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2 Nephi 29
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2 Nephi 29
2 Nephi 29:1–3
1 But behold, there shall be many—at that day when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel;
2 And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed; and my words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel;
3 And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.
With the separation of these verses from the previous chapter, it is easy to miss the fact that Yahweh himself is the speaker. That will be reiterated in verse 4, but it is important to understand that these words are part of 2 Nephi 28:30’s declaration that “thus saith the Lord God.”
Yahweh is restating that he would do a marvelous work in the last days. That marvelous work is defined as the Book of Mormon. It comes as one of the means to gather the children of Israel, perhaps only spiritually, rather than physically, in the last days.
Importantly, Yahweh promises Nephi that he will remember, and keep the promises which he has made. Yahweh promised that his words would come forth and be part of the means by which Yahweh’s law would become a standard. The standard recalls Isaiah 5:26: “And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly.” Nephi not only picks up on the standard, which in the translation in Isaiah is called an ensign, but also picks up on the interesting use of the word hiss. In both cases, it appears to refer to a strong call from the Lord. Perhaps the concept of hissing is a reference to a strong wind, and, therefore, a reference to Yahweh as the Lord of the winds and storms.
The verse that has the people crying that they need no more Bible echoes what Nephi said in 2 Nephi 28:27: “wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!”
The Lord Speaks to All Nations
2 Nephi 29:4–6
4 But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?
5 O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.
6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?
The theme of the future gentiles declaring that they already have a Bible is expanded to a discussion of the source of that Bible. Nephi understood that there would be a time when Jews would be persecuted. He had quoted Zenos’s prophecy that the Messiah would be crucified in 1 Nephi 19:10. It appears that Zenos had also prophesied that Jews would be “scourged by all people,” and that they would be “hated among all nations” (see 1 Nephi 19:13–14).
Knowing that history, and very clearly understanding that he himself was a Jew, Nephi rails against that future disdain by reminding his future readers that the Bible, which they revere, came to them through the Jews. Not only was the Old Testament written and preserved by the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth was certainly himself a Jew. His gospel was preached to and recorded by Jews. The early congregations of Christians were Jewish.
Remembering the prophecies of how the Jews would be treated in the future, Nephi asks “what thank they the Jews for the Bible?
2 Nephi 29:7–8
7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
The reason for discussing the origin of the Bible was to respond to the future rejection of the Book of Mormon with the argument that the Bible was sufficient. Nephi returns to the theme of the marvelous work and a wonder by noting that there are more nations than just Israel, and that there are Jews upon the isles of the sea. It appears that for Nephi, it is obvious that Yahweh would provide his word to his scattered covenant people, regardless of where they were. Therefore, Yahweh’s word would come to those scattered on the isles of the sea. Nephi understands that his people are encompassed in that definition.
The argument is about whether there should be more of God’s word. Nephi declares that since there are more of the covenant people, that there ought to be more of God’s word. Perhaps Nephi understood that the collected scriptures of the northern kingdom included prophets not known in the southern kingdom, such as Zenos and Zenock. If Yahweh gave his word to separated Jews who were that close, how much more to give his word to those on the isles of the sea?
Nephi declares that the testimonies of the separate peoples will serve as a confirmation of the overall word of God. That is according to the law of testimony, that it should be established by two or more witnesses.
2 Nephi 29:9–11
9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
When the testimonies from different peoples flow together, it will demonstrate that Yahweh is constant in his dealings with his covenant people. The phrase that he is “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” comes from Hebrews 13:8, and appears eight times in the Book of Mormon, from Nephi to Moroni.
Because Yahweh is the Lord of the whole earth, and has covenant people scattered over all that earth, including the islands of the sea, he gives his word to his children, and they write. Therefore, it should not be assumed that the Bible would be his only communication to his children.
2 Nephi 29:12–14
12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.
13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.
14 And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.
Nephi declares that what Yahweh said to the Jews in the Old World would be written down. He has already seen that it will be preserved. He declares that Yahweh will speak to Nephi’s people, and it will be preserved. He further declares that other scattered tribes will write. What he also declares is that the Bible and the Book of Mormon would be had in the future, but he does not make the same promise for the writings of the others, at least at this point.
What is important is that they will come together -- together to be a stronger witness of Yahweh’s word to all peoples.
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