In Isaiah chapter 13, the Lord calls members of His Church to prepare as a righteous army to do battle with Babylon, which is the evil of the world today. The events foretold in this chapter are those leading to the last days before Christ’s Second Coming.
David Ridges points us back to 2 Nephi 20, where “the destruction of Assyria was a ‘type’ [or symbol] of the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming of Christ.” Ridges defined the word “type” as “something that is symbolic of something else. For example, both Joseph who was sold into Egypt and Isaac were ‘types’ of Christ, that is to say, many of the things that happened to them were symbolic of the Savior.” In this case, “the destruction of Babylon is …a “type” of the destruction of Satan’s kingdom at the time of the Second Coming. It will be helpful to understand that the ancient city of Babylon was a huge city full of wickedness. Over time, Babylon has come to symbolize the wickedness of the world.”1
THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET
King James Version
Book of Mormon
Expanded Notes and Commentary
|Joseph Smith Translation (JST) corrections in the Book of Mormon are in RED; commentary and notes are GREEN|
|Of Isaiah 13:1–5, Donald W Parry suggests that each of our prophets, “…has been preparing His Saints to become a Zion people, a righteous army to battle against modern-day Babylon” or the world we live in (see D&C 1:16) “and its evil forces.”2|
|b “Burden” as used in Isaiah is a message of doom “lifted up” against a people. Isa. 14:28.
Babylon means “the world” (D&C 1:16)
c The historic destruction of wicked Babylon, prophesied in Isa. 13 and 14, is made typical of the ultimate destruction of the whole wicked world. D&C 133:14 (5, 7, 14).
|A burden is a prophecy of doom or judgment against a people. The Hebrew root (masa’) literally means “lifting” or “a lifting up,” perhaps indicating that the prophecy or judgment is lifted up by the voice of the prophet against the people. Isaiah’s prophetic calling included uttering a prophecy of doom against many peoples or nations, including Moab (15:1), Damascus (17:1), Egypt (19:1), the desert of the sea (21:1), Dumah (21:11), Arabia (21:13), the valley of vision (22:1), Tyre (23:1), and the beasts of the south (30:6). Similarly, the burden of the word of the Lord also came to Nahum (1:1), Habakkuk (1:1), Zechariah (12:1), and Malachi (1:1). The same Hebrew root is also used in connection with the lifting of the ensign (5:26; 11:12; 13:2) upon a high mountain. Hence, the Lord will “lift up” judgment against the wicked and will “lift up” an ensign to the righteous.3
|2 Lift ye up a abanner upon the high bmountain,
cexalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.
|2 Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, ashake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.||a IE wave the hand, give a signal.
Church leaders and missionaries are to be “endowed with power from on high” (D&C 105:11) as requisite for their mission of gathering Israel. In a sense, the Lord, from the temple—representing His celestial abode—gathers the righteous of all nations to the temple—or to His glory: “Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles” (Isa. 13:2). The “banner” that is lifted up is the message of the restored gospel as it is proclaimed to the world. The “high mountain” may symbolize the temple.4
|3 I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my amighty ones, for mine anger is not upon them that rejoice in my highness.||Verse 3 has reference to those messengers who are gathered and are to be sent out to warn of the coming destruction of Babylon (the tares) and to invite the righteous (the wheat) to gather out. With the Book of Mormon retention, verse 3 fits much better the context of the entire passage. This gathering may also be correlated with Isaiah 2:2, but includes the forces of heaven (the destroying angels) who will follow those messengers and will literally destroy the nation of wickedness, spiritual Babylon (see D&C 86:1-7).5|
|4 The noise of
||4 The noise of the multitude in the
mountains like as
of a great people,
noise of the
akingdoms of nations bgathered
together, the Lord of Hosts mustereth the hosts of the battle.
|We often see the phrase Lord of Hosts, but what exactly does “host” mean? The phrase “Lord of Hosts” is the same as the “Lord of Sabaoth.” “The Lord of Sabaoth was a title of Jehovah; the hosts were the armies of Israel (1 Sam. 17:45), but also included the angelic armies of heaven” (Bible Dictionary, “Sabaoth,” 764).6|
|5 They come from
a far country, from
the end of heaven,
Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to adestroy the whole land.
|5 They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, yea, the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.||These warriors [missionaires] of God do come from distant places (“from a far country, from the end of heaven”), and they are certainly going forth to conquer on life’s great battlefield, to overthrow the whole wicked world, to destroy evil by establishing righteousness. That “mighty army of the Lord,” however, is only part of what he calls the “sanctified ones”; all the Saints, the citizens of his kingdom, are involved in the battle, including help from the other side of the veil.7|
|Parry identifies the importance of studying Isaiah 13:6–22, where Isaiah’s “prophecy of ancient Babylon’s wickedness and ultimate destruction” serve up historical events as types and, “shadows of the evil that we are presently witnessing upon the earth. Soon we will see the destruction of modern-day Babylon by Jesus Christ at his coming.8|
|6 Howl ye, for the aday of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.||Verses 6–8: The destructions sent forth from the Almighty (Hebrew Shaddai) will cause faint-heartedness in the wicked; fear, pain, and faces enflamed with embarrassment and anxiety will characterize the disobedient. Paul later envisioned the same scene: “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).9|
7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall amelt:
7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, every man’s heart shall amelt;
|Hands will “hang limp” and “wicked men’s courage will falter.”10|
|8 And they shall be afraid; pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.||This birth metaphor is descriptive of the fears and uncertainties that will come upon the wicked at the time of the Lord’s judgments. A mother in childbirth may fearfully wonder if she will live. Will her baby live? Will her baby be healthy and whole? How long will these waves of pain endure? All—particularly the spiritually unprepared—may ask similar questions related to their spiritual well-being: Will I live? Will my loved ones live? How long must I suffer?11 (Note: This metaphor is missing in the Book of Mormon’s version of the verse.)|
|9 Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall adestroy the sinners thereof out of it.||9 Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall adestroy the sinners thereof out of it.||God is capable of wrath and anger. The day is a cruel day for those who are not prepared. …The desolation of the land is a prominent theme in Isaiah (1:7; 6:11; 13:9; 49:19; 62:4) and is the result of the inhabitants’ wickedness. …Jesus will destroy all corruptible things at his glorious coming, including the wicked.12|
|10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not
give their light: the sun shall be
adarkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
|10 For the astars of heaven and the bconstellations
thereof shall not give their clight; the dsun shall be darkened in his* going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
|This verse is closely akin to a sign given by the Savior on the Mount of Olives which was to precede his second coming (see Matthew 24:29). There are also several references in the Doctrine and Covenants which are very similar to this verse, referring to the period of the Second Coming (see D&C 29:14; 34:9; 45:42; 88:87; 133:49). Oliver Cowdery apparently was quoting or paraphrasing this verse, along with Isaiah 13:13, when he reported what scriptures the angel Moroni quoted to Joseph Smith in September 1823 and noted that they were soon to be fulfilled (see MA, Apr. 1835, pp. 111-12).13
*The 1830 edition contained the word “her” here. The word was changed to “his” in the 1981 edition, matching the printer’s manuscript, as well as KJV.
| 11 And I will apunish the
bworld for their
evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the chaughtiness of the dterrible.
|The wicked that boast in their own strength and abandon the counsel of the Lord and His servants will face the terrible day when the Lord “will punish the world”…As we walk through mortality with the gospel of Jesus Christ as our guiding light, we have a clearer view of the world and of the great and spacious buildings of pride, arrogance, and sin (see Isa. 13:11). The allure of such enticements is powerful, but our charge is to live in this world but not be of it. We seek a higher life. As we pursue a higher, eternal life, we will be observers, not fatalities, of the fall of modern Babylon, “whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall” (D&C 1:16). Our gospel covenants, when kept, protect us from the damning influences of Babylon.14|
| 12 I will make a
man more aprecious
than fine gold; even a man than the bgolden wedge of Ophir.
|12 I will make a aman more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.||The statement here that man will be more precious than fine gold calls to mind two things: a great number of people will be slaughtered during the destructions identified in this section, so that those who remain on the earth will be more scarce than a precious metal like gold; and those who remain after the decreed desolations and survive the furnace of affliction will be purified like gold; they will no longer possess dross (sin).15|
|13 Therefore I will ashake the
heavens, and the bearth shall
cremove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce danger.
|This verse, which notes cosmological changes that will affect the earth at the time of Christ’s second coming, is partially quoted or paraphrased in Doctrine and Covenants 21:6 and 35:24. It was also quoted by Oliver Cowdery (see note on Isaiah 13:10).16|
|14 And it shall be as the achased roe, and as a sheep that bno man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own cpeople, and flee every one into his own dland.||14 And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up; and they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own aland.||Animals run swiftly and without direction when frightened. A “chased roe” is a “hunted deer” (Isaiah 13:14, footnote a). Isaiah also mentions fleeing sheep, which “no man taketh up,” in other words, without a shepherd to care for and protect them.17
The 1830 edition did not contain the word “and” here (as in KJV). The word was added by Joseph Smith in the 1837 edition.
|15 Every one that is
||15 Every one that is proud shall be thrust through; yea, and every one that is ajoined to the wicked shall fall by the sword.||The sword represents war and its instruments (2 Ne. 1:18; 3 Ne. 2:19; D&C 45:33). In the last days, the wicked will destroy themselves during the many wars and battles of which the prophets have testified.18|
|16 Their achildren
also shall be
dashed to pieces before their eyes; their bhouses
shall be cspoiled, and their wives ravished.
|The symbolic hunted deer and shepherdless sheep will be pursued (13:14) and destroyed by the sword (13:15), and their children and wives will find no mercy from the destructive armies. The murder of children and the ravishing of wives is not new to history but represents here both an increase of the hideous crimes against nature and man’s savage inclination. Meanwhile, righteous men, with their wives and children gathered around them, will reside in “a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God…And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety…and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another” (D&C 45:66–69).19|
|17 Behold, I will stir up the aMedes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall
||17 Behold, I will stir up the aMedes against them, which shall not regard silver and gold, nor shall they delight in it.||“The Medes” A nation that had at one time formed an alliance with Babylon, but which would eventually attack and conquer its former ally (in about 538 B.C.).20
The 1830 edition contained the reading “nor they shall not delight in it” here. The wording was changed to “nor shall they delight in it” in the 1920 edition.
|18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.||18 Their bows shall also dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no apity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children.||Verses 16–18: These verses, in addition to depicting horrible vengeance to be meted out at the Second Coming, take us back also to the original type, less than two centuries after Isaiah’s time, when the Medes would overrun the Babylonians with viciousness and cruelty. In 539 b.c. the Lord did indeed stir up the Medes (and Persians), who, uninterested in monetary gain, wreaked merciless vengeance upon those who opposed them.21|
|19 ¶ And aBabylon,
the glory of kingdoms, the bbeauty of the cChaldees’
be as when God
|19 And aBabylon,
the glory of
beauty of the
Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew bSodom
|In the centuries following Isaiah’s prophecy, Babylon was sacked and destroyed by a number of invading armies and became a heap of ruins. Similarly, the world’s great cities will be destroyed at Christ’s coming.22|
|20 It shall never be ainhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.||20 It shall never be ainhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.||The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Yet, Babylon fell without a struggle before the armies of Cyrus of Persia. He and his men dug a canal into which they diverted the waters of the Euphrates, which normally flowed into Babylon, so they could penetrate into the heart of the city via the dry river bed. By this means vegetation ceased growing in the city, and the city began deteriorating, leading to the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prediction that it would be uninhabited; there wouldn’t even be an Arab to pitch a tent or a shepherd to make a sheepfold there. Total desolation was predicted, and it was an accurate prophecy. Isaiah’s prophecy was gradually but literally fulfilled within a few centuries, by the Roman period.23|
|21 But awild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and
bsatyrs shall dance there.
|21 But awild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.||b HEB he-goats, or demons.
Isaiah poetically employs two fictional beasts usually associated with superstitious traditions in this description of desolation. “Satyrs” are in Hebrew seirim, meaning “hairy” or “rough” ones. In mythology, a satyr is half man and half goat. “Dragons” are jackals or wild dogs.24
|22 And the wild
beasts of the islands
shall cry in their desolate ahouses,
and bdragons in
their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.
|22 And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces; and her time is near to come, and her day shall not be prolonged. For I will destroy her speedily; yea, for I will be merciful unto my people, but the wicked shall perish.||a HEB palaces.
b HEB (perhaps) jackals, or wild dogs.“I will be merciful unto my people” (the righteous), “but the wicked shall perish.” 25This is, “the only ray of hope in a rather dismal prophecy.”26
This final note of commentary from Joesph Spencer:
“…let’s note that it wouldn’t be difficult to guess where Nephi might go with things if he wanted to extend his plain prophecy to provide an application of Isaiah 13–14. If Isaiah 10–12 can be applied to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of Israel, wouldn’t he just see Isaiah 13–14 as applicable to the final judgment? You’ll remember that those two chapters tell a prophetic story about Babylon’s total demise, and Isaiah there has all sorts of people making fun of Babylon’s king as he dies, a king whose nickname in the King James Version is “Lucifer.” Wouldn’t Nephi have rather easily seen Isaiah 13–14 as continuing the story, then? After Israel’s restoration, there’s one last bit of the world’s history to recount, namely the final eradication of evil and the punishment of the devil. Couldn’t Isaiah’s taunt song regarding Babylon’s fallen king be applied pretty readily to the final binding of Satan? Nephi’s certainly seen such an event in vision. He tells us about it in 1 Nephi 22, making it precisely the sequel to Israel’s redemption. Here’s the text there: “And the time cometh speedily that the righteous must be led up as calves of the stall, . . . and he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth. . . . And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan hath no power—wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years” (1 Ne. 22:24–26). Isn’t that what Nephi implicitly applies Isaiah 13–14 to here in 2 Nephi 25?
“I’m going to assume that’s what Nephi has in mind. In 2 Nephi 30, he’ll quote at length again from Isaiah 11, revisiting what he portrays as the key events of the latter days, events surrounding the Restoration. He’ll allow the remarkable portrayal of world peace in Isaiah 11 to serve as a fitting conclusion to world history, except that he’ll add one detail to it: “And Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more for a long time” (2 Ne. 30:18). That’ll be more or less Nephi’s final word on Isaiah. There again, and perhaps more clearly, it’s pretty obvious that Nephi sees what follows Isaiah 10–12 as being about Satan’s final demise. And what follows Isaiah 10–12 is, of course, Isaiah 13–14.”27
1 David J.Ridges, The Book of Mormon Made Easier, Part 1, p. 292, Cedar Fort, Inc. Kindle Edition.
2 Donald W.Parry, Understanding Isaiah, Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition.
3 Parry, ibid.
4 Reg Christensen, Unlocking Isaiah, Covenant Communications Inc.. Kindle Edition.
5 Monte S.Nyman, Great are the Words of Isaiah, Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
6 John Bytheway, Isaiah For Airheads Deseret Book Company, Kindle Edition.
7 D. Kelly Ogden, Verse by Verse, Old Testament: Volume Two, Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition.
8 Parry, ibid.
9 Ogden, ibid.
10David J. Ridges, The Old Testament Made Easier Part 3, Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition
12 Parry, ibid.
13 Nyman, ibid.
14 Christensen, ibid.
15 Parry, ibid.
16 Nyman, ibid.
17 Bytheway, ibid
18 Parry, ibid.
19 Parry, ibid.
20 Bytheway, ibid
21 Ogden, ibid.
22 Parry, ibid.
23 Ogden, ibid.
25 Ridges, The Book of Mormon Made Easier
26 Bytheway, ibid
27 Joseph M. Spencer, The Vision of All: Twenty-five Lectures on Isaiah in Nephi’s Record, Greg Kofford Books. Kindle Edition.
Chapter Links to the Book of Isaiah
Chapters of Isaiah Quoted in the Book of Mormon
Other Isaiah passages quoted in the Book of Mormon
|1 Nephi 22:15–17
2 Ne 6:6–7
2 Ne 6:16-18
2 Ne 8:24-25
2 Ne 9:50-51
2 Ne 30:9
2 Ne 30:11-15
3 Ne 16:18-20
|(does not exist in the King James Version)