ‘And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.’ And then these words follow—and consider these words seriously when you think of those political leaders who are promoting birth control and abortion: ‘0 my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.’ (2 Ne. 13:12).”1

The Wickedness of the Daughters of Zion (2 Nephi 13:13–26; 14:1–6).
— God will “wash away the filth” of the daughters of Zion” (Isaiah 3:4).
— He will restore the house of Israel as “a place of refuge, and a covert from storm and from rain” (Isaiah 4:6).

The Consequences of Apostasy

This chapter speaks of the scattering and gathering of Israel (2 Nephi 15:1–25; Isaiah 5).
These verses resemble the allegory of Zenos quoted in the Book of Mormon and may be drawn from a similar or identical source (Jacob 5:1–6). The Lord has scattered them on the earth, yet his “hand is stretched out still”—in spite of their wickedness the Lord has not forgotten nor abandoned them (v. 25).

The Great Final Gathering

Conditions at the Time of the Great Gathering (2 Nephi 15:26–30; Isaiah 5:26).
— To “hiss” to the nations means to use a signal, such as a whistle, to summon or alert someone to an event (v. 26).


Things He Saw in Heaven

● Isaiah’s glorious vision occurred in the Holy of Holies of the Jerusalem temple (Isaiah 1:1).

● Seraphs (Hebrew seraphim) is a term meaning “fiery ones” or serpents (2 Nephi 16:1–2; Isaiah 6; Numbers 21:6,8; Deuteronomy 8:15; Isaiah 14:29).

● The Prophet Joseph Smith said they are beings who “dwell amid everlasting burnings.”
—They have “wings” a Hebrew term meaning “veils” or “covers.”
—With these “wings” they can veil or cover their “face,” Hebrew for “presence.”
—Also, they can hide their “feet” or “legs,” Hebrew for ”footing,” or “location.”
—They also have the power to “fly about,” meaning to move freely through space.

● Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Seraphs are angels who reside in the presence of God, giving continual glory, honor, and adoration to him. . . . The fact that these holy beings were shown to him [Isaiah] 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 77:44).”2

● Holy, holy, holy: In Hebrew, superlatives are said three times (2 Nephi 16:3–12; Isaiah 6:3–12). The modern equivalent would be to say “most holy”.

● Posts of the door: Hebrew way of saying “the foundation” (v. 4).
● Filled with smoke: Hebrew symbol for the “presence and glory of God.”
● Coals: A Hebrew symbol for “cleansing” or “purging” (vv. 5–12).

The Return of a Remnant of Israel

● The Symbolism of the Tree and the Tenth (2 Nephi 16:10–13; Isaiah 6:10–13).

— “Eaten”: The Hebrew word has three meanings, and “eaten” is only one of them. The verb’s primary meaning is “burned.”

— “Substance”: The word “substance” is also a secondary meaning. The primary meaning is “stump” or “that which is left standing.”

— “Holy Seed”: The “holy seed” represents the descendants of Israel.

— Therefore: The rotten teil trees are burned, leaving only stumps. Israel’s survivors (the “holy seed”) are like “stumps” that remain alive when the tree is “burned, “cut down” or “felled”, and yet, because there is still life in the stumps, can grow into new tree.

— The “tenth”: The word translated “tenth “ means “tithe” in Hebrew. The special ending makes it the “tithe of ya,” or Jehovah, which refers to the tithe of the tithe that the Levites paid.

— Therefore: Only 1% of the people will remain when the tree is hewn down


Two Great Messianic Prophesies

● The Political Situation (2 Nephi 17:1–9; Isaiah 7:1–9). Syria had joined with Ephraim (the ten tribes) in a confederacy against Judah. Isaiah counsels King Ahaz: “Fear not, neither be faint-hearted. . . . It [the confederacy] shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass” (vv. 4, 7).

● King Ahaz (of Judah) was invited to ask for a sign that Judah would be preserved despite its desperate situation (2 Nephi 17:10–13; Isaiah 7:10–13). He had so little faith in God’s power to save them that he refused even this offer of reassurance.
● The Virgin Birth of Christ was given to him as a sign (2 Nephi 17:14–15; Isaiah 7:14–15). Isaiah says that Immanuel (“God with us”) would be born in Judah after the kings of Israel and Syria had been deposed.

● A Prophecy Against Israel (2 Nephi 17:16–24). The kingdom of Israel (Ephraim), which the Jews despised, will be destroyed and will lose “both her kings” [Ephraim’s and Syria’s as well] (v. 16). “With arrows and with bows shall men come thither” (v. 24). This prophecy was fulfilled when Assyria overran the land in 721 BC.

● Galilee will “see a great light (2 Nephi 19:1–5).” This area (the land of Zebulun and Nephthalim beyond the Jordan River), which was previously afflicted by warfare, will now know the joy of the Master.

● The Messiah will be born, not come in power as the Jews thought (2 Nephi 19:6–7; Isaiah 9:6–7). Nevertheless, he will eventually become the King of Kings, whose government and peace will last forever.

● Titles of the Messiah:
— Wonderful, Counselor (Jacob 4:10).
— The Mighty God of Israel come to earth (2 Nephi 19:6).
— The Everlasting Father of the righteous (Mosiah 5:7).
— The Prince of Peace (2 Nephi 19:6).


Symbolic Names for Isaiah and His Sons

Isaiah and his sons’ names were symbolic of the destiny of Israel: The Lord commanded the prophet to give special names to his sons so that whenever anyone saw or heard his sons, they would be given a message (2 Nephi 18:18; Isaiah 8:18). Their names were a sign or witness against the people.

● Isaiah: His name means “Jehovah is salvation” (Isaiah 1:1). Isaiah is a type of Jesus Christ, who brings salvation to those who accept him.

● Maher-shalal-hash-baz: This is the longest proper name in the Bible, and in Hebrew its meaning is a warning to Judah (Isaiah 8:1; 2 Nephi 18:1). It means “to speed the spoil, he hasteneth the prey.”

● The expression “prophetess” is used here only to designate the prophet’s wife, not a prophetic office or gift.

● Shearjashub: This son was also given a prophetic name to dramatize Isaiah’s message (2 Nephi 17:3; Isaiah 7:3). It means “the remnant will return,” a reference to the day when Israel will be gathered from her scattered condition.

The Wickedness of Ancient Israel

● Isaiah denounced the wickedness of Israel and Judah, prophesying destruction for both nations (2 Nephi 15:21–24; Isaiah 5:21–24).

● Isaiah foresaw the inevitable consequence—destruction, first in his own generation by the Assyrians and later by the Babylonians (2 Nephi 18:6–8; Isaiah 8:6–8).

● For rejecting the Messiah the Jews will inherit “trouble (2 Nephi 18:13–22; Isaiah 8:13–22). . . darkness . . . and anguish.”

● Some people were seeking for “familiar spirits” (speaking to the dead through pretended mediums). They should, instead, have been seeking for communication with God (2 Nephi 18:19).

“Familiar spirits” does not accurately convey the meaning of the Hebrew term used anciently, which meant “a leather bottle or bag” (v. 19). These were used by necromancers, who pretended communication with the dead. It involved a kind of ventriloquism wherein the voice or message of the “departed spirits” was called forth from the bag or sometimes a pit. The peeping (chirping) and muttering (twittering) somewhat like birds was intended to invoke the departed spirits or to convey the pretended message.

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “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. . . .”3

● It may be that this “familiar spirits” reference means simply that the dead will be speaking to us from the ground, which of course is happening when ancient prophets speak to us through the scriptures.

● The Lord is always ready to receive Israel back (2 Nephi 19:8–21; Isaiah 9:8–21). Although they refused to heed the Lord, “his hand is stretched out still.”

The Wicked Are Punished by the Wicked

● God used Assyria to punish Israel (the “hypocritical nation”) (2 Nephi 20:5–8; Isaiah 10:5–8), but . . .

— Israel’s enemies will also be destroyed because of their own wickedness (2 Nephi 20:12–16; Isaiah 10:12–16). They are merely tools in his hands to perform his purposes, and have no cause to boast.
— The wicked are punished by the wicked (Mormon 4:5).
— Dualism: The destruction brought upon Judah by Babylon, and the destruction of the wicked at Christ’s 2nd Coming (2 Nephi 23:6–13; Isaiah 13:6–13).
— God will be merciful to the righteous, but the wicked will perish (2 Nephi 23:22).

The Ultimate Triumph of Israel

● A remnant of Israel will return to God, and will “overflow with righteousness” (v (2 Nephi 20:21–25; Isaiah 10:21–25). 20).

● The Lord’s five-point formula for salvation: (vv. 21–22).
— seeing
— hearing
— understanding
— returning or repenting
— being healed.

● The Lord will gather his chosen people, into two groups (2 Nephi 21:11–12; Isaiah 11:11–12).:
— “The outcasts of Israel” and . . .
— “The dispersed of Judah”


The Rod, Branch and Root of Jesse

This scripture was quoted by the angel Moroni when he visited Joseph Smith, 21 Sept 1823: “He quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled” (JS-History 1:40). It was later interpreted by the prophet Joseph Smith in March 1838 (D&C 113).

● A “rod” out of the “stem of Jesse” (2 Nephi 21:1; Isaiah 11:1).
— a “rod” is a small twig or shoot of a plant.
— a “stem” is a trunk or stump of a tree.
— Jesse was King David’s father, so this is David’s family tree.
— The “rod” is the prophet Joseph Smith (D&C 113:3–4). He is a descendant of Judah as well as of Ephraim.

● A “branch” out of the “stem of Jesse” (2 Nephi 21:1; Isaiah 11:1).
— A “branch” is as we understand it: a branch of a tree
— The “branch” is Jesus Christ (D&C 113:1–2).

● A “root” of Jesse that will stand for an Ensign to the people (2 Nephi 21:10; Isaiah 11:10).
— A “root” is a small shoot that grows out of a tree stump.
— The “root” is the prophet Joseph Smith (D&C 113:5–6). Because of his heritage he has a right to the priesthood and its keys.

The Great and Final Gathering

● The gathering of Israel will be aided by the Gentiles (2 Nephi 21:11–12).

● God will gather his “sanctified ones (2 Nephi 23:1–5; Isaiah 13:1–5). . . from the end of heaven”. It will be “a great people . . . of the nations gathered together.”

● Israel will be gathered and will enjoy millennial rest (2 Nephi 24:1–3; Isaiah 14:1–3).

Conditions in the Millennium

● Christ is a righteous judge who will judge impartially (2 Nephi 21:2–5; Isaiah 11:2–5).

● Great peace will exist during the Millennium (2 Nephi 21:6–9; Isaiah 11:6–9).

● Judah and Ephraim will again live in peace with one another (2 Nephi 21:13–16; Isaiah 11:13–16).

● This brief chapter is a hymn of praise for the great millennial era when the Lord will reign “in the midst” of his people (2 Nephi 22:1–5; Isaiah 12:1–5).

● “Behold El is my salvation” (v. 2). “El” is the singular of Elohim. It seldom occurs in the Bible in singular form.


Burdens on Jerusalem and Her Neighbors (2 Nephi 23–24; Isaiah 13–17)

— “Burdens” are pronouncements of destruction or suffering.
— Isaiah pronounced burdens upon Israel and Judah.
— He also pronounced burdens on the nations surrounding Israel.
— Each nation was also a symbol of wickedness in the modern world.
— The phrase “In that day” signals a latter-day meaning for a prophecy.

The Burden of Babylon

● At the time of this prophecy Babylon was not yet a world power; it was just a province of Assyria. Isaiah foretold that it would be Babylon (not Assyria) that would destroy Judah.

● The Greatness of Babylon: (2 Nephi 23:9; Isaiah 13:9). Babylon was believed to be indestructible and the most beautiful city in the world.

● Isaiah’s Predictions Concerning Babylon: (2 Nephi 23:17–22; Isaiah 13:17–22).
— Isaiah said the Medes (Persia) would destroy Babylon—fulfilled 130 yrs later (v. 17).
— Babylon’s beauty would perish as did Sodom and Gomorrah’s (v. 19).
— Babylon would never be rebuilt or inhabited again (v. 20).
— Only wild beasts would thenceforth live there (vv. 21–22).
— Each of these predictions has been literally fulfilled.

● Spiritual Babylon: Babylon is also a symbol of the wicked and their fall.
— Wickedness is called “spiritual Babylon” (D&C 133:1–7, 14).
— The proud and wicked are Babylon (D&C 64:24).
— Worldly churches are part of Babylon (1 Nephi 22:23).
— The wicked world (Babylon) will be destroyed (18:1–10, 20–21).

Overcoming Spiritual Babylon

● Babylon symbolizes the wickedness of the world (2 Nephi 23:1–5; Isaiah 13:2–5; D&C 133:14).
— Banner: The gospel standard, or Ensign, lifted up in the last days to which the world may gather (see also Isaiah 5:26) (v. 2).
— Mountain: The House of the Lord and/or the nation of the Lord (v. 2).
— Multitude: “A great people” who come together under the Lord (v. 4). These multitudes are Saints gathered from every nation in the last days and enlisted in the army of God to wage war against wickedness.

● The great “day of the Lord” in which the Savior shall return (2 Nephi 23:6–13; Isaiah 13:6–10; Revelation 6:12–17; D&C 88:87–91).
— A day of great “destruction from the Almighty” (v. 6).
— A day when “he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it” (v. 9).
— Heavenly signs: Sun darkened, moon turned to blood, stars fall (v. 10).
— The “heavens shake” and “earth is removed” (v. 13). Dualism: This is Jewish figure of speech for “great calamity & disaster.” But also, in the latter-days the heavens will literally flee, and earth will be restored to its previous paradisiacal glory.

● Judgments Predicted for the Wicked (2 Nephi 23:14–22; Isaiah 13:14–22).
— Men shall “fall by the sword” and “their houses shall be spoiled” (vv. 15–18).
— Children and women shall also suffer greatly (vv. 15–16).
— “I will be merciful unto [the righteous] (v. 22). . . but the wicked shall perish”.

● Dualism: Babylon has both literal and spiritual meaning:
— Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians in 539 BC.
— Babylon is also the name for Satan’s kingdom, or the world (D&C 1:16).
— This spiritual Babylon will also be destroyed (1 Nephi 14:10, Rev.17:1–5).


● Dualism: This prophecy can be interpreted as taunting words against both Satan and lsrael’s former oppressors, whose pomp “is brought down to the grave” (2 Nephi 24:4–11; Isaiah 14:4–12).

● Dualism: Isaiah is predicting Nebuchadnezzar’s eventual downfall (2 Nephi 24:12–21; Isaiah 14:12–15). But he is also comparing him to “Lucifer, son of the morning” who fell from heaven in the premortal existence.

— Lucifer, one of God’s oldest sons, was “fallen from heaven” (v. 12).
— The word “congregation” should be translated “assembly of gods” (v. 13).
— He wanted to be exalted above God the Father, but will inherit Hell (vv. 13–15).
— People will disrespect him despite the great evil he will cause (vv. 16–17).
— He will never have a grave like all the honored kings of the earth (vv. 18–20).
— For him there is no resurrection, no earth to inherit, and no children (v. 21).

● Lucifer (which means “light bearer”) is Satan (D&C 76:25–28). He became Perdition (which means “utter loss and destruction”).

● Christ said Satan fell “like lightning” from heaven (Luke 10:18).
— There was a war in heaven, and Michael (Adam) prevailed over him (12:7–9).
— He was allowed to tempt us so that we might have agency (D&C 29:36–39).
— He is a liar, and sought personal power at the expense of our agency (Moses 4:1–4).

● Nebuchadnezzar will fall from glory in the same way Lucifer did (2 Nephi 24:22–32; Isaiah 14:20–32).
— Though Babylon was once a mighty nation, God will cut if off (v. 22).
— The same is true of the Assyrians who despoiled Ephraim (v. 25).
— Zion will be established, “and the poor of his people shall trust in it” (v. 32).


Nephi Clarifies Isaiah

● Nephi explained the value of Isaiah to “his people” of Israel (2 Nephi 25:1–8).
— He explained why they are hard to understand for non-Jews (v. 1).
— Those with the spirit of prophecy will be able to discern them (v. 4).
— They will be plain in the day they are fulfilled (v. 7).
— They will be of great worth to us because we will understand them (v. 8).

Nephi Prophesies Concerning Israel

● Dualism: These verses apply both in Nephi’s own day and in the future (2 Nephi 25:9–17).

— The destruction & captivity of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (v. 10).
— The restoration of the Jews under Cyrus of Persia (v. 11).
— The rejection of the Son of God by the Jews (v. 12).
— The death and resurrection of Jesus (v. 13).
— The second destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 (v. 14).
— The scattering of the Jews (v. 15).
— The eventual acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah by the Jews (v. 16).
— They will be restored “from their lost and fallen state” (v. 17).

Nephi Testifies Concerning Christ

● Nephi spoke to us plainly, without metaphor or symbol, of Jesus Christ: (2 Nephi 25:18–30).
— There is no other name under heaven whereby man can be saved (v. 20).
— God promised him that the things he wrote would be preserved from generation to generation “as long as the earth should stand” (v. 21).
— The doctrine of justification: “by grace (v. 23). . . after all we can do”.

● They labored diligently to persuade their children to believe in Christ (vv. 23, 26).
We must worship the Lord “with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul” (v. 29).


1. In Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 21.
2. Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 702–703.
3. Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:32.