“The Earth Shall Be Full of the Knowledge of the Lord”

Brant Gardner

Reference: This verse is an unchanged quotation of Isaiah 11:9. Nephi had earlier (2 Ne. 21:5–9) quoted these verses as part of his historical and sacred foundational text. Here, he selects a briefer passage, one that communicates the dramatic alteration in daily life that will occur when the Messiah begins his triumphant reign. The known order of the world is reversed. That which is dangerous becomes manifestly safe. This literary series of contrasts shows, with hyperbolic extremes, the total transformation that will accompany the Messiah.

This is Nephi’s last direct quotation from Isaiah. Considering his obvious goal in the quotations he has selected (to declare the Messiah; see 2 Ne. 11:6–8, 25:22–23), it is startling that he stops quoting just at this point, since Isaiah’s next verses predict the Messiah’s coming:

And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isa. 11:10–12)

Nephi knew these verses. He quoted them in 2 Nephi 21:10–12. However, he omits them from his quotation here. I hypothesize that he is primarily interested in his people’s restoration in the last days and is assuming that his audience will mentally fill in this final prophecy from Isaiah.

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