2 Nephi 17-19: Prophecies of the Messiah

Book of Mormon Student Study Guide, (2000), 48–50


Chapters 17–19 of 2 Nephi (Isaiah 7–9) center around specific historical events and people from Isaiah’s time (he prophesied from approximately 740–700 B.C. ). The kingdom of Judah—to whom Isaiah prophesied in these chapters—was threatened by the northern kingdom of Israel (called Ephraim), who joined with Syria to attack Judah (see 2 Nephi 17:1–2 ). The Lord’s message through the prophet Isaiah was that the people of Judah should trust the Lord and He would deliver them. They were not to join with other nations for protection (see 2 Nephi 18:11–12 ) nor listen to any other advice (see vv. 19–22 ), but simply trust the Lord (see vv. 8–10, 13–17 ). Perhaps the most important reason the Lord promised to deliver the kingdom of Judah was because when He came to fulfill His mortal ministry He would be born in the family of Judah as a direct descendant of King David. Consequently, He would preserve His people until that promised event occurred (see 2 Nephi 20:27 ; remember that the word Messiah means “the anointed one”). As you read these chapters, look for important prophecies about the birth and mission of Jesus Christ that are found throughout Isaiah’s words to the Jews. Also consider how Isaiah’s message of trusting in the power of the Lord’s deliverance applies to you personally, as well as to all who are waiting for the Second Coming of the Messiah.

Understanding the Scriptures

2 Nephi 17

The house of David (v. 2)The king of Judah
Confederate (v. 2)Joined in a treaty
Conduit (v. 3)Channel for moving water
Smoking firebrands (v. 4)Torches whose flame had gone out and were just smoking
Vex (v. 6)Irritate, torment
Make a breach therein for us (v. 6)Force our way in
Immanuel (v. 14)Hebrew word meaning “God with us”; refers to Jesus Christ
The land that thou abhorrest (v. 16)The countries of your enemies
Uttermost (v. 18)Farthest
Mattock (v. 25)Type of hoe used for breaking up the soil

2 Nephi 17:8, 16—A Prophecy against the Enemies of Judah

This prophecy of the destruction of Ephraim (the northern kingdom of Israel) and Syria was fulfilled in 721 B.C. when they were conquered by Assyria (see also 2 Nephi 18:4). The Assyrians carried away captive many Israelites of the northern kingdom (see 2 Kings 17:22–23) and they became known as “the lost tribes of Israel” (see 3 Nephi 15:15; 17:4).

2 Nephi 18

Breadth (v. 8)The whole width
Associate yourselves … gird yourselves (v. 9)Get ready for battle
Naught (v. 10)Nothing
Sanctuary (v. 14)Place of safety and protection
A gin and a snare (v. 14)A trap
Hardly bestead (v. 21)In a difficult or hazardous situation
Fret (v. 21)Be irritated or annoyed

2 Nephi 18:1–8—Maher-shalal-hash-baz

In 2 Nephi 17, we read that the Lord promised Ahaz, the king of Judah, that He would be with the people of Judah and preserve them. As a sign, the Lord told Ahaz that a woman would have a son and his name would be Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “There are plural or parallel elements to this prophecy, as with so much of Isaiah’s writing. The most immediate meaning was probably focused on Isaiah’s wife, a pure and good woman who brought forth a son about this time, the child becoming a type and shadow of the greater, later fulfillment of the prophecy that would be realized in the birth of Jesus Christ” (Christ and the New Covenant [1997], 79).

In 2 Nephi 18 we read that Isaiah’s wife had a baby and the Lord said to name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means “to speed to the spoil, he hasteneth the prey,” or “destruction is about to occur.” The king of Judah rejected Isaiah’s counsel and instead of God being with them, they would experience destruction at the hands of the Assyrians. As recorded in later prophecies of Isaiah, however, the Lord did not allow the Assyrians to entirely destroy the people of Judah. He preserved the city of Jerusalem for another 100 years, when they would be taken captive by a less destructive conqueror—the Babylonians. Eventually, this merciful protection of the Lord provided a way for Jews to return to Jerusalem and for Jesus to be born of the Jews in the land prophesied in scripture, and thus give greater fulfillment to the prophecy given to Ahaz by Isaiah (see 2 Nephi 17:14).

Nativity scene

2 Nephi 19

More grievously afflict (v. 1)Trouble a lot more, torment
Spoil (v. 3)Property taken from their enemies in war
Yoke (v. 4)A wooden frame placed around the necks of animals or people so they can pull or carry heavy loads; here it symbolizes bondage or slavery
Staff, rod (v. 4)Sticks used to correct or to beat animals or slaves and sometimes used for aid in walking
Zeal (v. 7)Eager desire
Stoutness (v. 9)Boldness or strength
Adversaries (v. 11)Enemies
Hypocrite (v. 17)A person who pretends to be what he or she really is not
Folly (v. 17)Foolishness
Briers (v. 18)A prickly plant or shrub

2 Nephi 19:1–7—Prophecies about the Area of Galilee

Christ teaching

The northernmost part of Israel, near the sea of Galilee, was the area of Israel first attacked by enemies who came from the north (see the map on p. 48). When those conquering armies came, this area suffered the most destruction. Isaiah’s prophecy quoted in 2 Nephi 19:1–7 promised this area deliverance through a child, a descendant of David, who was also their “Mighty God.” This area of Galilee is where Jesus spent much of His mortal ministry. As recorded in 2 Nephi 19:5, He removed their captivity and burdens not with physical battle, but by the inner burnings of the Holy Ghost (see also D&C 19:31).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you study 2 Nephi 17–19.

Activity A iconProphecies about Jesus Christ

  1. 1.

    What verse from 2 Nephi 17 (Isaiah 7) does Matthew 1:20–23 show was fulfilled? You may want to cross-reference these two scriptures.

  2. 2.

    List the names and titles of Jesus Christ found in 2 Nephi 18:13–14; 19:6. Next to each, write why it is an appropriate name or title for Him.