“The Lord Hath Founded Zion, and the Poor of His People Shall Trust in it”

Covenant Economics, Atonement, and the Meaning of Zion

Matthew L. Bowen

Matthew L. Bowen is an associate professor of religious education at Brigham Young University.

When Latter-day Saints associate meanings with the name Zion, they usually think of two definitional statements from Restoration scripture. The first, part of a narrative description of Enoch’s Zion, explains: “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). Although this statement offers something of a brief etiology[1] for the Lord’s naming of Enoch’s Zion and the three requirements that Enoch’s Zion met for the use of the name, it does not offer a linguistic etymology or a lexical meaning for Zion.

The second definition comes from a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith on August 2, 1833, mere days after the members of the Church “had been forced to sign an agreement to leave Jackson County” (July 23, 1833).[2] In view of the immediate need to expand the Saints’ view of Zion beyond a narrow geographical conception (compare Doctrine and Covenants 57:2–3; 58:37), the Lord described Zion in this revelation as a broader concept: “Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn” (Doctrine and Covenants 97:21). This definition, like Moses 7:18, also does not offer an etymology or lexical meaning for Zion.

In this paper, I will explore possible meanings of the name Zion (Hebrew ṣiyyôn), especially in its Old Testament (OT) connotation as a people and as a place of protection for the Lord’s afflicted poor (ʿănāwîm/ʿăniyyîm), destitute (ʾebyônîm), and powerless (dallîm)[3] and how that conception fits with the Lord’s naming of Zion in Moses 7:18. As a people and place of physical and spiritual protection, Zion requires the Lord’s protective presence. I will accordingly explore the Zion protection concept in relation to texts in Isaiah 4:4–6; 14:32, the Psalms, 2 Nephi 26:24–33, and the Doctrine and Covenants. As a place of economic protection, Zion requires the observance of what Richard Horsley has described as “covenant economics.”[4] I will examine Deuteronomy’s program for achieving greater economic parity and at-one-ment among a covenant people living in the promised land (Deuteronomy 15:1–18) as a means of achieving the Zion ideal of Moses 7:18 (“no poor among them”). I will also analyze Nephi’s paronomastic association[5] of Zion with commandments (miṣwôt < ṣāwâ) in 2 Nephi 26:24–33 and the relationship of covenant economics and economic equity to the Savior’s Atonement, which makes oneness in righteousness possible among God’s people. For a people to become of “one heart and one mind,” to “dwell in righteousness” (or justice), eliminate economic and spiritual poverty, and become Zion (Moses 7:18) ultimately requires a mighty change of the heart and transformation through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and adherence to his covenant teachings. The societies of Enoch, Melchizedek, and the Lamanites and Nephites in 4 Nephi demonstrate that the ideal is possible.

The Etymology versus Paronomastic Meanings of Zion

The origin and etymology of the word Zionṣiyyôn—remains uncertain at best. Restoration scripture describes Zion as a name given by the Lord to his people and to a city during the time of Enoch (Moses 7:18)—Zion is used sixteen times in Moses 7.[6] In that chapter the name recurs in close connection with descriptions of the Lord’s presence among his people, the righteousness or justice that provided economic and spiritual protection, and the subsequent protective measures the Lord took in bringing Zion to his own bosom (i.e., taking Zion to heaven by a divine embrace). It appears that Zion (ṣiyyôn) acquired similar connotations of economic, physical, and spiritual protection within the ancient Israelite and Judahite cultural context in which the name was used, whatever its etymological origin.

Biblical scholars generally agree that the term ṣiyyôn appears to stem from the Semitic root -w/y-n, which, as W. H. Bellinger Jr. notes, “contains a range of meanings from ‘hill top’ or ‘mountain ridge’ to ‘fortress,’ which comes to have the connotation of protection.”[7] The Arabic verb ṣāna, which gives us a sense of how this verbal root might have been understood in other Semitic languages (including Hebrew), denotes “to preserve, conserve, keep, retain, maintain, sustain, uphold[,] . . . to protect, guard, safeguard, keep, save.”[8] If Zion can be understood in terms of -w/y-n, “Zion would be ‘the fortress’” that “would mean ‘protect,’” states Thomas Römer.[9] Less likely is the suggestion that it denoted “barren place” from Hebrew ṣiyyâ (“dry”) or “barren hill.”[10] The idea that it derives from ṣiyyûn, “stone monument” or “gravestone,”[11] might also make some sense if viewed in the context of Zion being a rocky outcrop (compare the image of Zion and its king as “the Rock of Heaven” in Moses 7:53).

The weight of internal textual evidence in the Hebrew Bible suggests that ṣiyyôn connoted a place of protection—that is, a divine fortress. As biblical scholar Sheri L. Klouda puts it, “First and foremost, . . . Zion denotes the location of Yahweh’s dwelling place and immediate presence, symbolizing a place of security or safety (Psalms 45:4–6; 76:2–3)” (boldface in scriptures is my emphasis).[12] Bellinger suggests that if Zion is understood in terms of -w/y-n, it “fits with the function of the place as a fortress at the time of David’s capture of the city.”[13] The Deuteronomistic History, preserving an earlier source, records that “David took the strong hold of Zion [mĕṣudat ṣiyyôn]: the same is the city of David” (2 Samuel 5:7; see also 1 Chronicles 11:5). Later, Zion acquired an “expansion of its geographical usage . . . often refer[ring] to the entire city of Jerusalem.”[14] Klouda suggests that the association of the name with the old Jebusite fortress “probably reinforc[ed] the notion of a place of protection”[15]—that is, Zion acquired the meaning associated with the Hebrew noun mĕṣûdâ, “stronghold.”

Isaiah’s writings also associate the name Zion with protection and, in particular, refuge. Drawing on language and imagery of the Exodus and the Lord’s protection of Israel in the wilderness, Isaiah foretells that after the purification of his people by “the spirit of judgment [justice], and by the spirit of burning” (Isaiah 4:4), the Lord will establish Zion as a place of protection: “And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shado fw in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge [maḥseh], and for a covert from storm and from rain” (Isaiah 4:5–6). God’s presence in Zion makes it a “defence,” “a place of refuge” and a “covert,” but only to the degree that the conditions of righteousness and justice (compare Moses 7:18) prevail there.

Isaiah 14:32 describes a similar conception of Zion: “The Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor [ʿăniyyê] of his people shall trust in it,” which would be better rendered as “The Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall take refuge [yeḥĕsû] in it” (Isaiah 14:32; see later in this chapter). Strictly speaking, the Hebrew verb ḥāsâ denotes “to take refuge in” rather than to “trust in”[16] and is cognate with the noun maḥseh from Isaiah 4:6, “place of refuge,” “refuge.”[17] The poor can trust or take refuge in Zion, as a people and a place, because Zion helps redress economic disparity through covenant economics.

Isaiah’s use of ḥāsâ and maḥseh with reference to Zion “is rooted in the language of the Psalms,” as the late Isaiah scholar Hans Wildberger noted.[18] Isaiah later uses this same terminology when he faults the Judahites for making foreign alliances rather than making the Lord and Zion their refuge: “Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge [maḥsēnû], and under falsehood have we hid ourselves” (Isaiah 28:15). This collective sin becomes the basis for one of the most significant messianic/Zion promises[19] in scripture: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste” (Isaiah 28:16). Zion is a place of protection for him or her “that believeth” precisely because the Lord and his covenant are the “stone” at its “foundation,” its “tried stone,” its “precious corner stone,” and its “sure foundation” (Isaiah 28:16; compare Helaman 5:12). Without that stone and foundation, there is no Zion as a people or a place of protection, only as a variation on the “refuge of lies” (maḥsēh kāzāb, Isaiah 28:17).

Restoration scripture suggests that the idea of Zion as both a people and a place of protection extends back even further. The “people of God” who “dwelt in a land of promise” (Moses 6:17) came under Enoch’s leadership (7:13–14) amid wars and bloodshed, and “the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness” (7:16). Moses 7:17 informs us that Enoch’s people were subsequently “blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.” In the very next verse, the Lord names his people Zion, but then makes clear that the people qualified for the name Zion, not because of the protective topography they occupied, but because they were a people “of one heart and one mind, . . . [who] dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). In other words, they qualified for the name Zion and the Lord’s protective presence because their righteous and just treatment of one another protected and elevated their most vulnerable.

The Book of Moses text goes on to describe Enoch’s building of a “City of Holiness” that was also called Zion (Moses 7:19). Regarding this Zion city and the Zion people dwelling in it, Enoch stated to the Lord: “Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever” (7:20). After it had been taken to heaven, the Lord characterized Zion above as something of a heavenly fortress and an antetype of the later earthly Zion rock-fortress: “And the Lord said: Blessed is he through whose seed Messiah shall come; for he saith—I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven, which is broad as eternity; whoso cometh in at the gate and climbeth up by me shall never fall” (7:53; compare Hebrews 12:22; John 10:1). Rock (Hebrew ṣûr or selaʿ) is a title for the Lord that is used in the Psalms, just as he uses it of himself here.

The theme of individuals being “caught up into Zion” and Zion’s being taken up into heaven coincides with the recurring image of the divine embrace or being taken to God’s bosom—the supreme measure of divine protection—that threads throughout Moses 7 (see Moses 7:24, 30–31, 47, 63, 69). Enoch witnessed the Lord receiving Zion to himself: “Lo, Zion . . . was taken up into heaven” (7:21, 23). The Enoch-Zion narrative describes this as both a process and an event: “And the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion” (7:27). Enoch sees the Lord weep over “the residue [remainder] of the people” (7:28) who were not caught up into Zion, who remained unprotected from the injustice and violence that prevailed in the world, and who were thus subject to the decreed judgments that would follow (7:28–40). Enoch, too—as he saw the wickedness and misery of those outside of the protection of Zion—wept (7:41–43).

Nevertheless, when Enoch saw Jesus Christ’s advent in the flesh, he rejoiced that Christ’s atoning sacrifice made the protective at-one-ment of him and Zion with the Lord possible: “Through faith I am in the bosom of the Father, and behold, Zion is with me” (Moses 7:47). Enoch further saw that latter-day Zion, like his own Zion, would be a people and a place of gathering and holiness. It would be a refuge from the “darkness” prevailing in the latter days and a protection from the “great tribulations” that would “come upon the wicked” (7:61, 66), with the Lord’s presence signified by his tabernacle in its midst:

And righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.

And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;

And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, . . . and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest. (Moses 7:62–64)

Here the Lord avers that latter-day Zion, as a people and as a place with connotations of protection, would involve his people “gird[ing] up their loins and looking forth for the time of [his] coming.”[20] Latter-day Zion, therefore, can only be a place of protection to the degree that its Protector can abide or dwell therein and its inhabitants walk with God, as in Enoch’s Zion at the time the Lord took it up: “And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is Fled” (Moses 7:69). Enoch’s Zion served to protect its inhabitants from economic and spiritual poverty, the contemporary sins of the world, the misery and wickedness that prevailed among humankind, and the divine judgments that would occur with the Flood. Similarly, the Lord intends latter-day Zion to protect its inhabitants from economic and spiritual poverty, the sins of the current generation, and the divine judgments that will precede and attend the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

A revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith on March 7, 1831, regarding the establishment of Latter-day Zion “with one heart and one mind” further reflects upon and enforces the foregoing concept of Zion as both a people and a place of protection:

And with one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you.

And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God.

And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.

And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.

And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. (Doctrine and Covenants 45:65–70)

In creating this striking picture of Zion, this revelation clearly reflects and extends the biblical connotations of Zion as a place of protection from physical danger and economic and spiritual poverty. It also draws on the images of Enoch’s people as the power of the Lord rested on them and they became Zion, as recorded in Moses 7:13–20, becoming of one heart and mind and a terror to their enemies.

“No Poor among You”: Zion, the Psalms, and the Covenant Economics of Deuteronomy 15

Since the Messiah is the anointed “King of Zion” (Moses 7:53), his atoning work is, in part, “to preach good tidings unto the meek [the poor, ʿănāwîm]” and “to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1, 3; Luke 4:18–19). The Psalms offer a picture of the Lord as the King of Zion who provides hope and protection to the poor (see, e.g., Psalms 9:10–11 [MT 11–12], 18 [MT 19]; 10:14; 12:5 [MT 6]; 34:6 [MT 7]; JST Psalm 14:5–7).

In conjunction with the Psalms, Moses’s “Song of the Sea” provides a potential missing puzzle piece to the historical link between Enoch’s Zion, Melchizedek’s Salem, and the later Zion fortress attached to Jerusalem: “Thou shalt bring them [the Lord’s people] in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever” (Exodus 15:17–18). Wildberger states that this passage from the Song of the Sea “makes clear that ‘mountain,’ ‘abode,’ and ‘sanctuary’ are alternate ways of saying the same thing. Yahweh [Jehovah] has established a residence on Zion (Ps. 74:2); Zion is the holy mountain precisely because that is where Yahweh’s dwelling place is located (Ps. 43:3); his abode was established in Salem [later Jerusalem] and his dwellingplace in Zion (Ps. 76:3). Zion is God’s seat of government and the cultic center,”[21] especially after Solomon’s completion and dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8, which supersedes the tabernacle as the resting place of the ark of the covenant, the Lord’s stylized throne. We have previously noted the well-rooted connotation of Zion in the Hebrew Bible as a place of protection. Wildberger further notes that in the Psalms he quotes, “concepts about an impregnable mountain of God are used in a transferred sense and reapplied.”[22] From the perspective of the Restoration, we can see Enoch’s “high and lifted up” Zion whose king is “Messiah . . . the rock of Heaven” (a mountain image) being transferred and reapplied to Melchizedek’s Salem-“heaven” (JST Genesis 14:26–36; Psalm 76:2 [MT 3]), which is later reapplied again to Zion-Jerusalem in the Psalms and in Isaiah.

Wildberger contrasts the Psalmists whose “refuge has been taken with Yahweh” (compare the abundant use of the verb ḥāsâ in the Psalms)[23]—rather than, strictly speaking, in Zion itself—with Isaiah who “highlights the inviolability of the city itself, even when threatened by mighty foes.”[24] However, these concepts are not mutually exclusive: for Isaiah, Zion itself is the inviolable place of refuge because of its King—God himself is present within it.

Returning to the image of the Lord in Enoch’s Zion as “Messiah” and “the King of Zion, the rock of heaven,” the ancient Israelites’ view of the Lord was deeply rooted in the cultic conception that he was the King of Zion. Klouda writes: “The psalmist describes Yahweh as a refuge for the oppressed who ‘reigns in Zion,’ avenging the blood of society’s marginalized and executing righteousness for the weak and vulnerable.”[25] Examples of the converging imagery of the Lord as both divine refuge and king in Zion include the following: “The Lord also will be a refuge [miśgāb] for the oppressed, a refuge [miśgāb] in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion [lyhwh yōšēb ṣiyyôn; or, “to the Lord who sits enthroned in Zion”]: declare among the people his doings. When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble [Qere: ʿănāwîm; Ketiv: ʿnyym]” (Psalm 9:9–12 [MT 10–13]). “Beautiful for situation [beautiful in height, yĕpēh nôp], the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north [ṣāpôn = Mt. Zaphon], the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces [citadels, i.e., places of protection] for a refuge [miśgāb]” (Psalm 48:2–3 [MT 3–4]). These texts help us picture the type of protective Zion-abode and refuge in which the Lord was believed to reign as its protective King—the King whose special concern is the poor and marginalized of his people.

More than refuge, miśgāb denotes “a high point for a refuge.”[26] This noun derives from the verbal root śāgab, “to be too high, be too strong for”; “to be high, inaccessible”; “exalted”; “too high, unattainable.”[27] Thus, miśgāb and the perceived meaning of Zion share some conceptual overlap. It seems to be in the sense of “a high point for refuge” that Moses 7:24 describes the situation to which Enoch and later Zion were eventually taken: “And Enoch was high and lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father, and of the Son of Man.” In other words, having protected the most vulnerable among their people, Enoch and Zion were taken to heaven as a further protection from the sins of that age and the divine judgments that would inevitably follow. The metaphor of God as a high “cliff” for a “refuge”[28] is prevalent in the Psalms[29] and is the same one that we find in Moses 7:53: “I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven, which is broad as eternity; whoso cometh in at the gate and climbeth up by me shall never fall.” Bellinger observes that “Yahweh’s dwelling on Mount Zion is in line with the common ANE [ancient Near Eastern] mythical idea that gods lived on cosmic hills.”[30] The various iterations of this ancient Near Eastern motif may reflect an earlier conception of sky-dwelling deities[31] similar to the one given us in Moses 7:21, 53 about the Lord dwelling in Zion and the city being elevated to “the Rock of Heaven” as “mine abode forever” (compare also Moses 7:64 and Genesis 28:12–13).

Later during the monarchic period, the Lord’s enthronement as king in Zion was particularly symbolized by the ark of the covenant and its lid (kappōret), a stylized throne situated in the holy of holies of the tabernacle/temple where the Mosaic atonement rites (kipper, kippurîm) were performed. Psalm 9 metaphorically describes the Lord-enthroned-in-Zion as a “high point for a refuge [miśgāb]” (Psalm 9:10–11 [MT 11–12]). He himself, as an “oppressed and . . . afflicted”[32] servant,[33] would atone for the oppressed and would know their plight. Thus, the poor could take refuge in him and in Zion: “The poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless” (Psalm 10:14). Note how JST Psalm 14:5–7 ties together the concept of God being enthroned among the righteous, as he was among Enoch’s people (Moses 7:16), with his role as protector of the poor and marginalized, and with the permanent establishment of Zion as the end goal in view:

They are in great fear, for God dwells [sits enthroned in] in the generation [bĕdôr, literally, in the circle] of the righteous. He is the counsel of the poor, because they are ashamed of the wicked, and flee unto the Lord, for their refuge.

They are ashamed of the counsel of the poor [ʿăṣat-ʿānî] because the Lord is his refuge [maḥsēhû].

Oh that Zion were established out of heaven, the salvation of Israel. O Lord, when wilt thou establish Zion? When the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, Israel shall be glad. (Italicized English words are those added in the JST.)

In order for Zion to be “established out of heaven” as envisioned in JST Psalm 14:5–7, the Lord’s people must themselves become champions and protectors of the poor as shown in Moses 7:18. Few passages in ancient scripture give specific concrete legislative steps for how the Lord’s people were to accomplish this. The “covenant economics” commandments of Deuteronomy 15:1–18 constitute a notable exception.

Although not directly tied to Enoch’s Zion, Melchizedek’s Salem, or Davidic concepts of Zion, the economic commandments of Deuteronomy 15 provided steps toward a more egalitarian covenant society. The first step in these covenant economics for protecting and elevating the poor in Israel/Zion was to institute a remission of debts during the Sabbatical year: “At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the Lord’s release” (Deuteronomy 15:1–2). As Horsley has observed, “The instruction given for the remission indicates explicitly that this was not a mere moratorium or postponement, but a cancellation of debts. Every creditor was to remit the claim held against the debtor, and not exact it against any member of the community (15:2).”[34] Bruce Birch describes the intent underlying the legislation thusly: “So that the poor would not remain permanently in debt, the law called for the remission of debts every seven years (Deut. 15:1–2; Lev. 25:1ff.), and if a poor man sold himself into servitude because of debts, he was to be given freedom in the seventh year (Lev. 25:39–55).”[35]

The telos (or end goal) of this Sabbatical remission and the legislation that follows is explicit. It is not as the KJV words it, “Save when there shall no poor among you” but rather “nevertheless [ʾepes kî][36] there shall be no poor among you [lōʾ yihyeh-bĕkā ʾebyôn]; for the Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it: only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day” (Deuteronomy 15:4–5; alteration of the KJV translation is mine). The text and context of Moses 7:18 (“And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them)” helps us appreciate that poverty need not be understood in purely economic terms, though it unquestionably includes that, but spiritual poverty can also include seeking relief from the oppression of sin or a lack of access to spiritual blessings (covenants, ordinances, doctrine, fellowship with the saints, and so forth). Just as a Zion without the Lord as its king is not Zion at all, a Zion that does not serve as a refuge and a place of protection and supply for its most vulnerable members—its economic and spiritually poor—is also not Zion.

When the Lord commanded members of the Church early in this dispensation to, “with one heart and one mind, gather up your riches” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:65) to establish Zion as a city, he made a direct lexical recollection of the account of Enoch’s people in Moses 7. In this account, Enoch’s people qualified for and received the name Zion because they were “of one heart and one mind, . . . dwel[ling] in righteousness” with “no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). The Lord was urging the saints to get serious about achieving the covenant utopian ideal of Deuteronomy 15:4 (“There shall be no poor among you”), which Enoch’s Zion and the Nephites’ and Lamanites’ civilization after Christ’s coming (see 4 Nephi 1:2–3, 15–18) had both achieved on similar principles (compare the oneness concept in Christ’s intercessory prayers in John 17:11, 20–23 and 3 Nephi 19:23, 29).

Beginning in Deuteronomy 15:5 we see an emerging emphasis on the divinity and sanctity of the covenant economics in terms of its having been commanded (Hebrew ṣāwâ) by the Lord, an emphasis that Nephi will specifically make in connection with Zion/ṣiyyôn (2 Nephi 26), as we will see. There would be “no poor among” them, “only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments [hammiṣwâ, singular, commandment] which I command [mĕṣawwĕkā] thee this day” (Deuteronomy 15:5).

Bruce Birch describes how the Deuteronomic legislation protected the poor: “The law codes also provide for protection of the dispossessed in other areas of the socioeconomic system. Persons were urged to lend money to the poor . . . but the law prohibited the taking of interest.”[37] Deuteronomy 15:7–8 stipulated: “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.” Also commenting on these verses, Horsley notes that “lenders had to reckon with the possibility that, since they themselves had little or no surplus as a cushion, they too might run out of food before the next harvest, or the next harvest might be poor. It was thus important to reinforce the custom of cooperation and mutual aid among villagers with covenantal exhortation such as Deuteronomy 15:7–8.”[38] In other words, because the Israelites were part of a covenant community, they were reliant on one another. The Enochic Zion ideal with which Moses was familiar, as a place of economic and spiritual protection where there is “no poor among them” (Moses 7:18; Deuteronomy 15:4), could only be achieved to the degree that the community kept the covenant.

Jesus perfectly understood this, as reflected in his teaching in the Sermon on the Plain: “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:35). Writes Horsley, “The summary of the admonitions . . . ‘love your enemies, and do good, and lend,’ with its repetition of the covenantal insistence on liberal lending to one’s needy neighbors (Exod. 22:25; Deut. 15:7–8), confirms . . . that we are listening to covenantal teaching.”[39] The type of oneness for which Jesus prayed in his intercessory prayers (John 17:11, 20–23; 3 Nephi 19:23, 29) cannot be achieved without the inward transformation called for in Jesus’s covenant sermons (Matthew 5–7; Luke 11:20–49; 3 Nephi 12–14). A Zion community is ultimately a covenant- and commandment-keeping community.

To achieve “one heart and one mind,” to “dwell in righteousness,” and to eliminate economic and spiritual poverty ultimately requires a mighty change of “heart.”[40] Jesus emphasized in the Sermon on the Mount and in other teachings that the state of one’s inner being matters most. The covenant economics laws of Deuteronomy 15 also reflect this:

Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee.

Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.

For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee [mĕṣawwĕkā], saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. (Deuteronomy 15:9–11)

The Lord emphasizes that heartfelt generosity to the liberated poor constitutes a commandment (“I command thee”). The intents of the hearts of the Lord’s people—including their determination to be one—have always been the determining factors in the success or lack of success with their keeping of the commandments and instituting programs designed to help lift his people out of economic and spiritual poverty, because the inner being of individuals motivates outward actions. When Jesus said to his disciples, “Ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always” (Mark 14:7), he referenced Deuteronomy 15:11. Matthew renders Jesus’s words thus, “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always” (Matthew 26:11). Latter-day Saints should appreciate the elimination of poverty in Enoch’s Zion (see Moses 7:18) as an achievement of the highest order in view of the preceding Deuteronomic statements and Jesus’s own words regarding the seeming invincibility of human poverty.[41]

The covenant economics continue with an explicit command to give liberally to debt-slaves because they are among the community’s most vulnerable. When poor Israelites were released from servitude as debt-slaves in the seventh year (as stipulated in Deuteronomy 15:12), they were not to “then be sent out empty-handed but given provisions from the flocks and harvest.”[42] The Lord declared: “And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee [mĕṣawwĕkā] this thing to day” (Deuteronomy 15:13–15). Jeremiah describes Judah’s destruction and exile by the Babylonians as a consequence of a longstanding failure to keep this commandment, despite Zedekiah’s “liberty” proclamation (see Jeremiah 34:8–22). After freeing their slaves in obedience to this royal decree, some of the princes and wealthier Judahites had reclaimed their fellow Judahites as slaves—that is, they forced their return into the most vulnerable economic circumstances possible. These constituted decidedly anti-Zion actions. As Sharon Ringe notes, “The language with which Jeremiah reports God’s indictment when they renege on their agreement parallels that of Deut. 15:12.”[43] Jeremiah describes this as a covenant failure, and it constituted a reversal of the work of the Messiah as detailed in Isaiah 61:1–3 (“to proclaim liberty to the captives, . . . to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, . . . to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion”).

There is no wiggle room in this commandment. Jaime L. Waters observes that in keeping it, ancient Israelites became more like the Lord: “Generosity is mandated because Yahweh has been generous to Israel. While the Priestly law in Num. 15:17–21 mandates a reciprocal offering given to Yahweh because of the gifts he provides, the law in Deut. 15:14–15 is a law to imitate Yahweh. The importance of sharing Yahweh’s blessings is especially highlighted.”[44]

Notably, the Lord calls to his people’s remembrance Israel’s recent experience as poor slaves in Egypt, an experience from which the Lord had redeemed them. As Birch puts it, “It is the constant remembrance of [the] Exodus in recital and praise that keeps the Exodus experience available as a source of hope, but such remembrance is also to be a source of humility.”[45] The Exodus offered ancient Israel and Judah all the evidence that they should have needed to convince them that the Lord wanted a better life for even the poorest of his people and that he was ever to remain the source of that hope. As Jennifer C. Lane points out, the book of Deuteronomy reiterated to the ancient Israelites that their (then) newly formed relationship with the Lord “extended from the covenants that he made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel.”[46] As Isaiah reminded them, he was their gōʾēl,[47] their kinsman-redeemer—the term itself implying kinship with the redeemed.[48] Thus, “they knew that [Jehovah’s] redemption grew out of the family relationship formed through the covenants they had made.”[49] Such remembrance helped them understand the true nature of their relationship to the Lord and to each other (as equals). Remembering the Lord’s actions in their behalf in times past reflected their faith that “when the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory” and that “he will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer” (Psalm 102:16–17).

The collective ancient Israelite and Judahite failure to righteously build Zion over time (“they build up Zion with blood,” Micah 3:10) and their eventual expulsion from the land of promise find their parallel in the Saints’ failure to build Zion in Missouri and in their expulsion from that land. Elder D. Todd Christofferson explains:

Under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, early members of the Church attempted to establish the center place of Zion in Missouri, but they did not qualify to build the holy city. The Lord explained one of the reasons for their failure:

They have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; and are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom” (D&C 105:3–4).

“There were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances” (D&C 101:6).[50]

From the hindsight of a twenty-first century perspective, we can see how the ancient Israelites and Judahites and the early Saints of this dispensation failed to establish Zion. Elder Christofferson further recommends, “Rather than judge these early Saints too harshly, however, we should look to ourselves to see if we are doing any better.”[51]

The essentiality of all of the foregoing commandments and obedience thereto for the establishment of Zion could not have been articulated more clearly than when the Lord declared his “will” to the early saints “concerning the redemption of [his] afflicted people” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:1). He further stated: “And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself. And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer” (105:5–6).

“God received” Enoch’s Zion “up into his own bosom” because of its “righteousness”—its justice—and elimination of poverty (Moses 7:18). Similarly, Melchizedek’s Salem “did repent” and “wrought righteousness [or justice], and obtained heaven” (JST Genesis 14:34) by also caring for “the poor” through tithes (JST Genesis 14:37–38). So, too, the Lamanites and Nephites show that the ideal can be attained (4 Nephi 1:2–3, 13–18). Nevertheless, the Lord’s people remain without the divine protection intended for Zion to the degree that they disregard the Lord’s commandments, not least his Zion commandments upon which Zion’s economic, physical, and spiritual protections are predicated. In other words, though “children of Zion, . . . many . . . were found transgressors, therefore they must needs be chastened” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:41; compare also 101:1–5). Regarding these Zion commandments, another prophet, Nephi (whose writings strongly reflect the influence of Deuteronomy and Isaiah), had much to offer his people and us.

“And He Hath Commanded His People”: The Zion Commandments of 2 Nephi 26:24–33

Nephi gives the Lord’s people in the latter days a useful roadmap for “doing better.” Although Enoch’s Zion deservedly gets ample attention from Latter-day Saints for its success, Nephi also had a specific vision for achieving Zion. Unsurprisingly, that vision is deeply rooted in the writings of Isaiah, who mentions Zion no less than forty times. Most of the references to Zion in the Book of Mormon are quotations from the writings of Isaiah.[52] Nephi cites the Lord’s love for the world, evident in his atoning sacrifice, as the motivating factor for doing all he does and commanding all he commands. A Zion people must be willing to love, sacrifice, consecrate themselves, and eliminate poverty in order to assist in the work of “draw[ing] all . . . unto him”:

He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.

Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.

Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.

Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.

He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.

Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.

But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.

And again, the Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another; that they should not commit whoredoms; and that they should do none of these things; for whoso doeth them shall perish.

For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. (2 Nephi 26:24–33; economics- and commandment-related terminology has been bolded, and paronomastic terminology has been underlined)

Nephi’s Zion instruction here is remarkable for, among many reasons, his dramatic emphasis on what the Lord has—and has not—commanded. The repetition of a verb translated as “command” (compare Hebrew ṣwy/ṣwh; Egyptian wḏ, “command”)[53] and a noun translated as “commandment” (compare Hebrew miṣwâ; Egyptian wḏ, “command, decree”)[54] intersects with the name Zion (ṣiyyôn) and has the paronomastic effect[55] of emphasizing Zion as the practical result or realized effect of obedience to divine commandments. The most important of the Zion-commandments that Nephi lists is “charity, which charity is love”—or, as Nephi describes it later, “a love of God and of all men” (2 Nephi 31:20). Charity is the love with which the Savior showed perfect obedience to the Father in performing his atoning sacrifice. Following the Savior’s ministry among the Lamanites and Nephites at the temple in Bountiful, Mormon records that the Lamanites’ and Nephites’ collective keeping of this commandment allowed them to achieve Zion among Lehi’s descendants: “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people” (4 Nephi 1:15). They became at-one.

Nevertheless, as Nephi makes clear, one cannot keep the commandment to “have charity” and at the same time “suffer the laborer in Zion to perish” (2 Nephi 26:30). The commandments in Deuteronomy 15 have this same intent: to eliminate the economic barriers that inhibit spiritual growth, to enable the laborer in Zion to labor for Zion and to thus prevent the laborer in Zion from perishing, since we are, in a very real sense, “all beggars” (Mosiah 4:19). Hence also the Lord’s commandments against priestcrafts, which Nephi defines as self-serving actions that “seek not the welfare of Zion” (2 Nephi 26:29). Nephi’s Zion is, in the language of Isaiah, a refuge for “the poor” and “he [or she] that hath no money” (Isaiah 55:1). Nephi quotes the latter verse when Jesus invites, “Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price” (2 Nephi 26:25; compare also 2 Nephi 9:50, where Jacob quotes this verse). Nephi indisputably draws this invitation from Isaiah 55:1, a text especially addressed to the poor: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (compare Matthew 5:3, 6; 3 Nephi 12:3, 6). Everyone in Zion has wealth or gifts from Christ (1 Corinthians 7:7; 12:7)—spiritual and otherwise—that can help to elevate the economic and spiritually poor in Zion (which on some level includes everyone); thus these types of poverty in Zion would eventually be eliminated.

Among the commandments necessary for achieving Zion, Nephi recites a list of commandments related to the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20). These commandments are expressed as negative prohibitions against murder (“thou shalt not kill”), lying (“thou shalt not bear false witness”), taking the name of the Lord in vain (“thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”), stealing (“thou shalt not steal”), envying (“thou shalt not covet”), creating strife or contention, and committing whoredoms (“thou shalt not commit adultery”) (2 Nephi 26:32). All of these sins damage lives and relationships. They inhibit spiritual progress and at-one-ment among God’s children. Those who persist in such sins cannot love the world and their fellow human beings in the way that the Lord does and thus cannot perfectly keep the commandment to have charity. They cannot take on his nature and character. They cannot build Zion on earth or belong to that divine Zion sociality of which the celestial kingdom consists (compare Doctrine and Covenants 130:2). To attempt to “build up Zion [ṣiyyôn] with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity” (Micah 3:10) is not to build them at all.


Although the ultimate etymological origin of the name Zion remains uncertain, in Restoration scripture it is initially bestowed as the name of a people and a place (Moses 7:18–19) and is associated with the divine protection that accompanies God’s presence among his covenant-keeping people (Moses 7:16–20). Similarly, in the Hebrew Bible it appears to have been understood in terms of the Semitic root -w/y-n, associated with hilltops, mountain ranges, and fortresses, thus suggesting the meaning of a “place of protection.” The image of Zion as a mountaintop, rock fortress, or place of protection is reflected in Zion’s elevation to God by divine embrace as the supreme measure of protection in Moses 7:21, 23–24, 27, 30–31, 62–63, 69 and especially in Moses 7:53, where the Lord describes himself as “Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven.” Zion’s connotation as a place of protection for the poor, reflected in Moses 7:18, was reinforced by its association with the mĕṣûdâ (“fortress”) near Jerusalem and with the Psalms’ descriptions of the Lord, the king of Zion, as a miśgāb (“high point of refuge”) and a maḥseh (“place of refuge”). For Isaiah, Zion was thus the “place of refuge” (Isaiah 4:5–6) in which the poor could “take refuge” (Isaiah 14:30, 32).

Physical and spiritual poverty constitute a barrier to relational at-one-ment and spiritual progress. The Lord instituted covenant economics (Deuteronomy 15:1–18) in the form of commandments for the protection of the poor, making possible the ideal of “no poor among you” (compare Moses 7:18). In 2 Nephi 26, Nephi makes a paronomastic link between Zion (ṣiyyôn) and Zion-commandments (compare Hebrew ṣāwâ, miṣwâ), the greatest of which is charity—the love that motivated the Savior’s giving of himself in his Atonement. Full, Christ-like obedience to these Zion-commandments enables his people to assist in the messianic work of “drawing all . . . unto him” (2 Nephi 26:24–33; compare Isaiah 61:1–4).


[1] That is, an account of origin. Etiology derives from the Greek word aitia meaning “cause.” For a brief discussion of the phenomenon of biblical etiology, see Michael H. Floyd, “Etiology” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary of the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon 2007), 2:352. Floyd explains, “As a critical term applied to narrative, etiology refers to stories that tell how something came to be or came to have its definitive characteristics. In Scripture such stories are typically told about names of persons and places, rites and customs, ethnic identities and other natural phenomena” (p. 352).

[2] See preface to section 97 in the 2013 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

[3] For a helpful discussion of Hebrew terms describing the poor, see Nathan Bills, A Theology of Justice in Exodus (University Park, PA: Eisenbrauns, 2020), 50.

[4] Richard A. Horsley, Covenant Economics: A Biblical Vision of Justice for All (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2009), passim.

[5] Paronomasia is a form of wordplay involving the juxtaposition or repetition of words with similar sounds.

[6] See Moses 7:18–21 [5x], 23, 27, 31, 47, 53, 62, 64, 68–69 [4x].

[7] William H. Bellinger Jr., “Zion,” in The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009), 5:985.

[8] Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, ed. J. Milton Cowan, 4th ed. (Urbana, IL: Spoken Language Services, 1994), 621.

[9] Thomas Römer, The Invention of God, trans. Raymond Geuss (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015), 130. “Some scholars have claimed that [ṣiyyôn] is derived from a Hurrite word meaning ‘water,’ but others have suggested that it is related to the root s-y-y which would make Zion ‘the dry place.’ However, a more plausible root would be ṣ-w/y-n; a comparison with the identical root in Arabic suggests that this would mean ‘protect,’ so Zion would be the fortress” (p. 130).

[10] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden, NL: Brill, 2001), 1022; hereafter cited as HALOT.

[11] HALOT, 1022–23.

[12] Sheri L. Klouda, “Zion,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry, and Writings: A Compendium, ed. Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008), 936.

[13] Bellinger, “Zion,” 985.

[14] Bellinger, “Zion,” 986.

[15] Klouda, “Zion,” 939.

[16] HALOT, 337. Compare Akkadian ḫesû, “to cover up, shroud.” Jeremy Black, Andrew George, Nicholas Postgate, eds., Concise Dictionary of Akkadian (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2000), 114.

[17] HALOT, 571.

[18] Hans Wildberger, Isaiah 13–27: A Continental Commentary, trans. Thomas H. Trapp (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), 101.

[19] Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16 with reference to Jesus in 1 Peter 2:4–8 (in connection with Isaiah 8:14–15 and Psalm 118:22). Paul similarly quotes Isaiah 28:16 in Romans 9:33 (in conjunction with Isaiah 8:14–15) and in Romans 10:11. In the Book of Mormon, Jacob plausibly quotes or paraphrases it in reference to Jesus in Jacob 4:15–17 (in connection with Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14–15). Helaman directly alludes to it in Helaman 5:12 (compare “sure foundation”).

[20] The concept in Moses 7:62 is similar to the Exodus when the Israelites ate the Passover with their “loins girded, [their] shoes on [their] feet, and [with their staffs] in . . . hand” (Exodus 12:11).

[21] Wildberger, Isaiah 13–27, 100.

[22] Wildberger, Isaiah 13–27, 100.

[23] For example, Psalms 2:12 [MT 11]; 5:11 [MT 12]; 7:1 [MT 2]; 11:1; 16:1; 17:7; 18:2, 30 [MT 3, 31]; 34:8, 22 [MT 9, 23]; 36:7 [MT 8]; 37:40; 57:1 [MT 2]; 61:4 [MT 5]; 64:10 [MT 11]; 71:1; 118:8–9; 144:2.

[24] Wildberger, Isaiah 13–27, 101.

[25] Klouda, “Zion,” 937.

[26] HALOT, 640.

[27] HALOT, 1305–6.

[28] HALOT, 640.

[29] Psalms 9:9 [MT 10]; 18:2 [MT 3] (2 Samuel 22:3); 46:7, 11 [MT 8, 12]; 48:3 [MT 4]; 59:9, 16–17 [MT 10, 17–18]; 62:2, 6 [MT 3, 7]; 94:22; 144:2.

[30] Bellinger, “Zion,” 986.

[31] Compare Latin deus/dea (“god/goddess”; cognate with Greek Zeus; Latin Jupiter) as deriving from Indo-European *dyeu, the daytime sky.

[32] Isaiah 53:7 (Mosiah 14:7). Abinadi quotes this verse with reference to Christ in Mosiah 13:35. Compare also Isaiah 53:4 (Mosiah 14:4).

[33] Isaiah 53:11 (Mosiah 14:11).

[34] Horsley, Covenant Economics, 45.

[35] Bruce C. Birch, Let Justice Roll Down: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Christian Life (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991), 181–82.

[36] On the syntactical function and meaning of ʾepes kî, see Bruce M. Waltke and M. O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 672 (§39.3.5e.).

[37] Birch, Let Justice Roll Down, 181.

[38] Horsley, Covenant Economics, 42.

[39] Horsley, Covenant Economics, 106.

[40] Compare Mosiah 5:2; Alma 5:12–14; 19:33.

[41] A key verb in Mark 14:7, will, is also a key term in our sacrament prayers and a key concept in the law of consecration. The concept is designed to eliminate physical and spiritual poverty among the Lord’s people.

[42] Birch, Let Justice Roll Down, 182.

[43] Sharon H. Ringe, Jesus, Liberation, and the Biblical Jubilee (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2004), 23.

[44] Jaime L. Waters, Threshing Floors in Ancient Israel: Their Ritual and Symbolic Significance (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), 65.

[45] Birch, Let Justice Roll Down, 130. Birch elsewhere (p. 165) notes, “The slave formula appears primarily as a separate and distinct command: ‘Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt’ (Deut. 5:15; 5:15; 16:12; 24:18, 22).”

[46] Jennifer C. Lane, Finding Christ in the Covenant Path: Ancient Insights for Modern Life (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2020), 22.

[47] Isaiah 41:14; 43:1, 14; 44:6, 22–24; 27:4; 48:17, 20; 49:7, 26; 52:9; 54:5, 8; 59:20; 60:16; 63:9, 16. See further Isaiah 35:9; 51:10; 52:3; 62:12; 63:4.

[48] Numbers 5:8; Ruth 3:9, 12–13; 4:1, 3, 6, 8, and 14.

[49] Lane, Finding Christ, 21.

[50] D. Todd Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” Ensign, November 2008, 37–38; emphasis added.

[51] Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” 38.

[52] 1 Nephi 21:14; 22:14, 19; 2 Nephi 6:12–13; 8:3, 11, 16, 24–25; 10:13, 16; 12:3; 13:16–17; 14:3–5; 18:18; 20:12, 24, 32; 22:6; 24:32; 27:3; Mosiah 12:21–22; 15:14, 29; 3 Nephi 16:18; 20:36–37, 40; Moroni 10:31; compare 1 Nephi 13:37.

[53] Raymond O. Faulkner, A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian (Oxford: Griffith Institute, 1999), 73.

[54] Faulkner, Concise Dictionary, 74.

[55] This putative paronomasia (a play on words with similar sounds) involving Zion assumes that, although we only have the text in English, Nephi used Hebrew ṣwy/ṣwh-terms or the Egyptian term wḏ (compare 1 Nephi 1:2)—terms that would have created this literary effect.