“Sing, O Heavens; and Be Joyful, O Earth”

Brant Gardner

This impassioned description of redeemed Israel concludes with rejoicing at Yahweh’s feat. The image of “feet” and the mountains bursting into song echoes Isaiah’s more famous passage: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings” (Isa. 52:7, also quoted by Abinadi in Mosiah 12:21 and Christ in 3 Ne. 20:40). George Lamsa comments of Isaiah: “‘Feet’ here is symbolic of good omen, blessing, and good news. In the East when a traveler or messenger arrives in a town or a sheep camp the people greeting him say, ‘May your feet be blessed,’ which means ‘You may have good news,’ or, ‘You have come in peace.’” While the passage in Isaiah references the Savior, the good news represented by “feet” in this case concerns the reestablishment of Israel in its rightful homeland. Israel will be redeemed from the east and restored to its land where it will no longer be afflicted.

The trial motif continues (vv. 14, 21, 24) with the defendant’s pleas being interspersed with the Judge’s decrees.

Variant/Translation: The King James Version does not contain the phrases (in boldface) that appear in the Book of Mormon: “Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; for the feet of those who are in the east shall be established; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for they shall be smitten no more; for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” No other textual version supports this reading, although the Septuagint differs from the Masoretic here, perhaps indicating a weak point in the textual transmission. This addition cannot be explained as expanding the text for easier comprehension because it adds new content. Nothing in the context suggests that it is an addition from Joseph Smith. It is best read as a brass plates variant.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1