Friday, November 25, 2011

2 Nephi 19-24

1. 2 Nephi 19.  This is part 3 of Isaiah's Virgin birth arc, the meaning of the Virgin's child -- he is / will be the Lord, though he's not named as such yet, but given provocative titles.  There's a lot of imagery here in which the Nephites could have seen themselves -- the people that have walked in darkness have seen the light, the nation has been multiplied, the leaders of Jerusalem are cut off, etc.

2. 2 Nephi 20.  The "day of visitation" is the Day of the Lord, when Yahweh comes in judgment, the day promised and enacted in the Day of Atonement rite.  Having seen in 17-19 the birth of the Lord, now we are told what will happen when he returns.  Promised punishments for Assyria might have been understood by the Nephites as punishments for Babylon.  Interesting that vv. 20-21 promise a return to God, not a return to the land of Israel.  Nephi has built a temple for his people, and believes that the presence of God is with them -- did he see this prophecy as already fulfilled, his remnant having returned to God?

3. 2 Nephi 21.  The day of visitation continues.  The "rod of his mouth" (v. 4) reminds me of the iron rod that is the word of God.  Judah will generate righteous leaders again, there will be millennial peace.  There's a lot of King David imagery in this chapter: David's kingdom will be restored (Judah and Ephraim won't vex each other), Jesse is David's father, all of David's enemies return to be defeated (Philistines, Edom, Moab, Ammon).  The Exodus is made permanent (v. 15).

4. 2 Nephi 22.  The Lord is finally emphatically named as the child who has brought judgment and peace in a short psalm.

5. 2 Nephi 23.  vv. 4-5, 10 -- the Lord of Hosts is an astral title, the "hosts" are the hosts of heaven, i.e., the angels = the stars and other heavenly bodies.  the Day of the Lord will be one of cosmic upheaval, and the kingdom that purports to rule the cosmos ("cosmocrators") will be utterly destroy by the cosmos's true king.

6. 2 Nephi 24.  Now we see prophecies of return to the Land, and Nephi must surely have thought of his own people.  The sudden switch to "thee" in v. 3 is very intimate and affecting.  I wonder if Nephi felt it very personally as he inscribed it: "the Lord shall give thee rest, from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve".  v. 5 the iron rod breaks the rod of the oppressor.

7. 2 Nephi 24:12-19 if Nephi is thinking of the apostate priestly hierarchy in Jerusalem who oppressed the visionary men and the prophets, the Lucifer imagery is even more a propos -- in visionary language, angels are priests, so Lucifer the fallen angel is a strong image for a fallen priest.  the usurper false priest ascends to heaven (enters the temple and the holy of holies without authorization), but is brought down into the pit, because he is the scapegoat, the rebel angel Azazel (see below about 1 Nephi 11 and the Day of Atonement imagery), at the end a mere carcass of a goat.

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