“Wo Unto Them That Join House to House”

Monte S. Nyman

This is the first of six warnings that apparently caused the downfall of northern Israel, and were given as a caution to Judah. Identifying this warning as socialism needs some explanation. Most commentators identify these verses as a warning against the land grabbers of Isaiah’s day. However, joining house to house results in “there can be no place” to be alone in the midst of the earth (v. 8). For some unknown reason the Book of Mormon leaves out the King James phrase “that lay field to field.” One of the basic principles of government is to provide “the right and control of property” (D&C 134:2), which is essential for the establishment of the law of consecration, one of the ultimate goals of the Church. This law requires the individual initiative and private ownership of property (see D&C 42:30–32; 51:1–5; 78:14). It appears that Israel had been forfeiting her individual freedoms to a central government that was controlling the property. Judah was warned against doing the same thing. The result was Israel being scattered instead of being gathered (see Helaman 7:17–19). Thus, many great and fair cities were left desolate without inhabitants (v. 9). The agricultural production almost ceased. Ten acres of vineyard would produce only one bath (eight and one-fourth gallons), or an ephah (the dry-measure equivalent of a bath). The land of America was preserved for the establishment of a free people:

4 For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel. [3 Nephi 21:4]

The covenant made with Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, was:

22 And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you. [3 Nephi 20:22]

The New Jerusalem cannot be established in a socialistic society where individual initiative and private ownership required for the law of consecration is denied.

Book of Mormon Commentary: I Nephi Wrote This Record