“Being Clothed with Purity Yea Even with the Robe of Righteousness”

Alan C. Miner

According to John Thompson, the structure and themes of Jacob's covenant speech show that he probably spoke in connection with a religious royal festival, to which the words of Isaiah which he quoted were especially well suited. According to the Lord's instruction in Leviticus concerning the Day of Atonement, the high priest was to "wash his flesh in water" and then to "put on the holy linen coat," "linen breeches," "a linen girdle," and a "linen mitre" (Leviticus 16:4). While wearing these garments, the high priest was to make atonement for himself, the temple, and the people by sacrifice (see Leviticus 16:33). During this ceremony, the high priest and priests were instructed on numerous occasions to remove their garments, wash themselves, and wash their clothes (see Leviticus 16:23-24, 26,28).

Such emphasis on garments being kept clean (for example, from the blood of the sacrifices) in connection with the temple and the Day of Atonement may have inspired Jacob to take off his garments and display them before the Nephites, saying, "I pray the God of my salvation that he view me with his all-searching eye . . . that I stand with brightness before him, and am rid of your blood" (2 Nephi 9:44). This theme is further supported by Jacob's reference to "being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness" (2 Nephi 9:14) and by an Isaiah passage which Jacob quotes: "Awake, awake, put on they strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean" (2 Nephi 8:24, parallel to Isaiah 52:1).; [John S. Thompson, "Isaiah 50-51, the Israelite Autumn Festivals, and the Covenant Speech of Jacob in 2 Nephi 6-10," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, pp. 131-132]

2 Nephi 9:21 He suffereth the pains of all men ([Illustration]): The Greatest of All. Jesus Christ suffered "the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam." Artist: Del Parson. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 95]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary