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Isaiah 34:1–8 A Day of Wrath upon Edom (the World)
In this section, Isaiah’s prophecy is directed to all the peoples of the earth, as indicated by his use of the words “nations,” “peoples,” “the earth,” and “the world” (34:1). Collectively, these are called “Edom” (see verse 5), which symbolizes the world (see Doctrine and Covenants 1:36; “Idumea” is the Greek form of the Hebrew ’edom (thus, “Edom”). Isaiah’s message is plain: the Lord is angry with the nations of the earth and their armies; therefore, He will destroy them (34:2). The prophecy has both an ancient fulfillment (the destruction of ancient Edom) and a future fulfillment (the destruction of the world at the Second Coming).
host. The Hebrew word tzava’ can also read “army.” to the slaughter. Isaiah’s terminology recalls animal sacrifice at the Lord’s temple: “slaughter,” “blood,” “fat,” “blood of lambs and goats,” and “fat of the kidneys of rams.” The Lord will destroy the nations as if they were sacrificial animals. Note Isaiah’s irony—the world rejected the Lord’s Atonement (the sacrifice of Jesus Christ); therefore, the world will be slaughtered as sacrificial animals (the wicked will become a sacrificial offering because they reject the sacrifice of Christ; see also Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–20).
valleys will be split. The reading of “valleys,” which completes the parallelism, comes from the DSS Isaiah scrolls.
roll up like a scroll. A scroll is rolled up before it is put away. This phrase is difficult to understand but seems to refer to the events connected with the passing away of the heavens and the earth, which will occur at Christ’s Second Coming: “Behold, will ye believe in the day of your visitation—behold, when the Lord shall come, yea, even that great day when the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, yea, in that great day when ye shall be brought to stand before the Lamb of God—then will ye say that there is no God?” (Mormon 9:2). withered fruit on a fig tree. Compare Doctrine and Covenants 88:87.
My sword is bathed in heaven. Symbolically, the Lord’s sword exacts judgment and destruction on earth’s inhabitants (see commentary on 27:1). A modern revelation similarly states, “And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:13). Why bathed? Anciently, sword makers soaked the sword in a special liquid to temper and strengthen the sword’s metal blade. Edom. Edom (Hebrew; Greek is “Idumea”) refers to the ancient country southeast of the Dead Sea and its people. “Edom” symbolizes the world and its wickedness: “And also the Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst, and shall come down in judgment upon Idumea, or the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:36).
lambs/goats/rams. These were sacrificial animals under the law of Moses. Here they represent wicked people who are the Lord’s “sacrifice in Bozrah” and His “great slaughter in Edom.” Bozrah was the capital of Edom.
day of the Lord’s vengeance, year of recompenses for the cause of Zion. The verse manifests Jehovah’s perfect mercy and grace, because His vengeance against the wicked will be brief (“day”) in comparison to the time of recompense (“year”) for Zion’s cause.
Isaiah 34:9–15 Edom (the World) to Be Burned
Isaiah continues his prophecy (see 34:1–8) concerning the destruction of ancient Edom, and also the world at the Second Coming.
brimstone/burning pitch. Isaiah’s portrayal is reminiscent of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:1–29). It is possible that ancient Edom occupied the location of these two very old cities.
The exact identification of some of the animals mentioned in these verses remains unknown. wild beasts. The various creatures and animals—hyenas, jackals, wild beasts, wild goats, and more—symbolize the completeness of the desolation and devastation of Edom; such creatures belong to uninhabited and inhospitable regions, not to refined and cultured civilizations.
stretch a line of chaos/plumb line of desolation. The line and plumb line are carpenter’s tools used to construct buildings and other structures; but here they are symbols of destruction—God employs them to destroy Edom. Together, the line and the plumb line can form a square, (here) representing the exactness of justice and the need to be obedient to God’s laws.
thorns/nettles/thistles. Edom’s palaces and fortresses will be uninhabited, and irritating plants will overcome Edom’s once-splendid structures and buildings.
Isaiah 34:16–17 The Book of the Lord
In this section, Isaiah transitions from his judgments against Edom (34:1–15) to speak concerning the righteous—those whose names are written in the book of the Lord. And Isaiah continues to speak to the righteous in chapter 35. The words enclosed in brackets are from the JST.
book of the Lord. This book may be the “book of life,” identified more than a dozen times in the scriptures (Daniel 12:1; Revelation 3:5; 20:12; Doctrine and Covenants 76:68; 128:7). none will lack [their] female companion. Hebrew re‘ut literally means a “female companion” or “female friend.” Those whose names are written in the Lord’s book will not lack their spouse.
measuring line. Compare verse 11, where the Lord measures out the destruction for the wicked. Here He will measure out the land of inheritance for the righteous.
They will possess it forever. The righteous will dwell in the promised land forever. Doctrine and Covenants 69:8 cites a portion of this verse in Isaiah.
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