"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21

Who is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53? Part Two

May 23, 2011

in Christianity:,Idolatry,Judaism vs. Christianity,Judaism:,Messiah-Truth,Noahide - The Ancient Path

by Uri Yosef  – Messiah Truth.com

PART II – THE CHRISTIAN INTERPRETATION, VALID OR NOT?

(ISAIAH 53:6-12)

IV. SEGMENT 2 – ISAIAH 53:6-12

The application of the Scientific Method to the Christian perspective on “Isaiah 53” continues with the analysis of the remainder of the passage.

  1. Verification Stage – Testing the New Hypothesis

The Verification stage resumes with a verse-by-verse analysis of the New Hypothesis, along the two parallel paths described in Section III.B.  One path contrasts what the Hebrew Bible teaches about the (promised Jewish) Messiah against the Hebrew text of “Isaiah 53”.  The parallel path contrasts the way that the New Testament portrays Jesus (Christianity’s Messiah) against the Hebrew text of “Isaiah 53”.

1. Isaiah 53:6

 

ch:vs King James Version Translation Jewish Translation from the Hebrew Hebrew Text
53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the L-rd inflicted upon him [or, accepted his prayers for] the iniquity of all of us.

This verse is a statement about the speakers having lost their way and, depending on which of the two possible Jewish renditions of the last phrase is accepted, either that the servant was punished through the speakers at G-d’s behest, or that the servant’s intercession on behalf of his oppressors was accepted by G-d.

[Hebrew Bible] Question: Can Isaiah 53:6 apply to the Messiah?

According the first rendition of the last phrase, the servant is punished by G-d through the speakers who, apparently, have over-reacted in their zeal to inflict pain on the servant.  There is no situation described anywhere in the Hebrew Bible, where the Messiah was to be punished and oppressed by others at G-d’s request.

According to the latter rendition of the last phrase, there is no evidence found anywhere in the Hebrew Bible to support the notion that the Messiah will intercede on behalf of his oppressors.

[Hebrew Bible] Answer: No!

[New Testament] Question: Can Isaiah 53:6 apply to Jesus?

The New Testament contains references to Jesus taking on the people’s sins and dying for them (e.g., Mt 26:28; Cr 15:3; 1 Pe 2:24; 1 Jn 3:5), though none testify to the text of Isaiah 53:6, which says this was inflicted on him by the people at G-d’s request.  In fact, some passages in the New Testament claim that Jesus may have done this at his own behest:

Galatians 1:4(KJV) – Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

The closest the New Testament gets to the concept that G-d may have had a hand in the event is seen in passages such as the following:

John 3:16(KJV) – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1 John 4:10(KJV) – Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

However, none of these passages reflect the context of Isaiah 53:6 and, perhaps, that is the reason they are not cross-referenced in the New Testament as pointing to this verse.

Even though the alternative rendition is neither found nor acknowledged in Christian translations, does the New Testament describe any situations where Jesus interceded on behalf of someone who oppressed him?  No such instances are found concerning the Pharisees, but one is found concerning the Roman soldiers who put Jesus on the cross:

Luke 23:34(KJV) – Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Based on this last verse in the New Testament Jesus will be given the benefit of the doubt with regard to whether he could fit Isaiah 53:6.

[New Testament] Answer: Yes!

2. Isaiah 53:7

 

ch:vs King James Version Translation Jewish Translation from the Hebrew Hebrew Text
53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so heopeneth not his mouth.(1) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he would not open his mouth; like a lamb to the slaughter he would be brought, and like a ewe that is mute before her shearers, and he would not open his mouth.

(1)  Matthew 26:63(KJV) – But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

Matthew 27:12-14(KJV) – (12) And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. (13) Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? (14) And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.

Mark 14:61(KJV) – But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?

Mark 15:5(KJV) – But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.

Luke 23:9(KJV) – Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.

John 19:9(KJV) – And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.

Acts 8:32(KJV) – The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

This verse describes an oppressed and afflicted servant who never opened his mouth, like a lamb led to the slaughter or like a sheep being sheared.

[Hebrew Bible] Question: Can Isaiah 53:7 apply to the Messiah?

There are no passages in the Hebrew Bible where the Messiah is compared to a lamb led to slaughter or to a sheep standing before its shearers.

[Hebrew Bible] Answer: No!

[New Testament] Question: Can Isaiah 53:7 apply to Jesus?

There are several citations of this verse found in the New Testament, as indicated below the translation.  All cited verses, except for Acts 8:32, describe Jesus’ silence when questioned by Pilate and the High Priest.  Acts 8:32 is a “quote” of Isaiah 53:7, which, according to the context in Acts 8, was the passage the Ethiopian eunuch read and asked Philip to teach him of whom Isaiah was speaking.  Philip responded that it was speaking of Jesus. So, the overall impression of these references to this verse is that Jesus was quiet on his way to be crucified.

Yet, the Gospel accounts contain conflicting statements that describe Jesus as anything but silent in his own defense before the High Priest:

John 18:19-23(KJV) – (19) The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. (20) Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. (21) Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. (22) And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? (23) Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?

Jesus also protested when questioned by Pontius Pilate:

John 18:33-37(KJV) – (33) Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?  (34) Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? (35) Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? (36) Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. (37) Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

The passage Luke 23:34 was encountered in reference to Isaiah 53:6, where Jesus prays at the cross.  Then, according to the Gospel accounts, Jesus did not remain silent as he was on the cross, with his last words being reported differently by three out of the four authors of the Gospels:

Matthew 27:46(KJV) – And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [See also Mk 15:34; Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30.]

In fact, according to the Gospels, he screamed so loudly while on the cross that it might have even caused an earthquake:

Matthew 27:50-51(KJV) – (50) Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.  (51) And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Did Jesus go to his death without protest?  The New Testament contains passages such as the following:

Mathew 26.39(KJV) – And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. [See also Mk 14:36; Lk 22:42]

Hebrews 5:7(KJV) – Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

Clearly, Jesus did not go willingly to his death, and he protested loudly against it.  These passages appear to contradict Galatians 1:4, cited earlier in reference to Isaiah 53:6.

The claim that Jesus was silent before his accusers and that he humbled himself and did not open his mouth is refuted by the New Testament itself.  The encounters with the Jewish and Roman authorities involved strong verbal confrontations and did not feature a silent and humble Jesus.  Quite to the contrary, he is depicted as presenting a strong defense of himself and for his teaching.

[New Testament] Answer: No!

3. Isaiah 53:8

 

ch:vs King James Version Translation Jewish Translation from the Hebrew Hebrew Text
53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was hestricken. From imprisonment and from judgment he was taken, and his generation who shall tell?  For he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the transgression of my people, a plague came upon them.

 

This verse continues to describe the servant who was deprived of fair treatment, and who was banished from his land and was afflicted because of the transgressions of the speaker’s people.

[Hebrew Bible] Question: Can Isaiah 53:8 apply to the Messiah?

The servant is described here in the plural in terms of the collective noun, them, which rules out an individual being described.  Moreover, such descriptions of the servant are not found anywhere in the Hebrew Bible in relation to the Messiah.  Therefore, this passage cannot be speaking of the (Davidic) Messiah – it describes a group of persecuted people.

[Hebrew Bible] Answer: No!

[New Testament] Question: Can Isaiah 53:8 apply to Jesus?

No descriptions of Jesus in the New Testament have him being taken from imprisonment and from judgment, and cut off from the land of the living, i.e., exiled from the Land of Israel.

It is also interesting to note that, even with the numerous references in the New Testament to the notion that Jesus died for the sins of mankind, according to the description of the servant in this verse, and as further supported in the Hebrew Bible, this could not possibly be the case.  First, it was already demonstrated that the servant described here in terms of a compound noun is a group, not an individual.  Second, the claim in the New Testament is that Jesus, who was G-d incarnate in the flesh as a human being, was offered as a sacrifice in order to pay the ransom for people’s sins and thereby effecting their salvation through the shedding of the human blood of his human flesh.  In other words, it was Jesus the human being and not Jesus the divine being that was allegedly the sacrificial offering for the atonement of humanity’s sins.  This scenario is contradicted by the Hebrew Bible in passages such as this:

Psalms 49:8 –  A brother cannot redeem a man, he cannot give his ransom to G-d.

Compare this with the KJV rendition:

Psalms 49:7(KJV) – None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:

Both renditions clearly convey the message that one human being cannot redeem another.  However, according to the New Testament, it was the human aspect of Jesus, not the divine part, that was offered as a ransom for salvation.  Which source should be accepted as the correct one?

[New Testament] Answer: No!

4. Isaiah 53:9

 

ch:vs King James Version Translation Jewish Translation from the Hebrew Hebrew Text
53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.(1) And he gave his grave to the wicked, and to the wealthy in his deaths, because he committed no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

(1) Matthew 27:57-60(KJV) – (57) When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: (58) He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. (59)

And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, (60) And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

1 Peter 2:22(KJV) – Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

This verse describes the servant as non-violent and non-deceitful, being buried as if he were a criminal, and put to death only because of his wealth.

[Hebrew Bible] Question: Can Isaiah 53:9 apply to the Messiah?

According to the Prophet Zephaniah, this description could well suit the righteous remnant of Israel:

Zephaniah 3:13 – The remnant of Israel shall neither commit injustice nor speak lies; neither shall deceitful speech be found in their mouth, for they shall graze and lie down, with no one to cause them to shudder.

Though such an appellation could also include the Messiah, this kind of language is never used in the Hebrew Bible in connection with any of the messianic prophecies that speak of him.  As to the rest of the verse, there are no accounts in the Hebrew Bible that speak of the Messiah dying in the manner stated here.  Moreover, as was already demonstrated, the Hebrew language indicates that the servant here is a group, not a single individual.

[Hebrew Bible] Answer: No!

[New Testament] Question: Can Isaiah 53:9 apply to Jesus?

There are two references in the New Testament to parts of this verse.  The first reference, Matthew 27:57-60, speaks of Joseph of Arimathaea, a rich man who placed the body of Jesus in his own grave which was, undoubtedly, in an exclusive area where the deceased rich people were entombed.  Yet, just a few verses earlier Jesus is described as having died among the wicked:

Matthew 27:38(KJV) –  Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. [See also Mk 15:27.]

So, aside from the problem created by the fact that the servant was a group, not an individual, it appears that the circumstances described in the New Testament account were reversed from those stated in the literal sense of the verse in the Hebrew Bible.

The second reference, 1 Peter 2:22, points to the last two phrases in the verse, alleging that Jesus committed no violence and did not speak a lie.  Is this consistent with the accounts of Jesus found in the New Testament?

Concerning violence, take note that violence, whether or not it is justified, is still violence.  Did Jesus engage in any activities that could be described as violent?  The New Testament includes accounts such as the following:

John 2:15(KJV) – So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. [See also Mt 21:12; Mk 11:15; Lk19:45.]

If these New Testament accounts are true, Jesus indeed committed acts of violence by attacking the merchants, dispersing their coins, and overturning the furniture in the Temple.

Would the following be words of a peaceful and non-violent person?

Matthew 10:34-36(KJV) – (34) Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (35) For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (36) And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. [See also Lk 12:51-53.]

Luke 19:27(KJV) – But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

Jesus appears to be coming not to bring peace but strife to humanity, and orders to have his foes brought before him and slain.

The New Testament describes other examples of behavior by Jesus which can be characterized as violent acts.  For example, Jesus caused the drowning death of a herd of swine by having demons possess them (Mt 8:32, Mk5:13, Lk 8:33); and he destroyed a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season (Mt 21:18-21, Mk 11:13-14).

Concerning deceit in the servant’s mouth, did Jesus ever speak a lie or deceive someone?  The New Testament includes accounts which testify to the fact that Jesus was guilty of lying and deceiving:

Matthew 16:27-28(KJV) – (27) For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (28) Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Are any of those whom Jesus allegedly addressed with these words still alive today awaiting his (second) coming?  After all, Jesus (the Son of man) has not yet returned and established his kingdom.  Similarly, Jesus lied when he assured his disciples that the end of the world order and his own triumphant return to judge all men would occur before the generation then living had passed away:

Matthew 24:34(KJV) – Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. [See also Mk 13:30; Lk 21:32.]

In fact, in the era following the alleged resurrection of Jesus, the author of Revelation still quotes him as promising to return in the near future, and reward all his followers:

Revelation 22:7,12,20(KJV) – (7) Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

(12) And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

(20) He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

What does quickly mean?  After nearly two millennia beyond the days when those words were allegedly spoken, Jesus has still not returned.

Then there is the following promise by Jesus to his followers:

Mark 16:17-18(KJV) – (17) And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (18) They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Are there any followers of Jesus alive today who can safely drink poison, and heal the sick without medical knowledge?

Then there is the following promise by Jesus:

John 14:12-14(KJV) – (12) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (13) And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (14) If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Does someone know of any Christians who have had all of their wishes granted?  Why are not all Christians healthy, wealthy, and in charge of the world?  This passage is the New Testament version of the story about the genie inside a bottle who grants an endless number of wishes to its owner.

The New Testament contains many other examples of deceit by Jesus.  He deceived his disciples by promising a hundredfold of material possessions in this life to those who left everything in order to follow him (Mk 10:28-30), which has not happened!  Jesus claims he spoke openly to everyone when he was questioned by the Jewish authorities (Jn 18:19-21).  Yet,  the New Testament describes instances when Jesus demanded secrecy of those to whom he spoke (Mt 16:20; Mk 8:30; Lk 9:21).  Jesus admonished his disciples not to divulge the fact that he was the Messiah.  He also demanded of the devils he exorcised to keep his deeds a secret (Mk 1:34, 3:11-12; Lk4:41), and of those who he healed, he demanded that they not tell he cured them (Mt 8:3-4, 12:15-16; Mk 1:44, 5:43, 7:36; Lk 5:14, 8:56).  Do these describe actions of an upright person?

Indeed, Jesus engaged in violent deeds, and he acted deceptively.

[New Testament] Answer: No!

Sidebar Note:  Based on the analysis and correct understanding of the Hebrew text of Isaiah 53:8&9, it is known that the servant in “Isaiah 53” cannot be an individual.  Rather, the servant is an entity that consists of a collection of people, a group.  This fact has an impact on the analysis of the remaining verses, but it may be set aside at times in order to focus on some other issues.

5. Isaiah 53:10

 

ch:vs King James Version Translation Jewish Translation from the Hebrew Hebrew Text
53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thoushalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed,he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.(1) And the L-rd wished to crush him, He made him ill; if his soul would acknowledge guilt, he shall have descendants [or, he shall see progeny], he shall prolong his days, and G-d’s purpose shall prosper in his hand.

(1) John 1:29(KJV) – The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

This verse describes a servant who was hurt at G-d’s behest, yet was also promised children, a long life, and success as rewards for his repentance.

[Hebrew Bible] Question: Can Isaiah 53:10 apply to the Messiah?

Since the servant cannot be an individual but an entity, i.e., a group, the Messiah is excluded as the servant in Isaiah 53:10.  However, setting aside this fact for a moment, it is noted that, in Isaiah 53:10, G-d promises to reward the servant for acknowledging his iniquity and his repenting for it.  While the Hebrew Bible frequently speaks of promises made or rewards that would accrue to the Jewish people if they do G-d’s will, such rewards are not promised in connection with the Messiah.

[Hebrew Bible] Answer: No!

[New Testament] Question: Can Isaiah 53:10 apply to Jesus?

The New Testament reference to this verse points specifically at the phrase “… when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin …” as it appears in common Christian translations.  However, since the correct (Jewish) context differs significantly from the Christian rendition, there is no need for further comment on this reference in John 1:29.

And the L-rd wished to crush him, He made him ill”  According to the New Testament, the only one who was to be crushed by G-d is Satan, not Jesus (Ro 16:20).  Of what sickness did Jesus suffer?  Why would G-d want to crush Jesus and make him ill?  If he was crushed and sick, then how, according to the Christian interpretation of this verse, could Jesus be a perfect and unblemished sacrificial offering?

… if his soul would acknowledge guilt  …”  How could a “sinless” Jesus acknowledge any guilt?  According to the Christian interpretation, this phrase speaks of Jesus offering himself as an  (asham), a guilt offering, one that is supposed to effect atonement for some intentional sins.  Yet, the New Testament also refers to Jesus as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29), pointing at the Paschal Lamb (Exod 12).  So, in addition to the fact that the Paschal Lamb did not serve to atone for any sins, how could Jesus be both at once?  After all, each of these two sacrificial offerings had a different purpose.

This phrase “… when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin …” cannot apply to Jesus even according to the Christian rendition.  Did Jesus offer his soul (spirit), or did he offer his body (flesh)?  If this was the purpose for G-d coming to earth in the flesh, why is it necessary to have here the conditional “when” (or, “if” in some Christian renditions)?  Was there a chance that Jesus would not offer himself?  As was already noted earlier, Jesus was not necessarily a willing party to this sacrifice (Mt 26:39, 27:46; Mk 14:36, 15:34; Lk 22:42, 23:46; Jn 19:30; He 5:7).  It appears that Jesus died against his will, so he really offered nothing at all.

… he shall have descendants [or, he shall see progeny] …”  It was previously established that the use in the Hebrew Bible of idiomatic expressions such as seeing seed always refers to physical seed, whether it is plant seed or human seed.  According to the New Testament and other Christian writings, Jesus never fathered any children, so it is evident that he did not enjoy the promise of this reward.

… he shall prolong his days …”  It was also previously established that the use in the Hebrew Bible of the idiomatic expression [to] prolong days refers exclusively to extending a person’s mortal lifetime on earth.  A psalm attributed to Moses speak of what such a mortal lifetime might be:

Psalms 90:10 – The days of our years among them are seventy years, and if with might, eighty years; and their proudest success is but toil and pain, for it passes quickly and we fly away.

It is 70-80 years!  According to the reckoning in the New Testament:

Luke 3:23(KJV) – And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

Jesus started his ministry around the age of 30, and he was crucified some three years later, so that he was in his early thirties when he died, which hardly qualifies as having prolonged days, even according to Biblical standards.

The Hebrew Bible teaches that the above two rewards – children and a long life, the two greatest rewards G-d gives to mankind here on earth – come at the same time:

Isaiah 65:20-23 – (20) There shall no longer be from there a youth or an old man who will not fill his days, for the youth who is one hundred years old shall die, and the sinner who is one hundred years old shall be cursed. (21) And they shall build houses and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. (22) They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat, for like the days of the tree are the days of My people, and My elect shall outlive their handiwork. (23) They shall not toil in vain, neither shall they bear for terror, for they are seed blessed by the L-rd, and their offspring shall be with them. [See also Job 5:25-26.]

Clearly, Jesus enjoyed neither of these rewards during his lifetime.

… and G-d’s purpose shall prosper in his hand …”  According to the New Testament, Jesus was well aware of the purpose of his mission, both on earth and destiny in heaven:

Matthew 16:21(KJV) – From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

John 6:38(KJV) – For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

John 8:14(KJV) – Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

Why would Jesus, who is G-d manifest in the flesh according to most Christians, need to be promised by G-d a reward for doing G-d’s will, and that he will be successful?  What was the purpose of his being sent to earth if not to be successful?  Would not an omniscient G-d know in advance that his incarnate “son” will fulfill all that was supposed to be done?  Or, does this verse show that G-d’s servant could not possibly be divine?  Why would a heaven-bound being have to be promised earthly rewards such as a long life and children?

[New Testament] Answer: No!

6. Isaiah 53:11

 

ch:vs King James Version Translation Jewish Translation from the Hebrew Hebrew Text
53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servantjustify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.(1) From the toil of his soul he shall see [and he shall] be satisfied; with his knowledge My servant will vindicate the righteous before the multitudes, and their iniquities he shall carry.

(1) John 10:14-18(KJV) – (14) I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (15) As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (16) And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (17) Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

(18) No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Romans 5:18-19(KJV) – (18) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

This verse describe how the servant will eventually see that G-d has had a special purpose in allowing such wickedness, and will be satisfied and not challenge G-d’s actions.  The servant will vindicate mankind with his knowledge, and this will not come easily, since it will be at the expense of suffering inflicted by the multitudes.

[Hebrew Bible] Question: Can Isaiah 53:11 apply to the Messiah?

While the Messiah will be a spiritual and military/political leader (e.g., Is 2:3, 11:2; Dan 7:14), this verse cannot apply to him as an individual, though he will be among those included in the entity called My servant.

[Hebrew Bible] Answer: No!

[New Testament] Question: Can Isaiah 53:11 apply to Jesus?

The first of the two New Testament references to this verse (Jn 10:14-18) alludes to (the divine) Jesus claiming equality with the Father and carrying out his ordained mission by laying down his life and thus being satisfied, and how he will be satisfied in being the shepherd.  The second reference (Ro 5:18-19) conveys the message that mankind, which became infected with sin by the work of Adam, is justified through the work of Jesus.  These references, unfortunately, reflect the Christian misinterpretation of this verse, and they are not consistent with the Hebrew text.

In addition to the fact that the servant cannot be an individual, and contrary to Christian theology, this verse explains how the people will be vindicated by the servant’s knowledge and not through his suffering, shed blood, and death.

[New Testament] Answer: No!

7. Isaiah 53:12

 

ch:vs King James Version Translation Jewish Translation from the Hebrew Hebrew Text  

 

53:12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.(1) Therefore, I will allot him a portion among the multitudes, and with the mighty he shall share booty,because he has bared his soul to death, and with transgressors he was counted; and he bore the sin of many, and he will [continue to] intercede for the transgressors.

(1) Matthew 26:38-39,42(KJV) – (38) Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. (39) And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (42) He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, thy will be done.

Mark 15:28(KJV) – And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

Luke 22:37(KJV) – For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

2 Corinthians 5:21(KJV) – For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Philippians 2:9-11(KJV) – (9) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (10) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; (11) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This verse describes a servant who will be compensated for having risked his life in dangerous situations, even to the point where he was counted among the criminals.  Even though he has borne the effects of the sins of others, he will continue to intercede on their behalf.

[Hebrew Bible] Question: Can Isaiah 53:12 apply to the Messiah?

Here again, although the Messiah will be counted among those collectively referred to as My servant, there are no references in the Hebrew Bible to the Messiah being rewarded, having suffered due to the actions of others, being counted among criminals, and interceding on behalf of others.

[Hebrew Bible] Answer: No!

[New Testament] Question: Can Isaiah 53:12 apply to Jesus?

The various New Testament references once again employ the Christian misinterpretations of the Hebrew text, some of which have already been shown to demonstrate that certain verses cannot apply to Jesus.

The Hebrew word for booty,  (shalal), is used throughout the Hebrew Bible exclusively to describe the spoils of war in a literal sense, i.e., taking possession of material goods.  Questions that come to mind, when trying to contrast the passage “… and with the mighty he shall share booty …” with Jesus, are:  Did Jesus ever fight in any war?  Whom did he defeat?  What were his spoils?  Who were those other “mighty” ones with whom Jesus would be sharing the spoils of war?  Were they equal to him?

Lastly, since Jesus was allegedly sacrificed and gave up his human body, how then could he intercede for anyone?  After his crucifixion, was he not up in heaven as one with the Father?  Should not he himself be the one to forgive?

[New Testament] Answer: No!

V. ADDITIONAL COMMENTS REGARDING THE CHRISTIAN INTERPRETATION OF “ISAIAH 53”

Did the disciples of Jesus expect him to fulfill “Isaiah 53”, i.e., that he would die for sins of mankind?  According to the accounts in the Gospels, the disciples never anticipated a dying Messiah.  Peter acknowledges that Jesus was the Messiah:

Matthew 16:16(KJV) – And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

But, when Jesus informs his disciples that he will be going to Jerusalem where he will be killed (Mt 16:21), this is Peter’s response:

Matthew 16:22(KJV) – Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

Clearly, Peter did not have the expectation that Jesus, as the Messiah, was to fulfill “Isaiah 53”.  In fact, Jesus taught his disciples about what is to happen to him:

Mark 9:31(KJV) – For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

The account in the New Testament describes their reaction:

Mark 9:32(KJV) – But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

It seems that the interpretation of “Isaiah 53” as the scenario for the suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus is a later invention of the Church.

Were “Isaiah 53” to have spoken about a (human) vicarious atonement, how could one reconcile it with passages such as Exodus 32:31-33, Numbers 35:33, Deuteronomy 24:16, 2 Kings 14:6, Jeremiah 31:29[30 in Christian Bibles], Ezekiel 18:4,20, Psalms 49:7-8?  According to the Hebrew Bible, (human) vicarious atonement is strictly prohibited; each person is responsible for his/her own sins.  A person cannot take on the punishment for another person’s sins and, thereby, absolve the sinner.

So, serious and open-minded Bible students need to ask themselves the question:  Can Jesus really be the servant of “Isaiah 53”?

VI. SUMMARY

In this essay, the Scientific Method was used to examine the Christian perspective on “Isaiah 53”.  In order to do this as objectively as possible, the work done in Part I was set aside, and the process was restarted, and a New Hypothesis was developed for the Christian perspective:

New Hypothesis: The Messiah is the servant in the “Isaiah 53”.

This New Hypothesis was tested against the Hebrew text of the Hebrew Bible, and tested in parallel was the notion that Jesus, as described in the New Testament, could fit as the servant of “Isaiah 53”.

Table VI-1 shows results obtained from testing the New Hypothesis.  For reference, results obtained from testing the Original Hypothesis are shown as well.

Table VI-1 – Results obtained from testing the New Hypothesis on Isaiah 52:13-53:12

 

ch:vs Jewish Translation from the Hebrew Does “Messiah=Servant” Fit? Does “Jesus=Servant” Fit? Results from 

Part I

Israel=Servant”

52:13 Behold, My servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and he shall be very high. YES NO YES
14 As many wondered about you, “How marred his appearance is from that of a man, and his features from that of people!” NO NO YES
15 So shall he cause many nations to be startled; kings shall shut their mouths because of him, because that which had not been told to them they saw, and that which they had not heard they perceived. YES NO YES
53:1 Who would have believed our report, and to whom was the arm of the L-rd revealed? NO NO YES
2 And he came up like a sapling before it, and like a root out from dry ground; he had no features and no splendor; and we saw him that he had no appearance; and how could we desire him? NO NO YES
3 He was despised and forsaken by men; a man of pains, and accustomed to illness, and as one from whom we would hide our faces; he was despised, and we had no regard for him. NO NO YES
4 Indeed, he bore ourillnesses, and our pains – he has carried them, yet we had regarded him plagued, smitten by G-d, and oppressed. NO NO YES
5 But he was pained because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his wounds we were healed. NO NO YES
6 We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the L-rd inflicted upon him [or, accepted his prayers for] the iniquity of all of us. NO YES YES
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he would not open his mouth; like a lamb to the slaughter he would be brought, and like a ewe that is mute before her shearers, and he would not open his mouth. NO NO YES
8 From imprisonment and from judgment he was taken, and his generation who shall tell?  For he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the transgression of my people, a plague came upon them. NO NO YES
9 And he gave his grave to the wicked, and to the wealthy in his deaths, because he committed no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. NO NO YES
10 And the L-rd wished to crush him, He made him ill; if his soul would acknowledge guilt, he shall have descendants [or, he shall see progeny], he shall prolong his days, and G-d’s purpose shall prosper in his hand. NO NO YES
11 From the toil of his soul he shall see [and he shall] be satisfied; with his knowledge My servant will vindicate the righteous before the multitudes, and their iniquities he shall carry. NO NO YES
12 Therefore, I will allot him a portion among the multitudes, and with the mighty he shall share booty, because he has bared his soul to death, and with transgressors he was counted; and he bore the sin of many, and he will [continue to] intercede for the transgressors. NO NO YES
Scores: YES =   2 

NO   = 13

YES =   1 

NO   = 14

YES = 15 

NO   =   0

As the results shown in Table VI-1 demonstrate, neither the Messiah nor Jesus fit as the servant in “Isaiah 53”.  Consequently, the New Hypothesis [Messiah = Servant] and the Christian paradigm [Jesus = Servant] cannot be valid and, therefore, must be rejected.

Conclusion: The Christian interpretation of “Isaiah 53” is false, since neither the Messiah nor Jesus qualify as the servant.

 

 

The Jewish perspective, which identifies [the righteous remnant of]Israel as the servant in Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song (“Isaiah 53”), is the correct interpretation.

 

 

Want to share or print this? Choose how below:
  • Print
  • email
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: