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TitleIsaiah 51
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsParry, Donald W.
EditorHalverson, Taylor
Book TitleOld Testament Minute: Isaiah
PublisherBook of Mormon Central
CitySpringville, UT
KeywordsBible; Isaiah (Book); Isaiah (Prophet); Old Testament

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Isaiah 51

Isaiah 51:1–16 The Lord Comforts Zion in the Last Days

Three times the Lord directly addresses His covenant people (Zion) with the command to listen: “Listen to Me,” (51:1), “Hearken to Me, My people” (51:4), and “Listen to Me” (51:7). He is speaking to us, members of the house of Israel who live in the last days. The Latter-day Saint Bible chapter heading summarizes: “In the last days, the Lord shall comfort Zion and gather Israel—The redeemed shall come to Zion amid great joy.” JST and 2 Nephi 8:1–16 present textual variants.

Isaiah 51:1

rock/quarry. Our rock and quarry are Abraham and Sarah, from whom we descend (see verse 2). Ultimately Jesus Christ is the Rock (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 28:1) from which we were hewn, meaning that we are divine beings, created in God’s image.

Isaiah 51:2

Abraham/Sarah. The Lord made promises to Abraham and Sarah that seemed impossible, but those promises were fulfilled when He “blessed” and “multiplied” them, according to the Abrahamic covenant. Similarly, the Lord will fulfill the promises that He made to build Zion in the last days, to comfort her and to make her wilderness and people like Eden and its garden (see 51:3).

Isaiah 51:3

He will make her [Zion’s] wilderness like Eden. The Lord will change the lands of promise (for His covenant people) so they will be like Eden itself, “the garden of the Lord.” But He will also bless His people spiritually so that “exultation and rejoicing” will be found in Zion.

Isaiah 51:5

My arms will judge peoples. Arm (Hebrew zeroa‘) also means “power.” Jehovah will judge people through His power.

Isaiah 51:6

heavens will vanish like smoke/earth will wear out like a garment. Although the earth and heavens may pass away, God’s “salvation will be forever,” and His “righteousness will never be shattered.”

Isaiah 51:7

people in whose heart I have written My law. When we submit ourselves to God and His commandments, He writes His law on our hearts, even as He wrote His law on stone tablets in Moses’s day: “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8; see also Psalms 37:31; 119:34).

Isaiah 51:8

fear not . . . moth will eat them like a garment. The Lord commands His people to be not afraid of the insults and revilings of humankind; He reminds them of the weakness of men by comparing them to a garment and wool, which are eaten by moths and worms.

Isaiah 51:9

Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength; O arm of the Lord. Isaiah commands the Lord’s arm (representing His power; also, His hand raised in an oath) to wake up and to show His power and strength, “as in the days of old” (as the Lord had demonstrated His power to the ancient Israelites time and time again). Are you [He] {Lord’s arm} that cut Rahab to pieces? Piercing the sea monster? The identification of Rahab is uncertain—primordial chaos? Sea monster? Egypt? Satan? But more important than its identification is the knowledge that God has power over all, including His mightiest enemies—Rahab, sea monsters, and the like (27:1; Job 26:12; Psalm 74:13–17).

Isaiah 51:10

Are you not [He] {Lord’s arm} that has dried the sea. Isaiah reminds us that the Lord’s arm (by means of His prophet Moses) dried the sea and “made a way in the depths of the sea” for Israel to cross over.

Isaiah 51:11

the ransomed of the Lord will return and come with singing to Zion. Compare the song of Moses after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15). The Lord’s ransomed are none other than the faithful Latter-day Saints who are seeking to build Zion. gladness and joy will overtake them; sorrow and sighing will flee away. This has fulfillment in mortality and more fully during the Millennium.

Isaiah 51:12

I am He. Repeated for emphasis; the Lord, because of His mercy and great love, personally “comforts” us. who is made like grass. We should not fear humans because they are like grass, which withers quickly and dies easily, as does humankind (40:6–8).

Isaiah 51:13

you have feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor. The Lord’s people feared because of their oppressors (both temporal and spiritual), but the Lord asks, “Where is the fury of the oppressor?” meaning that Israel’s oppressor is now gone.

Isaiah 51:15

I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar. The Lord reminds us that He has power over the elements; He therefore has power to save His people and to build Zion.

Isaiah 51:15

Lord of Hosts. Generally refers to the Lord’s hosts of angels.

Isaiah 51:16

I have put My words in your mouth. The Lord gives His servants revelations. I have covered you with the shadow of My hand. An idiom that signifies that the Lord shelters and protects His people (49:2). With that same powerful hand, the Lord created the heavens and the earth. to say to Zion . . . you are My people. With this statement the Lord is providing a definition of Zion (Zion is the Lord’s people) and also He is also affirming to covenant Israel, “You are my people.”

Isaiah 51:17–23 God’s Wrath on Jerusalem

Isaiah uses feminine forms (in the Hebrew) throughout this section and speaks to Jerusalem as if she were a woman. “Jerusalem,” of course, refers to Jerusalem’s inhabitants. Therefore, when Isaiah says to Jerusalem, “Wake yourself” (from your spiritual sleep), he is really commanding her inhabitants to wake up. JST and 2 Nephi 8:17–25 present textual variants.

Isaiah 51:17

wake yourself; arise, O Jerusalem! You who have drunk from the hand of the Lord. Jerusalem is presented as a woman. She wakes up, arises, and drinks from the Lord’s cup filled with fury. She also has children (51:18) and wears fine clothing (52:1). Compare Doctrine and Covenants 19:18—Jesus drinks the bitter cup so that we would not need to do so. But if we do not accept His offering, we will need to drink of the bitter cup ourselves.

Isaiah 51:18

there is no one guiding her. Israel has likely lost the priesthood as well as the gifts of the Spirit; therefore, there is no one who can guide her.

Isaiah 51:19

DSS Isaiah and LXX read “he” rather than “I.”

Isaiah 51:20

Your sons have fainted save these two. The two sons may be the two prophets identified in Revelation 11:1–6. as an antelope in a net, they are full of the fury of the Lord. Isaiah compares the two prophets’ power and fury to an antelope that is caught in a net, trying to break free.

Isaiah 51:22

He who pleads the cause of His people. Jehovah is the advocate (1 John 2:1).

Isaiah 51:22–23

you will not drink it again. Israel suffered from the Lord’s judgments long enough; now Israel’s enemies and oppressors will have to suffer. you have made your back like the ground and like the street, to them that passed over. It was a custom in some ancient countries for conquerors to tread on those they conquered.


Scripture Reference

Isaiah 51:1