“Wo Unto Them That Turn Aside the Just for a Thing of Naught”

Brant Gardner

Reference: Nephi is reprising Isaiah 29:21: “That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.” He thus continues Isaiah’s condemnation of the learned. Both prophets are contrasting the things of God (truth) and human ideas (false). The clearest example of an explicit contrast between these sources of information is in Isaiah 5:20–21: “Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Wo unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”

To emphasize his point, Isaiah juxtaposes Yahweh and the “learned and rich.” He is not condemning either wealth or learning, but rather is emphasizing poetically the need to turn to the true source—Yahweh.

Like Isaiah, Nephi also sees the end of time as a period of final justice. Those who have abused the poor and unlearned will receive their just deserts, but that delivery of justice must wait until the last days.

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