Isaiah in the Book of Mormon
Ludlow makes a few notes about these two chapters in the Book of Mormon. He says, "chapters 48 and 49 are the first Isaianic chapters to be quoted in their entirety in the Book of Mormon. (1 Nephi 20-21.) Also, approximately one-third of the Isaianic verses in the Book of Mormon containing major changes are located in these two chapters." He goes on to explain that some of these changes found in the Book of Mormon help clarify passages that have confused scholars in the past. (399)
Isaiah 48 is in covenant form. Ludlow explains that there are six parts to a treaty between a king and his vassal or in this instance, a covenant between the Lord and his people.
The six parts are 1) Preamble, 2) Historical prologue, 3) Stipulations, 4) Witnesses, 5) Curses and blessings and 6) Perpetuation of the contract.
Isaiah 48 has all these elements, although they slightly different order (400).
Preamble (v 1-2)
The preamble is an introduction to the people.
"or out of the waters of baptism"
The 1 Nephi 20:1 rendition of Isaiah 48:1 adds the phrase "or out of the waters of baptism." This phrase did not originally appear in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. It first showed up in the 1840 edition. Ludlow cites Daniel H. Ludlow to explain this.
The term "or out of the waters of baptism" did not appear in the first edition of the Book of Mormon. It first appeared in the edition of 1840 on page 53, and the sentence in which it appeared was punctuated as follows: "Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, (or out of the waters of baptism,) who swear by the name of the Lord," etc. It is not absolutely clear who was responsible for the insertion of this phrase, although the title pages of this edition indicates that it was the "Third Edition, Carefully Revised by the Translator" and was published in Nauvoo, Illinois.Israel
In the "Committee Copy" of the Book of Mormon that was used by Elder James E. Talmage and his committee in making changes for the 1920 edition, the words "or out of the waters of baptism" were not printed in the text although they had been inserted in red ink in parentheses. However, the parentheses were crossed out by red pencil. These words are printed in the current edition of the Book of Mormon without parentheses. (A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, 120).
When Isaiah speaks to Israel, he may be addressing three different groups of people.
Blood Israel - those who are literal descendants of Jacob or Israel.
Covenant Israel - those who accept God and the covenants of Israel.
The people who live in the land of Israel - those inhabitants of the land that was granted to the tribes of Israel.
Historical Prologue (v 3-8)
In this section, "Isaiah reviews Israel's covenant relationship with the Lord." (403)
The Lord's Foreknowledge
The reason the Lord "declared the former things from the beginning" was so that Israel had no doubt it came from the Lord and would not be able to say that their dumb idols were responsible for the events.
Regarding the foresight and foreknowledge of the Lord, I have found it interesting how even today the Lord gives ample warning to his people. I remember in October 1998 sitting in a chapel in Provo listening to President Hinckley warn all of us priesthood holders to get our houses in order (Gordon B. Hinckley, “To the Boys and to the Men,” Ensign, Nov 1998, 51). He made it clear he was not prophesying that there would be a famine, but he made it clear that he was giving counsel.
To fully understand the context of this talk, you need to understand that 1998 was a great year. The economy was virtually booming. The Internet as we generally know it had been around for a few years and businesses were jumping on board with on-line models and such. It is not a far stretch of the imagination to think that some scoffed at the idea of a prophet counseling to reduce debt and cut back.
Yet just a few years later, the .com bust occurred and scores of on-line companies went out of business. Then September 11, 2001 happened and the world has never been the same. I remember filling my car up at the Chevron across from the football stadium for $.99 a gallon in 1998. Today, the gas prices are $3.50 a gallon and were up to $4.00 a gallon earlier this year. The dollar has hit historical lows against the euro. There were stories of food shortages around the world earlier this year too. Wheat and rice were very expensive and still are. The housing bubble has finally "popped" and there has been a lot of uneasiness in the economy since October 1998.
But looking back to President Hinckley's talk, it is amazing to see the wisdom in his counsel. No doubt he was inspired by the Lord.
Stipulations of the Covenant (v 8-13)
In this next section, the Lord "explains that his efforts are in fulfillment of the covenants made with Israel. He promises that in spite of Israel's rebellions, he will not completely destroy her; still, he will not let her disregard her covenant without punishment." (404)
"but not as silver"
The phrase "but not as silver" found in Isaiah 48:10 is not found in 1 Nephi 20:10. Ludlow states that this phrase has confused scholars for many years. But as the Book of Mormon version stands, the verse is crystal clear in its meaning.
The Right Hand
In Isaiah 48:13, the Lord's "right hand hath spanned the heavens." Ludlow commentates that favoring the right hand is not an invention of man, but it comes from the Lord and is a symbol of righteousness. (405)
I found one Ensign article that discusses using the right hand when making covenants, especially with regard to taking the sacrament.
“I Have a Question,” Ensign, Mar 1983, 67–69
Perpetuation of the Covenant (v 13-15)
In Isaiah 48:13-15, Ludlow identifies the person referred to here as Jesus Christ or Cyrus. Whether Christ or Cyrus, this person will "foretell the future, fulfill the Lord's word, wield power over Babylon, and ultimately succeed in his foreordained mission." (405)
Witnesses of the Covenant (v 16)
It appears in Isaiah 48:16 that the Lord himself and Isaiah are witnesses to this covenant.
Blessings and Curses (v 17-22)
The blessings or curses for obeying or disregarding the covenant are: peace as a river and righteousness as the waves of the sea or tumult and wickedness (Isaiah 48:18), seed as the sand and not being cut off from the Lord or no posterity and living in apostasy (Isaiah 48:19).