You are here
2 Nephi 24
Show Full Text
2 Nephi 24
2 Nephi 24:1–2
1 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land; and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
2 And the people shall take them and bring them to their place; yea, from far unto the ends of the earth; and they shall return to their lands of promise. And the house of Israel shall possess them, and the land of the Lord shall be for servants and handmaids; and they shall take them captives unto whom they were captives; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
As with the previous prophecy of a coming destruction, this prophecy has a turning point where there will be a redemption after the devastation. Yahweh declares that he will “have mercy on Jacob and will yet choose Israel.” The fact that a terrible punishment is coming does not mean that Yahweh has abandoned his people. He will yet “set them in their own land,” where they will be an ensign to the nations. Though Isaiah invokes only the image here, it is a statement that we have seen in Isaiah 5:26 and Isaiah 11:12, or the same verses in 2 Nephi 17 and 21, respectively.
In the ultimate reversal, those who had been Israel’s persecutors will become their servants and handmaids. The poetic reversal is seen in the phrase “they shall take them captives unto whom they were captives.” That may not be literal, but it is symbolic of the reversal of fortune that will come in the end when Yahweh rules and Israel takes its place as the center of world government.
2 Nephi 24:3–6
3 And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall give thee rest, from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.
4 And it shall come to pass in that day, that thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say: How hath the oppressor ceased, the golden city ceased!
5 The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, the scepters of the rulers.
6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
Isaiah continues to describe the reversals that will come in the last days. Israel will have rest from sorrow and fear and be freed from the bondage that they had to serve. The reversal is such that Israel will rise above what they then saw as an insurmountable enemy. The text mentions Babylon, but it applied to Assyria as well. At the time of the invasions, they were formidable, but in the last days, they will cease and Israel will not only persist, but Israel shall be dominant.
The reversal continues with the breaking of the symbols of power of the earthly kingdoms; the staffs and scepters.
2 Nephi 24:7–11
7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet; they break forth into singing.
8 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and also the cedars of Lebanon, saying: Since thou art laid down no feller is come up against us.
9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
10 All they shall speak and say unto thee: Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like unto us?
11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave; the noise of thy viols is not heard; the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
The image of reversal moves to the earth. After the tumult of war, more dramatically described in the last unit, the earth is quiet. What breaks forth is singing, perhaps singing praises of Yahweh.
Once the poetic lens is upon the earth, it can shift to the land of the dead, and does so to further show the humiliation of the previously powerful. Yahweh is the Lord over both the living and the dead, therefore they stir to meet him at his coming. There are pseudepigrapha that describe the scene in the underworld when Christ comes to tear down the gates of death, but that isn’t the image here.
Here, the point is that the dead kings and their dead thrones ask “art thou also become weak as we are?” The point is that in death they have no power. In Israel’s understanding, the dead are powerless and speak with weak whispers. Thus, they were previously powerful, but are now weak. They think perhaps Yahweh is as they are. Of course, Yahweh has power over them, even in death.
2 Nephi 24:12–17
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! Art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thy 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;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and shall consider thee, and shall say: Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?
17 And made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof, and opened not the house of his prisoners?
These verses have dual meanings. Latter-day Saint readers are much more familiar with the description of Lucifer as a pre-moral being who fell because of his pride. It has that meaning.
In the context of Isaiah’s prophecy, however, the meaning that was most obvious to the early readers was that the powerful kings were brought down low. The previous verses spoke of the kings of earth in hell. This address is for a specific king, either of Babylon or Assyria, depending upon how the prophecy is read.
It is that king who thought himself so great as to be almost a god. It was not uncommon in the ancient world for a ruler to be thought divine. That most powerful of earthly kings would be brought down in the ultimate reversal. He will become as the other kings of the earth, who spoke so weakly in the previous verses.
The reversal is that the king who once made the earth to tremble and shook kingdoms will be brought down to the weakness of death.
2 Nephi 24:18–20
18 All the kings of the nations, yea, all of them, lie in glory, every one of them in his own house.
19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and the remnant of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet.
20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land and slain thy people; the seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned.
The contrast between the earthly expectation and the prophesied future is another dramatic reversal. Other kings were buried in glory, but this king will not be revered after death. The king who was so mighty in life, and laid nations to rest, will be cast out and not fit to be buried with those he destroyed. The ultimate declaration is that “the seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned.” Of course, that is a statement from the perspective of the final days when righteousness finally prevails.
2 Nephi 24:21–24
21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquities of their fathers, that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
22 For I will rise up against them, saith the Lord of Hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the Lord.
23 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water; and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of Hosts.
24 The Lord of Hosts hath sworn, saying: Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand—
The reversal for the king of Babylon, or Assyria, continues. When the final judgment comes, there will be a complete reversal of fortunes. Not only will the great nations be destroyed, but the children as well. That is not to be taken literally, but in the sense that there will be none to raise those nations again. Their destruction will be final.
Yahweh will, in the last days, rise up against the nations of the earth, here represented by Babylon. Just as Babylon (or Assyria) was a tool for Yahweh which swept the land of Israel, so in the end will the reversal be complete and they will be swept with the broom of destruction.
The Lord declares “surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass.” The power of the Lord is that his thoughts become enacted. This image at least invokes the creation, where Yahweh spoke, and it was done.
2 Nephi 24:25–27
25 That I will bring the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot; then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.
26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all nations.
27 For the Lord of Hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
The presence of the Assyrian in verse 25 suggests that we have an instance where the later editor who inserted Babylon missed a reference. With a hundred years separating the two invasions, those at the time would not have conflated them, although from our much later perspective it is easier to see them with their similarities and presume a closeness in time.
This is the final part of the prophecy. It is the reversal of the invader who is finally destroyed. The rule of the foreigner is reversed with the elevation of Yahweh as the rightful ruler. Where Assyria, and Babylon, might have dominated earthly nations, Yahweh will dominate and rule the whole earth.
In the last days, what Yahweh wills shall be done. The image of Yahweh with his hand stretched out is a demonstration of power and dominance over the entire world.
2 Nephi 24:28–32
28 In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden.
29 Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken; for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
30 And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety; and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant.
31 Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved; for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone in his appointed times.
32 What shall then answer the messengers of the nations? That the Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.
These verses, from 28 through 32, are a different prophecy, directed at the Philistines, rather than at Assyria or Babylon. While Palestine might rejoice with the destruction of the mighty foreign enemies, their time is also coming. Thus, they are told “rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken.” Isaiah declares that while that enemy will be defeated, yet a different destruction will come upon them. The Philistine pride will also be reversed.
Isaiah has used the imagery of howling multiple times in the descriptions of the destructions coming upon Israel. The Philistines will have their occasion to howl. They too will be brought down. The message is that in the last days, “the Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.” It will be the place where the wrongs will be made right, and the trodden poor brought to comfort and safety.
Items in the BMC Archive are made publicly available for non-commercial, private use. Inclusion within the BMC Archive does not imply endorsement. Items do not represent the official views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of Book of Mormon Central.
Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free