“Because of the Greatness of Their Stumbling Block”

Monte S. Nyman

These verses are a commentary on Isaiah 3:15–23, and help us interpret who the daughters of Zion are, to whom these verses are addressed. The daughters of Zion are the inhabitants of the land of Zion. “The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south” (TPJS, 362). Jesus Christ covenanted to establish the Nephite people in the Americas “unto the fulfilling the covenant which I made with your father Jacob [father of the twelve tribes of Israel]; and it shall be a New Jerusalem” (3 Nephi 20:22). As a symbolic husband and wife making a marriage covenant, the Lord represents the husband and the covenant people represent the wife. Those who keep the covenants would be the offspring of the land. The Lord “reserved [the Nephites] blessings, which they might have received in the land, for the Gentiles who shall possess the land” because the Nephites had become wicked (Mormon 5:19). This fits the context of Nephi’s commentary. The designation of daughters may be because the Israelites, the holders of the priesthood, had forfeited the right and the Gentiles, without the priesthood, were now upon the land. Nonetheless, Nephi addresses the Gentiles who are living in the Americas. We will quote the Isaiah passage and then give Nephi’s commentary.

15 What mean ye? Ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor, saith the Lord God of Hosts. [2 Nephi 13:15; Isaiah 3:15]20 And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor. [2 Nephi 26:20]

“Because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the [Bible] … an exceedingly great many [Gentiles] do stumble” (1 Nephi 13:29, see also v. 34), and the Book of Mormon “shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them” (1 Nephi 13:39). The stumbling of the Gentiles have led to their teaching with their own wisdom and learning in order to get gain and take advantage of the poor (v. 20).

16 Moreover, the Lord saith: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet— [2 Nephi 13:16; Isaiah 3:16]21 And there are many churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice. [2 Nephi 26:21]

To be haughty is to be scornful and thus envious. Wanton suggests being unmanageable and thus causing strife. Mincing is to be effeminate or dainty and suggests that it may result in malice. While we must be careful in making parallels, the connection of the words in the Book of Mormon with those in the Isaiah passage are interesting and applicable to the Gentile society in which we live.

17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts. [2 Nephi 13:17; Isaiah 3:17]22 And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever. [2 Nephi 26:22]

The times of old takes us back to Cain who entered into a secret oath with Satan (see Moses 5:29–31). This was the origin of secret combinations, and they have continued periodically from that day forward.

Book of Mormon Commentary: I Nephi Wrote This Record