“And the Meek Also Shall Increase”: The Verb YASAP in Isaiah 29 and Nephi’s Prophetic Allusions to the Name Joseph in 2 Nephi 25–30

Title

“And the Meek Also Shall Increase”: The Verb YASAP in Isaiah 29 and Nephi’s Prophetic Allusions to the Name Joseph in 2 Nephi 25–30

Publication Type

Journal Article

Year of Publication

2018

Authors

Journal

Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship

Pagination

5-42

Volume

30

Terms of use

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Bibliographic Citation

Bowen, Matthew L. "“And the Meek Also Shall Increase”: The Verb YASAP in Isaiah 29 and Nephi’s Prophetic Allusions to the Name Joseph in 2 Nephi 25–30" In Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, Vol. 30. 2018:5-42.

Abstract

Beyond his autobiographic use of Joseph’s name and biography, Nephi also considered the name Joseph to have long-term prophetic value. As a Semitic/Hebrew name, Joseph derives from the verb yāsap (to “add,” “increase,” “proceed to do something” “do something again,” and to “do something more”), thus meaning “may he [God] add,” “may he increase,” or “may he do more/again.” Several of the prophecies of Isaiah, in which Nephi’s soul delighted and for which he offers extensive interpretation, prominently employ forms of yāsap in describing iterative and restorative divine action (e.g., Isaiah 11:11; 26:15; 29:14; cf. 52:1). The prophecy of the coming forth of the sealed book in Isaiah 29 employs the latter verb three times (Isaiah 29:1, 14, and 19). Nephi’s extensive midrash of Isaiah 29 in 2 Nephi 25–30 (especially 2 Nephi 27) interpretively expands Isaiah’s use of the yāsap idiom(s). Time and again, Nephi returns to the language of Isaiah 29:14 (“I will proceed [yôsı̄p] to do a marvelous work”), along with a similar yāsap-idiom from Isaiah 11:11 (“the Lord shall set his hand again [yôsı̂p] … to recover the remnant of his people”) to foretell the Latter-day forthcoming of the sealed book to fulfill the Lord’s ancient promises to the patriarch. Given Nephi’s earlier preservation of Joseph’s prophecies regarding a future seer named “Joseph,” we can reasonably see Nephi’s emphasis on iterative divine action in his appropriation of the Isaianic use of yāsap as a direct and thematic allusion to this latter-day “Joseph” and his role in bringing forth additional scripture. This additional scripture would enable the meek to “increase,” just as Isaiah and Nephi had prophesied.

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