1 Ne 19:1-22:31

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Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 19-22
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Scope of page. First Nephi 20-21 contains Nephi's quotation of Isaiah 48-49. This wiki page is not intended, however, to address Isaiah. This page is intended only to address Nephi's use of Isaiah. Readers may want to consult the wiki pages that address Isaiah 48-49 before reading the portion of this wiki page that addresses First Nephi 20-21. Contributors are likewise asked to respect this distinction. The idea is that discussion of a passage should be concentrated in a single place, and that the best place for a discussion of Isaiah is on the wiki pages that directly address Isaiah.

Relationship to First Nephi. The relationship of Chapters 19-22 to the rest of First Nephi is discussed at First Nephi.

Story. Chapters 19-22 consists of four major sections:

  • Verses 19:1-6: Nephi explains the small plates: Nephi explained in chapter 5 that the brass plates contained four types of information. Here Nephi relates the commandment he received to make the small plates and then explains that, like the brass plates, these small plates do contain prophecies.
  • Verses 19:7-24: Nephi quotes Zenos: Nephi quotes his own vision and the testimonies of several Old Testament prophets, especially Zenos, regarding the forthcoming ministry of Christ.
  • Verses 20:1-21:26: Nephi quotes Isaiah: Nephi also quotes at length from Isaiah 48-49 regarding the Lord's covenant to Israel of scattering and gathering.
  • Verses 22:1-31: Nephi explains Isaiah: Nephi explains that Israel will be scattered and then restored.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 19-22 include:

  • Christ's mission.
  • Scattering and gathering.


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1 Ne 19-22: Two witnesses of Christ

1 Ne 19:1-6: Nephi explains the small plates

  • 1 Ne 19:1-6: The small plates of Nephi. In chapter 5 Nephi told us that the Brass Plates contain two types of information: more secular matters such as histories (1 Ne. 5:11-12) and genealogies (1 Ne. 5:14-16), and matters relating to a more spiritual ministry such as prophecies (1 Ne. 5:13) and commandments (1 Ne. 5:21-22). Throughout the course of First Nephi he then tells us that his large plates also contain histories and genealogies (1 Ne. 19:2, 4), while his small plates do not (1 Ne. 6:1-2; 9:2, 4), because the small plates are limited to matters of his ministry (1 Ne. 6:3-5; 9:3-4; 19:3) specifically including prophecies (1 Ne. 19:3).
  • 1 Ne 19:5. Nephi here states explicitly his own outline for his text. Stating that he will only later give an account of his actual physical production of the "small plates" (an account that begins in 2 Ne. 5:29), he then goes on to say that it is only after that account ("and then") that he will "proceed according to that which I have written." This last phrase apparently has reference to verse 3, the "commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these [the small] plates." In other words, the "sacred" writings Nephi is commanded to record on the "small plates" only begin with the opening of 2 Ne. 6:1. According to Nephi's textual outline, the record divides itself into two parts: 1 Nephi 1 to 2 Nephi 5, and 2 Nephi 6-33. Why this does not follow the division between 1 Nephi and 2 Nephi remains a puzzle. Regardless, Nephi's words here are certainly clear.
Naturally, the question arises in the face of what Nephi says here why it is that Nephi records anything besides the "sacred" portion of his record that begins in 2 Nephi 6. Verses 5 and 6 together respond to just that question. In verse 5, Nephi explains that the deferral of the sacred portion until a relatively late point in his record is done so "that the more sacred things may be kept for the knowledge of my people." This may be read in a number of ways, but it is at least clear that Nephi believes his sacred writings will be better preserved if they are contextualized by the "less sacred" (?) history recorded in 1 Nephi 1-2 Nephi 5. Verse 6 goes on to flesh this idea out at greater length.
  • 1 Ne 19:6-7: If I do err. The clause "if I do err" (v 6) seems to mean something like, if some of what I wrote isn't sacred. The rest of verse 6 suggests that Nephi takes this possibility seriously. He has tried to do the best he can but he recognizes that he isn't infallible; he excuses himself "because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh." At the same time he compares himself to those "of old." It seems he is referring to the writers of earlier scriptures. Nephi was likely purposefully trying to write something with the same character as the scriptures he knew.
Where verse 6 takes the possibility that some of what Nephi wrote is not in fact sacred, verse 7 suggests another alternative. The example Nephi gives is that some people will trample even God under their feet--they do not not hearken to His voice. By comparison, the implication is that it may be that some people reject what Nephi is saying not because Nephi is in fact wrong, but because they aren't treating as sacred that which they should.

1 Ne 19:7-24 Nephi quotes Zenos

1 Ne 20:1-21:26: Nephi quotes Isaiah

  • 1 Ne 20-21: Scope of discussion. In chapters 20-21 Nephi quotes Isaiah 48-49. A discussion of Isaiah 48-49 is found at Isaiah 48-49. As atated above, the discussion on this page is intended only to address Nephi's use of Isaiah.
  • 1 Ne 20-21: Covenant of scattering and gathering in Isaiah 48-49. The narrative story of First Nephi is of Lehi's family leaving Jerusalem and arriving in a new land to establish a new covenant community. In connection with the establishment of this new community, the Lord reveals to Nephi how this community fits into the larger historical context. That context is the covenant of scattering and gathering prophesied by Isaiah (discussed at this link). The two chapters that Nephi quotes here, Isaiah 48-49, discuss the scattering and eventual gathering of Israel, and Nephi addresses his reading of this passage to his brothers, 'ye who are a remnant of the house of Israel, a branch who have been broken off' as part of this scattering (1 Ne. 19:24; 22:3-4).

1 Ne 22:1-31: Nephi explains Isaiah

  • 1 Ne 22: Understanding Isaiah. In chapter 22 Nephi explains Isaiah's message for us. See the discussion at 2 Ne. 25:1-8 regarding Nephi's explanation of how to understand Isaiah for oneself.
  • 1 Ne 22:2. The direct response to Laman and Lemuel's question comes at the beginning of verse 3, so verse 2 can be read as a sort of explanatory preface to that answer. In this explanatory preface, Nephi basically says two things, the first is a specific assertion about the manner in which Isaiah's writings were received, by the voice of the Spirit. Nephi then goes on to make what appears to be a universal formula about a relation between prophets and the Spirit to qualify the earlier assertion, saying that all the things which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh come by the Spirit. So in this formula Nephi is actually breaking down the very structure of Laman and Lemuel's question. They asked "are they to be understood according to things which are spiritual, which shall come to pass according to the spirit and not the flesh?" Their understanding is that there are things of the spirit and things of the flesh, and the two don't mix. Nephi's formula about prophetic writing by the Spirit concerning things of the flesh weaves the two together in a sort of unity, where you cannot have things of the spirit without things of the flesh, at the very least accompanying them, if not being understood to be the same things as the things of the spirit.
  • 1 Ne 22:3. How does Nephi's formula about the Spirit and prophets come to bear on his actual response to the question in verse 3? He says "Wherefore, the things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual." Here we have two different types of things going on. There are "things both temporal and spiritual," and the "things pertaining to" those things. One reading of what these two types of things may be (and the only reading this writer currently has) would be that the first type are the actual writings of Isaiah, the words written on the page, and the things they pertain to are the voice of the Spirit mentioned in verse 2. So another way of saying Nephi's answer could be something like "Wherefore, the things which I have read are writings pertaining to the voice of the Spirit which Isaiah, as a prophet heard, which voice is both spiritual and temporal."
In other words, Nephi may simply be trying to explain that the record of Isaiah is only a record that is the result of Isaiah's struggling with the voice of the Spirit, and therefore, per the formula developed in verse 2, is wholly temporal and spiritual at the same time.
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15. These verses seem to imply that the wicked, who may wish to fight against Zion, will end up destroying themselves through warfare--bringing bloodshed upon themselves and falling victim to the same kinds of attacks that they may have hoped to spring on the righteous. The destruction mentioned in these verses also seems to be connected to the fall of the great and spacious building suggesting that perhaps these woes that will come upon the "great and abominable church" may be spiritual(the pride of the world) as well as physical in nature.
  • 1 Ne 22:16. This verse refers to a time when the fulness of the wrath of God will be poured out on the children of men. From the previous verse (15) it seems that this is the same time as when Satan will no more have power over the children of men and all the wicked will be burned. All of this sounds very similar to language used elsewhere in the scriptures to describe the 2nd coming (or the time right before it). If Nephi is talking about the time of the second coming in veres 16, it is interesting that he begins the verse by saying "the time soon cometh." We aren't told here how soon, soon is. But, given that it is now about 2400 years after the time Nephi wrote this scripture and the 2nd coming hasn't yet come, it is clear that what is meant by "soon" in this context doesn't mean right away.
  • 1 Ne 22:19: Righteous shall not perish. This statement at the very end of First Nephi echoes the thesis statement at the end of the introductory chapter 1 (1 Ne. 1:20, also see 1:1; 1:14) where Nephi says he will show us in the rest of his writing "that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."
  • 1 Ne 22:19: Not suffer the wicked to destroy the righteous. See the discussion of Hel. 13:14 suggesting that when the wicked seek to kill or "cast out" the righteous, or in other words seek to deprive people of their moral agency to choose righteousness, that the wicked are then "ripe in iniquity" or "ripe for destruction," and that this is when the Lord destroys the wicked.
  • 1 Ne 22:19: The wicked shall be cut off. The statement that in the last days the wicked shall be cut off is a reference to Deut. 18:15-19. See the discussion of Deut. 18:15-19 suggesting that this is one of the more important passages in all of the scriptures.
  • 1 Ne 22:26: Because of righteousness, Satan has no power.
    This verse may hold a significant clue to understanding the Millennium. We are told that the Millennium will be a time of righteousness and peace (D&C 29:11; Ms. 7:64). Mormon tells us that if all people would be like unto Captain Moroni, then the very powers of hell would be shaken forever and Satan would have no more power over the hearts of mankind (Alma 48:17). Here we are told that the reason Satan will have no power and cannot be loosed during the Millennium is because of the righteousness of the people (1 Ne. 22:26). We are also told, however, that at the end of the Millennium Satan will again be loosed for a little season (D&C 43:30-31; D&C 88:110-14). This can be explained by the information that, at the end of the Millennium, men will again begin to deny their God, or to be unrighteous (D&C 29:22), thus ending the condition that at the beginning of the Millennium causes Satan to be bound (1 Ne. 22:26). (Also see D&C 121:45-46 and the discussion at D&C 29:36) which describes power as something given by the consent of the governed, and Ms. 1:18-22 (discussion) where Moses dismisses Satan by calling upon the name of Christ.

Unanswered questions

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Prompts for life application

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  • 1 Ne 22:26: Because of righteousness, Satan has no power. Nephi tells us in 1 Ne. 22:26 that Satan will have no power during the Millennium because of the righteousness of the people. How, and to what extent, do we give Satan power through unrighteous thoughts, desires, and actions? Also see Ms. 1:18-22 ( discussion) where Moses dismisses Satan by calling upon the name of Christ.

Prompts for further study

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  • 1 Ne 19:1: Did Nephi imagine much difference between the prophecies received by his father and those which he received? Did he expect all prophecies to be in agreement, since they came from the same source and were about the same future? Or did he expect that Lehi's prophecies would be mostly about the old world and his prophecies would be mostly about the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 19:2: Why would anyone doubt Nephi's assertion that events which occurred before the production of the second plates would only be available on the first plates? Why does Nephi feel the need to assure us that he is telling us "a truth"?
  • 1 Ne 19:3: Why were the prophecies in Nephi's account more "plain" than the history?
  • 1 Ne 19:6: Nephi tells us that he has only written sacred things on the plates. Does this mean that the material of 1 Ne 16:12-13, where we learn that they took seeds with them and that they went south-southeast and called one of their stopping points "Shazer," is sacred? If this is sacred what does it mean that he only wrote that which was sacred?
  • 1 Ne 19:7: At the end of the verse Nephi says that some people set the Lord "at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels." Is he using parallelism to explain what he means by "setting the Lord at naught"? Why do the scriptures so often use verbs of hearing, such as "hearken" to talk about obedience?
  • 1 Ne 19:9: What is "loving kindness"? What kinds of kindness are not loving? Why is this term used only once in the Book of Mormon, but the term "lovingkindness" is throughout the Old Testament?
  • 1 Ne 19:14: When this verse says the Jews will become a byword, does that mean their story became an example to other people of what not to do? What is the difference between a Jewish hiss and the Lord's hiss (see 2 Ne 15:26)? Why do hiss and byword appear separately several times in the Bible, but never together?
  • 1 Ne 19:15: Here Nephi uses a different metaphor, turning away from God. How is this metaphor related to that of v. 7? Could we paraphrase this verse to say, “When Israel remembers its covenant with the Lord, then he will remember his covenant with them"? If so, of what covenant is Nephi speaking? How does Israel remember its covenant? How does the Lord remember his?
  • 1 Ne 19:18: Compare this verse to 1 Ne 1:20 and 1 Ne 6:4. Nephi describes his purposes in writing in three different ways. How are those ways related to each other?
  • 1 Ne 19:21: Did any ancient prophets testified about the Nephites?
  • 1 Ne 19:22: When Nephi refers to "the doings of the Lord in other lands, among people of old" is he refering to just the lands and peoples of Israel and Judah, or did the Brass Plates contain sacred writings from other peoples?
  • 1 Ne 19:23: How is it possible to liken all scriptures to our modern lives and situations without resorting to forced comparisons?
  • 1 Ne 19:24: Nephi introduces his readings from Isaiah by telling them to hear those words and to “liken them” to themselves. Given what Nephi has just been talking about, how are Isaiah’s writings relevant to Nephi’s people? How are the particular chapters that Nephi chooses relevant?
  • 1 Ne 20:3-4: Do these verses help us understand why Nephi is reading from Isaiah?
  • 1 Ne 21:1: How does this verse explain the scattering of Israel, including the scattering of Lehi’s family? Who were the pastors (shepherds) of the Israelites? (Compare Ezekiel 34:1-10.)
  • 1 Ne 21:23-23: What is promised here? To whom? What is the role of the Gentiles? How does this promise compare to the prophecy in Lehi and Nephi’s vision, for example the last part of chapter 13? Are there other parallels between their vision and these parts of Isaiah’s writings?
  • 1 Ne 22:1: Note that the question Laman and Lemuel ask about Nephi's prophecies here--should we understand these as speaking of things spiritual or temporal (according to the flesh)--is essentially the same question Laman and Lemuel ask in 1 Ne 15:31, after Nephi tells them about hell. Laman and Lemuel don't ask a lot of questions. Why would they be particularly interested in knowing whether the prophecies apply to things spiritually or things in the flesh?
  • 1 Ne 22:1-3: In v. 1, the brothers ask Nephi whether what he has read has spiritual meaning rather than meaning that pertains to the flesh. He responds to their question in v. 2, but v. 2 isn’t an answer to their question. Why not? He answers the question in verse 3, but why does he interject the material of v. 2 before he does? Why is it important for Lehi’s people to know that Jerusalem is shortly to fall?
  • 1 Ne 22:3: What does it mean for "the house of Israel" to "be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations"? Does this mean that at some point everyone will have the blood of Israel, or just that there will be some with the blood of Israel among all people?
  • 1 Ne 22:3: In Nephi's response to Laman and Lemuel's question, is he saying that some of the things he read are temporal, and some are spiritual, or that everything he read is both temporal and spiritual? What are Laman and Lemuel's understanding of temporal and spiritual things? What is Nephi's understanding?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: Is there something significant about "many" being "lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem"? Does it matter if those at Jerusalem know or don't know about these people?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: Why would it be important to understand that "the more part of all the tribes" of Israel are no longer in their promised homeland?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: Is there a Divine purpose to this scattering of Israel, or is it just a historical fact?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: These lost tribes "have been led away". What does that mean? Who led them?
  • 1 Ne 22:5: What is the relationship between having hearts hardened and being scattered? How does Lehi's family leaving Jerusalem differ from the scattering of the rest of the tribes?
  • 1 Ne 22:5: What evidence do we have that scattered Israel is "hated of all men"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: What does it mean for scattered Israel to "be nursed by the Gentiles"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: Who are the Gentiles referred to here?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: What does it mean for the Lord to "lift up his hand upon the Gentiles"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: How are the Gentiles "set...up for a standard"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: How are the children of Israel carried in the arms of the Gentiles?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: When is the fulfillment of this prophecy to take place?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: What is the "mighty nation among the Gentiles" referred to here? Is it the United States or some other nation?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: What is "this land" referred to? Does it mean the immediate area where Lehi and his family are dwelling after landing in the Americas, or does it mean a more wide area? How does our understanding of "this land" influence our interpretation of how this prophecy is fulfilled?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: What does it mean for the descendants of Lehi to be scattered?
  • 1 Ne 22:8 By using the term "after", Nephi seems to be giving a temporal timeline here. When was the scattering and when was the nourishing and carrying mentioned here?
  • 1 Ne 22:9: Where does the Lord reveal the Abrahamic covenant to modern LDS worshipers?
  • 1 Ne 22:9: Why does Nephi quote the Father as saying "kindreds of the earth" when throughout Genesis it repeatedly says that all the nations of the earth shall be blessed? What is the difference between a nation and a kindred?
  • 1 Ne 22:10: In the scriptures, what does it mean for a man to make his arm bare, i.e., to reveal his arm? How does restoring his covenants make his arm bare?
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15: What does it mean for the Lord to "make bare his arm"? Where do modern LDS worshippers get to see the bare arm of the Lord revealed and how is it "bringing about his covenants and his gospel" (verse 11)?
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15: How will gathered Israel "know that the Lord is their Savior" (verse 12)--see D&C 45:51-52? Where do modern LDS worshippers get to similarly "know that the Lord is their Savior"?
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15: In what ways can those who dig a pit to ensnare the people of the Lord fall into their own pit (verse 14)?
  • 1 Ne 22:15: Is it ordinarily just the hearts of people that Satan has power over? To what extent can his ability to introduce thoughts into the minds of people be described as a power?
  • 1 Ne 22:15: "for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned." Is Nephi quoting Malachi in this verse? Historically, this is anachronistic, but where did Nephi learn about this idea, as the only Old Testament precedent for such a statement is found in Malachi? It is rather lengthy, and quoted practically word for word, what is going on here? (Nephi quotes the same passage again in 2 Ne. 26:4). Who is the prophet referred to at the beginning of the verse?
  • 1 Ne 22:19: KJV Acts 3:23 reads 'destroyed from among the people', whereas the English BoM wording (again, here and in 3 Ne 20:23) reads 'cut off from among the people'. Any significance?
  • 1 Ne 22:19: Minor differences exist among various printings of the KJV. Is 'cut off' as opposed to 'destroyed' attested in any of them?
  • 1 Ne 22:26: What will bind Satan, prevent him from working, during the millennium? Does that suggest anything about our own relation to him? Is James 1:13-15 relevant?


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