18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:19 Thy seed also had been as the sand; the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.19 Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.20 Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter to the end of the earth; say ye: The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob.20 Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob.21 And they thirsted not; he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.21 And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.22 And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also, there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked. [1 Nephi 20:18–22]22 There isno peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked. [Isaiah 48:18–22]
As stated above, there is only one verse in 1 Nephi 20 that does not have any words retained or deleted from the King James text (v. 18). There is one punctuation difference. In the King James text, the exclamation point was changed to a hyphen in later editions of the Book of Mormon text. Since the whole verse is one complete thought, the hyphen is more correct. The thought is that if Judah had not apostatized, but had hearkened to the commandments of the Lord, they would not have been destroyed as a nation. The surviving people would not have been scattered. Instead of going through the furnace of affliction they would have experienced three great blessings, the first being peace and righteousness (v. 18).
The second blessing was their seed would have been as numberless “as the sand” (v. 19). The Lord promised Abraham that he would “multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon sea shore” (Genesis 22:17). This blessing was reiterated to Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes, giving him the promise of “thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth” (Genesis 28:14). How many more millions of posterity would Judah have had were it not for the inquisition, the crusades, and the holocaust? We have no answer to this question, but the number would have been enormous. The second phrase: “the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof” is a Hebrew parallelism, the second stanza repeating the same message as the first only in different wording. The only textual change in the verse is the “and” that is deleted following the first phrase. This is not a significant difference.
The third blessing was “his (Jehovah’s) name should not have been cut off” (v. 19). The name is not spoken today among the Jewish people because they hold it too sacred to vocalize. They substitute the word “Adonai,” a title of respect. It is like the name of the Melchizedek Priesthood in the Church today.
2 Why the first is called the Melchizedek Priesthood is because Melchizedek was such a great high priest.
3 Before his day it was called the HolyPriesthood, after theOrder of the Son of God.
4 But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood. [D&C 107:2–4]
The name “Jehovah” is used in the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, but it is used sparingly.
The invitation to come out of Babylon and flee from the Chaldeans (v. 20) may have a dual meaning. The Jews were invited by Cyrus in 538 B.C. to come out of Babylon following the seventy year captivity that had been prophesied by Jeremiah:
1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.
4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem. [Ezra 1:1–4]
They are again invited to come out of spiritual Babylon for “the restoration of the Jews in the later days” (1 Nephi 15:19).
13 And let them who be of Judah flee unto Jerusalem, unto the mountains of the Lord’s house.
14 Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon. [D&C 133: 13–14]
The mountain of the Lord’s house is the temple, which must be built before the Lord’s Second Coming. “Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple … all this must be done before the Son of Man will make his appearance” (TPJS, 286). Another evidence of this being the latter-day gathering is the declaration “to the end of the earth; say ye: The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob” (v. 20). As mentioned above, and will be verified in the following chapter, the servant is Israel, the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The only change in the text of this verse is the deletion of “it even” (v. 20) from the KJV. The italicized word even acknowledges that the translators placed the word there to make it read better, or that it was their educated guess. The pronoun “it” is unnecessary to establish what is being uttered.
The restoration context is also the reason for a deletion in the next verse (21). The italicized word “when,” that follows the first phrase (KJV), is not in the First Nephi text. The natural reflection is the Israelites being led out of Egypt, which is probably the reason for the King James translators adding it, but Isaiah seems to be using it as symbolism for great miracles also attending the saints in the restoration movement, such as the miracles accompanying the pioneers in crossing the plains. Perhaps it is a dual prophecy as well.
The first line and almost all of the second line of the last verse is also retained in the First Nephi text. It emphasizes the miracles that had been done by the Lord. Its loss from the original text was probably an error committed by a “careless transcriber” as categorized by Joseph Smith (see TPJS, 327). The ending “there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked” is almost identical to the ending of Isaiah chapter fifty-seven. It is often paraphrased among Christian people as “there’s no rest for the wicked.” A similar phrase is used by Alma “ wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). The principle is a fit ending for Isaiah’s description of the apostate condition of Judah.