Cover image via The Book of Mormon Videos.

“A first light on June 6, 1944, the earliest of many allied landing craft began hitting the beaches of Normandy.  At Utah Beach, twelve men dangling from one of those landing jeeps cheer their rollicking driver on as they surged up from beneath the surface of the chilly English Channel waters. That driver, an army intelligence noncom holding a Ph.D. in ancient history from the University of California at Berkeley, was none other than Hugh W. Nibley, age thirty-four.

“While preparing for the invasion, he had just visited several antiquarian book stores in London – walking out with armloads of Arabic and Greek literary treasures. He had also, on the sly, slipped a copy of the Book of Mormon into one of the fifty-five pockets in his regimental intelligence corps fatigues.

“The jeep ahead of Nibley’s went over a sand knoll and disappeared from the face of the earth, never to be heard of or even seen again. ‘It was right there at Utah Beach, Hugh still vividly recalls, ‘as we were all a couple feet underwater, that it really hit me – how astonishing the Book of Mormon truly is. It had never occurred to me before, as far as that goes, but all I could think all that day was how wonderful this Book of Mormon was.’”

(Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, (Deseret Book Co.: Salt Lake City, 1988, p. xi)

I was astounded when I read that Hugh Nibley, at Utah Beach, amidst all the turmoil, had a moment of epiphany about the magnificence of the Book of Mormon.  He spent the rest of his life trying enlighten the world to the majesty of this book. It made me wonder about all of us curled up in front of our fires and wrapped up in our fleece blankets gliding blithely through life on autopilot.  I hope that we can learn to penetrate the white noise that envelops us every day. Hopefully, we can use our “2020” vision” to see through the mists of darkness of modern society to fully appreciate this masterpiece.

1 Nephi 19:22–24

We can liken the scriptures to ourselves.

As we begin the study of these chapters in the Book of Mormon, I would encourage each of you to “liken” all these scriptures to your own life, as Nephi suggests. (see 1 Nephi 19:23). Ponder the implications they present for your edification. Think about the circumstances in our day that are similar to those in the scriptures you are reading. I like to ask these questions, “Why did Mormon decide to include this story in his record?”  “What did he see in our day that he thought we might benefit from?” “Why did he spend considerable time and effort to engrave it on the plates?”

I like to look for what people do in the scriptures that could help me with a current personal problem or question.  For example, once, when I was reading the epistles between Moroni and Pahoran, I was deeply moved by Pahoran’s response. He could have easily taken offense at the false accusations Moroni was making. But he chose to act with love and forbearance, and did not reply with harsh words, as some us might have. He says, “In your epistle ye have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart” (Alma 61:9). I took a lesson from Pahoran that day. I learned not to assume anything about the actions or motives of another person. He may just have a band of king-men on his hands.

1 Nephi 16:10–16, 23–3118:10–13, 20–22

God uses small means to accomplish great things.

One morning Lehi finds a brass ball with spindles on it outside his tent. Although it was not accompanied by an instruction manual, he somehow got the message that it was to guide him through the vast Arabian desert.  We learn in Alma 37:39 that the ball is given the name “Liahona.”

In Alma 37:44-45, the Liahona is explained as a symbol of the words of Christ that will bring us to a heavenly “promised land.” We might wonder what happened to the Liahona? It, along with the plates, the Urim and Thummim, the breastplate, and the sword of Laban were shown to the three witnesses. (D&C 17:1)

What is the meaning of Liahona? Liahona is a Hebrew word with an Egyptian ending.  L is a Hebrew preposition and means “to.”  Iah is an abbreviated form of “Jehovah.”  On is the Hebrew equivalent of the Egyptian City of Sun.  Thus, “To God is light or guidance” is the meaning of Liahona (Nibley, Hugh, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 216. Covenant Communications (2004). Through the use of this small brass ball of “curious workmanship,” Lehi and his family were able to navigate their way through a vast unknown wilderness.  However, in order for the Liahona to work, Lehi’s band had to abide certain principles. The Liahona worked according to the faith, diligence, and heed that they gave to them. If they were slothful, or forgot to exercise their faith and diligence, then they did not progress in their journey.  (see 1 Nephi 16:28-2918:10–13, 20–22; see also Alma 37:38–47).

We might do well to consider other “small means” that have been provided by the Lord to guide us in our lives.  We might consider these our “personal Liahonas.”

Elder David A. Bednar taught: “The Holy Ghost operates in our lives precisely as the Liahona did for Lehi and his family, according to our faith and diligence and heed” (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 31).

In the October 2005 general conference, Elder Lowell M. Snow of the Seventy said: “This very general conference is a modern Liahona, a time and place to receive inspired guidance and direction that prospers us” (“Compass of the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 97).

President Thomas S. Monson taught about a “personal Liahona” available to each of us: “The same Lord who provided a Liahona for Lehi provides for you and for me today a rare and valuable gift to give direction to our lives. … The gift to which I refer is known as your patriarchal blessing” (Thomas S. Monson, “Your Patriarchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 65).

1 Nephi 16:18–3217:7–1618:1–4

When we keep the commandments, God will help us face challenges.

All of us at times face seemingly impossible tasks. We would do well to ask ourselves what principles we can learn from how Nephi dealt with his own seemingly impossible tasks – feeding his family in the wilderness and building a ship.  For example, 1 Nephi 16:24–26 teaches that prayer and humility allow us to receive inspiration and direction from God). In these verses, we learn that Lehi was severely chastened by the Lord.  (I wonder what the writing on the Liahona said!  I know this will be one of my question during the great fireside promised in D&C 101:32-34.)

I have discovered a few other treasures in these verses that have enriched my life:

1 Ne 16:21-25  When Nephi asks his father where he should go to find food it was as Goethe said:  “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain as he is.  But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” He helped a murmuring, discouraged, and tired old man remember he was a prophet.

1 Ne 16:35  The daughters of Ishmael mourn exceedingly because of the death of their father, This is justifiable.  Death teaches us how deeply we love.  But in mourning they MAGNIFY their sufferings, adding the sufferings of the past AND their possible sufferings of the future.  This is common in marriage where to one justifiable complaint are added all past grievances and the conviction that the future is sure to bring further grievances.  We can learn from this good bad example.

1 Nephi 17:12-14 When Nephi informs us that the Lord had allowed them to make “not much fire,” we may infer that it was for two reasons: First, the obvious reason for no fires was that it would help them avoid contact with unfriendly groups.  But most importantly, it was to prove to them that it was the Lord who led them in the wilderness, much as the Lord led the children of Israel in a pillar of fire. The Lord told them, “I will be your light in the wilderness, . . . and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.”

1 Nephi 17:23-35  When Nephi recounts the whole history of the house of Israel, he is drawing a clear parallel between the two wilderness experiences, comparing his brothers to the murmuring children of Israel.  There was also a parallel between the golden calf incident and the merrymaking aboard the ship on the journey to the promised land. Nephi realized the dangers involved and tried to dissuade his brothers from continuing.  Apparently, the memory of their recent shock had faded, and only four days of a terrifying storm at sea convinced Laman and Lemuel to release Nephi.  Not even the pleas of the women convinced them. 

1 Nephi 19:7-18

Basic doctrine of the brass plates – Jesus and Jehovah are the same.

In chapter 19, Nephi begins by giving us a summary of the contents of the small and large plates. Once again, we have details of the different sets of plates. 1 Ne. 19:1-3 “These plates,” as opposed to “those first plates.” “These plates” refers to the small plates, and “those first plates” refers to the large plates.

These are the same plates he discusses in chapter 9 – it is as if  Nephi is saying, “these are the plates I’m writing on right now”. . .  1 Nephi 19:4 refers to the Large Plates of Nephi. Nephi made them in approximately 590 BC after arriving in America, about ten years after leaving Jerusalem. He made the Small Plates 20 years later in 570 BC. He will explain in further detail twenty years later in 2 Ne. 5:28-30.

1 Nephi 19:5-6a  Nephi explains that he has made a second set of plates, on which he will record only the “more sacred things.”  Since “these plates” were created thirty years after Nephi left Jerusalem, they contain the musings of a mature Nephi. He has had time to read and study the brass plates obtained from Laban, and now desires to quote the words of a number of prophets, such as Zenock, Neum and Zenos, and their prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus Christ.  His utmost desire is to bring his people to Christ, and he knows that these prophecies are precious. It’s possible that he’s including them because he knows that these are some of the plain and precious truths taken from the Bible —  prophecies of the Messiah from the brass plates. 

We know very little about the brass plates. We are given no specific information, but Lehi prophesied that the brass plates would “go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed.”  (see 1 Ne 5:18)  We wonder how this could be possible, because we no longer have them. The answer is that they will be quoted in the Book of Mormon. 

What do we know about these plates?  Are they the same as the Old Testament?  They contain the prophecies of Old Testament prophets, but they are very different from the Old Testament.  They are very CHRIST-CENTERED.  For example, in Alma 33:11Alma preaches the words of Zenos, who said that people could pray anywhere, and God would hear them. They did not need a synagogue, but God would hear them in their fields or in their houses and closets.  He says, “God has turned thy judgments away from me because of thy son.” Five verses later, the prophet Zenock says the same thing in Alma 33:16. “Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of thy Son.” A second prophet has testified of the Son of God.  This is not the doctrine of the Old Testament that I read. We usually only read of Jehovah.

But Nephi says, “This is not all,” Moses raised up a type of the Son of God in the wilderness and pled with the children of Israel to look upon it and live.

Back in 1 Ne 6:4, Nephi told us that his intent was “to persuade men to come to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and be saved” –  the God of ancient Israel.  1 Ne 19:10  tells us that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is to be “yielded into the hands of wicked men to be lifted up” (Zenock), crucified (Neum), buried in a sepulcher and three days of darkness would be the sign of his death (Zenos). 

Crucifixion was not a practice in ancient Israel, maybe the people didn’t quite grasp the full meaning of the phrase – especially the episode of Moses and the brazen serpent. The people refused to look at serpent “lifted up” in order to be saved.  Perhaps Zenock got this prophecy  from record of Enoch – see Moses 7:45-46, especially verse 55.  


We can conjecture that the brass plates were a NORTHERN RECORD.  Laban was also a descendant of Joseph, and he and his fathers kept the brass plates (1 Ne 5:16)  Exactly how Lehi and Ishmael and Laban came to live at Jerusalem is explained by the fact that when the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC, Laban’s fathers may have fled south to prevent the record from falling into alien hands.  Lehi and Ishmael may have fled south to prevent their children from marrying the foreigners brought into the land by the Assyrians and making religious compromises. 

Why the difference in nature of the records?  Sidney Sperry records: 

The prophets in both nations probably paid little attention to the political lines of division [of the Northern and Southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah], but it is improbable that all of them had their words recorded in the scripture of both nations.  From the time of the division until the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC, THE BRASS PLATES MAY WELL HAVE BEEN THE OFFICIAL SCRIPTURE OF THE TEN TRIBES.  It is probable that some prophets wrote on these plates whose writings may not have been recorded on the records kept in Judah.  Were Zenos, Zenock, Neum, and Eziah (1 Ne 19:10) among them?  They were all Hebrew prophets known by the Nephites, but their records do not appear in our current Old Testament.  It is also possible that the writings of some prophets in Judah were not placed on the brass plates during the period under consideration, but of this we have no way of knowing.  (Sidney Sperry, Answers of Book of Mormon Questions: Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1967, p. 43-44 )

1 Nephi 19:12—It would appear that Zenos was one of the prophets whose oracles were recorded on the brass plates. He would have lived some time before Lehi, probably in the northern tribes of Israel before the Assyrian Captivity of the Ten Tribes. ‘I do not think I overstate the matter,’ explained Elder Bruce R. McConkie, ‘when I say that next to Isaiah himself—who is the prototype pattern, and model for all the prophets—there was not a greater prophet in Israel than Zenos.’”— Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p.47. 

Robert Millet has observed:

Among the gems of perspective that have been revealed to the Latter-day Saints is the nature of Christ’s eternal gospel, the realization that Christian prophets have taught Christian doctrines and administered Christian ordinances since the days of Adam (see D&C 20:25–26; Jacob 4:4–5; Alma 39:17–19). Elder McConkie has thus observed that “what interests us more than the books included on the brass plates is the tone and tenor and general approach to the gospel and to salvation that they set forth. They are gospel-oriented and speak of Christ and the various Christian concepts which the world falsely assumes to have originated with Jesus and the early apostles” (“Doctrinal Restoration” 17; emphasis added). Whereas the Old Testament prophecies of the Christ are missing or at best veiled, the prophets of the brass plates are bold in testifying of the coming of Jesus Christ and are specific as to his ministry.

(Robert L. Millet, “The Influence of the Brass Plates on the Teachings of Nephi,” in Second Nephi, The Doctrinal Structure, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1989), 207–25.)

1 Ne 19:13  When Zenos says “as for those who are at Jerusalem,” the implication is that he was somewhere besides Jerusalem.  3 Ne 10:15-16  Zenock and Zenos testified of us (Lehites) who were a remnant of THEIR SEED.  Apparently they were FAMILY MEMBERS, part of the tribe of Joseph.  [We know also that Ezias prophesied of the coming of the Messiah.  (Helaman 8:19-20)] 

Robert Millet adds: “Zenos and Zenock present a view of the Godhead which is consistent with the knowledge revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and which therefore establishes the distinct and separate personalities of the Father and the Son, the separate functions of each, and the role of Christ in reconciling man to God. This knowledge, restored through the Book of Mormon, reaffirms that the correct idea of the nature of God was had anciently.” (Ibid.) 

Where Old Testament prophecies of Christ are missing or at best veiled, the prophecies of the brass plates are BOLD in testifying of the coming of Christ.

1 Nephi 19–21

The Lord will gather the house of Israel in the last days.

1 Ne. 19:14 – 16  The matter cannot be stated more plainly – Israel was scattered because they rejected the Savior and his gospel.  The very concept of a land of promise or a land of inheritance is a symbolic representation of eternal promises or everlasting inheritances that will yet be enjoyed by those who are true and faithful – those who keep their covenants.  When they no longer “turn aside their hearts,” then “he will remember the covenants.” “Then will he remember the isles of the sea . . . and all Israel I will gather in saith the Lord” – from the four quarters of the earth. 

In the day when Israel remembers their God, that is, accepts Jesus as the Christ – then he will remember them and the covenants which he made with their fathers.  The spiritual gathering must precede the temporal gathering.  The “gathering of Israel” is primarily a RESTORATION TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST.

1 Ne. 19:18 Nephi first quotes Zenos, Zenock, Neum.  He tells us his motives for doing so – “to persuade them they would remember the Lord their Redeemer.” 1 Ne. 19:23Then he says: But to “more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord” indicating that he considered Isaiah even more persuasive and powerful in his prophecies.

There are two Greek words for knowledge— γνῶσις gnósis and ἐπίγνωσις epignósis.  One is knowledge learned from books, and one is knowledge gained from experience.  Which kind of knowledge does Nephi now have of the Savior?The vision of the Tree of Life and his subsequent experiences with the Lord as he “went unto the mountain oft” has given him experiential knowledge.  Is it possible that suddenly Nephi is reading these prophecies through new eyes?  Is it possible that Nephi now has an understanding of the redeeming power and mission of Jesus Christ that he has never had before? 

Many people view the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon as being some of the most difficult chapters. Nephi breaks us in gently with just two chapters and then gives us a detailed interpretation.  In a nutshell, Nephi is trying to teach his brothers in these chapters that although Israel would sin and turn away from their covenants, they would eventually be gathered again.  Isaiah had a panoramic perspective of the destiny of Israel — that despite Israel’s immaturity, disloyalty, and wickedness, the hand of the Lord was stretched out still, that He would gather them, and they were still his people.  Who would be the principle human force behind that gathering?  Amazingly, it would be a gentile nation.  One of the characteristics of Isaiah’s writings is that although he is required to proclaim a message of doom to Israel because of their iniquities, he can never keep that theme going for too long.  He always seems to slip forward to a time when Israel will be restored! This is the same attitude we should have toward family and friends who stray – maintain hope for their restoration!

I am interested in the symbol of hands.  As we read the scriptures and the literature from most civilizations we see the symbol of the hand coming up time and time again.  In numerous churches in Europe you’ll see a hand descending out of a cloud and that same symbol is used widely in the religions of the ancient Near East.  Why do you think that the hand is such a powerful symbol?  We use our hands for many things in day to day lifeeating, talking, greeting people, showing affection, helping others, making things, cleaning, doing work, playing, writing, even chastising.  In a religious sense, what do we use our hands for?  To sustain people, to make covenants, to partake of the sacrament.  Hands are fundamental to just about everything that we do.

With that in mind, let us consider 1 Nephi 21:15-16.  In these verses Isaiah is speaking for the Lord in response to Israel’s claim that God had forsaken them.  They had been invaded by the Babylonians and, as a result, life was pretty miserable.  Listen to the Lord’s response. . . .  What is he saying to Israel?  What is the imagery that he is using?  The hand.  The translators have done well to translate this as the “palm of the hand.”  In Hebrew there are two words that can be translated as “hand.”  This is the one that is used in ritual contexts – the one used when a covenant is being made.  Can you think of a reason why the author would want to make that kind of connection?  Because Israel was part of a covenant, and it is because of the covenant that Christ will remember them.  If we want to remember something and we don’t have paper with us, we often record it by writing on our hand.  However, if we wash our hands, we lose the message.  The imagery of “engraving” conveys apermanent quality.  Christ has literally fulfilled these verses by taking upon himthe marks of the atonement in his hands. Normally, in ancient times, a slave would bear the brand mark of his master, but in this verse, we see an act of ineffable divine condescension in which the Master inscribes the servant’s name on his palm!

During World War II, a certain church in Germany was bombed.  In the explosion, a statue of the Savior with the hands and arms extended, was mutilated by having the hands blown off.  The statue has not been restored and it stands today with the hands missing.  Instead, at the foot of the statue is the following verse, “Christ has no hands but yours.”  Think of the baptismal covenant we have taken upon ourselves. (See Mosiah 18:8-10)  Just as Christ will never forget Israel (which includes each one of us) because of the covenant that he has with them, so each one of us has made a covenant to do likewise.  Nephi came to know through experience the hand of Christ in his life, and he turned around and spent the rest of his days trying to help others have a similar experience.  That experience can be ours.


For those of you who want a little more insight into the Isaiah chapters quoted by Nephi, you might consider the following:

Robert Millet comments on the writings of Isaiah:

Isaiah’s ministry covered a period of over forty years (c. 742–701 BC), and his influence was felt in both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. The record keepers of the brass plates saw to it that Isaiah’s words were included in their volume of scripture. Though scholars have for centuries been eager to partition the book of Isaiah and assign, at the very least, chapters 40–66 to later authors, the Book of Mormon serves as a historical check and balance against such interpretive extremes. Both Nephi and Jacob, in America, quote from the latter chapters of Isaiah—chapters 48–49 (1 Nephi 20–21) and 50:1–52:2 (2 Nephi 6–7); these are chapters which many Old Testament scholars assign to the period of Babylonian captivity—a period some years after the Nephites left Jerusalem with their brass treasure. (Ibid.)

1 Nephi 20 (Isaiah 48)

1 Nephi 20:1-2   Isaiah begins by summoning the religious hypocrites of Israel to heed God’s message for them. They who consider themselves holy, but who act duplicitously toward God.

1 Nephi 20:3, 5-9    The Lord revealed many great future events to his wayward people long before they could claim that idols possessed the power to prophecy about or bring to pass the great event associated with Israel’s salvation history.

1 Nephi 20:10  Israel suffers even more because the Lord will not allow his name to be polluted. He is refining them as a silversmith refines silver, in the furnace which burns out all the dross.

1 Nephi 20:11  Despite this refining, Isaiah tells us that Jehovah “will not give his glory to another.” That is, God will not select another chosen people.  The German version of this verse adds: Lest my name be slandered for not keeping my promises.

1 Nephi 20:12-13 – The Lord reminds Israel who he is, specially called of God.  God says, “All my creations obey me, EXCEPT YOU!”

1 Nephi 20:14-21 – Isaiah turns to God’s panoramic and prophetic perspective of Israel’s future.  He reveals through prophecies with double meaning the many redemptive events in Israel’s  future.

1 Nephi 20:22 In spite of his power and all that he does, he cannot overrule the eternal laws of justice and give eternal “peace” to the wicked. As this chapter emphasizes, God reminds the Israelites of his covenants with them but cannot force them to receive his blessings.

1 Nephi 21 (Isaiah 49)

1 Nephi 21:1  A summons for all Israel to pay strict attention to what is to be revealed.  Isaiah’s text helps Nephi and family become conscious of their own identity as a remnant of Israel, broken off and separated from the rest of their people in the Old World. “O isles” refers to the scattered remnants of Israel throughout the world.

Daniel Ludlow comments on this verse: “Sir Isaac Newton observes that to the Hebrew, the continents of Asia and Africa were ‘the earth,’ because they had access to them by land, while the parts of the earth to which they sailed over the sea were ‘the isles of the sea.’ Thus, Nephi not only refers to the isles of the sea as the location of other remnants of the house of Israel, but he also indicates that he and his people were then living upon an ‘isle of the sea’ when he quite clearly is referring to the great land mass known as the American continent.”

(Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 121.) 

When Isaiah says, “the Lord hath called me,” he is referring to Israel who was called  “from the womb,” referring to their foreordination in the pre-mortal existence. (Deut. 32:8)  Israel had a job to do from the beginning. Alas, Israel was the “apple of his eye.” (Deut. 32:10)

1 Nephi 21:2 “in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me.”  In Hebrew, the word for consecrate is mal hayad – to fill the hand. (See Exodus 29:9, 29 and countless other examples, mostly in Leviticus.) . (Dr. Lynn M. Hilton, The Hand as a Cup in Ancient Temple Worship – Link)

How else could the Lord form a “shadow” with his hand to hide Israel, unless he curved it.  The Lord had “consecrated” Israel for this work as a light to the world.[1] (See footnote 1 below)

1 Nephi 21:3 is a prophecy that Israel yet will fulfill its stewardship.

1 Nephi 21:5 “his servant” = Israel, especially Ephraim “… my God shall be my strength” = i.e. those who try valiantly to convert and gather Israel will be blessed, whether or not Israel responds; similar to Nephi with respect to Laman and Lemuel in 1 Ne. 2:18-21.

1 Nephi 21:6 “a light thing” = German: not enough of a load “preserved” = remnants or survivors “a light to the Gentiles” = quite a prophecy in Isaiah’s day when almost any enemy nation could walk all over Israel “my salvation to the ends of the earth” = the responsibility of members of the Church today. Not only would Israel be tasked with gathering all of the family together, but they would also bring salvation to the whole earth!

1 Nephi 21:9 “the prisoners” = the living and the dead in spiritual darkness “Go forth” = go free “Shew yourselves” = Come out!  “Feed in the ways, and their pastures will be in high places” = i.e. They will have it good when they repent and follow the true God.  In other words, the people will be freed from the bondage of false beliefs and traditions by the restoration of the gospel.

1 Nephi 21:19  This gathering is illustrated by the need to enlarge the tents of Israel.  There will not be enough room for those that love the Lord in the latter days.  See 3 Nephi 22:2 quoting Isaiah 54  – “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtain of thy habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes.”

1 Nephi 21:20 “children” = converts to the true gospel (literally a gathering of Jews and latter-day children)  “lost the first”= via apostasy, war, etc. “Give place for me that I may dwell” = there is not room for us all!

1 Nephi 21:21 “thou” = Israel “Who has begotten me these?” = Where in the world did all these Israelites come from? “Removing to and fro” = scattered all over “I was left alone” = I thought I was done for!

1 Nephi 21:22 The Lord now answers the question as to where all these Israelites came from.  

They have gathered to the “standard.”

What is the “standard” of which Isaiah speaks is described in scripture in three different terms? They are:

            1. D&C 45:9 (the everlasting covenant)

            2. D&C 115:3-5 (the Church)

            3. 2 Nephi 29:2 (the Book of Mormon)

“they” = the Gentiles, non-Jews “carry on their shoulders” = we see images of the missionaries bearing these spiritual children on their shoulders; also, the Lord will open up the way and inspire people everywhere to help in gathering Israel .

1 Nephi 21:23 “kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers”  The leaders of nations will help gather Israel – for instance, Great Britain sponsored the return of the Jews to Palestine in 1948.  The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. 

Nephi comments on this passage in 1 Ne. 22:7-10:

  1. Who are the gentiles of the “mighty nation”? – We are the “believing gentiles.”
  2. What is the “mighty nation”? – America 2 Ne. 10:10-14;   1 Ne. 22:17
  3. Which land is “this land”?  North America, specifically the U.S.
  4. What is the “marvelous work” the Lord will do among the gentiles of the mighty nation?  “Restoration of the gospel”. 

The answers to these questions explain why Nephi is so excited about the message of Isaiah 48 and 49. The gentiles shall be set up by the power of the Father as a free people.

1 Ne. 22:24-26 The greater part of gathering to take place in the millennial era.[2]

1 Ne 22:15-16  Though the wrath of God is to be poured out upon the wicked, it is repeatedly emphasized that the righteous need not fear – see verses 17, 19, 22.


How should the “Scattering of Israel” be defined?  They were scattered FROM A BELIEF IN CHRIST.

How should the “Gathering of Israel” be defined? They will be gathered TO Christ.

The house of Israel has a mission to the world – to be a light to the Gentiles.  Then, the gospel will be restored in the last days through the Gentiles and be taken to the Jews in a great work of GATHERING. 

[1] I find it very interesting to see how this image was used in temple worship anciently. The high priest was required to handle water, oil, salt, incense, and blood as part of the temple ritual and sprinkle it on the altar or on the offering.  Archaeological evidence has been found – incense spoons in the shape of a cupped hand have been discovered in various locations in the Ancient Near East. (The priest would not have been able to handle the hot incense with his bare hands.) These were part of the “temple implements” that Nebuchadnezzar removed from the temple when he conquered Jerusalem.  When the priest was required to sprinkle blood upon the altar and upon the mercy seat seven times with his finger, how did he carry it? (See Leviticus 16:14-19, 27) Undoubtedly he carried it in his cupped hand, to consecrate it.  The same would apply to the salt which was added to every meat oblation. (See Leviticus 2:13)  It might also apply to the oil that was added to the meat offering, which consisted of fine flour. (See Leviticus 2:1-2, 4-7, 15-16)  When the consecrated oil was poured on the head of someone by the priest, how did he carry the oil? (See Lev. 21:10, Numbers 3:3) Study Leviticus 14:28-29 to find out how the priest cleansed someone. He put the oil from his cupped palm in his right earlobe, his right thumb, and on the big toe of his right foot, and then put the rest on his head.  The implications are myriad – sanctify your thoughts, what you hear, what you do, and where you walk.

[2] I recently discovered this wonderful song! It was written to be part of Fiddler on the Roof, but was cut from the show before it made its Broadway debut for being too slow, and comic at a moment in the show when the people of Anatevka are experiencing tragedy. It imagines a world in which the Messiah is coming, but lost, and worried about us.

Words and music by Sheldon Harnick

When Messiah comes he will say to us, “I apologize that I took so long.” “But I had a little trouble finding you, over here a few, over there a few….. You were hard to re-unite But, everything is going to be alright.”

Up in heaven there how I wrung my hands when they exiled you from the Promised Land. Into Babylon you went like cast aways, On the first of many, many moving days What a day…. and what a blow! How terrible I felt you’ll never know.

Since that day Many men said to us, “get thee out,” Kings they were, gone they are, We’re still here…….

When Messiah comes he will say to us, “Don’t you think I know what a time you had? Now I’m here, you’ll see how quickly things improve. And you won’t have to move unless you want to move. You shall never more take flight, Yes! Everything is going to be alright!”

When Messiah comes, he will say to us, “I was worried sick if you’d last or not, And I spoke to God and said, ‘Would that be fair, If Messiah came and there was no one there?’ And the Lord replied to me, ‘Wait! Everything will be alright you’ll see!'”

Many times, many men, took our homes, Took our lives, Kings they were, gone they are. We’re still here!

When Messiah comes and his reign begins Truth and justice then shall appear on Earth. But if this reward we would be worthy of We must keep our covenant with God above. So be patient and devout…. and Gather up your things and get thee out!

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