Israel

Roger R. Keller, “Israel,” in Book of Mormon Authors: Their Words and Messages (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1996), 83–102.

Israel

In the study on the Ancient Near East word group in chapter 1, it was seen that only some of the Book of Mormon persons used words from that group with a normalized number in excess of 1.00. Those authors or speakers are noted in figure 1:

Figure 1: Use of Ancient Near East Word Cluster

Author

Normalized #

Father

5.07

Lord-Isa

4.36

Angel

4.06

Isaiah

3.68

Nephi 1:S

2.47

Jacob

1.96

Lord

1.96

Nephi 2

1.74

Lehi

1.66

Mormon:S

1.65

Abinadi

1.55

Jesus

1.50

Moroni 2:S

1.25

Nephi 1:N1

1.14

 

Not all of the above, however, used the word Israel. Their tie to the Ancient Near East cluster came through the use of other words. For example, Nephi 2 uses “Abraham,” “Egyptians,” “Isaiah,” “Israelites,” “Jeremiah,” “Messiah,” “Moses,” and “Zedekiah,” thus qualifying himself for inclusion among those whose writings have Near East words. However, he does not use Israel and therefore is not part of the current study. Similarly, Abinadi uses “Isaiah,” “Messiah,” “Moses,” [1] “Sinai,” and “Zion.” He uses Israel one time, [2] but a single use is insufficient for us to consider his usage significant for the current study. Ammon also uses it only one time, [3] but in contrast to Abinadi, Ammon’s use reflects no emphasis on the Near East word group, since his normalized use rate for it is 0.22.

As noted in chapter 1, it was primarily those persons who wereclosest to the Near Eastern culture who used that word cluster. Asimilar relationship is apparent in the study of the word Israel. Figure 2 shows two things: (1) those who use the word Israel and the use rate per thousand words of their text, and (2) those who use the word and their percentage of the total uses of Israel.

Figure 2: Israel

Author

Per 1000

 

Author

Percent

Father

10.95

 

Nephi 1

19.2

Angel

5.30

 

Isaiah

14.8

Isaiah

4.06

 

Jacob

13.8

Jacob

3.28

 

Lord

12.8

Lord

2.27

 

Jesus

9.4

Jesus

1.97

 

Mormon

7.4

Lord-Isa

1.51

 

Father

5.9

Nephi 1

1.48

 

Angel

4.9

Zenos

1.41

 

Lord-Isa

3.4

Lehi

0.85

 

Zenos

3.0

Ammon

0.44

 

Moroni 2

2.5

Abinadi

0.36

 

Lehi

2.0

Moroni 2

0.26

 

Abinadi

0.5

Mormon

0.15

 

Ammon

0.5

 

Note that the divine figures (for whom Israel is a special people) and persons recently removed from the Near East use the word Israel the most per thousand words of their text. When one examines the percent of numerical use, it is still these same figures that appear, with some slight variations in order, because Nephi 1 and Mormon have large numbers of occurrences owing to the large size of their writings.

As interesting as the examination of those who use Israel may be, it is also important to note which writers and speakers do not use it. Those who never use the word are Alma 2, Amulek, Benjamin, Captain Moroni, Enos, Helaman, Mosiah, Samuel, and Zeniff. All of these individuals were removed in time from the Near Eastern culture, and the fact that they do not use Israel only reinforces what has already been seen in chapter 1 concerning the Ancient Near East word cluster. As we examine Mormon and Moroni 2’s writings later in this chapter, we will attempt to determine why they, removed as they were from the Near East, should have been concerned with Israel.

In the materials that follow, we will examine the use of the word Israel in the following order: the heavenly or divine figures, [4] prophetic figures of the plates of brass, Lehi and his sons, and Mormon and Moroni 2. Each author will be examined in light of the various word phrases he uses with Israel and then with reference to various categories of meaning that surround Israel.

Words or Phrases Used in Conjunction with Israel

As we examine the Angel, the Father, Jesus, the Lord in Isaiah, and the Lord who speaks from the heavens, we will look first at the words and phrases that are used in conjunction with the word Israel. Figure 3 shows the distribution of those phrases.

Note that the principal concern of the divine figures is with the people of Israel. They all use, relatively often, the phrase “house of Israel.” Interestingly, the resurrected Jesus and the Lord are the only figures of this group who speak about the “people of the house of Israel.” In addition, they are the only ones of the group who speak of the “God of Israel,” the “tribes of the house of Israel,” and the “lost tribes of Israel.” While Jesus speaks in one place of the “remnant of the house of Israel,” the Lord speaks twice of the “remnant of Israel.” The only real difference between Jesus and the Lord lies in the fact that the Lord speaks once of the “Holy One of Israel,” and Jesus speaks once of “my people Israel,” Thus, the same person speaks in the same language, whether that person speaks from the heavens as the Lord or appears among the Nephites at Bountiful as the resurrected Jesus. Given the complexity of the Book of Mormon, it seems improbable that any one person could have created these similarities, especially since the passages from which the above information was drawn are found in various places in 1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, Jacob, 3 Nephi, Mormon, and Ether.

Figure 3: Israel

 

Angel

Father

Jesus

Lord

Lord-Isa

House of

9

12

2

8

3

Tribes, house of

-

-

1

1

-

People, house of

-

-

12

11

-

Children of

-

-

-

-

-

12 tribes of

1

-

-

-

-

People of

-

-

-

-

-

Both houses of

-

-

-

-

-

Nation of

-

-

-

-

-

Escaped of

-

-

-

-

-

Preserved of

-

-

-

-

1

King of

-

-

-

-

-

Remnant of

-

-

-

2

-

Outcasts of

-

-

-

-

-

Lost tribes of

-

-

1

2

-

Remnant, house of

-

-

1

-

-

Scattered tribes of

-

-

-

-

-

God of

-

-

1

1

-

Holy One of

-

-

-

1

-

Redeemer of

-

-

-

-

1

Mighty One of

-

-

-

-

-

My people

-

-

1

-

-

My called of

-

-

-

-

1

My servant

-

-

-

-

1

 

None of the divine figures seems especially interested in speaking about himself. There is little mention by these figures of “the God of Israel,” the “Holy One of Israel,” or the “Mighty One of Israel.” The Lord in Isaiah does speak once of the “Redeemer of Israel.”

Israel by Itself—Categories of Meaning

As we examine the categories into which Israel falls, we will also turn to the specific texts in which the word appears. First, however, it will be helpful to see in graphic form how the word is used. Note that the first group of categories in figure 4 deals with Israel as an earthly people, while the second group deals with Israel in relationship to God’s actions upon her.

Figure 4: Israel

 

Angel

Father

Jesus

Lord

Lord-Isa

Nation

2

1

1

2

4

Spiritual entity

3

7

4

3

2

Covenant with

5

2

5

3

-

Scattered

-

2

3

11

-

Lehites, part of

1

-

2

2

-

People of God

-

-

-

-

-

Olive tree

-

-

-

1

-

A king of

-

-

-

-

-

Judges/destroyed

-

-

2

1

-

 

 

 

 

 

 

God redeems

-

-

1

-

1

God judges

-

-

-

-

-

God is

-

-

-

-

-

Jesus is God

-

-

1

1

-

God opposed

-

-

-

1

-

Praise/rejoice in

-

-

-

4

-

Fear God

-

-

-

-

-

God will reign

-

-

-

-

-

 

It should be noted that the same emphasis on the people of Israel which is observed in figure 3 is also seen in figure 4. Clearly, Israel is seen as a people (as a political or spiritual entity), as a group in exile, as a people with whom God has covenanted, and so forth. It is not always easy, however, to draw these distinctions sharply, especially when trying to decide whether Israel refers to the nation as an all-encompassing group or whether it refers in a more narrow sense to a group with certain spiritual values that bind them together. Even so, we have attempted to make such distinctions as well as they can be made.

Angel

In the two instances where the Angel seems to refer to Israel as a nation, he states that the house of Israel fights against the apostles of Jesus (1 Nephi 11:35) and that writings have been sealed which are to come forth in their purity to the house of Israel (1 Nephi 14:26). In contrast, when he notes that the Gentiles may be numbered among the house of Israel and that the house of Israel will not be confounded, he seems to refer to Israel as a spiritual entity which shares common beliefs (1 Nephi 14:2). Similarly, the apostles will judge the twelve tribes of Israel (1 Nephi 12:9), and the judgment, if positive, will be based on spiritual merit and not simply on national identity.

The Angel speaks five times of God’s covenants with Israel. A book (the Bible) contains the covenants that God made with Israel (1 Nephi 13:23). Nephi 1 knows the covenants of God with the house of Israel (1 Nephi 14:5) and is asked whether he remembers those covenants (1 Nephi 14:8). He is told that when the wrath of God begins to be poured out on the harlot of the earth, then God is preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants with Israel (1 Nephi 14:17). It seems that the covenants are both spiritual and temporal and convince persons either to come to peace and everlasting life or to go to captivity and destruction (1 Nephi 14:7). It appears that the covenants involve the two most basic themes of the Book of Mormon: (1) that people must come to Christ, and (2) that through Christ, scattered Israel will be gathered. Finally, the Angel tells Nephi 1 that the twelve apostles will judge Israel and therefore will also judge Nephi’s seed, for his descendants are a scattered portion of the house of Israel (1 Nephi 12:9).

The Father

The Father speaks once about the Gentiles scattering his people (3 Nephi 20:27), a reference which seems to deal with Israel as a nation, particularly as it may still be found among the Lamanites in this hemisphere. Closely related to this, but leaning toward Israel as a spiritual entity—albeit a negative one—is the Father’s assertion that because of Israel’s unbelief, the truth would be given to the Gentiles (3 Nephi 16:7). Similarly, those who will not come to Christ in the last days will be cut off from the people of Israel (3 Nephi 21:20).

Israel as a spiritual gathering is further emphasized when the Father says that the Gentiles can have no power over Israel (3 Nephi 16:12), that the Gentiles may be numbered among Israel (3 Nephi 16:13), and that Israel may not tread down the Gentiles unless they are disobedient (3 Nephi 16:14—15). God’s covenants with Israel involve bringing the fullness of the gospel to them after the Gentiles have rejected it (3 Nephi 16:11–12). When the Father speaks of his people being scattered, it refers to the Gentiles scattering the Lamanites in the Western Hemisphere (3 Nephi 16:8).

The Lord in Isaiah (Lord-Isa)

In Isaiah, the Lord refers three times to Israel as a nation. In typical, repetitive, Hebrew poetic form, he calls Jacob and Israel, which are, of course, the same thing, to listen to him (1 Nephi 20:12). In addition, scattered Israel will be gathered (1 Nephi 21:12). Also, God does not forget Israel, even though some claim that Israel’s troubles arise from the Lord’s neglect (2 Nephi 7:1–2). On the spiritual plane, God will be glorified through his servant Israel, whose role will not only be to gather scattered Israel but to be a light to all nations (1 Nephi 21:3, 6). [5] So says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel (1 Nephi 21:7).

Jesus

Because of Israel’s wickedness, which troubles Jesus as he visits the Nephites (3 Nephi 17:14), the nation of Israel has been judged and smitten by God (3 Nephi 16:9). She has been scattered (3 Nephi 15:15), and the Nephites are a part of that dispersion (3 Nephi 20:10, 25). Yet there is hope, for Jesus is the very God who covenanted with Israel to gather her (3 Nephi 15:5; 16:5; 21:1) and to bring her to a full knowledge of her Redeemer (3 Nephi 20:12–13). This knowledge will come about when the Book of Mormon is given and will be a sign that God is beginning to fulfill his covenants with Israel (3 Nephi 21:4, 7). In the end, Jesus will establish his people (3 Nephi 20:21) who are of the House of Israel (3 Nephi 23:2), namely, those who come to Christ, including the Gentiles (3 Nephi 21:6; 30:2). Clearly, Jesus’ main concern is with the gathering of Israel, particularly spiritual Israel—those who have come to him, the God of Israel (3 Nephi 11:14).

The Lord

It should not be surprising that the Lord and Jesus express very similar concerns in their use of the word Israel, for they are, in fact, the same person. Clearly, the Lord’s overriding concern is with scattered Israel and the express purpose of gathering her. In the past he has sought to gather fallen and scattered Israel, including the Nephites (3 Nephi 10:4–6); in the future he will gather Israel (1 Nephi 19:16), restore her (2 Nephi 3:13), and recover her through Joseph Smith (2 Nephi 3:13; 29:1). The parable of the olive tree makes this clear (Jacob 5:3). In the meantime, he will visit the remnants of Israel with judgment in order to show mercy to the Gentiles (1 Nephi 13:33), send his words to and speak to his people (2 Nephi 29:2,12), and see that his words are shared among the lost tribes (2 Nephi 29:13). He will do this, despite the fact that there are some who say that God will not remember his covenants, and thus they fight against the covenant people (2 Nephi 29:14; Mormon 8:21). In the end, true Israel will be composed of those who come to the Father through Christ (Ether 4:14–15), including Gentiles (2 Nephi 10:18). In the day that this occurs, the meek shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel, and the people shall stand in awe of the God of Israel (2 Nephi 27:30, 34).

In summary, the emphasis among the divine or heavenly figures is on the people of Israel as a nation, a spiritual group, a covenantal group, or a remnant. Most striking is the likeness which is seen between the words of the Lord and those of Jesus. Since the two are indeed the same person, one should expect this, but it is doubtful that such parallels could have been constructed by a nineteenth-century author given the wide dispersion of the passages under consideration within the Book of Mormon.

Isaiah and Zenos

Not surprisingly, Isaiah speaks of Israel numerous times, in one context or another, with a rate of 4.06 uses per thousand. Zenos, another author from the plates of brass, uses Israel less often, but still with a use rate of 1.41 per thousand. Figure 5 shows the distribution of the word Israel when it is used in conjunction with other words or phrases. It is evident that Isaiah has a variety of phrases which he uses in relation to Israel. It would seem that his concern is with Israel as a people and with the God who is over them.

In Zenos’s few uses of Israel, the emphasis seems to be similar. Figure 6 shows the concerns of the two authors when the meaning of Israel is examined. The first half of figure 6 shows Isaiah to be concerned forthe nation of Israel, which, through his prophetic vision, he sees falling away from the God of Israel (1 Nephi 20:1–2). He refers especially to Israel, the northern kingdom, which is ruled by Pekah (2 Nephi 17:1; 19:12,14). Israel despises the word of the Lord (2 Nephi 15:24), fears what it should not fear, and therefore will stumble over God (2 Nephi 18:14). In the allegory of the vineyard, God judges Israel and lays waste to her (2 Nephi 15:6–7).

There is hope, however, because Isaiah and those who heed his message are signs and wonders of God’s presence in Israel (2 Nephi 18:18). The Lord will send his word to Israel (2 Nephi 7:4;[6] 19:8), Israel will burn Assyria (2 Nephi 20:17), the remnant of the deported tribes will find a highway leading out of Assyria (2 Nephi 21:16), and the Lord will choose Israel and give them their land (2 Nephi 24:1–2). The possessors of the land will probably be spiritual Israel, and not merely those who have blood lineage.

Figure 5: Israel

 

Isaiah

Zenos

House of

5

2

Tribes, house of

-

-

People, house of

-

-

Children of

-

-

12 tribes of

-

-

People of

5

-

Both houses of

1

-

Nation of

5

-

Escaped of

1

-

Preserved of

-

-

King of

1

-

Remnant of

1

-

Outcasts of

1

-

Lost tribes of

-

-

Remnant, house of

-

-

Scattered tribes of

-

-

God of

3

2

Holy One of

7

2

Redeemer of

-

-

Mighty One of

-

-

My people

-

-

My called of

-

-

My servant

-

-

 

Isaiah is also concerned for scattered Israel. The servant calls to scattered Israel and will bring Israel to God (1 Nephi 21:1, 5). The remnant will return to the Holy One of Israel (2 Nephi 20:20–22), God’s ensign will assemble the outcasts of Israel (2 Nephi 21:12), and “in that day” the fruit of the land will be the pride of the survivors of Israel (2 Nephi 14:2). God, the Holy One of Israel, who accomplishes all this, counsels Israel (2 Nephi 15:19), is her Redeemer (1 Nephi 20:17; 3 Nephi 22:5) and guardian (3 Nephi 20:42), and is great (2 Nephi 22:6).

Figure 6: Israel

 

Isaiah

Zenos

Nation

10

1

Spiritual entity

2

-

Covenant with

-

-

Scattered

5

-

Lehites, part of

-

-

People of God

-

-

Olive tree

1

-

A king of

1

-

Judged/destroyed

-

-

 

 

 

God redeems

4

2

God judges

1

-

God is

2

-

Jesus is God

-

-

God opposed

3

3

Praise/rejoice in

-

-

Fear God

-

-

God will reign

-

-

 

Almost all of Zenos’s uses of Israel actually occur in the space of five verses when Nephi 1 quotes Zenos. In these verses, Zenos states that at the time of Christ’s death, God will visit scattered Israel, some with his voice because of their righteousness and others with destruction because of their wickedness (1 Nephi 19:11). He further states that those in Jerusalem will crucify the God of Israel, reject his signs, and despise him, thereby guaranteeing their dispersion and suffering. When they no longer turn from the Holy One of Israel, then the Father will remember his covenants with them (1 Nephi 19:13–15). The one other instance in which Zenos uses Israel is at the beginning of his parable of the tame olive tree, when he calls the house of Israel to hear his words (Jacob 5:2).

In summary, both Isaiah and Zenos emphasize God’s actions, which may be merciful or wrathful, in relation to disobedient and scattered Israel.

Lehi and His Sons

In the following materials, Lehi’s words have limited value, simply because he uses Israel only four times. However, his sons, Nephi 1 and Jacob, use it a great deal and have very similar distribution patterns. Figure 7 reflects the way Israel is used in relation to other phrases written by the three men.

Figure 7: Israel

 

Jacob

Lehi

Nephi

House of

9

2

20

Tribes, house of

-

-

-

People, house of

-

-

1

Children of

1

-

3

12 tribes of

-

-

-

People of

-

-

-

Both houses of

-

-

-

Nation of

-

-

-

Escaped of

-

-

-

Preserved of

-

-

-

King of

-

-

-

Remnant of

-

-

-

Outcasts of

-

-

-

Lost tribes of

-

-

2

Remnant, house of

-

-

-

Scattered tribes of

-

-

-

God of

1

-

2

Holy One of

17

2

10

Redeemer of

-

-

-

Mighty One of

-

-

1

My people

-

-

-

My called of

-

-

-

My servant

-

-

-

 

As with all persons who use Israel, the phrases “house of Israel” and “Holy One of Israel” seem to be commonplace. However, these three writers all emphasize both phrases simultaneously, which makes them different from the divine figures and from Mormon and Moroni 2, as we shall see later. However, the two Old World figures, Isaiah and Zenos, do have some similarities with Lehi and his sons.

When we turn to the distribution of the meaning of Israel in figure 8, the similarities between Lehi, Jacob, and Nephi 1, as well as their differences from the other writers, are heightened.

Figure 8: Israel

 

Jacob

Lehi

Nephi 1

Nation

3

-

8

Spiritual Entity

3

-

-

Covenant with

1

2

2

Scattered

1

-

6

Lehites, part of

3

-

7

People of God

-

-

-

Olive Tree

1

-

2

A king of

-

-

-

Judged/destroyed

-

-

-

 

 

 

 

God redeems

8

1

2

God judges

2

-

1

God is

5

-

1

Jesus is God

-

-

2

God opposed

1

1

3

Praise/rejoice in

-

-

3

Fear God

-

-

-

God will reign

-

-

2

 

An examination of figure 8, especially the first portion which is concerned with the people of Israel, underlines the similarities between Nephi 1 and Jacob in word use. At the same time, however, it also indicates their differences. Clearly, Jacob and Nephi 1 attach many of the same meanings to the word Israel, whether it concerns the people or their God. However, Nephi 1 is more diffuse in the way he speaks about God, while Jacob tends to stress that God is the Redeemer and then ascribes other attributes to him. In addition, Jacob has more references to the God of Israel (16) than he does to the people of Israel (12). In contrast, Nephi 1 tends to treat Israel as a nation which is scattered, while Jacob tends to be more even in his treatment of Israel as a people. Also, Nephi 1 refers more often to the people of Israel (26) than he does to the God of Israel (14).

The divine figures are the only individuals who have similar distributions with reference to the people of Israel, but since Nephi 1 and Jacob interacted directly with the Angel and the Lord, it is not surprising to find some commonalities.

Lehi

Lehi speaks twice of the house of Israel as scattered and sees his descendants as a part of that scattering (2 Nephi 3:5, 24). He also speaks twice of the Holy One of Israel, once when he blesses his son, Joseph, telling him that if he will obey God, the New World will be a land of security (2 Nephi 3:2), and once when he states that if those who come to the New World reject the Holy One of Israel, judgment will come upon them (2 Nephi 1:10).

Jacob

Jacob speaks of Israel as a nation when he says that he will read Isaiah’s words which are to all the house of Israel with whom God has covenanted (2 Nephi 6:5; 9:1), that Zenos spoke to Israel (Jacob 5:1), that God remembers Israel (Jacob 6:4), and that Jacob’s people should come to Christ so that they do not have to suffer the wrath of God that the children of Israel experienced in the wilderness (Jacob 1:7). However, as the parable of the olive tree indicates (Jacob 6:1), Israel as a nation is scattered (2 Nephi 10:22), and the Nephites are part of her (2 Nephi 6:5). But there is also a spiritual Israel, composed of those who are righteous and have faith in the Holy One of Israel. Eventually, the Lamanites will become a righteous branch of this Israel (2 Nephi 9:53).

Clearly, Jacob’s major interest is in how God works in relationship to Israel. First, God intends to redeem Israel. He will manifest himself to the Jews in the flesh as Jesus, through whom deliverance and resurrection will come (2 Nephi 6:9; 9:11–12,23). Further, Jacob rejoices in the greatness and mercy of this God (2 Nephi 9:19, 25). However, some, like the Jews at Jerusalem, will oppose God and will thus necessitate that he act in judgment rather than mercy (2 Nephi 6:10; 9:15).

Of all the authors under consideration, Jacob uses the most descriptive language about God. Jacob refers to him as the God of Israel (2 Nephi 9:44), the Holy One of Israel (2 Nephi 6:15; 9:24), the God who gives breath (2 Nephi 9:26), and the God who is the keeper of the gate (2 Nephi 9:41).

Nephi 1

While using all but one of the meanings of Israel found in Jacob, Nephi 1 adds a few other dimensions. First, he speaks of God as the Holy One or Mighty One of Israel who redeems, because Nephi 1 knows that Moses spoke of Jesus and that nations will dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if they will repent (1 Nephi 22:12, 21, 28).

Nephi 1, however, is less concerned with the God of Israel and more concerned with the people of Israel, particularly the scattered people. Thus, Nephi 1 sees Israel as a nation brought out of bondage from Egypt (1 Nephi 17:23, 25, 29). In addition, Israel is a nation to which Nephi 1 speaks (1 Nephi 19:19; 2 Nephi 33:13), to which the words of the prophet, Isaiah, are directed (1 Nephi 19:24), which shall be nursed by the Gentiles (1 Nephi 22:6), and against which nations will conduct war (1 Nephi 22:14).

To Nephi 1 an even greater concern than Israel as a nation in the general sense is Israel as a scattered people. Israel is like an olive tree whose branches, one of which is Lehi’s family (1 Nephi 15:12), are scattered across the face of the earth (1 Nephi 10:12, 14). Further, Nephi 1 sees that Israel will be scattered because of their opposition to Jesus (3 Nephi 22:3, 5, 7). Some, who are already scattered, will receive signs, like the three days of darkness, at the time of his death (1 Nephi 19:10). Scattered Israel, however, should not despair, for they will be gathered (1 Nephi 10:14), a fact of which Isaiah prophesied (1 Nephi 15:20) and which is a consequence of the Lord’s covenant with Israel (1 Nephi 22:9,11). The relevance of this to Lehi and his descendants is that they are part of scattered Israel (1 Nephi 15:12; 19:24; 2 Nephi 25:4), and therefore they will be participants in the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises to Israel (1 Nephi 15:14,16; 2 Nephi 28:2). Thus, Lehi’s descendants can have hope that God will remember them in the future.

In summary, Nephi 1 and Jacob speak in very similar language about Israel and its God. However, there are clear differences between them: Jacob seems to be more concerned with the God of Israel, while Nephi 1 seems to be more concerned with the scattered people of Israel who will eventually be gathered.

Figure 9: Israel

 

Mormon

Moroni 2

House of

8

5

Tribes, house of

-

-

People, house of

1

-

Children of

2

-

12 tribes of

-

-

People of

-

-

Both houses of

-

-

Nation of

-

-

Escaped of

-

-

Preserved of

-

-

King of

-

-

Remnant of

2

-

Outcasts of

-

-

Lost tribes of

-

-

Remnant, house of

-

-

Scattered tribes of

1

-

God of

-

-

Holy One of

-

-

Redeemer of

-

-

Mighty One of

-

-

My people

-

-

My called of

-

-

My servant

-

-

 

Moroni 2

Neither Mormon nor Moroni 2 appears to place a major emphasis on Israel. Each refers to Israel primarily as the “house of Israel,” as figure 9 shows, and each speaks of Israel as a nation, as a people with whom God covenanted, and as a scattered people, as demonstrated in figure 10.

Mormon’s usage is broader than Moroni 2’s, as shown in figure 9, probably because Mormon simply writes more than does Moroni 2. Of greater interest is that neither writer exhibits any desire to talk about the God of Israel. This reinforces what was discovered in Mormon’s and Moroni 2’s uses of “earth,” for Moroni 2 spoke only twice of God’s creative activity and Mormon never mentioned God’s work in relation to the earth.

Figure 10: Israel

 

Mormon

Moroni 2

Nation

6

2

Spiritual Entity

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-

Covenant with

4

2

Scattered

5

-

Lehites, part of

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1

People of God

-

-

Olive Tree

-

-

A king of

-

-

Judged/destroyed

-

-

 

 

 

God redeems

-

-

God judges

-

-

God is

-

-

Jesus is God

-

-

God opposed

-

-

Praise/rejoice in

-

-

Fear God

-

-

God will reign

-

-

 

All of Moroni 2’s references deal with the “house of Israel.” Ether spoke concerning the house of Israel and Jerusalem, which will be built up for Israel (Ether 13:5). Both references are to Israel as a nation. Israel is also a people with whom the Father covenanted (Mormon 9:37; Moroni 10:31). The New Jerusalem, which is to be built in the Western Hemisphere, is for those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb and for the seed of Joseph who are numbered among the house of Israel (Ether 13:11).

Mormon

For Mormon, Israel is the nation or people to whom he writes (Mormon 3:17–18), to whom Jesus will return (3 Nephi 29:2), for whom the Gentiles will care (Mormon 5:11), among whom there was no wickedness as great as that of Mormon’s day (Mormon 4:12), and among whom calamity has come (Mormon 5:11). They are a scattered people, but the three Nephites will eventually minister to all of them (3 Nephi 28:29). There is no reason to harass any of the remnant of Israel (3 Nephi 29:8), and Mormon speaks to the remnant and calls them to repentance (Mormon 7:1–3), for Israel is a covenant people of God (3 Nephi 29:1, 9). God will remember his covenant people and restore them to the lands of their inheritance (3 Nephi 29:1; Mormon 5:14).

Earlier, it was suggested that only authors or persons closely associated with Old World Israel use the word Israel. Obviously, Mormon and Moroni 2 are exceptions to that idea. Interestingly, Mormon mentions Israel only after he has abridged the information on the Large Plates, some of which is found in 3 Nephi. In other words, Mormon worked through the account of the resurrected Jesus’ visit to the people at Bountiful, saw the Lord’s emphasis on Israel as a scattered covenant people who would be gathered, realized the importance of those ideas for persons who would later read his work, and incorporated those ideas into his final reflections. Moroni 2, following in his father’s footsteps, does likewise. Even so, neither author seems to feel the attachment to Israel that earlier writers like Nephi 1 and Jacob do.

Conclusions

Author Individuality

It has been shown that there are clearly individual traits among the authors, even when they speak from similar perspectives. The divine figures speak primarily about the people of Israel but reflect different emphases between them. So do Lehi and his sons. There is amazing congruence between Nephi 1 and Jacob in both the language used and the meanings attached to Israel. Yet they are also distinct, for Jacob speaks about what the God of Israel does in relation to the people of Israel, while Nephi 1 reverses that emphasis and speaks more about the people of Israel in the midst of earthly life.

Mormon and Moroni 2 show no interest in speaking about the “God of Israel” but demonstrate a concern for the people, with a slight emphasis by Mormon on the gathering of the scattered remnant. However, Israel is not, proportionately, of great importance to either. Finally, Isaiah shows a great deal of variety in his language about Israel and indicates a concern for Israel as a nation, as well as for its scattering. He also speaks of God as the one who will redeem Israel and not forget her. Zenos, in his few references, appears concerned with the God of Israel who is opposed by some, but who will ultimately redeem his people.

Theological Implications

The theme of the scattering and gathering of Israel is an important one, for it indicates that although the people of God have been judged, and as a result scattered, they have not been forgotten. If God were to forget his covenant people, he would be an untrustworthy God. If he could promise to remember Israel forever, and yet walk away from her when she became disobedient, then his promises to those who live in the latter days would be suspect. He has not done that, however, for he continues to love Israel and will slowly, through Jesus Christ, bring her back to the fold.

It is exciting that the persons he gathers are not merely related to Israel by blood but may be adoptees like the Gentiles. No one who comes to Christ is excluded from Israel, but at the same time, it is only within spiritual Israel—those who follow Christ—that salvation may be found. In the end, Israel is simply the name for the covenant family of God, while the historical nation of Israel is the means through which God chose to summon his family to return to him.

Notes

[1] Abinadi uses “Moses” eleven times.

[2] In Mosiah 13:29 Abinadi states that it was necessary that a strict law be given to Israel, because they were a people prone to do evil.

[3] In Alma 26:36 Ammon says that God has been mindful of the Nephites and Lamanites as a branch of Israel who are wanderers in a strange land.

[4] While the Angel is not technically divine, he will be included in this designation.

[5] A common interpretation of this servant psalm in Isaiah sees the servant as the Messiah and is, in the fullest sense, accurate. However, to neglect the fact that Israel, as a spiritual people, has a servant role to play among the nations is to overlook an important part of its mission.

[6] 2 Nephi 7:4a differs from the received text in Isaiah 50:4a. While the Isaiah text preserved in Nephi states that “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season unto thee, O house of Israel” the text of Isaiah 50:4a says, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary” (emphasis added).