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2 Nephi 30
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2 Nephi 30
2 Nephi 30:1–2
1 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.
2 For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.
The current chapter boundary between 2 Nephi 29 and 30 makes it difficult to read these two verses. They have been cut off from their context, from which they would have followed directly in the 1830 division.
Nephi had been speaking of the problems of the gentiles disrespecting the very Jews that gave them the Bible, and then disrespecting Yahweh by denying that Yahweh’s word could be given to other people. Because the rest of Nephi’s theme is the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the word of Yahweh to the Nephites, he recognizes that his people might think too highly of themselves, might consider that “ye are more righteous than the gentiles shall be.”
Nephi has seen the eventual destruction of the Nephite people in vision, and notes that while there will be destruction visited upon the gentiles, destruction is also prophesied for the Nephites. Just as Isaiah promised that there would be a righteous remnant of the Jews, Nephi declares that there will be a righteous remnant of the gentiles. Yahweh is the Lord of all, and that will include the righteous remnants of the Jews, and Nephites, and gentiles.
A Prophecy of the Jews and Gentiles in the Last Days
2 Nephi 30:3–6
3 And now, I would prophesy somewhat more concerning the Jews and the Gentiles. For after the book of which I have spoken shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written; and they shall carry them forth unto the remnant of our seed.
4 And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews.
5 And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.
6 And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.
These four verses are a set. Nephi begins with a new prophecy. He is no longer looking back to Isaiah, nor to his own vision, but influenced by his review of his vision of the future, he expands that view to a greater understanding. After the Book of Mormon is published, the descendants of Nephi will know that they are a remnant of Nephi’s seed. It is clear that, while Nephi has seen the destruction of the Nephites as a people, he also sees their preservation. It is probable that he includes all his father’s seed in that description of the future, thus he includes those that he would call Lamanites. Indeed, Lehi had promised the descendants of Laman and Lemuel: “because of my blessing the Lord God will not suffer that ye shall perish; wherefore, he will be merciful unto you and unto your seed forever” (2 Nephi 4:7).
Nephi sees the words of the Book of Mormon being of particular benefit to the remnant of his seed, again probably his father’s seed. The Book of Mormon would bring the remnant to a knowledge that they are part of covenant Israel, and that “their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes.”
In the 1830 edition, the last phrase of verse 6 was that “they shall be a white and a delightsome people.” Joseph Smith changed white to pure for the 1840 edition. That change was lost, and it remained white in the Latter-day Saint editions until it was restored in 1981. Joseph Smith understood white as metaphorical in 1840. See the commentary following 2 Nephi 5:20–21 for a discussion of the metaphorical reading of “skin of blackness” that is related to the metaphorical use of the word white.
2 Nephi 30:7–9
7 And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a delightsome people.
8 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth.
9 And with righteousness shall the Lord God 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.
Isaiah had spoken of a gathering of Israel. Nephi sees that as occurring in the end times, sometime after the Book of Mormon had been published. The previous verse declared that as Nephi’s seed turned to Yahweh, they would become a pure and delightsome people. In verse 7 Nephi says the same of the Jews. After they are gathered, they shall also believe in the atoning Messiah, and they too would then become a delightsome people. The use of delightsome is not to suggest that they were loathsome before, but only that there is a contrast of opposites. In the final days, there is a division into those who follow God and those who follow the adversary. It is in the context of that contrast that we should understand how the Nephite seed and the Jewish seed would become delightsome.
As Nephi describes the gospel being taught to all peoples, he uses that event to tie his prophecy with Isaiah’s. Verse 9 quotes, with a minor introductory change, Isaiah 11:4, (also 2 Nephi 21:4).
2 Nephi 30:10–15
10 For the time speedily cometh that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy; and he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire.
11 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
12 And then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling, together; and a little child shall lead them.
13 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
14 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.
15 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.
In the previous verse, Nephi began to quote from Isaiah 11, which we have in the Book of Mormon as 2 Nephi 21. He quoted verse 4, and then inserts verse 5. Nephi’s insertion makes clear that this is a prophecy of the end, and a time when there is a division between the people of God and the people of the adversary, or the wicked. This picks up on his theme of opposition which has influenced much of his prophetic language, including his opposition between the church of Yahweh and the great and abominable church, which are symbolic opposites.
Verses 11 through 15 quote Isaiah 11:5–9, or 2 Nephi 21:5–9.
2 Nephi 30:16–18
16 Wherefore, the things of all nations shall be made known; yea, all things shall be made known unto the children of men.
17 There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed.
18 Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time. And now, my beloved brethren, I make an end of my sayings.
The ultimate result of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is that the words of Yahweh to the Jews and the word of Yahweh to the New World remnant of the Jews will come together to make all of Yahweh’s gospel known. Verse 17 speaks of having all revealed, no works of darkness, and nothing sealed. Each of those phrases is intended to invoke passages from Isaiah which Nephi has quoted and used in the context of his prophecy of the future.
Nephi ends his chapter with “and now, my believed brethren, I make an end of my sayings.” This ends his prophecy, but Nephi will continue to have things to say about the Messiah in his next chapter.
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