“The Kings of the Gentiles Shall Be Nursing Fathers Unto Them”

Brant Gardner

As Jacob shifts the emphasis of his address from Jerusalem to the Nephites’ times and situations, he returns to a scripture that both he and Nephi have used (Isa. 49:23, 1 Ne. 21:23, 2 Ne. 6:7). In this case, however, Jacob paraphrases rather than quoting. He had quoted the verse in full the day before, so this shorthand reference is simply a way of focusing his audience’s attention on a specific part of the context-rich passage. The Isaiah passage reads: “And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me” (Isa. 49:23).

Jacob picks up only the first part—the reference to kings and queens—not mentioning most of the rest of the verse at all. He also adds “of the Gentiles” after Isaiah’s “kings,” a significant part of his application of this passage to his people. Isaiah is affirming that Israel’s salvation will come through the Gentiles. Jacob’s paraphrase underscores the Gentiles’ importance, a theme that is, arguably, the reason Nephi requested this particular sermon. Thus, Jacob is now explicating the reason underlying his two-day sermon.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2