Tuesday, January 30, 2007

2 Nephi 20

For a historical background to this chapter, read 2 Kings 18 & 19. Basically, the king of Assyria was given a command by the Lord to "take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets" (2 Nephi 20:6), meaning to be the nation that attacks Israel. But the king of Assyria (Sennacherib) thinks he can defeat all the neighboring countries … he exceeds his mandate from the Lord because of his pride. So the Lord prevents him from taking Jerusalem and his armies are destroyed like the "slaughter of Midian" and when the Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea (2 Nephi 20:26). The destruction of the armies of Assyria is a type of the destruction of the armies that fight Israel at the 2nd Coming of Christ.

The Needy, the Poor, the Widows and the Fatherless

The Lord warns those who do not help the needy, poor and the widows and fatherless. In our day, we must be mindful of those who are vulnerable to economically challenging times. One of the main reasons for the home-teaching program in the Church is to help the needy. As we perform our home-teaching duties, we must care for the spiritual and temporal welfare of those over whom we have a responsibility.

The Tool that Rebels Against the Maker

The king of Assyria was given a commandment to attack Israel, but he did not obey. He thought to conquer other countries too. In verse 13 he boasts of his efforts and entirely forgets the Lord. As we learn in the D&C, "And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments" (D&C 59:21). Sennacherib's sin was his ingratitude.

Chiasmus

Chapter 20 is a chiasmus as explained below.
“After his fourfold warning to Israel, Isaiah continues his discourse in the form of a poetic prophecy. He gives warning to both Assyria and Israel in a poem structured in introverted parallelism (chiasmus). The poem encompasses the entire chapter and can be outlined as follows:

A. The wicked will bow down (vs. 1-4)
B. Assyria raised by the Lord (5)
C. The Assyrian king speaks against Jerusalem (6-11)
D. The Lord will punish proud Assyria (12-14)
E. An ax is used as a tool (15)
F. The Lord is a burning fire in the land (16-17)
G. Out of all the shrubs—only a remnant remains (18-19)
H. A remnant of Israel shall return to the Lord (20-21)
G.’ Out of the “sands of the sea”—only a remnant returns (22)
F.’ A divine consumption is in the land (23)
E.’ A rod is used as an instrument (24-26)
D.’ Assyria’s yoke will be lifted (27)
C.’ Assyrian army approaches Jerusalem (28-32)
B.’ Assyria humbled by the Lord (33)
A.’ The haughty will be cut down (34)”
(Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet, by Victor L. Ludlow, p. 161)

“If chiasmus can be convincingly identified in the Book of Mormon, it will testify of the book’s ancient origin. No one in America, let alone in western New York, fully understood chiasmus in 1830. Joseph Smith had been dead ten full years before John Forbes’s book was published in Scotland…If the Book of Mormon is found to contain true chiastic forms in an ancient style, then is not the book’s own repeated claim to be the product or an ancient culture veritably substantiated?” (John W. Welch, Book of Mormon Authorship, 41-42 as taken from Commentaries on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. by K. Douglas Bassett, [American Fork, UT: Covenant Publishing Co., 2003], 154)

1 comment:

Jack & Charlene said...

I really enjoy reading the same chapter with you then sharing your comments each day. The Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon has always facinated me, so it was good to review your comments. Thank you.