“The Lord Will Set His Hand Again the Second Time to Restore His People”

Monte S. Nyman

The Romans destroyed the Jews as a nation in A.D. 70 (v. 14). Those who survived were scattered among all the nations (v. 15). This scattering is known today as the diaspora. The scourging of the Jews for many generations (v. 16) was prophesied earlier by Zenos (see 1 Nephi 19:13). This persecution of the Jews is known today as antisemitism. The Lord setting his hand the second time to restore his people (v. 17) is a quotation from Isaiah 11:11 (2 Nephi 21:11). Nephi’s words that follow are his commentary on that verse.

Since Isaiah spoke concerning all the house of Israel, as stated earlier (2 Nephi 6:5), this prophecy should not be limited to the Jews. Moroni quoted the entire chapter to Joseph Smith in September 1823 and said it would soon to be fulfilled (JS—History 1:40). The marvelous work and a wonder foretold by Nephi (v. 17) is the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon (see 2 Nephi 29:1–2). His words that shall judge them also refer to the Book of Mormon (compare D&C 5:5–10). The rest of the eighteenth verse gives the message of the Book of Mormon to the Jewish people to convince them. This message is that there is only one Messiah, the one who was crucified among them, the one spoken of by the prophets. Nephi concludes his prophecy by stating the time period of the Messiah’s birth, 600 years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem and by giving the name of the Messiah—Jesus Christ (v. 19).

Christ’s name was known by the prophets although it is currently not in the Old Testament. The angel who spoke his name is probably the one who appeared to Jacob (see 2 Nephi 10:3). Nephi emphasized that he had spoken plainly that his words could not err, and as the Lord liveth that did great miracles in Egypt, he will do such things in the future. Once more he declares that there is no other name given under heaven whereby man can be saved (v. 20). Peter made this same declaration: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). This message is repeated throughout the Book of Mormon (see 2 Nephi 31:21; Mosiah 3:17; 5:8). Perhaps Peter and Nephi are quoting from a common source, an Old Testament prophecy that was also upon the plates of brass.

This chapter is one of the few parables in the Old Testament, and uses imagery similar to that which Jesus used in several parables during his ministry among the Jews. The interpretation of the parable, also given by Isaiah, definitely identifies the vineyard as the house of Israel and the pleasant plant as the men of Judah. Such parables as the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1–16), the two sons (Matthew 21:28–32), the wicked husbandman (Matthew 21:33–44; Mark 12:1–11; Luke 20:9–18), the barren fig tree (Luke 13:6–9), and the true vine (John 15:1–8) all use the same imagery.

There is also a resemblance to the allegory of Zenos, which is recorded in the Book of Mormon (Jacob 5) and was once in the Old Testament record. Jacob recorded it from the plates of brass (see Jacob 5:1). Paul seemed to be quoting from it when he wrote to the church in Rome (see Romans 11:17–24). Both concern the whole house of Israel.

The Book of Mormon has retained several aspects of the Isaiah 5 text, only a few of which are significant.

Book of Mormon Commentary: I Nephi Wrote This Record