Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Isaiah 51 versus 2 Nephi 8

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It isn’t my purpose to compare all the verses in these two chapters, but rather the verses that have the largest differences.  I like to examine them to see what meaning can be derived from those differences, even if they are very subtle.

Why do this?  Well, partially because I have a curious mind and sometimes I find intriguing things that I want to share.  I realize that not everybody is going to be as interested as I am, but I hope that in some way this helps people see what can be done to study the scriptures.

KJV Isaiah 51
2 Nephi 8
Comments
1 Hearken to me,
ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord:
look unto the rock whence ye are hewn,
and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.

Hearken unto me,
ye that follow after righteousness.

Look unto the rock from whence ye are hewn,
and to the hole of the pit from whence ye are digged.
It may seem that 2 Nephi has lost an elaborative phrase here, but following after righteousness and seeking the Lord could be considered different things.  Following after righteousness describes the disciple who has already found the Lord.  Seeking the Lord describes those who haven’t found the right way yet.
For the phrase “ye that seek the Lord” to be missing, it suggests that this is directed to those who are determined disciples of Christ.
2 Look unto Abraham your father,
and unto Sarah that bare you:
for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. . . .
Look unto Abraham, your father,
and unto Sarah, she that bare you;
for I called him alone, and blessed him. . . .
So far it seems that 2 Nephi 8 has had more removed than added, which is very curious.
It is possible that Nephi had a slightly different rhetorical purpose than a focus on Abraham’s increase in progeny.
¶Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness,
the people in whose heart is my law;
fear ye not the reproach of men,
neither be ye afraid of their revilings. . . .
Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness,
the people in whose heart I have written my law,
fear ye not the reproach of men,
neither be ye afraid of their revilings. . . .
Here 2 Nephi 8:7 shows us it is the Lord that writes the law on our hearts, rather than it just being there automatically.
I suppose that we must allow it to happen with our good choices.
11 Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return,
and come with singing unto Zion;
and everlasting joy shall be upon their head:

they shall obtain gladness and joy;
and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
11 Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return,
and come with singing unto Zion;
and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads;
and they shall obtain gladness and joy;
sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
Here 2 Nephi 8:11 adds that not only will the redeemed by glad, but they will be holy as well (implying repentance is required for this kind of happiness).

Since the joy is to be everlasting, this fits very well.
12 I, even I, am he that comforteth you:
who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die,
and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;
12 I am he; yea, I am he that comforteth you. Behold, who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of man, who shall die,
and of the son of man, who shall be made like unto grass?
It seems to me that 2 Nephi 8:12 has some equivalent wording here.
The major change, however, is the removal of “a” from the KJV to make it clear the Lord wants us to not be afraid of man.  This makes much more sense. 
15 But I am the Lord thy God,
that divided the sea,
whose waves roared:
The Lord of hosts is his name.
15 But I am the Lord thy God,

whose waves roared;
the Lord of Hosts is my name.
I think the KJV wins this one, with that phrase that shows Isaiah is referring back to the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. This makes me think that Nephi might have accidently left some things out while copying the text.

Just as some extra background, comparing man to grass is apt when we consider how grass withers so quickly after days of hot sun and no moisture.  This imagery is supposed to remind us of the short span of mortal life and how temporary the power of the wicked is.

 To me, the overall message of these selected verses is that the Lord wants us to remember Abraham.  We can remember the problems he faced trying to live righteously in a wicked world. (After all, it was in his days that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.)  Abraham was quite alone, even with Sarah.  And yet he was protected because he was faithful.

The Lord wants those of us who have His law written on our hearts to not fear the revilings of men. He promises that we will have everlasting joy and that the sorrow we experience will only be a temporary thing, and He will comfort us, and that we don’t need to be afraid of men because their power only lasts for a short time.  Instead, we can remember that our God was the one who parted the Red Sea and showed great power to save His people.

I think this is a great message for today.