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2 Nephi 21
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2 Nephi 21
2 Nephi 21:1–3
1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;
3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.
As with previous separate chapters following the chapter breaks of the King James Version, this chapter is part of a continuous chapter in the 1830 version of the Book of Mormon. This prophecy is a continuation of the time when Yahweh is discussing the coming reversal of fortunes for Israel. Where there had been destruction, there will be recovery and even greatness.
One of the earlier prophecies is Isaiah 6:13 (or 2 Nephi 16:13), which says: “But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” The previous chapter invoked the return of a remnant, and here the imagery follows up on the image of the renewal from the stump.
Thus, a rod, or a new shoot, will come from the stump of Jesse and a new branch from the roots. Therefore, after the destruction, there will be a renewal. This verse is typically seen as a prophecy of Christ. When the shoot and branch are personified, the Spirit of the lord rests upon him and the attributes of wisdom and knowledge will describe him. It is possible that Isaiah is referencing his earlier prophecy in Isaiah 9:6 (or 2 Nephi 19:6), that the child which will be born would be called Wonderful, and Counselor.
This person will judge with a power beyond that of a mortal, thus not with the sight of his eyes, nor the hearing of his ears.
2 Nephi 21:4–9
4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Although Isaiah links these events to Yahweh’s turning against Assyria, they are clearly descriptions of the final days. Therefore, it is not a turning against Assyria, but Assyria has become the symbol for all who oppose and fight against Israel and Yahweh. When this shoot and branch appear, it will be the Messiah. That Messiah will be the ruler and, therefore, in a position to judge, and to judge with righteousness.
The result of this Messianic rule is the removal of conflict. This is symbolized by the wolf dwelling with the lamb. As a nation heavily involved in sheepherding, Israel understood the typical relationship between wolves and lambs, and would therefore clearly understand the significant alteration of the world order indicated by the prey and the preyed upon living in peace together.
The other images continue the symbolism of the removal of conflicts and dangers, culminating in the statement that “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.” The earth will become the holy mountain, which itself is symbolic of the temple, which is symbolic of Yahweh’s dwelling place. Therefore, Yahweh will dwell, and reign, on the earth.
2 Nephi 21:10–12
10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious.
11 And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
In the final days, the covenant between Israel and Yahweh will be an ensign to the world. In the allegory of the olive tree that we will see in the book of Jacob, the covenant is consistently seen as the root of the tree. It serves that function here.
In the last days that covenant will be the goal to which the world will desire to unite. The righteous remnant of Israel will claim its rightful place, and righteous Israel will be gathered from all of the lands into which it has been scattered.
The outcasts of Israel are not intended to be a pejorative definition, but simply a description of those who had been cast out and scattered. These are the righteous and shouldn’t be seen with our modern connotations of an outcast.
2 Nephi 21:13–16
13 The envy of Ephraim also shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.
14 But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines towards the west; they shall spoil them of the east together; they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.
15 And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind he shall shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dry shod.
16 And there shall be a highway for the remnant of his people which shall be left, from Assyria, like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.
These verses describe this future kingdom of the Messiah as one that is powerful over all of Israel’s traditional enemies. Not only will it be an ensign showing the remnant where to return, it will be as a highway for them. The hand of God led Israel from Egypt, and the hand of God will lead scattered Israel back to their promised land with their promised Messiah.
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