“Armed with Righteousness and with the Power of God”: Allusions to Priestly Clothing, Priesthood, and Temple in 1 Nephi 14:14

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Abstract: Nephi saw in vision that in the latter-days “the saints of the church of the Lamb” and “covenant people of the Lord” who, though scattered across the earth, “were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14). Nephi’s prophetic statement is loaded with meaning. This study explores how “armed with righteousness” means “clothed with righteousness” (Psalm 132:9) not merely in a martial, but also in a priestly sense (compare 1 Samuel 17:5; Isaiah 59:17). This concept relates to the latter-day temple and its ordinances, which enable the Lord’s people to “go forth” from the temple “armed with [the Lord’s] power” with his “name . . . upon them, and [his] glory be round about them” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:22). When we consider the spiritual power and protection associated with being “armed” or “clothed with righteousness,” we can better appreciate the value of temple ordinances that involve clothing or investiture. These ordinances help us “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”—investing the recipients with the priestly power of Christ’s Atonement, which authorizes them to do his work, enables them to withstand temptation, and enables them to stand in the spiritual battles of mortal life.

The expressions “armed with righteousness” (1 Nephi 14:14) and “clothed with righteousness” (Psalm 132:9) occur one time each in the scriptures. Evidence found elsewhere within scripture suggests that these two phrases derive from a single Hebrew idiom. One of the most important prophetic texts in the Book of Mormon, which gives [Page 334]readers a vision of the church that would be established after the book’s coming forth occurs, as part of Nephi’s vision of the Tree of Life (1 Nephi 11–14) in 1 Nephi 14:14:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.

Psalm 132, a temple hymn, contains the liturgical lines, “Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy” (Psalm 132:9).

In this study, I examine Nephi’s prophetic statement, “and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory,” in the context of imagery from the Hebrew Bible—including temple imagery—and from the standpoint of Alma’s teaching on Melchizedek and priesthood in Alma 13. Unpacking this language and imagery helps us better understand the plea from the prophet Joseph Smith during his dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple on 27 March 1836 and how those words apply to us in our present circumstances:

And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them; And from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is thy work, and that thou hast put forth thy hand, to fulfil that which thou hast spoken by the mouths of the prophets, concerning the last days. (Doctrine and Covenants 109:22–23)

Understanding 1 Nephi 14:14 as a temple text not only helps us better understand the Prophet’s petition in Doctrine and Covenants 109:22–23, but it also helps us better understand the overarching purpose of latter-day temples and the urgency of building them. This urgency has been a driving force in the ongoing restoration from the beginning. (See, for example, Doctrine and Covenants 36:8 where the Lord declared on 9 December 1830 to Edward Partridge that he [Page 335]would “suddenly come to [his] temple.”1) That urgency only continues to accelerate.

To be “armed with righteousness” or “clothed with righteousness” is to be “armed with [the Lord’s] power” and to “have [his] name upon us.” These are all references to receiving priesthood authority (see Doctrine and Covenants 113:8). We need to be so armed, clothed, empowered, and authorized to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13; Doctrine and Covenants 27:15). In other words, being so invested will protect us against temptation, evil, and give us power to prevail in life’s battles. Having “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14) and having taken upon us his name, we receive strength to “let God prevail”2 and “to survive spiritually.”3

[Page 336]The Imagery of 1 Nephi 14:14 in Context and Contrast

As an extension of his seeing the “great and spacious building” in his vision of the Tree of Life (1 Nephi 11–14), Nephi is shown “the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity” (1 Nephi 13:5). Recently Jared Marcum has contrasted the “yoke of iron” as an inverted symbol of the “rod of iron” within the broader context of siege warfare.4

There are also other inverted symbols. Nephi subsequently relates that he

beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it. And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots. And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church. And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity. (1 Nephi 13:6–9)

The expression “fine-twined linen” is closely associated with the wilderness tabernacle and Aaronic priestly clothing (see, for example, Exodus 26:1, 31, 36; 27:9, 16, 18; 28:6, 8, 15; 36:35, 37; 38:9, 16, 18; 39:2, 5, 8, 28–29). In his dream of the Tree of Life, Lehi had seen that the “manner of dress” of the denizens of “the great and spacious building” was “exceedingly fine” (1 Nephi 8:27). D. John Butler has recently argued that Lehi was seeing the representation of a corrupted Jerusalem temple run by corrupt religious elites.5 He proposes a Hebraistic wordplay [Page 337]in Lehi’s description of “a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world” [cf. ʿôlām]. Butler suggests that “world”/ʿôlām homophonically echoes the temple term ʾûlām,6 which had reference to the porch in front of the most holy parts (the nave) of Solomon’s temple (see 1 Kings 7:12, 19; Ezekiel 8:16; 40:7, 8, 48–49; 41:25–26; 44:3; 46:2, 8, Joel 2:17; 1 Chronicles 28:11; 2 Chronicles 8:12; 5:8; 29:7, 17). This suggestion is made even stronger by the fact that the temple is a scale-model of the world or cosmos.7

Thus, the “silks, and scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and precious clothing” that are the “desires” of the “church” that destroys and captivates “the saints of God” are the stark obverse of the “righteousness” with which “the saints of the church of the Lamb” and “covenant people of the Lord” are “armed”—or, as I will argue clothed—in Nephi 14:14.

In the same vision Nephi’s angelic guide exclaims:

And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be. (1 Nephi 13:37)

Those “who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day” are almost certainly to be identified with “the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth” whose “dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw” (1 Nephi 14:12) and “the saints of the church of the Lamb” and “the covenant people of the Lord” (1 Nephi 14:14). On one level, the “saints of the church of the Lamb” can be understood broadly in Nephi’s vision as any people of goodwill who “fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church” (2 Nephi 9:12). But on another level, these “saints” should be understood as “the covenant people of the [Page 338]Lord”—a subset of those “saints” who have made covenants with the Lord in latter-day temples built for that purpose.

The promise to the “covenant people of the Lord” of “the gift and power of the Holy Ghost” to the degree that they obey the doctrine of Christ8 anticipates a specific spiritual endowment received after individuals have entered in through a first temple “gate” which Nephi equates with “repentance and baptism with water” followed by “a remission of sins by fire and the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 31:17).9 This endowment enables one “to speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel” (2 Nephi 31:14)10—i.e., as “messenger[s] of salvation”11 or “messengers of the covenant”12 who “publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy.” This entering in by this first “gate” or through the first veil/screen (“enter[ing] in by the way”) places one “in the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life,” namely the covenant path that leads to the second “gate,” veil, or screen. Jacob, [Page 339]the brother of Nephi, says that that this is the “gate” or veil at which we must “knock” for admittance:

O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. And whoso knocketh, to him will he open. (2 Nephi 9:41–42)

Nephi envisions this second gate as the temple gate through which one is admitted by a paralemptor (or receiver) when he admonishes those who do not understand his words, “it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark” (2 Nephi 32:4).13 Admission through the second gate and being “brought into the light” constitutes part of what endows and equips the “saints of the church of the Lamb” or “covenant people of the Lord” to “publish peace” and “tidings of great joy” in full realization of the Zion prophecy of Isaiah 52:7–10 as cited by the angel in 1 Nephi 13:37.

Nephi himself seems to have identified these “saints” with “my sanctified ones” (mĕquddāšāy, “my sanctified ones” = “my saints”) and “mighty ones” whom the Lord “called” to participate in the eschatological destruction of Babylon (Isaiah 13:2; 2 Nephi 23:2). Jay Goldingay and David Payne remark that Isaiah’s use of the description “my sanctified ones” or “my consecrated ones” here “referred to human warriors, actually Babylon’s conquerors.”14 The effort of human warriors in Babylon’s destruction in Isaiah 13 and 2 Nephi 23 parallels the work of the “saints of the church of the Lamb” or “covenant people of the Lord” in accomplishing the destruction described in 1 Nephi 14:15–17.

This eschatological destruction of Babylon as a repetition of history15 constitutes the fall of the “great and spacious building,” the great [Page 340]antitemple16 (“the fall thereof was exceedingly great,” 1 Nephi 11:36) and the fall of the “great and abominable church” (“and great must be the fall thereof,” 2 Nephi 28:18). Nephi saw the details of this final fall in 1 Nephi 14:15–17, including the work of the complete fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant (“then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel,” 1 Nephi 14:17; compare Moroni 7:31). Nephi saw the “saints of the church of the Lamb” or “covenant people of the Lord” as full participants in this work. He saw them as “armed” or “clothed” to accomplish the work.

“Armed” or “Clothed”? The Significance of 1 Samuel 17:5 and Isaiah 59:17 for 1 Nephi 14:14

At least one prominent biblical passage helps us see how the concepts of being “armed” and “clothed” blend together. In the account of David’s encounter with Goliath the Philistine champion, the text describes Goliath as being “armed” or “clothed” with a coat of mail: “And he [Goliath] had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed [lābûš] with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass” (1 Samuel 17:5). The passive participle lābûš derives from the Semitic/Hebrew verbal root lbš (“to clothe,” “to clothe oneself”).17 Here, the KJV translators rendered the Hebrew passive participle lābûš, which would ordinarily be translated “clothed,” as “armed.” Translating lābûš as “armed” is arguably more appropriate in 1 Samuel 17:5, given the martial context in which Goliath has donned armor. The KJV wording was followed recently by the translators of [Page 341]the English Standard Version: “He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze.” The NRSVUE (NRSV Updated edition) says, “He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze.”

Nevertheless, the NASB 1995 helps us see how either rendering works well: “He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze.” The Darby Bible similarly reads, “And he had a helmet of bronze upon his head, and he was clothed with a corselet of scales; and the weight of the corselet was five thousand shekels of bronze.” We might also note in this vein, in light of Ben McGuire’s insightful linking of the David-Goliath episode to Nephi’s account of his slaying of Laban,18 Nephi “put on” Laban’s identity: “And after I had smitten off his head with his own sword, I took the garments of Laban and put them upon mine own body; yea, even every whit; and I did gird on his armor about my loins” (1 Nephi 4:19). Nephi vested himself in the military clothing—and thus in the authority—of Laban as a “captain of fifty”19 (see Isaiah 3:3; 2 Nephi 13:3; also 2 Kings 1:9–13) who, in Laman’s and Lemuel’s words, could “command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty” (1 Nephi 13:31).

Perhaps no text better helps us see how the Hebrew meaning of lābaš can shade from “to clothe” (or “to be clothed”) into “to be armed with” than Isaiah 59:17, which describes Yahweh arming or clothing himself as a Divine Warrior: “For he put on [wayyilbaš, clothed himself with] righteousness [ṣĕdāqâ] as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak” (Isaiah 59:17). This text clearly inspired the Pauline “armor of God” metaphor:

Finally, my brethren, be strong [endynamousthe] in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on [endysasthe or endusasthe] the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take [Page 342]unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints[.] (Ephesians 6:10–18)

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on [endysamenoi] the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8)

In Ephesians 6:10–11, the Greek verbs endynamousthe (“be strong” or “be empowered”) and endysasthe (“put on”) create a paronomasia that emphasizes the idea that clothing oneself in “the whole armour of God” is to clothe oneself in divine power. Paul uses the same verb for “clothing oneself” in 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Paul’s image of “put[ing] on Christ [Christon enedysasthe]” (Galatians 3:27; “put ye on [endysasthe] the Lord Jesus Christ [ton kyrion Iēsoun Christon],” Romans 13:14), “put[ting] on the new man [endysamenoi ton neon]” and “putt[ing] on [endysasthe or endusasthe] . . . bowels of mercies” including “charity” (Colossians 3:10–14) exists within the same conceptual framework.

The Lord quoted and adapted Ephesians 6:11–17 in giving counsel to the saints of this dispensation in an August 1830 revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith:

Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you; taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye [Page 343]ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also. Amen. (Doctrine and Covenants 27:15–18)

The observance of this counsel and the realization of its promised blessings would seem to be little more than the fulfillment of Nephi’s vision of the covenant people of the Lord being “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14).

“Armed with Righteousness” or “Clothed with Righteousness”: Priesthood after the Order of Melchizedek

In recent years, Latter-day Saints have become more familiar with the language of Exodus 40:12–13 as it relates to the temple washing, anointing, and clothing ordinances:

And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon [wĕhilbaštā, clothe (with)] Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

This priestly clothing is described in much greater detail in Exodus 28. There the Lord had earlier commanded “And thou shalt put them [wĕhilbaštā, i.e., the priestly garments] upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Exodus 28:41). The shared purpose clause in these passages, “that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office,” strongly suggests that clothing in priestly vestments definitively marked the investiture of priestly authority—that is, priesthood authority—to officiate in priestly capacities and to perform priestly duties.

If, as seems evident, Nephi’s use of the phrase “armed with righteousness” involves the idea of being “clothed with righteousness,” it makes for easy association with priests and priesthood, as in Psalm 132:9: “Let thy priests be clothed [yilbĕšû] with righteousness [edeq]” (see further below). The Hebrew noun edeq recalls the priestly power and authority of Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek transparently denotes “King of Righteousness” (Hebrews 7:1–2) or “my king is righteousness.”

[Page 344]“Righteousness” and priesthood

The Hebrew Bible contains scant information about Melchizedek. Genesis makes clear that Melchizedek was both a king and a priest and that Abraham received spiritual blessings at his hand:

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. (Genesis 14:18–20)

Psalm 110, one of the “hymns of the [Jerusalem] temple,”20 indicates that Davidic kings in ancient Judah were priests holding the Melchizedek priesthood: “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4).

The Nephite text most clearly and directly linking “righteousness” to the priesthood of Melchizedek is Alma’s speech to the apostate Nephites at Ammonihah, where at least some of the people had joined the order of the Nehors, a rival priestly order. In this speech, Alma draws on traditions about the life and priestly legacy of Melchizedek presumably preserved on the brass plates and familiar to Nephi by the time he composed 1 Nephi 14:14. This text suggests that priests of Melchizedek’s order wore white priestly clothing, “washed white through the blood of the Lamb”:

Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish; Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb. (Alma 13:10–11)

Alma then invited his audience at Ammonihah to live the doctrine [Page 345]of Christ—to exercise “exceeding faith,” to repent and be saved—using language borrowed from Psalm 95:7–11. This is a temple text that explains why ancient Israel had been excluded from the promised land for forty years and not allowed to “enter into [the Lord’s] rest.”21 Alma exhorted: “And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest” (Alma 13:13). That Melchizedek’s order of priesthood ultimately held the “key” to that “rest,” Joseph Smith himself explicitly taught:

And this greater [i.e., Melchizedek] priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; or without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; but they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. (Doctrine and Covenants 84:20–24)

The Lord’s “rest” is architecturally realized as the temple’s “holy of holies” as is evident in Psalm 132:8–9: “Arise, O Lord, into thy rest [limnûātekā]; thou, and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.”22 John Walton explains that

this enthronement psalm pulls together the ideas of divine rest, temple, and enthronement. God’s “ceasing” (šābat) [Page 346]on the seventh day in Genesis 2:2 leads to his “rest” (nûha), associated with the seventh day in Exodus 20:11. His “rest” is in his “resting place” (mĕâ) in Psalm 132, which identifies it as the temple from which he rules.23

Ultimately, this is the same “rest” mentioned in Psalm 95:11 (mĕātî, “my rest”), which is used as a metaphor for the promised land (i.e., where “stability has been achieved”).24 Alma explained that everything about Melchizedek and his order of priesthood, possibly including or being related to what Latter-day Saints would describe as temple ordinances that grant access to the Lord’s “rest” or the temple’s most holy place, was typological of Jesus Christ and his capacity to empower humankind to enter into the celestial sphere, which the holy of holies represented:

Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever. And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed. Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord. (Alma 13:14–16)

Alma specifically cited Melchizedek and Melchizedek’s people as a model for the people of Ammonihah to follow. Following the Melchizedek typology would lead them back to Jesus Christ, whom they had abandoned. Rhetorical echoes of the meaning of Melchizedek as “king of righteousness” and Salem as the pre-Jerusalem city of “peace” abound in Alma’s discourse:

Now this Melchizedek [malkî-edeq] was a king [melek] [Page 347]over the land of Salem [šālēm]; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness [vis-à-vis righteousness]; But Melchizedek [malkî-edeq] having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace [šālôm] in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace [śar šālôm, Isaiah 9:6 [MT 5], for he was the king of Salem [melek šālēm, Genesis 14:18]; and he did reign [wayyimlōk] under his father. (Alma 13:17–18)

What the people of Ammonihah had themselves done in “go[ing] astray” and being “full of all manner of wickedness” found its antecedent in Melchizedek’s people who had done the same thing. Although “full of all manner of wickedness,” they affirmatively responded to Melchizedek’s message of repentance (“and behold they did repent”)—“choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish.” Alma himself was exercising “great faith” in holding out hope that that Ammonihah could respond like Melchizedek’s Salem. Mormon records that “many of” the people of Ammonihah “did believe on his words, and began to repent, and to search the scriptures” (Alma 14:1). The greater part of them, however, did not repent (see Alma 14:2).

Being “clothed with righteousness” as priestly, temple imagery

Arguably, any thorough study of the symbology of ritual, sacred vestments from a Latter-day Saint perspective begins with Hugh Nibley’s study, “Sacred Vestments,” in his seminal volume, Temple and Cosmos.25 Following Nibley’s work, Blake Ostler has explored what sacred clothing meant in an early Christian context as suggested by early Christian texts in which clothing metaphors occur.26 In his more recent study of sacred vestments,27 Donald W. Parry has distilled the symbolism of ancient sacred vestments down to seven main ideas:

  • [Page 348]The investiture of special vestments signifies one of the gestures of approach.
  • The act of putting on sacred vestments is related to putting on Christ and His holiness.
  • Sacred vestments are associated with salvation, righteousness, glory, and strength.
  • Vestments and clothing sometimes symbolize the person who wears them.
  • Priestly officiants wearing sacred vestments were emulating celestial persons—God, angels, and redeemed souls—who wear sacred vestments.
  • Sacred vestments anticipate the resurrection, when mortals will be clothed with an immortal body.
  • Sacred vestments point to Jesus Christ and His Atonement.28

As noted above, Nephi’s use of the phrase “armed with righteousness” seems to be synonymous with the Hebrew phrase “clothed with righteousness” and fits nicely within Parry’s vestment symbology. The expression “clothed with righteousness” occurs in a prominent temple text specifically pertaining to priests: “Let thy priests be clothed [yilbĕšû] with righteousness [edeq]; and let thy saints shout for joy” (Psalm 132:9), using the same lexeme as 1 Samuel 17:5, where lābûš, as a passive participle, is translated “armed” rather than “clothed” in the KJV. It should be noted that Psalm 132:9 echoes the primordial example of priestly clothing when Adam and Eve are clothed in the Eden temple29 prior to their expulsion: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats [kotnôt, tunics] of skins, and clothed them [wayyalbišēm]” (Genesis 3:21; Moses 4:27). This same verb form occurs in Leviticus 8:3: “And Moses brought Aaron’s sons, and put [wayyalbišēm] coats [kuttōnōt, tunics] upon them, and girded them with girdles, and put bonnets upon them; as the Lord commanded Moses.”30 The Lord’s clothing of Adam and Eve in the garments of [Page 349]skin, presumably taken from sacrificial animals,31 not only stands as a prototype of how he would clothe priests officiating in his sanctuary, but as an expressive symbol of his Atonement and his protective power, since Jesus Christ is the one to whom all divinely ordained, ancient animal sacrifices constituted a type (see Moses 5:5–8).

The concept of the Lord’s covenant people being “armed” or “clothed with righteousness” finds expressions elsewhere throughout the Hebrew Bible and the Book of Mormon. The Isaianic corpus attests the prophetic-priestly declaration:

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me [hilbîšanî] with the garments of salvation [bigdê yešaʿ], he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness [mĕʿîl ṣĕdāqâ], as a bridegroom decketh himself [yĕkahēn] with ornaments [or, puts on a priestly diadem], and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

Jacob, who had been consecrated as a temple priest over the people of Nephi (2 Nephi 5:26; Jacob 1:18–19; compare 2 Nephi 3:3), used this very image in his Isaiah-based sermon in 2 Nephi 6–10: “Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness” (2 Nephi 9:14). Nephi using the divine embrace language of his father,32 envisioned the Lord himself being clothed in “righteousness”:

O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in [Page 350]my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy. (2 Nephi 4:33)

What the Prophet Joseph Smith envisioned in his dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple for early members of the Church—a “prayer [that] was given to him by revelation”33—would certainly fulfill Nephi’s prophecy in 1 Nephi 14:14 of the Lord’s people in the latter days being “armed with righteousness” or “clothed with righteousness”:

Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth; that the kingdom, which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth; that thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners; And be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that thy glory may fill the earth; that when the trump shall sound for the dead, we shall be caught up in the cloud to meet thee, that we may ever be with the Lord; that our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy for all our sufferings. (Doctrine and Covenants 109:72–76)

The Lord’s covenant people going forth from the temple “armed with [the Lord’s] power” with “[the Lord’s] name . . . upon them,” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:22) would ultimately enable them to be “clothed upon with robes of righteousness.” After the concept of temple ordinances developed further over several more decades, Brigham Young taught the Latter-day Saints, “Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, [Page 351]pertaining to the holy priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation”34 (see further below).

“Armed . . . with the Power of God in Great Glory”/“Clothed with Power and Great Glory”: Armed or Clothed with the Power of the Lamb

The idea of “the covenant people of the Lord” being “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” as synonymous with being clothed “with righteousness and with power and great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14) is further suggested by the Lord’s description of his own eschatological appearance in Doctrine and Covenants 45:44: “And then they shall look for me, and, behold, I will come; and they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be shall be cut off.” This language suggests the heavenly, priestly clothing with which Jesus and the angels will be clothed at the time of his Second Coming. The “power of the Lamb of God descend[ing] upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and the covenant people of God” precedes Christ’s descent at the time of his Second Coming.

“Arming” or “clothing” with priestly “power and authority” is not limited to mortality. In his 1918 vision of the spirit world, Joseph F. Smith saw that Christ clothes and commissions his servants there:

But behold, from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead. (Doctrine and Covenants 138:30)

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that Facsimile 2 figure 3 in the Book of Abraham “Is made to represent God, sitting upon his throne, clothed with power and authority; with a crown of eternal light upon his head; representing also the grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood, as revealed to Adam in the Garden of Eden, as also to Seth, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, and all to whom the Priesthood was revealed.”

Isaiah clearly linked the concept of “putting on [martial] strength” [Page 352](“Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord,” Isaiah 51:9; 2 Nephi 8:9)—i.e., being “clothed with strength”—and “putting on . . . beautiful [priestly] garments” (“Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city,” Isaiah 52:1; 2 Nephi 8:24; 3 Nephi 20:36; Moroni 10:31).35 Viewing the Lord as “Divine Warrior”36 helps us to see that martial strength in the divine sense is priesthood power and authority. Nephi foresaw that the “covenant people of the Lord” would be “armed” or “clothed” with this power and authority, as did Moroni (see Moroni 10:31). Lehi drew specifically on these Isaiah texts in his counsel to his sons, “Arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity . . . Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust” (2 Nephi 1:21, 23).37

The Prophet Joseph Smith also equated divine strength and [Page 353]priestly (priesthood) power with which one could be “clothed” or “armed.” In answer to questions about the writings of Isaiah and, particular to “Questions by Elias Higbee” an early Latter-day Saint leader and associate of Joseph Smith, the prophet responded thus:

What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion—and what people had Isaiah reference to? He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost. (Doctrine and Covenants 113:7–8)

Sacred, priestly temple clothing pertaining to the latter-day temple and its ordinances, worn by “the covenant people of the Lord,” is the individuation of this promise as well as its collective fulfillment, “arming” or “clothing” them “with righteousness.”

“Clothed upon with glory”: The symbolism of white clothing

Thus, Nephi’s description of “the saints of the church of the Lamb, and . . . the covenant people of the Lord” as “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” also invites comparison to the temple concept of being “clothed upon with glory.” The Genesis JST/Book of Moses account of Enoch’s theophany upon “the mount Simeon” describes Enoch’s transfiguration with this collocation: “And it came to pass that I turned and went up on the mount; and as I stood upon the mount, I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon with glory” (Moses 7:3). Moses’s transfiguration atop “an exceedingly high mountain” in which “the glory of God was upon Moses” (Moses 1:1–2) is similar (see especially Moses 1:11: “his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him” and Moses 1:14: “For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I were transfigured before him.”

The gospel accounts of Jesus’s transfiguration atop the Mount of Transfiguration (probably Mount Hermon or Mount Tabor), describe the whitening or brightening of Jesus’s clothing with celestial glory: “And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no [Page 354]fuller on earth can white them” (Mark 9:3); “and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” (Matthew 17:2); “And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering” (Luke 9:29). The mountain settings of the foregoing events suggest their “temple” character.38

The 1 Kings 8 account of Solomon’s dedication of the temple and his dedicatory prayer preserves the recollection that “the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:11). In the same dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple offered on 27 March 1836 in which the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed “that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:22) also prayed for the Latter-day Saints that at the time of the Second Coming “our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy for all our sufferings” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:76).39 One week later, on 3 April 1836, the Lord, Moses, and Elijah appeared in glory in the Kirtland temple, just as they had on the Mount of Transfiguration.

The white clothing worn in the latter-day temple, like the “fine linen [that] is the righteousness of saints” and is “clean and white” (Revelation 19:8), functions as an anticipatory type of such divine encounters on such mountains. It also anticipates the ultimate glorification of the righteous in the celestial kingdom, whose inhabitants will be so clothed (see Revelation 7:13–15; Doctrine and Covenants 109:76).

“Endued with power from on high”/“clothed with power from on high”

According to Luke, during Jesus’s post-resurrection forty-day ministry, he instructed his disciples to remain at Jerusalem until he gave [Page 355]them divine power. The Savior gave them the Father’s promise of divine, enabling power explicitly in terms of “clothing” them with “power.” John W. Welch noted this connection between Jesus’s mention of clothing in the Sermon on the Mount and Sermon at the Temple and the promise at the ascension: “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued [endusēsthe or endysēsthe, clothed] with power [dynamin] from on high” (Luke 24:49).40 The key verb endyō is the same used in the Greek Septuagint’s rendering of Psalm 132:9 (LXX Psalm 131:9): “Your priests shall clothe themselves [endysontai] with righteousness [dikaiosynēn] and your saints shall be glad” (translation mine). The “clothing” of Jesus’s disciples with “power” would enable them to preach the gospel throughout the known world: “But ye shall receive power [dynamin], after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

William Tyndale’s rendering of endyō/enduō in Luke 24:49 with endue was derived from both the Latin verbs inducere (“lead in”) and induere (“put on clothes”). This rendering (“vntyll ye be endewed with power from an hye”) was adopted by subsequent English translators. This “clothing” language dovetails nicely with the similar sounding Anglo-Norman French verb endouer (“to give as a gift”)41 to give rise to the restoration temple idiom “endowed with power from on high” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:32). Forms of this idiom recur in subsequent revelations pertaining to the building of the latter-day temple (see Doctrine and Covenants 38:38; 43:16; 95:8; 105:11) and ultimately to the temple-ritual idea of an “endowment” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:12, 18, 33; 110:9). Welch, noting the blending of the words with distinctive etymologies, writes “Joseph Smith’s diary uses the spellings [Page 356]endow or endue interchangeably, as for example when Joseph prayed that all the elders might ‘receive an endument in thy house.’”42

It is this “endowment” through which the Lord puts his name—and thus his authority and power—upon his people in the fullest sense (compare Numbers 6:23–27 and the ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood as the beginning of this process). As the Lord said to Alma the Younger: “Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine” (Mosiah 26:18).43 The expressions “bear [the] name” and “take upon oneself the name” both reflect from the Hebrew idiom nāśāʾ ʾet-šēm—literally, to “lift,” “bear,” or “carry” the name. This, of course, has implications for Pentateuchal prohibitions against “taking the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 5:11 [MT 10]). Stated another way, “You shall not bear the Name of the Lord your God in vain.”44 The high priest literally wore—or bore—the name of the Lord (YHWH) on a plate on his forehead.

Regarding the concept of taking upon oneself the name of Christ, Dallin H. Oaks explained,

Scriptural references to the name of Jesus Christ often signify the authority of Jesus Christ. In that sense, our willingness to take upon us his name signifies our willingness to take upon us the authority of Jesus Christ in the sacred ordinances of the temple, and to receive the highest blessings available through his authority when he chooses to confer them upon us.45

Matthew Roper has similarly expressed the idea that “Taking upon us the clothing of the priesthood reflects our willingness to take upon [Page 357]ourselves the name of the Savior and faithfully serve him, even when it means we sometimes suffer persecution for his sake.”46

The Lord wants to put his name—his righteousness, power, and glory—upon his covenant people. That is, he intends to “arm” or “clothe” his covenant people “with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14). The ordinances of the temple have been set forth for that purpose, but only covenant faithfulness grants access to the power of Christ. Russell M. Nelson explained:

Every man and every woman who participates in priesthood ordinances and who makes and keeps covenants with God has direct access to the power of God. We take the Lord’s name upon ourselves as individuals. We also take His name upon us as a people. Being passionate about using the correct name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a vital way that we as a people take His name upon us.47

Summary and Conclusion

To be “armed with righteousness” means more than wielding the sword of justice or “sword of the Spirit” (compare Ephesians 6:17). For the “covenant people of the Lord” to be “armed with righteousness” (1 Nephi 14:14) means their being “clothed with righteousness” like the priests described in Psalm 132:9, which suggests that “the power of God in great glory” is priestly (priesthood) power and authority. Indeed, the idea of being “armed with righteousness” or “clothed with righteousness”—i.e., with edeq—echoes the name Melchizedek (“king of righteousness”) and the Melchizedek traditions later cited by Alma the Younger that associate “repent[ing] and work[ing] righteousness” with having priestly clothing “washed white through the blood of the Lamb” (Alma 13:11–12) and “enter[ing] into the rest of the Lord” (Alma 13:12–13), as Melchizedek’s people did (Alma 13:14–18; Genesis 14:26–34 JST). In other words, Nephi foresaw that “the covenant people of the Lord” would be “armed” or “clothed” with the power and authority of the Melchizedek priesthood, having the name of the Lord put on them in the latter-day temple.

[Page 358]Why is the foregoing necessary? It is one thing to express our desire or covenant our willingness “to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and [be] willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” (Mosiah 18:8). We can be

willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life. (Mosiah 18: 9; compare Moroni 4:3; Doctrine and Covenants 20:77)

We can even bind ourselves through the baptismal covenant to carry out these actions, as Alma the Elder’s people did at the waters of Mormon. Yet it is still another thing to actually “bear [the Lord’s] name” (Mosiah 26:18) or “take upon oneself” the Lord’s name in the fullest sense. The challenge is to have the strength and capacity to “bear each other’s burdens,” to “mourn with those that mourn,” to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort,” and to always “stand as witness of God” in fulfillment of that covenant (see Mosiah 24, especially v. 14–15). Just as the Lord “strengthened” Alma and his people to “bear” their burdens, the Lord endows, arms, and clothes us with power that we might not only bear the burdens of mortal life, but also that we might have the protection and power to “withstand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13) and “withstand the evil day” (Doctrine and Covenants 27:15). We all need that power.

[Author’s Note: I would like to thank Suzy Bowen, Godfrey Ellis, Jeff Lindsay, Allen Wyatt, Victor Worth, Tanya Spackman, and Alan Sikes.]

1. Matthew L. Bowen, “‘The Messenger of Salvation’: The Messenger-Message Christology of D&C 93:8 and Its Implications for Latter-day Saint Missionary Work and Temple Worship,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 51 (2022): 1–28, journal.interpreterfoundation.org/the-messenger-of-salvation-the-messenger-message-christology-of-dc-938-and-its-implications-for-latter-day-saint-missionary-work-and-temple-worship/.
2. Just as Jacob received the name Israel—or at least the promise of the name—Israel (“Let El Contend,” “Let God have power,” or “Let God Prevail”) at Peniel (“the face of El/God,” cf. the temple as the ritual place of the face/presence [pānîm] of God, see Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–23; 88:68), having the name of Jesus Christ put upon us (or taking upon us his name) is an important element in the “endowment of power” (compare being “endowed with power from on High,” Doctrine and Covenants 38:32, 38; 43:16; 105:11) that we can receive in the latter-day temple. On letting God prevail in our lives, see Russell M. Nelson, “Let God Prevail,” Ensign, October 2020, 92–95, churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2020/10/46nelson. For more on the significance of Jacob’s “wrestle” at Peniel, see, e.g., Matthew L. Bowen, Ancient Names in the Book of Mormon: Toward a Deeper Understanding of a Witness of Christ (Orem, UT: Interpreter Foundation, 2023), 104–6; Jeffrey. M. Bradshaw and Matthew L. Bowen, “Jacob’s Temple Journey to Haran and Back,” in Temple on Mount Zion 7, Proceedings of the Sixth Interpreter Foundation Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference, November 4–5, 2022, ed. Stephen D. Ricks and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw (Orem, UT: Interpreter Foundation; Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2024), 199, 211.
3. Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018, 96, churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/04/revelation-for-the-church-revelation-for-our-lives. President Nelson stated:

Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation. Let this Easter Sunday be a defining moment in your life. Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.

4. Jared Marcum, “Withstanding Satan’s Siege through Christ’s Iron Rod: The Vision of the Tree of Life in Context of Ancient Siege Warfare,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 58 (2023): 1–18, journal.interpreterfoundation.org/withstanding-satans-siege-through-christs-iron-rod-the-vision-of-the-tree-of-life-in-context-of-ancient-siege-warfare/.
5. D. John Butler, Plain and Precious Things: The Temple Religion of the Book of Mormon’s Visionary Men (self-published, 2012), 60–64.
6. Butler, Plain and Precious Things, 55.
7. See, for example, Hugh W. Nibley, “The Meaning of the Temple,” in Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies [FARMS], 1992), 19, archive.org/details/templecosmosbeyo0000nibl.
8. See Noel B. Reynolds, “Biblical Merismus in Book of Mormon Gospel References,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 26, no. 1 (2017): 122, scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1602&context=jbms. Jared T. Parker, “The Doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31–32 as an Approach to the Vision of the Tree of Life,” in The Things Which My Father Saw: Approaches to Lehi’s Dream and Nephi’s Vision, 2011 Sperry Symposium, ed. Daniel L. Belnap, Gaye Strathearn, and Stanley A. Johnson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University [BYU]; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 161–78, rsc.byu.edu/things-which-my-father-saw/doctrine-christ-2-nephi-31-32-approach-vision-tree-life.
9. On the links between the doctrine of Christ in the ritual architecture of the ancient temple, see Parker, “Doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31–32,” 161–78.
10. On the significance of being enabled to “speak with the tongue of angels,” see Neal A. Rappleye, “With the Tongue of Angels”: Angelic Speech as a Form of Deification,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, 21 (2016): 303–23, journal.interpreterfoundation.org/with-the-tongue-of-angels-angelic-speech-as-a-form-of-deification/. Rappleye’s work builds on that of Joseph M. Spencer, An Other Testament: On Typology (Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2016), 46–56, scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=mi.
11. On the Christological concept of the “Messenger of Salvation” and its relationship to modern temple and missionary work, see Bowen, “The Messenger of Salvation,1–28.
12. On the Christological concept of the “Messenger of the Covenant” and the closely related idea of “angels” or “messengers” who “fulfill and do the work of the covenants of the Father” (Moroni 7:31), see Matthew L. Bowen, “Messengers of the Covenant: Mormon’s Doctrinal Use of Malachi 3:1 in Moroni 7:29–32,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 31 (2019): 111–38, journal.interpreterfoundation.org/messengers-of-the-covenant-mormons-doctrinal-use-of-malachi-31-in-moroni-729-32/.
13. See Matthew L. Bowen, “‘Thy Will Be Done’: The Savior’s Use of the Divine Passive,” in The Sermon on the Mount in Latter-day Scripture, ed. Gaye Strathearn, Thomas A. Wayment, and Daniel L. Belnap (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010), 246, rsc.byu.edu/sites/default/files/pub_content/pdf/14%20Bowen.pdf.
14. Jay Goldingay and David Payne, Isaiah 40–55, Vol. II (London: T&T Clark, 2006), 197.
15. In 2 Nephi 25:15, Nephi notes the imminent historical destruction of Babylon: “Babylon shall be destroyed; wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered by other nations.” He also saw it as an event that would be repeated, consistent with his view of other prophecies of Isaiah.
16. See Matthew L. Bowen, “‘See That Ye Are Not Lifted Up’: The Name Zoram and Its Paronomastic Pejoration,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 19 (2016): 115, journal.interpreterfoundation.org/see-that-ye-are-not-lifted-up-the-name-zoram-and-its-paronomastic-pejoration/. Matthew L. Bowen, “‘Where I Will Meet You’: The Convergence of Sacred Time and Sacred Space as the Etiological Function of the Tent of Meeting,” in Sacred Time, Sacred Space, and Sacred Meaning: Proceedings of the Third Interpreter Foundation Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference, 5 November 2016, ed. Stephen D. Ricks and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw (Orem, UT: Interpreter Foundation; Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2020), 21, interpreterfoundation.org/reprints/sacred-time-sacred-space-sacred-meaning/TMZ4-1-Bowen.pdf.
17. Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden, NL: Brill, 2001), 519–20.
18. Ben McGuire, “Nephi and Goliath: A Case Study of Literary Allusion in the Book of Mormon,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 18, no.1 (2009): 16–31, scholarsarchive.byu.edu/jbms/vol18/iss1/12/.
19. Study forthcoming.
20. Margaret Barker, The Gate of Heaven: The History and Symbolism of the Temple in Jerusalem (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Phoenix, 2008), 45. See further Gary A. Rendsburg, “The Psalms as Hymns in the Jerusalem Temple,” in Jesus and Temple: Textual and Archaeological Explorations, ed. James A. Charlesworth (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014), 95–122, jewishstudies.rutgers.edu/docman/rendsburg/626-psalms-as-hymns-in-the-temple/file.
21. On the use of Psalm 95 throughout the Book of Mormon, see John Hilton III, “Old Testament Psalms in the Book of Mormon,” in Ascending the Mountain of the Lord: Temple, Praise, and Worship in the Old Testament, ed. Jeffrey R. Chadwick, Matthew J. Grey, and David Rolph Seely (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013), 291–311, rsc.byu.edu/sites/default/files/pub_content/pdf/17%20Hilton.pdf.
22. Compare also Psalm 132:14; Isaiah 66:1.
23. John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009), 73. Walton further notes: “After creation, God takes up his rest and rules from his residence. This is not new theology for the ancient world—it is what all peoples understood about their gods and their temples.” For the fuller discussion of rest, see pp. 71–76.
24. Walton, Lost World, 73. See also Jon D. Levenson, Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible (Minneapolis: Winston Press, 1985), 143–45.
25. Nibley, Temple and Cosmos, 91–138.
26. See Blake Ostler, “Clothed Upon: A Unique Aspect of Christian Antiquity,” BYU Studies Quarterly 22, no. 1 (1982): 31–45, scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2148&context=byusq.
27. Donald W. Parry, “Ancient Sacred Vestments: Scriptural Symbols and Meanings,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 48 (2021): 11–32, journal.interpreterfoundation.org/ancient-sacred-vestments-scriptural-symbols-and-meanings/.
28. Parry, “Ancient Sacred Vestments,” 13.
29. On the Garden of Eden as a temple, see Donald W. Parry, “Garden of Eden: Prototype Sanctuary,” in Temples of the Ancient World: Ritual and Symbolism, ed. Donald W. Parry (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: FARMS, 1994), 126–51.
30. See L. Michael Morales, Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? Theology of the Book of Leviticus (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2016), 53. See further discussion in Aaron P. Schade and Matthew L. Bowen, The Book of Moses: From the Ancient of Days to the Latter Days (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2021), 206–9.
31. Parry, “Garden of Eden: Prototype Sanctuary,” 142.
32. Matthew L. Bowen, “‘Encircled About Eternally in the Arms of His Love’: The Divine Embrace as a Thematic Symbol of Jesus Christ and His Atonement in the Book of Mormon,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 59 (2023): 109–34, journal.interpreterfoundation.org/encircled-about-eternally-in-the-arms-of-his-love-the-divine-embrace-as-a-thematic-symbol-of-jesus-christ-and-his-atonement-in-the-book-of-mormon/. Hugh W. Nibley, “The Meaning of the Atonement,” in Approaching Zion (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: FARMS, 1989), 554–614.
33. See the heading to Doctrine and Covenants 109 in the 2013 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
34. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, ed. John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954), 416.
35. Compare Matthew Roper, “Clothed with Glory: Sacred Vestments and the Restoration,” in The Temple: Symbols, Sermons, and Settings (Proceedings of the Fourth Interpreter Foundation Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference, 10 November 2018), ed. Stephen D. Ricks and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw (Orem UT: Interpreter Foundation; Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2024), 211, interpreterfoundation.org/conference-talks-clothed-with-glory-sacred-vestments-and-the-restoration/. Roper’s rich study analyzes how the significance of sacred vestments grew in the awareness and understanding of the saints of this dispensation.
36. On the Lord as “Divine Warrior” in the Book of Mormon, see especially Daniel Belnap, “‘I Will Contend with Them That Contendeth with Thee’: The Divine Warrior in Jacob’s Speech of 2 Nephi 6–10,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Restoration Scripture 17, no. 1 (2008): 20–39, scholarsarchive.byu.edu/jbms/vol17/iss1/5/.
37. On these and similar passages, see Jeffrey D. Lindsay, “Arise from the Dust”: Insights from Dust-Related Themes in the Book of Mormon (Part 1: Tracks from the Book of Moses),” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 22 (2016): 179–232, journal.interpreterfoundation.org/arise-from-the-dust-insights-from-dust-related-themes-in-the-book-of-mormon-part-1-tracks-from-the-book-of-moses/; Jeffrey D. Lindsay, “Arise from the Dust”: Insights from Dust-Related Themes in the Book of Mormon (Part 2: Enthronement, Resurrection, and Other Ancient Motifs from the ‘Voice from the Dust’),” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 22 (2016): 233–77, journal.interpreterfoundation.org/arise-from-the-dust-insights-from-dust-related-themes-in-the-book-of-mormon-part-2-enthronement-resurrection-and-other-ancient-motifs-from-the-voice-from-the-dust/; Jeffrey D. Lindsay, “Arise from the Dust”: Insights from Dust-Related Themes in the Book of Mormon (Part 3: Dusting Off a Famous Chiasmus, Alma 36),” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 22 (2016): 295–318, journal.interpreterfoundation.org/arise-from-the-dust-insights-from-dust-related-themes-in-the-book-of-mormon-part-3-dusting-off-a-famous-chiasmus-alma-36/.
38. See, e.g., Richard J. Clifford, “The Temple and the Holy Mountain,” in The Temple in Antiquity: Ancient Records and Modern Perspectives, ed. Truman G. Madsen (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1984), 107–24, rsc.byu.edu/temple-antiquity/temple-holy-mountain.
39. Roper (“Clothed with Glory,” 211), connects Doctrine and Covenants 109:76 with Doctrine and Covenants 29:13: “For a trump shall sound both long and loud, even as upon Mount Sinai, and all the earth shall quake, and they shall come forth—yea, even the dead which died in me, to receive a crown of righteousness, and to be clothed upon, even as I am, to be with me, that we may be one.”
40. See, e.g., John W. Welch, Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple & the Sermon on the Mount: An Approach to 3 Nephi 11–18 and Matthew 5–7 (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1999), 85–86, archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/sites/default/files/archive-files/pdf/welch/2017-12-04/illuminating_the_sermon_at_the_temple.pdf; see also John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount: A Latter-day Saint Approach (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies), 68–69, scholarsarchive.byu.edu/mi/89/.
41. See, e.g., Jonathan Max Wilson, “An LDS Lexicon: Endue, Endow, Endowment,” Sixteen Small Stones (blog), 31 August 2006, www.sixteensmallstones.org/an-lds-lexicon-endue-endow-endowment/.
42. Welch, Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple, 86.
43. For a lengthy study of the biblical concept of “bearing” the divine Name, see Carmen Joy Imes, Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2019). On King Benjamin’s sermon as an “endowment” through which King Benjamin put the name of Jesus Christ on his people, see Andrew Miller, “King Benjamin’s Sermon as a Type of Temple Endowment,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 61 (2024), 1–24, journal.interpreterfoundation.org/king-benjamins-sermon-as-a-type-of-temple-endowment/.
44. Margaret Barker, “The Great High Priest,” BYU Studies 40, no. 3 (2020): 68, scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4087&context=byusq.
45. Dallin H. Oaks, “Taking upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 1985, 83, churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1985/04/taking-upon-us-the-name-of-jesus-christ.
46. Roper, “Clothed with Glory,” 204. Roper’s rich study analyzes how the significance of sacred vestments grew in the awareness and understanding of the saints of this dispensation.
47. Russell M. Nelson, “The Everlasting Covenant,” Liahona, October 2022, churchofjesuschrist.org/study/liahona/2022/10/04-the-everlasting-covenant.
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About Matthew L. Bowen

Matthew L. Bowen was raised in Orem, Utah, and graduated from Brigham Young University. He holds a PhD in Biblical Studies from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and is currently an associate professor in religious education at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. He is also the author of Name as Key-Word: Collected Essays on Onomastic Wordplay and the Temple in Mormon Scripture (Salt Lake City: Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2018) and, more recently, Ancient Names in the Book of Mormon: Toward a Deeper Understanding of a Witness of Christ (Salt Lake City: Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2023). With Aaron P. Schade, he is the coauthor of The Book of Moses: From the Ancient of Days to the Latter Days (Provo, UT; Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, 2021). He and his wife (the former Suzanne Blattberg) are the parents of three children: Zachariah, Nathan, and Adele.

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