"The Lord Hath Made Bare His Holy Arm"

Nephite Treatments of Isaiah 52:7-10

Matthew Scott Stenson

M. Scott Stenson, ""The Lord Hath Made Bare His Holy Arm": Nephite Treatments of Isaiah 52:7-10," Religious Educator 22, no. 3 (2021): 37-57.

M. Scott Stenson (scottstenson14@gmail.com) is an instructor of English at Tennessee Tech University.

The Book of Mormon deliberately draws its readers’ attention to the writings of Isaiah from beginning to end.[1] The Nephites had access to these writings by means of the brass plates obtained from Laban. Much of the book of Isaiah can be found quoted, paraphrased, or alluded to in the pages of the Nephite record.[2] In 2 Nephi, Nephi quotes Isaiah 2–14 at length before weaving Isaiah 29 into his final great prophecy (see 2 Nephi 25–30). But even before that, in 1 Nephi 20 and 21 he quotes Isaiah 48 and 49 in their entirety. Just chapters later in his second book, Nephi has his brother Jacob return to Isaiah 49 and further recount Isaiah 50–51 and 52:1–2. In Mosiah, where we encounter Abinadi’s teachings, Isaiah 52:7–10 and 53 are explored. However, it is not until 3 Nephi before Mormon returns the reader in earnest to Isaiah’s writings. He reports that Jesus Christ himself spends time expounding Isaiah 52:7–10 and 54 along with other Old Testament prophets, including large portions of Micah (see 3 Nephi 21:12–21) and Malachi (see 3 Nephi 24–25). (It is curious that Jesus leaves out Isaiah 53, the moving chapter rehearsing the suffering of a servant). As did Nephi (and arguably Abinadi), Jesus, according to Mormon, demonstrates that Isaiah’s writings have direct application to the emergence of a record and the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant (see 3 Nephi 20:10–23:5). Moroni himself, last editor of the book, fuses in his final exhortation language from Isaiah 5:26 (Moroni 10:28), 29:4 (10:27), 52:1–2 (10:31), and 54:2 (10:31) with the record’s receipt. Thus, by design, the Book of Mormon points its readers not only to Isaiah’s message but also to important passages from the prophet, especially Isaiah 49:22–23 (in the earliest part) and 52:7–10 (in the latest part). I focus on different iterations of Isaiah 52:7–10 as found throughout the Book of Mormon.

Scholarship around Isaiah 52:7–10 has been somewhat established. Aside from ascribing the passage to “Second Isaiah” and lumping it with thematically associated chapters (see Isaiah 40–55),[3] biblical scholars divide the chapter into four or five sections (52:1–2; 3–6; 7–10; and 11–12; 13–15). In section 1, the Prophet poetically exhorts “Zion”/“Jerusalem” to “awake”/“arise” “from the dust” (52:1–2). In section 2, he promises redemption, acknowledging Israel’s troubled history with Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. While troubled and in exile, the Lord’s “name” has been and will be “blasphemed” and neglected (52:5).[4] Therefore, the Lord promises that “my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak” (52:6).[5] The traditional understanding of section 3 (verses 7–10) is that in it the prophet announces the receipt of a herald of the Lord by joyous watchmen of the besieged city of Jerusalem.[6] Further, consonant with other consoling themes of Isaiah 40–55, it is agreed that these verses portend a day of redemption for those of the city and, in some sense, for “all the ends of the earth” (52:10). Lastly, the Lord commands his people to “go . . . out from” Babylon in a “new exodus” (52:11–12).[7] The foregoing represents, more or less, the scholarly consensus. Adding specificity to this text’s contours has been difficult due to the ambiguity of the Isaian imagery. Notably, however, one recent treatment by Gaye Strathearn and Ryan Moody of Isaiah 52:13–15 compared the Lord’s servant to the Book of Mormon.[8] Thus, I am comfortable arguing that it is perhaps time to venture still further specific understandings of the phraseology of Isaiah 52:7–10 using the Book of Mormon as guide. Working from these phrases, I suggest that it, among other things, represents the coming forth of itself. My work at times relies on, and at other times, responds to, some of the work that has been done by Latter-day Saint scholars already.[9] Distinctions between the critical output so far and this analysis will naturally emerge as we walk through Abinadi’s teachings and those of the postresurrection Jesus, both of whom, as indicated, expound the Isaian passage.

With this summary of Isaiah 52:7–10 and its critical context in place, it will be helpful to quote the text as it stands in the King James Version of the Bible (emphasis mine throughout paper):

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him [a servant with a new message of deliverance] that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! [Thy God who reigns in heaven speaks anew]

Thy [Zion’s] watchmen shall lift up the voice [to rejoice at the news]; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye [with the former prophets and poets], when the Lord shall bring again Zion [gather Israel and establish Zion].

Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath [promised to] comfort [ . . . ] his people, he hath [promised to] redeem [. . .] Jerusalem.

The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (52:7–10; see also 1 Nephi 19:13–19; 2 Nephi 26:25; 33:13)

This significant prophetic passage arguably has its origin in Psalm 98. One strong reason for saying this is provided by J. Clinton McCann Jr.: “As for postexilic prophecy, there are major connections between the enthronement Psalms (Psalms 93, 95–99) and the material in Isaiah 40–55.”[10] Thus, it is plausible to read Isaiah 52:7–10 as echoing Psalm 98. Here is the Psalm:

O sing [house of Israel] unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory [over all your enemies].

The Lord hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen [the Lord has revealed/restored the fulness of the gospel to the Gentiles].

He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel [according to the covenants] [see Psalm 85]: all the ends of the earth have seen [will yet see] the salvation of our God. (verses 1–3)[11]

Of the eleven or so passages in the Book of Mormon that directly allude to Isaiah 52:7–10, ten of them can be eschatologically situated (see 1 Nephi 13:37; 19:17; 22:10–11; 2 Nephi 8:24–25; Mosiah 12:21–24; 15:14–20, 28–31; 16:1–2; 27:37 [outlier]; 3 Nephi 16:17–20; 20:32, 34–45; Ether 4:8–12, 17–19 [included because it illuminates Isaiah 52:6–7 in the same context]).[12] In other words, ten of them fall within discussions on the fulfillment of the covenant through the Book of Mormon’s emergence. On this point, the Book of Mormon is brim with what the rhetoricians call “metacommentary,” which refers to instances when the book speaks of itself.[13] So the book has many external witnesses (including the writers of Psalms, Isaiah, and Ezekiel) of its mission and message, but none as persuasive as itself (see Ether 4:4). The Nephite record does not only cite Isaiah, however; it recontextualizes and repurposes his writings and directs its readers to anticipate those prophecies’ complete fulfillment in their day. According to Nephi, modern readers will understand Isaiah when his words are fulfilled (see 2 Nephi 25:8). Thus, apart from understanding Isaiah in its historical and biblical context (the initial aim of most biblical scholarship), we should also seek to understand his Nephite reception and especially the appropriations of his prophecies (Isaiah 52:7–10) as available and discernible in the Book of Mormon.[14] Nephi, Jacob, Abinadi, Jesus, and Moroni were all diligent students and teachers of Isaiah’s writings. After some preliminaries, I describe three characteristic passages wherein Isaiah 52:7–10 is invoked or suggested (Mosiah 12:21–24, 15:14–20; 3 Nephi 16:17–20; 20:32, 34–45). I use these passages to propose new ways to understand certain parts of the Isaian prophecy. It is my hope in the process to deepen appreciation of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration.

Similar to Nephi, Abinadi suggests that those who wish to comprehend Isaiah’s prophecy must cultivate the “spirit of prophesying” and “apply [their] hearts to understanding” (Mosiah 12:25, 27; see also 2 Nephi 25:4). Further, it was this very prophecy that on day one confused the Lehites when Jesus was among them: “I perceive that ye are weak,” he says to them, “that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time” (3 Nephi 17:2). “Therefore,” he continues, “go unto your homes, and ponder . . . and ask . . . that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow” (3 Nephi 17:3). In addition to these interpretive principles, Jesus, Mormon reports, repeatedly commands his audience to “search these things diligently” and in relation to the former prophets and texts (3 Nephi 23:1; see also 20:11, 23:5). To comprehend Isaiah 52:7–10, inscrutable as parts of it are, readers also need to implement other more secular hermeneutical approaches common to practical criticism. What follows requires close attention to context clues, structural markers, patterns and themes, connections between words and interrelationships between texts, and linguistic nuances.[15] As noted, the imagery in Isaiah 52:7–10 can be elusive, and sometimes even the prophetic or messianic commentary about the prophecy can be as challenging as the original poetic lines themselves. Thus, this alternative reading is only tentative and therefore open to further scholarly evaluation and revision.

We turn now to three sections of the Book of Mormon that each illuminate a dimension of Isaiah 52:7–10 (Mosiah 12:17–16; 3 Nephi 15–17:3; 20:10–23:5). First, focusing on themes of salvation and redemption, I examine Isaiah 52 using Abinadi’s teachings in the land of Nephi (see verses 7 and 10). Second, focusing on the motif of the voice, I analyze Isaiah 52 as situated in the first half of Jesus’s discourse among the Lehites (see verse 8). Lastly, focusing on the imagery of the “holy arm” of the Lord, I venture to explain Isaiah 52 as situated in the second half of Jesus’s sermon to the Lehites (see verse 10). Using each example (which corresponds to the general narrative trajectory of the Book of Mormon), I situate the Isaian themes and language in context with the fulfillment of the covenant and demonstrate that the Isaian prophecy, in the hands of Abinadi and Jesus, prefigures the Book of Mormon and the Restoration. In the last part of the argument, I rely on Moses’s great messianic prophecy found in Deuteronomy 18:15–19, demonstrating that Jesus, in Mormon’s abridged account, gives it a premillennial application. To make the argument more accessible, I provide in the next section the verse or verses in question before embarking on the analysis.

Abinadi’s Focus on Salvation and Redemption in Mosiah 12:21–24 (Isaiah 52:7–10)

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good; that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth . . . .

The Lord hath made bare his holy arm . . . and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (verses 7 and 10)

Employing these words frequently in his extended response to the wicked priests of King Noah, Abinadi focuses on the theme of salvation and redemption in at least three periods. Thus, his response to the king’s priests can be divided into three sections, each set off by the phrase “I say unto you, that the time shall come that/when” (Mosiah 13:27–15:27;15:28–31; and 16:1–2) (see Mosiah 3:20–21)].[16] Abinadi understands that Isaiah 52:7–10 applies (1) to the Lord’s first coming in power in the meridian of time (see Mosiah 13:27–15:27); (2) to a time before the Lord’s Second Coming in glory (Mosiah 15:28–31); and (3) to a distant day when the Lord would reign over a millennial kingdom of universal knowledge and understanding (Mosiah 16:1–2). Each future season represents a day of salvation and provides a way to understand that theme in Isaiah 52:7–10. As others have indicated,[17] Abinadi spends most of his effort shedding light on Isaiah 52:7 and only a little effort on illuminating Isaiah 52:8–10 (something Mormon records Jesus doing more of later). However, this present reading of Abinadi’s teachings that focuses on salvation and redemption is something of a departure from what scholars have written about Abinadi’s exposition of Isaiah 52:7–10. While they have noted that Abinadi says much about salvation and some about the future, they have not yet claimed that his teachings about salvation and redemption cover these three periods and, in that way, constitute Abinadi’s primary interpretive work of Isaiah 52:7–10. Instead, they have mostly dwelt on Abinadi’s historical context or on the messianic nature of the Isaian prophecy in relation to the meridian of time, both of which are obviously valuable approaches to the difficult text.

Abinadi comes among King Noah’s people and discloses his prophetic identity to affirm the Ten Commandments and teach that “God himself [will] come down among the children of men” in the meridian of time to atone for, and thereby save and redeem, his people if they will repent (Mosiah 15:1). This apparently was the message that he was sent to deliver before he was required to explain Isaiah 52:7–10. However, the people take Abinadi before King Noah and his court of priests. The king’s priests seek to “question him, that they might cross him, that thereby they might have wherewith to accuse him” (Mosiah 12:19). It may be, as Dana M. Pike and John W. Welch posit (and many others like Daniel L. Belnap and Matthew L. Bowen), that Noah’s priests see themselves, their king, and Abinadi inside the passage from Isaiah and therefore choose to use it to ensnare Abinadi in false prophecy. Alternatively, it seems just as likely that the priests have selected the Isaiah passage because it is notoriously challenging to understand, “hav[ing] been taught by [their] fathers” in various ways that have opened it up to further interpretive possibilities, much as Mormon’s Jesus does in 3 Nephi.[18] From one perspective, there seems to be little direct evidence[19] to suggest that Noah’s priests would have inquired about Isaiah 52:7–10 to compare their positive application of Isaiah 52:7–10 with Abinadi’s negative preaching of repentance, bondage, and destruction (Mosiah 12:21). Instead, it appears that Noah’s priests hope that in attempting to explain this demanding passage (one they have chosen after much deliberation [Mosiah 12:17]) Abinadi will “cross” his words and, ostensibly, become tangled in the exegetical precedent surrounding the imagery, thus falling into their trap (Mosiah 12:19). Further, if the passage’s meaning was familiar to the Nephites in the land of Nephi, I wonder why their later brethren would be so confused by it when less than two hundred years later Jesus would use it during his postresurrection visit (see 3 Nephi 17:1–3). As indicated, the Nephites before Abinadi and then later with the Jesus of 3 Nephi appear to view the passage as having complexity and fluidity. Whatever the actual case, Abinadi seizes the opportunity to either reprove the priests for (1) their willful misuse of a relatively straightforward stock prophecy or (2) their cunning employment of a more thorny prophecy: “if ye do understand these things [the alternative ways to see Isaiah 52:7–10], ye have not taught them.” (Perhaps the two may even be reconciled.) Abinadi skillfully uses Isaiah 52:7–10 (and Isaiah 53) to frame his subsequent message of salvation, issuing in the narrative two prophecies, prophecies that emerge from the Isaian passage (verses 8–10) and that coincide with the angel’s words to King Benjamin. Far from stumbling, therefore, Abinadi uses Isaiah 53 (Isaiah 52:13–15 is not used to preface 53 here) about the coming of the Lord in the meridian of time to transition into his eschatological discussion of Isaiah 52:7–10.[20]

Once Abinadi delivers his message about salvation through Christ and his Atonement and Resurrection, he can more fully answer the question that has been put to him about the meaning of Isaiah 52:7–10. In doing so, he speaks of two additional periods wherein salvation will be administered to all those who did, do, and yet will inhabit the earth. The first of the last two prophecies draws heavily on Isaiah 52:8–10:

And now I say unto you [priests of Noah] that the time shall come that the salvation of the Lord shall be declared to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

Yea, Lord, thy watchmen shall lift up their voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (See Mosiah 15:28–31.)

This prophecy near the end of Abinadi’s material about a day before the Second Coming of the Lord when “salvation [would be] declared to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” does not come out of nowhere. Abinadi earlier has rejoiced in the “feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time [his day] henceforth and forever” (15:17). In addition to the word of salvation declared, the passage indicates that in that day the Lord’s “watchmen” (leaders among Christ’s seed) would “lift up their voice . . . together” when they see that the Lord intends to “bring again Zion” (Mosiah 15:29). Beginning in this same period, Abinadi seems to suggest that even salvation would be declared among the dead because the “bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead” (Mosiah 15:20). The dead who died in “ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them” would find “restoration” and become part of the “first resurrection, or have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord” (15:24). Abinadi seems to use the Isaiah passage to reflect multiple periods, even embracing the dispensation of the fulness of times when salvation would be declared to the living and dead. This redemptive work would extend into the millennium. Thus, that is what he next targets.

According to Abinadi, the final period of salvation and redemption suggested by the imagery of Isaiah 52:7–10 happens after the first resurrection has occurred and has resumed at the coming of the Lord in glory. The preaching of the word of salvation beforehand that has been highlighted now finds culmination when knowledge covers the earth and all shall “see the salvation of the Lord” (Mosiah 16:1). No longer do only the “watchmen . . . see eye to eye” (a phrase that means they shall be unified in their understanding when they consider what the Lord is doing to gather the remnants of Israel and establish Zion), but now all those who remain “shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just” (Mosiah 15:29; 16:1). Here is the full passage:

The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgements are just.

And then shall the wicked be cast out, and they shall have cause to howl, and weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth; and this because they would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord; therefore the Lord redeemeth them not. (Mosiah 16:1–2)

The reference to universal knowledge, judgment, and division and destruction indicates that Abinadi applies the Isaiah language to the Second Coming and beyond. What is most remarkable as we look forward to our work with Jesus’s use of Isaiah 52:7–10 in 3 Nephi is that in Mosiah 16:2 Abinadi confirms his earlier point that the voice of salvation would be declared unto all people before the end would come and the millennial reign of Christ commence. The watchmen and saints would “lift up the voice” and declare salvation through Christ before the millennium would be ushered in. Regardless of how the passage was understood by King Noah’s priests and regardless of their motivations for choosing it to ensnare Abinadi, in interpreting it he has applied it to the Lord’s work of salvation in the meridian of time, to the work of salvation before the Second Coming, and to that work of salvation that will take place in the millennium when God reigns as King, just as his watchmen and other people of his seed have testified he would. Significantly, the judgment spoken of would come as a result of their “not hearken[ing] unto the voice of the Lord” (16:2). This suggests that his voice would be heard before the end would come and all things were made new.

Jesus’s Focus on the Voice or Word of Salvation in 3 Nephi 16:18–20 (Isaiah 52:8–10)

Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion. (verse 8)

Much like Abinadi had done, Jesus in his sermon at the temple in the land Bountiful

explains to his listeners that Isaiah 52:8–10 will be fulfilled in a future day after his people hear his voice and the voice of his servants declaring that he has spoken anew. On delivering the message traditionally called the Sermon on the Mount (3 Nephi 12–14), Jesus assures his somewhat confused listeners that though the law of Moses has fulfillment in him, the prophets such as Isaiah have not all been fulfilled, but yet would be: “Behold,” he says, “I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me [his first coming to the Jewish nation], verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled” (3 Nephi 15:6). Continuing, he says, “And because . . . old things have passed away, I do not destroy that which hath been spoken concerning things which are to come. For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me [for it prefigured his first coming and death]” (15:7–8). At this juncture, Jesus, according to the account, addresses his Nephite Twelve, saying to them that they are his “other sheep” who would “hear [his] voice” of whom he had spoken when in his former ministry (15:17; see also John 10:16). Further, there were other remnants of the house of Israel who would also hear and see him, for there is “one fold and one shepherd” (15:21–24; 16:1–3). Jesus clarifies for his Nephite Twelve that when he taught this to the Jewish people among whom he lived in the meridian of time they assumed he referenced the Gentiles, but he says to them, “the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice . . . save it [be] by the Holy Ghost” when they hear the good tidings of salvation preached (15:23). It is here that Jesus, as Mormon has it, begins to speak of the fulfillment of the covenant through what would become the Book of Mormon, which contains the “fulness of the gospel” unto the Gentiles and Jews:

And I command you [Nephite Twelve] that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone . . . that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles [as the Book of Mormon], that through the fulness of the Gentiles [a phrase synonymous with the record (see 1 Nephi 10:14; 15:12–14; 3 Nephi 16:4; Doctrine and Covenants 20:9; Joseph Smith—History 1:34)], the remnant of their seed [the children of “they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry”], who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer. [Nephi applies this same language to the whole house of Israel (see 1 Nephi 10:12–14)]

And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfill the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel. (3 Nephi 16:4–5)

From the foregoing we learn, among other things, that prophecy that goes beyond the meridian of time will not fall to the ground unfulfilled, that the Lord “command[ed]” the Nephite Twelve that his words (or his voice) be “kept and . . . manifested” unto future generations, and that the record that would come forth would contain the fulness of the gospel of salvation and be the instrument for gathering the Gentiles and “all the people of the house of Israel” to the “Redeemer.” In the next two verses (verses 6–7), the same thought is articulated for emphasis: “in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things [your writings of my sayings which are true] shall be made known unto them” (16:7). In the rest of the chapter, Jesus explains that if the Gentiles turn away from the fulness contained in the record that he will “remember my covenant, which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring [the fulness of] my gospel unto them” (16:11; see also verses 12–17). And once those of the house of Israel have received and responded to the fulness of the gospel through the record, then shall the words of the prophet Isaiah be fulfilled, which say,

Thy watchmen [Gathered Israel’s watchmen] shall lift up the voice [Book of Mormon][21]; with the voice together shall they [those who preach from it (see 1 Nephi 13:37)] sing, for they shall see eye to eye [with the former Nephite prophets and editors of the record] when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

The Lord hath made bare his holy arm [made manifest the fulness of his gospel] in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God. (3 Nephi 16:18–20)

Any summary of what Jesus teaches in 3 Nephi 15 and 16, therefore, must acknowledge (1) that the material emphasizes that eschatological prophecy will be fulfilled; (2) that Jesus’s voice (a) was sounded in the ears of the Jewish people during his ministry, (b) was heard of the Lehites (the “other sheep” of whom he had spoken when among the Jews), and (c) would yet be heard by many of the house of Israel, including those who would be gathered in a latter day; (3) that his words in a future day will come forth among the Gentiles, and by them, the people of the earth will be gathered unto him and the fulness of his gospel of salvation; and (4) that this redemptive event (the emergence and declaration of his word) would occur in that time before the Lord came in glory to reign in order to prepare the earth for the event. What this means, then, is that when Jesus said to his Nephite Twelve that “not at any time [would the Gentiles] hear my voice” unless it were by the power of the “Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 15:23), he apparently meant that the record to come forth in fulfillment of the covenant, though not the Lord himself, would represent his new covenant and authoritative voice to inhabitants of the earth. This is consistent with what the Lord said to Nephi by means of an angel about the record: “I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel [in a record]. . . . And in them [the records/writings that will come forth] shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation” (1 Nephi 13:34, 36; see also 13:37–42; 14:1). Finally, that his voice would be sounded before his Second Coming is clarified later in 3 Nephi 16, where Jesus warns “if they [the unbelieving Gentiles] will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice [the record that would be “made known”; see 16:7], I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel” (16:15).

Jesus’s Focus on the Holy Arm of the Lord in 3 Nephi 16:20; 20:35 (Isaiah 52:10)

The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God. (3 Nephi 16:20)

The Father hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of the Father; and the Father and I are one. (3 Nephi 20:35)

If Jesus, according to Mormon, uses Isaiah 52:8–10 to underscore his authoritative voice in 3 Nephi 15–16, he also uses these Isaiah verses to underscore the revelation of his holy arm in 3 Nephi 20:10–23:5.[22] The instruction Jesus gives his Nephite Twelve after his sermon at Bountiful’s temple continues into a second day. He sends the multitude of faithful spectators to their homes to prayerfully consider his recent teachings and use of Isaiah 52:8–10. Instead of returning immediately to his Father in Heaven, he is moved with compassion and remains to minister to the gathered Lehites. Then he ascends. People gather through the night to the place he will return. Once the people are gathered and prepared by the Nephite Twelve, Jesus descends and resumes his previous discourse along with its former themes. This continuation of the same discourse, chiastic in structure,[23] spans from 3 Nephi 20:10–23:5. The discourse (or this “second discourse”) interfuses words from such prophets as Moses (see 20:23, 21:11), Micah (see 3 Nephi 16:15; 21:12; 20:19), and Isaiah (see 3 Nephi 16:18–20; 20:32, 34–45; 22). Grant Hardy has described it as the “theological climax” of the record.[24] In it Jesus, Mormon suggests, reads Isaiah 52:7–10, especially verse 10, in eschatological terms and in context with the new covenant, the Book of Mormon. Indeed, the sermon is about the fulfillment of the covenant unto all the house of Israel by means of the emergence of the Nephite record.

In the process of expounding Isaiah 52:7–10, Jesus alludes to Deuteronomy 18:15–19 twice. But before he employs Moses’s prophecy, he explicitly revisits what he had said about Isaiah’s prophecy (52:7–10) and about the fate of the Gentiles if they do not turn and repent upon receiving the fulness of the gospel in the Book of Mormon. In 3 Nephi 20, Jesus clarifies that Moses (see 20:23) and many of the prophets since Samuel (see 20:24) have spoken of his coming to earth at different periods. Further, Jesus says that his coming to these Lehites, if they would heed his words, would lead in some future day to the fulfilling of the promise made to Abraham that “in [his] seed [through the house of Joseph, who was of Abraham] shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” (20:25, 26; see also 1 Nephi 19:15–19). Jesus, in the rest of the chapter (verses 32–45), rearranges and comments on Isaiah 52 as it stands more or less in the Old Testament, placing verses 8–10 in order before the rest of its content, thus emphasizing it as a precursor to the rest of the chapter’s material. (Isaiah 52:7 is implied in the content of 3 Nephi 20:30–31, as both are about declaring the fulness of the gospel, “good tidings of good.”) To get at the overall logic of chapter 20, I quote the text at some length, adding commentary as warranted. In what follows, I read Jesus’s first use of Moses’s prophecy in a specific two-part way that pertains to two general time periods—(1) the Lehite dispensation and (2) the last dispensation before the Second Coming—that partially correspond with Abinadi’s teachings to Noah’s priests, which were also framed by the language of time:

Part 1) Behold, [Jesus says to the gathered Lehites], I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. [Here, Jesus breaks from his comments about the latter-day Gentiles and the New Jerusalem to announce to the assembled Lehites that he is The Prophet of whom Moses (and their fathers) spoke; thus, he applies the Mosaic prophecy to his visit to the Lehites.]

Part 2) And it shall come to pass [this opening phrase shifts us from the present to a now future day] that every soul who will not hear that prophet [’s voice (my voice) as contained in the Book of Mormon] shall be cut off from among the people. . . . (See 3 Nephi 21:11–21.)

And after that ye were blessed [to hear my voice, write my sayings, and preserve the record] then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying: In thy seed [through the Lehites] shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed—unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the [latter-day] Gentiles. . . .

Nevertheless, when they [the latter-day Gentiles] shall have received the fulness of my gospel [in the Book of Mormon], then if they harden their hearts against me [of whom the record testifies, and by which record I speak to the world by way of invitation] I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father. . . .

And I will remember the covenant I have made with my people. . . .

And it shall come to pass that . . . when the fulness of my gospel [as contained in the Book of Mormon] shall be preached unto them [the Jewish remnant of Israel];

And they shall believe in me [through their preaching from the record], that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and shall pray unto the Father in my name [or call upon him again once more to know of the truthfulness of these things].

Then shall their watchmen [Israel’s watchmen] lift up their voice [to declare the fulness of the gospel as articulated in the record]. . . .

Then shall they [all who are gathered through the record into the Lord’s restored Church] break forth into joy . . . for the Father hath comforted [all] his people, he hath redeemed [even those associated with] Jerusalem.

The Father hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of the Father, and the Father and I are one. (3 Nephi 20:23, 27–32, 34–35)

Lest the assembled Lehites miss the message about their people’s sacred history blessing all the nations of the earth by means of a record of it declared to them, Jesus spends all of 3 Nephi 21 on that very record and its reception.

In the second half of chapter 21, Jesus takes the last line of his usage of the Mosaic prophecy (see 20:23), “that every soul who will not hear that prophet [’s] [i.e., the Prophet’s voice as contained in the Book of Mormon] shall be cut off from among the people” and applies it to the modern Gentiles (21:11–21). The phrase “cut off from among the people” or just “cut off” gets repeated seven times, clearly suggesting that the book is the voice of the Lord unto this final dispensation. The stakes could not be higher. Jesus speaks of the book as a sure “sign” that the Father has commenced his work of restoration: “For in that day [before the Second Coming] for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them [Gentiles]” (21:1–10). That Jesus is in chapter 21 referring to the Book of Mormon and the Restoration seems obvious as he alludes to Joseph Smith and his history (21:9–10). However, the next verse (21:11), also suggestive of Moses’s great prophecy, makes it clear what the stakes would be when the Lord would speak again to the inhabitants of the earth by means of the words of a book (see Isaiah 52:6; see also Doctrine and Covenants 113:10):

Therefore [Jesus says] it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him [Joseph Smith] to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant. (3 Nephi 21:11)

But how does all this relate to the universal imagery found in Isaiah 52:10 where we find the “holy arm of the Lord made bare to all nations” in preparation for the Second Coming? First, it must be noted that Nephi borrows from Isaiah 29:14 (a prophecy about a book to come forth) when he invokes this imagery from Isaiah 52:10 in immediate context with “a marvelous work among the Gentiles” that “mak[es] known the covenants of the Father of heaven unto Abraham” (1 Nephi 22:8–9).[25] According to the allusive passage from Nephi, the Lord would “make bare his arm in the eyes of the nations,” and again, “make bare his arm in the eyes of all the nations, in bringing about his covenants and his gospel unto those who are of the house of Israel . . . [that] they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer” (see 1 Nephi 22:10–12). In this same chapter (1 Nephi 22) we also find Moses’s great prophecy in a latter-day context (see 22:20–21). Aside from these parallels pulling together Nephi’s and Jesus’s words in reference to the imagery of Isaiah 52:10, however, we note that when prophesying of the Book of Mormon, Nephi and Jesus commonly deploy phrases such as “bring forth,” “come forth,” and “came forth by the power of the Lamb,” as well as phrases such as “make known,” “made known,” and “show forth,” as representing in this revealing line: “For thus it behooveth the Father [says Jesus] that it [the Book of Mormon] should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles” (3 Nephi 21:6; see 1 Nephi 13:34–14:1). The case for the holy arm of the Lord, a symbol of his power, as the fulness of the gospel revealed in the Book of Mormon becomes stronger when it is remembered that Psalm 98:1–3, 9 (earlier cited and discussed in conjunction with Isaiah 52:10) draws on such phrases as “made known his salvation” and “openly shewed” in context with “marvelous things” and “his holy arm.” What follows in Psalm 98:1–3 pulls together the Isaian imagery of mercy and power with the fulfillment of the covenant:

O sing unto the Lord a new song [sung when Jesus comes again][26]; for he [God] hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.

The Lord hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed [made bare] in the sight of the heathen [Gentiles].

He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel [he hath remembered his covenant to Israel][27]; all the ends of earth have seen the salvation of our God.[28]

These common phrases when accumulated and connected to the more direct allusions in proximity with them begin to paint a picture. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God is making the holy arm of the Lord bare unto the salvation of the people of the earth before (and after) the Second Coming if they will repent after receiving it.

According to Mormon, Jesus concludes his second sermon among the Lehites by unmistakably drawing attention to the worldwide reach of the word of the Lord as found in the Book of Mormon. He prophesies, “For it shall come to pass . . . that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son [when he shall show forth his power unto the Gentiles], them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel” (3 Nephi 21:20; see also 21:6). (This use of “cut off” borrows the last line of 3 Nephi 20:23 and is the heart of the refrain in 21:11–20.) Continuing, Jesus explains, “If they [Gentiles] will repent and hearken unto my words [those contained in the record made known to them] . . . , I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among . . . the remnant of Jacob” (21:22). When the voice of the Lord is brought forth, “then shall the work of the Father commence . . . among all the dispersed of my people” (21:26–27). The book would go unto “all nations” in preparation for the Second Coming (21:28–29). Jesus ends his discourse wherein he has expounded Isaiah 52:8–10 (and by implication, verse 7), citing at length Isaiah 54, which confirms what the Psalmist had said—that God’s mercy and truth would become universal and that the “covenant [with] the people” would be remembered and fulfilled. Jesus’s unmatched sermon on the new covenant concludes with his exhorting listeners to “search [the words of Isaiah]. . . ; for great are [his] words” (3 Nephi 23:1), “touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel” particularly (23:2). Quoting the last words of Jesus’s two-day sermon will underscore his deep and sustained interest in the coming forth of his word and voice as the new covenant in the last days:

And now, behold, I [Jesus] say unto you [Lehites, and the modern readers of the record], that ye ought to search these things [my many teachings in 3 Nephi]. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah [which I have expounded unto you in my teachings].

For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles.

And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake.

Therefore give heed to my words [carry out all that I have commanded you]; write the things which I have told you [this returns us back to the commandment in 3 Nephi 16:4–5]; and according to the time and the will of the Father they [these words] shall go forth unto the Gentiles.

And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized [this returns us back to 3 Nephi 21:6, 11, 20), the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things [the coming forth of my words before the Second Coming to save whosoever would hear my voice and come unto me]. (23:1–5)


The Book of Mormon not only assists the modern reader in understanding Isaiah 52:7–10 but it enacts and fulfills it. The Isaian passage often employed in the record in an eschatological context is part of the self-referential quality of the overall sacred text. That is, at the height of the record the text speaks most powerfully of itself. As noted, Isaiah has much to say about salvation and redemption, some of which is strikingly relevant (see Isaiah 45:8). It is in that latter-day context that the poetic prophecy is embedded. So, although it is immediately flanked by the destruction of Babylon and the Fourth Servant Song (see Isaiah 52:13–53), the passage is not only messianic, but it is also eschatological and millennial. Accordingly, not only does Abinadi, at the priests’ request, read Isaiah 52:7–10 as anticipating the coming of the Messiah to his people in the meridian of time, he also feels compelled to apply the passage to periods remote from him and from the Messiah’s ministry. Once Abinadi delivers the message he is sent to deliver, he dwells on the imagery of 52:7 before pointing his interlocutors forward in time. He does this because the imagery of the passage in question compels him to do so as it does not only anticipate the Jewish return from Babylon or the Messiah’s atonement and deliverance of those who would receive him in his day, but it is also suggestive of two other periods. Abinadi thereafter applies 52:8–10 to a day before Jesus’s second advent in glory and the day that would come after. Significantly, Abinadi also applies the passage to the Resurrection and the power that Christ would have over the dead. Thus, according to Abinadi, Jesus would see his seed in the process of his Atonement, and they would see him in process of time. King Benjamin quotes the angel as speaking of a time to come in which the “knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” (Mosiah 3:20). Ultimately, however, all but one of the priests reject Abinadi and put him to death, but not before he delivers his message of salvation and redemption. He broadens our view of the application of the Isaiah passage, even though he is primarily interested in the preaching of the gospel referenced in verse 7 and the coming of the Lord in the meridian of time.

In contrast, Jesus, as Mormon renders him, speaks little of his Atonement when among the believing Lehites.[29] Instead, he spends most of his valuable time expounding Isaiah 52:8–10 (verse 7 is implied), applying its imagery to that period before his coming in glory. Although Abinadi’s use of Isaiah imagery is seemingly different than Jesus’s, Jesus’s first-day sermon basically picks up where Abinadi leaves off. In 3 Nephi 15 and 16, he explains to his Nephite Twelve that his voice was heard of the Jews and would yet be heard by others of the house of Israel, including all people in the latter days. Yet, his voice would “not at any time” be directly heard by the Gentiles (3 Nephi 15:23), but a record would be made known unto them containing the fulness of the gospel. That record would contain Jesus’s authoritative word and, therefore, serve as his covenant voice to the Gentiles and Jews before he comes to reign. It would be a new covenant unto them in fulfillment of the old promises made to their fathers before the children of Israel rebelled and pled not to hear his voice directly anymore (see Deuteronomy 18:15–19). Jesus warns his Twelve that “if they [the latter-day Gentiles] will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice,” he would allow for those of the house of Israel who have received the fulness of the gospel as contained in the record to “go through among them” and tread them down (3 Nephi 16:15). The second part of Jesus’s sermon, challenging though it is, appears to center on the fulfillment of the covenant through the coming forth of a book. In one fulfillment of Isaiah 52:8–10, the book would be made known to all nations, thereby bringing them to a knowledge of Christ and his doctrine. Jesus’s unmatched two-day sermon concludes with Isaiah 54 and an exhortation by him for his people to “search these things diligently,” for the promise is that “whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved” (3 Nephi 23:1, 5). This dawning of the day of salvation and redemption wherein the Father would again send his harbingers in advance of his Son to “publish peace; [even] good tidings of good,” is embodied in and enacted and fulfilled by the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (Isaiah 52:7). Its translation by the gift and power of God and its ongoing dissemination among all the nations of the earth is the sure sign that the Father has commenced his work for the last time. And, as he has confirmed, “many there be that testify of these things” (3 Nephi 23:5).


[1] Using the Book of Mormon as my guide, I assume that “Isaiah of Jerusalem” and the sixth-century, exilic “Deutero-Isaiah” were the same person for the purposes of this paper. The Nephites do not seem to make a distinction between the “First” and “Second Isaiahs,” even if they exclude the material generally assigned to the “Third Isaiah.” John B. Gabel et al., The Bible as Literature: An Introduction, 5th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 124–26. Joseph M. Spencer, The Vision of All (Sandy, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2016), 21–24.

[2] The book of Isaiah can be divided into three parts. Part 1 (chapters 1–39) speaks of Israel’s apostasy and the judgments of God in terms of Assyria; part 2 (chapters 40–55) treats Israel’s restoration and deliverance in terms of Babylon; part 3 (chapters 56–66) deals with expanded millennial themes. This breakdown is an oversimplification of the complexity of the text, but it will at least provide a general thematic context for my comments concerning Isaiah 52:7–10. The Nephite record does not reference the material assigned to Third Isaiah (see Isaiah chapters 1 and 56–66). This omission is striking given the interest of the Nephites in Isaiah 49:22–23. Spencer, Vision of All, 21–24.

[3] Richard L. Schultz identifies themes common to the second half of Isaiah (40–66): the “exiles . . . return [from Babylon] to Zion [Jerusalem]”; “God as Creator of Israel and sovereign over the nations”; “God’s servant as bringer of salvation” (337). “Motifs of salvation and restoration” can also be found in 40–55. Isaiah 52’s message of hope contrasts with Isaiah 51’s message of destruction and yet can be overshadowed by Isaiah 53’s suffering servant message. “Isaiah, Book of,” in Kevin J. Vanhoozer, ed., Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 336–44.

[4] Isaiah writes in the second half of the eighth century during the Assyrian conquest of northern Israel (722 BC) and well before the late-sixth-century Babylonian deportations. Frank F. Judd Jr. analyzes the complications of such a claim given the many persuasive counterarguments. Frank F. Judd Jr., “Conflicting Interpretations of Isaiah in Abinadi’s Trial,” in Abinadi: He Came Among Them in Disguise, ed. Shon D. Hopkin (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2018), 69–75. Admittedly, most scholars today believe that chapters 40–55 were written by Second Isaiah during the Babylonian exile. Judd, following this view, explains that “Isaiah 52:7–10 precedes the fourth servant song in Isaiah 40–55 (see Isaiah 52:13–53). The setting therefore [either prophetically or actually] is during the Babylonian exile” of the Jewish people (71–75).

[5] In Doctrine and Covenants 113:10, we learn that verses 6–8 suggest that the scattered house of Israel will receive a revelation in the last days. It will bring them to a knowledge of the Lord and his name. Verses 9–10 represent what occurs due to the new revelation: Jewish Israel is restored, and all nations receive access to salvation.

[6] One early commentator, John L. McKenzie, noted a paradox inherent to the passage: “By a paradox the watchmen of Jerusalem respond with a shout; it is a paradox because a ruined and abandoned city would have no watchmen.” McKenzie, The Anchor Bible: Second Isaiah (New York: Doubleday, 1968), 128.

[7] It is common among biblical commentators to understand this “new exodus” from Babylon to be that approved by Cyrus the Persian in about 530 BC. Gabel et al., Bible as Literature, 125.

[8] Since most commentators assign Isaiah 52:13–15 to Isaiah 53, I have not summarized it. Gaye Strathearn and Jacob Moody, “Christ’s Interpretation of Isaiah 52’s ‘My Servant’ in 3 Nephi,” in Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, ed. Andrew C. Skinner and Gaye Strathearn (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012), 175–90.

[9] A few of the fullest treatments of the structural contexts and phraseologies of the passage have been conducted by Dana M. Pike, Joseph M. Spencer, and Grant Hardy. Other relevant studies include those carried out by Richard Dilworth Rust, John W. Welch, and Victor L. Ludlow. Spencer cautions readers of Isaiah to not “get lost in the details” when first encountering Isaiah. This is good advice. However, the Book of Mormon writers themselves apparently appropriated various details and have left their particular use of Isaiah on record. Spencer, Vision of All, 35.

[10] J. Clinton McCann Jr. “Psalms, Book of,” in Vanhoozer, Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, 650.

[11] The text of the “new song” referred to in Psalm 98 is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84:99–102. It is worth noting that language from Isaiah 52:8 introduces and commences the song (see also Psalms 85; 102:1–22).

[12] Dana Pike writes that “Isaiah 52:8–10 is consistently employed . . . in the context of the last days when the Lord will redeem his people by delivering them from the nations of the world.”
Dana M. Pike, “‘How Beautiful upon the Mountains’: The Imagery of Isaiah 52:7–10 and Its Occurrences in the Book of Mormon,” in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. Donald W. Parry and John W. Welch (Provo: UT, Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1998), 272. Most Latter-day Saint exegesis seems to follow either Dana Pike’s work, which asserts that verse 7 may contain the key to understanding how the priests of Noah may have applied the passage to Abinadi (264–65) or John W. Welch’s work, which posits that the passage may have served as one of the “theme texts” among the people of Noah. John W. Welch, The Legal Cases in the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press and Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2008), 176. Ether 4:8–12, 17–19 is a most fascinating instance of employing Isaiah 52:6–7. In it, Moroni, as he again leans toward the record’s overall conclusion, emphasizes that the Lord has spoken again, saying, “It is I,” and publishing “good tidings of good” that his people would know his “name.”

[13] “Metacommentary is a way of commenting on your claims and telling others how—and how not—to think about them.” Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, “But Don’t Get Me Wrong,” in They Say, I Say (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), 131.

[14] Joseph M. Spencer has examined Isaiah’s 52:7–10’s “reception history” in the Book of Mormon. In contrast to my approach, he suggests that “the volume [the Book of Mormon] exhibits four irreducibly distinct approaches to the interpretation of Isaiah.” From Spencer’s perspective, the “book presents itself as (in part) the history of a debate regarding the interpretation of [Isaiah 52:7–10].” I agree that the Isaian passage is to a degree used differently by certain authorities in the record due to the passage of time and evolving rhetorical situations and prophetic purposes, realities contributing to modest exegetical indeterminacies, and that the passage was not uniformly understood and applied, even by the Nephites. However, here, following these same authorities, I attempt to bring the passage’s deployments into relative harmony with each other. My sense is that the prophets are basically subject to the prophets, even if some interpretive flexibility is also common to prophetic interpretive tradition. Spencer, “Isaiah 52 in the Book of Mormon: Notes on Isaiah’s Reception History,” Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception 6, no. 2 (2016), 189, 192.

[15] John Hilton III has recently explained that determining intratextuality and intertextuality requires assessing such textual features as “availability,” “volume,” “recurrence,” and “coherence.” Hilton, “Abinadi’s Legacy: Tracing His Influence through the Book of Mormon,” in Hopkin, Abinadi, 95.

[16] John Hilton III lays out a case for the claim that Abinadi influenced King Benjamin, and not vice versa. He also establishes that the phrase, the “time shall come that/when” is nearly exclusive to Abinadi, and therefore, Benjamin. Hilton, “Abinadi’s Legacy,” in Hopkin, Abinadi, 105, 107.

[17] For example, Dana Pike has pointed out that Abinadi dwells primarily on Isaiah 52:7.

[18] Daniel L. Belnap concurs that Isaiah 52:7–10 had a “history of interpretation” among the Nephites. “The Abinadi Narrative, Redemption, and the Struggle for Nephite Identity,” in Hopkin, Abinadi, 38. Matthew L. Bowen asserts that Mormon, the editor of Abinadi’s story in Mosiah, would have understood that “comforted,” as in the “Lord hath comforted his people” from Isaiah 52:9, would have been an unflattering comment upon wicked King Noah since “Noah,” in Hebrew, has to do with comfort, rest, and repentance. Matthew L. Bowen, “This Son Shall Comfort Us: An Onomastic Tale of Two Noahs,” Interpreter 23 (2017): 263–98.

[19] On hearing the question, Abinadi immediately censures Noah’s priests for not “understand[ing] the spirit of prophesying,” suggesting that Abinadi views the passage as fundamentally having to do with later generations, generations yet future that the priests should be somewhat aware of (Mosiah 12:25). Curiously, Abinadi almost never applies the Isaiah passage to the local military, political, or even spiritual situation (Abinadi perhaps begins to make a spiritual application about Mosiah 15:26 when he says that “the Lord redeemeth none such [as them],” unless they repent).

[20] This is consistent with Aaron Shade and Matthew Bowen’s article “To Whom Is the Arm of the Lord Revealed?,” Religious Educator 16, no. 2 (2015): 92.

[21] See 2 Nephi 21:10–12; 29:2.

[22] In “To Whom Is the Arm of the Lord Revealed?,” Shade and Bowen explain that “the emergent arm of the Lord that is ‘made bare’ or revealed in Isaiah 52:10 (Mosiah 12:10); 53:1 (Mosiah 14:1) and Mosiah 15:31 (cf. 12:1; 16:1) is that of ‘salvation’ by means of divine intervention. From the period of Israel’s exodus from Egypt,” they continue, “the ‘strong arm’ became a symbol of the Lord’s ‘strength’ and ‘salvation’ (Exodus 15; Isaiah 12). The arm of the Lord to be revealed ‘is a metaphor of military power; it pictures the Lord as warrior who bares his arm, takes up his weapons, and crushes his enemies (cf. 51:9–10; 63:5–6). . . . [It represents] the Lord’s power to redeem” (97). Daniel L. Belnap reads the phrase “holy arm” as suggestive of the Nephites’ military victory over the Lamanites in the land of Nephi. “Conflicting Interpretations,” 77.

[23] The chiastic structure binding 3 Nephi 20:10–23:5 is perhaps most clearly explained by Victor L. Ludlow, “The Father’s Covenant People Sermon,” in Skinner and Strathearn, Third Nephi, 147–74. Significantly, the center of the structure points to “a promised sign of the Book of Mormon and Israel’s gathering” (157, 66).

[24] Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 184.

[25] Victor L. Ludlow equates the “marvelous work among the Gentiles” with the “Book of Mormon,” which contains the “fulness of the gospel” (“The Father’s Covenant People Sermon,” in Skinner and Strathearn, Third Nephi, 152). Further, Ludlow, as I imply here, suggests that the insights of Nephi in 1 and 2 Nephi lay the foundation for the Father’s covenant teachings delivered by Jesus in 3 Nephi (172).

[26] The new song is found in Doctrine and Covenants 84:98–102, where the record is alluded to in context with Isaiah 52.8.

[27] “Mercy” and “truth” are words often associated with the Book of Mormon as in the promise contained in its last chapter (see Moroni 10:3–5).

[28] “All the ends of the earth” is found seventeen times in scripture, but only once in direct and obvious connection with the Book of Mormon (see Mormon 3:18). However, the similar phrase exclusive to the Book of Mormon, “all ye ends of the earth,” is found nine times in scripture, six or seven of which instances are used in passages associated with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (see 2 Nephi 33:10, 13; Mormon 3:22; Ether 4:18; Moroni 7:34; 2 Nephi 26:25; 3 Nephi 27:20). Significantly, Mormon uses both phrases within five verses near the end of his abridgment, thus apparently indicating that the less-familiar phrase is an adaptation of the other. Nephi and Moroni both use the adapted phrase “all ye ends of the earth” at least twice in their final exhortations to modern Gentile readers of the record.

[29] Grant Hardy makes this observation in Understanding the Book of Mormon, 183.