Evidence #332 | April 18, 2022


Post contributed by


Scripture Central


An understanding of the range of meaning in the Hebrew word netzach is reflected in the words of Nephite prophets who referenced Isaiah’s prophecy of death being swallowed up in victory.

Concerning the Lord’s redeeming power, Isaiah prophesied, “He will swallow up death in victory” (Isaiah 25:8), a passage which the Apostle Paul later applied to Christ (1 Corinthians 15:54). The word rendered “victory” in the King James translation of Isaiah 25:8 is the Hebrew term netzach. David Larson, in an important study of this term, notes that netzach has a wide semantic range and that its shades of meaning appear to be purposefully reflected in the writings of Book of Mormon prophets who reference Isaiah 25:8 in their teachings.1

The Hebrew Meaning of Netzach

While the King James version of Isaiah 25:8 translates netzach as “victory,” other versions differ. The passage in the Syriac reads “death will be swallowed up in victory forever” while the Greek Septuagint has “death swallowed having been strong.” The Latin Vulgate reads “he will cast down death for ever.”2 These differences reflect various nuances of the Hebrew word.

1583 edition of the Leuven Vulgate. Image via Wikimedia Commons. 

Biblical scholars note that netzach can mean to be eminent, conquer, triumph, or be victorious.3 One of the banners of God’s people mentioned in the War Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls (1QM 4:13) is called nesah ʾēl, meaning “God’s victory.”4 It can also mean “splendor” or “glory,” sometimes specifically in reference to the Lord as when the prophet Samuel mentioned netzach Yisrael “the Glory of Israel” (1 Samuel 15:29).5

Additionally, netzach can convey the idea of permanence or something that endures, “everlastingness, perpetuity.”6 In some contexts, it refers to “enduring of life” or “endurance in time.”7 According to G. W. Anderson, “it is also found in many texts where nesah or lnesah has the meaning ‘forever’ or, when negated, ‘never.’”8 It can also refer to “radiance,” especially in reference to God,9 and may also  mean to “shine, be bright, brilliant.”10

Other passages point to a cultic or ritual context. It is found in the expression lam nassah, a phrase that appears in Habakkuk 3:9 and in the superscription to 55 of the psalms. Many scholars believe that the term may refer to the leader of the music in the temple or possibly to the king in his sacred role in directing temple worship.11 According to Sigmund Mowinckel, the word meant “‘to cause [God’s countenance] to shine,’ i.e., ‘to appease,’ ‘to make atonement.’”12

Netzach in the Book of Mormon

These various shades of meaning are significant in light of the words of Book of Mormon prophets who alluded to Isaiah 25:8 in their teachings.

Mosiah 16:8–9

Abinadi, in his testimony before king Noah, referenced Isaiah’s words and then seemingly drew upon the nuances of netzach when he further explained the meaning and significance of Christ’s redemption: “But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death” (Mosiah 16:8–9).

Abinadi is sentenced to death in the court of King Noah. Image via churchofjesuschrist.org. 

Abinadi taught that the Son of God is the intercessor who redeems his people from iniquity (Mosiah 15:1–9). The prophet’s personification of netzach as Christ—the one who robs death of victory—seems appropriate in light of the possible connections some scholars have suggested between netzach and atonement. But Abinadi also defined Isaiah’s netzach (Christ) as the light which is endless and as the one who brings about endless life. As Larson observes, “it appears that his testimony played off of some knowledge of the meanings of netzach.”13

Alma 22:14

In Mormon’s account of the ministry of the sons of King Mosiah, Aaron taught Lamoni’s father that Christ “breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory” (Alma 22:14). While this verse seems to allude to Isaiah 25:8, it varies significantly from the King James translation. The deviance is noteworthy because netzach “can carry the connotations of glory, a goal, or desired end, and thus ‘hope of glory’ is also within the ambit of possible meanings.”14 In a royal setting, Ammon’s message awakened a willingness in the heart of Lamoni’s father to give up worldly power for a firm hope of eternal glory.

Alma 27:28

Mormon also described the faithfulness of the Lamanite converts who received the testimony of the sons of Mosiah and their companions. These remarkable saints remained grounded in their Gospel covenants, “and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it” (Alma 27:28). As noted by Larson, this passage reflects an “understanding of netzach both as ‘victory’ and also as ‘Victor,’ the Lord Jesus Christ.”15

Christ and Mary at the Tomb, by Joseph Brickey.


Abinadi in his testimony before King Noah, and also Mormon in his account of the conversion of the Lamanites, referenced the promise of redemption found in Isaiah 25:8. In each case, their attending commentary shows an awareness of the semantic range behind the Hebrew term netzach. Larson concluded that these prophets “were familiar enough with the nuances of meaning contained within the word netzach to be able to use it or to paraphrase it suitably in addressing various audiences.”16

While this nuanced understanding makes sense in light of the ancient Hebrew heritage of the Nephite prophets, it could not have been derived merely from reading the King James version of Isaiah 25:8. Outside of divine intervention, it is hard to imagine how Joseph Smith could have produced this appropriate range of meaning.17

Neal Rappleye, “‘Swallowing Up’ Death in Isaiah, 1 Corinthians, and the Book of Mormon,” Book of Mormon Central Blog, September 3, 2019.

David Larson, “Death Being Swallowed Up in Netzach in the Bible and the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies Quarterly 55, no. 4 (2016): 123–134.

Bible1 Samuel 15:29Isaiah 25:8Habakkuk 3:91 Corinthians 15:54Book of MormonMosiah 15:1–9Mosiah 16:8Mosiah 16:9Mosiah 16:8–9Alma 22:14Alma 27:28


1 Samuel 15:29

Isaiah 25:8

Habakkuk 3:9

1 Corinthians 15:54

Book of Mormon

Mosiah 15:1–9

Mosiah 16:8

Mosiah 16:9

Mosiah 16:8–9

Alma 22:14

Alma 27:28

Book of Mormon

© 2024 Scripture Central: A Non-Profit Organization. All rights reserved. Registered 501(c)(3). EIN: 20-5294264