“Ye Shall Stagger but Not with Strong Drink”

Brant Gardner

Literary: Nephi follows Isaiah 29:9 here:

9 ¶ Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.

The new context of these verses in Nephi’s prophecy requires a change in the focus of this verse. Where Isaiah has it directed as Ariel, Nephi moves the locus to “all ye that doeth iniquity.” With the shift in context, the rest of the verse fits into Nephi’s vision.

Scriptural: Nephi here describes the apostate state of he world. The drunken staggering is the effect off trying to walk without the true light and guide of the gospel. In their apostate condition, this is how the world appears - stumbling along rather than boldly following the true path. For Nephi, this certainly would have echoes of the dream of the Tree of Life, and in imagery recall those who let go of the rod of iron in the mists of darkness. Without that sure guide through the mists, they surely would have appeared as one who stumbles with drink.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon