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2 Nephi 11
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2 Nephi 11
Nephi Delights in Isaiah
2 Nephi 11:1–3
1 And now, Jacob spake many more things to my people at that time; nevertheless only these things have I caused to be written, for the things which I have written sufficeth me.
2 And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him.
3 And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him; wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words.
Our chapters 11 through 15 of 2 Nephi were all a single chapter in the 1830 edition. This chapter was set off because it precedes the quotations from Isaiah which Orson Pratt wanted to keep in the same chapter and verse format as in the Bible. Nephi did not set off this introduction from the quotations themselves.
Verse one has Nephi returning to his own account after copying Jacob’s sermon. That sermon fittingly ended with Jacob’s testificatory amen, and therefore a chapter ended. What Nephi indicates in verse 1 might be considered a conclusion to what Jacob had said, and therefore a modern writer might append it to the end of Jacob’s sermon. Nephi does not do this, both because it has the testificatory amen, and because he was shifting from copying to creating his own text.
The only reason that Nephi gives us for the long inclusion of Isaiah is that Nephi’s “soul delighteth in the words” of Isaiah. However, he also indicates that he will liken those words to his own people.
The next thing he notes is that Isaiah had seen Yahweh. Then he indicates that he, Nephi, has seen Yahweh, and then adds that Jacob has also seen him. This establishes through the law of witnesses the truth of Yahweh, including the truth of his law.
What is the point of this? Nephi says that he will liken Isaiah to his people. He has just included a sermon where Jacob had done just that. Therefore, we have these chapters of Isaiah because Nephi intends to use them for the benefit of his people. They are the foundation upon which his later text, beginning in Chapter 25, will be built.
2 Nephi 11:4–5
4 Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.
5 And also my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers; yea, my soul delighteth in his grace, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death.
After noting that his soul delighted in the words of Isaiah, Nephi takes the theme of delight and expands it. Thus, there are three additional things in which his soul delighted: the truth of the coming of Christ; the covenants between Yahweh and the fathers, meaning Israel; and the grace and justice of Yahweh, as manifest in his “great and eternal plan of deliverance from death.”
Each of these things picks up on a theme from Jacob’s sermon that was just concluded. Thus, Nephi is bearing testimony of the things Jacob said. The longest explanation is for the truth of the coming of Christ, where he elaborates on what Jacob had said. Jacob spoke of the prophesied mortal mission of the Messiah, and Nephi expands the topic to include all prophets, and indeed the law itself, which typify and therefore testify of the mortal Messiah, or Yahweh in his mortal mission.
2 Nephi 11:6–8
6 And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must perish.
7 For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.
8 And now I write some of the words of Isaiah, that whoso of my people shall see these words may lift up their hearts and rejoice for all men. Now these are the words, and ye may liken them unto you and unto all men.
Verse 6 continues the things in which Nephi’s soul delighted. It is separated here because although it is linked to the previous verses, it serves to introduce Nephi’s conclusion.
Nephi provides an interesting logic. If there is no Messiah, then there is no God, and if there were no God, then we would not exist. This logic depends on the conditions that Jacob explained, and because Nephi has written them into his record, he need not reprise them. What Nephi does is reprise Lehi’s words: “And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away” (2 Nephi 2:13).
This concludes his personal testimony of what Jacob had preached. Nephi now turns to Isaiah, where he will copy thirteen chapters of Isaiah, from Isaiah 2 through Isaiah 14. In the 1830 edition, there is no chapter break at this point. Nephi continued directly into Isaiah 2.
Why did Nephi copy so many chapters of Isaiah? There are two reasons. The most important is that he will use Isaiah as the touchstone for his explanation of his vision of the future which will follow. The second reason is that he probably couldn’t be sure that his future readers would have access to Isaiah. The process of copying was laborious, and there were probably few copies. Nephi didn’t take the chance that they wouldn’t survive.
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