Why Study Isaiah?

Isaiah, Who Was He?

The Political Scene

Why is Isaiah Deliberately Difficult?

Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah
Bruce R. McConkie

Parallelism in Old Testament Poetry

Flag Words used in Isaiah

The Message of Isaiah and Major Prophetic Periods

Synopsis of Chapters and Time Periods

Prophecies about the Jewish Nation in the Last Days
Those Fulfilled and

Why Study Isaiah

1. I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning. (1 Nephi 19:23)

2. And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my redeemer, even as I have seen him.   ( 2 Nehpi 11:2)

3. Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews. (2 Nephi 25:1)

4. Because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy. (2 Nephi 25:4)

5. In the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass. (2 Nephi 25:7)

6. Ye remember that I spake unto you,and said that when the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled--behold they are written, ye have them before you, therefore search them--(3 Ne. 20:11)


And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah. (3 Ne. 23:1)


7. And verily, verily, I say unto you, that when they shall be fulfilled then is the fulfilling of the covenant which the Father hath made unto his people, O house of Israel. ( 3 Nephi 20:11,12)

8. For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; Therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles.
9. And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake. (3 Nephi 23:1-3)

10. And I did rehearse unto them the words of Isaiah, who spake concerning the restoration of the Jews, or of the house of Israel; and after they were restored they should no more be confounded, neither should they be scattered again. (1 Nephi 15:20)


Isaiah Who was He?

The name 'Isaiah' signifies in its original Hebrew (YESHAYAH) meaning 'Jehovah Saves', a name in complete harmony with the great prophet's teaching and hopes.

From Isaiah's own mouth we learn that he was a married man, and that his wife, in her own right or by virtue of her husband's vocation, was called by the honorable title, 'the prophetess'. He had at least two sons, SHEAR-JASHUB, meaning 'a remnant shall return', and MAHER-SHALAL-HASH-BAZ meaning 'the spoil speedeth, the prey hasteth'. The latter son was so named as a symbol and warning on the fate of Damascus and Samaria, representing Syria and the Kingdom of Israel, whose wealth was to be carried away by Assyria. The name of the former son was a message of comfort to the future exiles of Judah.

There is a tradition that Isaiah was a member of the tribe of Judah, his father Amoz, who also was said to be a prophet, being the brother of Amaziah, one of the kings of Judah. (Isaiah's father is not to be confused with Amos the Old Testament prophet.)

Isaiah's public career extended over a period of forty to sixty years, corresponding with the last forty years of the eighth century B.C.E. He apparently received the call to his prophetic mission in the closing year of the life of Uzziah or Azariah (740-739 B.C.E), and his activities continued throughout the reigns of the succeeding kings of Judah, Jotham, Ahaaz and Hezekiah.

There is no written record of the date or cause of the prophet's death, but a tradition is preserved in both the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmudim and elsewhere that he met a tragic and violent death at the hands of Manasseh whose long and wicked reign followed that of his pious father Hezekiah.

Prophet and statesman, Isaiah untied deep religious feeling with a profound knowledge of the world and every day life. His intellectual gifts and fine qualities of heart were harmoniously blended, his vision was clear and his judgment unerring. Great in thought and action, he was inflexible in his religious demands and unhesitating in his political advice or direction to king and people. He was justly described as one standing 'with his head in the clouds and his feet on the solid earth, with his heart in the things of eternity and with his hands and mouth in the things of time, with his spirit in the eternal counsel of God and his body in a very definite moment of history'.



In the Syro-Ephraimitic Invasion on Judah (c. 735 B.C.E.) Isaiah assured the panic-stricken Ahaz that both Syria and Ephriam would be destroyed in an Assyrian onslaught on their countries. At the same time the prophet warned the king against seeking Assyrian protection, and urged implicit trust in God who alone could save. Isaiah's prophecy was fully realized when Damascus, the capital of Syria, was captured in 732 B.C.E. and when Samaria, the capital of Israel, experienced a similar fate in 722 B.C.E.

The ravaging of Judah by both Assyria and Egypt , as well as the overwhelming disaster that would crush the former, was also predicted by the prophet. These were fulfilled in the course of the struggle between the two great powers for the possession of Western Asia and in the annihilation of Sennacherib's army before the walls of Judah's capital.

In the eighth century B.C.E., there was a critical change in the internal and external affairs of Israel and Judah, both passing through the most serious crisis since Israel first entered the Promised Land.

The two greatest world powers of the time were struggling for supremacy, Assyria from the north or north-east and Egypt from the south or south-west.

The Land of Israel, situated between these two countries, was for centuries a natural caravan route between them and formed, therefore, the foundation of a highway for armies marching north or south.

In the earlier part of the eighth century, when the Assyrian power was temporarily on the decline, and opportunity was offered to the kings of Israel and Judah to attain some of their ambitions. Jeroboam II extended the boundaries of Israel northwards, while Uzziah was able to strengthen the defences of Judah and increased its defencesive and military power.

With the accession, however, of Tiglath-pileser III in 745 B.C.E., Assyria had again risen to a very powerful height which was maintained and further increased by a succession of energetic rulers, until Esarhaddon, in 670 B.C.E., succeeded in conquering Egypt.

During the prophetic ministry of Isaiah, therefore, the Assyrian empire represented the greatest force that threatened Judah and all Western Asia. Egypt, the only nation that could possibly offer any form of resistance to Assyrian aggression, was ruled in the middle of the eighth century by the twenty-fourth dynasty under which the country was rent by internal dissension. Despite its eminence among the smaller nations, it was quite impotent to oppose an effective barrier to the spread of the Assyrian conquests. On more than one occation Egypt disappointed the Israelite kings who sought her help. Her weakness led to procrastination and culminated in disillusionment and loss of faith.

New life, however, was infused into Egypt's foreign activities about 708 B.C.E. under the twenty-fifth dynasty, which consisted of powerful Ethiopian rulers who brought new hope to Judah as to the other peoples around, and inspired the Southern Kingdom with courage to resist the Assyrian demands and make a bid for independence.

Isaiah remonstrated against this reckless adventure. He was convinced that the safety of Judah lay not in independence but in submission to Assyria, and in resignation to the fate ordained by God. But Isaiah was overruled by the strong Egyptian party in the court of king Hezekiah and a treaty was concluded with Egypt. Judah was thus irrevocably committed to a break with the greatest empire of that age.

Sometime before Sennacherib's invasion of Judah, Hezekiah fell ill, and the prophet advised him to prepare his will since he would not recover. In answer to the king's fervent prayer, however, the prophet brought the good tidings that God had added fifteen years to his life.

When Sennacherib, in 701, had overrun all the northern cities of Israel and was besieging Jerusalem,. Isaiah assured Hezekiah that the Holy City would not fall into the hands of the enemy whose entire army would be destroyed before the walls of the city of God. The prophecy was fulfilled and the 185,000 , men of the Assyrian expedition perished miraculously in one night.



Isaiah has painted a sad picture of the internal conditions of Judah. The sin of Idolatry, superstition, drunkenness, selfish greed of the rich, bribery and corruption of the judges were some of the evils which the prophet denounced. Misled by intoxicated prophets, the people disregarded the appeals of the true messenger of God and relied for safety on warlike preparations and military measures. The sanctuaries were crowded with worshippers, and the altars piled with sacrifices, while injustice, oppression, adultery and even murder were rife and unchecked. Religion had no effect upon conduct, and the people failed to understand that public as well as private life must be based on religious belief if stability was to be secured. They refused to listen to the prophet's warning that their sins would inevitably lead to national disaster and that trust in God and obedience to His will were the only safe course to follow.



God hath taken away His plainest from them

1. Isaiah was commanded to teach in a way hard for the people to understand 'lest they convert and be healed.'(Isaiah 6:9-10)

2. Isaiah spoke to scattered Israel and the Gentiles throughout many centuries and not just to the Israelites of his time. (3 Nephi 23:2)

3. Ancient Israelites despised words of plainness and sought for things they could not understand. (Jacob 4:14)

4. Jesus spoke in parables because the Jews at His time saw and heard but often did not perceive or understand. (Matt 13:13-16). Jesus went from the simple to the complex while Isaiah started at the complex level.

5. The amount of insight one gains from studying the scriptures and especially Isaiah is dependent upon one's spiritual development and accountability to receive greater light and truth. (2 Nehpi 28:30)

6. See also: IIThessalonians 2:11-12; Alma 10:4,5,25; Alma 12:9-11; Ether 4:7-18; Ether 15:1; 2 Nephi 27:4,5; and compare: 1Nephi 15:3; 2 Nephi 9:29; D&C 42:14; Alma 5:45,46; I Cor. 2:9,10,12,14; Alma 17:1-10; D&C 76:10.


Isaiah can become an open book when you gain a basic orientation and understand a few principles concerning his style of prophecy.

The Lord commanded the Nephites, and through their writings the people in the latter days, to search the writings of Isaiah. From the writings of Isaiah one may come to a fuller knowledge of the Redeemer. (2 Nephi 6:11,12)

For us, the words of Isaiah were written, with a promise of understanding. (2 Nephi 25:8)




Elder Bruce R. McConkie

If our eternal salvation depends upon our ability to understand the writings of Isaiah as fully and truly as Nephi understood them--and who shall say such is not the case!--how shall we fare in that great day when with Nephi we shall stand before the pleasing bar of Him who said: "Great are the words of Isaiah"? (3 Nephi 23:1)

To Laman and Lemuel, the words of Isaiah were as a sealed book. These older brothers of Young Nephi could read the words and understand the language written by Israel's great seer, but as for envisioning their true prophetic meaning, it was with them as though they read words written in an unknown tongue.

The risen Lord commanded the Nephites and all the house of Israel, including us, and, for that matter, all the nations of the gentiles, to "search...diligently...the words of Isaiah. For surely he spake," The Lord said, "as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles. And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake." (3 Nephi 23:1-3)

Laman and Lemuel are but prototypes of most of modern Christendom. They were almost totally unable to understand the difficult doctrines of this ancient prophet, and for their lack of spiritual discernment they found themselves on the downward path leading to everlasting destruction.

When father Lehi "spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord," they rebelled against his teachings and refused to "look unto the Lord" to learn their true meaning. Asked by Nephi, "Have ye inquired of the Lord?" They responded,"We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us".

Then Nephi quoted to them--in the language of the Lord God himself--the great promise and law whereby any man can come to know the true meaning of the revealed word: "If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you." (See 1 Nephi 15:1-11)

Nephi said: " soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah" (2 Nephi 25:5) Personally, I feel about Isaiah and his utterances the same way Nephi felt and think that if I expect to go where Nephi and Isaiah have gone, I had better speak their language, think their thoughts, know what they knew, believe and teach what they believed and taught, and live as they lived.

It just may be that my salvation (and yours also!) does in fact depend upon our ability to understand the writings of Isaiah as fully and truly as Nephi understood them.

For that matter, why should either Nephi or Isaiah know anything that is withheld from us? Does not that God who is no respecter of persons treat all his children alike? Has he not given us his promise and recited to us the terms and conditions of his law pursuant to which he will reveal to us what he has revealed to them?

If the Lord Jehovah revealed to Isaiah that "a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son." whose very name shall be "God is with us" (Isa 7:14); if this "child" shall be "The might God, the everlasting Father," who shall reign"with judgment and with justice" forever (Isa. 9:6-7); if he is to "make his soul an offering for sin," and place his "grave with the wicked" (Isa.53:9,10); if his redemptive promise to all men is: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise" (Isa.26:19); if he shall gather Israel in the last days and bring" the ransomed of the Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads" (Isa. 35:10); if his people "shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion" (Isa. 52:8); if these and a great host of other glorious truths were known to Isaiah and Nephi, should they be hidden from us? Why should either of these prophets know what we do not know? Is not the Lord Jehovah our God also?

Let us freely acknowledge that many people find Isaiah hard to understand. His words are almost totally beyond the comprehension of those in the churches of the world. Nephi said,"...Isaiah spake many thins which were hard for many of my people to understand..."(2 Nephi 25:1) Even in the true church, among those who should be enlightened by the gift of the Holy Ghost, there are those who skip the Isaiah chapters in the Book if Mormon as though they were part of a sealed book, which perhaps they are to them. If, as many suppose, Isaiah ranks with the most difficult of the prophets to understand, his words are also among the most important for us to know and ponder. Some Latter-day Saints have managed to open the seal and catch a glimpse of the prophetic wonders that came from his pen, but even among the Saints there is little more than a candle glow where this great treasure trove is concerned.

But the seeric vision of Isaiah need not be buried under a bushel; his prophetic words can and should shine brightly in the heart of every member of the Church. If there are those who truly desire to enlarge and perfect their knowledge of the plan of salvation and of the Lord's dealings with latter-day Israel--all in harmony with his command to search diligently the words of Isaiah (3 Nephi 23:1)--I can give them the key which opens the door to that flood of light and knowledge that flowed from the pen of that witness of Christ and his laws who in many respects was Israel's greatest prophet. Here in fact, are my ten keys to understanding Isaiah:



The book of Isaiah is not a definitive work that outlines and explains the doctrines of salvation, as do 2 Nephi and Moroni in the Book of Mormon, for instance. Rather, it is written to a people who already know--among other things that Jesus is the Lord through whose atoning blood salvation comes, and that faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and righteous works are essential to an inheritance in his Father's Kingdom. To illustrate, it takes a prior knowledge of preexistence and the war in heaven to recognize in Isaiah 14 the account of Lucifer and his hosts being cast down to earth without ever gaining mortal bodies.



Isaiah's love and interests center in the chosen race. His most detailed and extensive prophecies portray the latter-day triumph and glory of Jacob's seed. He is above all else the prophet of the restoration.

As foretold by all the holy prophets since the world began, the Lord's program calls for a restitution of all things. That is, every truth, doctrine, power, priesthood, gift, grace, miracle, ordinance, and mighty work ever possessed or performed in any age of faith shall come again. The gospel enjoyed by Adam shall dwell in the hearts of Adam's descendants before and during the great millennial ear. Israel--the Lord's chosen and favored people--shall once again possess the kingdom; they shall dwell again in all the lands of their inheritance. Even the earth shall return to its paradisiacal state, and the peace and perfection of Enoch's city shall dwell on the earth for a thousand years.

These are the things of which Isaiah wrote. Of all the ancient prophets, he is the one whose recorded words preserve for us the good news of restoration, of the gospel coming again, of the everlasting covenant once more being established, of the kingdom being restored to Israel, of the Lord's triumphant return, and of a reign of millennial splendor.




His chief doctrinal contributions fall into seven categories (a) restoration of the gospel in latter days through Joseph Smith, (b) latter-day gathering of Israel and her final triumph and glory, (c) coming forth of the Book of Mormon as a new witness for Christ and the total revolution it will eventually bring in the doctrinal understanding of men, (d) apostate conditions of the nations of the world in the latter days, (e) messianic prophecies relative to our Lord's first coming, (f) second coming of Christ and the millennial reign, and (g) historical data and prophetic utterance relative to his own day.

In all of this, once again, the emphasis is on the day of restoration and on the past, present, and the future gathering of Israel.

It is our habit in the Church--a habit born of slovenly study and limited perspective--to think of the restoration of the gospel as a past event and of the gathering of Israel as one that, though still in process, is in large measure accomplished. It is true that we have the fullness of the everlasting gospel in the sense that we have those doctrines, priesthoods, and keys which enable us to gain the fullness of reward in our Father's kingdom. It is also true that a remnant of Israel has been gathered; that a few of Ephraim and Manasseh (and some others) have come into the Church and been restored to the knowledge of their Redeemer.

But the restoration of the wondrous truths know to Adam, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham has scarcely commenced. The sealed portion of the Book of Mormon is yet to be translated. All things are not to be revealed anew until the Lord comes. The greatness of the era of restoration is yet ahead. And as to Israel herself, her destiny is millennial; the glorious day when "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High" (Dan. 7:27) is yet ahead. We are now making a beginning, but the transcendent glories and wonders to be revealed are for the future. Much of what Isaiah-prophet of the restoration-has to say is yet to be fulfilled.

Isaiah is everywhere know as the messianic prophet because of the abundance, beauty, and perfection of his prophetic utterances foretelling the first coming of our Lord. And truly such he is. No old world prophet, whose inspired sayings have come down to us, can compare with him in this respect. Moreover, the first coming of the Messiah is past, and so even those among us who are not overly endowed with spiritual insight can look back and see in the birth, ministry, and death of our Lord the fulfillment of Isaiah's forecasts.

But if we are to truly comprehend the writings of Isaiah, we cannot overstate or overstress the plain, blunt reality that he is in fact the prophet of the restoration, the mighty seer of Jacob's seed who foresaw our day and who encouraged our Israelite fathers in their spiritually weary and disconsolate state, with assurance of glory and triumph ahead for those of their descendants who would return to the Lord in the last days and at that time serve him in truth and righteousness.



In the book of Isaiah, as recorded in the King James version of the Bible, there are 66 chapters composed of 1,292 verses. Isaiah's writings, in an even more perfect form than found in our Bible, were preserved on the brass plates, and from this source the Nephite prophets quoted 414 verses and paraphrased at least another 34. (In a half a dozen or so instances duplicate verses are quoted or paraphrased.) In other words, one-third of the book of Isaiah (32 percent, to be exact) is quoted in the Book of Mormon and about another 3 percent is paraphrased.

And the Book of Mormon prophets-note this carefully and let its significance dawn upon you-the Book of Mormon prophets interpreted the passages they used, with the result that this volume of latter-day scripture becomes the witness for and the revealer of the truths of this chief book of Old Testament prophecies. The Book of Mormon is the world's greatest commentary on the book of Isaiah.

And may I be so bold as to affirm that no one, absolutely no one, in this age and dispensation has or does or can understand the writings of Isaiah until he first learns and believes what God has revealed by the mouths of his Nephite witnesses as these truths are found in that volume of holy writ of which he himself swore this oath: " your Lord and your God liveth it is true." (D&C 17:6) As Paul would have said, "...because he could swear by no grater, he sware by himself" (Heb. 6:13), saying in his own name that the Book of Mormon, and therefore the writings of Isaiah recorded therein, are of his own mind and will and voice. The saints of God know thereby that the sectarian speculations relative to Deutero-Isaiah and others being partial authors of the book of Isaiah are like the rest of the vagaries to which the intellectuals in and out of the Church give their misplaced allegiance.




The Lord by direct revelation has also taken occasion in our day to interpret, approve, clarify, and enlarge upon the writings of Isaiah.

When Moroni came to Joseph Smith on September 21, 1823, that holy messenger "quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled." (J.S. 2:40) Section 113 in the Doctrine and Covenants contains revealed interpretations of verses in chapters 11 and 52 of Isaiah. Section 101 holds the key to an understanding of chapter 64 of the ancient prophet's writings, while chapter 35, 51, 63, and 64 are opened plainly to our view because of what the Lord has to say in section 133. As reference to the footnotes in the Doctrine and Covenants will show, there are around one hundred instances in which latter-day revelation specifically quotes, paraphrases, or interprets language used by Isaiah to convey those impressions of the Holy Spirit born in upon his soul some 2,500 years before.

There are also, of course, numerous allusions to and explanations of the great seer's words in the sermons of Joseph Smith and the other inspired teachers of righteousness of this dispensation. So often it takes only a prophetically uttered statement, revealing the age or place or subject involved in a particular passage in the writings of any prophet, to cause the whole passage and all related ones to shin forth with their true meaning and import.

It truly takes revelation to understand revelation, and what is more natural than to find the Lord Jehovah, who revealed his truths anciently, revealing the same eternal verities today and so tying his ancient and modern words together, that we may be blessed by our knowledge of what he has said in all ages.




Isaiah is a prophet's prophet; his words live in the hearts of those who themselves are authoring holy writ. He is quoted at least 57 times in the New Testament. Paul is his chief disciple, calling upon his word some twenty times in his various epistles. Peter uses him as authority in seven instances. He is also quoted seven times in Matthew, five times each in Mark, Luke, and Acts, and four times in both John and Revelation. Some of these quotations are duplicates, some are messianic in nature, and all establish the revealed meaning of the original writing.




Other Old Testament prophets preached the same doctrines and held out the same hopes to Israel that were the burden of Isaiah's own expressions. To know fully what Isaiah meant, it is essential to know what his fellow prophets had to say in like circumstances and on the same matters. For instance, Isaiah 2:2-4 is quoted in Micah 4:1-3. After Isaiah gives this great prophecy about all nations flowing to the temple built by gathered Israel in the latter days, he describes certain millennial events that will follow this gathering. Micah does the same thing in principle except that his list of millennial events refers to other matters and thus enlarges our understanding of the matter. And so that we shall be sure of these things, the risen Lord quotes from chapter 4 and 5 of Micah, as will be seen by reference to 3 Nephi, chapter 20 and 21.




One of the reasons many of the Nephites did not understand the words of Isaiah was that they did not know "concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews."(2 Nephi 25:1) And so it is with all Christendom, plus many Latter-day Saints.

Nephi chose to couch his prophetic utterances in plain and simple declarations. But among his fellow Hebrew prophets it was not always appropriate so to do. Because of the wickedness of the people, Isaiah and others often spoke in figures, using types and shadows to illustrate their points. Their messages were, in effect, hidden in parables. (2 Nephi 25:1-8)

For instance, the virgin birth prophecy is dropped into the midst of a recitation of local historical occurrences so that to the spiritually untutored it could be interpreted as some ancient and unknown happening that had no relationship to the birth of the Lord Jehovah into mortality some 700 years later. (Isaiah 7) Similarly, many chapter dealing with latter-day apostasy and the second coming of Christ are written relative to ancient nations whose destruction was but a symbol, a type, and a shadow, of that which would fall upon all nations when the great and dreadful day of the Lord finally came. Chapters 13 and 14 are an example of this. Once we learn this system and use the interpretive keys found in the Book of Mormon and through latter-day revelation, we soon find the Isaiah passages unfolding themselves to our view.




In the final analysis there is no way, absolutely none, to understand any scripture except to have the same spirit of prophecy that rested upon the one who uttered the truth in its original form. Scripture comes from God by the power of the Holy Ghost. It does not originate with man. To interpret it, we must be enlightened by the power of the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21) It takes a prophet to understand a prophet, and every faithful member of the Church should have "the testimony of Jesus" which "is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev. 19:10) "The words of Isaiah," Nephi said, "...are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy." (2 Nephi 25:4) This is the sum and substance of the whole matter and an end to all controversy where discovering the mind and will of the Lord is concerned.



Read, ponder, and pray-verse by verse, thought by thought, passage by passage, chapter by chapter! As Isaiah himself asks: "whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?" His answer: "them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little.: (Isaiah 28:6-10)

For our purposes now, two things only need to be added to our recitations relative to Isaiah the seer, Isaiah the prophet of restoration, Isaiah the messianic prophet:

1. Scriptural understanding and great insight relative to the doctrines of salvation are valuable only insofar as they change and perfect the lives of men, only insofar as they live in the hearts of those who know them; and

2. What Isaiah wrote is true; he was God's mouthpiece in his time and season; the glories and wonders he promised for our day will surely come to pass; and if we are true and faithful we will participate in them, whether in life or in death. This is my witness. The Ensign Oct. 1973, pp. 78-83.




Hebrew poetry in the Old Testament extends beyond the so-called poetic books, (i.e. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, etc.) to include the whole Old Testament, and it is especially prominent in the prophetic books.

The ancient poets and prophets recognized that their works were usually received and transmitted in oral and not written form. Although written copies of their works would have been available from generation to generation, most Israelites would not have had such copies in their home. Temple or synagogue scrolls were usually not readily available and at times of religious persecution they would have been suppressed or destroyed. Old Testament writers often used key phrases or words to alert memory devices or patterns which made the poems easier to remember and yet allowed spontaneity of expression.

The most common pattern of characteristic in Hebrew poetry was parallelism. Two thousand years after Hebrew ceased to be a common spoken language, Bishop Robert Lowth rediscovered this memory aid and poetic style in 1753. Later studies have expanded his ideas and have made major strides in understanding Old Testament poetry.

Parallelism is the most significant and distinctive quality of Hebrew poetry. In parallelism, a thought,idea, or key word of the first line is continued in the second line. It is a "theme rhyme" where the thought or meaning of the fist line is related to the second in a variety of parallel patterns:


1. SYNONYMOUS PARALLELISM--A theme of the first line repeats itself in the second line, but in slightly different words:


(a) A fools mouth is his ruin

(b) And his lips are the snare of his soul

(Proverbs 18:7)


(a) An ox knows his owner, and

(b) An ass his master's crib.

(Isaiah 1:3)


Synonymous parallelism is the simplest and most common form of parallelism used. This form might be compared to the two tracks of a railroad line, because although close together, the repeated ideas enforce each other and provide a more complete perspective of the major concept.


2. ANTITHETIC PARALLELISM--A thought of the second part of a couplet contrasts with an opposite theme in the first.


(a) When pride comes, then comes disgrace

(b) But with the humble is wisdom.

(Proverbs 11:2)


(a) If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the earth:

(b) But if you refuse and disobey, you will be devoured by the sword.

(Isaiah 1:19-20)


This form is very common in Proverbs, and the use of opposites clarifies and magnifies both extremes.


3. SYNTHETIC PARALLELISM--The second line completes the thought of the first in a variety of possible combinations (question-answer, proposition-conclusion, etc.)


(a) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;

(b) for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me

(Psalms 23:4)


(a) I have nourished and brought up children,

(b) And they have rebelled against me

(Isaiah 1:2)


The two lines of the couplet are often loosely connected as the second line continues or completes the thought of the first. Like a belt and buckle, synthetic parallelism joins or blends two ideas in any of several possible relations.


4. EMBLEMATIC PARALLELISM--Ideas or thought of two lines are compared by means of a simile or metaphor:


(a) Like clouds and wind without rain

(b) Is the man who boasts of a gift he does not give.

(Proverbs 25:14)


(a) Though your sins be (red) as scarlet,

(b) They shall be white as snow

(A) Though they be red as dyed wool,

(B) They shall be (white) as fleece.

(Isaiah 1:18)


These comparisons are usually recognized by the prepositions "like" or "as". Often symbolic, emblematic parallelism is like a shadow which can be clear and distinct or hazy and vague.


5. COMPOSITE PARALLELISM--Two or more phrases develop a theme by amplifying or defining a term.


Blessed is the man

(a) Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,

(b) Nor stands in the way of sinners,

(c) Nor sits in the seat of the scornful. (Psalms 1:1)


(a) Ah nation of sin!

(b) A people laden with iniquity!

(c) A brood of evildoers!

(d) Children that are corrupters.

(Isaiah 1:4)


By presenting a variety of ideas which radiate about a central theme, this parallelism is like the spokes of a wheel which combine together and provide a complete message.


6. CLIMACTIC PARALLELISM--Part of one line is repeated in the second and even in a third line; and a theme is developed which culminates with a main idea or statement.


(a) Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,

(b) Ascribe to the Lord glory and Strength

(c) Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name


(Psalms 24:1,2)


(a) Your country is desolate

(b) Your cities are burnt down

(c) Your land is devoured by strangers before your eyes


(Isaiah 1:7)


Sometimes the theme statement is given first and then followed by the repeated terms and attached phrases:



(a) Like a booth in a vineyard

(b) Like a hut in a cucumber field,

(c) Like a city beleaguered.

(Isaiah 1:8)


This progressive model is like a set of steps which lead to or descend from a main point.



7. INTROVERTED PARALLELISM or CHIASMAS--A pattern of words or ideas is repeated by in a reverse order.


(a) We have escaped as a bird

(b) From the snare of the fowlers

(B) The snare is broken,

(A) And we have escaped!

(Psalms 124:7)


(a) Make the heart of this people fat,

(b) And make their ears heavy,

(c) And shut their eyes.


(c') (c= ) Lest they see with their eyes,

(b') And hear with their ears,

(a') And understand with their heart,


(Isaiah 6:10)


(a) Ephraim shall not envy

(b) Judah,


(b') And Judah,

(a') Shall not harass Ephraim.

(Isaiah 11:13)


(a) Come to the house of the God of Jacob...and we will walk in his paths:

(b) And he shall judge among the nations...

(c) And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,


(c') And their spears into pruninghooks:

(b') Nation shall not lift up sword against nation...

(a') O house of Jacob...let us walk in the light of the Lord.

(Isaiah 2:3-5)


Chiastic patterns could be expanded to include many verses, whole chapters, and even (according to some authorities) groups of chapters. The main theme or message was usually stressed in the center of the chiasmus, thus it might be compared to an hourglass with the focal point being in the middle.





vs. 1. The burden of Babylon

vs. 2. A cry to go to the vs. 22. Wild beasts cry in their gates of the nobles (Babylon) palaces.
Vs. 3. Sanctified rejoice in the glory of the Lord.

vs.21. Wild beasts and doleful creatures lie in the once glorified city of Babylon.

vs. 4. A multitude from the ends of the earth(the Lord's army) vs. 20. Babylon is uninhabited her multitudes are gone forever.
vs. 5. The righteous come from the ends of heaven. vs. 19. Babylon is never again to be inhabited. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, nothing is left.
vs. 6. The destruction comes from GOD.

 vs. 18. A complete and final  destruction of all the people of Babylon.

vs.7. "FEAR" hands faint, hearts melt. vs. 17. The Medes are stirred up to courage.
vs. 8. Pain and sorrow will exist among the

vs. 16. Their children and their  wives, dashed and ravished before wicked. their eyes.

vs.9. Sinners to be destroyed out of the land

vs. 15. Every one that is found  is thrust through, there is no place to hide.

vs. 10 Signs in the heavens. vs. 13. Signs on the earth.

vs. 11, 12 The destruction of the wicked and the purification of the righteous.

This chapter, (13) is a two-fold prophecy, on one hand the Lord tells of the, now historical, destruction of Babylon by the Medes. Also prophesied is the literal and final destruction of Babylon, or wickedness.

Chiasmus, and Parallelism served not only as an oral memory device, but it also enriched the understanding of the themes. Today, an awareness of parallelism aids the reader in his comprehension of vague and repetitive passages:


Categorization two lines of poetry according to this or that type of parallelism should not be done rigidly and mechanically. Categorization is useful because it points up relationships and verbal associations for the reader. It can aid in understanding how a theme develops within a poem, what elements are repeated, and how new aspects of a theme are related to those introduced earlier. Parallelism is more than rhetorical embellishment. When, for example, in Psalm 1 "the knowledge of the Lord" is contrasted with the "perishing of the wicked," something is learned about the knowledge of the Lord. Nor is parallelism simply repetitious: "almost invariably something is added", writes Muilenburg, "and it is precisely the combination of what is repeated and what is added that makes of parallelism the artistic form that it is." (Leonard L. Thompson in Introducing Biblical Literature, p. 19.)



Isaiah used what is termed "Flag Words", these words were used to represent and indicate to us what Isaiah was talking about.


Used to identify nations in the Mesopotamia Valley, but also used as adjectives describing wickedness and worldliness. (see D&C 133:14)


Those of the house of Israel who were left after their captivity and scattering. Remnant represents the house of Israel today, and the ten tribes.


Marriage is a covenant. Isaiah used it to refer to the covenant between Israel (members of the Church) and God. God is the husband, Israel the bride. God wed Israel in the covenant of Abraham.


In Israel the husband divorces the wife. Isaiah used the word divorce to show that God will never break his covenant with us by divorcing us.


The Harlot is usually referring to the house of Israel (members of the Church). We as members of the covenant people have the opportunity to play the harlot by following after other gods when we have agreed to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Isaiah 42:1,2). In other words, Isaiah used this comparison much the same as did Hosea.


Dispensation of the fullness of times--Our day.


Usually refers to our day or Millennium. It is always future to Isaiah.

(a) near-coming captivity

(b) dispensation of the meridian of time, "Christ"

(c) Dispensation of the fullness of times

(d) Millennium



The prophetic periods of Isaiah can be divided into four major periods:

Period 1

Prophecies and events associated with the fall of the northern Kingdom (Israel) to Assyria. (800-700 B.C.E.)

Period 2

Prophecies and events associated with the fall of the southern Kingdom (Judah) to Babylon, and the return of the exiled Jews to the Homeland. (597-535 B.C.E.)

Period 3

Prophecies and events associated with the meridian of time (Christ's Ministry).

Period 4

Prophecies concerning the Last Days: The restoration of the gospel, the gathering of Israel, and the destruction of the wicked.



Chapter Period


1                2

Israel is apostate, rebellious, and corrupt; a very small remnant only is faithful-Their sacrifices and feasts are rejected-They are called upon to repent and work righteousness. Zion shall be redeemed in the day of restora- tion.-The destruction of the wicked.

2                 2,3,4

Isaiah sees the latter-day temple, gathering of Israel, latter-day state of Israel-Millennial judgment and peace-second coming of Christ-The proud and wicked shall be brought low.(sse 2 Ne 12; Micah 4,5; 3 Ne 20,21.)

3                 2,4

Status of Israel in her scattered and apostate condition before the second coming. Judah and Jerusalem shall be punished for their disobedience--The Lord pleads for and judges his people--The daughters of Zion cursed and tormented for their worldliness-compare 2Ne 13

4                 4

Millennial-Zion and her daughters shall be redeemed and cleansed in the Millennial day - compare 2Ne 14.


5                 2,4

The Lord's vineyard (Israel) shall become desolate and his people be scattered--Woes shall come upon them in their apostate and scattered state before the second coming of Christ--The Lord shall lift an ensign and gather Israel--compare 2 Ne 15.

6                 1,2,4

Isaiah sees the Lord and receives his call--His sins are forgiven--He prophesies of the rejection by the Jews of Christ's teachings--A remnant shall return--compare 2 Ne 16. (see also Jacob 4:14-15; Isaiah 29:10-12)

7                 1,3

Ephraim and Syria wage war against Judah--Christ shall be born of a virgin--compare 2 Ne 17. (see Matt. 1:23)

8                 1,2,3,

Christ shall be as a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense--Seek the Lord, not peeping wizards--Turn to the law and to the testimony for guidance--compare 2 Ne 18. (see Matt. 4:12-16)

9                 1,3

Isaiah speaks Messianically--The people in darkness shall see a great Light--Unto us a child is born--He shall be the Prince of Peace and reign on David's throne--compare 2 Ne 19.

10                 1,2,4

Destruction of Assyria is a type of des- truction of the wicked at the Second Coming--Few people shall be left after the Lord comes again--remnant of Jacob shall return in that day--compare 2 Ne 20 (see D&C 113:7-10)

11                 4

Stem of Jesse (Christ) shall judge in righteousness (verses 1-5 are messianic and apply also to the second coming)--The knowledge of God shall cover the earth in the Millennium--The Lord shall raise an ensign and gather Israel--compare 2 Ne 21. (see also; Joseph Smith 2:40; D&C 101:26; 113:1-6; 2 Ne 30:9-15)

12                 3,4

In the Millennial day all men shall praise the Lord--He shall dwell among them--compare 2 Ne 22.


13                 2,4

Destruction of Babylon is a type of destruction at second coming-- it shall be a day of wrath and vengeance--Babylon (the world of wickedness) shall fall forever--compare 2 Ne 23. (see also and compare Revelation 18)

14                 2,4

Israel shall be gathered and enjoy Millennial rest--Lucifer cast out of heaven for rebellion--Israel shall triumph over Babylon (the world)--destruction preceding Second Coming. Compare 2 Ne 24; Moses 4:1-4; and Revelation 19.

15                 1

Moab shall be laid waste and her people shall howl and weep.

16                 1

Continuation of chapter 15--Moab is condemned and her people shall sorrow--Messiah shall sit on David's throne, seeking judgment and hasting righteousness

17                 1,4

Israel scattered because she forgot God--Yet the nations that spoil her shall be destroyed in the day of restoration.

18                 1,4

The Lord shall raise the gospel ensign, send missionaries from America to his scattered people, and gather them to mount Zion.

19                 1,4

The Lord will smite and destroy Egypt--Finally he will heal her, and Egypt and Assyria shall be blessed and Israel in the day of restoration.

20                 1

Assyria shall overrun Egypt and make her ashamed. (Local History)

21                 2

Babylon is fallen, is fallen!--Other nations also are destroyed (Local)

22                 2,3,4

Jerusalem shall be attacked and scourged--her people shall be carried captive--verses 21-25 is Messianic.--Messiah shall hold the key of the house of David, inherit glory, and be fastened as a nail in a sure place.


23                 1

Tyre shall be overthrown. (Local)

24                 4

Men shall transgress the law and break the everlasting covenant--At the Second Coming they shall be burned, the earth shall reel, and the sun be ashamed--Then shall the Lord reign in Zion and in Jerusalem. (Latter-day apostasy and Second Coming, see D&C 1)

25                 4

Second Coming--In mount Zion the Lord shall prepare a gospel feast of fat things--He shall swallow up death in victory--It shall be said: Lo, this is our God.

26                 4

Second Coming--Trust in the Lord forever--Jehovah shall die and be resurrected--All men shall rise in the resurrection.

27                 4

Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the earth with fruit--She shall be gathered one by one, and shall worship the Lord.

28                 1,2,4

Desolations incident to Second Coming. Woe to the drunkards to Ephraim!--Revelation comes line upon line, and precept upon precept--Christ, the sure foundation, is promised.

29                 4

Nephites shall speak as a voice from the dust--The apostasy, restoration of the gospel, and coming forth of Book of Mormon are foretold--compare 2 Ne 27. (see 2 Ne 26:14-20,27; Joseph smith 2:63-65)

30                 2,4

Israel scattered for rejecting her seers and prophets--She shall be gathered and blessed temporally and spiritually in the day of restoration--The Lord shall come in a day of apostasy to judge and destroy the wicked.

31                 2,4

Israel reproved for turning to Egypt for help--When the Lord comes the second time he will defend and preserve his people against the world.


32                 4

Last Days--King Messiah shall reign in righteousness--The land of Israel shall be a wilderness until the day of restoration and gathering.

33                 4

Apostasy and wickedness precede the Second Coming--The Lord shall come with devouring fire--Zion and her stakes shall be perfected--The Lord is our Judge, Lawgiver, and King.

34                 4

The Second Coming shall be a day of vengeance and judgment--The indignation of the Lord shall be upon all nation--His sword shall fall upon the world. (see D&C 1, 133; Isaiah 13, 24)

35                 4

In the day of restoration the desert shall blossom, the Lord will come, Israel shall be gathered, and Zion shall be built up in the Last days.

36                 1

Historical: Assyrians war against Judah and blaspheme the Lord.

37                 1

Historical: Hezekiah seeks counsel from Isaiah to save Jerusalem--Isaiah prophesies defeat of Assyrians and death of Sennacherib--Hezekiah prays for deliverance--Sennacherib sends a blasphemous letter--Isaiah prophesies destruction of Assyrians, and that a remnant of Judah will flourish--An angel slays 185,00 assyrians--Sennacherib slain by his sons.

38                 1

Historical: Hezekiah's like is lengthened fifteen years--The sun returns ten degrees as a sign--Hezekiah praises and thanks the Lord.

39                 2

Local: Hezekiah reveals his wealth to Babylon--Isaiah prophesies the Babylonian captivity.

40                 4

Second Coming--Isaiah speaks Messianically--Prepare ye the way of the Lord--He shall feed his flock like a shepherd--Israel's God in incomparably great.


41                 4

To Israel the Lord says: (ancient and modern) ye are may servants; I will preserve you--idols are nothing--One shall bring good tidings to Jerusalem.

42                 3,4

Isaiah speaks Messianically--The Lord shall bring his law and his Judgment, be a light to the Gentiles, and free the prisoners--Praise ye the Lord.

43                 4

Restoration and gathering: To Israel the Lord says: I am thy God; I will gather thy seed; beside me there is no Savior; ye are my witnesses.

44                 2,4

Restoration and gathering. The Lord's Spirit shall be poured out on the seed of Israel--Idols of wood are as fuel for a fire--The Lord shall gather, bless, and redeem Israel, and rebuild Jerusalem.

45                 2,4

Cyrus shall free the captives of Israel from Babylon-Come unto Jehovah (Christ) and be saved--To him every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear.

46                 2

Idols are not to be compared with the Lord--He alone is God and shall save Israel.

47                 2,4

Babylon and Chaldea shall be destroyed for their iniquities--None shall save them. (Babylon, symbol of our modern world)

48                 2,4

Scattering and Gathering. The Lord reveals his purposes to Israel--They have been chosen in the furnace of affliction and are to go forth from Babylon--compare 1 Ne 20.

49                 4

Messiah shall be a light to the Gentiles and shall free the prisoners--Israel shall be gathered with power in the last days--Kings shall be their nursing fathers--compare 1 Ne 21.


50                 2,3,4

Isaiah speaks Messianically--Messiah shall have the tongue of the learned--He shall give his back to the smiters--He shall not be confounded.

51                 3,4

In the last days, the Lord shall comfort Zion and gather Israel--The redeemed shall come to Zion amid great joy. (see D&C 77:15; Revelation 11:8

52                 4

In the last days, Zion shall return and Israel be redeemed--Messiah shall deal prudently and be exalted. (see Mosiah 12:20-25; 15:13-18; 3 Ne 16,20,21; Moroni 10:30-31; D&C 113:7-10)

53                 3

Isaiah speaks Messianically--Messiah's humiliation and sufferings set forth--He makes his soul an offering for sin and makes intercession for transgressors. compare Mosiah 14-16.

54                 4

In the last days, Zion and her stakes shall be established, and Israel shall be gathered in mercy and tenderness--They shall triumph--Compare 3 Ne 22.


All Come and drink: Salvation is free--The Lord will make an everlasting covenant with Israel--Seek the Lord while he is near.

56                 4

Restoration and Gathering in Last days. All who keep the commandments shall be exalted--The sons of strangers will join Israel--The Lord will gather others to the house of Israel.

57                 4

When the righteous die they enter into peace--Mercy promised to the penitent--There is no peace for the wicked.


True law of the fast, with its attendant blessings, is set forth--Sabbath observance enjoined.


59                 3,4

Israel is separated from their God by iniquity--Their sins testify against them--Messiah shall intercede, come to Zion, and redeem the repentant.

60                 4

In the last days, Israel shall rise again as a mighty nation-Gentile peoples shall join with and serve her-Zion shall be established-Finally, they shall dwell in celestial splendor.

61                 4

Isaiah speaks Messianically-Messiah shall have the Spirit, preach the gospel, and proclaim liberty-In the last days the Lord will call his ministers and make an everlasting covenant with the people.

62                 4

In the last days, Israel shall be gathered-Zion shall be established-Her watchmen shall teach about the Lord-They shall lift the gospel standard-They shall be chosen and redeemed.

63                 4

Second Coming shall be a day of vengeance and also the year of the redeemed of the Lord-Then shall the saints praise the Lord and acknowledge him as their father.

64                 4

Israel prays for the Second Coming and for the salvation that shall then be hers. (see D&C 133)

65                 4

Ancient Israel rejected for rejecting the Lord-The Lord's people will rejoice and triumph during the Millennium. (see D&C 101:22-28)

66                 4

At the Second Coming, Israel, as a nation, shall be born in a day; the wicked shall be destroyed; and the Gentiles shall hear the gospel.




1. Elijah the Prophet to return to the Earth.

Malachi 4:5,6; 3 Ne 24,25; D&C 98:16,17; D&C 110:13-16; Joseph Smith 2:36-39.

2. Descendants of Judah to Gather.

Isaiah 11:12; Jer 16:14-21; Zech 2:11,12; D&C 110:11; Joseph Smith 2:40; Joseph Smith Jr. D.H.C. 5:336,337; Orson Hyde, Dedicatory Prayer, D.H.C. 4:456.

3. God and Silver from the Nations to reclaim the Land.

Zech 14:14; Jer 32:41,43,44; Isa 60:9,14; Wilford Woodruff Millennial Star 41:244; J.D. 15:277.

4. The Land of Jerusalem to be Made Productive.

Ezk 36:34-36; Amos 9:14-15; Isa 35:1,2,5-7,10; 2 Ne 27:28; Orson Hyde, D.H.C. 4:457.

5. The descendants of Judah to be Attacked and Delivered.

Zech 12:6,9; Jer 23:5-8, 46:28; 2 Ne 6:8, 24:12; 3 Ne 22:15,17; (Isaiah 54:15,17)

6. Jerusalem will come under the Control of Israel.

Zech 2:12, 12:6; 3 Ne 20:29, 33-34; Orson Hyde, D.H.C. 4:457.

7. The Jewish People will Begin to Believe in Jesus Christ.

Deut 4:25-31; Jer 16:21, 31:31-34; Matt 24:14; 1 Ne 10:14, 15:16; 3 Ne 20:29-31,46; Mormon 5: 12-14; D&C 138:8; Wilford Woodruff, J.D. 2:200.



1. A New Temple will be Built in Jerusalem.

Zech 8:7-9; Ezk 40:48; D&C 124:36,37; Wilford Woodruff, M.S. 52:740; Joseph Smith. D.H.C. 5:423, June 1843.

2. A leader Named David Will lead Israel.

Ezk 37:21-25; Jer 23:3-8, 30:3-9; Isa 11:1-6, 55:3,4; Hosea 3:4,5; Zech 3:8,9, 6:11-13; Joseph Smith D.H.C. 6:253; Orson Hyde, D.H.C. 4:457.

3. The Nations will Gather and Judah will be Smitten.

Zech 14:2; Rev 11:1-13; D&C 45;26.27; J.S. 1:4,12-19; Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff by Cowley, pp. 509, 510, February 1879.

4. Two Prophets Are to be Raised up to the Jewish Nation.

Isa 51:18-20 (Inspired Version); Rev 11:2-3; 2 Ne 8:18-20; D&C 77:15; Orson Pratt, J.D. 16:329; LeGrand Richards, Israel, do You Know? p. 197.

5. The Savior to Appear to the Descendants of Judah.

Zech 12:10, 13:6, 14:9; D&C 45:51-59; J.S. 1:20-27; Wilford Woodruff, J.D. 15:277,278.

6. The Messiah to Lead Israel to Victory and Rule as King of Kings.

Zech 14:3,9; D&C 133:41,42; Wilford Woodruff, W.W. by Cowley pp. 509,510; Charles W. Penrose, M.S. 21:583.

7. Two Great World Capitals Are to be Established, Zion, and Jerusalem.

Isa 2:2,3; Heb 12:22; Rev 3:12; Ether 13:4-11;D&C 133:19-25,35; Joseph Fielding Smith, Improvement Era, 22:815,816, July 1919.




1. Book of Mormon: Student Manual, (C.E.S.) Volume 1, p. 113.

2. Slotki, I.W., Isaiah, Soncino Press, London, 1972, p. 9 of Introduction.

3. Ibid, pp. 13,14 of Introduction.

4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Isaiah an open book, pp. 6,7.

5. Book of Mormon: Student Manual, (C.E.S.) Volume 1, pp. 118- 121.