“Scattered Among All Nations”

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

The dispersion and restoration of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was a subject in which all well informed Israelites were interested and with which they were familiar. It was a subject which was impressed upon the people by Moses, before they entered Canaan. (See Deut. 28:16-68) This was partly fulfilled at the time of the destruction of the city and the temple of Nebuchadnezzar. According to Josephus, the most revolting features foretold in this prophecy actually took place during the siege. Other prophets dwelt on the same subject.

Some of the last discourses of our Lord in Jerusalem concerned the signs that would precede the end of the Mosaic dispensation and the subsequent dispersion of the Jews. These signs are definitely and clearly stated (See Luke 21:6-33.)

Dr. Alexander Keith points out the following, in his Testimony to the Truth of the Christian Religion:

1. Many shall come in my name and say, I am Christ. Simon Magus claimed authority. The Samaritan, Dositheus, claimed authority. Theudas deceived many (Acts 5:36). The country was full of deceivers who tried to induce people to follow them.

2. They were to hear of wars and rumors of war. The Jews refused to give the Romans permission to unveil a statue of Emperor Caligula in the Temple, and as a consequence they were seized by fear of their masters to such a degree that they neglected their fields and vineyards. In Caesarea Jews and Syrians fought for possession of the city. Twenty thousand Jews were massacred, the others were scattered. In Alexandria 50,000 Jews were slain, and in Damascus, 10,000. Italy was shaken to its foundations, by internal wars about the throne. Four emperors, Nero, Galba, Otho and Vitellius perished in two years.

3. Famines, pestilences and earthquakes. (Matt. 4:7) During the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 A.D.) famine was frequent. The distress lasted for years in Palestine. Then came pestilence. Earthquakes visited Rome, Crete and other places. During the reign of Nero there were destructive seismic disturbances in Campania, Laodicea, Hierapolis and Colosse. All nature was in commotion and, as Josephus remarks, it was generally felt that the disaster foreshadowed was not a common occurrence.

4. Fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:11) Josephus and Tacitus both mention such signs. Tacitus is quoted to the effect that hosts in shining armour appeared battling in the sky, and that a fiery cloud enveloped the temple; also, that, suddenly the gates to the sanctuary were opened, and that a loud voice was heard, causing exceeding commotion.

5. The disciples were to be persecuted. (Luke 21:12) Peter, Paul, Matthew, Thomas, Mark, Luke, and many other prominent disciples suffered martyrdom in different places and by different means of torture. The very name "Christian" became the object of hatred in the pagan world.

6. The disciples were to be betrayed by parents, brethren, kinsfolk and friends. (2 Tim. 4:16)

7. The Gospel shall be preached in all the world. (1

8. The end of the dispensation and the dispersion of the people were attended by great tribulation, "such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Luke 19:41), when contemplating the winding-up scenes.

Such were the signs of the approach of the end of the Mosaic dispensation. Similar signs precede every change broad enough to be called the end of an epoch, or the coming of the Lord to judgment. They infallibly warn us of what is to come, as the falling leaves and the first frost tell us that winter is near.

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1