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Isaiah 60:1–20 The Glory of Zion in the Last Days
Isaiah presents a remarkable prophecy concerning Zion in the last days and into eternity, when the Lord’s people “shall dwell in celestial splendor” (Latter-day Saint Bible chapter heading). Isaiah submits approximately 41 parallelisms, three stunning chiasms (one of which is particularly acclaimed [60:1–3; see appendix]), and several symbols, which provide vividness and richness to the prophecy. An important note about the Hebrew: Isaiah uses feminine forms in the Hebrew (but lost in the English translation) that refer to Zion, which is presented as a female.
darkness will cover the earth/gross darkness the people. The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face” (Doctrine and Covenants 112:23).
shine/light/glory/risen/brightness/rising/everlasting light. Light is a prominent feature of Zion and her inhabitants. The words “risen” and “rising” (zarach/yizrach in the Hebrew) refer specifically to the sunrise. Why so much light? Because “the Lord will arise [like the sunrise] on you, and His glory will appear on you.” And “the Lord will be your everlasting light and your God your glory” (60:19).
kings to the brightness of your rising. Anciently, many kings from various nations oppressed and abused the Lord’s covenant people, but now kings will come to Zion attracted to her “brightness.” Kings have important roles in the building of Zion: “Kings will serve you” (60:10), “kings” will come to Zion’s gates (60:11), and kings will provide care (60:16).
they all gather together. Lady Zion is commanded to look around and observe her “sons” and “daughters,” referring to those who will gather to Zion. The gathering is a prominent theme in this section: “Nations will go to your light” (60:3), “They come” (60:4), “They will come up” (60:7), “Bringing your children from a distance” (60:9), “Children . . . will come” (60:14). How many will gather? “There shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:69).
you will see and be radiant; your heart will be in awe and grow large. Speaking symbolically, when Lady Zion sees her children return, her countenance will emanate light and her heart enlarge with love.
wealth of nations will come to you. Isaiah prophesies that the wealth of nations will be used to build Zion. Isaiah employs transportation categories of his day—“multitude of camels” (from Midian, Ephah, and Sheba) and “ships of Tarshish”—to symbolize modern forms of transportation that are being used to transport wealth to Zion. Isaiah also uses objects of wealth—“gold and frankincense,” “flocks of Kedar,” “rams of Nebaioth”—to symbolize modern assets and resources, which are being used to build Zion. The world’s peoples will help build Zion; in fact, “nations” is a prominent topic in this prophecy, as may be seen by mention of “nations” (60:3), “wealth of nations” (60:5), “islands” (60:9), “foreigners” (60:10), “nations” (60:11), “nation and the kingdom,” “nations” (60:12), “milk of nations” (60:16), and “mighty nation” (60:22).
My altar/My glorious House. God’s temples are a prominent part of Zion. The “wealth of nations” is used to build His temples, which exist throughout the world. Anciently, “gold and frankincense” and “flocks” and “rams” were important components of Solomon’s temple; now they symbolize the building and operation of God’s temples.
fly like a cloud/like doves. Those who gather to Zion will come quickly and easily, like a cloud flies in the sky (some have suggested in airplanes), and as doves return to their cotes for safety and security.
DSS Isaiah and LXX read “by night.”
Lord will be your everlasting light. See also Revelation 22:5.
The little one will become a thousand, and small one a strong nation. These words remind us of the following passage: “To prepare the weak for those things which are coming on the earth, and for the Lord’s errand in the day when the weak shall confound the wise, and the little one become a strong nation, and two shall put their tens of thousands to flight” (Doctrine and Covenants 133:58).
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